Thursday, March 04, 2010

Illinois moves ahead in Race to the Top

By Rachel Wells

Illinois, along with 15 other states and the District of Columbia, is still in the running to secure $510 million in federal Race to the Top funding, the State Board of Education learned today.

“It’s dollars for reform when we would not be getting it from the state otherwise. This is still a competition. It doesn’t mean we get them, but it just means that we’re in the running, that we are going to have to go [to Washington, D.C.] and make a case for why we need the [dollars],” state Superintendent Christopher Koch said.

Race to the Top is a $4.35 billion education reform program that aims to improve standards and assessments, develop student growth data systems, reward quality teachers and improve underachieving schools.

Illinois won’t know whether it will receive a Race to the Top grant until April 1, following the interviews with federal officials in Washington D.C. If Illinois is not chosen to receive a grant at that time, it can still apply by June 1 for consideration in a second phase of awards.

In preparation for the application process, the Illinois General Assembly and Gov. Pat Quinn enacted measures for tying student growth to teacher evaluations, expanding alternative teacher certification programs, developing a data system to trace student performance and career or college success, and doubling the state’s limit on charter schools.


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