Race to the Top (RTTT) is President Obama’s signature education initiative. In August 2010, the U.S. Department of Education announced that the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MA DESE) will receive a RTTT grant worth $250 million that will be spent over four years to pursue various education reforms in conjunction with local school districts.
AFT MA did not endorse the state’s RTTT application because we had serious objections to major pieces of the federal government’s RTTT policy framework, including the four mandated school intervention models and the tying of teacher evaluations to student test scores (a recent policy brief by the Economic Policy Institute identifies the numerous problems with this approach). Our position on these issues has not changed, and we will continue to push for smarter and more effective ways to turn around schools and evaluate teachers.
However, there are several promising elements in the state’s RTTT plan, particularly in the areas of curriculum and instruction, and we look forward to working with state officials on these efforts. We also encourage our affiliates to work with their districts on the development and implementation of local RTTT plans.
To learn more about Massachusetts’ RTTT plan and its implications for local school districts and educators, visit the MA DESE’s RTTT portal page at http://www.doe.mass.edu/arra/?section=2. It’s important to note that, under the plan, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be overhauling current regulations pertaining to teacher and administrator performance evaluation. New regulations are expected by spring 2011. Please visit our teacher evaluation page to stay abreast of these developments.
To learn more about the federal RTTT competition, including a list of winning states, visit the US DoE’s website at: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/index.html.