Friday, December 23, 2011

Duncan Tosses Kentucky a Bone

7 Runners-Up Finally Share (a Much Smaller) Race to Top Prize

Unfunded by the State
Holliday Gets a Pittance Toward SB 1 Implementation 
from the Feds

Kentucky has been positioning itself as the nation's first and foremost supporter of "school reform." Education Commissioner Terry Holliday has stood with Education Secretary Arne Duncan to tout the Obama administration's approach to education. But while Kentucky was the first to sign up for national standards (and the national testing that will follow), the federal government has done little to return the love. Some KSN&C readers wonder if the toxic relationship between Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell and the White House has cost the state the recognition it deserved, and might have otherwise received. Others wonder if Kentucky's application was really all the department of education would have us believe. Still others wonder if Senate Bill 1 and the whole Race to the Top thing is even a good idea and worth the effort. Go figure.

This from Politics K-12:
Seven states that were runners-up in last year's $4 billion Race to the Top competition will share a $200 million consolation prize that will fund small pieces of their original plans, with many choosing to focus on implementing common standards and improving teacher evaluation systems.

The seven winners are: Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Their grants range in size, based on each state's student population, from $17 million for Colorado, Kentucky, and Louisiana to nearly $43 million for Illinois.

"These states are absolutely ready to do great things," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a conference call with reporters yesterday evening.

The announcement comes as the U.S. Department of Education has begun to raise the pressure on the 12 winners of last year's competition...

The announcement of the latest, $200 million in awards was surrounded by little suspense. The department made all nine runners-up from last year eligible to win this time around so long as they agreed to stick to the reform agenda they pitched last year, and demonstrated how the piece of their plan that they chose to highlight also benefited the STEM, or science, technology, engineering, and math, subjects...

With just $200 million to be split this time around—far less than the $4 billion up for grabs last year—the fact that two states did not participate bumped up everyone else's prize.

The department has now awarded all of its fiscal 2011 Race to the Top money, and can turn to figuring out what to do with the nearly $550 million Congress set aside to extend the brand during fiscal 2012. Duncan has said no decisions have been made on how that money will be awarded. However, during last night's call, he made clear that he does want to use at least some of the money for districts, saying that Congress' decision to open up Race to the Top to the local level was a "great opportunity." He also said the money is an opportunity to focus more on early learning and STEM...
And this KDE press release:

Today, the U.S. Department of Education announced that Kentucky will receive a Race to the Top grant of $17 million to advance targeted K-12 reforms aimed at improving student achievement.

Kentucky and six other states -- Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey and Pennsylvania -- will each receive a share of the $200 million in Race to the Top Round 3 (RTT3) fund.

“While the grant amount is significantly less than the original $175 million request, we are very excited about being able to gain funds to implement Senate Bill 1 initiatives and expand AdvanceKentucky sites,” said Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday. “Within the budget of $17 million, we will use state and district allocations to implement professional development and resources for Senate Bill 1.”

Senate Bill 1, passed in the 2009 session of the General Assembly, calls for a new assessment and accountability system for the state’s public schools, along with more rigorous academic standards, intensive teacher and administrator training, and strengthened collaboration among higher education, teacher/administrator certification and P-12 education sectors.

AdvanceKentucky is a statewide math-science initiative and partnership between Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation (KSTC) and the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI). AdvanceKentucky expands access to, preparation for and participation in academically rigorous coursework, specifically the Advanced Placement (AP) Program.

As runners-up in the last year’s Race to the Top competitions, Kentucky and eight other states were eligible for Round Three awards to invest in a portion of their Round Two plans. However, South Carolina opted out, and California submitted an incomplete application.

RTT3 focuses on supporting efforts to leverage comprehensive statewide reform, while also improving science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

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