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Racing back to D.C.

August 10, 2010

Governor Don Carcieri and Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist are in Washington, D.C. today to make the case for Rhode Island’s Race to the Top application. The state is seeking $75 million for programs that include teacher evaluations linked to student performance and more training for teachers and principals.

Rhode Island was a finalist in round one of the competition, but just two states, Delaware and Tennessee won grants. Both states had near-universal support from teachers unions.

The Race to the Top competition has been controversial because it rewards states for opening up to charter schools and linking teacher pay and evaluations to student test scores. Critics say such measures have not been proven to raise student achievement.

More than 40 states applied for the grants in round one, and most of the finalists have returned for round two. Many, including Rhode Island, have changed state laws to allow more charter schools in the hope of increasing their chances of winning a grant.

In round two, 19 states were named finalists and Federal Education Secretary Arne Duncan has said he will consider funding as many as a dozen states if the applications are convincing. Winners will be announced in late August or early September.

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