Friday, November 13, 2009

New RTTT Guidelines Complete

The final federal guidelines for Race To The Top (RTTT) have been released. RTTT is a $4.3 billion competitive grant program designed to bring about education reforms and innovation that impact student achievement. Given the amount of money at stake and the scarcity of resources in the recession, every state, including Delaware will be competing hard to win a grant.

Four areas must be addressed in the grant application: Standards and Assessments, Data Systems to Support Instruction, Great Teachers and Leaders, and Turning Around Struggling Schools.

A draft of the guidelines were open for public comment. More than 1,600 such comments were received including those of the National Education Association. Meanwhile at the state level in Delaware, the Department of Education is busy putting together a strategic plan that compliments the federal RTTT. DSEA has given Secretary Lowery a position paper on RTTT in an effort to influence the DOE plan.

Some of the key areas of the just released guidelines that were closely watched by NEA are as follows:
*States must not have any barriers to linking student achievement or growth to teachers and principals. Delaware has no such barrier. NEA was against this linking of student achievement to specific educators.
*The new language for defining highly effective teachers requires multiple measures, provided student growth is a significant measure. This is a positive change from a direction of having student achievement measured by standardized tests as the primary component of evaluations. In Delaware, student achievement is only one of five equally weighted components of teacher evaluation.
*The new regulations state that teacher and principal evaluation systems should be designed and developed with teacher and principal involvement.
*Definitions of student achievement have been expanded to include other measures beyond a single test.
*According to the guidelines, states should not have laws adverse to charter schools, but state laws should monitor charter authorizers and should monitor charter student populations for comparison to public school populations.

Stay tuned for much more on RTTT.

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