Dubuque Schools Seek "Race to the Top" Grant

By Katie Wiedemann, Reporter

DUBUQUE, Iowa - The Dubuque School District wants a $20 million grant from the Federal Dducation Department. It's part of an effort to help every student succeed in the classroom. It would mean a total overhaul for the way students learn and teachers are evaluated.

The federal education department has been giving these grants to states since 2009. It's known as an initiative called "Race to the Top."
But this is the first year individual school districts can apply.
To get the funding, they need to meet a handful of requirements.
Highest on the list is proving that the money will be used to better teachers.

In a traditional classroom the teacher lectures then students do homework at home. But, if they get the money, Dubuque Schools Administrators are considering moving to a "flipped classroom" model.

Associate Superintendent Lynne Devaney said, "It's significant. I mean it's game changer money."

In a flipped classroom, students would instead watch a video or read a teacher's lecture at home. Then they'd work on what's traditionally thought of as homework in the classroom.

"Not that lecture and information aren't meaningful" said Devaney, "but is it the best way to use our highly qualified teachers? "

The district is also considering changing the way it evaluates students. Instead of comparing students to each other, they would measure each student's progress.

Devaney said, "it measures growth for each student. No Child Left Behind didn't do that. It just said 'here is the target, how many made it? "

The same concept would be used to evaluate teachers. The district says teachers would be responsible for demonstrating their own growth from year to year.

Devaney said, "what really makes you decide to be a great teacher is a supervisor coaching a teacher and having a relationship about what makes a great teacher and then working towards that goal together. "

Much of the $20 million would be used to pay for the technology needed to in a flipped classroom.

More than 900 school districts nationwide say they also want the money.
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