For Immediate Release - August 09, 2010

GOVERNOR PATRICK TO LEAD MASSACHUSETTS TEAM TO DC FOR RACE TO THE TOP FINALIST INTERVIEW

Proposal designed to close achievement gaps and ensure all students have access to an excellent education

BOSTON - Monday, August 9, 2010 - Governor Deval Patrick and the state's top education officials will be in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday morning to present the Massachusetts Race to the Top (RTTT) application to officials from the U.S. Department of Education. The Massachusetts proposal builds on the state's already high standards and nation-leading assessment system by raising expectations for student learning and providing strategies to close achievement gaps to ensure all students reach proficiency and higher.

Massachusetts is one of 19 finalists in the second round of the federal competition. If selected, the state stands to receive as much as $250 million in funding for education reform over the next four years to implement new statewide education reform strategies to ensure Massachusetts students continue to lead the nation in academic performance. This interview is the last step in the application process, and final award notifications are expected to be made early next month.

"This is an exciting opportunity to detail our plans to transform public education in the Commonwealth," Governor Patrick said. "Our Race to the Top proposal is the right plan at the right time to make the necessary changes to ensure all students have access to high quality instruction."

"Massachusetts is a strong leader in education with a track record of success," said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. "The reforms outlined in our Race to the Top proposal will not only cement our role as a leader, but will also provide students with greater opportunities to achieve academic excellence."

Massachusetts was selected as a finalist in Phase 1 of the competition, but did not receive an award when only two states out of the 41 who applied, Tennessee and Delaware, were selected for funding earlier this year. Prior to submitting the Phase 2 proposal, state officials worked closely with teams of educators, administrators, business leaders and other stakeholders to evaluate, strengthen and sharpen the focus of the state's application. The enhanced proposal focuses on results over process, clarifies how students and teachers will benefit from the initiatives and strategies and clearly defines how the state's public school system will be improved over the next four years.

Phase 2 finalist states were asked to send teams of five people for their interviews. The Massachusetts team will include Governor Patrick, Education Secretary Paul Reville, Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester, Elementary and Secondary Education Deputy Commissioners Karla Baehr and Boston Public Schools Superintendent Carol Johnson. Each state will participate in a 90-minute interview, including a 30-minute state-led presentation and 60 minutes of questions.

The Massachusetts presentation will focus on the state's history in public education and high expectations for all students; firm commitment to high academic standards and the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) test as an accountability measure of student performance; the state's new education reform legislation designed to close achievement gaps, expand charter schools and spread innovation across the state; and how the initiatives outlined in the Massachusetts proposal align with Governor Patrick's vision for the future of public education.

"Our application is much stronger and more ambitious than it was in Phase 1, and I am glad to have this chance to discuss it with the reviewers in person," said Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. "This is a tough competition, but we have a very compelling case to make about how our plan to improve teaching and close achievement gaps can improve performance here and, ultimately, nationwide."

"Massachusetts has the history, the success, the will and the ability to fully enact our Race to the Top proposal," said Secretary Reville. "We have proven over the years that we can enact powerful reforms that lead to student achievement and this is just another example of our commitment to building a more powerful public education system."

Leadership teams in 276 districts and charter schools, more than two-thirds of the state, agreed to implement the initiatives outlined in the state's RTTT application. Those districts include large, small, urban, suburban and rural communities, representing 88 percent of the state's low-income students and 74 percent of K-12 students statewide. Of the 276 participating districts, 159 are traditional school districts, 60 are charter schools, 36 are regional school districts and 21 are vocational schools. The proposal was also endorsed by the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, the Massachusetts Association of School Committees and the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA), the state's largest teacher's union.

Each district or charter school that signed on has committed to participating in efforts to:

1) Attract, develop and retain an effective, academically capable, diverse and culturally competent educator workforce to ensure every student is taught by a great teacher and every school and district is led by a great leader;

2) Provide curricular and instructional resources to provide every educator with the tools necessary to promote and support student achievement;

3) Concentrate great instruction and supports for educators, students and families in our lowest performing schools and districts to create the conditions needed for improved student achievement; and

4) Increase dramatically the number of students who graduate from high school ready for college and career.

In January, Governor Patrick signed historic legislation that will turn around underperforming schools, promote innovation and choice and eliminate achievement gaps that persist despite the successes of the state's landmark Education Reform Act of 1993. The law expands supports for students and schools that need the most help, and represents a major part of the Governor's education reform agenda designed to give all children the chance they deserve to succeed.

The other finalists in the Race to the Top competition are Arizona, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Carolina.

Massachusetts' full Race to the Top application is posted at http://www.doe.mass.edu/arra/?section=2.

###