Race to the Top District Competition Draft

Public Comment Section for Race to the Top District Executive Summary Now Closed

Thank you to everyone who has submitted opinions, ideas, suggestions, and comments on this dedicated Web site pertaining to the draft executive summary of the draft requirements, priorities, selection criteria, and definitions for the Race to the Top District (RTT-D) competition.

We are no longer accepting input on our Web site. Later this summer, we will publish the Notice Inviting Applications (NIA) for the RTT-D Program in the Federal Register.

Please check our RTT-D Program page for updates.

Thank you


Thank you for your interest in the Race to the Top – District (RTT-D) Program. Like the Race to the Top State program, the Race to the Top – District Program is designed to encourage unprecedented innovation and bold comprehensive reform in elementary and secondary education.

In order to run a rigorous competition and obligate funds to grantees before the December 31, 2012 statutory deadline, the Department of Education (Department) will waive rulemaking for this new program, pursuant to its authority in the General Education Provisions Act.

However, because the Department is very interested in your input, we are posting this draft executive summary of the draft requirements, priorities, selection criteria, and definitions for the Race to the Top District competition on this Web site. We encourage all interested parties to submit opinions, ideas, suggestions, and comments pertaining to the Race to the Top District program. This document will be posted for public input until 5:00 PM EDT on Friday, June 8, 2012, at which time the input section will be closed and we will begin considering input received as we develop final requirements, priorities, selection criteria, and definitions. Though the Department will not respond to comments, the Department will read and consider all comments in finalizing the Race to the Top District competition design. Later this summer we will publish a notice of final requirements, priorities, selection criteria, and definitions in the Federal Register along with a notice inviting applications.

The Race to the Top District competition will build on the lessons learned from the State-level competitions and support bold, locally directed improvements in teaching and learning that will directly improve student achievement and teacher effectiveness. More specifically, Race to the Top District will reward those LEAs that have the leadership and vision to implement the strategies, structures and systems of support to move beyond one-size–fits-all models of schooling, which have struggled to produce excellence and equity for all children, to personalized, student-focused approaches to teaching and learning that will use collaborative, data-based strategies and 21st century tools to deliver instruction and supports tailored to the needs and goals of each student, with the goal of enabling all students to graduate college- and career-ready.

Successful LEAs will provide the information, tools, and supports that enable teachers to truly differentiate instruction and meet the needs of each child. These LEAs will have the policy and systems infrastructure, capacity, and culture to enable teachers, teacher teams and school leaders to continuously focus on improving individual student achievement. They will organize around the goal of each child demonstrating content and skills mastery and credentialing required for college and career and will allow students significantly more freedom to study and advance at their own pace - both in and out of school. As importantly, they will create opportunities for students to identify and pursue areas of personal passion-- all of this occurring in the context of ensuring that each student demonstrates mastery in critical areas identified in college- and career ready standards. LEAs successfully implementing this approach to teaching and learning will lay the modern blueprint for raising student achievement, decreasing the achievement gap across student groups, and increasing the rates at which students graduate from high school prepared for college and careers

The Department is posting this document on a moderated site, which means that all posts will be reviewed before they are posted. We intend to post all responsive submission on a timely basis. The Department reserves the right to withhold comments that are: unrelated to this request, inconsistent with the Department's Web site policies, advertisements or endorsements and/or otherwise inappropriate. Additionally, to protect your privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information such as Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, or email addresses in the body of your comments. For more information, please be sure to read the "comments policy."

Please understand that posts must be related to the Race to the Top District competition and program, and should be as specific as possible. We ask that you limit your post to 2,000 words. All opinions, ideas, suggestions, and comments are considered informal input and, again, the Department will not respond to any posts. If you include a link to additional information in your post, we urge you to ensure that the linked information is accessible to all individuals, including individuals with disabilities. We look forward to receiving your ideas and suggestions. However, the input you provide in your post may or may not be reflected in the final Race to the Top District requirements, priorities, selection criteria, or definitions or other policies that are announced in the Race to the Top District notice inviting applications.

Comments

I support this statement and encourage all to pay attention to the need for physically educated young people that will be our future leaders and workforce that will maintain this countrty's reputation in the world. Too many school districts are cutting the very educational subject that supports learning and stimulates brain activity which affects outcomes that are measured as scores on a standardized test. The funds from programs such as ADEA, ESEA and from RTTT should be used for all teachers and focus on the whole child not just on one or two subjects. Physically educated and active students are better learners and achieve more and perform better in school please use the research, look at safety in schools and class size that negatively affect learning and the environment that learning takes place. Physical education activity supports all subjects and all learning and with cross curriculum support students will thrive in every subject.

