Education's 'Race to the Top' Begins
On Friday, President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan are explaining what states need to do to win grants from the $4.35 billion Race to the Top Fund—the largest-ever single federal investment in school reform. The criteria they are announcing will challenge states to create comprehensive strategies to address four core reforms that will drive increased student achievement and narrow achievement gaps: common, internationally benchmarked standards and assessments; effective teachers and principals; data to inform decisions; and turnarounds of the lowest-performing schools.
This money will not support the status quo, and it won’t be focused on piecemeal efforts. States that have created conditions for reform and have comprehensive and coherent plans across all four reform areas will have the best chance of winning grants worth hundreds of millions of dollars from the fund. It is the thoughtful design and interplay of these four reform areas that will lead to sustained and lasting instructional improvement in classrooms, schools, and districts—and that will lead to achievement and attainment gains for our students. Education is a complex system, and each area interacts with the others; if we don’t get the key building blocks right, the structure we build will not stand, nor will it withstand the inertia that stalls most educational reforms.
Taken individually, each area reform addresses a vital need...
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