RTTT finalists have a variety of backers, naysayers
March 22, 2010 6 a.m.
So who really has the best shot at being a first round winner of the much-needed Race to the Top money?
It depends on whom you ask.
The Partnership for Learning says Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana and Tennessee have the best overall applications. The Washington-state based organization's mission is to ensure all students graduate from high school and be ready for college and work. Colorado gets props because the state would take Denver's performance pay system for teachers statewide. Florida gets a nod for being a "trailblazer" of education reforms, having a comprehensive data system and charter-friendly policies.
The National Council on Teacher Quality also likes Delaware and gives a green light to Rhode Island and Tennessee. But Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and South Carolina should be stopped in their tracks, the group says. They took into account whether states relied on memoranda of understanding with individual teachers unions, or if states adopted policies that would apply across the board. They laud Delaware's new regulations, which require that teacher evaluations be based on student performance growth for 2011-12 and used for tenure, compensation and promotion. Kentucky is flagged because "it is hard to pinpoint what exactly Kentucky's big vision for RTTT is," the council wrote. And "Kentucky shows no strong statewide commitment regarding the use of performance-based teacher evaluations to make employment decisions."
Eduflack was pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of Washington D.C. among the 16 round one finalists and notes that four states that got the help of the Gates Foundation to work on their proposals didn't make the cut. (Arkansas, Arizona, Minnesota, and New Mexico.)
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute wonders if being a first-round finalist will hurt Ohio's chances. "The current application was crafted mainly behind closed doors with no real input from outsiders (other than the teachers unions). In fact, Republican lawmakers were not allowed to see the application prior to its public release and now are voicing their concerns with it. The reforms it should take to win the Race to the Top will be tough to enact here and will require support that extends across ideologies and from the Statehouse to the classrooms."
Andrew Rotherham, co-founder and publisher of Education Sector, noted that some of the states on the finalist list aren't known as education reform specialists. He dinged New York, which could not agree on changes to limits on charter schools even in an eleventh-hour effort to do so.
Education Week created an interactive graphic that allows you to read highlights from the proposals of the finalists -- so you can decide on your own.
Do you have an opinion about the finalists? Please let us know.