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CCSSO to Congress: Let States Collaborate on Race to Top 2.0

So as you may remember, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would provide $550 million for a second year of the administration's signature Race to the Top program.

Now the Senate is working on its own spending legislation and could unveil a bill funding most of the government as soon as today. It's still unclear whether that bill would include a similar extension for Race to the Top.

But, if it does, the Council of Chief State School Officers wants to see Congress include language that would make a major change to the program. Instead of having the new round of grants go to individual states, they want states to be able to collaborate together on grant applications.

CCSSO, together with the National Governors Association, worked on the Common Core State Standards Initiative, which more than 40 states have adopted so far. They say team efforts on Race to the Top applications could help bolster similar efforts, and help small, rural states pool resources.

Here's a snippet of a letter that CCSSO sent Dec. 10 to Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the chairman of the Senate appropriations subcommittee overseeing education:

We understand the Administration recently highlighted RTTT as a leading priority for the final budget negotiations underway on Capitol Hill. The Council supports the President's request and respectively asks you to consider including language that expressly allows for and encourages joint state applications. While the Council certainly supports new individual state applications, many of our members have expressed a strong desire to collaborate with their fellow states. Indeed our membership embraces collaborative work around common themes and issues as a key strategy to success. Moreover, the advantage of pooling resources is one that cannot be understated for our small, rural states.

In some ways, states have already collaborated on Race to the Top applications, since $350 million of the $4.35 billion for Race to the Top Classic went to help two consortia of states develop richer, more uniform assessments.

Still, if this language is accepted, it would be a new twist for the program.

What do you think of the idea of letting groups of states collaborate for the competition?

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