Race to the Top is a highly competitive federal grant to encourage and reward states for improving student achievement and ensuring students are prepared for college and careers.
The grant covers four areas. States submitting grant applications must outline what they have done and how they will improve in each of them:
Standards and Assessments. Idaho’s grant will focus on adopting common core standards in English and mathematics, providing professional development for new standards and assessments, expanding formative assessments, creating end of course assessments, and participating in international assessments.
Data Systems to Support Instruction. Idaho’s grant focuses on creating a system that collects student data, provides professional development for using the data to inform instruction, and ensures data sharing as students move from one school to another.
Great Teachers and Leaders. Idaho would expand virtual professional development opportunities for educators and principals, develop an evaluation framework for principals, explore alternative routes to principal certification, and create a teacher incentive pay pilot program based on student achievement and local incentives.
Turning Around Lowest Achieving Schools. Idaho’s grant would focus on development of a three-tier transformative model to support struggling schools.
Idaho is planning to submit a proposal for $75-$100 million. Very few states will be selected in the first round of applications. However, if Idaho is not selected in this round of applications, the comments received on this application will help in the development of a stronger application for the second round of awards, which would be submitted in June 2010.
Why does the local Association need to understand the details of this grant?
Before the state can submit its application, it must first identify local school districts that agree to support and implement the grant, if received. The U.S. Secretary of Education realizes the important role educators play in student achievement and the success of education reform programs.
As a result, state applications must include Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) jointly signed by local school district superintendents, school board chairs, and teacher association leaders who agree to support the state’s application.
There is a very compressed timeline for school districts to consider whether to support the grant process.
Jan, 12: Districts must submit signed MOUs to the State Department of Education.
Jan. 19: SDE must submit grant application and all accompanying MOUs to the U.S. Department of Education.
What can I do?
Get educated. For more details, visit these websites:
· U.S. Department of Education at www.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop
· Idaho State Department of Education at www.sde.idaho.gov/site/race
· Idaho Education Association at www.idahoea.org
· National Education Association at www.nea.org/home/35870.htm
Find out if your school district is interested in signing on to the grant.
Before you sign any documents or make any commitments, contact your IEA region director and gauge member support.