Education officials ran through a grab bag of topics—from early education priorities to the technical assistance rolling down the road for Race to the Top winners—at the U.S. Department of Education’s most recent session with stakeholders in Washington.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan presided over the meeting, which included national and regional education advocates, lobbyists, and others hoping for a bit of policy update.
On the Race to the Top front, Judy Wurtzel, a deputy assistant secretary for policy, planning, and evaluation, talked up the department’s efforts to provide technical assistance to the 12 Race to the Top winners. She explained that ICF International, based in Fairfax, Va., got a $43 million, four-year contract to help with Race to the Top technical assistance.
Apparently, there is a pay-for-performance element at work. The contractor can earn up to $5 million more if the department is happy with its role in boosting student outcomes, state implementation of Race to the Top plans, and the quality of its service.
ICF and its partners will help identify winning states’ needs, both individually and as a group, and share the lessons learned. Ms. Wurtzel said the department is aiming to create a website where states can share what they have created for Race to the Top. The materials would be available to all states—not just the 11 states and the District of Columbia that won the competition.
Separately, Rob Mahaffey, a spokesman for the Rural School and Community Trust in Arlington, Va., raised the issue that has long concerned rural schools: the way Title I funding for disadvantaged students is distributed.
Rural school advocates say the current set of formulas—a complex set of calculations based, in part, on poverty levels and population—shortchanges rural schools.
Mr. Mahaffey asked whether a revamp of the Title I formula would be on the table in a proposed reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—something that would surely spark some territorial fights in Congress.
Mr. Duncan was noncommittal, saying the formula is “absolutely being looked at” by the departments ESEA team.
A version of this article appeared in the November 03, 2010 edition of Education Week as Stakeholders Served Ed. Dept. Update