Maryland's Race to the Top application
Being ranked No. 1 in the nation by Education Week isn't going to be enough to give Maryland a good chance at the $250 million prize of federal education funds in the Race to the Top competition; nor will the state's No. 1 status as the state with the highest percentage of seniors who took and passed at least one Advanced Placement test last year. What will be needed, according to Anand Vaishnav, a consultant who is helping write the state's Race to the Top application, is for the state to produce a bold plan with emphasis on improving teacher and principal quality. The state legislature is currently debating legislation that would require school systems to make student testing a significant part of the teacher and principal evaluation, as an effort to better position itself in the race. States with the most competitive applications, Vaishnav said, are those that go even further.
For instance, some states have said they will use the evaluation data to identify high-performing teachers and principals and then deploy them strategically in some of the lowest-performing schools.
Vaishnav made it clear that Maryland should try hard to get school districts and teachers unions to sign on to the state's application for Race to the Top, a federal program that will dole out $3 billion in the next six months to a handful of states, particularly in the area of improving principal and teacher effectiveness and in turning around the lowest-performing schools in the state. Vaishnav works for Education First, a nonprofit based in Seattle that the state has hired to help.
On April 7, the state will release the first draft of its application and we will let readers comment on how bold a proposal they see!