FR Doc E9-27426[Federal Register: November 18, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 221)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 59687-59834]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr18no09-9]                               

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Part III





Department of Education





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34 CFR Subtitle B, Chapter II



Race to the Top Fund; Final Rule


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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

34 CFR Subtitle B, Chapter II

[Docket ID ED-2009-OESE-0006]
RIN 1810-AB07

 
Race to the Top Fund

AGENCY: Department of Education.

ACTION: Final priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection 
criteria.

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    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 84.395A.

SUMMARY: The Secretary of Education (Secretary) announces priorities, 
requirements, definitions, and selection criteria for the Race to the 
Top Fund. The Secretary may use these priorities, requirements, 
definitions, and selection criteria in any year in which this program 
is in effect.

DATES: Effective Date: These priorities, requirements, definitions, and 
selection criteria are effective January 19, 2010.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: James Butler, U.S. Department of 
Education, 400 Maryland Ave., SW., room 3E108, Washington, DC 20202-
6400. Telephone: 202-205-3775 or by e-mail: racetothetop@ed.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
    Purpose of Program: The purpose of the Race to the Top Fund, a 
competitive grant program, is to encourage and reward States that are 
creating the conditions for education innovation and reform; achieving 
significant improvement in student outcomes, including making 
substantial gains in student achievement, closing achievement gaps, 
improving high school graduation rates, and ensuring student 
preparation for success in college and careers; and implementing 
ambitious plans in four core education reform areas--
    (a) Adopting internationally benchmarked standards and assessments 
that prepare students for success in college and the workplace;
    (b) Building data systems that measure student success and inform 
teachers and principals about how they can improve their practices;
    (c) Increasing teacher and principal effectiveness and achieving 
equity in their distribution; and
    (d) Turning around our lowest-achieving schools. Additional 
information on the Race to the Top program can be found at: 
http://www.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop.
    Program Authority: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, 
Division A, Section 14006, Public Law 111-5.
    We published a notice of proposed priorities, requirements, 
definitions, and selection criteria (NPP) for this program in the 
Federal Register on July 29, 2009 (74 FR 37804). That notice contained 
background information and our reasons for proposing the particular 
priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria.
    There are a number of differences between the NPP and this notice 
of final priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria 
as discussed in the Analysis of Comments and Changes section elsewhere 
in this notice.
    Public Comment:
    In response to our invitation in the NPP, 1,161 parties submitted 
comments on the proposed priorities, requirements, definitions, and 
selection criteria.
    Generally, we do not address technical and other minor changes, nor 
do we address suggested changes that the law does not authorize us to 
make under the applicable statutory authority. In addition, we do not 
address general comments that raised concerns not directly related to 
the NPP.

Introduction

    The Race to the Top program, a $4.35 billion fund created under the 
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), is the largest 
competitive education grant program in U.S. history. The Race to the 
Top Fund (referred to in the ARRA as the State Incentive Grant Fund) is 
designed to provide incentives to States to implement large-scale, 
system-changing reforms that result in improved student achievement, 
narrowed achievement gaps, and increased graduation and college 
enrollment rates.
    The ARRA specifies that applications for Race to the Top funds must 
address the four assurance areas referenced in section 14006(a)(2): 
Enhancing standards and assessments, improving the collection and use 
of data, increasing teacher effectiveness and achieving equity in 
teacher distribution, and turning around struggling schools. The 
Department published the NPP to solicit public comment on the 
priorities, requirements, and selection criteria that State 
applications will address in accordance with this statutory 
requirement.
    The NPP prompted an outpouring of public comments. Some 1,161 
commenters submitted thousands of unique comments, ranging from one 
paragraph to 67 pages. Parents submitted comments, as did professional 
associations. From the statehouse to the schoolhouse, scores of public 
officials and educators, governors, chief State school officers, 
teachers, and principals weighed in with suggestions and critiques. All 
told, individuals from all 50 States and the District of Columbia, 
including over 550 individuals and 200 organizations, commented on the 
NPP.
    The extensive and thoughtful public commentary on the NPP has been 
invaluable in helping the Department revise, improve, and clarify the 
priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria for the 
Race to the Top program. A discussion of the most significant changes 
follows.

Major Changes in the Selection Criteria, Priorities, Requirements, and 
Definitions

State Success Factors

    Many of the commenters expressed concern that the NPP's 
encouragement of comprehensive and coherent statewide reform was 
undercut by the need for State applicants to organize their plans 
around each of the four reform assurances, one at a time. In response 
to this concern, the Department has reorganized a number of the 
criteria, moving key criteria from the Overall section to a new section 
at the beginning of the selection criteria called State Success 
Factors. This new section provides States with the opportunity to start 
their proposals with clear statements of their coherent, coordinated, 
statewide reform agendas.
    As several commenters noted, States face at least three overarching 
issues critical to their success in implementing their Race to the Top 
plans--the need for a coherent reform agenda, the capacity to lead 
LEAs, and the ability to improve outcomes. In this notice, these three 
issues are reflected in the State Success Factors as follows: Criterion 
(A)(1) pertains to a State's ability to articulate a comprehensive and 
coherent education reform agenda, and to engage its local educational 
agencies (LEAs) in strongly committing to and participating in that 
agenda; criterion (A)(2) relates to a State's capacity to implement its 
proposed plans through strong leadership, successfully supporting its 
LEAs in improving student outcomes, administering a grant of this 
magnitude efficiently, and organizing its financial resources to 
optimize impact; and finally, criterion (A)(3) asks States to 
demonstrate their ability to significantly improve education outcomes 
for students across the State.
    More specifically, criterion (A)(1)(i) is a new criterion that asks 
States to set forth a comprehensive and coherent reform agenda that 
clearly articulates their goals for implementing reform in

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the four education areas described in the ARRA and improving student 
outcomes statewide, establishes a clear and credible path to achieving 
these goals, and is consistent with the specific reform plans that the 
State has proposed throughout its application.
    Under criterion (A)(1)(ii) (proposed criterion (E)(3)(iv)), States 
will demonstrate the participation and commitment of their LEAs. First, 
as described in criterion (A)(1)(ii)(a), the strength of LEAs' 
commitments to their State's plans will be evaluated based on the terms 
and conditions in a State's binding agreements with its LEAs. (To 
support States' efforts, the Department has drafted a model Memorandum 
of Understanding (MOU) and included it in Appendix D of this notice.) 
Criterion (A)(1)(ii)(b) has been added to make it clear that the 
commitment of participating LEAs will also be judged, in part, based on 
LEAs' agreements to implement all or significant portions of the work 
outlined in the State's plan. Criterion (A)(1)(ii)(c) clarifies that 
the extent of an LEA's leadership support for participating in the 
State's Race to the Top plans will be assessed by how many signatures 
are on the binding agreement between the State and the LEA, from among 
(if applicable) the superintendent, the president of the local school 
board, and the local teachers' union leader, or their equivalents 
(provided that there is at least one authorized LEA signatory on the 
agreement). For all of these criteria, States will be asked to provide 
as evidence examples of their participating LEA agreements as well as 
tables that summarize which portions of the State plans LEAs are 
committing to implement and how extensive the LEAs' leadership support 
is.
    Criterion (A)(1)(iii) (adapted from proposed criteria (E)(3)(iv) 
and (E)(4)) asks States to describe how the engagement of those LEAs 
that are participating in the State's Race to the Top plans will 
translate into broad statewide impact on student outcomes, including 
increasing achievement and decreasing achievement gaps for (at a 
minimum) reading/language arts and mathematics on the National 
Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and on the assessments 
required under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as 
amended (ESEA); and increasing high school graduation rates, college 
enrollment rates, and college credit accumulation.
    Criterion (A)(2) asks States to describe their capacity to 
implement, scale up, and sustain their proposed plans. Criterion 
(A)(2)(i) (adapted from proposed criterion (E)(5)) concerns States' 
capacity to implement their plans. Criterion (A)(2)(i)(a) asks States 
to demonstrate that they have strong leadership and dedicated teams to 
implement their statewide education reform plans; and criterion 
(A)(2)(i)(b) (proposed (E)(5)(ii)) encourages States to describe the 
activities they will undertake in supporting participating LEAs in 
successfully implementing their plans. Criterion (A)(2)(i)(c) (proposed 
criterion (E)(5)(i)) asks States about the effectiveness and efficiency 
of their operations and processes for implementing a Race to the Top 
grant. Criterion (A)(2)(i)(d) (proposed (E)(5)(v)) further clarifies 
that States will be evaluated based on how they plan to use the funds 
for this grant, as described in their budgets and accompanying budget 
narratives, to accomplish their plans and meet their performance 
targets. Proposed criterion (E)(5)(iv), regarding collaboration between 
States, is not included in this final notice.
    In criterion (A)(2)(ii) (proposed (E)(3)(i) and (E)(3)(ii)), States 
demonstrate that they have a plan to use the support from a broad group 
of stakeholders to better implement their reform plans. Criterion 
(A)(2)(ii)(a) concerns enlisting the support of teachers and principals 
as key stakeholders. Criterion (A)(2)(ii)(b) asks States to describe 
the strength of statements and actions of support from other critical 
stakeholders, and examples of these are listed. Proposed criterion 
(E)(3)(iii), regarding the support of grant-making foundations and 
other funding sources, is not included in this final notice.
    Criterion (A)(3) addresses the extent to which the State has 
demonstrated significant progress in raising achievement and closing 
gaps. Criterion (A)(3)(i) (proposed criteria (E)(1)(i) and (E)(1)(ii)) 
provides for the evaluation of States based on whether they have made 
progress in each of the four education reform areas over the past 
several years and used ARRA and other Federal and State funding to 
pursue such reforms.
    Criterion (A)(3)(ii) (proposed criterion (E)(1)(iv)) addresses 
States' track records of increasing student achievement, decreasing 
achievement gaps, and increasing graduation rates. When evaluating 
these student academic outcomes, reviewers will examine student 
assessment results in reading/language arts and mathematics, both on 
the NAEP and on the assessments required under the ESEA; progress will 
be considered for each subgroup as well as for the ``all students'' 
group.

Standards and Assessments

    In response to comments indicating that some States would have 
difficulty meeting a June 2010 deadline for adopting a new set of 
common, kindergarten-to-grade-12 (K-12) standards, this notice extends 
the deadline for adopting standards as far as possible, while still 
allowing the Department to comply with the statutory requirement to 
obligate all Race to the Top funds by September 30, 2010. As set forth 
in criterion (B)(1)(ii), the new deadline for adopting a set of common 
K-12 standards is August 2, 2010. States that cannot adopt a common set 
of K-12 standards by this date will be evaluated based on the extent to 
which they demonstrate commitment and progress toward adoption of such 
standards by a later date in 2010 (see criterion (B)(1) and Appendix 
B). Evidence supporting the State's adoption claims will include a 
description of the legal process in the State for adopting standards, 
and the State's plan, current progress against that plan, and timeframe 
for adoption.
    For criteria (B)(1) and (B)(2) (proposed criteria (A)(1) and 
(A)(2), respectively), regarding the development and adoption of 
common, high-quality standards and assessments, the term ``significant 
number of States'' has been further explained in the scoring rubric 
that will be used by reviewers to judge the Race to the Top 
applications (see Appendix B). The rubric clarifies that, on this 
aspect of the criterion, a State will earn ``high'' points if its 
consortium includes a majority of the States in the country; it will 
earn ``medium'' or ``low'' points if its consortium includes one-half 
or fewer of the States in the country.
    Further, for criterion (B)(2), concerning the development and 
implementation of common, high-quality assessments, States will be 
asked to present, as evidence, copies of their Memoranda of Agreement 
showing that the State is part of a consortium that intends to develop 
high-quality assessments aligned with the consortium's common set of 
standards. This is similar to the evidence required for criterion 
(B)(1) concerning the development and adoption of common standards.
    Finally, this notice clarifies the language in criterion (B)(3) 
(proposed criterion (A)(3)) regarding the transition to enhanced 
standards and high-quality assessments; the criterion now lists a 
number of activities in which States or LEAs might engage as they work 
to translate the standards and assessments into classroom practice.

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Data Systems to Support Instruction

    The data systems selection criteria in the Race to the Top 
competition involve two types of data systems--statewide longitudinal 
data systems and instructional improvement systems. While numerous 
comments addressed the Department's emphasis on statewide longitudinal 
data systems in the NPP, the Department intends to give equal priority 
in this program to using instructional data as a critical tool for 
teachers, principals, and administrators to identify student needs, 
fill curriculum gaps, and target professional development. The final 
selection criteria, therefore, place significant emphasis on using data 
to inform professional development and fostering a culture of 
continuous improvement in schools and LEAs.
    More specifically, the final notice contains new language in 
criterion (C)(3)(i) (proposed (B)(3)(i)) that clarifies that this 
criterion concerns local instructional improvement systems, not 
statewide longitudinal data systems, and further clarifies the LEA's 
role in the acquisition, adoption, and use of local instructional 
improvement systems.
    New criterion (C)(3)(ii) was added to encourage LEAs and States to 
provide effective professional development on using data from these 
systems to support continuous instructional improvement.

Great Teachers and Leaders

    The teachers and leaders criteria are built on two core principles 
that remain consistent with the NPP--that teacher and principal quality 
matters, and that effective teachers and principals are those whose 
students grow academically. Thus, this notice continues to include 
criteria directed at improving teacher and principal effectiveness and 
at ensuring that highly effective teachers and principals are serving 
in the high-poverty, high-minority schools where their talents are 
needed the most. In addition, this notice continues to define effective 
teachers and principals as those whose students make significant 
academic growth. While the final notice reaffirms these core 
principles, it also includes a number of changes to the criteria and 
related definitions based on public input.
    The Department received over 400 comments in this reform area, many 
of which provided helpful suggestions that informed our revisions. One 
commenter suggested that the greatest contribution that the Race to the 
Top program could make would be to encourage the development of 
outstanding models for teacher and principal evaluation systems, now 
widely described as flawed and superficial. Based on this and similar 
comments, the Department has revised criterion (D)(2), now titled 
Improving Teacher and Principal Effectiveness Based on Performance, to 
encourage the design of high-quality evaluation systems, and to promote 
their use for feedback, professional improvement, and decision-making.
    The Department concurs with the many commenters who cautioned that 
teacher and principal ``effectiveness'' should not be based solely on 
student test scores. In this notice, ``effectiveness'' is defined as 
based on input from multiple measures, provided that student growth is 
a significant factor. In addition, this notice re-emphasizes that it is 
student growth--not raw student achievement data or proficiency 
levels--that is the ``significant factor'' to be considered in 
evaluating effectiveness.
    Finally, this notice expands and improves the four selection 
criteria that deal with teacher and principal professional development 
(criteria (B)(3), (C)(3)(ii), (D)(2)(iv)(a), and (D)(5)). It clarifies 
that professional collaboration and planning time, individualized 
professional development plans, training and support in the analysis 
and use of data, classroom observations with immediate feedback, and 
other activities are critical to supporting the development of teachers 
and principals.
    Specifically, criterion (D)(1) (proposed (C)(1)), concerning high-
quality pathways for aspiring teachers and leaders, has been expanded. 
It now includes a new criterion (D)(1)(iii), under which States will be 
evaluated based on the extent to which they have in place a process for 
monitoring, evaluating, and identifying areas of teacher and principal 
shortage and for preparing teachers and principals to fill these areas 
of shortage.
    Criterion (D)(2) (proposed (C)(2)) has been revised to focus on the 
design and use of rigorous, transparent, and fair evaluation systems 
that provide regular feedback on performance to teachers and 
principals. This criterion also has been changed to clarify that the 
LEAs, not the States, should implement the teacher and principal 
effectiveness reforms under this criterion, and that the role of the 
States is to support their participating LEAs in implementing these 
reforms.
    Criterion (D)(2)(ii) (proposed (C)(2)(b)) now emphasizes that these 
evaluation systems should differentiate effectiveness using multiple 
rating categories, and should be designed and developed with teacher 
and principal involvement. Criterion (D)(2)(iii) (proposed criteria 
(C)(2)(c) and (C)(2)(d)(i)) encourages such evaluations to be conducted 
annually and to include timely and constructive feedback, while 
criterion (D)(2)(iv) (proposed criterion (C)(2)(d)) addresses uses of 
evaluations to inform decision-making.
    Criteria (D)(2)(iv)(c) and (D)(2)(iv)(d) (proposed criterion 
(C)(2)(d)(iii)) separately address the use of these evaluation systems 
to inform decisions regarding whether to grant tenure and/or full 
certification to effective teachers and principals (in criterion 
(D)(2)(iv)(c)), and removing ineffective teachers and principals (in 
criterion (D)(2)(iv)(d)). In addition, the Department has clarified 
that these decisions should be made using rigorous standards and 
streamlined, transparent, and fair procedures.
    Criterion (D)(3) (proposed (C)(3)) has been revised to clarify that 
the State's plan for the equitable distribution of effective teachers 
and principals should be informed by the State's prior actions and 
data, and should ensure that students in high-poverty as well as high-
minority schools have equitable access to highly effective teachers and 
principals--and are not served by ineffective ones at higher rates than 
are other students. The performance measures for this criterion now 
include, for comparison purposes, data on the presence of highly 
effective and ineffective teachers and principals in low-poverty and 
low-minority schools.
    Criterion (D)(4) concerns improving the effectiveness of teacher 
and principal preparation programs. Criterion (D)(4)(i) (proposed 
(C)(4)) was revised to specify that, when reporting the effectiveness 
of teacher and principal credentialing programs, States should report 
student growth as well as student achievement data; they should report 
the data for all in-State credentialing programs, regardless of the 
number of graduates; and they should publicly report data, not 
``findings.''
    Criterion (D)(4)(ii) has been added to encourage States to expand 
those preparation and credentialing options and programs that are 
successful at producing effective teachers and principals (both as 
defined in this notice).
    Criterion (D)(5) (proposed criterion (C)(5)) focuses on providing 
effective support to teachers and principals. Here, the Department has 
inserted a new paragraph, (D)(5)(i), to provide additional guidance on, 
and examples of, effective support. The Department has also removed the 
reference to using

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``rapid-time'' student data to inform and guide the supports provided 
to teachers and principals.

