Mon. Jul 4th, 2022

The Obama administration’s education reform programs offer up an alphabet soup of acronyms-CCS, RTTT, i3, TIF among them-and they’re impacting teachers and students alike all across the country.

The Common Core Standards, or CCS, in English/language arts and math were made public in June by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. That’s when the Washington-based Thomas B. Fordham Institute graded them, while also comparing them with those of each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The outcome: The CCS English/language arts standards received a B+, while those in math came in with an A-.

As for the individual state standards in English/language arts: California, D.C., and Indiana were tops, with each receiving an A.

Not so, Pennsylvania, however; ours garnered a D.

And, while none of the math state standards proved superior to the Common Core Standards in math, it was deemed that those of California, D.C., Florida, Indiana, and Washington exceeded them; each received an A.

This time, Pennsylvania received an F, along with Kansas, Montana, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

It seems, then, a good thing that 36 or so states have already agreed to adopt the CCS.

And that matters, as well, when it comes to the $4.3 billion set aside from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for the Race to the Top, aka RTTT or R2T, competitive grant program. In the first round, only Delaware and Tennessee were winners.

The remaining $3.4 billion is now up for grabs in this second and final round; 19 finalists have been named.

So you know, scoring of the applications is on a 500-point basis, 20 of which reflects acceptance of the Common Core Standards. Each of the current finalists earned more than 400 points; winners will be announced in September.

Other RTTT criteria include:

• Implementing a statewide longitudinal data system and using that data to improve instruction.

• Providing alternative pathways for aspiring teachers and principals.

• Insuring the growth of charter schools.

• Differentiating teacher and principal effectiveness based on performance, including supporting merit pay.

• Intervening in the lowest-performing schools and districts.

• Turning around struggling schools.

Meanwhile, there is also the Teacher Incentive Fund, aka TIF. The U.S. Department of Education provided $437 million from the stimulus package for this grant program to recognize and reward teachers, principals, and other school personnel who improve student achievement.

Applications had to be in by July 6th, with awardees announced in September. To be eligible, a program had to…

1) “Reward teachers and principals that improve student achievement using fair and transparent evaluations based on multiple measures, including student growth.

2) Demonstrate that there is a high level of local educator support and involvement.

3) Demonstrate that there is a plan for financial sustainability after the 5-year grant award period.

4) Demonstrate that they are implementing performance-based compensation as part of a coherent and integrated strategy for strengthening the educator workforce.

5) Serve high needs schools.”

And then there’s the Investing in Innovation Fund, aka i3, a $650 million fund from the stimulus package created to support emerging innovative education reforms. About 1,700 applications were fielded.

By rahul