As a physical educator of 36 years I can endorse this statement. I have seen the growth of our "couch potato" nation from it's inception. We need to include more health and physical eduction in our youth's lives because they are not getting it at home. Parents are too busy working two and sometimes three jobs to support their family. Older siblings are raising younger siblings and the television and xbox ar convenient babysitters.

As a pjysical educator, I wholeheartily agree with the comments made by Dr. Shawn G. Hayes

This is an exciting opportunity for us to look at the real research behind educating our minorities and special education students. It would be great if we could look at a comprehensive schooling model for our primary students that looks at integrated units for all kids and has accommodations for tutoring and other services build into it so all children are successful.

I would hope that this competition would specifically include charter schools, that are LEAs, or even those that are not, if possible, and allow them to apply as a consortium, or individually if they meet the numeric threshold on students. This would increase the pool of quality applicants and also allow for the laboratories of innovation aspect of charters to be better realized potentially.

I would hope that the scoring or eligibility criteria do not lean too heavily on current academic performance, as this should encourage districts who may not be performing now, to have improvement plans and implement them.

As a a graduate of rural area, this grant would not allow my area to even apply for the grant. The minimum number expected to serve would not even cover the entire county of eligible students. This grant would automatically prevent many deserving rural communities to even apply. One of the goals is college enrollment, the programs that have shown proven records of college enrollment that have served our community for many years with a proven track record has been the TRIO Upward Bound and TRIO Educational Talent Search Program. Why not give additional funds to these programs to be able to services more students??

While the childhood obesity epidemic grows, schools today do not provide adequate health education or physical education, as recommended by leading healthcare professionals, health-related national organizations and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In many school districts throughout the country, subjects that are not considered “core” have been marginalized or eliminated due to a lack of Congressionally directed funding or administrative priority – the Administration’s blueprint for ESEA reauthorization does not include health education or physical education.

To rectify this, health education and physical education should be included in this competition through professional development, innovative curriculum, engagement of parents and community, and the ability/desire of a district to create a culture of health and wellness in its schools.

Additionally, recent studies show that health and fitness are linked to improved academic performance, cognitive ability, and behavior as well as reduced truancy. Data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008-2009) shows that students who engage in health-risk behaviors (such as inactivity, increased screen time, unhealthy eating and drinking habits) receive lower grades. Including health education and physical education in this competition will undoubtedly assist in making progress towards closing achievement gaps.

I agree with these statements and feel that Health Education and Physical Education should included in on The Race to the Top-District program requirements.

Thank you.

School districts can be laboratories for scaling up innovation, and RTT-D provides a unique opportunity to increase the impact of federal investments and to learn about large-scale applications of proven educational programs. With $800 million currently being invested in i3 to develop and scale up the most promising education innovations in the country, it would be a missed opportunity not to align RTT-D in a way that leverages i3 investments. Scale up and validation awardees, and other programs that meet the high evidence standards required of these top-level i3 grantees, can provide support to RTT-D districts with practical, well-structured programming that both meets the needs of individual communities while also promoting responsible spending of federal resources.

History has told us that the existence of proven innovations alone does not guarantee widespread adoption. Where research makes a difference, as in medicine, agriculture, and defense, it is because government proactively promotes use of proven approaches to solve national problems. The same should be the case in education.

The Department has the power to leverage RTT-D awards to create marketplace incentives for i3 programs to thrive. These programs can be aligned by adding an additional competitive preference priority for those schools planning to use their awards in part for the adoption of educational programs that meet the evidence standards required of i3 validation and scale-up programs.

Robert Slavin, Director, Johns Hopkins Center on Research and Reform in Education, Chairman of the Success for All Foundation

Robert Balfanz, Director, Everyone Graduates Center, Co-Director, Talent Development Secondary Program, Johns Hopkins University

Obtaining approval from 70% of each participating school's teaching staff will be a significant challenge if the competition is released in late summer and follows the typical 30-45 day window for applications. Our teachers do not return to their buildings until mid-August and it will be hard to create the buy-in that is so critical to success with just a few weeks of turnaround.

