Why MA finished 13th of 16 on the Race to the Top

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on

Yesterday’s piece in the Globe by Jamie Vaznis strikes me as making pretty clear that Legislative leaders are pretty soured on how the administration handled the RttT. We finished outside the winners’ circle (the winners were TN and DE), and we got trounced. The Senate President’s quote in particular shows that she expected the legislative actions taken in the fall and January to be matched by a strong proposal and equally difficult actions on the part of the administration.

Now, it seems that the Patrick administration is blaming the state’s poor finish on the RttT on MA’s non-adoption (yet!) of the national standards. OK, let’s go to the facts, and they are all written in black and white in the 45-page federal review of our application.

We lost significant points (61 points) because

– the state collects lots of data but has not developed data systems to support instruction (-9 pts).
– the state has shown no leadership in pushing districts to undertake teacher and principal evaluations based on performance and to ensure equitable distribution of effective teachers and principals (-43 pts)
– the administration was incapable of getting enough union support for the application (-9 pts). TN and DE were a lot closer to 100% of their unions/districts signing off on their application.

Finally, we should look at the recently passed charter cap lift, because it has way too many strings, and that cost us 9 more points (we are up to 70 pts…). Note that the TN charter cap lift came without significant strings, though I would urge the feds to see if it is really being implemented.

Now, having lost 61 points on stuff they could have put into the application, and having pushed for a weaker than necessary charter cap lift, the administration is passing around to reporters talking points on how it is because they have not adopted the standards?

Yup, we got 5 out of 20 points (15 pts missed out on) because we have yet to adopt the standards. But what else is the Patrick administration suggesting we do on standards? There is little more the feds could have asked on the proposed standards when they are not even complete, when they are weaker than our own, and when Sec. Reville and Commissioner Mitch Chester have gone as far as they can without a final product (and we think maybe too far…):

– Patrick/Chester signed the MOU to participate in the CCSSI/national standards efforts
– They included very pro-national standards language in the MA application (including the very weak Jan drafts of the national standards as appendices to the MA application), and
– They’ve been as supportive/ cooperative as they could be (two MA BOE meetings last week on national standards) in moving forward on the national standards.

We finished 40 points behind DE! Ouch. That really low score on MA’s RttT application review is not because of standards. It’s because it was a really weak application. Our leaders failed to provide a bold, imaginative application that would lead to systemic changes.