The Race to the Top – Getting Out of Our Comfort Zone

Fifteen states and the District of Columbia (out of 41 applications) have made the first cut in The Race for The Top’s pool of $4.35 billion.  Two billion dollars are expected to be presented to those who are expected to be selected this month.

The finalists are: Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

A second round of applications will be considered this summer.

A variety of criteria was involved including  lifting the caps on charter schools and to allow the linkage of teacher evaluations to student test scores.

States are being judged on past reforms and how strongly they are planning to pursue changes in four areas:

  • Standards to prepare students for college or careers in a global economy.
  • Measuring and improving student learning by building better data-tracking systems.
  • Recruiting and retaining effective teachers and principals.
  • Turning around the worst-performing schools.

While I am in favor of getting rid of failing schools, I do not believe that the final report card is in about the success or failure of charter schools.  Some of the charter schools are doing an amazing job of raising test scores and shrinking the achievement gap between minorities and white students.  While some charter schools are failing to close the achievement gap.  What we clearly know is that “one size doesn’t fit everyone”. Charter schools which limit who they accept and who they reject are simply leaving too many children behind and “creaming off the best of the lot”,