HOUSTON -

The Houston school system was once again thrust into the national spotlight after being award a $30 million grant.

The U.S. Department of Education announced Houston ISD was one of five winners for the Race to the Top grant. The $120 million grant will be split up among the five winners and used to increase teacher effectiveness and close the achievement gap.

HISD was chosen out of 200 applications from across the country and was says it was the only urban school system to be named a winner. Other winners are the Clarendon County School District, a consortium of four rural districts in South Carolina; the Clarksdale Municipal School District in Mississippi; the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative, a consortium of 18 rural districts, and the Springdale School District in Arkansas.

The district says the funds will go to "Linked Learning," a new model of teaching from elementary through high school that enables students to begin early college and career readiness through project-based learning.  Youngsters move on to exploring aptitudes and life interests in middle school, and focus on career academies in high school.

HISD high schools in the first phase of the model are Furr, Eastwood, Reagan, Chavez, Milby, Westside, Lee and Sterling.

The Secretary of Education says Houston and the other winners serve as an example for the nation for innovate education plans.

This is the second major national honor for HISD this year. In September, the district won the Broad Prize for Urban Education, becoming the first two-time winner of the award.