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Race to the Top: More Than Just a Nod to High School Improvement

The much-awaited Race to the Top Fund regulations are out, and they make interesting reading (see my colleague Michele McNeil's story, which also links you directly to the regs and supporting documents.) In telling states what will give them the best shot at the $4 billion in grants, the feds give more than a nod to high school improvement, too.

One of the things that will earn states points in the competition is whether they are part of the movement to adopt common college- and career-ready standards and assessments, a consideration with obvious implications for high school. Also important is whether states have sound plans to boost students' and teachers' competency in science, technology, engineering and math, and whether they are working to create an education system that is well aligned from preschool through graduate school.

The regulations also say states will be judged in part on their plans to identify and turn around persistently low-performing schools, including high schools that are not eligible for Title I funding.

In describing its number-one "absolute priority"—a state's comprehensive approach to education reform—the ed department says states must describe, among other things, their plans to increase the number of students graduating from high school ready for college and careers.

The regulations also express the feds' interest in states' plans to award credit to students based on performance rather than on seat time.

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