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Feds Look at Rural Kentucky Race to the Top Winner to Learn Lessons

Federal officials visited Kentucky last week to take a closer look at the lone rural Race to the Top district winner, and learn how other rural groups can compete for federal grants.

The Green River Educational Cooperative in Kentucky is a collaborative of 24 rural districts encompassing 112 schools and 59,311 students. It's using its $41 million in a number of ways, such as putting Wi-Fi on buses so students can learn on lengthy bus rides, as well as aligning students' learning with future goals in early grades. Other efforts include increasing Advanced Placement and dual credit courses, developing students' skills that affect college and career readiness, and using students' test results to improve instruction.

John White, the U.S. Department of Education's deputy assistant secretary for rural outreach, accompanied by several of the department's Teaching Ambassador Fellows, spent time meeting with superintendents who were part of the collaborative.

They also met with state and local officials to learn how federal investments were making a difference in rural schools. Kentucky received both state- and district-level Race to the Top grants.

Some of the news coverage from the day focused on a different piece of news, specifically talk of the sequestration's affect on Kentucky's overall public school funding.

One of my Education Week colleagues, Michele McNeil, wrote a story last week about how the 16 Race to the Top district winners, including Green River, planned to personalize learning for students. Tailoring instruction to the needs of individual students was a key requirement of the grant.

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