WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration is awarding $290 million in grants to reward top teachers and boost opportunities for teachers who work in impoverished schools.

The Department of Education says the funds will flow to almost 1,000 schools in 18 states plus the District of Columbia.

The program is intended to encourage school districts to incentivize good teaching through faculty evaluations and performance-based pay. Some of the grants focus on science and math teachers, which President Barack Obama has said is a top priority.

Public school systems in New York and Los Angeles will use the funds for a compensation program that's based on career ladders.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan says there's a desperate need for top teachers and principals to have greater influence over their colleagues.

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  • School Supplies

    <strong>91 percent</strong> of teachers buy basic school supplies for their students.

  • Food

    <strong>2 in 3</strong> teachers <strong>(67%)</strong> purchase food or snacks to satisfy the basic nutritional needs of their students -- even ones who are already enrolled in their schools' free or reduced-price meal program.

  • Clothing

    <strong>1 in 3</strong> teachers purchase clothing for children, including jackets, hats and gloves <strong>(30%)</strong> or shoes and shoe laces <strong>(15%)</strong>.

  • Toothbrushes

    <strong>18 percent</strong> of teachers purchase personal care items, such as toothbrushes and sanitary products.

  • Hygiene Products

    Nearly <strong>1 in 3</strong> teachers <strong>(29%)</strong> purchase items such as toilet paper and soap that their school cannot provide enough of due to budget cuts.

  • Field Trips

    <strong>More than half</strong> of all teachers have paid the costs of field trips for students who couldn't afford to participate otherwise.

  • Alarm Clocks

    <strong>Several teachers</strong> reported purchasing alarm clocks for students. Due to work schedules or family circumstances, guardians were unable to wake their children for school, which led to absences and academic underperformance.