MCPS Awarded Federal Innovation Grant for Integrated Curriculum

August 5, 2010
   Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) has been awarded $5 million from the federal Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund to help support the development of a new, integrated elementary school curriculum. MCPS was one of 49 applicants to win a coveted i3 grant, and one of only 11 school districts.
   Nearly 1,700 districts, schools, consortia and non-profits applied for part of the $650 million in grants. MCPS’ application received a score of 100.39, the 15th highest overall.
   With the i3 grant, MCPS will continue its unprecedented partnership with Pearson, LLC, to create a groundbreaking elementary grades curriculum that fully integrates the core subjects of reading and mathematics with science, social studies, art, music and physical education. The curriculum will be aligned with the new Common Core Standards, recently adopted by Maryland and 34 other states, and is based on the rigorous and successful curriculum already in use at MCPS. (Learn more about the integrated curriclum)
   “As parents, we are concerned that the focus on reading and mathematics, especially in early grades, has forced other important subjects to the side. The integrated curriculum will make sure our K-5 students receive a more robust and engaging education,” said Patricia O’Neill, president of the Montgomery County Board of Education. “I’m very pleased and honored that we were chosen from a very large pool of applicants to receive this grant.”
   The grant requires a 20 percent match and, as part of MCPS’ application, Pearson has committed $1 million to the project.
   “This public-private partnership allows us to innovate and improve, even in these very difficult economic times,” said Superintendent of Schools Jerry D. Weast. “We are pleased that President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have created a fund that allows this type of collaboration to take root for the benefit of our students.”
   Already in development, the integrated curriculum will foster deep student knowledge across all content areas rather than forcing a choice between a rich, comprehensive curriculum and one narrowly focused on the assessed subjects of reading and math. During the 2009-2010 school year, MCPS began a six-year development and implementation process by piloting the integrated curriculum in kindergarten.  The feedback from teachers, principals, and parents was extremely positive. 
   The grant, and the partnership with Pearson, offers MCPS the opportunity to complete the development of the curriculum in three years, instead of six, and provides MCPS with more robust student assessments and teacher professional development than could have developed without the support of a partner. 
   A key design feature of the new curriculum is an online learning community for teachers that will deliver well-aligned, real-time professional development in a collaborative Web 2.0 environment. Educators will be able to interact with peers and instructional experts to share lessons and teaching strategies, and solve complex and commonplace instructional challenges.
   Pearson and MCPS will market the integrated curriculum for use in other school districts around the country, and Montgomery County would receive royalties from any sales. However, MCPS retains complete control over what will be taught in local classrooms.

- VIDEO: Learn more about the i3 Grant and the Integrated Curriculum
View an abstract of MCPS' application
- View the list of finalists
- U.S. Department of Education Press Release

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