Just as the Department of Education has been connecting to the public for feedback on its new round of Race to the Top (RTT) projects, such as new student assessments, states have, for their part, been reaching out to teachers and principals to obtain valuable input and provide training to support Race to the Top reforms. This summer, states from Hawaii to New York are using Race to the Top funds to support professional development and outreach to teachers, who are essential to successful implementation of RTT’s reforms.
As an Education Week article reported this week, in Maryland, Race to the Top funds are being used to support “the largest professional development program for teachers ever held in the state,” bringing together representatives from every school in Maryland, with the aim that staff in attendance “take a lead role in building understanding among their colleagues back home.” These professional development opportunities double as listening sessions, where state officials solicit teachers’ input on curriculum and testing standards. Teachers say they hope the training will help them understand and implement new standards to ultimately create more consistency across schools, districts states and the nation.
Maryland is just one of several RTT winners working to engage teachers (and welcoming observers from other states to learn from their efforts). Across the nation, summer outreach will focus on the college- and career-ready standards known as the Common Core, which states have developed together, as well as new teacher and administrator evaluations and initiatives to turn around low-performing schools. Some highlights include:
- Georgia will host a summer leadership program for school turnaround teams and facilitate consultation sessions on the state’s teacher evaluation system.
- New York will convene some 1,000 participants for intensive professional development on the Common Core Standards, the state’s teacher evaluation system and using assessments to target instructional efforts.
- Ohio will host professional development sessions on new teacher and principal evaluation systems, Common Core and the instructional improvement system.
Race to the Top states and their educators will be hard at work all summer long to ensure that key players in the classroom have a role in shaping and implementing the program that Secretary Duncan has credited with “fundamentally redefining the education landscape in America.” So much for summer break!
Andrea Suarez Falken is a Special Assistant at the Department of Education.