Federal

A Message for Common Standards in Race to Top Guidance?

By Catherine Gewertz — January 11, 2011 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The U.S. Department of Education’s new guidance for states that won Race to the Top grants has a stern message for states that try to back away from their promises: Watering down your reforms could cost you.

The new RTT guidance addresses states’ questions about how they can revise the plans they laid out in their applications for the money. The department’s answers amount to a description of how far states can wander from their promises before they’re seen as reneging.

The new guidance doesn’t specifically mention or address the common standards. But as you might recall, all 12 of the RTT winners adopted them. They got points in their applications for doing so (as they did for embracing other reforms the department favors). So now that they’ve won money on those promises, the department wants to make sure that they’re carried out.

The department told the RTT winners that they can amend their proposals, but amendments that constitute a “substantial change in activities” won’t be looked upon kindly. Any change that isn’t consistent with the Race to the Top “principles"—which include raising student achievement and graduation rates and boosting college and work readiness—won’t be approved, the guidance says. Those that wander too far from their key goals will be subject to “enforcement actions.”

For common-standards watchers, this stuff is pertinent because questions have hovered about the sincerity of states’ commitments to the new learning goals. If they embraced them mainly to make their RTT applications look good, would they roll back if they didn’t win? (A recent study actually found that the chance of winning RTT money wasn’t among states’ top three reasons for adopting the standards.) Especially after November’s midterm elections swept lots of new faces into edu-offices everywhere, some wondered, would states change direction?

This new guidance sends a clear signal that the 12 RTT winners have tons to lose—right smack in their bank accounts—if they throw the common standards—or any of their other promised reforms—overboard. (There has been some saber-rattling here and there about changing direction on the common standards, but no action yet.)

But even for states that didn’t win the cash, there are other factors that might militate against a major ship-jumping trend.

One is the political challenge of rolling back promises made in the name of improving education (unless, of course, you could become a folk hero in your state by undoing adoption of standards perceived to be sub-par, or a big fat federal intrusion, or any other Awful Force).

Another is those assessment consortia. Remember them? Only 12 states won Race to the Top money, but 45 states and the District of Columbia are participating in consortia to design new assessments for the common standards. Those consortia have $360 million in federal money to do that work. And a condition of being in the consortia is that you adopt the common standards. So un-adopting them would mean un-participating in the assessment consortia.

The interconnected effects here will make it all the more interesting to see what states do, especially in lean fiscal times, about the common standards and tests.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Feds to Probe Whether Texas Ban on School Mask Mandates Violates Disability Rights Laws
The Education Department has already opened investigations in six other states that ban universal school mask requirements.
2 min read
A staff member holds the door open for kids on the first day of school at Goodwin Frazier Elementary School in New Braunfels, Texas on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020.
A staff member holds the door open at Goodwin Frazier Elementary School in New Braunfels, Texas in 2020. This year, Texas has prohibited school districts from requiring all students to wear masks.
Mikala Compton/Herald-Zeitung via AP
Federal New Federal Team to Work on Puerto Rico School Improvement, Oversight
The Puerto Rico Education Sustainability Team will focus on creating better learning environments and improving financial management.
3 min read
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits the Emilio Delgado School in Corozal on June 30, 2021 during a visit to Puerto Rico.
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits the Emilio Delgado School in Corozal on June 30, 2021 during a visit to Puerto Rico.
Teresa Canino Rivera/GDA via AP
Federal Pandemic Tests Limits of Cardona's Collaborative Approach as Education Secretary
He's sought the image of a veteran educator among former peers, but COVID has forced him to take a tough stance toward some state leaders.
10 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter speak to Mia Arias, 10, during their visit to P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 in New York.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter speak to Mia Arias, 10, during a visit to P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school, last month.
Brittainy Newman/AP
Federal White House Launches Hispanic Education Initiative Led by Miguel Cardona
President Joe Biden said his administration intends to address the "systemic causes" of educational disparities faced by Hispanic students.
2 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona writes down and draws positive affirmations on poster board with students during his visit to P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 in New York.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits students in New York City at P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school in the Bronx last month.
Brittainy Newman/AP