Judging process will be open, but judges are secret

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 8, 2010

For now, the 58 judges of the largest federal school reform competition in history remain in seclusion, their identities a secret.

But when the first-round winners of the $4 billion Race to the Top are announced in April, the judges also will be revealed. Their written comments, without names, will be published alongside applications in a process the Education Department is seeking to make as transparent as possible.

The judges -- 45 reviewers and 13 alternates -- were chosen after nearly 1,500 nominees the department received last fall were screened, program director Joanne Weiss said. Each application from 40 states and the District will be read by five reviewers and scored on a 500-point scale.

The reviewers include four lawyers, 15 former principals, 15 former district or state superintendents and 30 former K-12 teachers (with some overlap among the categories). Thirty-five reviewers have doctorates.

Rankings from the reviewers will be forwarded to Education Secretary Arne Duncan and other senior officials. Duncan is authorized to pick winners out of order, education officials said. That authority and the amount of money at stake are part of what gives him rare clout for an education secretary.

-- Nick Anderson

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