Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight: How IDEA Public Schools is Closing the Gap

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month and Secretary Duncan’s visit to South Texas, today we are highlighting IDEA Public Schools, a Texas-based Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII) grantee that’s been recognized for helping Latinos, particularly English language learners, make strong achievement gains. Just last month, the White House Initiative on Education Excellence for Hispanics named IDEA a Bright Spot in Hispanic Education.

In 2012, IDEA won a Race to the Top – District (RTT–D) award aimed at personalizing student learning and closing achievement gaps. IDEA is also a past recipient of an Investing in Innovation (i3) grant and grants from OII’s Charter Schools Program. IDEA’s network serves approximately 24,000 students in 44 public charter schools across Texas. More than 90 percent are Hispanic, and a third are still acquiring English speaking, reading, and writing skills.

For nine consecutive years, 100 percent of IDEA’s graduating seniors have been accepted to college, and achievement scores have consistently been above the state’s average. We checked in with Tricia Lopez, IDEA’s Director of Special Programs, about what’s behind the network’s success and how the RTT–D grant has been helping the network meet its goals.

Read More

TURNING COLLEGE FROM AN ASPIRATION INTO A REALITY: ASPIRE’S APPROACH

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Education launched a new program under the Charter Schools Program (CSP), called the Replication and Expansion of High-Quality Charter Schools program. This competition provides money to help successful public charter schools serve more students. The Department has now invested over $260 million in charter management organization (CMO) grantees working to launch over 500 schools—of which about 250 have already opened—across 20 states. Just this week, we announced the newest cohort of these CMO grants—so it seemed like the right time to explore how a current CMO grantee is helping students succeed. Aspire Public Schools is a two-time grantee under the CMO competition—with demonstrated success in getting students into college.

Read More

ARTS IN EDUCATION WEEK: PARTNERING WITH THE KENNEDY CENTER TO SUPPORT AND CELEBRATE ARTS EDUCATORS

When we think of arts education, what comes to mind for many is our students’ eye-opening engagement with the world through music, visual arts, or filmmaking. But as we celebrate Arts in Education Week (September 13-19), it’s important to remember that those rich artistic experiences couldn’t happen without the time, effort, and planning of our nation’s dedicated arts teachers.

That’s why the U.S. Department of Education recently awarded the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (the Kennedy Center) a $6.5 million grant under its Arts in Education National Program. The Kennedy Center is a national leader in helping schools and teachers offer rich arts education experiences. For more than three decades, the Kennedy Center has partnered with schools in both the D.C. metro area and nationwide to make the arts an integral part of every child’s education. Two of the major programs supported by this grant are Changing Education Through the Arts (CETA) and Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child (AGC).

Read More

GETTING AIR TIME: WARREN TOWNSHIP PREPARES STUDENTS FOR REAL WORLD SUCCESS

As Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s Back to School Bus Tour rolls through the Midwest this week, below we take a look at a neighboring Race to the Top – District grantee that is helping kids prepare for success by giving them real world media experience.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

For most kids, it’s a difficult question to answer—the possibilities are almost endless. But students in the Metropolitan School District of Warren Township, Indiana are getting a head start on exploring at least one career path. That’s because Warren Township runs an innovative program called Frontrunner Media that gives students hands-on, real-world media experience while they are still in high school. Frontrunner is supported in part by the Office of Innovation and Improvement’s Race to the Top – District (RTT–D) program. Below, the program’s managers and director discuss how it works.

Read More

New Funding Opportunity for Public Charter Schools: Non-SEA Competition Opens

  • On August 21, 2015, the U.S. Department of Education’s Charter Schools Program (CSP) announced a $4 million non-State Educational Agency (non-SEA) grant competition for the planning, program design, and initial implementation of high-quality start-up charter schools. The grants will also support dissemination of best practices for charter schools that have a proven track record of success and have been in operation for at least three years.
  • These funds are for charter schools in states that don’t have existing—or do not win new—SEA grants in September 2015. Since the non-SEA competition has opened before new SEA grants have been awarded, non-SEA applicants may, in some cases, submit applications to the non-SEA competition and become ineligible for those grants if their state is awarded an SEA grant.
  • Despite that possibility, even if your state has applied for an SEA grant in this year’s round, interested charter school operators may still apply. If your state wins an SEA grant—making you ineligible for a non-SEA grant—you can likely repurpose much of your application if you apply for a subgrant from a winning SEA.
  • We anticipate awarding these non-SEA grants in December 2015. This timeline allows charter school operators that intend to open new schools in the 2016–17 school year to apply for federal start-up funding sufficiently in advance of those school openings—either via an SEA subgrant competition or the non-SEA grant competition. Again, even if your SEA has submitted an SEA grant application this year, interested charter school operators in those states may wish to apply for a non-SEA grant in order to maximize their odds of receiving funding in advance of the 2016–17 school year.
  • Interested applicants must apply by October 6, 2015 at 4:30 p.m., Eastern Time.
  • Please visit the Non-SEA Competition page to learn more.

Read More

New and Upcoming Funding Opportunities for Public Charter Schools

  • This week, the U.S. Department of Education’s Charter Schools Program (CSP) announced a $116 million grant competition focused on starting up new, high-quality charter schools via a State Education Agency (SEA) competition for the first time since 2011. We anticipate awarding these SEA grants in September 2015.
  • In the coming weeks, we will announce another grant competition to support the start-up of new charter schools via the “non-SEA” competition. These funds are for charter schools in states that don’t have existing—or do not win new—SEA grants. We anticipate awarding these non-SEA grants in fall 2015—after September 2015.
  • This timeline allows charter school operators that intend to open new schools in the 2016–17 school year to apply for federal start-up funding sufficiently in advance of those school openings—either via the SEA or the non-SEA grant competition. Even if a charter school operator’s SEA plans to submit an SEA grant application this year, interested charter school operators in those states may wish to apply for a non-SEA grant in order to maximize their odds of receiving funding in advance of the 2016–17 school year.
  • Please visit http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oii/csp/index.html to learn more.

Read More

Connect with the Office of Innovation and Improvement
Twitter follow us on Twitter | GovDelivery email updates


Welcome to the Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII), where our mission is to accelerate the pace at which the U.S. identifies, develops, and scales solutions to education’s most important or persistent challenges. OII makes strategic investments in innovative educational programs and practices, and administers more than 25 discretionary grant programs managed by four program offices: Charter Schools ProgramParental Options and Improvement, Teacher Quality Programs, and the Office of Investing in Innovation. In addition, OII is home to ED’s STEM initiatives team and ED’s liaison to the military community.  OII also serves as the Department’s liaison and resource to the nonpublic education community through the Office of Non-Public Education.

This home page provides news about OII — its programs, grantees, and initiatives — through articles, blogs, press releases, and links to the Department’s home page.

Click here to see a list and descriptions of OII’s programs and here for key staff.