Race to the Top – Round Two Initial Analysis
Last Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Education announced the round two Race to the Top winners. Nine states and the District of Columbia were awarded grants based upon their bold proposals to transform public education.
Initial analysis of round two applications yields numerous similarities compared to Delaware’s winning Race to the Top application, along with areas in which the First State could learn from others’ best practices. Similarities include:
- Teacher Evaluation: Similar to Delaware’s efforts around DPAS II, numerous states are revamping teacher evaluation systems to determine teacher effectiveness. Winning states, either statewide or within local school districts, are designing evaluation systems that incorporate both teacher practices and student achievement metrics. Based upon evaluation scores, states will utilize data to inform critical decisions surrounding certification, tenure, salaries, dismissal, etc.
- Student Assessment: Each winning state signed on to at least one testing consortium developing 21st century assessments aligned to the Common Core Standards. These assessments will measure student growth throughout the school year to provide a more holistic picture of individual teachers, cohorts of educators, and school-level impact on student learning.
- Data Systems: States are collaborating with various internal stakeholders to build dashboards in which all stakeholders, including teachers, principals, parents, students, and others, can access critical student information to ascertain student progress along with areas for improvement. U.S. Education Secretary Duncan recently highlighted the importance of data for all stakeholders in helping gauge the effectiveness of their schools.
- School Turnaround: Each state outlined various strategies to both identify and intervene in struggling schools that persistently leave students academically behind their peers.
Analysis of the winning applications also brings forth numerous best practices that Delaware consider as part of its reform efforts. These include:
- Alternative Certification: Ohio has developed multiple licensure pathways that allow teachers from various backgrounds to bypass traditional higher education teacher preparation programs if they wish to teach in critical needs areas, including special education, ELL, and middle and high school math & science.
- Teacher Placements: Rhode Island enacted rigorous regulations requiring teachers be hired based on the mutual consent of both the teacher and school principal. Rhode Island’s regs also stipulate that teachers deemed ineffective will not be allowed to transfer into a high-needs school. In addition, every student throughout the state will not be permitted to be taught two consecutive years by an ineffective teacher.
With so much national energy around public school reform, the Rodel Foundation will continue to look to all states, districts, and schools throughout the country to learn about — and share — the most promising and proven strategies to improve our schools. And we look forward to sharing these ideas with leaders in Delaware. Together, we must learn from RTTT implementation successes and failures to adopt best practices that provide all students access to an excellent education.