Secretary of Education Lillian M. Lowery today announced approval of all 19 districts' Race to the Top plans, allocating $18.4 million in Year 2 funding for the districts to implement innovative and aggressive reforms across the state.
"These plans – the result of a year's worth of work by school chiefs, board members, teachers, parents and community members – reflect the differing needs of each district. Local teams analyzed their schools' challenges and developed comprehensive ways to meet them," Lowery said "The strength of these plans is their individualized approaches to meeting the specific needs of their communities while aligning with statewide initiatives.
"The bottom line is that all plans had to include priorities that aligned with the state's reform goals and strategies. There was no room for moving away from the research principles to which we all agreed when signing our state-wide Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Department of Education," Lowery said. "But each district rose to the challenge, and I'm happy that everyone is continuing to participate in the statewide reform effort so that children across Delaware can benefit."
Lowery approved the plans for three years. She will determine funding year-to-year based on performance.
Students, teachers and parents will start seeing many of the reforms outlined in the plans in action this fall with changes ranging from schools including new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programs and offering summer preview programs for high-need students to the opening of parent resource centers and the launch of early childhood and credit-recovery programs. Many districts also are launching teacher-leader training, offering incentives for recruitment and retention of educators in high-need schools or subjects and offering expanded professional development programs, particularly targeting special education and other high-need areas.
"By being honest about our schools' weaknesses and open to new ideas to address the needs, we are able to make real changes that will bring real growth," Lowery said. "With the approval of these plans, the focus can shift from planning to execution."
Last March, 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 approved today 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. To reach that point, the state must dramatically improve classroom instruction. 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
The 19 plans share some common themes in their approaches, including expanding access to advanced coursework, providing structured collaborative planning time for educators, and improving teacher and administrator quality with targeted recruitment, evaluation and professional development. Most also include innovative unique ideas, such as Caesar Rodney's freshman academy, Milford's outreach to parents in their places of work, and Red Clay's summer STEM program for middle school students
Each district formed a Race to the Top plan team, which included administrators, school board members, teachers and community members, to draft their plans. Designated Department of Education employees helped guide them through the process and provided feedback and support. The state also hosted monthly meetings to bring district representatives together to collaborate, share best practices and provide additional guidance and support.
All 19 districts' plans were approved for their full Year 2 funding, allocations previously set based on the number of children from low-income families in the districts. The plans, now going through final copyediting by districts, will be posted on DDOE's website next week. The Year 2 funding is:
|New Castle Vo Tech||$337,477|
|Red Clay Consolidated||$2,348,699|
Delaware Department of Education
401 Federal Street, Suite #2
Dover, Delaware 19901
Phone: (302) 735-4035
Fax: (302) 739-4654
Other Press Releases