Jul 13 2020

Department of Education Launches Rural Tech Competition

The $600,000 competition will advance technology education in rural high schools with innovative methods.

The U.S. Department of Education announced a $600,000 competition last month to advance technology education for rural high school students amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Rural Tech Project aims to provide schools with resources to develop technology education programs and is intended to break down barriers between education and industry, said Scott Stump, assistant secretary for career, technical and adult education, in a press release.

“No matter where they want to work or what they want to do, today’s high school students will need advanced technology skills,” he said.

Rural communities often lack the instructional support needed to create high-quality career and technical education programs, according to the competition’s website. But having a distance-learning model can help address constraints such as limited staffing and increase students’ ability to earn industry certifications and credentials.

High schools and local education agencies can join the competition by submitting a proposal for technology education programs that use flexible delivery methods, such as distance and blended learning, and competency-based education, which enables students to master a skill or competency at their own pace. Submissions are open through Oct. 8.

After the submission period, judges will review the proposals and recommend up to five finalists, who will split the initial $500,000 cash prize pool equally. In 2021, the finalists will progress to the second phase of the competition, during which they will plan, run and refine their programs with virtual resources and onsite assistance for two academic years. Afterward, judges will review their outcomes and select a grand-prize winner to receive an additional $100,000.

“Our rural tech challenge is a tremendous opportunity for educators in rural communities to rethink how students access education,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in the press release. “As I’ve said many times, a student’s education shouldn’t be arbitrarily limited by what’s available inside their brick-and-mortar classroom, and that’s never been more apparent than now as the coronavirus pandemic has made clear the need for more innovation to ensure all students have access to robust educational options.”

DISCOVER: Learn how Wi-Fi buses help close the homework gap in rural districts.

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