Is the Race to the Top A Race to the Bottom?
Race to the Top funding has helped create some success stories in Delaware's public school system. But this race has also presented its share of hurdles, including a morale problem among the state's teachers. Now the one-time cash infusion is running out.
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He points to a new, “more rigorous program to help people become school principals, and a teacher evaluation system with feedback being provided to teachers based on whether or not their students are gathering greater skills and knowledge.” He says these are things that didn’t exist before Race to the Top.
Murphy also cites performance indications like a rise in the number of students who are showing proficiency on the state assessment since the beginning of the Race. He says in the past year, DOE has seen more students (grades three through 10) meet their growth targets than the year before.
“So when we look at the success of Race to the Top, I think you can look at it from multiple angles,” he says. “You have to ask yourself: Is the educational context better? Are there better programs, better systems, better standards—these things that wrap around our children.
“And then you have to ask: Is it better for kids? Are we doing a better job educating our children? And we’re certainly on a strong path there in terms of gains and achievement.”
Race to the Controversy
The state’s 19 school districts and nearly as many charter schools signed on with Race to the Top initially, but the Race has experienced a few well-publicized dust-ups.
A couple of school boards—from the Capital School District in Dover and Christina School District in New Castle County—have tangled with the state over Race to the Top initiatives. Christina’s school board first bickered with the state DOE over how it would handle assigning teachers to certain schools and later did battle over how the district would use Race funding for teacher incentives in its high-needs schools. The state eventually withheld Christina’s fourth-year share of funding—$2.3 million.