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Ed. Dept. Clarifies 'Assurances' for Round 2 Stimulus Funding

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Even as folks are busily digesting the Race to the Top draft application, the U.S. Department of Education has released even more information on the stimulus.

There are new proposed requirements on just how states should show progress toward those four education-improvement-oriented "assurances" spelled out in the stimulus law: improving teacher quality and distribution, revamping state data systems, turning around struggling schools, and bolstering standards and assessments.

If you'll remember, states must promise to get to work on those "assurances" in order to get a piece of the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, which is meant to help states make up for previous cuts to K-12 and higher education.

The department has already given out much of Round 1 of the funding, but this guidance will apply to Round 2. Most the requirements seem to be asking for information from states, which would help the department get a picture of where they stand on the four key areas.

My colleague, Steve Sawchuk, has the goods on the very interesting teacher quality requirements over at Teacher Beat. So check it out.

But there are some interesting pieces on the other three assurances:

*On data systems: The stimulus law embraced the Data Quality Campaign's description of a high-quality data system, so it's no surprise to see that states must explain their process and timeline for implementing those elements, under the requirements. States must also explain whether they are sharing information with teachers about how much their students progress.

*On standards and assessments: The draft says that states should supply information on the extent to which they are working to "enhance" their assessments, including for English-language learners and students in special education.

And it also says states should explain how they are using "multiple measures from multiple sources" in gauging student achievement. I'm wondering if that will have implications for No Child Left Behind renewal ... will states eventually have to use multiple measures in their accountability systems?

The draft also asks states to report how many students graduate from high school in four years and go on to a pursue college or technical training. States must also specify whether they are working with other states to revamp their assessments.

*School Improvement:The department is asking for a lot of information on charter schools here, including the number of charters allowed to operate in the state, the number actually operating, and the number and identity of any charters that have closed in recent years. States must also detail how they are working with schools in corrective action, meaning that they have been chronically struggling to meet achievement targets for years.

That's my preliminary take, but the draft is about 116 pages long, so I'm sure I missed something. What jumped out at you? E-mail me or better yet, hit up the comments section.

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The fundamental aspects of the RTT applications to be prepared by SEA staff and others are the need to affirm that, 1)the State has a viable, updated, and data-driven Strategic Plan; 2)the application describes the programs/services/strategies that will be implemented at the state and local-school district levels with ARRA funds; 3)the applicaton describes how the above will be implemented, whether in phases or in whole; 4)how the above will be evaluated at the school district, program,school,and/or classroom levels; 5) how the above aligns and enhances the Sate's Strategic Plan and, most importantly, 6)how the above is aligned with at least one of the funding priorities.

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