It's official. The Forsyth County school system is among the 49 recipients for a 2010 Investing in Innovation Fund, or i3, grant.
The district will complete the project Engage Me–PLEASE in partnership with Infinite Campus and the University of Georgia.
The $4.7 million in funding will be awarded to the district by Sept. 30.
Forsyth County School Superintendent Buster Evans said the confirmation was “truly a defining moment in the history of Forsyth County Schools.”
“This is the single largest grant in the history of our school district," he said. "The impact of FCS’ i3 project will be felt in our county, state and nation for many generations.”
Grant recipients were selected by the U.S. Department of Education from among nearly 1,700 applicants for potential funding from the $650 million i3 program.
Applicants represented a cross-section of school districts and nonprofit education organizations, including institutions of higher education.
The local school system is the only recipient in Georgia and one of just 12 public school districts selected in the nation.
The i3 fund is part of the $10 billion investment in school reform in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
It supports local efforts to start or expand research-based innovative programs that help close the achievement gap and improve outcomes for high-need students.
The competition was open to school districts as well as nonprofit organizations, including institutions of higher education working in partnership with public schools.
Applicants were required to demonstrate their previous success in closing achievement gaps and improving student progress toward proficiency.
They also had to show success in raising graduation rates, or recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers and principals.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement that officials "couldn’t have been more impressed by the way innovative programs and private sector partners came together to support the ideas and best practices that will help us take leaps forward in education."
Work on this five-year project will begin Oct. 1, lead by i3 project coordinator Mike Evans.
Evans has been at the local school district's central office for three years as an instructional technology specialist, working with all grade levels on numerous instructional initiatives.
He also has served as the instructional technology specialist for Silver City Elementary and taught second grade at Vickery Creek Elementary.
He holds two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Central Florida and the University of South Florida and a master’s degree from Lesley University.
In Florida, Evans worked as a school instructional technology specialist, and taught fourth and fifth grade. He has served in several ccounty and state technology leadership roles.
“Mike Evans is an exceptional instructional technology leader, and I know that he and his team will make us all proud,” Buster Evans said. “We are thrilled to be among this prestigious list.
“Our team created a solid application and I am excited to see the program take life.”
The Engage Me--PLEASE program will use Forsyth's Infinite Campus online student data management system to provide struggling students individualized paths for learning.
PLEASE stands for personalized learning experiences accelerate standards based education.
The paths could involve daily assessments, allowing teachers frequent and immediate data relating to a student's individual progress.
In turn, teachers could then provide immediate feedback and activities for the student's use to improve skills.
By using the Infinite Campus system, the learning paths could also be viewed by parents and school leaders.
According to reports, the ultimate goals of the program are to raise student achievement and growth; decrease overall dropout rates; and increase graduation rates, especially among high-needs students.