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Star Schools (V-D-7)

Purpose

Distance learning can enrich regular classroom instruction and provide high-quality instruction in remote or high-poverty locations where students otherwise do not have access to specialized courses such as advanced placement courses. In addition to providing affordable access to learning opportunities, high-quality distance learning can produce learning gains at least as large as those from traditional instruction.

By 2000, nearly all public schools and 77 percent of their classrooms in the United States had access to the Internet. This ratio has steadily improved. Distance learning is increasingly widespread at all educational levels, including the emergence of "virtual schools" in many states.

The Star Schools Program encourages improved instruction in mathematics, science, foreign languages, literacy skills, vocational education, and other subjects. It emphasizes learning opportunities for underserved populations, including the disadvantaged, illiterate, limited English proficient, and individuals with disabilities through the use of telecommunications technologies.

How It Works

Applications are received from eligible statewide or multistate entities, which may include a public agency, corporation, or a partnership that includes three or more of the following entities: a school district, a state education agency, an adult and family education program, an institution of higher education, a teacher training center or academy, a public broadcasting entity, or a public or private elementary or secondary school. Funding is provided for such activities as development acquisition, maintenance and operation of telecommunications facilities, development and acquisition of live interactive instructional programming, and technical assistance for the use of such facilities and instructional programming.

Key Requirements

Applicants must propose high-quality plans that provide instruction consistent with state academic content standards or otherwise provide significant and specific assistance to states and districts undertaking systemic education reform.

A five-year grant must not exceed $10 million in any single fiscal year.At least a quarter of the total program funds must be used for instructional programming, and at least 50 percent of the available funds shall be used for the cost of facilities, equipment, teacher training or retraining, technical assistance or programming for districts eligible for Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies. The federal share is capped at 75 percent for the first and second years, 60 percent for third and fourth years, and 50 percent for the fifth year.

How It Achieves Quality

The secretary of education may use up to 5 percent of funds for dissemination, evaluation and other activities that are designed to enhance the quality of distance learning.


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Last Modified: 09/14/2007