Check today's Ohio Education Gadfly for a special Race to the Top analysis recommending strategies for the Buckeye State as it heads into round two of the competition. Ohio has exactly one month (that's when districts and charter schools must sign on) to improve its application. Fordham recommends that Ohio:
- Address the state's round-one areas of weakness directly. Ohio shouldn't just resubmit the same package of proposals but should be sure that its second-round application reflects substantive changes to the areas it scored lowest in. This will show Sec. Duncan and reviewers that the state can take constructive criticism seriously and change course when necessary to improve student performance.
- Pay particular attention to the ???Great Teachers and Leaders??? section. Ohio scored second to lowest of the 16 finalists states in this category. Compared to winning states (Tennessee and Delaware) and those scoring highest in this section (Rhode Island and Louisiana), Ohio hasn't enacted the type of bold reforms related to teachers and leaders that it needs to. Not sure what those reforms look like? Ohio Education Gadfly synthesizes six of the boldest teacher-related reforms and provides examples of each.
- Be aware that other states are moving quickly to improve substantive areas of their applications. You might have heard about Florida and Kentucky making legislative changes to improve Race to the Top competitiveness for round two. Chances are, so have the federal reviewers and Sec. Duncan, who will view Ohio's application alongside other
Today's Dayton Daily News featured an op-ed by Fordham's Terry Ryan on what Ohio can do to win in the next round of Race to the Top. In the op-ed, he provides three actionable points for moving forward:
1. Get more buy-in from districts and the teachers' unions.
2. Show bipartisan support for the state's application.
3. Improve the overall quality of Ohio's proposal.
Terry also reminds us not to lose sight of true purpose of Race to the Top:
???Too much of the conversation around Race to the Top has been about getting the money, when the real issue is launching sustainable reforms that can make a difference in the lives of children.???
This article is the reason I continue to hammer that states need to worry about reform substance not union support when crafting round two RTT applications.
Reading this, you'd think that the reason Connecticut lost in round one was because it had insufficient stakeholder buy-in. The truth is CT had among the worst proposals I've seen. It was weak from top to bottom, especially in the key section on teacher reform.
If CT roped in all of its districts and unions, it might collect another 20 points or so.
But it lost a total of 155 points.
If CT wants to win, it needs to get bold not acquiescent.
Be sure to check out this week's Ohio Gadfly for a Q&A with Rick Hess, who divulges his thoughts on Race to the Top, educational entrepreneurship, Ohio's budget constraints, and why the notion of ???best practices??? in education makes him ???nauseous.??? But don't worry, Rick isn't sick-- he just recognizes the flaws of trying to import good practices, impose them on other organizations, and then assume the same level of effectiveness (*cough??? Ohio's evidence-based model, anyone?).
Also check out a detailed breakdown of Ohio's Race to the Top application and its areas of weakness. Lots of states did poorly on ???Great Teachers & Leaders,??? but Ohio performed second to worst in this area and will have to improve this first and foremost if the state hopes to be competitive.
Definitely don't miss Fordham Ohio's first of several videos in our ???Needles in a Haystack??? series, which features one of Cleveland's top charter schools,?? Citizens' Academy. You'll learn more about Ohio's ???Needles schools??? (e.g., high-performing, high-needs schools that are very hard to find) in May when our report comes out, but stay tuned for video previews by Fordham's Eric Ulas.
On tap for Capital Matters are several pieces worth checking out. Jamie asks why the creator of the evidence-based model (Ohio's new school funding model) himself can't vouch for why it hasn't worked in other states. Emmy discusses a recent report presented to the Columbus school board that argues
About the Editor
Michael J. Petrilli
Executive Vice President
Mike Petrilli is one of the nation's foremost education analysts. As executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, he oversees the organization's research projects and publications and contributes to the Flypaper blog and weekly Education Gadfly newsletter.
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