California education officials have presented the state’s Race to the Top Phase 2 application to the U.S. Department of Education.
“Approval of our Race to the Top plan is crucial to help us ensure we have effective teachers in every classroom, strong leaders in every school, common core standards to improve instruction, and an effective data system to ensure that every student is being prepared for success in college and careers,” said California Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell.
California was named last month by the U.S. Department of Education as one of 19 finalists to compete for $3.4 billion in available funding for education reform efforts under Phase 2 of RTTT. Part of the application process requires finalists to travel to the nation’s capitol to present their plans to the peer reviewers who scored their applications. After the state’s presentations and an extended question-and-answer period, the peer reviewers will finalize their scores and comments. Winners will be announced in September.
“Race to the Top is a tremendous opportunity for California, and I am honored to be joined by leading school superintendents to present our state’s application to the peer review panel,” said California Secretary of Education Bonnie Reiss. “California’s application establishes a bold road map for the future of public education that empowers parents, embraces accountability, transforms under-performing schools and supports effective teachers and principals for each student.”
California’s application was built around the strong commitment and leadership of seven superintendents representing a diverse group of school districts: Clovis, Fresno, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Sanger and San Francisco unified school districts. The seven superintendents from these districts were the primary architects of California’s RTTT Phase 2 plan to transform the state’s education system and strengthen California’s ability to prepare all students for success in college and careers. These districts were joined by 302 additional local educational agencies that pledged their commitment to implement California’s Phase 2 RTTT plan by signing binding Memorandums of Understanding.
The participating LEAs represent more than 1.7 million California students, a student population that is larger than the total kindergarten through 12th-grade enrollment of all but six other U.S. states. These LEAs also serve some of the neediest students in the state, with 68 percent of the students in participating districts living in poverty.
California’s RTTT Phase 2 application is rooted in four key areas of reform that call for:
• Refining California’s rigorous state standards by adopting internationally benchmarked common core standards and aligned assessments that better prepare students for success in college and the workplace;
• Recruiting, developing and retaining effective teachers and principals and ensuring that they are helping students that need them the most;
• Expanding our education data system to better measure student success in college and the workforce; and
• Dramatically improving the state’s persistently lowest-performing schools.
California’s Phase 2 RTTT application also emphasizes the critical goal of advancing students’ understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. With funding from the federal government, the state plans to launch new partnerships with institutions of higher education and strengthen and expand the delivery of STEM in California’s high schools. The plan also includes an emphasis on building a strong STEM foundation in the kindergarten through 8th-grade system, an expansion of support systems and infrastructure for the future of STEM.
Information on California’s RTTT Phase 2 application may be found at www.caracetothetop.org.