District Race to the Top Plans

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In June 2011, Former Secretary of Education Lillian M. Lowery approved all 19 districts’ Race to the Top plans to implement innovative and aggressive reforms across the state.

The plans were a year-long effort by school chiefs, board members, teachers, parents and community members to analyze their schools’ challenges and develop comprehensive ways to meet them. While each plan had to include priorities that aligned with the state’s reform goals and strategies, each plan is individualized, reflecting the unique needs of each district.

While the plans were approved for their full three years, funding will be approved year-to-year, based on performance. Lowery’s June approval allocates $18.4 million in 2011-12 funding for the districts

In March 2010, Delaware was one of only two states to win first-round funding in the federal Race to the Top grant program. The state’s plan, which was ranked first among the 16 finalists, was approved for $119 million. The money is divided between the state to fund Delaware-wide initiatives and districts and charters  to implement their individual plans.

The district plans detail how they will meet state reform goals as well as additional objectives that they set. Delaware’s vision is that every student will graduate college and career ready, with the freedom to choose his or her life’s course.  Delaware’s plan outlines objectives in four areas: effective teachers and leaders; rigorous standards, curriculum and assessments; sophisticated data systems and practices; and deep support for the lowest-achieving schools.

To garner state approval and receive funding, the district plans had to address how they would:

  • Implement college and career ready standards and assessments
  • Improve access to and use of data systems
  • Build the capacity to use data
  • Improve the effectiveness of educators based on performance
  • Ensure equitable distribution of effective educators
  • Ensure that educators are effectively prepared
  • Provide effective support to educators
  • Provide deep support to the lowest-achieving schools
  • Engage families and communities effectively in supporting students’ academic success

Please note that the “Common Measures” section of each district’s plan will be finalized in summer 2011.  In this time, the Delaware Department of Education will 1) pre-populate baseline data for districts (including data from the 2010-11 school year) and 2) provide workshops to district staff on setting ambitious and realistic targets. 
Please also note that the plans are very detailed and comprehensive.  This was needed to understand what districts are planning, to hold districts accountable, and, most importantly, to allow for systemic change. The complexity of local plans was a focal point of the recent work.  Wherever possible, implementation capacity was addressed and is mitigated by the fact that:

  • Many plan activities involve doing things differently, not doing new things (e.g., better walkthroughs, earlier hiring, different professional development).
  • Districts have distributed their work efforts across multiple people and years, with many districts building capacity through Race to the Top coordinators, data specialists, and other personnel.
  • DDOE will monitor districts regularly and provide technical assistance in implementation, including what to de-prioritize and how.

Read each district’s plan here: