Governor Deval Patrick, members of the congressional delegation and state legislative leaders today announced that Massachusetts is one of 10 award recipients in the federal Race to the Top competition and will receive $250 million over the next four years to implement landmark reforms in public education. The Commonwealth's application received the highest score among the winners, which, in addition to Massachusetts, are Washington, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Rhode Island.
"This is a momentous day for our students, our teachers and our future," said Governor Patrick, who traveled to Washington, D.C. on August 10th to advocate for the state's proposal. "This is further confirmation of our leadership in education reform. And though our kids top the nation in student achievement, these resources will help us reach those we have not reached, the kids stuck in the achievement gap."
The cornerstone of the Massachusetts Race to the Top application is the Governor's Achievement Gap Act of 2010. The most sweeping education reform legislation since the landmark Education Reform Act of 1993, Governor Patrick's bill, which he signed into law in January, provides new and more immediate opportunities to turn around underperforming schools and close achievement gaps, expand access to successful charter schools and authorize new Innovation Schools to provide greater choice for students and their families.
"We've had the talent, commitment and the dedication, and now we have the funding we need to dramatically improve every student's educational experience," said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. "Race to the Top will bolster our actions to transform schools and ensure every student has access to an excellent education."
Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia applied for the groundbreaking $4.35 billion reform grant in the second phase of the competition, and Massachusetts was one of 19 finalists selected last month. Governor Patrick led a delegation of state officials to Washington, D.C. to present the state's proposal and discuss in detail how the funding will be utilized to implement strategies to increase educator effectiveness, turn around underperforming schools and ensure every student has access to high quality instruction tied to high standards and expectations.
"The hits keep on coming, and we're keeping our eye on the prize which is winning more resources for Massachusetts to support reform," said Senator John Kerry. "Our entire congressional delegation pulled together with the Governor and the legislature to advance our state's application and we are proud to see Massachusetts go all the way and win the Race to the Top."
"Massachusetts has always been a leader in providing a quality public education to children who live in the state. We have the best teachers and school administrators. That is why today's important announcement should come as no great surprise. These federal funds will help implement reforms that will ensure that our students remain the best and the brightest," said Congressman Richard E. Neal.
"Every student should have access to a quality education and, at a time of state budget shortfalls and ongoing economic challenges, Race to the Top funds will provide local school districts with critical resources to make further improvements to the state's already first-class education system," said Congressman John F. Tierney. "I look forward to continuing to work in partnership with the Commonwealth to help move Massachusetts schools forward."
"Today's announcement that Massachusetts has been chosen as a winner in Phase II of the Department of Education's Race to the Top competition reaffirms the Commonwealth's strong commitment to leading the way in setting high educational standards," said Congressman William Delahunt. "It is a testament to the hard work of Governor Patrick and his Administration in aggressively pursuing this funding and I am pleased to join today in recognizing the hard work of our students, parents, teachers and administrators."
"This is wonderful news for our schools and communities and I congratulate all those whose hard work and dedication made this possible," said Congressman Stephen F. Lynch. "Massachusetts has some of the highest educational standards in the country and I am proud that these funds will be used to implement reforms that will further improve our schools."
"Massachusetts' selection for Race to the Top funding is a testament to the excellent and innovative education reform proposals that Governor Patrick and education leaders from across the Commonwealth have put forward," said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. "This significant award of federal dollars will help eliminate achievement gaps and improve troubled schools so that every child in Massachusetts has the opportunity to succeed."
"Massachusetts is already ahead of the nation in education, but we should never rest on our laurels," said Senate President Therese Murray. "Today's great news is the latest example of our ongoing commitment to always do the best for our schools and our students. Along with recent education reform legislation and continuing high expectations, this funding will help us reach even higher marks for quality education and success for all students."