Turning Around the Lowest-Achieving Schools

    The Department made three noteworthy changes to the selection 
criteria on turning around the persistently lowest-achieving schools. 
First, this notice removes the restriction, proposed in the NPP, that 
permitted the ``transformation'' model to be used solely as a last 
resort. Instead, we simply specify that an LEA with more than nine 
persistently lowest-achieving schools may not use the transformation 
model for more than 50 percent of its schools.
    Second, the Department has fully aligned the school intervention 
requirements and definitions across Race to the Top, the State Fiscal 
Stabilization Fund, and the forthcoming Title I School Improvement 
Grants final notice. The Department's intention, in so doing, is to 
make it easier for States to develop consistent and coherent plans 
across these three programs.
    Third, the public comments suggested that there was confusion about 
the role of charter schools in the Department's reform agenda. Some 
commenters concluded that by placing the charter school criterion in 
the school turnaround section, the Department was advancing charter 
schools as the chief remedy for addressing the needs of the 
persistently lowest-achieving schools. While the Department believes 
that charter schools can be strong partners in school turnaround work, 
it does not believe that charter schools are the only or preferred 
solution to turning around struggling schools. In fact, it is the 
Department's belief that turning around the persistently lowest-
achieving schools is a core competency that every district needs to 
develop, and that closing bad schools and opening good ones is the job 
of school district leaders. Notwithstanding research showing that 
charter schools on average perform similarly to traditional public 
schools, a growing body of evidence suggests that high-quality charter 
schools can be powerful forces for increasing student achievement, 
closing achievement gaps, and spurring educational innovation. As a 
consequence, the selection criterion pertaining to charter schools 
(criterion (F)(2), proposed (D)(2)) has been shifted from the Turning 
Around the Lowest-Achieving Schools section to the General section, 
where it more appropriately reflects charter schools' broader role as a 
tool for school innovation and reform.
    Specifically, the following changes have been made to criterion 
(E)(2) (proposed criterion (D)(3)), regarding turning around the 
lowest-achieving schools. Criterion (E)(2)(i) (proposed (D)(3)(i)) has 
been changed to allow States, at their discretion, to use Race to the 
Top funds to turn around non-Title I eligible secondary schools that 
would be considered ``persistently lowest-achieving schools'' if they 
were eligible to receive Title I funds.
    Criterion (E)(2)(ii) (proposed criterion (D)(3)(ii)) has been 
changed by removing the clause that restricted the use of the 
``transformation'' model to situations where the other intervention 
models were not possible and by specifying that an LEA with more than 
nine persistently lowest-achieving schools may not use the 
transformation model for more than 50 percent of its schools. In 
addition, the four intervention models LEAs may use under this 
criterion are now described in detail in Appendix C, and these models 
have been made identical across the Race to the Top, State Fiscal 
Stabilization Fund, and Title I School Improvement Grants notices.
    Finally, the evidence collected for criterion (E)(2) will include 
the State's historic performance on school turnaround efforts, as 
evidenced by the total number of persistently lowest-achieving schools 
that States or LEAs attempted to turn around in the last five years, 
the approach used, and the results and lessons learned to date.

General

    The General section includes a number of other key reform 
conditions or plans.
    First, criterion (F)(1) concerns education funding across the 
State. Criterion (F)(1)(i) (proposed (E)(2)) addresses the State's 
efforts to maintain education funding between FY 2008 and FY 2009. New 
criterion (F)(1)(ii) has been added to reward States whose policies 
lead to equitable funding between high-need LEAs and other LEAs, and 
within LEAs, between high-poverty schools and other schools.
    As noted above, criterion (F)(2) regarding charter schools has been 
moved to the General section from the Turning Around the Lowest-
Achieving Schools section, where it was proposed criterion (D)(2). In 
this notice, the Department maintains its focus on high-quality charter 
schools as important tools for school reform.
    As was the case with the NPP, the final charter school criteria 
presented under (F)(2) encourage both unrestrictive charter school 
growth laws and strong charter school accountability. In support of 
charter school growth, the criteria also provide for the evaluation of 
States based on the extent to which they provide equitable funding for 
charter schools and offer them access to facilities. Criterion 
(F)(2)(ii) has also been revised to urge authorizers to encourage 
charter schools that serve student populations that are similar to 
local district student populations, especially relative to high-need 
students.
    In their comments, a number of States argued that they had laws--
other than charter school laws--that spurred school innovation. In 
response to these comments, the Department has added a new criterion, 
(F)(2)(v), that invites States to describe the extent to which they 
enable LEAs to operate innovative, autonomous public schools other than 
charter schools.
    It is the Department's hope that the Race to the Top competition 
gives States ample opportunity to explain and implement proven and 
promising ideas for bolstering student learning and educational 
attainment, and to do this in ways that work best in their local 
contexts. To ensure that the application reflects a broad range of 
effective State and local solutions, criterion (F)(3) (proposed 
criterion (E)(1)(iii)) asks States to describe laws, regulations, or 
policies (other than those asked about in other selection criteria) 
that have created conditions in the State that are conducive to 
education reform and improved student outcomes.

Priorities

    Many commenters offered suggestions about the proposed priorities, 
in particular the invitational and competitive preference priorities. A 
number of commenters urged the Department to increase the importance of 
each invitational priority by making it a competitive or absolute 
priority, while others wanted to add new priorities. Because of the 
Department's desire to give States latitude and flexibility in 
developing focused plans to best meet their students' needs, we are not 
changing any of the priorities from invitational to competitive or 
absolute. We did, however, add a new invitational priority and make 
some changes to the proposed priorities.
    Regarding the proposed absolute priority, which stated that States' 
applications must comprehensively and coherently address all of the 
four education reform areas specified in the ARRA, the Department has 
added the requirement that States must comprehensively and coherently 
address the new State Success Factors criteria as well.

[[Page 59692]]

    The final notice adds a new invitational priority 3, Innovations 
for Improving Early Learning Outcomes, expressing the Secretary's 
interest in applications that will improve early learning outcomes for 
high-need students who are young children.
    In invitational priority 4 (proposed priority 3), Expansion and 
Adaptation of Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, programs such as at-
risk and dropout prevention programs, school climate and culture 
programs, and early learning programs have been added to the list of 
programs that a State may choose to integrate with its statewide 
longitudinal data system.
    In invitational priority 5 (proposed priority 4), P-20 
Coordination, Vertical and Horizontal Alignment, horizontal 
coordination of services was added as a critical component for 
supporting high-need students.
    In invitational priority 6 (proposed priority 5), School-level 
Conditions for Reform, Innovation, and Learning, new paragraph (vi) 
adds school climate and culture, and new paragraph (vii) adds family 
and community engagement to the list of school conditions conducive to 
reform and innovation.

Requirements

    The first eligibility requirement, requirement (a), has been 
changed to provide that a State must have both phases of its State 
Fiscal Stabilization Fund application approved by the Department prior 
to being awarded a Race to the Top grant. In the NPP, we proposed that 
a State would have to receive approval of its Stabilization Fund 
applications prior to December 31, 2009 (for Race to the Top Phase 1 
applicants) or prior to submitting a Race to the Top application (for 
Race to the Top Phase 2 applicants).
    The second eligibility requirement, requirement (b), was revised to 
clarify that the State must not have any legal, statutory, or 
regulatory barriers at the State level to linking data on student 
achievement (as defined in this notice) or student growth (as defined 
in this notice) to teachers and principals for the purpose of teacher 
and principal evaluation.
    In addition, several changes were made to the application 
requirements. The Department removed two proposed application 
requirements, application requirements (c) and (d), which would have 
required States to provide information about making education funding a 
priority and about stakeholder support. Note that the final notice 
retains the selection criteria that request this same information.
    Application requirement (c)(2) provides additional clarity about 
how to calculate the relative shares of the Race to the Top grant that 
participating LEAs will be eligible to receive.
    The Department has added a new application requirement, requirement 
(g), to clarify specific issues related to the term ``subgroup,'' to 
NAEP, and to the assessments required under the ESEA. In addition to 
requiring States to include, at a minimum, the listed student subgroups 
when reporting past outcomes and setting future targets, this 
application requirement includes statutory references. This addition 
eliminates the need for statutory references that define subgroups 
elsewhere in the notice, and they therefore have been removed.
    The program requirements have also changed. First, the Department 
has indicated its final approach to evaluation. The Institute of 
Education Sciences will conduct a series of national evaluations of 
Race to the Top State grantees as part of its evaluation of programs 
funded under the ARRA. States that are awarded Race to the Top grants 
will be required to participate in these evaluations and are welcome, 
but not required, to conduct their own independent, statewide 
evaluations as well.
    Finally, the program requirements have clarified that funds awarded 
under this competition may not be used to pay for costs related to 
statewide summative assessments.

Definitions

    The Department has revised the definition of alternative routes to 
certification to require that in addition to the other program 
characteristics listed, the program must be selective in accepting 
candidates. The revised definition also clarifies that such programs 
should include standard features of high-quality preparation programs 
and award the same level of certification that is awarded by 
traditional preparation programs.
    A new definition of college enrollment refers to the enrollment of 
students who graduate from high school consistent with 34 CFR 
200.19(b)(1) and who enroll in an institution of higher education (as 
defined in section 101 of the Higher Education Act, Public Law 105-244, 
20 U.S.C. 1001) within 16 months of graduation.
    The final notice revises the definitions of effective teacher, 
effective principal, highly effective teacher, and highly effective 
principal to require that multiple measures be used to evaluate 
effectiveness, and provides several examples of appropriate measures.
    The definition of formative assessment has been revised to clarify 
that formative assessments are assessment questions, tools and 
processes and to require that feedback from such assessments need only 
be timely rather than instant.
    Under a new definition of high-minority school, States are to 
define high-minority schools in their applications in a manner 
consistent with their Teacher Equity Plans.
    The definition of high-need LEA was changed to conform with the 
definition of this term used in section 14013 of the ARRA.
    The final notice adds and defines high-need students to mean 
students at risk of educational failure or otherwise in need of special 
assistance and support, such as students who are living in poverty, who 
attend high-minority schools (as defined in this notice), who are far 
below grade level, who have left school before receiving a regular high 
school diploma, who are at risk of not graduating with a diploma on 
time, who are homeless, who are in foster care, who have been 
incarcerated, who have disabilities, or who are English language 
learners.\1\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ The term English language learner, as used in this notice, 
is synonymous with the term limited English proficient, as defined 
in section 9101 of the ESEA.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The final notice adds a definition of high-performing charter 
school. This definition refers to a charter school that has been in 
operation for at least three consecutive years and has demonstrated 
overall success, including substantial progress in improving student 
achievement and having the management and leadership necessary to 
overcome initial start-up problems and establish a thriving, 
financially viable charter school.
    The definition of high-quality assessment has been revised to 
clarify that test design must, to the extent feasible, use universal 
design principles in development and administration, and incorporate 
technology where appropriate.
    The final notice also adds a definition of increased learning time, 
which refers to using a longer school day, week, or year schedule to 
significantly increase the total number of school hours to include 
additional time for (a) instruction in core academic subjects, 
including English; reading or language arts; mathematics; science; 
foreign languages; civics and government; economics; arts; history; and 
geography; (b) instruction in other subjects and enrichment activities 
that contribute to a well-rounded education, including, for

[[Page 59693]]

example, physical education, service learning, and experiential and 
work-based learning opportunities that are provided by partnering, as 
appropriate, with other organizations; and (c) teachers to collaborate, 
plan, and engage in professional development within and across grades 
and subjects.
    The final notice adds a definition of innovative, autonomous public 
schools to refer to open enrollment public schools that, in return for 
increased accountability for student achievement (as defined in this 
notice), have the flexibility and authority to define their 
instructional models and associated curriculum; select and replace 
staff; implement new structures and formats for the school day or year; 
and control their budgets.
    In the definition of instructional improvement systems, the 
Department now provides examples of related types of data that could be 
integrated into these systems.
    The final notice adds a definition of involved LEAs, which refers 
to LEAs that choose to work with the State to implement those specific 
portions of the State's plan that necessitate full or nearly full 
statewide implementation, such as transitioning to a common set of K-12 
standards, (as defined in this notice). Involved LEAs do not receive a 
share of the 50 percent of a State's grant award that it must subgrant 
to LEAs in accordance with section 14006(c) of the ARRA; however, 
States may provide other funding to involved LEAs under the State's 
Race to the Top grant in a manner that is consistent with the State's 
application.
    The final notice adds a definition of low-minority school, which is 
to be defined by the State in a manner consistent with the State's 
Teacher Equity Plan.
    A new definition of low-poverty school refers, consistent with 
section 1111(h)(1)(C)(viii) of the ESEA, to a school in the lowest 
quartile of schools in the State with respect to poverty level, using a 
measure of poverty determined by the State.
    The final notice adds a definition of participating LEAs, which 
refers to LEAs that choose to work with the State to implement all or 
significant portions of the State's Race to the Top plan, as specified 
in each LEA's agreement with the State. Each participating LEA that 
receives funding under Title I, Part A will receive a share of the 50 
percent of a State's grant award that the State must subgrant to LEAs, 
based on the LEA's relative share of Title I, Part A allocations in the 
most recent year (that is, 2009), in accordance with section 14006(c) 
of the ARRA. Any participating LEA that does not receive funding under 
Title I, Part A (as well as one that does) may receive funding from the 
State's other 50 percent of the grant award, in accordance with the 
State's plan.
    The term persistently lowest-performing schools has been changed to 
persistently lowest-achieving schools. The definition has been revised 
to include the lowest-achieving five percent criterion originally 
included in proposed criterion (D)(3) and to add high schools with 
graduation rates below 60 percent. The definition also provides that, 
in determining the lowest-achieving schools, a State must consider the 
academic achievement of the ``all students'' group for each school in 
terms of proficiency on the State's assessments required by the ESEA in 
reading/language arts and mathematics combined, and the lack of 
progress by that group on these assessments over a number of years.
    The definition of rapid-time, in reference to reporting and 
availability of data, has been changed to remove the specification of a 
turnaround time of 72 hours and to clarify that it refers to locally 
collected school- and LEA-level data.
    The definition of student achievement has been revised to include 
several examples of alternate measures of student learning and 
performance for non-tested grades and subjects. The final notice also 
clarifies that, for tested grades and subjects, student achievement can 
be measured using alternative measures of student learning and 
performance in addition to the State's assessments under the ESEA. 
Finally, the reference to Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals 
as a potential achievement measure has been removed.
    The definition of student growth was clarified to mean the change 
in student achievement (as defined in this notice) for an individual 
student between two or more points in time, rather than just between 
two points in time, as the NPP had proposed, and that a State may also 
include other measures that are rigorous and comparable across 
classrooms.
    In the following section, the Department has summarized and 
provided its responses to the comments received.
    Analysis of Comments and Changes: An analysis of the comments and 
of any changes in the priorities, requirements, definitions, and 
selection criteria since publication of the NPP follows.

