Judges recommended five finalists to be selected by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) from the pool of eligible Phase 1 submissions.
Judges assigned up to 20 points for each of the following selection criteria when evaluating Phase 1 submissions:
Quality of methodology
The extent to which the proposed program design thoughtfully uses high-quality career and technical education, distance learning, and competency-based education concepts or methods that will enable students in rural communities to master skills in demand in technology-related career pathways and result in industry-recognized credentials.
Quality of planning
The extent to which the plan for program implementation provides a sound and comprehensive approach to considerations such as budget, hardware and software requirements, infrastructure, staffing, training, sources of educational content, delivery methods, potential implementation challenges, and support for hands-on learning.
The extent to which the entrant’s proposed approach accounts for unique community needs and demonstrates input and commitment from stakeholders critical to program success, such as educators, parents, school administrators, employers, and local community and/or government leaders.
The extent to which the proposed program design presents a sound plan for evidence-based iteration and accounts for resources required to track outcomes and measure key metrics that support program improvement.
The potential for the proposed program to impart technology skills to high school students that are highly relevant to identifiable local and/or national employer needs and that are transferable to a range of postsecondary and/or career pathways.
Judges assigned up to five bonus points during the judging of Phase 1 submissions (for a total score of up to 105 points) based on the following selection criterion:
- Addressing need. The extent to which the student population served by the eligible entrant is low-income, as defined by the percentage of students enrolled in free and reduced-price lunch programs under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1759), as amended.
To ensure diverse distribution of awards, ED considered additional characteristics when selecting finalists from the top-scoring submissions, including:
- School size (number of students).
- Percentage of students enrolled in free and reduced-price lunch programs under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1759), as amended.
- Geographic location and local population density.