Passing Notes
A Special Report from MBAE                                Race to the Top

Massachusetts is a Race to the Top Round 2 Finalist!

MBAE applauds the selection of Massachusetts as a Race to the Top (RTTT) finalist again in Round 2. We believe that the state's proposal will continue our leadership as the highest achieving state in the nation and provides a blueprint for ensuring the preparation of our state's students for success in college, career and citizenship. MBAE is pleased to have represented the business community in the process of developing this reform plan and looks forward to working with education stakeholders across the state to put it into action!

Massachusetts in the Running for $250 million in Race to the Top Funds
MBAE's Analysis of the Finalist Results
Mass EdForumWho's been here before? - With the exception of Round 1 winners, Tennessee and Delaware, all of the original Race to the Top finalists, including Massachusetts, were named in Round 2.These 14 states were joined by five new finalists: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Maryland, and New Jersey. 
How did they get here?- According to U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, the Department of Education again used  400 points as the cutoff for determining finalists. In Round 1, this threshold resulted in what many commentators thought were too many finalists with 16.  The high bar of competition was maintained, however, by limiting the number of winners in Round 1 to just two states: Tennessee and Delaware.  In the second round, the average applicant score increased by 26 points, a significant boost over Round 1, so it is difficult to predict who the winners will be in this highly competitive contest.  

What do the finalists have in common? - Amongst the 19 Round 2 finalists, all but one, Kentucky, have laws allowing for the existence of charter schools. Kentucky was the first state to adopt the Common Core ahead of the August 2nd deadline specified in the Race to the Top application guidelines. 15 other RTTT Round 2 finalists also adopted early according to the Common Core State Standard Initiative's adoption map.
What are their chances? - While Round 1 resulted in only two winners, Round 2 is expected to have many more. Immediately following the announcement of the Round 1 winners, the U.S. Department of Education suggested that there would be 10-15 winners in Round 2. Tennessee and Delaware's prizes left $3.4 billion remaining in the Race to the Top fund created by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA). All Race to the Top funds must be allocated by September 30, 2010. Another change announced after Round 1, is that budget guidance offered by the Department of Education is binding on applicants in Round 2. Budget and scoring information for all of the finalists are as follows:

*Green highlight is Massachusetts - for easy viewing - Massachusetts was a Round 1 finalist
*Blue highlights are for all other Round 1 finalists
*Pink highlights are for all Round 2 finalists that were not finalists in Round 1

Interesting items can be drawn out of these numbers.
  • The sum of all of their budgets is $6.169 billion approaching twice as much as is left in the Race to the Top fund. 
  • Despite the U.S. Department of Education's assertion that 10-15 finalists could win depending on funding, there is no combination of whole budgets that would allow for 15 winners. The sum of the 15 smallest RTTT budgets is $3.672 billion, $200 million more than in the RTTT fund. 
  • There are plenty of ways to allow 10 finalists to finish the Race, though it won't be the 10 largest budgets, which total $4.744 billion
  • Massachusetts needs to improved its score relative to the other Round 1 finalists - the top 10 Round 1 scores (excluding winners Tennessee and Delaware) have a combined budget of $3.299 billion, not leaving much room for Massachusetts, the 11th highest score.  This figure also does not account for the $1.673 billion combined budget of the 5 states that were not in the finals the first time around.
While there are expected to be significantly more winners in the second round, the stakes are higher without the promise of another chance that existed in Round 1.  Also, with California, New York, and Florida in the fray, $3.4 billionstarts looking pretty small, pretty fast. Massachusetts will have a chance to defend its application when a 5-member team meets with reviewers in Washington in August, and must make a winning presentation to bring home our $250 million share!

Additional Resources on Race to the Top

Visit MBAE's blog, Mass EdForum, for information and opinion, including links to items such as:

The U.S. Department of Education Race to the Top Resource Page

Massachusetts' Race to the Top Narrative

A side-by-side comparison of Massachusetts' Round 1 and Round 2 applications

MBAE's analysis of Massachusetts' Round 1 application as compared with the winners - Delaware and Tennessee

MBAE's Budget Breakdowns showing how Massachusetts would spend the $250 million in RTTT funds

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