I am writing to urge the Administration to include health education and physical education in RTT-D. With the daily focus and urgency to curb obesity rates in this country, especially among children, not including this critical educational component would be a critical mistake in which the consequences will only further fuel the crisis we all face at the present moment.

If the definitions around this competition are too narrow and solely focused on the “core” subjects, without the inclusion of PE and Health, schools will not be encouraged to support, develop and educate the whole child in all areas of their life. Just as we are seeing the consequences of the lack of health and physical education with NCLB, the Administration’s blueprint for ESEA reauthorization does not include health education or physical education.

Not including health and PE is equal to penalizing support of health and PE’s importance in schools and the community and, especially knowing all the research and evidence in brain research and the effect of exercise on enhancing brain activity. Coupled that incredible proof with the obesity crisis we are seeing in our children and it would not be wise public policy to not include health and physical education in the competition. Additionally, recent studies show that health and fitness are linked to improved academic performance, cognitive ability, and behavior as well as reduced truancy. To rectify this, health education and physical education should be included in this competition through professional development, innovative curriculum, engagement of parents and community, and the ability/desire of a district to create a culture of health and wellness in its schools.

At this moment, you have the opportunity to be a hero in this crucial decision and your actions will affect lives, costs to the state and cost to each individual for generations to come. I strongly urge the Administration to include health and physical education in this important competition.

Wow - it amazes me that Health Education and Physical Education are not mentioned in this document. With the biggest concerns we have in schools today - obesity, addiction problems, truancy and drop out rates. Quality Health and Physical Education programs have proven to help work toward "closing in on these problems". Our Health determines how we produce and perform in this society. We are really missing the boat with these measures and monies spent on such a limited basis. If you want to see real advancement to the health and success of our students - do NOT overlook the essential components of a quality Health Education and quality Physical Education program.

We need a definition for "Rural". There is not one in the definitions list.

Yes, please!

As stated previously by others, "I think money should be restored to fully fund Title IV TRiO programs like Upward Bound, Veterans Upward Bound, McNair Scholars, Educational Opportunity Centers, Talent Search, Math Science Upward Bound, Student Support Services and TRiO Training Grants." I would take it a step further by saying funiding needs to be increased for these programs.

As a product of a TRIO Program, I know they work. They worked for my immediate family, my brother and I, as well as several of my friends. After being a participant, I had the pleasure to work professionally for a TRIO Program. As a professional, I know that I have made a difference in the lives of many first generation and/or low income students. Today, they are doctors, lawyers, educators at all levels, business men and women, and in several other professions.

Trio has a history of success at all levels. Race to the Top is untested and ignores the fact that TRIO is still an innovative program in it's own right. These programs must continuously evolve to meet the demands of the new generations and the latest preparation techniques to foster success. You have a wealth of experience of those working for TRIO Programs that have a track record of success. These professionals are already in place and make a huge impact. Why not invest more fully in a program that can recount success story after success story across racial, cultural, gender, and ethic lines. From urban to rural, if we truly want to reach the goals espoused by our President. TRIO is a proven formula that has never received the funding to serve a larger percentage of those eligible for our programs.

It is important that those assessing the programs for funding understand how to evaluate them effectively. In assessing what will make a difference in educating those that have traditionally not had access to higher education, you need to look no further than TRIO. I agree that more initiatives could be used in this push to more fully educate the nation. But, to do this at the expense of programs that have done just that since 1965 is not good decision making. This is where your experience dwells, the push should have these programs in the forefront. They shouldn't be a casualty of politics or inconsistent evaluation of carefully crafted grants that have previously scored high marks when assessed.

The eligibility criteria limits potential Race to the Top for school district grantees to Local Education Agencies or a consortia of LEAs. We propose expanding the eligibility criteria to include not-for-profit organizations that are filing applications on behalf of an LEA or consortia of LEAs.

If the Department is interested in bringing together reform capacity and innovation, it would be wise to allow not-for-profit organizations to play a lead role in this effort. Other Department programs that invest in innovative reform programs at the local level recognized the opportunity that not-for-profit organizations present and made them eligible under the program. In addition, the Department is seeking a "track record" of reform accomplishments and a capacity to sustain innovative programs three years after full implementation. Not-for-profit organizations will often bring both "track record" and technical assistance to the equation even when the political dynamics for reform hadn't previously existed. So, when partnered with new and forward-looking district leadership, a not-for-profit organization will bring the experience and track record necessary to build relationships necessary for success.

