CEA Takes Race To The Top’s First Steps

"Run" by Flickr user Fe Ilya.

Last year, Congress passed the $900 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). To receive federal stimulus money, Ohio and other states promised to make the following educational reforms:

1) Implement standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed after graduation

2) Develop data systems measuring student growth and success

3) Recruit, support and reward effective teachers and develop incentives to retain them

4) Turn around lowest achieving schools

Race to the Top (RttT) is a $4.3 billion competitive grant program that builds upon the reforms set forth in ARRA. The United States Department of Education (USDOE) under the direction of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is administering RttT. Its purpose is to encourage and reward select states that are implementing significant reforms in four areas listed in ARRA.

The absolute priority of RttT is that states applying must be prepared to make a comprehensive and systemic approach to education reform. States must demonstrate that they are prepared to decrease achievement gaps and increase student achievement, as well as high school graduation rates.

The first round of RttT applications from states is due to the USDOE by mid-January. Individual school districts can sign up to be a part of the grant by submitting a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to the state. Ohio’s MOU requires signatures from the school district’s superintendent, school board president and teacher union president to join the grant application. CEA President Rhonda Johnson has signed the MOU on behalf of the Association.

Once independent reviewers score each application, states that are selected to receive RttT funding in the first phase will be announced in the spring of 2010. States that are selected to receive grant funding in the second round will be announced in September of 2010. Ohio could receive up to $400 million, if the state’s application is approved.