Governor Tom Corbett announced that Pennsylvania has been awarded $41,326,299 under the federally-funded “Race to the Top” grant program.
The funding will be used to supplement the state’s support of student-specific educational choices in grades K-12, and the current efforts to increase the number of outstanding teachers working in Pennsylvania classrooms.
“I know, from my time spent as a teacher and with my own two children, that a one-size-fits-all approach to education does not create a successful learning environment,” Corbett said. “Our students need quality options that fit their academic abilities and their aspirations for the future. We must have educators who are prepared and capable of meeting the needs of our diverse student population.”
Pennsylvania joins 22 other states that have received Race to the Top grants. The grant will be allocated over the next four years by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
A significant focus of this grant will be used for the statewide implementation of a new teacher evaluation, which is currently being piloted in more than 100 school districts, charter schools, career and technical centers, and intermediate units. It will also provide the necessary means to develop a new principal evaluation, which is planned to be piloted during the 2012-13 school year.
“The focus of our grant application is to improve public education for every student,” Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis said. “The funds awarded to Pennsylvania will support the work already being done by Governor Corbett and the department to ensure that, regardless of ZIP code or socioeconomic status, every child receives an education that provides them with the opportunity to be successful.”
The new teacher and principal evaluation is a cornerstone of Corbett’s education reform agenda. Once developed, the evaluations will give parents, taxpayers and school leaders the ability to assess the quality of individuals tasked with educating students. Evaluations will also provide individual teachers and principals with meaningful feedback to help them to better serve students and increase achievement.
“The state House of Representative’s Education Committee recently voted out legislation that would base a significant portion of an educator’s and a principal’s assessment on multiple measures of student achievement,” Tomalis said. “This is an important piece of legislation that will benefit all students across the state.”
In addition, funding will also be directed to further develop Pennsylvania Standards Aligned System, which provides educators with valuable tools and resources to improve student achievement. Funding will also be allocated to provide students with greater access to quality charter schools and online curricular options that may not be available in their district, especially science, technology, engineering and math courses.
“As a result of the Race to the Top Grant award, funds will be allocated to increase transparency at Pennsylvania’s public schools,” Tomalis said. “Ultimately, the goal is to provide parents with the information necessary to make informed decisions regarding their child’s educational future.”
Half of the grant funding will be appropriated to local education agencies, such as school districts and intermediate units.
In addition to the new Race to the Top grant, Pennsylvania was awarded $38 million in September as part of the Striving Readers Grant Comprehensive Literacy Program grant. Under this initiative, Pennsylvania is pursuing a broad approach to improving literacy outcomes for all children.
In total, nearly $80 million has been awarded to Pennsylvania to improve educational opportunities for students.
Source: Press Release, PA Office of the Governor and PDE, Dec. 23, 2011.