STATE – New Jersey is one of seven states that will receive a federal grant in the latest round of Race to the Top education funding.
The U.S. Department of Education announced today Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania will each receive a share of the $200 million in Race to the Top Round 3 (RTT3) fund to advance targeted K-12 reforms aimed at improving student achievement.
New Jersey’s share will be nearly $38 million, half of which will
go to participating districts, and half of which will be used to support
the state’s education agenda.
In a previous round of funding, New Jersey missed out on a $400 million award due to an application error.
“These seven states are now among 22 Race to the Top winners spread out across the country that are investing in key education reforms to prepare more students for college and careers,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “Race to the Top has been a pivotal program that has generated more progress in improving our nation’s education system over the last three years than we’ve seen over the last decade. We look forward to partnering with these states to continue this important work.”
As runners-up in the last year’s Race to the Top competitions, nine states were eligible for round three awards to invest in a portion of their round two plans. However, South Carolina opted out and California submitted an incomplete application.
This latest round of funding focuses on supporting efforts to leverage comprehensive statewide reform, while also improving science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. The seven winning applications include commitments to enhance data systems, raise academic standards, improve principal and teacher support and evaluation systems and implement school interventions in underperforming schools.
As part of its Race to the Top 3 application, New Jersey selected four
objectives in line with the administration’s education reform agenda:
- Development of model curriculum and assessments for all core content subject areas
- Development and rollout of an online Instructional Improvement System (IIS) that will serve as a platform for teachers to access the model curriculum and other supports like formative assessments and instructional tools
- Implementation of the current teacher evaluation pilot program and the creation of a principal evaluation pilot program
- Expansion of high-quality school options by strengthening the Department’s charter authorizing practices
Of these funds, roughly two-thirds of the state’s allocation will be spent on the development of model curriculum and IIS. Last month, the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) outlined a plan to develop model curriculum for math and English language arts in K-12 by September 2012, and all subjects aligned with New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards by September 2013.
This curriculum would consist of six week units of student learning objectives tied to the Common Core State Standards, with a bank of aligned formative assessments and instructional resources. These resources would be optional for all teachers to use as a resource, but may be required for the state’s persistently failing schools if they do not otherwise have high-quality curriculum. Focusing such a large portion of RTT3 funds on these areas is another indication of the NJDOE’s investment in providing high-quality tools to educators to implement high standards for all students.
“This injection of funding will have a transformative impact on teachers
and students across the state and allow us to aggressively pursue
important pieces of our reform agenda, such as implementing the Common
Core State Standards. These revolutionary new standards are aligned
with college- and career-readiness and will change the way we prepare
students for the 21st century. Over the past month, we have heard a
groundswell of support from districts across the state for this type of
model curriculum to ensure that the Common Core State Standards move
from a concept in Trenton to a tool for every classroom in the state,”
said New Jersey’s acting education commissioner Christopher Cerf.
Any district in the state will have the ability to sign up to participate in the Race to the Top 3 award, and 50 percent of the award, or $19 million, will be split between those districts that choose to participate. In January, the NJDOE will provide details on the process for districts to participate.
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