Delaware okays all 19 districts’ Race to the Top plans

One of only two states to win first-round funding in the federal Race to the Top grant program, Delaware is making its way through this educational marathon.

In its latest step, Delaware approved all 19 districts’ Race to the Top (RTT) plans designed to increase student performance and affect aggressive reforms across the state. Secretary of Education Lillian Lowery announced Wednesday the state will divvy up $18.4 million in year two funding among the state’s 19 districts based on those reform plans. A few of the recipients receiving a lion’s share — Christina School District – $3.4 million, Brandywine – $1.6 million and Red Clay Consolidated – $2.3 million.

$3.4 million for Christina is a far cry from $0. Remember back in April, Christina almost lost its RTT funding when the state threatened to freeze $11 million dedicated to the district, after it said school board members voted against reform plans it promised to implement. 

“The bottom line is that all plans had to include priorities that aligned with the state’s reform goals and strategies. There was no room for moving away from the research principles to which we all agreed when signing our state-wide Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Department of Education,” Lowery said.

The Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) says district leaders, board members, teachers and parents all contributed to these plans, a year in the making. Plans DDOE says share some common themes, including expanding access to advanced coursework, providing planning time for teachers and professional development.

“Local teams analyzed their schools’ challenges and developed comprehensive ways to meet them,” said Lowery.

DDOE says the districts’ plans were required to detail how they will meet state reform goals, as well as additional objectives they have set by addressing how they would:

Implement college and career ready standards and assessments
Improve access to and use of data systems
Build the capacity to use data
Improve the effectiveness of educators based on performance
Ensure equitable distribution of effective educators
Ensure that educators are effectively prepared
Provide effective support to educators
Provide deep support to the lowest-achieving schools
Engage families and communities effectively in supporting students’ academic success

“By being honest about our schools’ weaknesses and open to new ideas to address the needs, we are able to make real changes that will bring real growth,” Lowery said. “With the approval of these plans, the focus can shift from planning to execution.”

Lowery approved the plans for three years. She will determine funding year-to-year based on performance.

DDOE says students, teachers and parents will start seeing changes outlined in the plans as early as this fall. The state says its goal is for every student to graduate college, career ready.

Last year, Delaware was awarded $119 million dollars, spread out over four years, through RTT.

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