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Who’s getting Race to the Top dollars from RI?

October 21, 2011

So far, Rhode Island has awarded 11 contracts from its $75 million Race to the Top grant, totalling $10,900. Here’s a breakdown of the largest contracts:

$4.06 million is going to the West Bay Collaborative. The group is acting as a clearinghouse to pay educators providing training on teacher evaluations and curriculum.

$2.86 million, the second largest contract so far, has been awarded to the Dana Center for an intensive review of the Common Core Standards, a set of national standards Rhode Island has pledged to adopt. The Dana Center will also look at how local districts can align their curricula to meet the new standards.

The Dana Center has been working with the State Department of Education on aligning local curricula to state standards for several years and participated in a multi-million dollar curriculum re-design in Providence. Since the district introduced its re-vamped Math and Science courses in 2009, proficiency rates on state science tests have increased from 9.4% to 16.8%. Math results have been slower to improve, but only one year of data is available.

Rhode Island is spending an estimated $2.73 million on alternative teacher certification to be developed by the New Teacher Project. The group already operates a summer “boot camp” for would be teachers who have college degrees but no teacher training. Participants enter the classroom after an intensive summer school and receive ongoing mentorship and training.

$1.45 million has been set aside for the National Center for Improving Educational Assessment. The contract involves looking at student growth measures – educator speak for how to gauge student progress over time. This is supposed to be one of the key rating elements in Rhode Island’s new teacher evaluations. An interesting side note about the contractor: former Rhode Island Education Commissioner Peter McWalters is on the center’s board.

Finally, the state has awarded a $739,000 contract to a group called UPD Consulting for Edstat and Race to the Top implementation consulting. UPD worked for Education Departments in Maryland and Washington, D.C., the former workplace of RI Education Commissioner Deborah Gist.

UPD is known for creating version of New York City’s CompStat crime reporting system for schools, which it calls SchoolStat. The system has critics who claim it is too confrontational for a school environment, but supporters say it has helped pinpoint problems in local public schools.

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