Fifteen schools in Maine will share in a $27.1 million federal grant meant to help the schools implement and sustain a performance-based pay system for teachers.

The 15 Maine schools are sharing the five-year award with eight schools in Richmond, Va. All of the schools signed onto an application to the Teacher Incentive Fund, a U.S. Department of Education initiative, through the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards, an Arlington, Va., organization that awards the National Board Certification, an advanced teaching credential.

The $27 million grant for the Maine and Richmond, Va., schools is among 62 grants the Department of Education awarded to states, school districts and other organizations on Thursday that totaled $442 million. The grant applications all propose pilot projects for teacher pay systems that reward instructors for boosting their students’ academic achievement, a key education reform initiative of the Obama administration.

The 15 Maine schools are in Whitefield-based Regional School Unit 12, Ellsworth-based RSU 24, Dover-Foxcroft-based RSU 68 and Westbrook, according to Anna Davis, executive director for government relations at the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards.

The National Board is proposing to spend the grant money on a system of incentives that teachers will become eligible for as they work toward their National Board Certification, Davis said. The system would also reward those teachers who are teaching hard-to-staff subjects at schools that have difficulty recruiting teaching candidates, she said. In addition, the incentive system also relies on an evaluation system that takes students’ academic achievement into consideration, Davis said.