Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Low level of teacher union buy-in dooms Colorado in Race to the Top

An Early Read on the Race to Top Winners
Education Week
August 24, 2010
Posted by guest blogger Sean Cavanagh, with contributions from Sarah D. Sparks and Stephen Sawchuk.

The results are in, and the list of Race to the Top winners in Round Two includes an eclectic mix of 10 states that had put together very different kinds of applications in their funding bids for the $3.4 billion in remaining federal funds.

The winners in this second and final round announced by the U.S. Department of Education today: the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Rhode Island. They join first-round winners Delaware and Tennessee.

A few common threads among the 10 victorious Round Two applicants include their promises to take bold approaches to turning around low-performing schools, and in evaluating teachers.

...Rhode Island's bid, for up to $75 million... will not allow districts to assign a student to a teacher deemed ineffective two years in a row.

Several notable finalists were left off the winner's list: California and Colorado, as well as Arizona, which had greatly improved its score from the first go-around. Colorado lawmakers had revamped their state's laws on teacher evaluation since Round One, ensuring that half of an educator's rating will be based on student performance and that ineffective teachers could be dismissed more easily.

But my colleague Stephen Sawchuk notes that Colorado's level of union buy-in dropped significantly from the first round—the reviewers didn't look favorably on that disconnect in Round One.

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