Mastery Charter Schools has been selected to receive a further $5.1 million in federal funds to expand, and the Philadelphia School District has been awarded a $3.8 million grant to create small learning communities inside five large, neighborhood high schools.

The U.S. Department of Education grants were announced Tuesday by U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), who said the Obama administration continues to provide federal aid to expand school reform in Philadelphia.

The two-year grant to the school district will be used to create more personalized learning communities for students at Overbrook, Lincoln, Frankford, Bartram, and Martin Luther King High Schools.

The U.S. Department of Education said it expected funding for the program would continue for at least three years beyond 2012.

Officials at Mastery, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit charter network, said they would use the latest federal grant to underwrite plans to expand to 15 new schools in Philadelphia and Camden in the next five years.

In awarding the grant, the U.S. Department of Education praised Mastery as "a national model for school turnarounds."

The latest allocation comes on top of a five-year, $7.4 million grant from the department and $1 million from Oprah Winfrey's Angel Network. Both those awards were announced last week.

Mastery, which began operating a college-prep charter school in Center City in 2001, has won national accolades for its success converting three formerly troubled middle schools in Philadelphia into college-prep charter schools.

The school day and year are longer at Mastery than in regular district schools. Tutoring and Saturday sessions are required for those who struggle. All students must show "mastery" by earning a grade of at least 76 percent before advancing.

And, as its first venture outside Philadelphia, Mastery has received approval to open a charter school in Camden in 2011.

Contact staff writer Martha Woodall at 215-854-2789 or