General Comments on the Race to the Top Program

Reorganization of the Final Notice
    Comment: None.
    Discussion: The selection criteria in this notice are reordered. 
The most significant change is the addition of State Success Factors to 
the beginning of the selection criteria. State Success Factors criteria 
include some new criteria, as well as criteria that are adapted from 
proposed criteria from the overall selection criteria section proposed 
in the NPP. This reorganization will give States the opportunity to 
begin their proposals with clear statements of their coherent and 
coordinated statewide reform agendas. However, with this change, it was 
necessary to redesignate the remaining criteria. For example, in the 
NPP, the criteria related to standards and assessments were designated 
as ``A'' (e.g., (A)(1), (A)(2), etc.), but in this final notice have 
been re-designated as ``B'' (e.g., (B)(1), (B)(2), etc.). One way to 
indicate this change throughout the final notice is to include both 
references every time a criterion is used (e.g., revised criterion 
(B)(1) (proposed criterion (A)(1)). Given the length of this notice and 
the extensive references to criteria, we have opted to refer only to 
the revised designation in the discussion of the comments. For example, 
we refer to a criterion for standards and assessments as ``criterion 
(B)(1),'' rather than as ``revised criterion (B)(1) (proposed criterion 
(A)(1)).'' In a few instances, we refer to ``proposed criterion'' or 
``revised criterion'' for clarity but, generally, do not refer to each 
criterion with both its ``revised'' and ``proposed'' designation. We 
believe this format makes the document easier to read and understand. 
As a reminder to readers, we include both the final and proposed 
designations under the appropriate headings. Table 1 lists the final 
criteria and the corresponding proposed criteria. In Table 2, the 
columns are reversed to show the proposed criteria and the 
corresponding final criteria.
    There is a similar re-designation of the priorities. Specifically, 
we added a new invitational priority on innovations for improving early 
learning outcomes and designated it as priority 3. Subsequent 
priorities were re-numbered, and thus, proposed priorities 3, 4, and 5 
are now priorities 4, 5, and 6, respectively. As with the selection 
criteria, generally, we will refer only to the final designation for 
these priorities and will use headers, as appropriate, to remind the 
reader of the changes. Thus, for example, we will refer to the priority

[[Page 59694]]

on Expansion and Adaptation of Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, 
which was proposed priority 3 in the NPP, as priority 4. Table 3 
summarizes these changes.
    Changes: We have re-designated the selection criteria and proposed 
priorities 3, 4, and 5. We will refer to the selection criteria and 
priorities with their final designations throughout this notice and, in 
a few instances, will refer to proposed designations for clarity. Three 
tables have been added to show how the final selection criteria and 
priorities relate to the proposed criteria and priorities.

    Table 1--The Final Selection Criteria Compared With the Proposed
                           Selection Criteria
------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Final notice                       Proposed notice
------------------------------------------------------------------------
A. State Success Factors                (E)(1), (E)(3), (E)(4), (E)(5),
                                         and new
    A1. Articulating State's            (E)(3)(iv), new
     education reform agenda and
     LEAs' participation in it
    (A)(1)(i)                           New
    (A)(1)(ii)                          (E)(3)(iv)
    (A)(1)(ii)(a)                       (E)(3)(iv)
    (A)(1)(ii)(b)                       (E)(3)(iv)
    (A)(1)(ii)(c)                       (E)(3)(iv)
    (A)(1)(iii)(a)                      (E)(3)(iv) and (E)(4)(i)
    (A)(1)(iii)(b)                      (E)(3)(iv) and (E)(4)(ii)
    (A)(1)(iii)(c)                      (E)(3)(iv) and (E)(4)(iii)
    (A)(1)(iii)(d)                      (E)(3)(iv) and new
    A2. Building strong statewide       (E)(3)(i-ii), (E)(5), and new
     capacity to implement, scale
     up, and sustain proposed plans
    (A)(2)(i)(a)                        New
    (A)(2)(i)(b)                        (E)(5)(ii)
    (A)(2)(i)(c)                        (E)(5)(i)
    (A)(2)(i)(d)                        (E)(5)(v)
    (A)(2)(i)(e)                        (E)(5)(iii)
    (A)(2)(ii)(a)                       (E)(3)(i)
    (A)(2)(ii)(b)                       (E)(3)(i-ii)
    A3. Demonstrating significant       (E)(1) and (E)(4)
     progress in raising
     achievement and closing gaps
    (A)(3)(i)                           (E)(1)(i-ii)
    (A)(3)(ii)(a)                       (E)(1)(iv)
    (A)(3)(ii)(b)                       (E)(1)(iv)
    (A)(3)(ii)(c)                       (E)(1)(iv)
B. Standards and Assessments         A. Standards and Assessments
    B1. Developing and adopting         (A)(1)
     common standards
    (B)(1)(i)(a)                        (A)(1)(i) and (A)(1)(ii)
    (B)(1)(i)(b)                        (A)(1)(i) and (A)(1)(ii)
    (B)(1)(i)(c)                        (A)(1)(i) and (A)(1)(ii)
    (B)(1)(ii)(a)                       (A)(1)(i)
    (B)(1)(ii)(b)                       (A)(1)(ii)
    B2. Developing and implementing     (A)(2)
     common, high-quality
     assessments
    (B)(2)(a)                           (A)(2)
    (B)(2)(a)                           (A)(2)
    B3. Supporting the transition       (A)(3)
     to enhanced standards and high-
     quality assessments
C. Data Systems to Support           B. Data Systems to Support
 Instruction                          Instruction
    C1. Fully implementing a            (B)(1)
     statewide longitudinal data
     system
    C2. Accessing and using State       (B)(2)
     data
    C3. Using data to improve           (B)(3)
     instruction
    (C)(3)(i)                           (B)(3)(i)
    (C)(3)(ii)                          New
    (C)(3)(iii)                         (B)(3)(ii)
D. Great Teachers and Leaders        C. Great Teachers and Leaders
    D1. Providing high-quality          (C)(1)
     pathways for aspiring teachers
     and principals
    (D)(1)(i)                           (C)(1)
    (D)(1)(ii)                          (C)(1)
    (D)(1)(iii)                         New
    D2. Improving teacher and           (C)(2)
     principal effectiveness based
     on performance
    (D)(2)(i)                           (C)(2)(a)
    (D)(2)(ii)                          (C)(2)(b)
    (D)(2)(iii)                         (C)(2)(c) and (C)(2)(d)(i)
    (D)(2)(iv)                          (C)(2)(d)
    (D)(2)(iv)(a)                       (C)(2)(d)(i)
    (D)(2)(iv)(b)                       (C)(2)(d)(ii)
    (D)(2)(iv)(c)                       (C)(2)(d)(iii)
    (D)(2)(iv)(d)                       (C)(2)(d)(iii)
    D3. Ensuring equitable              (C)(3)
     distribution of effective
     teachers and principals

[[Page 59695]]


    (D)(3)(i)                           (C)(3)
    (D)(3)(ii)                          (C)(3)
    D4. Improving the effectiveness     (C)(4)
     of teacher and principal
     preparation programs
    (D)(4)(i)                           (C)(4)
    (D)(4)(ii)                          New
    D5. Providing effective support     (C)(5)
     to teachers and principals
    (D)(5)(i)                           (C)(5)
    (D)(5)(ii)                          (C)(5)
E. Turning Around the Lowest-        D. Turning Around Struggling
 Achieving Schools                    Schools
    E1. Intervening in the lowest-      (D)(1)
     achieving schools and LEAs
    E2. Turning around the lowest-      (D)(3)
     achieving schools
    (E)(2)(i)                           (D)(3)(i)
    (E)(2)(ii)                          (D)(3)(ii)
F. General Selection Criteria           (D)(2), (E)(1), (E)(2), and new
    F1. Making education funding a      (E)(2) and new
     priority
    (F)(1)(i)                           (E)(2)
    (F)(1)(ii)                          New
    F2. Ensuring successful             (D)(2)
     conditions for high-performing
     charter schools and other
     innovative schools
    (F)(2)(i)                           (D)(2)(i)
    (F)(2)(ii)                          (D)(2)(ii)
    (F)(2)(iii)                         (D)(2)(iii)
    (F)(2)(iv)                          (D)(2)(iv)
    (F)(2)(v)                           New
    F3. Demonstrating other             (E)(1)(iii)
     significant reform conditions
    Removed                             (E)(3)(iii)
    Removed                             (E)(5)(iv)
------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Table 2--The Proposed Selection Criteria Compared With the Final
                           Selection Criteria
------------------------------------------------------------------------
          Proposed notice                        Final notice
------------------------------------------------------------------------
A. Standards and Assessments            B. Standards and Assessments
    (A)(1). Developing and adopting     (B)(1)
     common standards
    (A)(1)(i)                           (B)(1)(i), (B)(1)(ii)(a)
    (A)(1)(ii)                          (B)(1)(i), (B)(1)(ii)(b)
    (A)(2). Developing and              (B)(2)
     implementing common, high-

     quality assessments
    (A)(3). Supporting the              (B)(3)
     transition to enhanced
     standards and high-quality
     assessments
B. Data Systems to Support           C. Data Systems to Support
 Instruction                          Instruction
    (B)(1). Fully implementing a        (C)(1)
     statewide longitudinal data
     system
    (B)(2). Accessing and using         (C)(2)
     State data
    (B)(3). Using data to improve       (C)(3)(i), (C)(3)(iii)
     instruction
    (B)(3)(i)                           (C)(3)(i)
    (B)(3)(ii)                          (C)(3)(iii)
C. Great Teachers and Leaders        D. Great Teachers and Leaders
    (C)(1). Providing high-quality      (D)(1)(i-ii)
     pathways for aspiring teachers
     and principals
    (C)(2). Improving teacher and       (D)(2)
     principal effectiveness based
     on performance
    (C)(2)(a)                           (D)(2)(i)
    (C)(2)(b)                           (D)(2)(ii)
    (C)(2)(c)                           (D)(2)(iii)
    (C)(2)(d)(i)                        (D)(2)(iii), (D)(2)(iv)(a)
    (C)(2)(d)(ii)                       (D)(2)(iv)(b)
    (C)(2)(d)(iii)                      (D)(2)(iv)(c), (D)(2)(iv)(d)
    (C)(3). Ensuring equitable          (D)(3)(i), (D)(3)(ii)
     distribution of effective
     teachers and principals
    (C)(4). Reporting the               (D)(4)(i)
     effectiveness of teacher and
     principal preparation programs
    (C)(5). Providing effective         (D)(5)(i), (D)(5)(ii)
     support to teachers and
     principals
D. Turning Around Struggling         E. Turning Around the Lowest-
 Schools                              Achieving Schools
    (D)(1). Intervening in the          (E)(1)
     lowest-achieving schools and
     LEAs
    (D)(2). Increasing the supply       (F)(2)
     of high-quality charter
     schools
    (D)(2)(i)                           (F)(2)(i)
    (D)(2)(ii)                          (F)(2)(ii)
    (D)(2)(iii)                         (F)(2)(iii)
    (D)(2)(iv)                          (F)(2)(iv)
    (D)(3). Turning around the          (E)(2)
     lowest-achieving schools

[[Page 59696]]


    (D)(3)(i)                           (E)(2)(i)
    (D)(3)(ii)                          (E)(2)(ii)
E. Overall Selection Criteria        (A) State Success Factors and (F)
                                      General Selection Criteria
    (E)(1). Demonstrating               (A)(3)(i), (A)(3)(ii), (F)(3)
     significant progress
    (E)(1)(i)                           (A)(3)(i)
    (E)(1)(ii)                          (A)(3)(i)
    (E)(1)(iii)                         (F)(3)
    (E)(1)(iv)                          (A)(3)(ii)
    (E)(2). Making education            (F)(1)(i)
     funding a priority
    (E)(3). Enlisting statewide         (A)(1)(ii), (A)(1)(iii),
     support and commitment              (A)(2)(ii)
    (E)(3)(i)                           (A)(2)(ii)(a), (A)(2)(ii)(b)
    (E)(3)(ii)                          (A)(2)(ii)(b)
    (E)(3)(iii)                         Removed
    (E)(3)(iv)                          (A)(1)(ii), (A)(1)(iii)
    (E)(4). Raising achievement and     (A)(1)(iii)
     closing gaps
    (E)(4)(i)                           (A)(1)(iii)(a)
    (E)(4)(ii)                          (A)(1)(iii)(b)
    (E)(4)(iii)                         (A)(1)(iii)(c)
    (E)(5). Building strong             (A)(2)(i)(b-e)
     statewide capacity to
     implement, scale up, and
     sustain proposed plans
    (E)(5)(i)                           (A)(2)(i)(c)
    (E)(5)(ii)                          (A)(2)(i)(b)
    (E)(5)(iii)                         (A)(2)(i)(e)
    (E)(5)(iv)                          Removed
    (E)(5)(v)                           (A)(2)(i)(d)
    New                                 (A)(1)(i)
    New                                 (A)(1)(iii)(d)
    New                                 (A)(2)(i)(a)
    New                                 (C)(3)(ii)
    New                                 (D)(1)(iii)
    New                                 (D)(4)(ii)
    New                                 (F)(1)(ii)
    New                                 (F)(2)(v)
------------------------------------------------------------------------


   Table 3--The Final Priorities Compared With the Proposed Priorities
------------------------------------------------------------------------
          Final priorities                   Proposed priorities
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Priority 1: Absolute Priority--      Priority 1: Absolute Priority.
 Comprehensive Approach to
 Education Reform.
Priority 2: Competitive Preference   Priority 2: Competitive Preference
 Priority--Emphasis on Science,       Priority.
 Technology, Engineering, and
 Mathematics (STEM).
Priority 3: Invitational Priority--  New.
 Innovations for Improving Early
 Learning Outcomes.
Priority 4: Invitational Priority--  Priority 3.
 Expansion and Adaptation of
 Statewide Longitudinal Data
 Systems.
Priority 5: Invitational Priority--  Priority 4.
 P-20 Coordination, Vertical and
 Horizontal Alignment.
Priority 6: Invitational Priority--  Priority 5.
 School-Level Conditions for
 Reform, Innovation, and Learning.
Priority 6, Paragraph vi.            New.
Priority 6, Paragraph vii.           New.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Overall Comments on the Race to the Top Program
    Comment: We received a number of comments that addressed issues 
related to the Race to the Top program in general, as well as comments 
that focused on a number of priorities and selection criteria.
    Discussion: We are addressing, in this section, general comments on 
the Race to the Top program, as well as comments that focused on 
multiple priorities and selection criteria. This allows us to group 
similar comments and be more responsive to the commenters.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Many commenters supported our proposals in the NPP and our 
effort to leverage cutting-edge education reforms and innovation in a 
competitive Race to the Top program that will lay the foundation for 
significant improvement of America's education system. In particular, 
these commenters praised the Department's proposals for ``game-
changing'' reforms in the areas of improving teacher and principal 
effectiveness and turning around our lowest-achieving schools.
    Other commenters expressed their overall opposition to the Race to 
the Top program because of what they described as its ``one-size-fits-
all'' approach to education reform involving ``a top-down, narrow 
definition of innovation that has little research to support it.'' 
Another commenter stated that the Department is prescribing a national 
formula for education reform, which threatens to undermine the program. 
In particular, several

