PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island is on track to use its full $75 million Race to the Top grant on improvement initiatives in state schools, according to a third-year progress report on the program released Monday.
The report outlines how the state has spent the federal funding thus far and what initiatives still remain under the four-year plan.
Thus far, state and local spending on Race to the Top initiatives has totaled more than $44.4 million, with an additional $30.6 million expected in the next year.
“As we near the end of our four-year grant, we are proud to look back on our accomplishments to date,” said Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee and Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist in a joint statement. “As you can see from the Year Three Progress Report on Race to the Top in Rhode Island that we are releasing today, we have invested these federal funds wisely to improve teaching and learning in our state.”
The report breaks Race to the Top-funded initiatives into three categories: educator excellence; standards, curriculum and assessments; and transformation and innovation. It also breaks down the spending to date on each initiative and the amount of investment remaining.
Under the first category, the state developed new teacher certification, support and evaluation systems to streamline and standardize those processes. The report notes that in the third year of the program, all school districts in the state used the new Educator Performance and Support System to evaluate teachers and administrators.
In the 2012-13 school year, all 412 new teachers in the state received at least 75 minutes of support per week from Rhode Island Induction Coaches, and an additional 41 teachers in urban districts received a second year of support.
In the standards, curriculum and assessments category, the state and school districts used Race to the Top funding to train educators in Common Core State Standards, develop model curricula in math and English and implement interim assessments in those subject areas. The state also worked to educate teachers and administrators on assessment, learning, classroom culture and the use of student data to inform educational decisions.
Finally, in the area of transformation and innovation, the state has held regular meetings to help keep planned changes at low-performing schools on track. More than 2,700 students took advantage of new virtual learning modules in math, according to the report, and the state awarded grants to high-performing charter schools.
The report indicated that the initiatives listed would continue to expand and be implemented in more districts across the state in the coming year.