City schools passed over for innovation grants, but area education entities to cash in
The Baltimore City school system received word Thursday that it was not among the 49 districts, schools and nonprofit organizations that would receive multimillion-dollar innovation grants from the U.S. Department of Education. The education department announced the winners of more than $650 million in Investing in Innovation, or "i3" funding, for which the city applied for about $23 million.
The city faced some stiff competition. Some 1,700 nonprofits and school districts applied for the school districts competition, including 30 in Maryland.
With the funds, the school system would have revamped the old model for how teachers are compensated with a measure called the Career Ladder that rewards teachers for the amount of professional development they get and their ability to apply what they learn, rather than paying teachers as they get more advanced degrees. The grant would have also paid for a data system to track whether the professional development that teachers are getting is having an impact in the classroom.
The other three projects would have gone toward establishing a Family Institute to give parents more information about child development and how they can help their children achieve; a program for improving nutrition and fitness in 10 high poverty schools; and a program to do on-site, two-day reviews of schools every three years.
The school system maintained that although they did not receive the funding, they would continue to pursue the initiatives.
“The i3 grant propositions that we submitted reflects the high level of work already underway in the district," said city schools spokeswoman Edie House-Foster. "This innovative work will continue, and in the coming days we will explore other potential funding options.”
But some area institutions, some heavily invested in Baltimore's schools, did receive the financial go-ahead to start innovating.
The Baltimore-based Success for All Foundation and the Johns Hopkins University Center for Social Organization of Schools were among those who will receive substantial funding for innovative programs aimed at closing the achievement gap and improving outcomes for high-need students, according to the U.S. Education Department.
Success for All Foundation could be awarded up to $50 million, and the Johns Hopkins University Center for Social Organization of Schools up to $30 million. The KIPP foundation, which operates two city school academies, was also chosen to be awarded up to $50 million.
All three organizations were in the top 4 of the highest rated applications. The Education Department selected its 49 proposals based on recommendations from independent peer review panels, who judged on a 100-point scale.
The i3 fund is part of a $10 billion investment in federal school reform to support local efforts for innovative education ideas. Applicants were required to show previous successes in closing achievement gaps, improving student progress toward proficiency, increasing graduation rates, or recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers and principals.
Those chosen must match their funds with private-sector contributions by Sept. 8, or risk losing their grants.
While the i3 funds were only available this year, the Obama administration has requested an additional $500 million in funding for the program in 2011, so the school system could have better luck next year.