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race to the race to the top
August 24, 2010
So New York won Race to the Top — what happens next?
State and city education officials took a victory lap today after winning nearly $700 million in federal Race to the Top funds. But they were also emphatic that today's announcement marks the start of hard work, not the end. The next step is to flesh out how exactly the funds will be used. Half of the grant money, which federal officials will dole out over four years, will stay with the state education department. The state will pass along the rest to school districts, which have 90 days to pitch the state their plan for spending their share of the funds. The local proposals must adhere to the state's school reform blueprint. They can't be used for other purposes, or to fill budget gaps. The state's application centers on four main goals: writing new curriculums and assessments that will be standardized across the state and match the new national standards that the state has adopted; building new databases that track students' progress from kindergarten through college; finding new ways to train teachers and judge them on their effectiveness; and turn around the lowest-performing schools, sometimes by replacing them with charter schools. (Read our full summary of what the state's application proposes here.)
August 24, 2010
New York wins Race to the Top funds in its second try
New York State has won coveted federal Race to the Top grant funds in the second round of competition. State education officials spent this morning in a meeting as news of the win began to spread. Governor Paterson, State Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, Commissioner David Steiner and New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein are expected to hold press conferences later in the afternoon. We'll have updates as we learn more. UPDATE: The other winners are Florida, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Maryland, Hawaii, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia. One big question we don't know yet: exactly how much money the state has won. But by our math (see below), it seems possible that all of the winners will get the maximum amounts for which they are eligible. And Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch just told me that she's heard the state will receive almost all of the $696 million it asked for in its application. UPDATE: State officials have confirmed that New York's application will be fully funded. New York City is likely to see about $250-300 million of the state's award. Here's our summary of how the state plans to use the money, and here's our rundown of the lead-up to today's announcement. New York received the second-highest score overall in the competition's scoring rubric, coming behind only Massachusetts. (The list of the winning applicants and their final scores is below the jump.) This is the state's second try at the funds; in the first round, New York placed second-to-last among all the finalists. The formal announcement of winners will come this afternoon from U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. We'll have updates throughout the day.
August 24, 2010
A (final) Cliff's notes guide to Race to the Top and New York
In a few hours, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan will announce the winners of the second round of the Race to the Top grant competition. New York State education officials badly want the nearly $700 million they could win to support their reform efforts. Here's a roundup of our coverage of New York's application, the policy changes that have been made in pursuit of the grant, and what winning or losing will mean for the state. We begin back in March, when New York State was told that it would not collect $700 million in the first round of Race to the Top. Few expected New York to win — many were surprised it was named a finalist — and it ultimately placed second to last among the 16 finalists. The two states that won, Tennessee and Delaware, were small enough that $3.4 billion remained for other states to fight over. At the time, Duncan said he expected between 10 and 15 states to win in round two. New York education officials responded to the loss by calling for the state legislature to improve the state's round-two chances by voting in a new teacher evaluation system and raising the charter school cap.
August 20, 2010
"No surprises" in New York's second Race to the Top pitch
All that's left is the waiting. Federal officials could announce the winners of the second round of the Race to the Top grant competition as soon as next week. But before they do, teams from each finalist state, including New York, went to Washington, D.C. last week to make their case for a slice of the $3.4 billion in grant funds that remain to be doled out. Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said yesterday that "no surprises" came from the judges during the state's 90-minute presentation and question-and-answer session Aug. 10. Tisch said the reviewers focused on the meat of the state's school reform plan, including the timeline for a new teacher evaluation system, the curriculum being developed for new national standards, and school turnaround strategies. "I just thought it was a very fair, frank conversation," she said. Accompanying Tisch in D.C. were State Education Commissioner David Steiner and Deputy Commissioner John King, as well as Chancellor Joel Klein and teachers union chief Michael Mulgrew. Tisch recruited Klein and Mulgrew for the second round to avert the troubles of the state's first-round presentation, when judges focused on whether the state would be able to fulfill its promises without more union support.
