MONTGOMERY, AL – Barack Obama, Alabama, along with an estimated 40 states, submitted plans for education innovation and reform in response to the President's Race to the Top competition. Alabama hopes to garner approximately $180 million dollars of the $4.35 billion available.
"Race to the Top is an opportunity to compete for billions of education dollars to benefit Alabama's children at a time when state funds are low," said Dr. Joe Morton, State Superintendent of Education.
In order to compete for the grants, states must agree on a number of items:
- To adopt a set of Common Core Standards in mathematics and English Language Arts
- To collaboratively build a set of new generation assessments to measure students success in meeting these standards
- To use the achievement of students in the decisions about that effectiveness of teachers and leaders
- To develop data systems that can be used to capture multiple data points to inform instructional improvement
- To turn around the lowest performing schools within four prescribed models
The states must demonstrate how they currently fulfill the goals of Race to the Top and how they would effectively use the grants to improve education. Alabama's strength in the Race to the Top competition stems from the success of the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative, recent results from the A+ College Ready Advanced Placement Initiative and the expansion of Alabama's Engineering Academy Initiative - all focused on producing highly skilled high school graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
First Choice, ACCESS Distance Learning, and the Alabama Reading Initiative are just some of the other programs that are proof of the success Alabama has and will continue to create.
Alabama has shown capacity for consensus by having 113 of its 132 public school systems, representing 90 percent of Alabama's students, agree to partner in this reform should Alabama be chosen for the competitive grants. The local school districts will have the opportunity to develop a scope of work, specific to their system, around areas of reform described within the state plan.
Deputy State Superintendent, Dr. Tommy Bice has coordinated the development of the state's application and remains optimistic about Alabama's chances despite the fact that Alabama enters the competition without the 40 points given for legislation authorizing the establishment of charter schools in the state.
However, Dr. Bice points out, "Although Race to the Top provides an opportunity to extend some of our existing reforms, it is not all inclusive. We will continue our current reform plans for preparing all students to be college and career ready graduates regardless of the results of the Race to the Top competition."
If awarded, the grant could be used for professional development or any of the highly successful programs currently used in Alabama's schools. The funds from the Race to the Top grants are not specifically designated for the creation or operation of charter schools.
Applications will be reviewed by a select panel with finalists, and then asked to send a state team to defend their applications before the final awards are announced in April 2010. Those states not chosen during the first round of competition will have a second opportunity in Phase II of the competition. The state can apply again in June 2010 with finalists awarded in September 2010.
Alabama's state application is available online at www.alsde.edu under Hot Topics at the top of the home page.