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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Update on Race to the Top

To:Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:October 16, 2009


At this month's special Board meeting on October 26th, we will focus on the major initiative underway in Massachusetts to apply for federal Race to the Top funding. If we are successful in our application, the Commonwealth and its schools could receive as much as $100 million or more for public education over the next several years. This money would provide an unprecedented opportunity to build on our accomplishments in education reform and to develop and implement innovative ideas that will move our schools forward.

To apply, states are required to develop a comprehensive plan to address four key "assurance" areas: standards and assessments, data systems to support instruction, great teachers and leaders, and turning around struggling schools. We have also chosen to focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) as a fifth area, both because states that do so will be given priority consideration, and because of its vital importance to economic growth and development in Massachusetts.

To develop strategies to be considered for inclusion in our application, we have formed teams within the Department relating to the four assurance areas and STEM. These groups are led by:

  • Standards and Assessments: Jeff Nellhaus
  • Data Systems: Bob Bickerton
  • Great Teachers and Leaders: David Haselkorn
  • School Turnaround: Karla Baehr
  • STEM: Jeff Nellhaus

In addition, we have established a stakeholder working group and have invited a team of national experts to serve as our advisors. We are also engaging educators, business leaders and others through regional forums, webinars and in-person discussions. At these forums and meetings, we have asked participants to identify their top priority for each of the assurance areas and to highlight examples of innovations and new approaches that could be useful in our proposal.

At the special meeting I will present our early thinking on each of the assurance areas. I welcome the Board's input. Carrie Conaway, who has been managing this effort for the Department, as well as other members of our senior staff and Kirk Kramer of the Bridgespan Group, will be present to respond to questions. A summary of the federal requirements is enclosed.

Last Updated: October 21, 2009
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