Phase 1 selection criteria

Judges will recommend up to five finalists to be selected by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) from the pool of eligible Phase 1 submissions. 

Judges may assign 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.
Community support
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.
Continuous improvement
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.
Career relevance
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 may assign 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 may consider 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.

Phase 2 selection criteria

Judges will recommend one grand-prize winner for Phase 2. Judges may assign up to 20 points for each of the following selection criteria during the judging of Phase 2 submissions (for a total of up to 100 points):

Quality of execution
The extent to which the finalist successfully implemented and documented an effective, distance learning-enabled, sustainable competency-based high-quality career and technical education program that helped students build technology skills relevant to careers and employers.
Community support
The extent to which the finalist meaningfully engaged all stakeholders critical to program success, accounted for unique community needs, and maximized student learning and access to career opportunities. Key stakeholders may include educators, students, parents, school administrators, employers, community, and government leaders.
Continuous improvement
The extent to which the finalist identified and documented challenges and potential solutions, used metrics and other inputs to flexibly adapt their approach, and continually improved community and academic outcomes.
Student outcomes
The extent to which the program demonstrated the potential for strong outcomes, such as completion rates, transferable skill mastery, progress towards earning industry-recognized credentials, and career exposure.
Career alignment
The extent to which the finalist engaged and aligned with employers to design and execute programs and partnerships that provided contextualized learning opportunities for students.