The First State in Education: Delaware’s Race to the Top

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U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has just announced the winners of Round One of the federal Race to the Top grant competition, and Delaware is proud to be ONE OF JUST TWO STATES – along with Tennessee – that was selected! Delaware’s grant is approximately $100 million.

Vision 2015 extends congratulations to our Governor, Secretary of Education, educators statewide, and community and business leaders for their commitment and dedication to creating the state’s education reform plan, which informed the Race to the Top application.

This is a breakthrough moment and a huge responsibility. In the history of federal involvement in public education, this is the largest and most competitive grant process ever established. The President’s aspiration for the state winners is no less than to lead the nation in rethinking public education – and with just two winners in Round One, the bar has been set very high. Collectively, we will strive to educate our children to compete with the highest performers in the world, and to create a new culture built on a foundation of excellence and innovation. This will be a massive challenge, yet presents an amazing opportunity. The nation will be watching. We’re pleased that Delaware is ready.

Within Delaware, how will educators, students, and families benefit from the initiatives supported by Race to the Top? Here’s just a sampling. Some initiatives are already underway, some will be starting fresh this fall:

· The 25-school Vision Network will receive increased support for its intensive training program, which focuses on using student data to improve teaching, changing school culture through improved leadership and targeted instruction, and collaborating across districts and charter schools to share best practices.

· Students, parents, and educators in our lowest performing schools will have the flexibility and resources needed to fundamentally redesign their schools.

· Curriculum and standards will become more rigorous so our students will be ready to compete with the world’s best.

· Educators will be better able to customize their instruction to the unique needs of every child because state tests will be taken online and include interactive questions that gauge student knowledge better than our current paper and pencil assessments.

· Within schools, there will be new resources like data coaches to work one-on-one with all teachers to help build skills, and teacher-leaders will receive additional pay for taking on additional responsibilities.

· At the student level, there will be changes as well. For example, the state will require and fund the SAT for all 11th grade students, and students will get additional supports to get ready for high school and college, such as new course offerings in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

When we launched Vision 2015 three and a half years ago, we made a commitment: “Vision 2015: Imagine the best schools in the world for every student in Delaware. No exceptions, no excuses.” With congratulations to all, we are well on our way.