Two North Carolina school districts have won a combined $50 million worth of federal Race to the Top grants. Guilford County and Iredell-Statesville schools will use the money to add technology to classrooms.
In the past, Race to the Top money has gone to states. This is the first time individual districts got the chance to apply for the grants. The U.S. Department of Education awarded grants to sixteen districts across the country with plans to customize student learning.
“Education has always tried to meet the learner where they were and move them forward,” says Terrence Young, Chief Information Officer of Guilford County Schools.
Guilford County Schools received $30 million to train staff and pay for tablets for all GCS middle-schoolers. Young says the tablets will be loaded with software that allows students to learn about concepts at their own pace and allows teachers to adjust their instruction to either move kids along faster or provide some remediation.
Iredell-Statesville Schools will receive $20 million. The district plans to outfit all 10,000 of its middle and high-schoolers with tablets, laptops, or other devices. Dawn Creason, the district’s spokeswoman says the goal is to have what’s called “a blended classroom.”
“Face-to-face learning which is kind of the traditional model of teacher to student as well as on online component that can look an infinite number of ways, whether that’s co-teaching with a class across the world or that’s dissecting a virtual frog,” explains Creason.
The money will be paid over four years. The districts plan to incorporate the new technology into lesson plans beginning next school year.