Senior U.S. Education Official to Visit Historic Eliot K-8 Innovation School in Boston and Highlight Successful School Reform Efforts

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Massie Ritsch, acting assistant secretary for communications and outreach at the U.S. Department of Education will visit the Eliot School in Boston on Thursday, May 1, to learn about the Innovation School’s successful reform efforts, supported by Race to the Top funding from the Department. The Eliot School received a portion of the Massachusetts’ Race to the Top award funding through their state’s Innovation Schools initiative.

Eliot was recently classified as an Innovation School—an in-district and autonomous school that can implement creative and inventive strategies, increase student achievement and reduce achievement gaps, while keeping school funding within districts. These unique schools operate with increased autonomy and flexibility in determining curriculum, budget, school schedule and calendar, staffing, professional development and school district policies. In exchange, the operators of Innovation Schools are held accountable for meeting annual benchmarks for student achievement and school performance.

The Eliot K-8 Innovation School, Boston’s oldest continuously-run school, is part of the Boston Public Schools system and serves nearly 400 students across the city’s neighborhoods. In 2007, the Eliot was a low-performing school being considered for closure. However, through the efforts of a new principal, Traci Walker Griffith; a committed teaching staff; dedicated student families and an engaged community, the school has made many changes to its instruction and culture to advance the academic proficiency of all of its students. The school will celebrate its 300th anniversary this year.

The Race to the Top program, which made its first awards in 2010, has provided 18 states and D.C. with about $4.2B billion through three phases of the flagship competition and more than $1 billion to support 20 states during the three rounds of the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge. In 2012 the Department launched the first Race to the Top-District program, which has now funded 21 applicants—representing 80 school districts across 13 states and D.C.—with more than $500 million to support locally developed plans that will prepare every student to succeed in college and careers. The Department's fiscal year 2015 budget request includes $300 million for a new Race to the Top-Equity and Opportunity (RTT-Opportunity)competition to create incentives and provide resources for states and school districts to address persistent opportunity and achievement gaps. RTT-Opportunity builds on previous RTT competitions and reform strategies to close gaps for high-need students.