The U.S. Education Department announced on Aug. 23 that New York State has been awarded $696,646,000 in the second round of the “Race to the Top” competition. Of the ten states named winners, only Massachusetts’s application scored more points than New York’s.
New York State’s funding will help advance the Regents education reform agenda through 27 projects over four grant years. $348.3 million of the “Race to the Top” funds will be awarded to participating school districts and charter schools over the course of the grant to support implementation, while $348.3 million will be used to build the capacity of educators statewide and directly support new curriculum models, standards, assessments, teacher and principal preparation and professional development, and the statewide student data system.
New York State’s Race to the Top application incorporates reforms enabled by legislation enacted earlier this year. The legislation:
- Establishes a new teacher and principal evaluation system that makes student achievement data a substantial component of how educators are assessed and supported;
- Raises New York’s charter school cap from 200 to 460 and enhances charter school accountability and transparency;
- Enables school districts to enter into contracts with Educational Partnership Organizations (the term for nonprofit Education Management Organizations in New York State) for the management of their persistently lowest-achieving schools and schools under registration review;
- Appropriates $20.4 million in capital funds to the State Education Department to implement its longitudinal data system.
It is not yet known to what degree local school districts will benefit financially. Commenting on New York State’s success in the nationwide competition, Haldane Central School District Superintendent Mark Villanti said, “Haldane’s Board of Education and teacher’s union supported the [New York State] application. No one knows as yet what the financial implications are. We do know that any aid is targeted… and must support the goals for ‘Race to the Top.’ We are very pleased ” — and expect that [the funding] will lead to improved student achievement.”