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Tennessee’s Race to the Top Application Deemed “Top 3″

March 1, 2010

With the announcement of the first round of RTTT finalists due this week, there’s been a fair amount of handicapping going on.  Thomas W. Carroll, of the think-tank the “Foundation for Education Reform and Accountability,” deems Tennessee’s application right at the top of the heap:

After reviewing all the available state applications, totaling thousands of pages, I’ve grouped the 40 applying states (and D.C.) into three categories: very competitive (three states); competitive (four states); and likely losers (33 states, including four last-minute flameouts).

Three states submitted applications that strike me as very competitive: Florida, Louisiana, and Tennessee. All three began sprinting around the education-reform racetrack long before the Race to the Top starting gun was even fired.

In education circles, Tennessee is perhaps best known for the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS), which has amassed 18 years of longitudinal data on student progress—an important advantage, given the importance that Race to the Top places on data. Tennessee also has drawn considerable attention for the aggressive efforts of Governor Philip Bredesen, a Democrat, to make his state more competitive for Race to the Top funding. In 2009, the governor pushed through revisions in the state’s relatively weak charter-school law, getting the cap on charter schools increased from 50 to 90. The law provides per-pupil facilities funding (something that many charter laws lack), and it extends the length of charters from five to ten years. For an encore, the governor—after hardball negotiating—signed legislation requiring districts to base at least 50 percent of their teacher evaluations on student test results and 35 percent on data from TVAAS.

There you go.  Like I’ve said before, go data!

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