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Rural Districts Come Out Strong in Federal Race to Top Competition

Two higher-scoring, urban applicants in the federal Race to the Top district competition weren't funded in favor of two lower-scoring rural applicants in the latest round.

I've been writing about how two of the five winners in the latest Race to the Top District competition are rural systems, and my Education Week colleague, Michele McNeil, has a good story that explains why those rural applicants were funded over the urban proposals.

"That outcome was allowed under the competition's design: The department established four categories within which districts could compete, based on whether they are in a Race to the Top state or whether they are rural," she wrote. "The goal was to ensure a more-level playing field between urban districts, which may have more resources and sophisticated grant writers, and their rural counterparts."

The two highest-scoring applications that lost out on money were Winston-Salem in North Carolina and TEAM Academy Charter School, a New Jersey charter school that is part of the Knowledge Is Power Program, or KIPP nationwide network of charters. The two rural winners were: Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative, a group of 17 school districts in Kentucky's rural Appalachia; and Clarksdale Municipal School District, a small, mostly black district in the Mississippi Delta.

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