Race to the Top – The Final 19
by Rosemary Lahasky
US Chamber of Commerce
The second phase of the U.S. Department of Education’s $4.35 billion Race to the Top (RTTT) finalists were just announced. Tennessee and Delaware were the only two states to win during phase 1, and over 30 states applied for the second round of funding. While the competition is tough and many won’t win, students across the country have already benefited greatly from this race. Since the competition began earlier this year, states have passed more significant education reform laws in the past six months than in the previous decade, all in the hopes of garnering the remaining RTTT funds this September.
Here’s a quick snapshot of what the finalists have accomplished or promised in the past few months:
Arizona – Governor signed legislation that ties teacher evaluation to student achievement.
California – Limited its Round 2 application to a core group of districts that were in support of reform proposals.
Colorado – Passed a sweeping teacher evaluation initiative which will base half of evaluations on academic progress.
DC – Approved new teacher’s contract which includes performance pay.
Florida – Passed a sweeping tenure reform bill; however, it was vetoed by the Governor.
Georgia – Passed legislation that gives the state more power to intervene in low-performing school districts.
Hawaii – Eased its limits on the number of new charter schools.
Illinois – Passed a law that improves professional training for school principals.
Kentucky – First state to adopt the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and mathematics.
Louisiana – Passed a new teacher evaluation bill based on student academic performance.
Maryland – Passed a new law that links student achievement to teacher evaluations.
Massachusetts — Passed laws allowing state to intervene in poorly-performing schools and districts.
New Jersey — Governor unveiled bill reforming teacher tenure and pay.
New York – Passed law tying student achievement to teacher evaluations and doubling the number of charter schools allowed to open statewide.
North Carolina – Changed state law to adopt federal guidelines on improving low-performing schools.
Ohio – Within the second RTTT application, school districts had to commit to evaluate teachers and principals annually, using students’ academic progress as one of the measures.
Pennsylvania – Bill passed the Senate attempting to create an alternative teacher certification system.
Rhode Island – Passed a new statewide public school funding formula that aims to achieve equitable funding to school districts that serve large numbers of poor students.
South Carolina – Current law tracks improvements in student achievement at the state and district level. The state’s proposal would create a teacher performance system tied to those measurements.
In addition, 29 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the recently released Common Core State Standards which provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn. The Common Core State Standards were developed by the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers in conjunction with teachers, school administrators, and other experts.
We congratulate the 19 finalists and encourage all states to keep up the hard work!