[[Page 59697]]

commenters objected to the proposed use of test scores as an accurate 
measure of student achievement and what they claimed were ``unproven'' 
interventions such as charter schools and linking teacher compensation 
to student achievement data. Many commenters asserted that the proposed 
program design would interfere with State and local prerogatives and 
responsibilities for public education. Other commenters noted that some 
of the interventions proposed in Race to the Top, such as increasing 
the number of high-quality charter schools, are not consistent with 
existing State laws and might not work as well in rural areas as in 
urban environments. One commenter stated that the NPP ignored the 
existing ESEA school improvement process and ``would simply layer 
another top-down accountability process on top of the current faulty 
one.'' Some of these commenters urged that the final notice instead 
encourage States to propose multiple innovative, research-based reform 
strategies and models tailored to their own unique local needs.
    Discussion: The Department appreciates the expressions of support 
for its Race to the Top proposal as well as commenters' constructive 
suggestions. The Race to the Top program provides a flexible framework 
for comprehensive State and local innovation in the key reform areas 
identified in the ARRA. In fact, one of the key purposes of this 
program is to ask States for their best ideas about how to address the 
levers of change--the four assurances in the ARRA--to significantly 
improve student outcomes and advance the field of education reform.
    To create ``room'' for States to meet this goal, this final notice, 
consistent with the NPP, includes only one absolute priority and two 
eligibility requirements--none of which interferes with a State's 
flexibility to put forward its best ideas and practices for reform. The 
absolute priority focuses on comprehensiveness and coherence across the 
reform areas, and the eligibility requirements include (1) approved 
applications for funding under Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the Stabilization 
program, and (2) no legal, statutory, or regulatory barriers at the 
State level to linking data on student achievement or student growth to 
teachers and principals for the purpose of teacher and principal 
evaluation. As we noted in the NPP, section 14005(d) of the ARRA 
requires a State that receives funds under the Stabilization program to 
provide assurances in the same four education reform areas that are 
advanced by the Race to the Top program. We, therefore, believe it 
would be inconsistent to award a Race to the Top grant, which requires 
a determination that a State has made significant progress in the four 
education reform areas, to a State that has not met requirements for 
receiving funds under the Stabilization program. With regard to the 
second eligibility requirement, we believe that the capability to link 
student achievement to teachers and principals for the purposes of 
evaluation is fundamental to the Race to the Top reforms and to the 
requirement in section 14005(d)(2) of the ARRA that States take actions 
to improve teacher effectiveness. Furthermore, without the legal 
authority to use student achievement or student growth data for teacher 
and principal evaluations, States would not be able to execute reform 
plans related to several selection criteria in this notice.
    In addition, the proposed selection criteria were not designated as 
eligibility requirements; instead, they were proposed as recommended 
elements of a comprehensive State plan that would provide an individual 
State with the flexibility to emphasize its own priorities and craft a 
winning application. This flexible approach has been retained in this 
final notice. For instance, States need not address every selection 
criterion, so long as they comprehensively and coherently address all 
of the four education reform areas as well as the State Success Factors 
Criteria.
    Through this program, the Department will reward success in at 
least two ways: First, by giving States credit for having already put 
into place key conditions for reform, improving student achievement, 
and closing achievement gaps; and second, by encouraging States to 
build on their assets and successes. We believe that State plans that 
build on a foundation of successful existing practices will be more 
likely to succeed in improving student outcomes.
    It is important to note that the Race to the Top program is a 
voluntary competitive grant program. Consistent with section 14006(b) 
of the ARRA, we may use ``such other criteria as the Secretary 
determines appropriate'' in making Race to the Top awards; our 
intention is not to fund every State but to identify and reward the 
subset of States that demonstrate the greatest promise of making 
meaningful gains in developing standards and assessments, using data to 
drive improved student outcomes, improving teacher and principal 
effectiveness and achieving equity in the distribution of effective 
teachers and principals, and turning around struggling schools. 
Moreover, because the effects of the Race to the Top program might not 
be captured by existing State accountability systems, such as those 
created under the ESEA, this final notice retains the separate 
performance measures included in the NPP.
    In response to commenters' concerns pertaining to ``unproven'' 
interventions in the Race to the Top program, there is ample evidence, 
for example, that high-performing charter schools can significantly 
improve the achievement of high-need students. Likewise, the research 
supports that effective teachers and principals are essential to 
improving student achievement; accordingly, the Department believes 
that identifying, recruiting, developing, and retaining effective 
teachers and school leaders is critical to creating high-performing 
schools and a world-class education system. Finally, we are providing 
States with flexibility to incorporate these reforms into their plans 
through their own innovative and thoughtful approaches that are 
designed to address their specific needs. In addition, we are including 
in this final notice two additional criteria intended to make this 
flexibility for innovation more explicit.
    Changes: We have added the following criteria: First, criterion 
(F)(2)(v) asks a State to demonstrate the extent to which it enables 
LEAs to operate innovative, autonomous public schools other than 
charter schools. Second, criterion (F)(3) (proposed criterion 
(E)(1)(iii)) encourages States to describe any other conditions 
favorable to education reform or innovation that have increased student 
achievement or graduation rates, narrowed achievement gaps, or resulted 
in other important outcomes.
Transparency
    Comment: Some commenters requested that the Department make all 
State applications and annual reports publicly available for review. 
Additional commenters requested that applications and all related 
materials be posted online prior to approval.
    Discussion: To foster transparency and openness, the Department 
plans to post all State applications--for both successful and 
unsuccessful applications--on our Web site at the conclusion of each 
phase of the competition, together with the final scores each received. 
States may choose to make their applications publicly available at any 
time. We also anticipate making State annual reports publicly 
available.
    Changes: None.

[[Page 59698]]

Allocation of Points
    Comment: Several commenters requested clarification concerning the 
weighting of selection criteria. Two commenters specifically requested 
that the point scale or rubric be disclosed. Other commenters suggested 
that the point allocations be subject to public comment. One commenter 
suggested that Secretary Duncan make the final award selections.
    Discussion: To ensure that the Race to the Top competition is as 
open and transparent as possible, the Department is publishing the 
reviewer scoring rubric in Appendix B of this notice. The rubric is 
designed to ensure consistency across reviewers and help applicants 
better understand the Department's priorities for this competition by 
clearly identifying the point allocations for each selection criterion 
and indicating how priorities will be judged. The Secretary will select 
the grantees after considering the rank order of applications, each 
applicant's status with respect to the Absolute Priority and 
eligibility requirement (a), and any other relevant information. Grant 
award decisions are made by the Secretary, pursuant to the Department's 
regulations. It is the Department's practice to first take public 
comment on proposed selection criteria before making final decisions on 
those criteria. This allows the Department to consider public comment 
on the proposed selection criteria before making final decisions on 
point allocations, which are then published in the application package 
and final notice inviting applications.
    Changes: The scoring rubric for the criteria is included as 
Appendix B.
    Comment: Many commenters recommended weighting State Reform 
Conditions Criteria more heavily than Reform Plan Criteria, arguing 
that States that have already enacted reform policies are more likely 
to accelerate student achievement. On the other hand, one commenter 
suggested that States be given extra credit for recently enacted 
regulatory or legislative reforms, particularly in Phase 2 of the Race 
to the Top competition. Several other commenters recommended that the 
Department ensure that no single criterion or assurance, by itself, 
operate to eliminate a State from the Race to the Top competition. One 
of these commenters argued that States need flexibility, while another 
commenter added that a State application that addresses some criteria 
in depth may be stronger than one that addresses all criteria but is 
``shallow'' in its overall approach.
    Discussion: The scoring rubric assigns more weight to 
accomplishments (i.e., State Reform Conditions Criteria) than to plans 
(i.e., Reform Plan Criteria). (See Appendix B). However, the Department 
will not give ``extra credit'' to States that have recently enacted 
laws or polices intended to support their Race to the Top applications, 
as that would penalize early reformers. Finally, as is made clear 
elsewhere in this notice, the selection criteria are not eligibility 
requirements; the failure to meet any single criterion, or even a 
number of criteria, will not preclude a State from receiving a Race to 
the Top award. Moreover, the large number of criteria for which a State 
may earn points means that an application that is exceptionally strong 
on a majority of, but not all, Race to the Top selection criteria may 
score higher than an application that earns only partial credit on 
every criterion. On the other hand, applicants should keep in mind the 
statutory emphasis on comprehensive reforms, as well as absolute 
priority 1, which requires an applicant to address comprehensively all 
four ARRA assurance areas as well as the State Success Factors (Section 
(A)) of the selection criteria.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Many commenters recommended that the Department heavily 
weight the selection criteria for turning around struggling schools. 
Another commenter suggested a weighting system that rewards States for 
providing flexibility or autonomy to schools, whether charter or 
traditional. One commenter suggested awarding a significant portion of 
points for activities that support science, technology, engineering, 
and mathematics (STEM) initiatives; needy locations; turning around 
school climate; partnerships with community based organizations and 
volunteers; and family engagement.
    Discussion: The Department believes that each of the four reform 
areas is critical and has assigned points accordingly. The Department, 
therefore, declines to heavily weight the selection criteria for 
turning around struggling schools or to provide extra points to States 
that provide flexibility and autonomy to its schools. We decline to 
award a significant portion of points for activities that support STEM 
initiatives, needy locations, school climate, partnerships with 
community based organizations and volunteers, and family engagement. We 
note that each of these areas already is addressed in this notice. For 
example, a State that includes STEM education in its comprehensive plan 
will be eligible to receive competitive preference points; States are 
required to give priority to high-need LEAs in their Race to the Top 
plans; and strategies to improve school climate, develop partnerships 
with CBOs, and improve family engagement are specifically encouraged in 
the school intervention models in Appendix C.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the Department release 
guidance to help States determine whether they are likely to be 
successful in competing for Race to the Top funds as judged by their 
NAEP scores. The commenter suggested that States with low NAEP scores 
are unlikely to receive funds and would be wasting tremendous resources 
in completing a Race to the Top application.
    Discussion: The Department has created a scoring rubric with the 
number of possible points for each selection criterion. The rubric will 
be used by reviewers to judge State applications for Race to the Top 
funds. The Department is including the rubric in Appendix B to ensure 
that the scoring of State applications is transparent and so that 
States are fully informed as they develop their applications. We note 
that the criterion referenced by the commenter (proposed criterion 
(E)(1)(iv), which has been revised and designated as criterion 
(A)(1)(iii)), focuses on improvements in achievement, and not simply 
whether a State has high or low scores, as reported by both the NAEP 
and the assessments required under the ESEA.
    Changes: None.
Other Education Reform Strategies
    Comment: Many commenters suggested that Race to the Top take into 
account existing State and local education reform strategies, 
particularly in high-need schools. Several commenters suggested that 
Race to the Top include reform initiatives specifically targeted to 
high schools, the learning needs of advanced students, or the 
attainment of ``21st Century Skills'' (described in the comments as 
skills pertaining to media, technology, and financial literacy and 
global awareness). One commenter urged a greater focus in Race to the 
Top on ``disruptive innovations'' such as online learning, while others 
championed specific subjects, such as music and the arts, as essential 
ways of engaging students in learning and keeping them in school. In 
addition, several commenters argued that the study of foreign languages 
is critical for our future competitiveness in the global economy and 
should be included as a priority in the Race to the Top program.

[[Page 59699]]

    Discussion: The Department recognizes that numerous strategies, 
interventions, technologies, and subjects can make meaningful 
contributions to improving the quality of our education system, 
engaging students, and turning around the lowest-achieving schools. We 
also agree that it is important to give States credit for existing 
reforms that are achieving positive outcomes. This is one reason why we 
are clarifying and expanding criterion (F)(3) (proposed criterion 
(E)(1)(iii)) which, as mentioned earlier, asks States to demonstrate 
the extent to which they have created conditions favorable to education 
reform or innovation, in addition to the information provided under 
other State Reform Conditions Criteria. We also note that under the 
State Reform Conditions Criteria, States will be rewarded for having 
put into place key conditions for reform, while the State Reform Plan 
Criteria asks States to create plans that build on their successes.
    Changes: Criterion (F)(3) (proposed criterion (E)(1)(iii)) has been 
clarified and expanded to focus on the extent to which a State, in 
addition to information provided under other State Reform Conditions 
Criteria, has created, through law, regulation, or policy, other 
conditions favorable to education reform or innovation that have 
increased student achievement or graduation rates, narrowed achievement 
gaps, or resulted in other important outcomes.
Evidence-Based Practices in Race to the Top
    Comment: Some commenters argued that the Race to the Top program, 
as outlined in the NPP, would not adequately support evidence-based 
practices. One of these commenters suggested including a minimum 
evidence threshold for each of the State Reform Plan Criteria.
    Discussion: We believe that the use of evidence-based practices is 
critical to the success of the Race to the Top program. However, we 
acknowledge that the research evidence to support education practices, 
strategies, and programs may not reach the same threshold for each 
reform area. The four education reform areas in the ARRA are in large 
part focused on giving educators new data-based tools for developing 
and implementing their own best practices. Indeed, developing stronger 
standards and assessments, expanding the use of longitudinal data 
systems, improving teacher and principal effectiveness, and supporting 
struggling schools are all intended to create and support evidence-
driven continuous instructional improvement based on what works in the 
classroom. One key purpose of Race to the Top is to empower cutting-
edge States and LEAs to build on what works while also creating new, 
more effective models of educational reform and improvement that will 
significantly expand our collection of evidence-based practices. We 
believe that State flexibility is key in this effort.
    Changes: None.
Support for Traditional Public Schools
    Comment: One commenter claimed that the Race to the Top program, as 
outlined in the NPP, would result in little or no support for 
traditional public schools because it seemed primarily concerned with 
creating ``financial opportunities for educational entrepreneurs.''
    Discussion: This commenter misconstrues Race to the Top, which is 
focused almost entirely on improving our traditional public schools. 
Furthermore, pursuant to section 14006(c) of the ARRA, at least 50 
percent of Race to the Top funds must be allocated directly to LEAs 
according to their relative shares of funding under Title I, Part A of 
the ESEA; a majority of those LEAs are likely to serve exclusively 
traditional public schools. Further, each of the four assurances under 
the ARRA, which provide the overall framework for the Race to the Top 
program, is aimed at increasing the effectiveness of State and local 
support for traditional public schools.
    Changes: None.
Eligibility of Other Entities
    Comment: Several commenters suggested that entities other than 
States be made eligible to apply directly for Race to the Top funds. 
Specifically, commenters suggested that such organizations as charter 
schools, independent school districts, community colleges, historically 
black colleges and universities, LEAs, and not-for-profit organizations 
partnering with either LEAs or universities be able to apply for Race 
to the Top funds. Those commenters argued that preventing these 
entities from applying for the Race to the Top competition would limit 
the creation of innovative partnerships. Other commenters requested 
that private schools and non-profit organizations that partner with 
LEAs be eligible. Another commenter suggested that municipalities, in 
addition to LEAs, should be eligible to receive Race to the Top 
subgrants. One commenter was supportive of States applying directly for 
funds as opposed to LEAs.
    Discussion: Section 14006(a)(2) of the ARRA specifically states 
that ``the Secretary shall make grants to States that have made 
significant progress'' in meeting the objectives of the four reform 
areas. As such, the Department does not have the authority to expand 
the statute's directive to extend eligibility to the other entities 
suggested by the commenters. The Department recognizes, however, that 
these entities and others within the State are essential to the success 
of Race to the Top grantees. For this reason, we are adding additional 
examples of stakeholders to State Success Factors Criterion 
(A)(2)(ii)(b) (proposed criteria (E)(3)(i) and (ii)), which 
specifically asks applicants to demonstrate the extent to which they 
have secured broad stakeholder support. In addition, participating LEAs 
may use their funds to serve non-Title I schools, if doing so aligns 
with the State's plan and the Department's general regulations on uses 
of funds. States also may, consistent with applicable procurement 
requirements, contract with organizations such as those mentioned by 
the commenters, using the State's share of Race to the Top funds.
    Changes: Criterion (A)(2)(ii)(b) has been expanded to include 
additional examples of stakeholder support.
    Comment: Some commenters suggested that private schools be eligible 
for Race to the Top funds. One commenter argued that services to 
students and teachers in private schools is permitted under the 
Stabilization Fund and, therefore, should be permitted under the Race 
to the Top program. The commenter stated that section 14006(b) of the 
ARRA leaves considerable discretion to the Secretary in awarding grants 
on the basis of State applications for the Stabilization Fund and 
argued that this latitude extends to Race to the Top funds. The 
commenter requested that the overall selection criteria be amended to 
include a criterion that focuses on applicants' compliance with 
statutory provisions related to the equitable participation of private 
school students and teachers in Federal education programs.
    Other commenters recommended that the notice encourage States to 
include faith-based schools in their applications. These commenters 
pointed to positive effects on at-risk youth attributed to Catholic and 
other faith-based schools. A few commenters specifically requested that 
faith-based schools be eligible to apply for Race to the Top funds 
directly. One commenter noted that because private school students 
participate in Title I, Part A programs under the ESEA, they should be 
allowed

