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Sixteen applicants including Charleston County School District (CCSD) in Charleston, South Carolina, will share approximately $400 million from Race to the Top District to support their student focused initiatives. CCSD earned the second highest score among applicants.

According to the Department of Education website, The Race to the Top District competition asked districts to show how they can personalize education for all students in their schools. That is, the district competition was “aimed squarely at classrooms and the all-important relationship between educators and students” to:

Provide teachers the information, tools, and supports that enable them to meet the needs of each student and substantially accelerate and deepen each student’s learning.

Enable teachers, teacher teams, and school leaders to continuously focus on improving individual student achievement and closing achievement gaps.

Make equity and access a priority and aim to prepare each student to master the content and skills required for college- and career-readiness, provide each student the opportunity to pursue a rigorous course of study, and accelerate and deepen students’ learning through attention to their individual needs.

Create opportunities for students to identify and pursue areas of personal academic interest—all while ensuring that each student masters critical areas identified in college- and career-ready standards or college- and career-ready high school graduation requirements.

In the review of the “Teaching and Learning” section on CCSD’s grant application one reviewer commented:

The applicant presents a high-quality plan that includes all the required elements as evidenced by their strategies for ensuring highly effective teachers in the classroom… The comprehensive four-year plan for implementation includes a robust professional development training component that includes introduction to digital platform learning, coaching, electronic progress analysis, and follow-up coaching.at each of the target schools… Training and development will be provided for all teachers and school leaders that focus on accelerating student progress towards meeting college and career ready standards.

To ensure that students receive instruction from effective and highly effective teachers and principals the applicant illustrates how they will transform the preparation and professional learning of teachers and principals to create a highly effective personalized learning environment for all students. This includes professional development activities that provide strategies for differentiating instruction to meet each student’s academic needs, using frequent formative assessments to shape instruction, and through the integration of digital content into the classroom. Additionally, the applicant indicates that school staff will meet quarterly in order to assess the strength of the training and to identify strategies for improving the instruction model. The implementation of one-to-one coaching for staff is another strong aspect of the project and will ensure continuous improvement and provide opportunities for the applicant to measure the strengths and challenges associated with the identified professional development model…

Great teachers and leaders make great schools. They are the ones who work tirelessly to help students learn, grow, and achieve, the ones who show that they care about students as individuals and allow relationships to develop. We celebrate our partner Charleston County School District and its great teachers, great leaders, and great schools – Congratulations!

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Race to the Top District Awards. Available online at: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-district/awards.html

Our mission at Studer Education is to provide students with a great place to learn, teachers with a great place to teach, and parents with confidence that their children are getting a great education. To do this we work with school boards, leaders, and teachers to apply Evidence-Based continuous improvement processes and the principles from How to Lead Teachers to Become Great in their districts to get the best student learning results and create results-oriented school cultures. Visit us online at http://studereducation.com. Studer Education is a division of Studer Group, a recipient of the 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.