PA Among Finalists in Federal ‘Race to the Top’ Grant Competition

(GantDaily Graphic)

HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania is one of 19 finalists in the second round of the highly competitive federal Race to the Top grant competition, said Gov. Edward G. Rendell.

If selected, the state could receive up to $400 million in federal funding to help build on and accelerate its strong progress in education reform and student achievement over the past seven years.

“Pennsylvania’s finalist status in round two of Race to the Top is a real testament to the hard work we’ve already done in implementing targeted reforms that help our students to achieve and succeed,” Rendell said. “Pennsylvania’s education community should be enormously proud that these efforts have been recognized in advancing our Race to the Top application.”

Pennsylvania’s application included agreements signed by the superintendent, school board president and local teachers’ union president of 122 of the state’s school districts and 69 charter schools committing to implement strategies and activities that will help meet ambitious student achievement targets over the next four years. Superintendents of another 152 school districts which chose not to participate directly in the Race to the Top application also signed letters of support for Pennsylvania’s Race to the Top strategies.

Race to the Top funds would be used to accelerate ongoing efforts to:

• Increase student achievement and develop data systems capable of supporting reform;
• Turn around the lowest performing schools;
• Create a world-class system for professional development;
• Develop a robust evaluation system for teachers and leaders; and
• Evaluate programs to identify and spread best practices.
The funds would help double the rate of students reaching proficient and advanced levels of academic achievement; ensure more than 100,000 additional students perform at least at grade level; cut in half the number of students testing at the lowest level; and help ensure that at least 85 percent of students in the most struggling schools reach proficiency.

In order to formally participate in Pennsylvania’s Race to the Top application, a school district’s superintendent, school board president, and local teachers’ union president were required to sign an agreement committing to implement specific activities and to meeting student achievement targets.

Pennsylvania’s application committed to establish a rigorous, multi-measure teacher and principal evaluation system with input from school districts and charter schools, intermediate units, state and local teachers’ unions and other professional associations, parents and business and community leaders.

That commitment and collaborative involvement caught the attention of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which awarded Pennsylvania a $769,000 grant to give the state a head start on designing and piloting components of a fair and effective evaluation system. The grant will help the education community identify and evaluate specific measures of student growth that should be used to develop and implement a fair and transparent system for the evaluation of our public school teachers and principals.

“Pennsylvania’s emergence as a Race to the Top finalist is a direct reflection of not only the quality of the reforms outlined in our application, but also the effectiveness of the reforms that Pennsylvania has already undertaken,” said acting Secretary of Education Thomas E. Gluck. “We are extremely pleased to be among the handful of states to make the cut.”

Governor Rendell said continued focus on and investments in education have yielded results in student achievement:
• Since 2002, the percentage of students scoring at the highest performance levels on state tests doubled at the same time the percentage scoring at the lowest levels was cut by nearly half.
• Pennsylvania was the only state to achieve significant progress in reading and math in every grade tested between 2002 and 2008.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the state Race to the Top finalists in a speech today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Pennsylvania and the other finalists will be invited to make a presentation in Washington in mid-August, with the grants to be announced in early September.

Pennsylvania’s Race to the Top application is available online.

Editor’s Note: A list of school districts (SD) and charter schools (CS) that submitted Race to the Top memoranda of understanding follows:

