US Department of Education’s Joanne Weiss, What is Race to the Top? | The Wallace Foundation

the race to the top fund is a four point
three five billion dollars set aside within the recovery act that is designed
to incent and reward states for doing large-scale statewide comprehensive
reforms across four specific areas that were in the statute and i’ll talk about
those in a second but the idea here is that we’re looking
for states to do the big bold initiatives it’s not a pick and choose
menu it’s comprehensive reform across all of the areas on the theory that what we need in
education to really break through and make significant change happen to really
increase the number of students who graduate from high school ready for
college and careers that we need a sort of all fronts assault on the inertia that stalled so many
of the education reforms that we’ve been engaged in over the last
several years let me just do a little big picture framing
first and then i’ll tell you a little bit about the each of the four reform
areas so the way the competition is designed
and many of you probably saw this from the proposed notice that we sent out there are two types of criteria that we have outlined there are stage
reform conditions criteria and those are the law as the legal structure the
frameworks within states that are conducive or not to education reform happening and those are things for which states
will earn points in the competition for having accomplishments so for having laws that
are conducive to education reform happening that is a reward for accomplishments not
for plans so intentions to change things in the future don’t count in that
section that’s about what’s happened then there are state reform plan
criteria and those say okay if you win this grant
what are you going to do with the money and those are the plans that are covered
in each of the different four reform areas and it is a very very sort of broad
flexible pot of funds that have very very few restrictions on
them and states can use them in whatever ways
best meet their needs and their plans for their
context so there are four areas in which these
reforms are happening and they are i think probably most of
you know this i’m not gonna take too much time here but college ready standards and
assessments is one the next one is having great teachers
and great leaders in every classroom with a particular focus both on
evaluation systems and how we know who the great teachers and leaders really
are what we do with that information how we
use it to make decisions including very importantly decisions about trying to
make sure that our best teachers and leaders are in the classrooms where
they’re needed most the next area is using data to inform
instruction and there’s two different parts of that
one is the statewide longitudinal data systems that have
gotten you know a lot of attention and focus through education reform program
through education grant programs over the past few years but also instructional improvement
systems those systems at the classroom and school level that help really drive education changing give teachers and
principals the information that they need to make good instructional
decisions on a day-to-day basis and then the last area is paying attention to our most persistently underperforming schools and saying that we have to actually
tackle the job of turning around those lowest achieving schools so it’s about
identifying which schools those are and putting in place serious plans for significantly turning
around those schools

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