"Thanks to our passage of landmark education reform legislation designed to narrow our unacceptable achievement gap and promote accountability and innovation in our schools, we have positioned our state to receive the much-needed federal dollars that were announced today," said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. "As we seek to ensure that every child in Massachusetts receives a world class education, these Race to the Top funds will be instrumental in providing each and every student across the Commonwealth with the education they deserve."
Massachusetts earned the top score in Phase II of the competition with a total of 471 points, which is also higher than the two states selected for funding in Phase I.
The successful Massachusetts proposal includes strategies to:
* 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;
* Provide curricular and instructional resources to equip every educator with the tools necessary to promote and support student achievement;
* Concentrate great instruction and supports for educators, students and families in the lowest performing schools and districts to create the conditions needed for improved student achievement; and
* Increase dramatically the number of students who graduate from high school ready for college and career.
Large, small, urban, suburban and rural districts from across the Commonwealth - more than two-thirds of the state - agreed to implement the initiatives outlined in the state's RTTT application. In all, these 275 participating communities and schools represent 74 percent of K-12 students across the Commonwealth and 88 percent of the state's low-income students.
"This was an incredibly competitive process, and I am thrilled to have Massachusetts selected," said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. "This funding is going to allow us to implement reforms, innovations and improvements that will benefit every single child in the Commonwealth. We have a lot of work ahead, and I cannot wait to get started."
"Race to the Top will allow Massachusetts to fund the reform strategies that we know will make a difference for students," said Education Secretary Paul Reville. "Our sharp focus on improving instruction, increasing the use of student data and expanding supports for both teachers and students position us well to take the next big step in education reform."
"This is outstanding news for the Commonwealth," said Tom Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents. "Race to the Top will allow us to bring together our teachers, principals, superintendents and school committees as key partners in designing improved education opportunities for our students, and will lead to improved educational opportunities across the state."
"I believe that we will look back on this award as the real stimulus of 2010," said Glenn Koocher, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. "This will revolutionize the way we promote teaching and learning as well as the way we implement standards of curricula and accountability for educators and public policy makers."
"I'm proud of the work that went into this winning proposal," said Paul Toner, President of the Massachusetts Teachers Association. "A great deal of effort was made to ensure that all key stakeholders in our public schools, including our teachers, collaborated on the final application. One of the most important elements of our proposal is a system that measures the value of a teacher's work by a broad range of indicators - not just an arbitrary test score. I'm hopeful that the additional resources and funding from the Race to the Top program will allow our public school educators to expand on the great work that they are already doing every day in their classrooms."
"This award will give schools and districts the resources and direction they need to prepare every child for success in college, career and citizenship," said Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education Chairman Robert Richardson, East Coast Education Manager for Intel Massachusetts.
"This designation is about more than much-needed funding -- it recognizes that Massachusetts is serious about maintaining high standards, turning around low performing schools and creating a human capital system than ensures we have the very best teachers in all of our classrooms," said Linda Noonan, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education.
"The Progressive Business Leaders Network (PBLN) is proud that Massachusetts is a winner in the national Race to the Top competition," said Executive Director Andy Tarsy. "PBLN congratulates US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan for the vision behind this competition as well as Governor Deval Patrick and the extraordinary coalition we are proud to be part of in Massachusetts. Massachusetts earned this victory by putting the needs of the children above all else. This is a victory for innovation and excellence, a victory for the economy and a victory for all students."
"This is a great day for Massachusetts and there is no question that the funds are urgently needed," said Paul Grogan, President of The Boston Foundation. "But it also represents confirmation at the highest level that Massachusetts is in the vanguard of K-12 education reform nationally. We at the Boston Foundation are particularly grateful to all of the members of the Race to the Top Coalition and the crucial role that it played in the passage of education reform legislation and in turn it played in getting the Race to the Top funding."
Massachusetts was also selected as a finalist in Phase I 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 II 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 focused on results over process, clarified how students and teachers will benefit from the initiatives and strategies and clearly defined how the state's public school system will be improved over the next four years.
Massachusetts' full Race to the Top application is posted at http://www.doe.mass.edu/arra/default.html?section=2