[[Page 59700]]

to participate in the Race to the Top activities approved in a State's 
plan. Other commenters requested that private schools that partner with 
LEAs be made eligible to receive Race to the Top funds. One commenter 
asserted that private schools should have the option to participate in 
all Federal programs without sacrificing control in such areas as 
curriculum, hiring, or teacher requirements.
    Discussion: As described in the response to the previous set of 
comments related to eligibility, the statutory language of the ARRA 
specifically provides that States are the eligible applicants for Race 
to the Top funds, and that only LEAs are eligible to receive subgrants 
from the States. Race to the Top funds may not be provided to private 
schools through a grant or subgrant, and there is no requirement that 
private school students, teachers, or other educational personnel 
participate in Race to the Top on an equitable basis (as required in 
some programs in the ESEA). Furthermore, Race to the Top funds may not 
be used to provide financial assistance to students to attend private 
schools. However, States and LEAs have the flexibility to include 
private school students, teachers, and other educational personnel in 
activities that the States and LEAs deem appropriate, and may contract 
with private schools for appropriate secular activities, consistent 
with the State's plan.
    Changes: None.
Authority for the NPP
    Comment: Some commenters objected to the NPP, arguing that it 
proposed education policy outside of the legislative process. One 
commenter claimed that while the ARRA ``imposes only brief and general 
requirements'' governing the use of Race to the Top funds, the 
prescriptive proposals in the NPP ``amount to writing new laws.'' One 
commenter recommended that Congress hold hearings on the notice, 
claiming that there has been a lack of sufficient time to review the 
NPP.
    Another commenter asserted that Congress should conduct a broad 
review of the NPP and of our determination that the NPP would ``not 
unduly interfere with State, local, and Tribal governments in the 
exercise of governmental functions.'' Two commenters also stated that 
it appeared that we were using Race to the Top, in the context of the 
fiscal emergency currently faced by many States, to impose education 
reform policies that would not otherwise be accepted by States and 
LEAs.
    Discussion: The commenters are correct that the ARRA offers few 
specifics governing the Race to the Top program; however, the ARRA is 
very clear that (1) The program is expected to provide incentives for 
``significant progress'' in the four assurance areas, and (2) the 
Secretary has authority to award Race to the Top funds using ``such 
criteria as the Secretary determines appropriate.'' Moreover, section 
410 of the General Education Provisions Act (20 U.S.C. 1221e-3) gives 
the Secretary full authority to promulgate rules and regulations 
necessary for the effective administration of Federal education 
programs. This final notice, like the NPP, is consistent with these 
authorities.
    Moreover, the ARRA specifically provides that Race to the Top funds 
must be awarded not later than September 30, 2010. In order to provide 
States the maximum amount of time possible to plan, organize, and draft 
their applications for the Phase 1 and Phase 2 competitions, while 
still allowing and responding fully to public comment, the Department 
sought comment on the NPP for a 30-day time period. Notably, section 
437(d)(1) of the General Education Provisions Act, 20 U.S.C. 
1232(d)(1), allows the Department to waive rulemaking for the first 
grant competition under a new or substantially revised program 
authority. The Race to the Top program is a new program, so the 
Department was not required to conduct notice-and-comment rulemaking. 
The Department, however, instead of taking advantage of that option, 
specifically sought public comment in order to inform the development 
of the program. Moreover, the comments received from over 1,100 
commenters during the NPP's 30-day comment period suggest that this 
period of time was sufficient for broad public review and comment.
    In response to claims that the Race to the Top requirements would 
interfere with State, local, or Tribal governments or impose policies 
on these governments, we note that the Race to the Top program is a 
voluntary competitive grant program that, like other such programs, 
includes requirements and criteria that must be met in order for States 
to participate and receive funding. States and LEAs that do not wish to 
comply with these conditions and criteria are not required to apply for 
a grant. While the fiscal crises currently faced by many States may 
encourage States to apply for Race to the Top funds, ameliorating State 
and local deficits is not the primary purpose of this program. Instead, 
the Race to the Top program, which will award only about 4 percent of 
all education funds provided by the ARRA, was specifically intended to 
encourage and reward those States that are making ``significant 
progress'' toward the four assurances. This final notice, like the NPP, 
represents our effort to establish reasonable and appropriate criteria 
for defining the ``significant progress'' as required by the statute.
    Changes: None.
Promoting Successful Implementation
    Comment: Several commenters raised questions concerning the 
implementation of Race to the Top. One commenter expressed concern that 
the proposed priorities pertained to State rather than LEA functions. 
The commenter noted that States do not achieve significant improvements 
in student outcomes; rather teachers working in LEAs with students, 
parents, school administrators, and other stakeholders make the 
difference.
    Another commenter urged us to make Race to the Top awards as soon 
as possible, but not later than early 2010, so that States and school 
districts can begin implementing reforms in the 2010-2011 school year. 
Two commenters suggested that we will not be able to create the 
momentum to accomplish national education reform unless a sufficient 
number of States receive Race to the Top funds. One commenter suggested 
that the Race to the Top program would have a broader national impact 
if 26-30 States participated in the program, and recommended 
structuring the award phases so that the first round provides large 
``lead'' grant awards followed by a second round of smaller ``but still 
substantial'' awards.
    Discussion: The Department agrees that the success of a State's 
Race to the Top reform efforts will depend on its ability to articulate 
a comprehensive and coherent education reform agenda, secure the 
commitment of its LEAs to implement on its proposed plans, and provide 
leadership and support to its LEAs. We recognize that the most 
important reform efforts will take place in the classroom and that a 
critical part of a State's application will be the State's capacity to 
support its LEAs in successfully implementing its plans through such 
activities as identifying best practices, widely disseminating and 
replicating effective practices statewide, and holding LEAs accountable 
for progress and performance.
    We are aware of the need for successful applicants to begin 
implementing their Race to the Top plans as soon as possible. Toward 
this

[[Page 59701]]

end, we expect to make Phase 1 Race to the Top awards in the first half 
of calendar year 2010. We do not agree that Race to the Top funds 
should be spread across an arbitrarily larger number of States. 
Instead, the size and number of Race to the Top awards in the two 
phases of funding will depend on the scope and quality of the 
applications that States submit to the Department.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters requested clarification regarding how 
States should develop and use performance and data indicators. One 
commenter suggested requiring States to provide information on the 
extent to which LEAs in the State have made adequate yearly progress 
(AYP) as part of their annual reports. Other commenters called for the 
Department to peer-review annual State Race to the Top reports. Two 
commenters expressed concern that performance measures would vary from 
State to State, causing confusion in the field. Finally, one commenter 
recommended that the Department remove the phrase ``ambitious yet 
achievable'' because its meaning is unclear.
    Discussion: In the NPP the Department proposed core performance 
measures for evaluating the performance of States receiving Race to the 
Top funds against both the four assurances and specific elements of 
State Race to the Top plans (see Appendix A). For the most part, we are 
retaining these measures, with some modifications, in this notice. The 
Department understands the concerns expressed by commenters about 
comparability of data across States receiving Race to the Top grants; 
this is one reason that this final notice retains the request for 
States to set student achievement and gap-closing goals based on NAEP 
data in revised criterion (A)(1)(iii) (proposed criterion (E)(4)). NAEP 
scores are comparable across States, thus eliminating concerns about 
the widely varying standards and assessments in use by States under 
ESEA accountability systems.
    States already issue annual reports on AYP status for schools and 
LEAs, including proficiency rates for all schools; there is no need to 
duplicate this reporting by requiring its inclusion in a State's annual 
Race to the Top report. However, States that desire to include AYP data 
in their annual Race to the Top reports are free to do so. The 
Department declines to add a requirement for peer review of these 
annual reports.
    Finally, we are retaining the ``ambitious yet achievable'' language 
throughout the Race to the Top State Reform Plan Criteria. As noted 
elsewhere in this notice, the Department believes that this language 
strikes the right balance between encouraging States to set a high bar 
for Race to the Top goals while recognizing that real change in 
education is difficult and takes time. The goal is to encourage 
realistic thinking and planning that connects specific activities to 
specific, achievable results, while acknowledging that improvements in 
the Nation's education system are urgently needed and the country's 
children cannot wait.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed concern that too many of the 
measures proposed in the NPP reflect past performance and recommended a 
greater emphasis on future Race to the Top performance.
    Discussion: The emphasis on past performance comes directly from 
the requirements in the ARRA, which requires States to have made 
significant progress in the four education reform areas in order to 
receive a grant. Once Race to the Top grants are awarded and winning 
States begin implementing their reform plans, the Department will 
become far more focused on how States perform under this program.
    Changes: None.
Race to the Top Funding
    Comment: Several commenters suggested that the Department provide 
more information on expected funding levels for States that receive 
Race to the Top funds, including the number and size of Race to the Top 
awards for both the Phase 1 and 2 competitions. Multiple commenters 
suggested that we provide funding for States to develop reform plans 
and applications. One commenter requested assurances that the level of 
funding to successful State applicants will be sufficient to carry out 
all activities in States' reform plans. Two commenters expressed 
concern that LEAs will have control of ARRA funds, outside of public 
accountability and without provisions for oversight, while another 
commenter requested information about the restrictions on the usage of 
Race to the Top funds, and an explanation of how States are expected to 
use them.
    Discussion: We encourage States to develop budgets that match the 
needs they have outlined in their applications. To support States in 
planning their budgets, we have developed nonbinding budget guidance 
with ranges for each State; these are listed in the notice inviting 
applications, published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal 
Register. These ranges may be used to guide States as they draft their 
applications, but States may prepare budgets that are above or below 
the suggested ranges. The amount awarded in Phase 1 will depend on the 
quality of the applications that States submit to the Department, as 
well as the successful applicants' proposed budgets. It is our 
intention to have significant funds available for Phase 2 applicants 
and awards. The ARRA does not provide funding to help States prepare or 
design their Race to the Top applications.
    Finally, the Department has taken extraordinary measures to ensure 
accountability in the use of all ARRA funds, including the Race to the 
Top fund, so that all dollars are used wisely and accounted for in a 
transparent manner. Indeed, as explained in the Reporting section of 
this final notice and in the notice inviting applications, successful 
applicants must comply with the ARRA annual reporting requirements in 
section 14008 of the ARRA and with quarterly reporting requirements in 
section 1512(c) of the ARRA, which are designed to ensure thorough and 
public oversight of the expenditure of ARRA funds. In addition, the 
Department has established a Recovery Act Web site and hotline for 
members of the public to report suspected misuse of funds.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed concern about structuring the Race 
to the Top program as a competitive grant. The commenter noted that 
structuring the program this way will mean that not every State will 
win Race to the Top grant funds. Another commenter stated that by 
predetermining ``the conditions necessary for reform,'' the winners and 
losers have already been chosen.
    Discussion: The Race to the Top program is intended to promote and 
reward States making the most progress in achieving the goals described 
in the ARRA and by the Secretary. As the Secretary and the President 
have said, Race to the Top is designed as a competitive, once-in-a-
lifetime opportunity for the Federal Government to create incentives 
for far-reaching improvement in our Nation's schools. While other ARRA 
funds provide substantial increases in formula funds to States (e.g., 
the Stabilization Fund, ESEA Title I, IDEA), we strongly believe that 
the competitive nature of the Race to the Top program will encourage 
statewide reform resulting in significant improvement in student 
outcomes. Finally, we note that contrary to the suggestion made by one 
commenter, the Department has not pre-selected the winners and losers 
for this competition. Applications will be judged based on the 
conditions States have put in place

[[Page 59702]]

by the time they apply, the strength of their plans, and how these come 
together as a coherent and cohesive strategy to improve student 
outcomes.
    Changes: None.
Flexibility to Allocate Funds
    Comment: Several commenters sought greater flexibility for States 
and LEAs to determine award levels. For example, a few commenters 
suggested that allocating 50 percent of Race to the Top funds by 
formula runs counter to the program's goals, and that States should be 
allowed to focus funding on LEAs with the greatest need for additional 
resources to address the educational needs of at-risk students such as 
English language learners, students with disabilities, and students 
from low-income families, or to give priority to one or more of the 
four assurances when funding LEAs. Other commenters sought 
clarification about State flexibility in using the 50 percent of funds 
that will not be distributed on the basis of the Title I formula. One 
commenter suggested that States might use their shares of Race to the 
Top awards to support high-need students in non-Title I schools, while 
another proposed allowing States to use these funds for State-level 
activities or to make their own formula or competitive subgrants. 
Another commenter asked whether LEAs can serve non-Title I schools in 
their districts with their 50 percent share, and whether use of these 
funds must also adhere to Title I regulations.
    Discussion: Section 14006(c) of the ARRA requires at least 50 
percent of Race to the Top funding to States to be sub-granted to 
participating LEAs according to their relative shares of funding under 
the ESEA Title I, Part A program for the most recent year. Neither the 
Department nor the States have discretion to deviate from this 
allocation requirement. LEAs that agree to work with the State to 
implement the State's Race to the Top plan may use these funds to serve 
non-Title I schools. Because these are not Title I program funds, LEAs 
are not required to adhere to Title I regulations regarding the usage 
of those funds. Fund uses, however, must be consistent with the State's 
plan and the Department's general regulations on uses of funds.
    In addition, States have considerable flexibility in awarding or 
allocating the remaining 50 percent of their Race to the Top awards, 
which are available for State-level activities, disbursements to LEAs, 
and other purposes as the State may propose in its plan. Many of the 
activities recommended by commenters would be allowable uses of the 
State's share of Race to the Top funds, including: Serving high-need 
students in non-Title I schools, State-level activities in support of 
Race to the Top plans, competitive or formula-based subgrants to LEAs, 
contracts with non-profit organizations, or supporting the 
participation of private school students and teachers in Race to the 
Top.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter stated that a portion of the Race to the Top 
funds should be set aside for LEA-IHE consortia to develop training 
that would allow for the development and implementation of systemic P-
20 collaboration, facilitate curricular alignment, and promote seamless 
transitions from high school to college.
    Discussion: As noted in the previous comment, section 14006(c) of 
the ARRA requires a State that receives a Race to the Top grant to use 
at least 50 percent of the award to provide subgrants to LEAs, 
including public charter schools identified as LEAs under State law. 
The ARRA does not require or specify that funds should be set aside for 
any other specific purposes; therefore, we decline to require that a 
portion of the Race to the Top funds be set aside for LEA-IHE consortia 
as recommended by the commenter. However, States are welcome to include 
such expenditures in their proposals if they align with their plans. We 
also note that IHEs are critical partners in implementing significant 
reforms, particularly in ensuring that a State's longitudinal data 
system can provide data to assess the extent to which students are 
adequately prepared for success in post-secondary education. As noted 
elsewhere, we are adding language to criterion (B)(3) to acknowledge 
the role that IHEs may play in supporting the transition to enhanced 
standards and high-quality assessments. In addition, as noted 
elsewhere, we are adding ``institutions of higher education'' in 
criterion (A)(2)(ii)(b) as an example of a type of stakeholder from 
whom a State should enlist support and commitment to assist in the 
State's education reform efforts.
    Changes: None.
Sustaining Race to the Top Reforms
    Comment: One commenter expressed concern that the requirements and 
activities proposed in Race to the Top would not be fully paid for by 
Race to the Top awards, and that these activities would ``be difficult 
to sustain operationally and financially.'' This commenter recommended 
a sharper focus in the final notice on the requirements ``of greatest 
importance.'' In a related comment, one individual described Race to 
the Top as an ``underfunded mandate'' and argued that it would impose 
additional costs on State and local taxpayers.
    Discussion: While the Race to the Top program is intended to 
support a comprehensive approach to developing and carrying out 
critical change and reform in the four assurance areas, States have 
flexibility to tailor their Race to the Top budgets and spending plans 
according to both the relative priority of plan activities and the 
availability of funding from other Federal, State, and local sources, 
consistent with criterion (A)(2)(i)(d) (proposed criterion (E)(5)(v)). 
For example, States may use their Title I School Improvement Grants to 
execute most of their plans under criterion (E)(2) (proposed criterion 
(D)(3)), thereby allowing themselves to dedicate a higher proportion of 
Race to the Top funds to activities in the other three assurance areas. 
Similarly, a State that receives a Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems 
grant might use these funds to enhance its data systems work and could, 
therefore, focus its Race to the Top funding on other assurance areas. 
Also, the selection criteria include elements intended to help ensure 
that funding issues do not derail Race to the Top plans. For example, 
under criterion (F)(1), States are asked to demonstrate the extent to 
which (i) the share of overall State revenues supporting education in 
FY 2009 was greater than or equal to the share provided for education 
in FY 2008; and (ii) the State's policies lead to equitable funding (a) 
between high-need LEAs and other LEAs, and (b) within LEAs, between 
high-poverty schools and other schools (new criterion). In addition, 
criterion (A)(2)(i)(e) (proposed criterion (E)(5)(iii)) addresses 
whether a State has explained in its application how it will use its 
fiscal, political, and human capital resources to continue Race to the 
Top reforms after the period of funding has ended. Finally, because the 
Race to the Top is a voluntary, competitive grant program, it does not 
impose costs on any State or local taxpayers, and thus does not meet 
any reasonable definition of an underfunded mandate.
    Changes: Criteria related to budget planning and funding have been 
modified and rearranged in this final notice to promote the development 
and submission of more coherent Race to the Top plans. Criterion 
(A)(2)(i)(d) asks States to demonstrate through their budget narratives 
and accompanying budgets the extent to which they have high-quality 
plans to use Race to the Top funds to accomplish their plans and meet 
their targets, including, where feasible, coordinating, reallocating, 
or

