Saturday, March 6, 2010

Kentucky's RTTT status makes sense under the RTTT rules

Kentucky is one of sixteen finalists in the competition for $4 billion in Race to the Top grants.  I've spotted some bloggers who find that odd (here and here, for example). It isn't odd at all.  Consider this overview of how the 500 possible points in the RTTT scoring system are divided up, with more detail available here.

States that earned 400 or more of those points became finalists this week. 

Kentucky's score has not been published, but it's no surprise that it was above the 400 mark.

Kentucky lost some points for not having charter schools,  but there are many other areas where we likely got all or most of the points available:
  • On standards, we have the strongest commitment in the country to using the common core.
  • On assessment, we passed SB 1 and committed to revising our testing to match those standards almost a year ago. 
  • On lowest-achieving schools, we strengthened our intervention options with new legislation and regulations adopted in January.
  • On data systems, the Department committed to rapid upgrades, and higher education co-signed the commitment. 
  • On teachers and leaders, the Department offered a serious plan on more constructive evaluations, and the Education Professional Standards Board is well on its way to strengthening teacher preparation,  education masters degree programs, and principal preparation.
  • On funding, we have more stable, more equitable resources than most states in the union.
  • Under success factors, we brought maximum possible local support for the application: 174 of 174 superintendents, 174 of 174 school board chairs, and 153 of 153 local teachers' union leaders.
My guess is that among the finalists, some are considerably closer to the 500 maximum than we are--and having charters will be one of their advantages.

That means that in the upcoming presentations to win a first-round grant, Kentucky must make a strong pitch for our strengths, starting with the clarity, energy, and unity built into our plan.   Other states may have promised everything imaginable.  We've promised less--especially on charters--but we've made promises we intend to keep.

Small side note: the current competition really is for an even $4 billion. An additional $350 million budgeted for Race to the Top will be awarded in a separate competition for high quality assessments.

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Updates and data on Kentucky education!