Vice President Biden Celebrates One-Year Anniversary of Race to the Top Awards in Delaware
Teacher collaboration critical to early success in Delaware
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan were in Wilmington, Delaware to celebrate the first year anniversary of the first Race to the Top awards, which marked the beginning of a transformative and highly successful investment in education. Nearly a year after being awarded over $100 million in Race to the Top funding, Delaware’s grant has significantly helped the state make progress toward improving its education system. Speaking at Howard High School of Technology, the Vice President and Secretary Duncan discussed the success of teacher collaboration in Delaware, as well as how winning the future in education will continue to require investments that promote a shared responsibility among everyone involved; reform at the state and local levels; and a focus on achieving results. They were joined in Wilmington by Governor Jack Markell, Senator Chris Coons, Representative John Carney and President of the Delaware State Education Association Diane Donohue.
“For less than one percent of what America spends on education each year, we were able to help jump-start some of the farthest reaching education reforms in history,” said Vice President Biden. “All across the country, Race to the Top is inspiring the same kind of change we’re seeing here in Delaware.”
“Nearly one year ago, Delaware won a Race to the Top award because it submitted an application that promised to reach into every corner of the state and had the full support of its teacher’s union,” said Secretary Duncan. “Today, we are here to celebrate the fact that Delaware has made good on its promise and is beginning to implement changes that are transforming the state of education for children throughout the state.”
Vice President Biden celebrated the progress Delaware has made since it received the Race to the Top award nearly one year ago at Howard High School—an active partner in the State’s Race to the Top plan. One of the critical elements of the State’s early accomplishments is the establishment of a Partnership Zone which gives low performing schools the help they need to turn around including instituting longer school days, increased instructional time, more flexibility in staffing decisions, and a greater role for teachers in implementing reforms. Howard is one of four Partnership Zone schools in the State and has made several key changes that are helping it transform.
Delaware State Education Association President Diane Donohue joined the event to highlight the critical role teacher collaboration has played in Delaware’s early success in implementing its Race to the Top plan. As part of the application process, the Delaware State Education Association (DSEA) and all 19 of the DSEA local affiliates signed on to the State’s application. Over the past year, DSEA and its locals have continued to be very involved in every aspect of the process, including engaging more than 300 educators who are helping to develop student growth measures in 30 content areas, building student performance into teacher assessment systems.
Background On Teacher Collaboration:
The Administration has consistently sought to lift up the work labor and management can do to support student success when they work collaboratively. In February, the Department, along with key partners like the National Education Association (NEA) and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) sponsored a two day conference attended by 150 school districts – including the School Board President, teachers union president and Superintendent from each district -- to identify labor-management relationships, policies and agreements that can drive student achievement.
From the work of Maryland’s Montgomery County Public Schools with its local NEA affiliate to reduce the achievement gap in the district, to Los Angeles’ ABC Unified School District in Los Angeles, where an over decade-long partnership with the AFT local has lead to annual increases in the district’s score on California’s Academic Index, this important work is happening all over the country.
Background on Race to the Top:
The $4.35 billion Race to the Top Fund is an unprecedented federal investment in reform. The program includes $4 billion for statewide reform grants and $350 million to support states working together to improve the quality of their assessments. The Race to the Top state competition is designed to reward states that are leading the way in comprehensive, coherent, statewide education reform across four key areas:
- Adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace;
- Building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals how to improve instruction;
- Recruiting, developing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most; and
- Turning around their lowest-performing schools.
Background on Award Timeline:
- March 29th, 2010: Delaware and Tennessee were announced as winners of the first phase of the competition
- June 14th, 2010: Delaware received the first 12.5% of its award
- July 22nd, 2010: Delaware received the remainder of its award
- August 24th, 2010: the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Rhode Island were announced as winners of the second phase of the competition
Year One Accomplishments in Delaware:
As part of the application process, the Delaware State Education Association (DSEA) and all 19 of its local affiliates signed on to the State’s application. DSEA and its locals have continued to be very involved in implementation:
- Over 300 educators are helping to develop student growth measures in 30 content areas, building student performance into teacher assessment.
- Educators helped develop plans for the 90 minute collaborative planning time so that all educators in core subjects will meet in small, relevant groups for 90 minutes weekly to identify best practices and coordinate lesson plans. Teachers will also work with data coaches two times a month beginning next year to make sure that metrics on student achievement are informing their teaching.
- The DSEA worked closely and continuously with the Governor and State Secretary of Education over the past year in overseeing the implementation process and troubleshooting problems that arose.
Additional areas of progress:
- Delaware adopted the Common Core Standards for math and English Language Arts and trained 9,000 teachers on the basics of these new standards.
- Delaware launched an online assessment system to measure student progress in a timely and reliable manner so teachers can use it to inform their instruction.
- Delaware recently entered into a contract with Wireless Generation, LLC to provide data coaching services so that, by this spring, teachers in an initial 6 districts and 1 charter school will have regular access to data coaches that will help them use the information from the online assessment system to enrich their instruction and improve student performance.
- Delaware instituted a new Partnership Zone which targets the lowest-achieving schools. The State has approved the first four Partnership Zone schools’ reform plans which include adopting longer school days and school years, increasing instructional time, requiring leadership and staffing changes and gaining flexibility in staffing decisions, use of lead partners, and other critical changes.
- Delaware designed and instituted a nine-month professional development program to provide districts with the skills to continue to implement their portion of the Race to the Top plan over the next three years.
Background on Howard High School of Technology:
- Howard High School of Technology is an 860-student school located three blocks from the downtown Wilmington business district.
- Howard High School’s building was declared a National Historic Landmark due to the role the school played in the civil rights movement. Howard first opened in 1867 and was the only institution in the four-state area of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania to offer a complete high school education to Black students and was one of the earliest Black secondary schools in the Nation. Howard was also one of the schools involved in Brown vs. Board of Education.
- The student population is 74 percent African-American, 14 percent Caucasian and 1 percent Asian. Sixty-one percent of the student body is low income.
- More than half of the students who accept admission to Howard have not previously met grade-level math and/or reading standards on state assessments.
Howard’s Race to the Top Progress:
- Howard High School was selected as one of the first four schools in the state’s Partnership Zone program. Since its selection, Howard has put together and the state has approved a transformation plan to turn around the school.
- Teachers at the school have developed and agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding that modifies the collective bargaining agreement for teachers at the school, allowing for implementation of the transformation plan.
- A new principal has been put in place.
- There is a high level of educator engagement with 40 faculty currently serving on committees that are developing specific details of the Partnership Zone plan
- In April, a site-based parent coordinator will be hired to increase parent outreach and support services, especially targeting families of students struggling.
- This summer, the school will launch a Summer Intensive Learning and Leadership Academy for underperforming students entering the 9th grade.
- Next year the daily schedule for grades 9 and 10 will be restructured into small learning communities. Students will stay together for their core classes and teams of teachers will collaborate on individual student needs and tie vocational coursework to what students are studying in their academic classes.
- Delaware will offer incentives to attract highly qualified academic teachers to Howard.
- This year, the University of Delaware launched a new STEM residency program, funded, in part, by the Race to the Top Award. The program places science and math experts in residency teaching programs at Delaware high schools, where they work with a certified teacher while they pursue graduate courses in education at the University of Delaware. The program placed eight teachers this year, including five at Howard.