Governor Deval Patrick and state education officials received word from the U.S. Department of Education today that Massachusetts has been selected as one of 19 finalists in the second phase of the federal Race to the Top competition.
A team of five people from Massachusetts will go to Washington, D.C. during the week of August 9 for an in-person interview with federal officials, and final award notifications are expected to be made before Labor Day. If selected, Massachusetts could be eligible to receive as much as $250 million in federal funding to implement the education reform efforts detailed in the proposal over the next four years.
"This is good news for our students and their teachers," said Governor Patrick. "The Massachusetts Race to the Top proposal details a solid plan for moving our schools forward and realizing excellence for all students."
"Massachusetts has the right plan to build upon education reform as well as the experience to fully implement that plan to benefit our students," said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. "The Race to the Top proposal outlines concrete steps and detailed plans to transform our schools and strengthen our already nationally recognized academic programs."
Massachusetts was selected as a finalist in Phase 1 of the competition, but did not receive an award when only two states out of the 41 who applied, Tennessee and Delaware, were selected for funding earlier this year. Prior to submitting the Phase 2 proposal, state officials worked closely with teams of educators, administrators, business leaders and other stakeholders to evaluate, strengthen and sharpen the focus of the state's application. The enhanced proposal focuses on results over process, clarifies how students and teachers will benefit from the initiatives and strategies, and clearly defines how the state's public school system will be improved over the next four years.
"Our selection as a finalist is reflective of dual efforts to be highly collaborative and at the same time bold with our proposal," said Education Secretary Paul Reville. "We lead the nation in student achievement and this proposal positions us to build on our success."
"While we believe our Phase 1 proposal was strong, the additional time allowed us to refocus and develop a plan that is clear and stronger by building on reform activities that have been implemented since our original application was submitted," said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. "I am confident that our proposal is highly competitive, and I am proud of the work we have done."
In all, 276 school districts and charter schools signed Memorandums of Understanding to signal their commitment to implement the initiatives in the application, 20 more than signed on to participate in Phase 1. Those districts include large, small, urban, suburban and rural communities, representing 88 percent of the state's low-income students and 74 percent of K-12 students statewide. Of the 276 participating districts, 159 are traditional school districts, 60 are charter schools, 36 are regional school districts and 21 are vocational schools. The proposal was also endorsed by the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, the Massachusetts Association of School Committees and the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the state's largest teacher's union.
Each participating district has committed to participating in efforts to:
1) Attract, develop, and retain an effective, academically capable, diverse and culturally competent educator workforce to ensure every student is taught by a great teacher and every school and district is led by a great leader;
2) Provide curricular and instructional resources to provide every educator with the tools necessary to promote and support student achievement;
3) Concentrate great instruction and supports for educators, students, and families in our lowest performing schools and districts to create the conditions needed for improved student achievement; and
4) Increase dramatically the number of students who graduate from high school ready for college and career.
The other states selected as finalists are Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Carolina, as well as the District of Columbia.
The final awards are expected to be announced in time for the new school year in September.
Massachusetts' full Race to the Top application is posted at http://www.doe.mass.edu/arra/?section=2.