The competition rewards states that adopt standards and assessments to prepare students for college and career success, build data systems that measure success, recruit effective teachers and principals and “turn around” low-achieving schools.
In the first round of the competition, the Education Department in March announced awards of $500 million to Tennessee and $100 million to Delaware to pursue their education reform plans. Rhode Island ranked eighth and Massachusetts 13th.
The competition has eclipsed other education reform news and already spurred reforms in some states. But the scramble for funds has also drawn criticism.
Teachers say they are left out of the discussion for reform as their districts and states clamor to meet the unfair standards set by the department. Civil rights groups claim the competition has edged out low-income and minority students. Some groups have drafted an alternative framework for education reform as part of the new National Opportunity to Learn Campaign.