July 28, 2010
Klein, Mulgrew to help pitch New York's Race to the Top plan
When Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch pitches New York's Race to the Top application to federal judges next month, she'll be joined by two familiar faces from New York City. Chancellor Joel Klein and United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew will go with state education officials when they travel to Washington, D.C., in two weeks, Tisch announced today. The three will accompany State Education Commissioner David Steiner and Deputy Commissioner John King, both of whom also represented the state in its first-round presentation in March. For the first-round presentation, Tisch sent a lower-profile, more technocratic team comprised mostly of state education officials responsible for building the grant application. Things didn't go well, and the presentation cost the state points. The addition of Klein and Mulgrew — as well as of Tisch herself — represents a shift in strategy.
July 27, 2010
Tisch: State reform agenda dependent on Race to the Top win
Even as they celebrated New York's Race to the Top finalist status today, state education officials warned that reforms won't happen without a win. In recent months, state officials have committed to changing teacher evaluations, creating new databases to track students' grades and scores, revamping standards, and upgrading tests. But those changes can't happen unless New York takes home the $700 million it asked for in its Race to the Top application, Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch told me today. "The reform agenda is very contingent upon an infusion of these federal dollars that are earmarked for reform efforts," Tisch said. For a cash-strapped education department in a state whose budget is now nearly four months late, it's not clear where the money to fund costly reform initiatives will come from without federal backing. And New York is not alone among states whose budgets may not support the changes they have promised or even enacted into law. But speaking to reporters today, Duncan said that states should carry out their reform plans even if they don't receive Race to the Top funds.
July 27, 2010
For the second time, New York a Race to the Top finalist
This just in, via the U.S. Education Department’s Twitter feed: New York is one of the 19 finalists in the second round of the…
July 26, 2010
Heads up: Race to the Top finalists to be announced tomorrow
New York could enter Race to the Top’s bell lap tomorrow — and then one step closer to winning $700 million toward overhauling to the…
July 7, 2010
Revised "edujobs" bill would send city $200 million for teachers
A federal teacher jobs bill would send New York City schools $200 million, but could also chip away at federal grant money the city hopes to win. The so-called "edujobs" bill has become the center of a politically charged debate. On one side are supporters of the Obama administration's reform efforts and on the other are those who argue that saving teacher jobs is worth slowing the pace of change. The bill, headed for the Senate after passing the House last week, would send a total of about $622 million to New York State. After a previous attempt to save teacher jobs foundered, the bill's sponsor, Wisconsin Representative David Obey introduced a new bill that would redirect about 10 percent of funding for Race to the Top into a $10 billion fund for teacher jobs. Federal teacher quality and new charter school programs also would be tapped for the jobs fund. Obama has threatened to veto the measure if passed in its current form, raising the ire of the national teachers unions.
June 15, 2010
Handicapping New York's RTTT app: Good and medium news
How does New York's Race to the Top application compare to other states? An analysis of school district and union buy-in to state applications published yesterday by EdWeek gives some clues. On a piece of the application that is worth 60 out of the total 500 points, New York outperformed the national average - but not staggeringly so. One of the ways a state can win Race to the Top is by proving that its school districts and teachers union support the reforms the application proposes. States prove this by turning in Memorandums of Understanding signed by each of those groups. The more MOUs a state submits, the more points it gets toward the 60-point categories for buy-in. (You can read the full scoring guidelines for the competition here.) In New York, all of the state's 744 school district superintendents agreed to participate in New York's plan if the state wins grant money. That's a lot more than the average of 61 percent of school districts that signed onto their states' plans nationally, according to the EdWeek analysis.
June 9, 2010
We read the Race to the Top application so you don't have to
Raise your hand if you know what the state's 450-page Race to the Top application actually says. Besides, of course, "We raised the cap on charter schools and came up with a new way to evaluate teachers." Here's a quick-and-dirty guide to what the application actually proposes, including some details about the proposal that I hadn't heard before I read it. The application is divided into four main goals. You can find more background on Race to the Top here, and a copy of the state's second round application is here. Making better tests and curriculum: National reading and math curriculum standards are coming, and New York education officials plan to opt in to them. The state wants to spend $26 million to write curriculum based on the new standards, which will show up in classrooms beginning in February 2012. Another $40 million would be used to create new tests, including a way to judge kindergartners through third-graders' progress in learning to read. Students would start to take initial versions of those tests in January 2012. The final versions of exams based on the new standards would be due in 2015. Building new databases to track student progress: By "data systems," the state means a program that can track students' academic progress from the very beginning of their education to the end. The state wants to spend $50 million in Race to the Top funds to help build a program that will be used state-wide. Another $10 million would go toward linking information from grade schools to information from New York’s colleges and universities. The application describes a future data system that sounds a lot like ARIS, the city's $81 million data system launched in 2008.
