For Immediate Release - January 13, 2011

Massachusetts Receives Final Approval for Race to the Top Proposals

Funding to be distributed to 257 participating districts statewide

BOSTON - Thursday, January 13, 2010 - The Patrick-Murray Administration today announced that the U.S. Department of Education (USED) has granted final approval of the state's detailed plan for implementing the education reform strategies outlined in the Race to the Top grant, which triggers the release of $250 million in federal funds to the state and the 257 participating school districts to turn the plans into action. The funds are expected to reach districts within the next two weeks.

Massachusetts earned the highest score in the nation in the Race to the Top competition in late August based on the initiatives outlined in the state's proposal and was one of 12 states nationwide to earn a grant through two separate rounds of consideration. Since then, the state has worked with the 257 participating districts to detail how the proposals will be implemented at the state and local level to submit a scope of work that included local plans to the USED for final approval.

"Massachusetts is a national leader in student achievement, and we are very pleased to see that leadership reflected and rewarded in our Race to the Top application," said Governor Deval Patrick. "The $250 million award over the next four years will advance our ambitious education reform agenda and support efforts to continuously improve student achievement, enhance educator effectiveness and turn around our lowest performing schools."

"We in Massachusetts are very proud of our focus on academic excellence," said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. "With this Race to the Top award, we will continue our reform agenda to raise educational standards in all of our schools so that all students have an equality opportunity to succeed."

"This approval gives us yet another opportunity to improve our education system," said Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth). "Additional funding is always welcome, but is especially important in these unprecedented fiscal times, where we continue to struggle with our budgetary constraints. I am confident that our schools will make great use of this funding."

"As we seek to ensure that every child in Massachusetts receives a world class education, the Race to the Top funding will be instrumental towards narrowing our unacceptable achievement gap and promoting accountability and innovation in our schools," House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said. "I am pleased that these funds are being released to facilitate continuing improvement efforts even during these difficult fiscal times."

"The arrival of Race to the Top funds in school districts will ensure they have the necessary resources to fully enact the policies we outlined in our proposal," said Education Secretary Paul Reville. "The funds will allow the Commonwealth to accelerate our efforts to transform underperforming schools and ensure every student accesses the education they deserve."

"While final approval of our work plan just arrived, we have been working hard on developing programs to implement these critical reforms for some time," said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. "Educators and policymakers at the state and local levels are enthusiastic about the Race to the Top reforms."

Massachusetts will receive $250 million over the next four years to implement the reforms identified in its Race to the Top application. The state's application focused on four key areas:

  • Attract, develop, and retain an effective, academically capable, diverse and culturally competent educator workforce to ensure that every student is taught by a great teacher and every school and district is led by a great leader;
  • Provide curricular and instructional resources to equip every educator with the tools necessary to promote and support student achievement;
  • Concentrate great instruction and supports for educators, students and families in the lowest performing schools and districts to create the conditions needed for improved student achievement; and
  • Increase dramatically the number of students who graduate from high school ready for college and career.

In the area of educator effectiveness, a statewide Task Force on Educator Evaluation was created by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in May 2010. This 41-member body includes representatives from key stakeholder groups and associations, such as the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the AFT-Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, as well as the state's major associations for superintendents, principals, parents, school committees, parents organizations, educators from the field, as well as representatives from higher education, students, special education, and other disciplinary groups. It has been meeting regularly since August to develop a new state framework for educator evaluation, including suggestions for changes to the state's existing regulations and guidelines. The Task Force is scheduled to make its recommendations to the Commissioner and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education early in 2011.

Chester said, "I was heartened to see the state's largest teachers union take a leadership role on this issue to work with us in developing a new evaluation system that looks at a variety of indicators including student performance."

The 257 participating districts represent 70 percent of the Commonwealth's K-12 enrollment and 87% of students in poverty.

Once Race to the Top funds are released to districts, they will be permitted to charge any Race to the Top related expenses that were incurred back to November 22, 2010.

For additional information on the state's Race to the Top grant, visit the Department's website at http://www.doe.mass.edu/arra/?section=2.