On August 24, 2010, the District of Columbia was one of 12 states awarded a Race to the Top grant by the U.S. Department of Education. This program required the District of Columbia to develop a comprehensive reform initiative built around four assurance areas:
- Common Core Standards and Assessments
- Data and Accountability
- Great Teachers and Leaders
- Turning Around the Lowest-Performing Schools
The District’s proposal was a collaborative effort by the Deputy Mayor for Education, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), DC Public Schools (DCPS), and charter schools. Collectively, the District’s local education agencies (LEAs) have been leaders developing strong teacher evaluations systems, using data to inform decision-making, and taking the necessary, but hard, work to turn around struggling schools.
The Race to the Top proposal pushes all of the District’s LEAs to move further and faster on each of these fronts. Over the next four years, the U.S. Department of Education has awarded OSSE and the participating LEAs $75 million to make significant changes and improvements to the District’s education system. Data is the fundamental component. Improving data collection and quality will lead to:
- Improved teacher and leader evaluations
- Professional development that is embedded in the classroom
- Tailored instruction and focused interventions for students
- High, but appropriate expectations for students, teachers, schools, and LEAs
Most importantly, Race to the Top will nurture and grow the sense of collaboration across DCPS and the charter school LEAs. Taking advantage of our vast network of innovative schools and small geographic space, Race to the Top will foster the willingness to share best practices to address chronic problems across the District’s LEAs in ensuring our children have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in college and beyond.