June 8, 2010
Cloning controversial city programs key to state RTTT bid
Some of New York City's signature educational programs — including its principal training academies and school-based teams that examine student data — could go statewide if New York wins nearly $700 million in Race to the Top funds. The state is arguing in its Race to the Top application that it can accomplish Obama administration educational goals by replicating city programs around New York. That could be a smart strategy, as U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has called New York City a model for how the federal government should spend its education funds. But city programs the state wants to duplicate include some of its most controversial. Here are some of the programs that could get cloned, along with the justification provided in the state's Race to the Top application: Leadership Academies: New York will use $6 million in RTTT funds to replicate the successful Rochester and New York City Leadership Academies. Eleven more RTTT Management Team-coordinated Academies are planned, so that all regions of the State -- including the remaining three large city districts -- will be served.... The Academies will serve more than 700 principals in New York (about 15 percent overall) by Fall 2011. When all Academies are fully operational, school leaders will have access to research-based PD that is focused on the use of student data to improve student achievement and growth.
June 7, 2010
How scared should SUNY's Charter School Institute really be?
Was the State University of New York's ability to approve and oversee charter schools truly at risk during last month's charter school cap debate? The lead vignette of today's Times profile of city lobbyist Micah Lasher suggests that it was: Just when Micah C. Lasher thought it was safe to finally sleep one recent morning, three words appeared in his in-box: "It's a sham." Mr. Lasher had stayed up all night helping write a bill to increase the number of charter schools in New York, a cornerstone of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's education agenda. But amid the frenzy, a highly contentious provision had slipped by him: the State University of New York would lose its power to approve charter schools. If SUNY's Charter School Institute really was only saved during a middle-of-the-night wrangling, that could be a bad sign for the organization's future: the Institute is currently facing budget cuts that might gut its operations. But all of our information suggests that lawmakers supported keeping SUNY's ability to oversee charters. The provision that could have revoked SUNY's chartering authority was the result of a manic bill drafting process and late-night fatigue, not an attack on the widely-praised charter school overseers.
June 2, 2010
State’s RTTT application receives more union endorsements
Will New York win the second round of the Race to the Top? We don't know yet, but add one more item to the list of ways the state's application has gotten stronger: More teachers unions signed on to the plan this time around, and they added fewer caveats to their endorsements. The percentage of unions signing on to the plan is now 70%, up from 61% in the last round. That includes New York City's United Federation of Teachers, which, though it signed on last time, added caveats along with its "yes," as Steven Brill reported in the New York Times Magazine. One major exception was a clause saying that unions could ignore any part of the plan that violated a union contract — even though, in the same memo, the unions promised to negotiate new contracts following the plan's main ideas. In the first round, some judges noted the caveats and the 61% figure as a reason they docked points from the state's application. I couldn't find any caveats in this round's Memorandum of Understanding documents that unions and school districts had to turn in by Tuesday. Still, among the dissenters are some pretty major unions, including the ones in Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers, and Albany. That's three of the state's "Big Five" school districts. A typical explanation why came from Buffalo's union president earlier this month, in the Buffalo News:
June 1, 2010
New York's second-round Race to the Top bid hits the web
Less than an hour after the state's second-round Race to the Top application was due in Washington, state officials have posted its new plan to the public. Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said today that the newest version of the application is "round one plus the legislation." She was referring to the two major pieces of legislation Albany passed in recent weeks designed to boost the state's application: a new teacher evaluation system that includes measures of student achievement and Friday's move to raise the state's cap on charter schools. Tisch added that the state education department also boosted the application's section on its data systems, an area where the state lost points in the first round. "Everything is good," Tisch said. "And here we move on." But there are likely to be some changes in the 450-page application released today that go beyond the addition of a new teacher evaluation system and the possibility of 260 more charter schools. State officials have already said they intended to scrutinize the budget's every line to weed out expenses such as the now-infamous executive chairs that helped doom the first application. And there are likely to be other substantive changes as well. We'll have a run-down of the highlights of this round's application later; in the meantime, help us find the most interesting parts by posting in the comments below. You can read more about the Race to the Top competition here, and read New York's first-round application here. And the full second-round application is below the jump:
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