Last Friday marked the final day to weigh-in on the new District Race to the Top language. We’re excited about many aspects of the proposal released in late May, and we hope to see the following policies remain in the final regulations to be released this summer:
Competitive Preference Priority for Results, Resource Alignment, and Integrated Services – The key to sustainability of results is widespread community engagement and alignment across the educational continuum. By engaging a wide range of local partners and aligning their resources to support shared goals, communities will realize and sustain significant gains in student improvement.
Productivity & Data Driven Decision Making – The emphasis on productivity through greater transparency of resources, ongoing continuous improvement, and resource alignment is key to transformative thinking at the district level.
In addition to maintaining the policies above, Strive sent a letter to the Department encouraging it to consider the following improvements to the proposed District Race to the Top program:
Eligible Entity – Clarify that districts can partner with intermediary organizations to drive continuous improvement, identify impactful practices, and align and leverage local resources to scale practices that will help the district meet identified goals.
Ongoing Engagement of Community Stakeholders – While we commend the Department for encouraging applicants to engage community stakeholders in the application process, we encourage the Department to ensure continued involvement of key stakeholders throughout the implementation process.
Inclusion of Non-Academic Indicators –This will give districts the flexibility to identify indicators relevant to their student population.
Encourage Regional Scale and Sustainability – As applicants demonstrate how they will achieve district wide reform beyond participating schools, we believe it is important to encourage districts to think beyond their traditional geographic boundaries.
Additional Metrics for Performance Measurement – Additional measures should be included in the performance measurement section to ensure a more robust picture of student learning, including metrics for grad-level reading, kindergarten readiness, and enrollment and completion of post-secondary education and/or training.
Drive Quality Continuous Improvement – We recommend strengthening the proposed language to ensure grantees implement a quality continuous improvement process, using data to improve, and scale best practices.
Elevate the Importance of Cradle to Career Partnerships and Alignment – Community collaboratives across the country have begun to move the needle on education reform, celebrating significant results that span from cradle to career. These collaboratives recognize the need for dramatic change across the entire education continuum and have committed to an ambitious vision that tracks success from kindergarten readiness to college and career success. The Department should encourage more communities to embrace this type of reform by applying a sliding scale to the competitive preference priority with maximum points awarded to districts seeking funds for a cradle to career approach.
We hope you all had the opportunity to submit comments to the Department, (you can download our letter, which explains the above recommendations in more detail, here) and we look forward to the release of the final regulations this summer.