Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Race to the Top District Finalists 2012

U.S. Department of Education Announces 61 Applications as Finalists 
for $400 Million Race to the Top - District Competition

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Education announced that 61 applications have been selected as finalists for the Race to the Top-District (RTTT-D) competition. The 2012 RTTT-D program will provide close to $400 million to support locally developed plans to personalize and deepen student learning, directly improve student achievement and educator effectiveness, close achievement gaps, and prepare every student for success in college and careers.

The 61 finalists, representing more than 200 school districts, were selected from 372 applications the Department received in November to demonstrate how districts could personalize education for students and provide school leaders and teachers with key tools that support them to meet students’ needs.

“These finalists are setting the curve for the rest of the country with innovative plans to drive education reform in the classroom,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “This competition was designed to support local efforts to close the achievement gap and transform the learning environment in a diverse set of districts, but no matter who wins, children across the country will benefit from the clear vision and track records of success demonstrated by these finalists.”

Race to the Top-District applications were randomly assigned to three-person panels that independently read and scored each application, with independent reviewers’ scores averaged to determine an applicant’s score. The Department arranged the applications in rank order from high to low scores, and determined which were the strongest competitors to invite back based on “natural breaks” – i.e. scoring gaps in the lineup. The top 61 applications were then selected as finalists....

Kentucky Finalists Include:
  • Bourbon County Public Schools
  • The Green River Regional Educational Cooperative  (23 districts)
  • The Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (16 districts)

SOURCE: U S Department of Education Press release


Anonymous said...

There are over 14,500 school districts in the US. 372 applications were submitted which probalby represents at most 3% of all districts. Of those 61 "finalists" an even smaller number will be selected to split $400 million. When correlating the amount of work involved to apply for these funds in relationship to your chances of winning, your district might be better off just having each employee kick in a buck and go buy a box of lottery tickets today.

Regardless, good look to Bourbon County and the two Coops.

Anonymous said...

I think what bugs me about this type of thing is that districts are competing for funding for interventions which they apparently can not support with current resources anyway. We are allowing educational budgets to stagnate and be cut while expecting higher academic performance and then giving away funds we don't have to the smallest segment of schools for interventions that, even if successful, are not sustainable with standard resources within those districts much less larger applications to more districts. (Forgive the run on)

Its like going to the homeless shelter and taking one or two folks out for an expensive steak dinner and night at the Hilton but then dropping them back at the shelter the next day with the expectation that the experience will change their lives as well as the others at the shelter who weren't invited.

The way this is set up is if I simply need more RTI support personnel using standard interventions for my kids who are at risk I am not going to get funding because it not "innovative" enough. But if the school down the road creates some niche program with a differnet spin which happens to fit the current trend or product of the moment it could very well draw support from the few folks that read the applications. So I end up with a basic personnel need not filled due to stagnate or reduced funding by the state/feds and the guy down road gets 100 IPADs and software which in three years he isn't going to be able to replace when they become outdated, broken or incompatable. His kids hopefully get some some short term benefit, I get nothing and at the end of three years we are still at the same place we were before Racing to the top. Folks, we need long term vision and solutions which support all chidlren not temporary quick fixes for a few or competition for resources which all should have equal access.

If the intervention is significanly too expense to maintain through current budgets, why are we trying it. Equally, if we determine the intervention has wide scale application, how do we provide similar funding to all schools? Please understand that I am not against innovation or new approaches. I just don't see how we can underfund schools while we give a handful extra funding to create new programs or approaches but have no resources or game plan as to how we could ever sustain these new interventions at all schools?

If we can't do the later then we are simply cherry picking schools to give money for their exclusive organizational gain and that is inequitable, unethical and maybe even illegal.

Anonymous said...

How many times have we seen this sort of thing occur where programs get externally funded through private or public grants only to hit the skids when the funding runs dry. Heck, one need only to look at how some of the states who won RTT just two years ago are now struggling to implmenent much less maintain what they said they were going to do in their applications. The hunger for additional funding and the effort to one-up other states competing for the federal RTT dollars have resulted in proposals which many states are now finding to be operational, instructionally and financially untendable. This may very well play itself out again at the district levels now.

Is this really the way we want educational innovation to work in our country? A small group of folks hold the federal purse strings to a special bag of money and determine what 1 percent of schools get financial support which in the the larger sense is actually drawn from the coffers of the other 99% of the schools? Do we want to sustain an expectation that the federal fuding fairy is going to wave its majic money wand and schools are going to get what they need? If I have approaches that already work or know of standard interventions which exist but don't have the funding to support those, why should I have to compete for what I know will help my kids or create a pile of paperwork which attempts to portray best practice or simple resource aquisition as some new innovation?

We need to empower educators in the classroom, not bueracrats or "experts" in Washington or Frankfort.