Monday, January 2, 2012

Obama administration scrutinizes Georgia's early Race to the Top work

It would appear that phase 2 of Race to the Top has begun: Punishing the winners for their failure to actually be the supermen and superwomen they promised to be.

This from the Journal Constitution:

The Obama administration is raising some concerns about Georgia's early work to improve public schools with a $400 million, four-year federal Race to the Top grant.

The administration is stepping up the pressure on Georgia and 11 other Race to the Top winners to make good on the reforms they promised in 2010 in exchange for millions in grant money. In mid-January, the U.S. Department of Education is set toissue a report sizing up how the winners did in the first year.

A draft of Georgia's "progress report," obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, shows the state was largely on target at the one-year mark. But it points out that Georgia was slow to fill 21 high-level jobs considered critical to executing some of the state's complicated and controversial reform plans,including the launch of a teacher evaluation system that is tied to student achievement.

The report notes that the state won the grant in August 2010 but the final member of its Race to the Top management team wasn't on board until mid-September 2011, in part because of leadership changes:a new governor,new state school superintendent and new school superintendents in Atlanta, DeKalb and four of the 26 participating local school districts.

Those 26 school districts will be piloting the new teacher evaluation system. Educators are skeptical that a fair system can be created given the wide range of student abilities, but generally acknowledge that it's difficult to weed out mediocrity when all teachers are currently rated as either satisfactory or unsatisfactory...

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