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State to grant $8 million to schools

Caitlin Rickard • Updated Aug 20, 2013 at 5:21 PM

The Tennessee Department of Education announced it will grant $8 million in Race to the Top funds to school districts across the state that agree to implement specific programs that advance the core purpose of Tennessee’s First to the Top plan.

The money will go to 83 districts, which is more than half of the students in Tennessee, which have decided to join in the First to the Top Scope of Work Supplemental Fund. This is an optional program.

Wilson County is one of the participating districts.

In joining this fund, districts had to implement at least one innovative program or strategy in three categories: teacher evaluation, implementation of the Common Core State Standards and student assignment.

The districts selections will take effect during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years.

“We felt this Race to the Top money would best serve the students of Tennessee at the district level, and we’re excited to see so many districts take advantage of this opportunity,” said Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman. “These funds will allow more resources to be spent on these critical areas across the state.” 

So far, districts have chosen strategies like conducting the February writing assessments online in grades 3-11, using student surveys to count for five percent of a teacher’s evaluation score and using two observers for at least one of a teacher’s mandatory observations.

Tennessee’s initial $501 million Race to the Top award divided the grant between districts and the state. The $8 million Scope of Work Supplemental Fund comes directly from the state’s Race to the Top portion.

This school year is the last of the state’s four-year First to the Top grant.

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