Update: Guilford Schools wins $30 million grant

Dec. 11, 2012 @ 06:05 PM

Excited students gathered in an auditorium at Hairston Middle School in Greensboro cheered Tuesday when Guilford County Schools officials announced that a $30 million federal grant will pay for many of them to have their own electronic tablets next year.
A U.S. Department of Education Race to the Top grant will pay for  digital devices for about 15,500 middle-school students over the next four years. The devices will be used as part of the district’s Personalized Achievement and Curriculum Environment  project designed to stimulate student-led learning. The grant is the largest in the district’s history.
“We are thrilled by this news,” said Superintendent Mo Green. “This grant will allow us to personalize learning for all students in grades six through eight. This project will transform teaching and learning in all of our 24 middle schools and it will pave the way to bring this technology to all schools.”
Several principals gathered for the announcement were excited by the news.
“This is where teaching and learning are going in the future,” said Trent Vernon, principal of the K-8 Johnson Street Global Studies School in High Point. “We are excited at our school to have this opportunity.
Montlieu Elementary Academy of Technology in High Point became the district’s pilot for providing electronic devices to teachers and students to stimulate learning. Grants paid most of the costs.
“I feel like a proud father,” said principal Ged O’Donnell. “We led the way at Montlieu in the use of technology. This is an empowering day for our community.”
Students using tablets can take more time to master concepts while others can dive deeper into topics through accelerated-learning activities that interest them.
“Students will be the drivers in their daily education,” Green said.
Terence Young, the district’s chief information officer, said educators have yet to decide which brand of tablets students will use. All the tablets will have some lesson programs and vendors will supply others.
“These schools will be the pacesetters for the district in offering new, high-tech learning opportunities for all our students,” Young said.
GCS chose grades six through eight for the technology project because research shows there is a clear link between early interventions and decreased dropout rates, and increased college- and career-ready graduates.
“We think we were the only district to target middle schools for a grant,” Young said.
District leaders said the new grant will build on a $9.9 million  Race to the Top funding from the state to support Science, Technology Engineering and Math initiatives among other things.

RTT Grant
Winners: Guilford County is one of just 16 winners in the Race to the Top District competition. Two other districts received $40 million. The winning districts will share nearly $400 million.

Competition:  Guilford’s proposal ranked fourth of all the applications, and received the second-highest award. The U.S. Department of Education received 372 applications. Sixty-one finalists, representing more than 200 districts, were selected.

Earlier Today

Guilford County Schools officials are expected to announce this afternoon that the district has been awarded a $30 million Race to the Top grant to buy digital devices for middle school students. 
Although U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan announced earlier today that the district had been notified by the U.S. Department of Education, district officials held off announcing the details until a 3 p.m. press conference in Greensboro.
The district applied for a $30 million grant to buy digital devices for about 15,500 middle-school students over the next four years.
Superintendent Mo Green offered a comment for Hagan’s release.
“I would like to thank Sen. Hagan for her support of our Race to the Top-District program application,” Green said. “These funds will go a long way in making sure we can personalize learning and improve educational outcomes for every student, starting in middle school.”
The district will use the funds to implement its Personalized Achievement, Curriculum and Environment (PACE) Schools Project, which will accelerate 21st century personalized learning across county schools.
Under the PACE Schools Project, nearly 17,000 students in the district’s 24 middle schools will receive tablet computers to work at their own pace, using personal learning “maps” that show the students their progress in mastering new concepts.
The education department expects to select 15 to 25 winning applications from the Race to the Top district competition for four-year awards that will range from $5 million to $40 million.
The federal education department will provide close to $400 million to fund district-level plans for personalized student learning.