Monday, June 18, 2012

Race To The Top Grant Might Not be Worth Its Cost to SCUSD | The Sacramento Coalition to Save Public Education

Race To The Top Grant Might Not be Worth Its Cost to SCUSD | The Sacramento Coalition to Save Public Education:


Race To The Top Grant Might Not be Worth Its Cost to SCUSD

Restrictions on the Use of the Grant Mean the Money Can't Help Restore Education Cuts

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The US Dept. of Education has released its rules for districts applying to receive Race to the Top grants. They allow individual districts or a consortia of districts to apply directly to the federal government for the money, bypassing state education officials.  This is particularly significant in California, where the state Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson, and Governor Jerry Brown took the state out of the running for the federal grant, citing the billions of dollars it would need to spend to meet the grant requirements and the program’s emphasis on standardized test scores to show student learning achievement.  The grants are for up to $25 million over four years.   Given the dire financial straits of most school districts, many may be tempted to apply.

The money can only be used for certain purposes--the focus being on individualizing instruction for students so that they graduate prepared for college and careers.  Districts don't have to use the money to serve all their students. They could focus solely on low-performing schools, a particular group of low-performing schools or certain grade levels. Once again all this is to be "data driven" so each student's progress must be tracked.

What hoops do districts have to jump through to receive this money?  Districts must meet the same four assurances that states had to meet when they applied: teacher quality; school turnarounds; improving "data quality" and enhancing standards and assessments. By the 2014-15, school year districts who apply for the 

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