SACRAMENTO — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell today issued the following statement after learning California was not selected as a winner for Phase 2 funding of the federal Race to the Top (RTT) competition.
"I am deeply disappointed that our application was not chosen as a winner in the Race to the Top competition. However, the loss of the funding may slow, but not defeat, our efforts to improve student achievement in California," O'Connell said. "We remain fully committed to continue seeking the strategies and resources demanded to accelerate our efforts to close the achievement gap among different groups of students by creating fundamental and far-reaching reforms.
"Our application focused on the necessary elements to help us meet the needs of our lowest-performing students and help us raise the ceiling for students who are already performing at high levels. These elements included rigorous, internationally benchmarked standards, effective use of data, more emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and the most important ingredient of all—effective and accountable teachers and principals. These are the fundamentals that will improve achievement in the short run and for the long term so that we can create a statewide system of excellence in our public schools.
The participating LEAs represent more than 1.7 million California students, a student population larger than the total kindergarten through twelfth grade enrollment of all but six other U.S. states. These LEAs also serve some of the neediest students in the state, as 68 percent of the students in participating districts live in poverty.
California's RTTT Phase 2 application was rooted in four key areas of reform that call for:
• Refining California's rigorous state standards by adopting internationally benchmarked common core standards and aligned assessments that better prepare students for success in college and the workplace;
• Recruiting, developing, and retaining effective teachers and principals and ensuring that they are helping students that need them the most;
• Expanding our education data system to better measure student success in college and the workforce; and
• Dramatically improving the state's persistently lowest-performing schools.
California's Phase 2 RTTT application also emphasizes the critical goal of advancing the state's students' understanding of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). With funding from the federal government, the state plans to launch new partnerships with institutions of higher education, and strengthen and expand the delivery of STEM in California's high schools. The plan also includes an emphasis on building a strong STEM foundation in the kindergarten through eighth grade system, an expansion of support systems, and infrastructure for the future of STEM.
Information on California's RTTT Phase 2 application may be found at Race to the Top (Outside Source).