WASHINGTON – Rhode Island is “meeting expectations” in its Race to the Top of education reform, according to a Center for American Progress report.
The Ocean State received $75 million in August 2010 from the Race to the Top fund – a part of President Barack Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act designed to kick-start key educational reform in states.
States that applied for the Race to the Top grant had to show momentum in education reform and promise to work in key areas such as supporting high-performing charter schools, and reinvigorating science and math education.
“The state has done much to move school reform forward, especially in the area of teachers and leaders,” said the Washington, D.C.-based think tank’s report – “Race to the top: What have we learned from the states so far?”
Rhode Island’s key successes included implementing a teacher evaluation system that emphasized student growth and tying in teacher certifications with evaluation outcomes.
The state’s work on educator effectiveness “was, by design, the foundational piece and priority for us. I think we did what we committed to do in the other areas, but the big accomplishments were about effective educators,” said Deborah A. Gist, Rhode Island Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education.
In addition to the positive reviews from the report, Rhode Island needs to further develop its interim assessments and build up its data systems.
The Center’s report also counted Rhode Island’s partnership with charter school operator Achievement First as a “challenge” after proposed school locations were changed due to community protests.
Rhode Island was part of Phase II of the Race to the Top program with the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina and Ohio. Delaware and Tennessee were Phase I states and they received grants in March 2010.
Only Florida and Hawaii were graded as “not meeting expectations” by the Washington, D.C.-based think tank.
Seven other states received government funds in December 2011 and were marked Phase III. Phase III states were not graded in the report.