Parents in the Seattle area are being trained and paid to reach out to other families and encourage them to get involved in their children’s schooling.
Along the Texas-Mexico border, a nonprofit group is working with children touched by violence and creating peer groups for students with other sorts of struggles. And in Indiana, community health groups and counseling agencies are helping a school district enact a comprehensive strategy to improve student behavior.
Those efforts—and 13 others nationwide—are getting a boost from the federal Race to the Top district competition, for which applicants earned bonus points by pairing with outside groups on initiatives to improve students’ social and emotional well-being and behavior.
The 16 winners had high-scoring proposals to do just that, initiatives that several grant recipients said would be implemented far more slowly or not at all without their share of $383 million in aid.
While the main thrust of the competition was for districts to personalize student learning, applicants got an edge if they could show how they would leverage partner agencies to address students’ social, emotional, or behavioral needs, ultimately improving academic achievement.
The bonus section also factored in whether districts could scale up the ideas to high-needs students beyond those the districts would initially focus on, and set measurable goals for how work with partner organizations would improve academic results for students.
“Our schools truly understand the need to partner and be collaborative and to be open to new ways of providing services to students and families,” said Peter Daniels, the spokesman for the Puget Sound Educational Services District, in Washington state, which won $40 million. Seven of the 39 districts that constitute the agency applied for and won the biggest award. <Read more.>