Six Oklahoma schools were awarded Reward School grants totaling $400,000 by the State Board of Education on Thursday as part of the State Department of Education's Raise the Grade Together initiative.
"These schools are among the best performing schools in the state," said State Superintendent Janet Barresi. "To qualify for the grants, these educators had to be willing to share their best practices and educational strategies with schools in the most need. I'm thrilled to be able to offer this financial incentive for excellence and am pleased with the willingness to embrace such partnerships."
Reward Schools are designated as high achieving in all state assessments or showing high progress in reading and math. As part of the grant application, Reward Schools had to propose a partnership with a Priority School, those that are in the bottom 5% of achievement in the state in reading and mathematics, have a graduation rate below 60% for at least three years, or have received a School Improvement Grant (SIG).
Grants were awarded to:
The amount of the awards was based on the total number of certified employees in both the Reward School and the Priority School.
Assistant State Superintendent of Educational Support Kerri White said collaboration between peers is a highly effective methodology for school improvement. She said the vision for the grant is to see schools celebrate successes while collaborating to seek continuous improvement in student learning, school culture, and professional growth. The ultimate goal is to see schools removed from the Priority School list while seeing an increase in the number of Reward Schools.
State Department of Education staff will monitor grant administration and mentoring activities. The grant period is from this February to June 2014. Funds can be used for celebration of excellence activities at the Reward School and partnership activities that are likely to benefit both the Reward School and the Priority School.
Grantees submitted applications describing ways they would partner with Priority Schools. Partnerships could also include other entities such as higher education institutions, Career Tech centers, parent organizations, businesses or other community groups. Examples of partnership activities were flipping classrooms, sharing resources and training for digital learning, and student-led task forces focused on engagement and achievement.