The U.S. Department of Education issued a report card for states taking part in Race to the Top, the federally-funded program to improve education.
“They’re still holding us accountable to complete the work that’s still underway,” said Dr. Lillian Lowery, Delaware’s Education Secretary.
Delaware was the first state to be awarded money through Race to the Top, a total of $119 million dollars. Now, federal education leaders have detailed the accomplishments, and challenges, facing the state over the first year of implementing Race to the Top.
Accomplishments listed in the report for Delaware include the state’s effort to build capacity for statewide reform, raising standards, using data to improve instruction, and improving teacher quality. Teacher quality was also a major challenge for Delaware, according to the report. Much like some other Race to the Top states, Delaware delayed its plan to tie student performance to personnel decisions for teachers until the 2012-13 school year.
“We have been working throughout the year with over 400 teachers in different subject areas, K-12, and so they’re coming together, looking at their content area standards, because most anything we do in education has national standards, and comparing that to the job description of the expectations for the particular job,” said Lowery.
Some educators, however, have expressed concern about the teacher rating process, describing the process as unfair and too one-size fits all. Dr. Lowery believes miscommunication is at the root of their concerns, saying the state Department of Education is working diligently to collaborate with teachers and educators every step of the way.
“Sometimes what we have to work to do is distinguish fact from fiction… we have to depend, somewhat, on our local leaders — our superintendents and prinicipals — to help us give the real story and we just have to make sure that we’re communicating appropriatelly at every level that they can have the information needed to mitigate some people’s anxiety,” said Lowery.
Looking ahead, the report calls for Delaware to meet several major goals including filling teacher vacancies in hard to serve schools. The state also needs to implement interventions in four Partnership Zone schools, as well as plan for six more schools to join the Partnership Zone for reform.