Abington SD
Aliquippa SD
Allegheny Valley SD
Allentown City SD
Armstrong SD
Bald Eagle Area SD
Bangor Area SD
Bellwood-Antis SD
Bethlehem Area SD
Big Spring SD
Blacklick Valley SD
Bradford Area SD
Brockway Area SD
Burrell SD
Catasauqua Area SD
Central Bucks SD
Central Cambria SD
Central Greene SD
Central York SD
Chester-Upland SD
Chichester SD
Clairton City SD
Coatesville Area SD
Cornell SD
Crawford Central SD
Crestwood SD
Curwensville Area SD
Dallas SD
Derry Area SD (Westmoreland Co.)
Duquesne City SD
East Allegheny SD
East Lycoming SD
East Stroudsburg Area SD
Elizabeth Forward SD
Erie City SD
Fannett-Metal SD
Fort LeBoeuf SD
Frazier SD
Girard SD
Glendale SD
Greater Latrobe SD
Greensburg Salem SD
Harbor Creek SD
Harmony Area SD
Harrisburg City SD
Haverford Township SD
Hazleton Area SD
Hermitage SD
Hollidaysburg Area SD
Indiana Area SD
Interboro SD
Iroquois SD
Jeannette City SD
Jenkintown SD
Jim Thorpe Area SD
Kane Area SD
Kiski Area SD
Kutztown Area SD
Lancaster SD
Lebanon SD
Lehighton Area SD
Marple Newtown SD
McKeesport Area SD
Meyersdale Area SD
Midland Borough SD
Minersville Area SD
Mohawk Area SD
Monessen City SD
Montgomery Area SD
Montoursville Area SD
Morrisville Borough SD
Mount Union Area SD
Muhlenberg SD
New Brighton Area SD
New Kensington-Arnold SD
Norristown SD
North East SD
Northern Bedford County SD
Northern Cambria SD
Octorara Area SD
Oxford Area SD
Panther Valley SD
Penn Cambria SD
Penn Hills SD
Penncrest SD
Penn-Delco SD
Perkiomen Valley SD
Philadelphia City SD
Pittsburgh SD
Pittston Area SD
Pleasant Valley SD
Pottsgrove SD
Pottsville Area SD
Quaker Valley SD
Quakertown Community SD
Reading SD
Riverview SD
Salisbury-Elk Lick SD
Schuylkill Haven Area SD
Scranton SD
Sharon City SD
South Park SD
South Western SD
Southeast Delco SD
Southern York County SD
Spring Cove SD
Spring-Ford Area SD
Titusville Area SD
Turkeyfoot Valley Area SD
Tussey Mountain SD
Union City Area SD
Upper Darby SD
Upper Moreland Township SD
Warren County SD
Weatherly Area SD
West Allegheny SD
West York Area SD
William Penn SD
Williamsport Area SD
Wilson SD
Wissahickon SD
York City SD
Ad Prima CS
Alliance for Progress CS
Antonia Pantoja Community CS
Architecture and Design CHS
Bear Creek Community CS
Belmont Academy CS
Belmont CS
Boys Latin of Philadelphia CS
Center for Student Learning CS at Pennsbury
Chester Community CS
Christopher Columbus CS
Collegium CS
Commonwealth Connections Academy CS
Crispus Attucks Youthbuild CS
Delaware Valley CHS
Erin Dudley Forbes CS
Eugenio Maria de Hostos CS
First Phila CS for Literacy
Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures CS
Franklin Towne CES
Franklin Towne CHS
Freire CS
Global Leadership Academy CS
Graystone Academy CS
Green Woods CS
Hardy Williams Academy CS
Imani Education Circle CS
Independence CS
Khepera CS
KIPP Academy Charter School
KIPP West Philadelphia Preparatory Chart Laboratory CS
Lehigh Valley CHS for the Performing Arts
Lincoln CS
Lincoln Leadership Academy CS
Lincoln Park Performing Arts CS
Manchester Academic CS
Maritime Academy Charter School
MAST Community Charter School
Mastery Charter High School
Mastery CS–Pickett Campus
Mastery CS–Shoemaker Campus
Mastery CS–Thomas Campus
Montessori Regional CS
New Foundations CS
New Hope Academy CS
New Media Technology CS
Nueva Esperanza Academy CS
Pennsylvania Cyber CS
People for People CS
Philadelphia Harambee Inst CS
Philadelphia Performing Arts CS
Planet Abacus CS
Pocono Mountain Charter School
Propel CS-East
Propel CS-Homestead
Propel CS-McKeesport
Propel CS–Montour
Renaissance Acad-Edison CS
Roberto Clemente CS
Russell Byers CS
Sankofa Freedom Academy CS
Southwest Leadership Academy CS
Tacony Academy CS
Tuscarora Blended Learning CS
Universal Institute CS
Urban League of Pittsburgh CS
West Oak Lane CS
West Phila. Achievement CES

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