Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Duncan Checks in with Race Results

The US DOE released reports Wednesday, March 19, to update us on how well the Race to the Top winners are doing (because in US education, we only want some states to be winners). The full collection of reports is here, but Arne wanted to let everyone know about his four superstars in Top Racing.

This year is the final year for implementing RTTT, and at this point we might expect to see some payoff from the investment of $4 Billion-with-a-B. According to Michele McNeil at EdWeek, Duncan says we are seeing those investments "enter the classroom" despite some "contention and chaos" in various states.

The area of improvement that needs the most improvement in its area is, apparently, teacher improvement. For improvement in this area, Duncan singled out North Carolina and Delaware.

This is astonishing. North Carolina has become the poster child for teacher beat-downs in the Eastern US, a state where teachers are leaving by busloads, floundering in debt after years without a raise, and facing the end of any sorts of job protection. This is the state where new teacher pay went up, but not anybody else's. This is the state where districts have been directed to offer their top 25% of teachers $500 in exchange for giving up tenure.This is the state whose leaders have seriously considered putting a twenty-year cap on the length of a teacher's career. This is the state that Virginia has started poaching teachers from simply by offering a decent wage and work conditions.

If this is a state that matches Duncan's idea of how to improve the profession, heaven help us all.

Beyond these four awesome examples of how to up teachers' games, US DOE displayed concern over some other states.

Ohio cannot interest districts in the state's great ideas. Florida's new evaluation system didn't give any different results from its old system, so clearly it's not working, because a new evaluation system apparently should show that there are lots of lousy teachers in the state. DC apparently no longer basks in the warm glow of Rhee-initiated teacher fixiness. Georgia is the very back of the pack-- so far back that they might lose their 9-million-dollar grant.

The DOE is allowing freebie extensions for a fifth year; eleven of the twelve have applied so far.

The full report offers a state-by-state reports that will take a little time and attention to unpack. I look forward to the data nuggets contained therein.

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