After all the fanfare surrounding the Federal requirements for lifting the charter school cap, here comes a different story in Education Week:
‘Race to Top’ Guidelines Stress Use of Test Data
By Michele McNeil
The U.S. Department of Education’s proposed guidelines for awarding $4 billion in Race to the Top money send a strong message that any state hoping to land a grant must allow student test scores to be used in decisions about teacher compensation and evaluation.
According to draft plans to be outlined by department officials on Friday, states would be judged on 19 education reform criteria, from how friendly their charter school climates are to whether they cut state K-12 funding this year.
But only two criteria would be absolute requirements: States must have been approved by the Education Department for stabilization funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (most already have been), and states must not have any laws in place barring the use of student-achievement data for evaluating teachers and principals.
States not meeting those two absolutes would be ineligible to compete for aid from the Race to the Top Fund, a small but highly coveted slice of some $100 billion in federal economic-stimulus aid for education. That policy could eliminate California and New York-big states with powerful congressional delegations and a lot of students, but with legal firewalls between student and teacher data.
Being able to link teacher and student data is “absolutely fundamental-it’s a building block,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in an interview. “We believe great teachers matter tremendously. When you’re reluctant or scared to make that link, you do a grave disservice to the teaching profession and to our nation’s children.”