One year ago, Massachusetts was awarded a $250 million Race to the Top grant that required implementation of far-reaching and some controversial policies with the goal of completing the unfinished work of education reform – closing achievement gaps and raising student achievement to the levels demanded by our global economy. One year later, what has been accomplished? Are we meeting benchmarks and are we on track to deliver results? What has changed in Massachusetts classrooms?
The Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education is answering these critical questions. Year One, Race to the Top in Massachusetts: An Education Progress Report, finds that while the State has largely met its promises for Year One, its ability to meet the overall goals of the Race to the Top agenda will hinge on whether schools and districts fulfill their individual commitments to the state’s vision and whether the state has the capacity to assist districts in meeting this expectation. The report tracks progress on several key initiatives, including implementation of the Common Core State Standards and a new evaluation system for teachers and administrators, and outlines the successes and challenges of Massachusetts’ first year of Race to the Top.
Highlights of our findings include:
- Quality control needs to be strengthened. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education must focus not only on whether districts meet goals and benchmarks, but more importantly on how well they do the job.
- Focusing on getting great teachers and great leaders in every school is the foundation of meeting every other Race to the Top goal. The state must prioritize the creation of a specialized corps of teachers and principals to turn around low performing schools.
- The state needs ongoing indicators throughout the school year to measure whether district implementationof the Common Core State Standards is actually occuring.
- In the area of using data systems to improve instruction, the state needs to make up for delays due to procurement and staffing. The focus should be on creating tools for teachers to analyze and use their students’ data.