Not-for-profits can play a particularly critical role when a program encompasses a consortia of LEAs rather than just one. In this instance, the not-for-profit can provide effective project leadership across multiple jurisdictions to ensure effective communication during implementation.

Around the country, not-for-profit organizations are agents of change in partnership with local leadership focused on improving student achievement. We understand how not-for-profits may not have had the capacity to deliver on reform plans on the statewide Race to the Top program. In the case of school districts - and consortia of districts - they are well positioned to deliver results. We hope you will consider expanding the eligibility criteria to include them.

There is a US Ed program for what you are describing...i3!

Committee Members for RTT-D Criteria:

With the rates for childhood obesity rising steadily and the rates for physical activity among our children and young people declining, it is essential that the criteria for successful RTT-D grant applications include health education and physical education. Including these criteria will make an impact on a situation that is occuring across the nation - programs of health education and physical education being cut so that the 'core curriculum' can be expanded. America must educate the 'whole child'!

To rectify this, health education and physical education should be included in this competition through professional development, innovative curriculum, engagement of parents and community, and the ability/desire of a district to create a culture of health and wellness in its schools.

If the government of the U.S. does not care about the next generation of citizens, the conseqences will be devastating.

Dr. Karen J. Dowd, Professor and Associate Vice President Emeritus
University of Central Oklahoma

The mind-body connection is undeniable. Plenty of research backs up the fact that regular physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle stimulates the brain and essentially optimizes its functionality. Exercise helps to generate new brain cells and increase the production of a variety of neurotransmitters, allowing messages sent between the brain and the rest of the body to be made much easier. This benefit of regular exercise has been shown to correlate to increased learning in the academic classrooms in various reliable research studies as well.

The future of our country depends upon the generations of children to come. If these obesity trends continue, we will have an unfathomable amount of adults who will be unable to work, which will undoubtedly negatively affect the economy. Prioritizing quality daily physical education, health and movement in the classrooms and at recess as a part of RTT-D is the most proactive step that our country can take to begin reversing the trends and avoid further consequences to the future of our youth's health.

Please consider taking this important step to help the children of our great country develop lifelong healthy habits. Thank you.

Ross Chakrian
Physical Education Teacher
Waverly Elementary School
Ellicott City, MD

It is important to include health education and physical education as criteria for winning RTT-D applications to make sure that schools are creating environments that educate the whole child.

Inclusion of Health Education and Physical Education in Successful RTT-D Applications
While the childhood obesity epidemic grows, schools today do not provide adequate health education or physical education, as recommended by leading healthcare professionals, health-related national organizations and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In many school districts throughout the country, subjects that are not considered “core” have been marginalized or eliminated due to a lack of Congressionally directed funding or administrative priority – the Administration’s blueprint for ESEA reauthorization does not include health education or physical education.

To rectify this, health education and physical education should be included in this competition through professional development, innovative curriculum, engagement of parents and community, and the ability/desire of a district to create a culture of health and wellness in its schools.

Additionally, recent studies show that health and fitness are linked to improved academic performance, cognitive ability, and behavior as well as reduced truancy. Data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008-2009) shows that students who engage in health-risk behaviors (such as inactivity, increased screen time, unhealthy eating and drinking habits) receive lower grades. Including health education and physical education in this competition will undoubtedly assist in making progress towards closing achievement gaps.

Race To The Top is close to investing our children's future through the gambling tables at Las Vegas. Or betting on the lottery. Is it that the Department of Education is so distrustful that nothing works that they are betting the house on a future that is uncertain? A bird in the hand is worth two or three in the bush. My advice, invest in what works now rather than in something that might work. Take existing promising and validated practices and share them more widely. Invest money in making that that already work even better. Why reinvest the wheel? Remember the Pinto or the Edsel? Is that what RTTT wants to fund?

