Running the Race
Delaware scored a coup when it won millions of dollars in federal Race to the Top funding for education reform. So what’s the plan?
(page 2 of 3)
Targeted high-needs schools will get $2.5 million to entice highly effective teachers and principals to sign on, $7 million to pay retention bonuses to highly effective teachers, $2 million to train principals, and $1.65 million over five years for 100 teacher residents specializing in science, technology, engineering and math.
Another $8 million-plus will go to the highest-needs schools, those that have failed to make adequate progress toward improvement according to the standards of No Child Left Behind. About 10 schools will participate in a turnaround program called Partnership Zone over the four-year period of the Race to the Top grant. The first three entered the program in September. They have one year to detail a turnaround plan. The next seven schools will enter next fall, with the same one year allotted for planning.
College readiness gets a boost, too. Beginning this year the state will pay for 11th-grade public school students to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test. AP Summer institutes will train more than 180 teachers to teach AP courses. All eighth-graders in public schools will have access to SpringBoard, the College Board’s pre-AP program.
The state plans to continue funding these programs after Race to the Top funds run out in 2014, which, with start-up costs already paid, should cost significantly less. Markell says that $8.5 million will be enough to cover the new programs and should be no problem to work into the state’s $1 billion annual education budget.
Delaware’s 19 school districts and 18 of 19 charter schools submitted preliminary reform proposals at the end of June. (Charter School of Wilmington is ineligible because it receives no Title 1 funding.) They have until next year to complete their plans for the final three years of the Race to the Top program. All schools will receive some start-up funding this year, Lowery says.
“We wanted to use the first year for LEAs to work with their local boards, superintendents, teachers, teacher associations and support staff, to make sure everyone clearly understands the governor’s reform plan for public education and how these Race to the Top monies can help us to bring it to scale, but also to get the flexibilities that are needed to do the work,” Lowery says.
“In other words, the local bargaining units are going to have to say, ‘We’re willing to work a longer day. We’re willing to have a longer year. We’re willing to give up some time here so we can do more for students there, and we’re willing to look at how we get compensated so we can get highly qualified teachers in our high-needs schools and incentivize them to stay there.’”
The state’s Department of Education took a cue from the federal government’s requirements for funding: Before they can claim a share of the funds, local districts and LEAs must prove their plans are worthy.
Page 3: Running the Race, continues...