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District Participation in Race to the Top: Binding, or Not?

Earlier this week, Alyson blogged about the tension between states and districts over Race to the Top participation. The more school districts that sign an MOU agreeing to participate in a state's reform plan, the more points a state gets in the competition. And participating school districts, in return, would enjoy a slice of their state's award.

But many districts aren't sure exactly what they're committing to do, and even wonder if it's a binding agreement.

Well, the U.S. Department of Education weighed in on this during two technical planning seminars last month, when state teams asked whether local districts can drop out from participating after a state wins a grant.

The answer from the department was, basically, that if one district drops out after a state wins, then no big deal. If a couple of districts drop out, then probably no big deal. But if significant numbers drop out, then there would have to be a "detailed conversation" with the department about whether the grant would continue. After all, applications were judged, in part, on how significant local district participation is.

So, if districts start dropping like flies, then they jeopardize their state's Race to the Top grant.

Read the relevant Q-and-A from the Baltimore seminar's transcipt, focusing on a question that starts on page 73, and another question that starts on page 383.

And, for another good back-and-forth, read the Denver seminar's transcript, starting with a question on page 80.

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