It took a little pressure from Washington, but New York State has finally agreed to publicly release its application for hundreds of millions of dollars in education aid known as Race to the Top.
Forty-one states, plus the District of Columbia, applied for the federal funds this month. New York was one of just four states that refused to post their applications on the Internet. The state had argued that going public would hurt its competitive edge if it's turned down and applies for the second round of grants in April. But U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan didn't buy that excuse and promoted transparency. He even said the feds would post the applications on its own website.
New York's application is now on the state education department's website. It details how the state would meet the Obama administration's goals of turning around low performing schools, making teachers more effective, and tracking student achievement.
A few tidbits from the 908-page document:
- The state requested $831 million in Race to the Top funding to support 40 projects over four grant years. The state identified additional sources of funding to support the work, for a total cost of $1.05 million over four years. More than half the funds would go directly to local school districts.
- The state submitted 92 letters in support of its application. They came from politicians, education groups, universities, the state's science and technology education groups, charter schools, and corporations including Key Bank, IBM, and Lockheed Martin.
- The state lists very specific goals for raising student achievement, among blacks, Hispanics, students with disabilities, low-income pupils, and students still learning English. It plans to use the federal funds to help raise overall 8th grade proficiency levels on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) to 40% in reading and 42% in math by 2013. The state says that's an incremental 7 percentage point gain in both areas above the gains anticipated in the absence of a Race to the Top award. On fourth grade national reading and math exams, the state is shooting for incremental gains of 7 and 4 percent, respectively, by 2013. That would translate to 46% of 4th graders at the proficient level in reading and 48% in math.
WNYC hasn't yet digested the full document. But if you want to look, be our guest. The application is listed on the New York State Education Department.
Please send us your comments or newstips to firstname.lastname@example.org if you think there's something in there worthy of more public attention. After all, that's what transparency is for.