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State finalist in second round fo federal grants

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POSTED: August 4, 2010 9:34 a.m.
Georgia has been named one of 19 finalists for the second round of federal Race to the Top grants. If the state is named a recipient, it could be awarded up to $400 million over four years to implement the plan it submitted. Delaware and Tennessee were the final recipients of round one funding, in which 40 states and Washington, D.C., submitted applications. Georgia finished third.
Gov. Sonny Perdue said the grant will help Georgia further align its funding and state education policies with the desire to improve student achievement.
Race to the Top is a $4 billion grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment act to support new approaches to improving schools. These competitive grants encourage and reward states that create conditions for education innovation and reform. Fifty percent of the funds awarded to Georgia would be distributed to the local partners to meaningfully enact Race to the Top reforms. The state will study the effectiveness of these practices to identify and scale up those that prove to be effective.
The states must implement plans in four areas of reform:
• Adopting common standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed after high school and compete in the global economy
• Building data systems to measure student growth and success and to inform educators about how they can improve instruction
• Recruiting, preparing and rewarding effective educators in needed areas
• Turning around lowest-achieving schools
“I am pleased that Georgia has been named a finalist again for Race to the Top funding,” State Superintendent of Schools Brad Bryant said. “These funds will enable us to continue implementing the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards, providing more focused school improvement strategies and developing a Longitudinal Data System to ensure that our students will be globally competitive.”
The U.S. Department of Education representatives say round two winners likely will be announced later this month or in early September.
To prepare the application for round two, a survey of more than 20,000 educators was conducted that covered a variety of topics. Additionally, four working groups and a feedback team comprised of educators, administrators, nonprofit and formal education organizations as well as members of business and philanthropic communities worked on the proposal.
Statewide, recommendations focus on strengthening traditional and alternative prep programs for teachers and leaders, supporting teachers more effectively in the classroom, evaluating educators with consistent and object criteria and rewarding educators with performance-based monetary bonuses.
Twenty-six local school districts have signed on to partner with the state in implementing Georgia’s Race to the Top plan. These districts, which make up more than 41 percent of public school students in Georgia, include:
Atlanta, Ben Hill, Bibb, Burke, Carrollton, Chatham, Cherokee, Clayton, Dade, DeKalb, Dougherty, Gainesville, Gwinnett, Hall, Henry, Jones, Meriwether, Muscogee, Peach, Pulaski, Rabun, Richmond, Rockdale, Spalding, Valdosta and White.
The participating districts include 46 percent of Georgia’s students in poverty, 53 percent of Georgia’s African-American students, 48 percent of Hispanics and 68 percent of the state’s lowest-achieving schools.
As part of its phase two application, Georgia added Dade, Peach and Pulaski to the 23 districts that applied in the first round. The three new districts were chosen to align federal school improvement grants with Race to the Top.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation selected 15 states, including Georgia, to benefit from technical assistance for Race to the Top application development. The states were selected based on how well-poised they are to win Race to the Top based on progress in education policy and reform.
Georgia’s application, along with all the states that applied in round two, can be found at www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/phase2-applications/index.html.

 

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