Two North Carolina school districts that were recently awarded millions in grant money will use the windfall to better integrate technology into their teaching curriculums.
Guilford County Schools and Iredell-Statesville Schools are among 16 groups selected to receive a portion of the $400 million “Race to the Top” grant fund. Guilford will receive $30 million; Iredell-Statesville will receive $20 million. The districts were chosen from an applicant pool of 372.
Guilford County Schools serves around 73,000 students, including those from Greensboro and High Point, and is the third-largest district in the state. Terrence Young, the district’s chief information officer, said the grant is by far the largest anyone can remember the county receiving.
Young said the money will be used to get the district’s 17,000-plus middle school students tablet-like devices that facilitate learning better than hardbound textbooks. The devices will use software that tracks each student’s mastery of concepts so teachers can more effectively tailor their curriculum to address specific needs. Extra opportunities for teacher development will also be made available, as well as training and support for students, families and teachers. Administrative staff will also be added.
“We’re all excited about this opportunity for our middle school students,” said Young, who led the district’s grant bid. “It’s another great resource for the teachers.”
Iredell-Statesville Schools, which serves around 21,000 students, has similar plans.
The $20 million grant the district is getting “will enable us not only to continue this work but also to enhance and expand the customization of student learning to help all children be successful,” Superintendent Brady Johnson said in a release. Dawn Creason, a spokeswoman for the district, said a full-time employee will be hired to administer the grant before decisions are made about what tablets to purchase.
Iredell-Statesville plans to fund a blended learning initiative in the system’s middle and high schools that includes a one-to-one technology component.
North Carolina in 2011 was among 10 states and the District of Columbia to receive funding through “Race to the Top,” which requires benchmarks to be met in order to get additional funding.