The ELL population is vastly underserved and under-funded while it is quickly becoming one of the fastest growing sub-groups. Students entering school who indicate another language other than English spoken at home need to be properly identified and assessed in all 4 domains-listening, speaking, reading, and writing. If the student is weak in one or more of these areas, parents need to be informed of the results and the services offered to ELL's. There needs to be community liaisons who speak the languages of the community and who understand the culture of different populations. (Even if the parent has BIC language, they may not have CALP so a translator is essential). Students with none or limited exposure to English need to be in a classroom where the teacher and/or para know the student's first language for clarification, communication with family, and translations when needed. Students with higher levels of proficiency need a strong ESL program with a highly qualified ESL teacher. The student's regular classroom teacher also needs formal training in best practices for teaching content to ELL's. Language coaches need to be hired for support of ESL and SEI teachers. Language Assessment team meetings that include any staff that work with the students need to be held at least twice a year to monitor student progress. If a student is not making progress in other areas besides language acquisition, then they need to be referred for IST to rule out other factors that may hinder the language learning progress. As I stated in the beginning, there needs to be sufficient amt of ESL teachers so that ELL's can receive small group instruction and are able to meet DOE guidelines of recommended service hours. Materials need to be leveled and accessible to the proficiency level of the student so as not to frustrate the student but at the same time not bore them. Lastly, after students pass ACCESS and are no longer identified as ELL's and exited from any program, they still need to be closely monitored afterwards to ensure they are able to keep up in a mainstream classroom. Thank you.

While I appreciate the Department's attention to these issues, I must agree with Jana Tauer in that the funding being set aside for Race to the Top would be better spent fully funding TRiO programs such as Upward Bound, Veteran's Upward Bound McNair Scholars, Educational Opportunity Centers, Talent Search, Math Science Upward Bound, and TRiO Training Grants.

These programs have already demonstrated their effectiveness in promoting student success and degree completion among first generation, low-income, and disabled students, yet the funding they receive is tenuous at best. Rather than start a new program that may or may not work, why not invest in programs with proven results? With more goverment support, TRiO programs could have the opportunity to serve students on a much wider scale.

Typically in a race, only one person wins. When it comes to education, we can not afford to have just a handful of winners.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Inclusion of Health Education and Physical Education in Successful RTT-D Applications
While the childhood obesity epidemic grows, schools today do not provide adequate health education or physical education, as recommended by leading healthcare professionals, health-related national organizations and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In many school districts throughout the country, subjects that are not considered “core” have been marginalized or eliminated due to a lack of Congressionally directed funding or administrative priority – the Administration’s blueprint for ESEA reauthorization does not include health education or physical education.

To rectify this, health education and physical education should be included in this competition through professional development, innovative curriculum, engagement of parents and community, and the ability/desire of a district to create a culture of health and wellness in its schools.

Additionally, recent studies show that health and fitness are linked to improved academic performance, cognitive ability, and behavior as well as reduced truancy. Data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008-2009) shows that students who engage in health-risk behaviors (such as inactivity, increased screen time, unhealthy eating and drinking habits) receive lower grades. Including health education and physical education in this competition will undoubtedly assist in making progress towards closing achievement gaps.

I agree with my whole heart on every word written by Carly. I have seen the marginalization of Health and Physical Education classes first hand and what saddens me the most by the other teachers in the school. I certainly hope the correlation between the obesity rate and lack of Physical Education/Health Education classes will dawn on the people who can do something about this! Sincerely, Anna

I agree with the information that Carly posted on May 30, and would like to add that the money should be invested in addressing the needs of the whole child, and not just one specific area. Quality physical education and health education should be part of that concept.

I vote YES on this one

I work with schools across the country and see the need for support of critical health education and physical education programs. Teachers understand the importance of obesity prevention, bullying prevention, drug abuse prevention and being tobacco free, health literacy and disease prevention yet do not have any leadership or support from the federal level. Please include health education and physical education that meets national and/or state standards in the RTT-D application requirements. This will enable students to be healthy and better academic achievers.

The recent HBO program regarding the long lasting effects of obesity and inactivity should give impetus to an educational program that will require the students to all meet the standards of both Health Education and Physical Education. Any application for RTT-D should utilize the research concerning the benefits of physical activity programs that are included in the school day.

The effects of concentrating on the core subjects have help to contribute to an unhealthy school population. Candidates for RTT-D need to show how they will use the research available to improve the health and health knowledge of their students.

I must say that I was shocked to see that Health Education and Physical Education were not specifically included. Good health is the basis on which all education must take place. If we continue to not use every opportunity to include Health Education and Physical Education in this RTT-D applications we do so at the peril of our youth.

This succinctly states important issues that should be addressed in RTT-D applications.

Nearly two years ago, the Software & Information Industry Association (www.siia.net/education), in collaboration with ASCD and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), released Innovate to Educate: System [Re]Design for Personalized Learning, based upon the insights and recommendations of some 150 visionary education leaders convened at a 2010 Summit (http://www.siia.net/pli/). I hope this report and related resources and insights will be helpful for those interested in this RTTT-District program's focus on personalized learning.

