Colorado re-enters Race to the Top education-funding program

After failing to make the grade in the first-round federal Race to the Top education funding competition in March, Colorado has pulled back into the race. Today the state submitted its application for second-round funding or roughly $175 million for Colorado’s schools.

“We’ve been committed to reforming Colorado’s education system in a way that gives students and educators every opportunity to succeed,” Gov. Bill Ritter said. “Our Phase Two Race to the Top application focuses on reducing the dropout rate, closing the achievement gap and turning around low-performing schools so that every child gets the high-quality education they deserve.”

Spearheaded by Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien, the state’s application for first-round funding reached the final selection stage, becoming one of only 14 states to ultimately lose out to Delaware and Tennessee.

Expectations are high now, though, after the state legislature put in place controversial dynamic reform measures, including a law that ties teacher tenure more directly to student performance. The best teachers will be promoted and the worst teachers will be fiored after probationary periods.

Republican School Board Chairman Bob Schaffer saw the legislative moves as a harbinger of good things to come.

“Recent bipartisan approval of a law to improve educator effectiveness and the announcement that Colorado will receive a major federal grant to improve its education data systems gives us reason to believe a number of key pieces are falling into place.”

Colorado is one of 38 states applying in the second round. Finalists for the race to the Top grants will be announced at the end of July and will be invited to make presentations to reviewers in August. Winners will be announced in early September.

“We went back to the drawing board for our second application, but we didn’t wipe the slate clean,” Education Commissioner Dwight Jones said. “We sharpened and focused our plans and worked to be more clear about our intentions for how the resources will be used. But our core plan remains intact—to improve the performance of all schools, for all students.”

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