As most know by now, yesterday the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation officially named the four school districts that will share in the coveted “Deep DIve” prize. Originally billed as a $500 million endeavor, we learned yesterday that the four winners are now sharing in $335 million grant money. Hillsborough County Schools in Tampa, FL received $100 million; Memphis, TN secured $90 million, Pittsburgh took in $40 million; and five charter school systems in Los Angeles (including Aspire and Green Dot) picked up $60 million to fund teacher quality and effectiveness efforts. A full article on the announcement can be found in this morning’s Washington Post here. And Stephen Sawchuk has a particularly good writeup of the decision over at EdWeek here.
For now, Eduflack is generally done opining about Race and what we should infer by the the final Race to the Top docs released by the U.S. Department of Education. But there are some additional facts now out there that are worth consideration and thought.
At 9 p.m. this evening, the starting gun for the Race to the Top officially started. While many states are already laps into their applications (and many may even be running in the right direction), the U.S. Department of Education officially released the RFP, along with some interesting insights as to how applications will be scored moments ago.
we are now clear on distance, terrain, and other Race conditions. The gun has officially sounded …
Last week, Eduflack opined over at Education Week on the need to differentiate between incentivizing good teachers and incentivizing good teaching. Essentially, we need to make sure that any incentives are not just given as a thank you to teachers, but are used to identify, catalog, and share the best practices that have made their teaching so effective. The full piece can be found here.
A couple of times a year, I ask for Eduflack readers to provide me a personal indulgence as I report on the progress two of the greatest joys in my life — my son and daughter. Many of you have read multiple reports on Miggy, my three and a half year-old son, but we’ve heard less about my two-year-old daughter Anna.
With all of the talk about RttT, school turnarounds, and the like, we haven’t spent much time at all talking about core instructional issues. As many schools continue to struggle reaching AYP and demonstrating the sort of student achievement we all expect (and that the federal law still demands), we just haven’t been focusing on the curricular foundations that help us get to our intended destination. This is particularly true of reading instruction, which has been a red-headed stepchild in federal education policy for the past few years (ever since Congress defunded the Reading First program short of its intended completion date).
a) providing high-quality professional development for instructional staff that is job-embedded, ongoing, and research-based, providing teachers with expertise in literacy instruction appropriate to specific grade levels, analyzing data to improve student learning, and effective implementation of literacy instruction strategies;
b) providing students with explicit, systematic, and developmentally appropriate instruction in reading and writing, including but not limited to vocabulary development, phonemic awareness,
reading comprehension, and the use of diverse texts;
c) utilizing diagnostic, formative, and summative assessments to inform and improve instruction and student learning at all age levels; and
d) supporting schoolwide literacy programs and additional literacy supports to address the specific learning needs of struggling readers and writers, including English language learners and students with disabilities.”
Over at Education Week this week, dear ole Eduflack has a commentary on current teacher quality efforts, asking the question if teacher quality (as primarily reflected in teacher incentive efforts) or teaching quality (such as the current push for improving teacher education) is the strongest path toward real, lasting school improvement.