The report provides a roadmap (and examples) to accelerate the redesign of the current, mass production education model based on fixed time, place, curriculum and pace to a student‐centered, customized learning model that will better engage, motivate, and prepare our students to be career and college ready. It is availalbe at http://siia.net/pli/presentations/PerLearnPaper.pdf

The Summit attendees identified the following top essential elements and policy enablers of personalized learning:

Essential Elements
1. Flexible, Anytime, Everywhere Learning
2. Redefine Teacher Role and Expand “Teacher”
3. Project‐Based, Authentic Learning
4. Student‐Driven Learning Path
5. Mastery/Competency‐Based Progression/Pace

Policy Enablers
1. Redefine Use of Time (Carnegie Unit/Calendar)
2. Performance‐Based, Time‐Flexible Assessment
3. Equity in Access to Technology Infrastructure
4. Funding Models that Incentivize Completion
5. P‐20 Continuum & Non‐Age/Grade Band System

Ninety‐six percent of Summit attendees identified access to technology and e‐learning as a critical or significant cross‐cutting platform to implement personalized learning and bring it to scale.

Definition of Student Attendance: I urge you to clarify your definition of student attendance and require participating districts to monitor the percent and number of students who are chronically absent – missing 10% or more of school over the course of a year for any reason including excused and unexcused absences and suspensions.

Our research, Present, Engaged and Accounted For, demonstrates that chronic absence is a proven early warning indicator of academic trouble starting in kindergarten. By middle school, it signals that a student will eventually drop out of high school. The impact can go beyond just those students missing school. If a significant number of children in a classroom or school are chronically absent, it can adversely affect all students by slowing the pace of instruction.

A new report, The Importance of Being In School, now shows that an estimated 5-7.5 million students are chronically absent nationwide. In some communities, as many as one out of three students are chronically absent. Too often chronic absence goes unrecognized because districts and schools only track average attendance rates which can easily mask high levels of chronic absence.

Attendance Works has identified examples throughout the country of how schools and communities can turn around chronic absence and improve academic achievement. The key is schools partnering with community agencies and families to build a culture of attendance and using chronic absence data to identify and reach out students as soon as they begin to show signs of becoming chronically absent. Chronic absence data can also be used to identify the need for a programmatic or policy solution, such as improving access to health care, addressing inadequate transportation or changing ineffective, overly punitive school discipline policy.

Well said!

I think money should be restored to fully fund Title IV TRiO programs like Upward Bound, Veterans Upward Bound, McNair Scholars, Educational Opportunity Centers, Talent Search, Math Science Upward Bound, and TRiO Training Grants. These programs work with individual students to ensure their success in completing high school, enrolling in college or tech schools, graduating.

Race to the Top comes with many restrictions, doesn't serve all states, including

TRiO serves low income, first generation to go to college youth and adults. TRiO programs could work with both rural and city schools. Till the loss of 33% of High School Upward Bounds, many coming to an end on Friday June 1st! Thousands of students have lost their services. Their hope for a better life, for college. Onlytwo native colleges received HSUB funding in the whole country. Guam lost all it's HSUB programs. Iowa lost over 50% as did Wisconsin. Rural bias indeed.

We expect that 1/3 of McNair Scholars will lose their funding this fall. It's a shame that a project supported by the McNair family in honor of our second African American astronaut and the first to go to space, who died a hero in our countrys service in the Challenger explosion, would be targeted for a $10 million dollar loss.

I noticed during the comment periods for each of the TRiO programs that not one letter of the competition was changed. So I have grave doubts about the Departments wish for our opinions. If so, than they would listen to the cries of the poor.

Race to the Top would make a greater difference if it were individualized, would be part of a funding collaboration for school districts AND for TRiO programs. And no rural bias!

Why do you even bother us with this junk? There are only a few schools in the state that meet the 2500 number. Again you are just looking out for the large schools with no intention of asisting the small schools. I would act shocked if I was not already use to it happening. In other words "Been there, had it done to us before!"

I simply would like to see the free and reduced lunch percentages removed so that the funding competition is open to all school districts. It is a disservice to children to perpetuate this belief that only the kids on lower income areas need these programs.

