The ARRA [American Recovery and Reinvestment Act] provides $4.35 billion for the Race to the Top Fund, a competitive grant program designed to encourage and reward States that are creating the conditions for education innovation and reform... and implementing ambitious plans in four core education reform areas:Grants were awarded to states that earned points in different areas. Explanations about what the different areas were, and how many points were awarded for each, begins on page three (3) of the Executive Summary.
Race to the Top will reward States that have demonstrated success...
- Adopting standards and assessments...
- Building data systems...
- Recruiting, developing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers...
- Turning around our lowest-achieving schools.
The Common Core standards had not been given a label yet, but were mentioned and explained on page seven (7). It also required that testing be set up aligned to the standards:
B. Standards and Assessments (70 points)Additionally, the requirement for statewide data systems was also made:
(B)(1) Developing and adopting common standards..."
(B)(2) Developing and implementing common, high-quality assessments [testing]...
(i) ...working toward jointly developing and implementing common, high-quality assessments... aligned with the consortium’s common set of K-12 standards...
C. Data Systems to Support Instruction (47 points)and the requirement for the ability of the government to access that data:
(C)(1) Fully implementing a statewide longitudinal data system (24 points)
(C)(2) Accessing and using State data (5 points)The Recovery Act also required that results of testing be used to evaluate teachers, but since this blog is to help educate parents as it relates to their children, it will not address that aspect of the Common Core. However, you can read a blog post by a Wallingford 6th grade Social Studies teacher that explains the reality of what Common Core means to teachers here. Warning: it definitely contains opinions.
The extent to which the State has a high-quality plan to ensure that data from the State’s statewide longitudinal data system are accessible to... key stakeholders (e.g., parents, students, teachers, principals, LEA leaders, community members, unions, researchers, and policymakers).
Finally, in the DEFINITIONS area of the Recovery Act it states:
Common set of K-12 standards means a set of content standards that define what students must know and be able to do and that are substantially identical across all States in a consortium. A State may supplement the common standards with additional standards, provided that the additional standards do not exceed 15 percent of the State's total standards for that content area.
Such assessments should enable measurement of student achievement... incorporate technology where appropriate; include the assessment of students with disabilities and English language learners; and to the extent feasible, use universal design principles... in development and administration.Three times Connecticut failed to accrue enough points to qualify for federal funds for school reform under Race to the Top. (You can read details about the first time here, the second time here, and the third time here.)
However, Connecticut has received federal funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems. "The program provides grants to states to design, develop, and implement statewide P-20 longitudinal data systems to capture, analyze, and use student data from preschool to high school, college, and the workforce." (Yes, the government wants to be able to capture information about your children not only through K-12, but into college and the workforce.)
Despite the fact that Connecticut has received no funding for school reform as impetus to do so, the Common Core standards were adopted here in July 2010. You can read a press release about that, from the Connecticut State Department of Education, here.
In July of 2013 Governor Dannel Malloy released a "a $10 million competitive technology grant for Connecticut school districts to bring more computers into classrooms and to increase Internet bandwidth capacity. This grant will provide critical assistance to local districts as they prepare for the statewide rollout during the 2014-15 school year of Common Core State Standards and the computer-based Smarter Balanced Assessments."