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IDEA Schools wins $29 million in ‘Race to the Top’

The US Department of Education announced they have awarded IDEA Public Schools $29 million over the next four years as part of the Race to the Top District competition. IDEA Public Schools is a growing network of high-performing K-12 public charter schools in the Rio Grande Valley, Austin and San Antonio, serving over 13,000 students.

IDEA Public Schools was selected among 372 applicants and is one of 16 nationwide winners. They are one of two districts in the State of Texas to be chosen.

IDEA Public Schools’ application centered on individualized student learning to improve student achievement and educator effectiveness while preparing every student for success in college and beyond.

“We are thrilled to be named a Race to the Top District,” said Tom Torkelson, founder and CEO of IDEA Public Schools. “This is very exciting for the thousands of students IDEA serves throughout the state of Texas. We will use this award to further the success of our individualized learning academic programs for elementary students and college prep students. This will allow us to continue our work in closing the achievement gap by providing all students with access to a more rigorous college prep education that will ensure that we send 100 percent of our students to and through college.”

Initiatives planned under this award include a summer program for math acceleration for college prep students; the development of additional tools for data analysis to improve real-time student interventions; increased access to individualized professional development opportunities for teachers; and, enhanced community engagement efforts to provide social and emotional support and prepare students to arrive at school ready to learn each day.

IDEA Public Schools worked closely with parents, teachers, students and community members to fine-tune its application.

“Without the support of our great community, this award would not have been possible,” said Torkelson. “We actively engaged our various partners for their input, and based on their feedback, we developed the tenants of our programmatic proposal. Their collaboration was invaluable.”

For six years, IDEA Public Schools has sent 100 percent of its students to the college or university of their choice. This award will enable IDEA to continue fulfilling its mission by ensuring more students throughout the state of Texas achieve success, said Torkelson.

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