Race to the Top Funds Far From Secure
When the Delaware General Assemble passed a resolution in support of “Race to the Top” funding from the federal government, it recognized the historic funding opportunity available to states and encouraged our Governor and Secretary of Education to create a competitive application for a share of the $4.35 billion federal fund. US DOE Secretary Duncan has set four broad assurances (in key speeches) that states will have to meet to be considered for funds:
(1) Making progress toward rigorous college- and career-ready standards and high-quality assessments. While we are making progress, Delaware ranks between 25th and 30th in the nation on all portions of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). NAEP is a national report card, which is released by the U.S. Department of Education and ranks each state’s average student performance. We must do better.
(2) Establishing pre-K to college and career data systems that track progress and foster continuous improvement. In Delaware, student performance data can not be connected to teacher evaluations or to teacher training programs. We must do better.
(3) Making improvements in teacher effectiveness and in the equitable distribution of qualified teachers. Low income public school students in Delaware are twice as likely as their higher income peers to have a teacher who is not Highly Qualified. We must do better.
(4) Providing intensive support and effective interventions for the lowest-performing schools. As of 2008, 26 Delaware schools had failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for at least 4 years, and 12 had failed to make AYP for at least 6 years. We must do better.
The one-time “Race to the Top” fund represents the largest pot of flexible monies ever, and if we want to use those resources for the benefit of our students, we need the political will to push on necessary changes. We are encouraged that Delaware’s leaders are supportive, because we know that getting these funds is going to be difficult, and that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done – in a short amount of time – to ensure Delaware is as competitive as possible.