[[Page 59703]]

repurposing education funds from other Federal, State, and local 
sources to align with their Race to the Top goals. Criterion (A)(2)(e) 
(proposed criterion (E)(5)(iii)) will help ensure that States have 
plans to continue support for Race to the Top reforms once Race to the 
Top funds have been spent.
Addressing Obstacles Created by Poverty
    Comment: One commenter asserted that overcoming achievement gaps--a 
key goal of the Race to the Top program--would require addressing 
obstacles to high academic achievement created by the conditions of 
poverty. This commenter urged that Race to the Top be used to promote 
``comprehensive educational opportunity'' for all students, but 
particularly for those from low-income families. Other commenters 
argued that Race to the Top plans should include efforts and incentives 
to ensure the adequacy and equity of State and local education funding, 
such as by rewarding States that have taken steps to allocate resources 
and inputs equitably.
    Discussion: The Secretary believes that a high-quality education is 
the surest route out of poverty. However, while broader societal 
problems such as the lack of affordable housing or access to health 
care certainly make the jobs of schools serving disadvantaged students 
more challenging, they should not be used to excuse the lack of 
achievement in high-need schools. Race to the Top is structured to 
promote comprehensive educational reforms benefitting all students 
while targeting additional attention and resources towards high-need 
LEAs and toward the persistently lowest-achieving schools that 
typically enroll a disproportionate number of students from low-income 
families. For example, 50 percent of Race to the Top funding must be 
subgranted by States to LEAs on the basis of their relative shares of 
formula grant allocations under Title I, Part A of the ESEA, which are 
based largely on counts of children from low-income families residing 
in the communities served by those LEAs. Also, under criterion (E)(2) 
(proposed criterion (D)(3)), States will create comprehensive school 
intervention plans for the persistently lowest-achieving schools. 
Furthermore, under criterion (D)(3) (proposed criterion (C)(3)), States 
will be evaluated on their plans to ensure that students in high-
poverty and/or high-minority schools have equitable access to highly 
effective teachers and principals and are not served by ineffective 
teachers and principals at higher rates than other students.
    However, we agree that in this final notice, the Department should 
place greater emphasis on equitable funding of high-need LEAs and 
students. For this reason, we are adding criterion (F)(1)(ii), which 
examines the extent to which a State's policies lead to equitable 
funding (a) between high-need LEAs (as defined in this notice) and 
other LEAs, and (b) within LEAs, between high-poverty schools (as 
defined in this notice) and other schools.
    Changes: The addition of criterion (F)(1)(ii) establishes a new 
State Reform Condition Criterion that will consider the extent to which 
a State's policies lead to equitable funding (a) between high-need LEAs 
and other LEAs, and (b) within LEAs, between high-poverty schools and 
other schools.
Civil Rights Enforcement
    Comment: Several commenters raised concerns about the NPP as it 
relates to civil rights laws and discrimination based on race and sex 
in schools. One commenter recommended that the Department include 
language in the final notice reminding States of their obligations 
under anti-discrimination statutes, including Title IX of the Education 
Amendments Act of 1972.
    Discussion: The Department believes in promoting educational 
excellence throughout the Nation through vigorous enforcement of civil 
rights laws. The Department's Office for Civil Rights is specifically 
tasked with enforcing several Federal civil rights laws that prohibit 
discrimination in programs or activities that receive Federal financial 
assistance from the Department, and issuing guidance to school 
districts on how to comply with those laws. Since SEAs and LEAs are 
ongoing recipients of Federal financial assistance, they are aware of 
these civil rights laws. We believe, therefore, that reiteration of 
State responsibilities under various civil rights laws in the final 
notice is unnecessary.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the notice include language 
requiring States to support voluntary school integration efforts. 
Another commenter recommended adding an invitational priority for 
innovative approaches to voluntary school integration in order to 
encourage inter-district magnet schools and new charter schools that 
achieve racial and economic integration. The commenter also recommended 
adding an invitational priority to encourage the use of inter-district 
school transfers to promote integration. Another commenter recommended 
adding a criterion requiring a high-quality plan for a State to 
substantially reduce the isolation and segregation of low-income 
students, through intra- or inter-district collaboration, magnet 
schools, transfer programs, or school restructuring and consolidation. 
One commenter suggested adding requirements that State proposals reduce 
school-based poverty concentrations and racial isolation in schools. 
Another commenter wrote that the NPP overlooked ``the continuing 
importance of avoiding racial and economic segregation in public 
schools, and promoting voluntary integration'' and urged that the final 
notice promote these goals.
    Discussion: Racial and economic diversity are laudable goals that 
the Department supports. The Race to the Top program encourages 
innovative solutions to important problems facing our Nation's schools, 
which could include appropriate approaches to further racially and 
economically diverse schools. However, we have not added this objective 
as an invitational priority in the Race to the Top program. We note 
that the Department has for many years administered the statutory 
Magnet Schools Assistance Program, 20 U.S.C. 7231. This program 
provides grants to LEAs to fund magnet schools that--in addition to 
strengthening students' academic knowledge and their attainment of 
tangible and marketable skills--will further the ``elimination, 
reduction or prevention of minority group isolation'' in elementary and 
secondary schools. 20 U.S.C. 7231(b).
    Changes: None.
Family and Community Engagement
    Comment: Many commenters stressed the importance of including 
parents, students, family, and community members ``as equal partners'' 
in developing States' Race to the Top plans. One commenter urged that 
the final notice require States and LEAs to document the involvement of 
parents in developing their Race to the Top plans, while another 
commenter recommended the inclusion of parent and student 
accountability measures in Race to the Top plans. One commenter urged 
that the Department and participating States keep parents informed of 
Race to the Top activities using materials written in ``easy-to-
understand language'' and, where necessary, multiple languages. Several 
commenters stated that family engagement policies and practices that 
are culturally and linguistically appropriate are essential components 
of comprehensive services to high-need

[[Page 59704]]

students. A few commenters recommended that school personnel work with 
community partners to align school, family, and community assets and 
expertise in order to support student achievement (e.g., centers of 
community, community schools, community learning centers, full service 
community schools). Many commenters stressed the importance of family 
and community involvement in local school turnaround strategies. 
Several commenters also noted that the terms ``family engagement'' and 
``community engagement'' should be separated, arguing that these 
concepts involve different stakeholders and require different 
strategies.
    Discussion: The Department agrees that States' Race to the Top 
plans would benefit from documented input and involvement by parents 
and organizations that represent parents, students, families, and 
community members. To encourage States to do so, we are adding, in 
criterion (A)(2)(ii)(b) (proposed criterion (E)(3)(ii)), Tribal 
schools; and parent, student, and community organizations among the 
stakeholders from which a State could obtain statements or actions of 
support to demonstrate statewide commitment to its Race to the Top 
plan. At the local level, criterion (E)(2) and Appendix C (proposed 
criterion (D)(3)) support greater parent involvement in individual 
school turnaround plans and the turnaround model and the transformation 
model in particular. The Department views such mechanisms not only as 
opportunities for parents to participate in turnaround planning but 
also for LEAs and schools to promote greater accountability for parents 
and students in areas such as school attendance, homework completion, 
and monitoring student achievement. In addition, the Department 
believes that any mechanism for family and community engagement 
naturally would require keeping parents informed of Race to the Top-
related activities, including providing information in multiple formats 
and languages, where necessary. However, the final notice retains 
flexibility for LEAs to determine the nature of these mechanisms and 
does not specifically require plans to include separate parental 
involvement programs.
    Changes: Criterion (A)(2)(ii)(b) adds ``Tribal schools; parent, 
student, and community organizations (e.g., parent-teacher 
associations, nonprofit organizations, local education foundations, and 
community-based organizations)'' to the list of stakeholder groups from 
which a State can obtain statements or actions of support in order to 
demonstrate statewide support for its Race to the Top plan.

I. Final Priorities

General Comments on Proposed Priorities

    Comment: We received a number of comments that addressed more than 
one proposed priority or that focused on a proposed priority as well as 
on specific selection criteria.
    Discussion: In some cases we have responded to comments received in 
response to more than one priority or that focused on a priority and 
selection criteria in this ``General Comments on Proposed Priorities'' 
section. In other cases, we decided that it would be more appropriate 
to respond to the comments in the ``General Comments on the Race to the 
Top Program'' earlier in this notice. This enabled us to group similar 
comments and concerns in order to be more responsive to the commenters.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter stated that including absolute, competitive 
preference, and invitational priorities in the NPP was confusing and 
undermined the review process by suggesting that the Department does 
not have a clear sense of what is important. Another commenter 
recommended eliminating the invitational priorities claiming that they 
provide no competitive advantage in the grant competition and distract 
from the key elements of the program.
    One commenter requested that the final notice include an 
explanation of the differences and significance of the competitive 
preference priority for STEM and the invitational priorities for data 
systems, P-20 coordination, and school-level conditions for reform and 
innovation. Another commenter asked whether different weights will be 
assigned to the absolute priority versus the competitive preference and 
invitational priorities.
    Two commenters expressed concern with the statement in the NPP that 
the Secretary reserves the right to propose additional priorities, 
requirements, definitions, or selection criteria. These commenters 
requested that any additional priorities, requirements, definitions, or 
selection criteria be published in the Federal Register and that the 
public be given the opportunity to comment on them.
    Discussion: The Education Department General Administrative 
Regulations (EDGAR) in 34 CFR 75.105(c) identify the types of 
priorities the Department may establish for its direct grant programs. 
Under an absolute priority, the Secretary considers only those 
applications that meet the priority (see 34 CFR 75.105(c)(3)). Under a 
competitive preference priority, the Secretary may award bonus points 
to an application depending on the extent to which the application 
meets the priority or may select an application that meets the priority 
over an application of comparable merit that does not meet the priority 
(see 34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)). And, under an invitational priority, the 
Secretary may simply invite applications that meet the priority; an 
application that meets the invitational priority, however, receives no 
competitive or absolute preference over other applications (see 34 CFR 
75.105(c)(1)).
    The designation of priorities as invitational in the NPP and in 
this final notice demonstrates the Department's interest in particular 
topics or issues and applicants' interest in and capacity to address 
those areas. Applicants are not required to address these invitational 
priorities in their applications. Because the Department is interested 
in State focus and capacity in the areas identified as invitational 
priorities, we decline to remove them in this final notice.
    In this final notice, we are designating priority 1, Comprehensive 
Approach to Education Reform, as an absolute priority that all 
applicants must meet. Priority 2, Emphasis on Science, Technology, 
Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), has been designated as a 
competitive preference priority for which a State can receive 
additional points (see Appendix B for the scoring rubric). Finally, we 
are including the following invitational priorities: Priority 3, 
Innovations for Improving Early Learning Outcomes; priority 4, 
Expansion and Adaptation of Longitudinal Data Systems; priority 5, P-20 
Coordination, Vertical and Horizontal Alignment; and priority 6, 
School-Level Conditions for Reform, Innovation, and Learning. Unless 
certain exceptions apply, the Department must conduct notice-and-
comment rulemaking when establishing absolute and competitive 
preference priorities. See 34 CFR 75.105(b)(2). Notice-and-comment 
rulemaking is not required for the Department to establish invitational 
priorities. See 34 CFR 75.105(b)(2)(i). As noted by one commenter, we 
stated in the NPP that the proposed priorities could be changed in the 
final notice, and that the Department may propose additional 
priorities, requirements, definitions, or selection criteria, subject 
to applicable rulemaking requirements. As indicated elsewhere, we are 
adding a new invitational priority 3, Innovations for

[[Page 59705]]

Improving Early Learning Outcomes, based on comments received on the 
NPP. Since the priority is invitational only, we were able to include 
it in this final notice without additional public comment.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters recommended that invitational 
priorities 4, 5, and 6 be changed to competitive preference priorities 
given the importance of each of the priorities and the need for States 
to have an integrated and coordinated reform strategy. One commenter 
recommended that additional points be given to a State that 
demonstrates how all the invitational priorities are integrated in its 
overall reform strategy.
    Discussion: We believe that priorities 4, 5, and 6 are 
appropriately designated as invitational priorities. Although the 
Secretary is interested in receiving applications addressing these 
priorities, each of the priorities extends or complements the core 
reform work that States must already address in their applications. For 
example, priority 4, Expansion and Adaptation of Statewide Longitudinal 
Data Systems, extends States' core work in developing statewide 
longitudinal data systems; priority 5, P-20 Coordination, Vertical and 
Horizontal Alignment, complements States' core reform efforts in the K-
12 education systems and extends them to the larger P-20 education 
systems; and priority 6, School-level Conditions for Reform, 
Innovation, and Learning, is a natural extension of the work States are 
doing to create, through law, regulation, or policy, other conditions 
favorable to education reform or innovation that improve student 
outcomes. For these reasons, we do not believe that extra points should 
be awarded to applications that address the invitational priorities.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended adding an invitational priority 
to support alternative governance structures. The commenter stated that 
in addition to charter schools, mayoral control, gubernatorial control, 
and State control have been effective in reforming public education.
    Discussion: As noted elsewhere, we are adding criterion (F)(2)(v) 
to give credit to States that enable LEAs to operate innovative, 
autonomous public schools other than charter schools.
    Changes: None.

Literacy

    Comment: Numerous commenters recommended that the final notice 
include a competitive preference priority focused on literacy 
development for young children; reading and writing skills for young 
students; and higher-order literacy skills for adolescent students 
(e.g., ability to analyze diverse texts and write using critical 
reasoning). Many commenters also proposed that priority be given to 
States that prepare more students (particularly low-income students, 
English language learners, and students with disabilities) for success 
in school and for graduation from high school ready for college and 
work, and with skills to meet the literacy demands of high-growth, 
high-wage jobs. Another commenter suggested that the final notice 
include access to high-quality school libraries as part of the 
criteria.
    Discussion: Advancing the literacy skills of all students, 
particularly students from low-income families, English language 
learners, and students with disabilities, is the foundation for many of 
the criteria in the Race to the Top competition. For example, a State 
will be judged on the extent to which it has made progress over the 
past several years in each of the four education reform areas, and used 
its ARRA and other Federal and State funding to pursue such reforms 
(see criterion (A)(3)(i)). A State will be judged on the extent to 
which it has demonstrated a track record of improving student 
achievement overall and by student subgroup in reading/language arts 
and mathematics, decreasing the achievement gaps between subgroups in 
reading/language arts and mathematics, and increasing high school 
graduation rates (see criterion (A)(3)(ii)). We believe that applicants 
must necessarily place priority on improving and advancing the literacy 
skills of students if they are to adequately address these criteria, 
and, therefore, do not believe that a separate competitive preference 
priority focused on literacy is necessary. Additionally, States and 
LEAs may determine in partnership the roles school libraries can play 
in advancing the State's reform goals.
    Changes: None.

Early Learning

    Comment: Numerous commenters expressed concern that the NPP did not 
include a priority for, or otherwise require applicants to address, 
early learning in the context of the four reform areas. Several 
commenters highlighted the importance of early childhood education in 
improving student achievement and closing achievement gaps, and some 
cited research indicating that the most effective time to intervene to 
close achievement gaps is during the preschool years. Many commenters 
requested that the final notice include a competitive preference 
priority focused on early learning programs. One commenter stated that 
a competitive preference priority on early learning should focus on 
increasing the number of low-income children in high-quality pre-K 
programs. Other commenters recommended requiring a quality early 
learning strategy as part of a State's plan for turning around 
struggling schools. A number of commenters suggested that such a 
strategy could include expanded pre-K funding and programs, aligned 
standards and assessments for pre-K through third grade, links between 
longitudinal data systems and pilot ``Quality Rating and Improvement 
Systems'' to improve instruction, and increasing the availability of 
credentialed pre-K through third-grade teachers.
    Another commenter recommended that States be required to address 
the following issues to strengthen the quality of early care and 
education programs: (1) Appropriate compensation to attract and retain 
talented administrators and teachers in early care and education 
programs; (2) the need for a technological infrastructure to establish 
a data-driven decision-making system, as well as to document the 
benefits of early care and education services; (3) creation of a State-
level advisory body to develop a State early learning plan, monitor the 
implementation of the plan and recommend adjustments to strengthen 
strategies as the plan is implemented; and (4) creation of a panel, 
that includes providers, to determine the true cost of supporting a 
quality early care and education system.
    A few commenters recommended adding an invitational priority to the 
final notice focusing on the coordination of preschool services 
(including Head Start services and services provided under the 
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)) in order to ensure 
that more young children begin school ready to learn.
    Discussion: The Department agrees that expanding access to high-
quality early learning programs is a key strategy in an overall effort 
to raise student achievement, particularly for high-need students. We 
agree that the Race to the Top program should encourage States to 
increase the quality of existing early learning programs and expand 
access to high-quality early learning programs, particularly for 
children from low-income families. Therefore, we are adding an 
invitational priority focused on early learning to this final notice.

