Charter schools named Race to Top finalists as ‘districts’

The U.S. Education Department just named 61 finalists in its Race to the Top-District competition that will divide nearly $400 million among those deemed to have the “best” school reform plans. The finalists in the contest — which, to be clear, is intended for school districts, as the name of the competition suggests — include charter schools, charter school networks, district consortiums, and boards of education. Districts from states that have already won Race to the Top money are also on the list.

Interesting list.

According to the Department of Education, the 61 finalists represent more than 200 school districts and were selected from 374 applications. The 374 districts that applied were a tiny fraction of the nearly 14,000 traditional school districts in the country.  Between 15 to 25 winners are expected to be named by Dec. 31, with four-year awards ranging from $5 million to $40 million depending on student population.

Race to the Top is the Obama administration’s signature education initiative, which provides competitive grants to states and now districts to implement specific school reforms favored by Education Secretary  Arne Duncan, including a growth in charter schools and teacher evaluation systems that include as one controversial measure the standardized test scores of students. The reforms haven’t shown to be successful in improving student achievement, but that hasn’t stopped the department from going forward with successive rounds of Race to the Top at a cost of billions of dollars.

Charter schools are publicly funded but independently run and are not viewed as traditional school districts but rather as local education agencies, which is presumably why there are individual charter schools named as district finalists. There are some charter networks on the list, such as KIPP DC, which operates 10 schools in the nation’s capital, and the Morgan County Charter School System in Madison, Ga. Listed from Texas are the Harmony science academies, the IDEA charter network, and Peak Preparatory – Uplift Education. Animo Leadership Charter High School in Inglewood, California, is also a finalist. About 10 percent of the finalists are charters, though only about 4 percent of K-12 public school students attend charters.

The U.S. Education Department release describes the intent of this latest Race to the Top competition as “to support locally developed plans to personalize and deepen student learning, directly improve student achievement and educator effectiveness, close achievement gaps, and prepare every student for success in college and careers.”

Good luck to the districts with that.

Here are the 61 finalists:

RACE TO THE TOP DISTRICT FINALISTS — BY STATE

 

ARIZONA

-          Cartwright Elementary School District

-          Peoria Unified School District

 

ARKANSAS

-          Springdale School District

 

CALIFORNIA

-          Animo Leadership Charter High School

-          Galt Joint Union School District

-          Lindsay Unified School District

-          New Haven Unified School District

 

CONNECTICUT

-          Bridgeport Public Schools

-          Hartford Public Schools

 

COLORADO

-           Mapleton Public Schools

-          St. Vrain Valley Schools

 

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

-          KIPP DC

 

FLORIDA

-          Broward County School Board

-          Charlotte County School Board

-          Manatee County School Board

-          Miami-Dade County School Board

-          Seminole County Public Schools

 

GEORGIA

Fulton County Board of Education

Haralson County School System

Morgan County Charter School System

Rockdale County Public Schools      

 

INDIANA

-          Metropolitan School District of Warren Township

 

KENTUCKY

-          Bourbon County Schools

-          Green River Regional Educational Cooperative

-          Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative

 

LOUISIANA

-          Ascension Parish School System

 

MARYLAND

-          Baltimore City Public Schools

-          Baltimore County Board of Education

 

MASSCHUSETTS

Boston Public Schools   

 

MICHIGAN

-          Education Achievement Authority of Michigan

 

MISSOURI

-          Jefferson City Public Schools

-          Maryville R-11 School District

-          St. Louis Board of Education

 

NEVADA

-          Carson City School District

 

NEW HAMPSHIRE

-          Nashua School District

 

NEW JERSEY

-          Neptune Township School District

-          The Newark Public Schools

 

NEW YORK

-          New York City Public Schools

-          Middletown City School District

 

NORTH CAROLINA

-          Guilford County Schools

-          Iredell-Statesville Schools

 

OHIO

-          Cleveland Municipal School District

-          Maysville Local School District

-          Reynoldsburg City School District

 

OREGON

-          McMinnville School District #40

 

PENNSYLVANIA

-          The School District of Philadelphia

SOUTH CAROLINA

-          Charleston County School District

 

TENNESSEE

-          Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools

 

TEXAS

-          Aubrey Independent School District

-          Dallas Independent School District

-          Galveston ISD

-          Harmony Science Academy (Harmony Public Schools)

-          Idea Public Schools

-          Peak Preparatory – Uplift Education

-          Region 5 Education Service Center

 

UTAH

-          Ogden City School District

-          Salt Lake City School District

 

WASHINGTON

-          North Central Educational Service District 171

-          Puget Sound Educational Service District

-          Vancouver Public Schools

 

WISCONSIN

-          Cooperative Education Service Agency 10

 

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss · November 26, 2012