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Deadlines, Delaware, and the Common Standards

If you've been following the common-standards coverage in this blog, you know that Aug. 2 was a big-deal day, because states vying for Race to the Top money got maximum points if they had adopted the standards by then. When the RTT Round 2 finalists were announced, we noted that nearly all states that had won a grant (in Round 1) or were still in the running for one (Round 2) had adopted the standards.

Then it came down to one: Delaware was the only one of the RTT winners or contenders that had not yet adopted the common standards. (It won a grant in Round 1.)

So I got to wondering if this would have affected the Round 1 outcome. But our intrepid Michele McNeil, who tracks RTT, checked her spreadsheets and her point totals and concluded that the outcome wouldn't have changed even if Delaware had lost the 20 points for timely common-core adoption.

Then I wondered what happens to a state that gets RTT money but doesn't carry out its application plans in precisely the way it said it would. So I put that question to the folks at the Education Department.

Now, before I go on, let me say that it's not as if Delaware is blowing off the common standards. Au contraire, it has an adoption date scheduled for later this month. But still, I wondered how much of a stickler the department was going to be after all the emphasis it placed on the Aug. 2 deadline.

Spokesman Justin Hamilton said that Ed is keeping a close eye on how states are progressing with the plans they outlined in their Race to the Top applications. He noted that RTT money can only be drawn down by states in chunks, as they reach key milestones in that work.

"If we determine at any point along the way that a state is not holding to the commitment it made in its application, it could put its funding in jeopardy," he said.

But the department is "confident" that Delaware is holding true to its intent to adopt the common standards, because federal officials have been in touch with those in the state, and are aware that it has set up a clear process and date to do so, Hamilton said.

He also noted that since Delaware was a Round 1 competitor, it had to submit its application in January. Delaware said in its application that it aimed for a June adoption, but when the standards were released later than originally planned, the state had to shift its adoption timeline as well, Hamilton said.

So it seems that unforeseen events, good intentions, and a clear plan seem to have made the Aug. 2 date a bit more flexible for Delaware.

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