[[Page 59706]]

    We do not believe that States should be required to include an 
early learning focus in their applications or that States should be 
given competitive preference points for doing so. Nor do we believe 
that quality early learning strategies should be required to be part of 
a State's plan for turning around struggling schools, given that 
efforts to turn around struggling schools focus primarily on improving 
educational outcomes for students currently enrolled in the Nation's 
persistently lowest-achieving schools. We believe that an invitational 
priority will encourage applicants to consider how their reform efforts 
can be strengthened by focusing on activities that promote school 
readiness and ensure that all children have access to high-quality 
early learning programs.
    With regard to the request that States be required to address the 
issues that one commenter stated were necessary for strengthening the 
quality of early care and education programs, a State that chooses to 
include a focus on early learning in its application could include 
activities addressing the educational needs of young children in its 
State reform plan. We note, however, that funds could not be used to 
address issues related to early child care needs, absent an educational 
component, because the purpose of Race to the Top is for States and 
LEAs to address educational reforms. Given the variation in State needs 
and priorities, we do not believe that it would be appropriate to 
require all applicants to follow the commenter's recommendations.
    In response to the recommendation to add an invitational priority 
focusing on the coordination of preschool services, this focus is 
already included in priority 5, P-20 Coordination, Vertical and 
Horizontal Alignment, which encourages State reform plans to address 
how early childhood programs, K-12 schools, postsecondary institutions, 
and other State agencies and community partners will coordinate to 
create a more seamless P-20 route for students.
    Changes: We have added a new invitational priority 3--Innovations 
for Improving Early Learning Outcomes, which states, ``The Secretary is 
particularly interested in applications that include practices, 
strategies, or programs to improve educational outcomes for high-need 
students who are young children (pre-kindergarten through third grade) 
by enhancing the quality of preschool programs. Of particular interest 
are proposals that support practices that (i) improve school readiness 
(including social, emotional, and cognitive); and (ii) improve the 
transition between preschool and kindergarten.''
School Climate and Culture
    Comment: Several commenters recommended that the final notice 
include a priority to encourage States to implement policies and take 
actions intended to improve school climate, such as citizenship 
training, anti-bullying, or service learning programs that may improve 
academic achievement, school attendance, and graduation rates. One 
commenter recommended adding an invitational priority for States that 
implement evidence-based measures to improve student discipline, 
stating that there is a well-documented link between school safety/
school discipline and improved academic outcomes. Several commenters 
specifically recommended that we provide for States to address school-
wide systems of positive behavioral interventions and supports and 
stated that improving school climate is integral to improving the 
achievement of the lowest performing students. Another commenter stated 
that unless the Department designates school climate as a top priority, 
equal to that of academic improvement, schools are extremely unlikely 
to focus on improving school climate. A few commenters recommended 
encouraging States to collect data on school environments. Other 
commenters suggested that States support and recognize schools that 
provide opportunities for students to practice their education in real-
world situations that lead to civic engagement. The commenters stated 
that States should ensure that, in policy and funding decisions, 
schools know that they are to be honored, as well as held accountable, 
for creating a caring, welcoming, safe environment.
    Other commenters strongly recommended that the final notice include 
language that would require schools to address the needs of the whole 
child, including by providing character education; instruction in 
social, emotional, and physical wellness; civic education and 
engagement; arts education; community-based learning; and opportunities 
for parent involvement. One commenter stated that it is essential for 
schools to work in collaboration with health, social, civic, faith-
based, business and community organizations in order to successfully 
educate the whole child. One commenter expressed concern that the 
proposed priorities emphasize math, reading, and science at the expense 
of the other core academic subjects and argued that there should be an 
equal emphasis on the social, emotional, and creative development of 
students. Another commenter stated that efforts to shift education to 
address the needs of the whole child should be part of, and fully 
integrated into, a well-rounded core curriculum of academic 
instruction. Finally, one commenter stated that the proposed priorities 
incorrectly omit any reference to reducing the use of punitive measures 
in schools, and recommended that the final notice emphasize the 
Secretary's policy on reducing the use of restraints, seclusion, and 
corporal punishment.
    Discussion: We agree that a positive school climate that includes 
policies and measures to improve discipline can contribute to improving 
academic achievement, school attendance, and graduation rates. We also 
agree that it is important to address the needs of the whole child and 
to work in collaboration with other agencies and community 
organizations in order to successfully educate the whole child. 
Therefore, we are changing priority 6, School-Level Conditions for 
Reform, Innovation, and Learning to include school climate and school 
culture as examples of areas in which an LEA could provide flexibility 
and autonomy to its schools in order to create conditions for reform, 
innovation, and learning. The language in new paragraph (vi) of this 
priority acknowledges the importance of creating school climates and 
cultures that remove obstacles to, and actively support, student 
engagement and achievement; the language in new paragraph (vii) of the 
priority focuses on implementing strategies to effectively engage 
families and communities in supporting the academic success of their 
students.
    In addition, we note that the final notice addresses issues of 
school climate and culture in several ways. First, invitational 
priority 4, Expansion and Adaptation of Statewide Longitudinal Data 
Systems, invites States to include school climate and culture measures 
in extending and adapting their statewide longitudinal data systems. 
Consistent with commenters' examples of school policies and programs to 
improve school climate, we also have included references to ``service 
learning'' and ``experiential and work-based learning opportunities'' 
in the definition of increased learning time, as examples of activities 
that contribute to a well-rounded education. And we have included in 
our school intervention turnaround and transformation models for the 
persistently lowest-achieving schools (see criterion (E)(2) and

[[Page 59707]]

Appendix C) the need to address students' social and emotional needs 
and to create healthy school climates and cultures. We do not, 
therefore, believe that a new separate priority focusing on school 
climate and culture is necessary.
    We acknowledge that positive behavioral interventions and supports, 
as well as other systemic programs and policies that address bullying, 
student harassment, and disciplinary problems, are important to 
consider in ensuring that students have a safe and supportive 
environment in which to learn. However, we do not believe it is 
necessary to include this level of detail in this final notice and, 
therefore, decline to make the changes requested by the commenters.
    Finally, in response to the comment that the notice does not 
reference reducing the use of punitive measures, on July 31, 2009, the 
Secretary encouraged each State to review its current policies and 
guidelines regarding the use of restraints and seclusion in schools to 
ensure that every student is safe and protected and, if appropriate, 
develop or revise its policies and guidelines. We believe that this is 
the proper approach to addressing this issue, rather than in a notice 
for a competitive grant program for which all States will not 
necessarily apply or receive funding. It would be appropriate for 
States that choose to address priority 6 to include, in their reform 
plans, a focus on ensuring that policies and guidelines address the use 
of restraints and seclusions in schools to ensure that every student is 
safe and protected.
    Changes: We have revised priority 6 to include as examples of the 
autonomies and flexibilities a State's participating LEAs may provide 
to its schools: Creating school climates and cultures that remove 
obstacles to, and actively support, student engagement and achievement 
and implementing strategies to effectively engage families and 
communities in supporting the academic success of their students.
Charter Schools
    Comment: Several commenters recommended that the final notice 
include an absolute priority requiring States to expand charter 
schools.
    Discussion: We do not believe an absolute priority for charter 
schools is necessary because States already will be evaluated against 
criteria that support the development of high-quality charter schools. 
Criterion (F)(2) focuses on charter schools. Specifically, criterion 
(F)(2)(i) considers the extent to which a State has a charter school 
law that does not prohibit or effectively inhibit increasing the number 
of high-performing charter schools in the State or otherwise restrict 
student enrollment in charter schools. Criterion (F)(2)(ii) considers 
the extent to which the State has laws, statutes, regulations, or 
guidelines regarding how charter school authorizers approve, monitor, 
hold accountable, reauthorize, and close charter schools. Under 
criterion (F)(2)(iii), a State will be evaluated based on the extent to 
which its charter schools receive equitable funding and a commensurate 
share of local, State, and Federal revenues. Finally, criterion 
(F)(2)(iv) addresses the extent to which a State provides charter 
schools with funding for facilities, assistance with facilities 
acquisition, access to public facilities, the ability to share in bonds 
and mill levies, or other supports; and the extent to which a State 
does not impose any facility-related requirements on charter schools 
that are stricter than those applied to traditional public schools. All 
applicants will be rated against these criteria, among others.
    Changes: None.
Dropout Recovery
    Comment: One commenter expressed concern that the NPP did not 
include targeted investments for dropout recovery programs or provide 
States and LEAs with direction on innovative models to re-engage youth 
who have dropped out of school. The commenter stated that the recovery 
of high school dropouts must be a central component of any serious 
systemic school reform effort. Several commenters stated that it is 
important to recognize that students who fail to thrive in traditional 
settings need additional supports to graduate from high school and 
that, without strategic approaches that intentionally include re-
engagement efforts, districts will not serve this population 
effectively.
    Another commenter recommended that the final notice include a 
competitive preference priority for serving students who are still in 
school, but are off-track to graduate and those who have disengaged 
from school and dropped out. The commenter noted that educational 
continuity and stability are also needed for children in foster care. 
One commenter recommended establishing a competitive preference 
priority for applicants that include data-driven strategies to re-
engage high-school students who fail to graduate on time and 
recommended that the final notice encourage States to coordinate Race 
to the Top funding with funding they receive through other sources such 
as programs under the Workforce Investment Act.
    Discussion: We agree that there is a need to increase efforts to 
re-engage youth who have dropped out of school and to help students who 
are off-track to graduate stay in school. We have addressed the needs 
of these students in several ways. First, as noted elsewhere, we are 
changing criterion (E)(2) (regarding States' plans to enable their LEAs 
to implement one of the four school intervention models) to include 
credit-recovery programs and re-engagement strategies as methods that 
can be used by LEAs to increase high school graduation rates (see 
Appendix C). Second, we are adding a new definition of high-need 
students and including in the definition, among others, students who 
are performing far below grade level, those who leave school before 
receiving a regular high school diploma, and those at risk of not 
graduating with a diploma on time. Third, as noted in the discussion of 
priority 4, we are inviting States to extend and adapt their statewide 
longitudinal data systems to include data from programs that serve at-
risk students and from dropout prevention programs. Fourth, we are 
adding a reference to horizontal alignment in priority 5. Horizontal 
alignment is the coordination of services across schools, State 
agencies, and community partners, and we note that it is important in 
ensuring that high-need students have access to the broad array of 
opportunities and services they need and that are beyond the capacity 
of a school itself to provide. We also note that priority 6, School-
Level Conditions for Reform, Innovation, and Learning, specifically 
refers to the need to provide comprehensive services to high-need 
students (see paragraph (v)). Therefore, we believe that this final 
notice adequately addresses the needs of students off-track to graduate 
who are still in school and those who have disengaged from school and 
dropped out, and that it is unnecessary to add a competitive preference 
priority focused on these specific youth.
    With regard to the comment that the final notice encourage 
coordinating ARRA funding with other funding streams, we believe this 
issue is addressed in criterion (A)(2)(i)(d), which will evaluate the 
extent to which a State has the capacity to use Race to the Top funds, 
as described in the State's budget and budget narrative, to accomplish 
the State's plan and meet its targets, including, where feasible, by 
coordinating, reallocating, or ``repurposing'' education funds from 
other Federal, State, and local sources to

[[Page 59708]]

align with the State's Race to the Top goals.
    Changes: None.
Students With Disabilities and English Language Learners
    Comment: One commenter encouraged the Department to add 
invitational priorities that focus on policy development and 
implementation (versus data collection and analysis) for special 
education and English language acquisition, including the development 
of high-quality and innovative programs of teacher preparation and 
professional development in these areas, in order to encourage States 
to meet the needs of students with disabilities and English language 
learners more effectively. Another commenter expressed disappointment 
that the priorities did not thoroughly take into account the needs of 
English language learners. One commenter strongly urged the Department 
to ensure that English language learners are not overlooked in State 
plans, but are explicitly identified in all areas, including through 
efforts to improve standards and assessments, close achievement gaps, 
increase graduation rates, and ensure college readiness.
    Discussion: The needs of students with disabilities and English 
language learners are addressed in many of the selection criteria and 
are especially highlighted everywhere the term high-need student is 
used; the new definition of this term includes students with 
disabilities and English language learners. All applicants for Race to 
the Top grants will need to consider how they currently work to meet or 
plan to meet the unique needs of these students based on the criteria 
set forth in this final notice.
    In addition, this final notice recognizes and specifically 
references the unique needs of students with disabilities and English 
language learners in the following areas: (a) Priority 4 encourages 
State plans to expand statewide longitudinal data systems to include or 
integrate data from special education and English language learner 
programs; (b) criterion (C)(3)(iii) will be used to assess the extent 
to which States make their data systems available and accessible to 
researchers so that they have information to evaluate the effectiveness 
of instructional materials, strategies, and approaches for educating 
different types of students, such as students with disabilities and 
English language learners; and (c) criterion (D)(3) will be used to 
examine States' plans to increase the number and percentage of highly 
effective teachers teaching in hard-to-staff subjects and specialty 
areas, such as special education and language instruction educational 
programs (as defined under Title III of the ESEA). In addition, the 
measures used to document increases in achievement, closing achievement 
gaps, and increasing graduation rates, all require data to be 
disaggregated by subgroups, including the students with disabilities 
and limited English proficient students subgroups (see criteria 
(A)(1)(iii) and (A)(3)(ii)).
    Therefore, we believe that this final notice ensures that students 
with disabilities and English language learners are not overlooked in 
State reform plans and that it is unnecessary to add an invitational 
priority focused on students with disabilities and English language 
learners.
    Changes: None.
Curriculum, Instruction, Assessments, Professional Development
    Comment: One commenter stated that the proposed priorities have 
little to do with improving curriculum, instruction, assessments, or 
professional development and recommended that in the final notice, the 
Department give priority to developing and implementing core school 
improvement activities, particularly school-based collaborative 
activities to improve teaching.
    Discussion: We disagree with the commenter's statement that the 
proposed priorities have little to do with improving curriculum, 
instruction, assessments, or professional development. In order to 
receive a Race to the Top grant, States must demonstrate that they have 
made and will continue to drive significant improvement in student 
outcomes, including making substantial gains in student achievement, 
closing achievement gaps, improving high school graduation rates, and 
ensuring that students are prepared for success in college and careers. 
To accomplish this, a State would have to focus on improving 
curriculum, instruction, assessments, and professional development. 
Furthermore, absolute priority 1 requires all applicants to address 
comprehensively each of the four education reform areas specified in 
the ARRA--enhancing standards and assessments, improving the collection 
and use of data, increasing teacher effectiveness and achieving equity 
in teacher distribution, and turning around struggling schools. In 
addressing each of these reform areas, States will necessarily have to 
focus on improving curriculum, instruction, assessments, and 
professional development.
    Furthermore, criteria (B)(3), (C)(3)(ii), (D)(2)(iv)(a), and (D)(5) 
explicitly focus on professional development. Criterion (B)(3) focuses 
on, among other activities, professional development to support the 
transition to new standards and assessments; as noted elsewhere, 
criterion (C)(3)(ii) has been added to focus on professional 
development for teachers, principals and administrators on using 
instructional improvement systems to support continuous instructional 
improvement; criterion (D)(2)(iv)(a) refers to using teacher and 
principal evaluations to inform relevant professional development; and 
criterion (D)(5) focuses on the need for States and LEAs to provide 
effective data-informed professional development, coaching, induction, 
and common planning and collaboration time to teachers and principals 
that are, where appropriate, ongoing and job-embedded.
    Changes: None.
Research-Based Practice
    Comment: One commenter recommended adding an invitational priority 
to encourage States to adopt programs that have been demonstrated to be 
effective through rigorous research. The commenter stated that priority 
should be given to States that identify resources to help their LEAs 
select programs that are supported by the best available empirical 
evidence.
    Discussion: Criterion (A)(2)(i)(b) will be used to judge the extent 
to which a State has the capacity to support its participating LEAs in 
successfully implementing the education reform plans the State has 
proposed through such activities as identifying promising practices, 
evaluating these practices' effectiveness, and ceasing ineffective 
practices. In addition, criteria (C)(2) and (C)(3) focus on gathering 
and using data to support continuous improvement, including a specific 
focus on making the data available and accessible to researchers to 
evaluate the effectiveness of instructional materials, strategies, and 
approaches. We believe these criteria address the commenter's concerns 
and, therefore, that it is unnecessary to add the invitational priority 
suggested by the commenter.
    Changes: None.
Using Data To Inform Practice
    Comment: One commenter urged the Department to add a competitive 
preference priority for establishing an ``evidence-based learning 
cycle'' to improve system-wide policy and student achievement results. 
The commenter recommended that the

