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Ed Dept to States: In Race to Top, Only Common Core Will Do

I'm sure you remember, because it set a lot of people's neck hairs on end, that President Obama recently proposed that Title I funding for disadvantaged students be tied to whether states have adopted the Common Core State Standards.

And I am also sure you know that in order to get the most bang for their buck in Race to the Top applications, states have to promise to adopt the common standards.

In the Title I proposal, states may choose the common core standards or work with their own university systems to build standards rigorous enough to be considered "college and career ready."

That led some folks, including one state ed commissioner I was chatting with today, to wonder whether states vying for RTT money could make a similar choice. In other words, could a state be deemed truly competitive in its applications—and compliant if it gets a share of the money—if it works with its university system to certify that its own standards, for instance, are college and career ready?

I decided to put that question directly to the people who can provide an answer. The Ed Department forwarded it to RTT chief Joanne Weiss, who responded quickly and clearly:

"The answer is no," she wrote in an e-mail. "The RTT requirements, because it's a discretionary program, are actually tighter than ESEA and are not changing."

To get full points in Race to the Top, she explained, a state has to adopt the common standards by August 2, 2010. To get partial points, it has to do so by December 31.

"The higher-ed certification option," she said, "Does not apply to RTT."

Guess that settles that question.

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