California has been selected as a finalist to receive up to $700 million for education reform efforts under Phase 2 of the federal Race To The Top competition.
“I am thrilled that our efforts to push for even more progress in improving public education were recognized by the U.S. Department of Education,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell. “California remains in the running for the Race to the Top competition. We now will prepare to present our reform plan before reviewers in Washington. I remain optimistic that California will be granted funding that will help us ensure that 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 or careers.”
California’s Phase 2 RTTT 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.
These seven superintendents 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 more than 300 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 twelfth grade enrollment of all but six other U.S. states. These LEAs also serve some of the neediest students in the state, as 68 percent of the students in participating districts live 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 eighth grade system, an expansion of support systems, and infrastructure for the future of STEM.
Finalists of the Phase 2 grants will present their plans before a review panel in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 9. Recipients are expected to be announced in September.
Information on California’s RTTT Phase 2 application may be found at www.caracetothetop.org.