Race to Top winners chosen arbitrarily -- new report
Tennessee and Delaware, the first two states to win education funding through President Obama's $4 billion Race To the Top competition, were chosen through “arbitrary criteria” rather than through a scientific process, according to a new report by a non-partisan research institute.
The report called, “Let’s Do the Numbers,” by William Peterson and Richard of the nonprofit, independent Washington D.C.-based Economic Policy Institute, says that the 500-point system created to decide the “best” proposals for education reform is based on false precision.
In the first round Education Secretary Arne Duncan chose two winners from 16 finalists. Delaware won $100 million, or about $800 per student, and Tennessee was awarded $500 million, or about $500 per student. The second round is now underway and Duncan has said he expects more states to win.
The applications presented by the two states won the most points--Delaware, 454.6 and Tennessee 444.2--that were awarded by a panel for the level of compliance with school reform policies favored by Duncan and President Obama.
Those reforms include expanding the number of charter schools and linking teacher evaluation to student performance and standardized test scores.
The Education Department said the winners were selected on the precise numbers and were objective. The report says otherwise.
The 500-point system has six major categories, seven general categories, and various subcategories. By assigning numbers to each one, “the Department implies it has a testable theory or empirical data to back up its quantitative method.”
But it doesn’t have either, and, therefore, assigned the numbers subjectively.
“Further examination suggests that the selection of Delaware and Tennessee was subjective and arbitrary, more a matter of bias or chance than a result of these states’ superior compliance with reform policies,” it said.
And, it said: “The necessary subjective judgments required both for category selection and weight assignment makes a fair competition practically impossible, even if the competition is undertaken with great care.”
The report even questions whether Duncan and his team chose the indicators for the competition carefully enough.
In March, Duncan gave to Congress his recommendations for reauthorization of the federal law commonly known as No Child Left Behind in what is called “The Blueprint.” Some of the practices he recommended, however, are not counted in Race to the Top.
For example, the report says:
“RTT awards 10 points for “developing and implementing common, high-quality assessments,” referring to assessments that are aligned with the common standards in reading and math being developed by the National Governors Association (NGA), Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and a number of states. The Blueprint, however, also proposes competitive grants to develop ‘high-quality assessments in .... science, history, or foreign languages; [and] high school course assessments in academic and career and technical subjects.’ But the RTT rubric awards no points for development of such assessments.”
The report includes a sentiment I have made before: That competition for funds is unfair at a time when states are strapped for funding.
“Every state should get a fair share of federal funding, excepting only those that refuse to make good faith efforts to implement research-based improvements in elementary and secondary education,” it said.
You can read the whole report at http://epi.3cdn.net/4835aafd6e80385004_5nm6bn6id.pdf-0-
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| April 21, 2010; 8:30 AM ET
Categories: Education Secretary Duncan, Race to the Top, Research | Tags: RTTT criteria, Race to the Top, Race to the Top criteria, criteria for race to the top, education blueprint and obama, race to the top point system, report on race to the top, rttt point system, the blueprint, winners of Race to the Top
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