Etoile ISD named a semifinalist in $2.5M blended learning grant initiative

Etoile ISD named a semifinalist in $2.5M blended learning grant initiative

ETOILE, TX (KTRE) - Etoile ISD was recently named one of 75 semifinalist public school districts in the $2.5 million Raising Blended Learners grant initiative. The grant initiative is being sponsored by Raise Your Hand Texas.

"We are ecstatic and fortunate to be given this wonderful opportunity!" Etoile ISD Superintendent Sarah Hottman said in a press release. "Our teachers have worked hard this summer to turn our district's learning plan into reality. This grant will provide us with outstanding training and the chance to network with other schools and districts utilizing the Blended Learning model."

With the blended learning format, traditional schooling is combined with online instruction. As a result, the students have some control over when, how, and where they learn, the press release stated. The project's purpose is to "showcase strategies for using blended learning to improve student achievement across diverse student demographics and geographic regions in the state."

As part of the grant initiative, Etoile ISD's team will attend a two-day, all-expense-paid blended learning workshop in late September in San Antonio led by Heather Staker, the author of the book, "Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools." Staker is also the founder and president of Ready to Blend and an adjunct fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute, a non-profit and non-partisan think tank and pioneer in blended learning.

As part of the grant initiative, 10 finalists will be chosen in January 2016, and they will receive assistance in refining their blended learning plans. Then in April 2016, the five winning teams will be announced. Each of the winning teams will receive up to $500,000 along with technical support in implementing their programs over three years.

"Raising Blended Learners is designed to test and showcase blended learning strategies that personalize instruction with the goal of improving student achievement." said Dr. David Anthony, the CEO of Raise Your Hand Texas. "Expecting one teacher to tailor lessons to each child in a classroom of 20 to 35 students using 20th century classroom models is not only ineffective, but nearly impossible. Blended learning represents the engine to power student-centered, competency-based learning at scale."

Raise Your Hand Texas is a non-profit education advocacy organization working to strengthen public education in Texas. They train public school leaders to lead transformational change at the campus level and advocate for public policies that make public schools better for all students.

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