Race to the Top offers bold incentives to states willing to spur systemic reformto improve teaching and learning in Americas schools. It has createdsignificant change in the education system, specifically in raising standardsand aligning policies and structures to the goal of college and careerreadiness. Race to the Top has helped states achieve higher standards,improve teacher effectiveness, use data effectively in the classroom, andadjust their strategies to aid struggling schools. President Obamas plan hashelped 19 states to create plans which focus on four main areas ofKindergarten through 12th grade education. The four areas of reform are: "Development of rigorous standards and better assessments Adoption of better data systems to provide schools, teachers, and parentswith information about student progress Support for teachers and school leaders to become more effective Increased emphasis and resources for the rigorous interventions needed toturn around the lowest- performing schools" Forty- six states completed reform plans to complete in the Race to the Topcompetition. 34 states have changed their education laws to facilitate neededchange and 48 states have collaborated to create a rigorous college andcareer-ready standard education.
While states attempt to improve education,aspects of the most recent Elementary andSecondary Education Act, known as No Child LeftBehind, prevent their progress. NCLB began anational conversation about studentachievement, but unplanned consequences ofthis act reinforced incorrect behaviors. NCLBcreated incentives for states to reduce theirstandards with an emphasis on punishing failureover rewarding success, focus on absolute scoresrather than recognizing growth and progress,and prescribed a pass-fail series of interventionsfor schools that fail to reach their goals.
In March of 2010, the Obama Administration submitted ablueprint for the reform of the Elementary and SecondaryEducation Act to Congress, addressing the issues the NoChild Left Behind Act had created and focusing on closingthe achievement gap. Under the Administrations blueprint, state accountabilitysystems will raise the bar of students graduating fromtwelfth grade to prepare them to excel in college andcareers. This system will also recognize and aid schools inpoverty areas and districts which show improvements intheir students success. By identifying and intervening inschools, states will continue to focus on the educationgap. The blueprints suggest states and districts developmeaningful ways of improving teacher and principaleffectiveness.
Since Congress did not act to reauthorize ESEA, theAdministration created flexibility within the law toestablish comprehensive plans for improving education.This flexibility will allow states, students, and teachers tocreate and utilize effective methods to give children thenecessary skills for the future. States need to createcomprehensive systems of teacher and principaldevelopment and a method to evaluate and supportstudents beyond test scores. States receiving waivers needto set performance standards to improve classroomachievement and close the gap in education. These statesalso need to ensure accountability systems whichrecognize schools with academic accomplishments andschools who are making significant improvements whiletargeting rigorous and comprehensive interventions forlow performing schools.
President Obama has demanded improvements in STEM education toimprove Americas educational standards. Expanding STEM educationopportunities for students from diverse backgrounds will allow childrento learn deeply and think critically in science and math. ThisAdministration promoted several successful STEM initiatives, specificallyprioritizing STEM education in the Race to the Top program andInvesting in Innovation Fund. The government has focused the STEM agenda in 2012 on two goals: Excellent teaching, with content knowledge, mastery of how to teachthat content, and ability to motivate students Improving undergraduate STEM teaching, setting a goal of producingone million additional STEM degrees over the next decade In the pursuit of these goals, the President proposed the creation of anational Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Master TeacherCorps, including the nations finest educators in STEM subjects.
Obama believes education is important inorder to create a strong economy. A world-class education system and high-quality jobtraining opportunities can improve Americaseconomy, advance business growth,encourage new investment. Throughnecessary investments, the Administration isfostering the type of growth, innovation, andtransformation needed to improve schoolsand reach better outcomes for high- needstudents.
This act is committed to taking on the difficultwork of closing the achievement gap andimproving Americas lowest- performing schools.It provides flexibility to states to develop newand innovative policies which will produce highoutcomes in schools and better prepare studentsto achieve higher standards. By strengtheningand expanding educational opportunities forstudents, the government hopes to achieve thegoals the President set and provide a highereducation to all of Americas students.
President Obama and the Administration worked tosupport teachers. Obama launched the RESPECTProject, standing for Recognizing EducationalSuccess, Professional Excellence, and CollaborativeTeaching. His intention was to work with teachers,school and district leaders, and state and nationaleducation organizations to spark a dialogue that willresult in a transformation of the teaching profession.To implement the principles of this program, theAdministration is proposing a five billion dollar grantprogram to support states and districts that committo pursuing bold reforms at every stage of theteaching profession. Once rigorous evaluations forteachers and leaders are set, they can serve as a basisfor future education.
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