A little over two weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Education announced its draft proposal for a new Race to the Top competition that invites school districts to compete for 2012 grants. Today, researchers and policy experts that make up the PreK-3rd Grade National Work Group (including the Early Education Initiative) submitted recommendations that praise many aspects of the competition and explain why some sections require changes to encourage high-quality applications from districts that want to focus on PreK-3rd initiatives.
The design includes several features that the work group applauds:
- an emphasis on personalized learning;
- the ability for applicants to tailor their proposals to specific grade-level bands;
- the inclusion of principals, superintendents, and school boards in evaluation systems;
- and the potential for private-public partnerships.
The recommendations also focus on four areas in the draft guidelines that could be improved:
- assessment of teachers using student-performance data;
- rewarding LEAs for ensuring equitable access across the PreK-3rd grade span;
- inclusiveness and coherence of P-12 data systems; and
- the competitive preference priority – Results, Resource Alignment, and Integrated Services.
Lisa Guernsey, director of the Early Education Initiative at the New America Foundation, helped to craft the recommendations along with colleagues at the University of Virginia, the University of Washington, the New Schools Project at Erikson Institute, FirstSchool and the FPG Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Institute for Youth and Families at the National League of Cities, and the Council of Chief State School Officers.
Click here to read the work group's recommendations. The recommendations were also posted in the comments field of the Ed.gov site.