Small, rural districts like mine will never be able to compete for federal dollars when the number of students served is a criteria. My district covers a wide geographic area, yet we only have 790 students. Even forming a consortium with surrounding small, rural districts would not help us meet the numbers requirement. We are proactive in using the limited resources we have to better our teachers, improve the use of technology to enhance instruction, and provide opportunities for students to work at their own pace.Even having the opportunity to apply for the grant would be a boost to what we are trying to accomplish by raising morale and hope in o ur innovators. Being passed over because we lack the students just adds to the frustration of rural education.

I strongly encourage the numbers to be reduced or broken into two distinct categories so all districts can compete....much like we want all students to be able to compete academically.

In line with Ken's thinking, and having been a principal in a few locations, I find the bureaucracy of some school districts to be too entrenched to change systemically. There are too many who protect their own, and the continuation of chasing the buck to appear as though they are adapting to become more successful with low wealth, and high need students/communities. Anyone who has been there knows what is needed...it's just taking the step to denounce what could be the end of a career in what some really do love, have created successful programs for, and truly have helped their communities without looking out for their own pockets first!

I would like to see individual schools who can demonstrate active community partnerships, parental supports, teacher support, and student support have an ability to apply. I think this would open some eyes to what areas feel not enough is being done, and who thinks they can get the job done more efficiently, more effectively, and without hurting the kids in the process. There can be fun in learning, and the learning can be taken home as much as the experimenting must come back into the classroom.

Put teeth into the money by not having low standards, but by having accountability for teachers and principals as well as for all members of the school community. This would give the benefits of a public charter, with the capabilities of experienced teachers who will let the market determine their existence. I can't go into specifics here because some monitor these posts and each of us knows what loose lips do.

It is definitely time to take a stand, and RTTT, implemented correctly, will help turn around schools and lead low wealth/high need communities out of oppression, in a short amount of time.

I would ask that you consider lower the LEA size or place them in a band of under 1500 or under 2500. It would be great for our small rural school to be considered, but we do not meet the size criteria.

Thanks,

I completely agree with this post. Our district covers 1650 square miles, yet we only have 450 students! Even if we expanded quite a bit, we would not meet the 2500 count. PLEASE consider lowering the size minimum for LEAs!

Thank you!

As part of a rural region, it would be beneficial for the education service center to serve as the grant administrator and fiscal agent for a group of districts. Is this type of arrangement allowed in the grant?

I agree wholeheartedly with this regional application concept!

My comment (submitted by Karen on Mon, May 28, 2012 11:21 AM) regarding ESAs working as an LEA or on behalf of several LEAs really focuses on the strengthening the development of a regional Cradle to Career model that could easily be replicated in a similar geographic area, across an entire state, or in a multistate region (granted, a more difficult task). Very often, there are regional workforce needs that can serve as the catalyst for strong, longitudinal PK-Career partnerships to develop!

I encourage your team to remove the minimum LEA size of 2500 students from your draft regs. There are many small school districts (LEAs) whose disenfranchised students deserve help as well.

In support of personalized support for all students, I therefore encourage the agency to reconsider the minimum student requirement. (In fact, one of the programs your panel highlighted was Big Picture, which by design, is quite small, but very personalized. They started very small, but, like New Tech scaled quickly.)

Many small LEAs may be just the right size to implement lasting and effective changes that can be shared with others as innovative successes. Thank you for considering this important change.

I am support of Victoria's comment to remove the minimum LEA size of 2,500 students. I believe, at a minimum, that categories for district size be incorporated so that this competition compares apples to apples. There are many small school districts that have a great need for funding to expand and improve their educational programming for their students.

Small LEAs are just as important as large LEAs and have the same opportunity to provide innovative instructional strategies that impact the students they serve. It is important to remember that all kids deserve a chance for success, not just the kids in large LEAs.

Thank you for considering this recommendation.

I agree with removing the minimum LEA size.

Independent charter schools, who are their own LEAs, should be eligible to apply. The unique characteristics of each charter school should be encouraged. However, the minimum size of 2500 students bars most independent charters from applying. The funding range should be expanded on the low end and the competition should be opened up to schools with smaller enrollments - perhaps 300+.

It would be very helpful if the final guidance included, wherever ESEA is mentioned, the phrase "or approved ESEA waiver requirements" for LEAs that are in states with approved waivers. We are having issues with RTT3 and the fact that waivers were granted during the RTT3 application process to several states and those states are no longer under the same requirements with regards to following ESEA. The rules, as they pertain to these states, neeed to be clearly identified in the RTT-D guidance.

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