[[Page 59709]]

competitive preference priority encourage States to: (1) Design robust 
formative and summative evaluations on their Race to the Top programs; 
(2) gather data on the highest-priority teacher and principal actions, 
and school-level and classroom-level practices that differentiate fast-
improving schools and classrooms from other schools and classrooms; and 
(3) document these practices so that other teachers, school leaders, 
and State and local policymakers can access and use these tools and 
evidence to drive a continuous cycle of improvement in other schools, 
classrooms, and systems.
    Another commenter recommended adding the development of 
longitudinal data systems as a competitive preference priority in order 
to accelerate development and implementation of next-generation, user-
oriented data systems that provide timely, useful data for teachers and 
principals to use in managing performance and improving student 
achievement; prioritize academic data with an emphasis on leading 
predictive indicators; include routine data inquiry processes and 
training to support educators in the effective interpretation and use 
of data that result in improved student achievement; and enhance State 
and local capacity to use data and improve the systematic integration 
and use of data over time.
    Discussion: The evidence-based learning cycle and the user-oriented 
data systems proposed by the commenters are similar in concept to 
criteria (C)(2) and (C)(3). Criteria (C)(2) and (C)(3) focus on the use 
of data from the State's statewide longitudinal data system and the 
local instructional improvement systems to support continuous 
improvement both within and outside of the classroom. In addition, 
priority 4 focuses on expanding statewide longitudinal data systems to 
include or integrate data from a variety of sources, including, for 
example, human resources, school finance, and other relevant areas with 
the purpose of connecting and coordinating all parts of the system to 
inform continuous improvement practices. Therefore, we do not believe 
it is necessary to make the changes recommended by the commenters.
    Changes: None.
Flexibility in Operating Conditions
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department include an 
invitational priority for applicants that commit to implementing the 
reforms and providing flexible operating conditions for their schools.
    Discussion: We agree that flexibility in operating conditions is an 
important strategy to facilitate reform efforts. That is why we 
included priority 6, School-Level Conditions for Reform, Innovation, 
and Learning, which focuses on flexibilities and autonomies that an LEA 
provides to its schools in order to create the conditions for reform, 
innovation, and learning.
    Changes: None.
    Priority 1: Absolute Priority--Comprehensive Approach to Education 
Reform:
General Comments
    Comment: Numerous commenters expressed support for absolute 
priority 1 and its focus on ensuring that States comprehensively 
address each of the four education reform areas and take a systemic 
approach to education reform. The commenters stated that this approach 
will encourage school systems around the country to implement much-
needed changes that will improve student outcomes. One commenter stated 
that this approach sets a much higher bar for State applications than 
is typically required of competitive grant programs and was supportive 
of this approach. Another commenter encouraged the Department to award 
Race to the Top grants only to those States that pursue significant 
comprehensive and systemic reforms. However, one commenter expressed 
concern that this approach would encourage States to lower standards 
rather than provide incentives for States to improve their educational 
standards and put in place the reforms necessary to improve educational 
outcomes.
    Discussion: We appreciate the support for absolute priority 1 and 
its focus on a comprehensive and systematic approach to addressing the 
four education reform areas specified in the ARRA. We do not agree with 
the commenter that a comprehensive and systematic approach to the four 
reform areas will encourage States to lower standards. The focus on 
improving student achievement, decreasing achievement gaps, and 
increasing high school graduation rates, and the use of sound measures, 
such as the results from the NAEP, will help ensure that States do not 
lower their standards. In addition, unlike in other competitive 
programs, we are rewarding States that have already created the 
conditions for reform and improved student outcomes and have a strong 
foundation for implementing plans going forward. States that have 
lowered their standards will not clear the high bar that we have set 
for awards under the Race to the Top program.
    As noted elsewhere, we are adding to this final notice a new 
section (A), State Success Factors. We are revising a number of the 
selection criteria from proposed section (E) (Overall Selection 
Criteria) and including them as State Success Factors Criteria (A). The 
purpose of this change is to provide States with the opportunity to 
begin their proposals with clear statements of their integrated, 
coordinated, statewide reform agendas. In order to be consistent with 
this change, we are changing the language in priority 1 to provide 
that, in addition to addressing the four education reform areas, State 
applications also must address the State Success Factors Criteria. 
Consistent with this focus on the State Success Factors Criteria, we 
are adding clarifying language and removing the reference to the four 
reform areas in the title of absolute priority 1.
    With regard to the use of NAEP scores to measure increasing student 
achievement, we are removing this reference in priority 1 because, as 
noted elsewhere, the new section on State Success Factors describes how 
increases in student achievement and closing achievement gaps across 
subgroups will be measured. State Success Factors Criteria (A)(1)(iii) 
and (A)(3)(ii) specify that when evaluating increases in student 
achievement and gap-closing, reviewers will examine results in reading/
language arts and mathematics based on the NAEP and on the assessments 
required under the ESEA.
    Changes: Absolute priority 1 has been revised to read: ``To meet 
this priority, the State's application must comprehensively and 
coherently address all of the four education reform areas specified in 
the ARRA as well as the State Success Factors Criteria in order to 
demonstrate that the State and its participating LEAs are taking a 
systemic approach to education reform. The State must demonstrate in 
its application sufficient LEA participation and commitment to 
successfully implement and achieve the goals in its plans; and it must 
describe how the State, in collaboration with its participating LEAs, 
will use Race to the Top and other funds to increase student 
achievement, decrease the achievement gaps across student subgroups, 
and increase the rates at which students graduate from high school 
prepared for college and careers.''
    Competitive Preference Priority 2: Emphasis on Science, Technology, 
Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM):
    Comment: Numerous commenters expressed support for including an 
emphasis on STEM education as a competitive preference priority. The

[[Page 59710]]

commenters noted that major developments in medicine, energy, and 
agriculture are dependent on innovations in STEM fields and stated that 
engaging students in STEM education programs is the most effective way 
to improve the Nation's economy and maintain America's global 
leadership. One commenter recommended changing the priority to an 
absolute priority and another commenter recommended adding selection 
criteria related to STEM education.
    However, many commenters stated that designating STEM as a 
competitive preference priority implies that STEM subjects are more 
important than other subjects and recommended omitting or changing the 
STEM priority to an invitational priority. One commenter asked why the 
Department chose to emphasize STEM subjects over other subjects.
    Numerous commenters expressed concern that including a competitive 
preference priority on STEM education would lead to a narrowing of the 
curriculum. One commenter expressed concern that a competitive 
preference priority emphasizing STEM education might encourage STEM-
only programs, as opposed to STEM-focused programs in which the content 
is integrated into various curricular areas. The commenter expressed 
concern that the priority would prohibit States from applying data-
driven reform and school achievement interventions that do not focus on 
STEM. Another commenter recommended changing the priority to give 
States the option of using data to develop plans that meet the needs of 
their low-performing schools.
    Discussion: We appreciate the support expressed for including a 
competitive preference priority on STEM education. Ensuring American 
competitiveness in a global economy requires significant improvements 
in STEM education. As the commenters noted, professionals in STEM 
fields are major contributors to the American economy in such areas as 
medicine, agriculture, and energy. Science-based industries are in need 
of skilled workers, and we believe a competitive preference priority on 
STEM will help schools produce a generation of Americans who can meet 
this demand. Therefore, we decline to eliminate priority 2 or to re-
designate priority 2 as an invitational priority. We did not intend for 
an emphasis on STEM education to result in a narrowing of the 
curriculum. Rather, our intent was to focus attention on the need to 
develop and implement rigorous courses of study in STEM fields, assist 
teachers in providing effective and relevant instruction in those 
fields, and prepare more students for advanced study and careers in 
STEM. While we believe increasing the focus on STEM education is 
important, we do not believe that an emphasis on STEM education should 
be required as part of the core work that States are required to 
address in their reform plans for the Race to the Top program. 
Therefore, we decline to change the emphasis on STEM education to an 
absolute priority or include selection criteria emphasizing STEM 
education. With regard to commenters' concerns that emphasizing STEM 
education might encourage STEM-only programs, as opposed to STEM-
focused programs, we note that this notice specifically refers to 
preparing and assisting teachers in integrating STEM content across 
grades and disciplines. The priority will not prohibit States from 
using data from areas other than STEM education to drive reform, nor 
should it discourage them from doing so.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters recommended that the final notice clarify 
the meaning of ``a rigorous course of study,'' as used in priority 2, 
by providing examples of what the Department considers to be rigorous 
courses of study. The commenters suggested Advanced Placement courses 
and STEM-intensive courses, such as those offered in many career and 
technical education programs, as examples of rigorous courses of study. 
One commenter recommended including a reference to career preparatory 
coursework. Two commenters recommended the final notice include an 
incentive for States that assess the alignment of rigorous courses of 
study in STEM subjects with other courses of study in a school's 
curriculum.
    Discussion: The Department believes that States should have the 
flexibility to determine the content and focus of a rigorous course of 
study in STEM subjects and, therefore, declines to add examples of 
rigorous courses of study in priority 2. In determining the rigor of a 
course in STEM subjects, local decision-makers will likely assess how 
STEM subjects are integrated and aligned with other courses offered in 
a State or LEAs' current programs of study. Therefore, we do not 
believe that it is necessary to provide incentives for doing so.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters recommended that the final priority 
reference additional STEM-capable community partners such as youth-
serving community organizations, ``valued-added intermediaries,'' and 
public broadcasting entities. One commenter strongly recommended that 
the Department provide guidelines for selecting STEM-capable partners. 
Another commenter noted that non-school settings, such as museums and 
science centers, offer designed spaces and programs to engage students 
and encourage them to pursue and develop interests in scientific 
inquiry that may positively influence academic achievement and expand 
students' sense of career options.
    Discussion: To meet priority 2, applicants must cooperate with 
industry experts, museums, universities, research centers, or other 
STEM-capable community partners in preparing and assisting teachers to 
integrate STEM content across grades and disciplines, to promote 
effective and relevant instruction, and to offer applied learning 
opportunities for students. We do not believe it is appropriate to be 
more specific about the STEM-capable partnerships that States should 
form given that the resources and needs vary considerably across 
schools and communities; such decisions are best left to local decision 
makers. Therefore, we decline to include additional examples of STEM-
capable partnerships or to provide guidelines for selecting STEM-
capable partners, as requested by commenters.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department revise 
priority 2 to explicitly include computer science as part of STEM 
education. The commenter stated that computer science is often confused 
with technology literacy and this confusion leads to teaching basic 
skills instead of core concepts and problem solving. The commenter 
noted that computer science provides students with a fundamental 
understanding of computing, exposure to professional fields, and 
opportunities to develop computational thinking skills.
    Discussion: STEM education includes a wide-range of disciplines, 
including computer science. We believe that States should have the 
flexibility to define the specific courses of study in mathematics, the 
sciences, technology, and engineering, based on the needs and available 
resources of the State, as well as the advice of industry experts, 
museums, universities, research centers, and other STEM-capable 
community partners. Therefore, we decline to change priority 2 to 
specify that computer science is a part of STEM education, as requested 
by the commenter.
    Changes: None.

[[Page 59711]]

    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department require 
States to implement the recommendations of the National Mathematics 
Advisory Panel regarding K-8 mathematics teacher preparation programs 
and licensing requirements. The commenter stated that teacher 
preparation programs and licensing requirements for K-8 mathematics 
teachers should address arithmetic, geometry, measurement, and algebra. 
Another commenter recommended requiring States to provide funds for 
improving State licensing requirements in order to ensure that K-8 
teachers master core mathematics content. One commenter recommended 
that the Department require in-service training for K-8 mathematics 
teachers. Another commenter recommended that the Department revise 
priority 2 in order to ensure that teachers in high-risk, low-
performing schools are provided with professional development 
opportunities, mentoring, and the necessary guidance to ensure that 
rigorous courses of study in STEM subjects are taught in these schools.
    Discussion: We do not believe that it would be appropriate for the 
Department to require States to implement the recommendations of the 
National Mathematics Advisory Panel regarding mathematics teacher 
preparation programs and licensing requirements; decisions regarding 
teacher preparation programs and licensing requirements are best left 
to State and local officials to make depending on the unique needs and 
circumstances in each State. With regard to the recommendation to 
require in-service training and professional development, mentoring, 
and guidance in STEM subjects to teachers in high-risk, low-achieving 
schools, we note that this final notice includes several criteria that 
address the professional development needs of teachers, including 
criteria (B)(3), (C)(3)(ii), (D)(2)(iv)(a), and especially (D)(5), 
which focuses on the extent to which States provide effective support 
to teachers and principals. We believe that these criteria adequately 
address the commenter's concerns regarding professional development; 
States addressing the STEM competitive preference priority will have 
ample opportunities to address professional development needs in their 
responses to these criteria. We therefore decline to change priority 2 
in the manner recommended by the commenter.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters recommended that the Department encourage 
States to recruit, train, and provide alternative pathways for STEM 
professionals to join the teaching force as full-time teachers, co-
teachers, or professional development providers. The commenters noted 
that STEM professionals in the classroom would help students understand 
the career opportunities available for individuals with knowledge in 
STEM subjects. One commenter recommended providing additional credit to 
States that use ``informal science education centers'' as resources for 
professional development.
    Discussion: We agree with commenters that efforts should be made to 
recruit and train STEM professionals to join the teaching force as 
teachers and that having such professionals in the classroom would help 
students understand the career opportunities available in STEM fields. 
Criterion (D)(1), which assesses the extent to which a State has high-
quality pathways for aspiring teachers and principals, addresses this 
concern. To the extent that the informal science education centers, 
referred to by one commenter, provide professional development as an 
alternative route to certification, States that permit use of such 
centers would be given credit under criterion (D)(1)(i). Therefore, we 
decline to give additional credit to States that use such centers as 
recommended by one commenter.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department invite 
States to strengthen their early childhood education programs by 
including STEM education in their State reform plans for early learning 
programs.
    Discussion: As noted elsewhere, we are adding an invitational 
priority for early learning programs (see priority 3), which includes a 
focus on improving young children's school readiness, and a competitive 
preference priority for STEM education (see priority 2). States that 
choose to address either of these priorities could include a 
description of efforts to ensure that early learning program standards 
and curricula include developmentally appropriate science, pre-
numeracy, and numeracy content in order to help prepare young children 
to succeed in STEM-related areas when they enter school.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department encourage 
States to provide high-level STEM curricula to advanced students in 
earlier grades than is typically the norm. The commenter noted that 
local policies and practices typically inhibit acceleration options and 
leave advanced students unchallenged.
    Discussion: With regard to the commenter's recommendation that the 
Department encourage States to provide high-level STEM curricula to 
advanced students in earlier grades than is typical, States will have 
opportunities to include such concepts in their applications, if they 
so desire, through priority 6, which focuses on LEAs creating the 
conditions for reform and innovation by providing their schools with 
flexibilities and autonomies; through criterion (B)(3), which addresses 
instructional issues relating to enhanced standards; and by addressing 
competitive preference priority 2, which focuses on STEM education.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter urged the Secretary to encourage States to 
open statewide, public, residential high schools that focus on math and 
science.
    Discussion: To the extent that a public residential high school 
would be considered an innovative school, we note that criterion 
(F)(2)(v) encourages States to enable LEAs to operate such innovative, 
autonomous public schools. Therefore, we do not believe that additional 
language in priority 2 is needed to address the commenter's 
recommendation.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter stated that the availability of up-to-date 
laboratory equipment plays an important role in STEM learning and 
requested that the Department clarify whether Race to the Top funds 
could be used to purchase laboratory equipment and technological tools 
to implement STEM programs. The commenter stated that the quality and 
quantity of equipment is inadequate in most schools, particularly in 
schools with high concentrations of at-risk students.
    Discussion: The Race to the Top program provides States and LEAs 
with significant freedom to use Race to the Top funds to meet the goals 
outlined in their State reform plans. Laboratory equipment would be an 
allowable use of funds under the Race to the Top program.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter urged the Department to encourage States to 
develop a common set of core STEM standards and assessments. In 
addition, the commenter recommended that the Department encourage and 
reward States that enhance their high school graduation requirements to 
include four years of STEM courses.
    Discussion: The Department is encouraging States to develop a 
common set of high-quality K-12 standards that are internationally 
benchmarked and that build toward

[[Page 59712]]

college- and career-readiness by the time of high school graduation. In 
addition, the Department is encouraging States to develop and implement 
common, high-quality assessments that are aligned with those standards. 
Thus, criterion (B)(1) assesses the extent to which a State has 
demonstrated its commitment to adopting a common set of high-quality 
standards, and criterion (B)(2) assesses the extent to which the State 
has demonstrated its commitment to improving the quality of its 
assessments. It is a State's responsibility to determine the content of 
those standards and assessments, including whether to develop a common 
set of core STEM standards and assessments. Likewise, States are 
responsible for establishing high school graduation requirements. Thus, 
whether or not four years of STEM courses are included as a requirement 
for graduation from high school is a decision that is made by States, 
not the Federal Government.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters recommended that the Department require 
STEM instruction to be consistent with the principles of universal 
design for learning. The commenters noted that universal design for 
learning is defined in section 103(24) of the Higher Education 
Opportunity Act of 2008 (Pub. L. 110-315), as a structure that provides 
flexibility in instruction that accommodates, supports, and maintains 
high achievement expectations for all students, including students with 
disabilities and English language learners.
    Discussion: Paragraph (ii) in priority 2 focuses on promoting STEM 
education that is effective, relevant, and includes applied learning 
opportunities for students. To the extent that such instruction can be 
provided consistent with the principles of universal design, we 
encourage States to do so. However, we do not believe it would be 
appropriate to require all instruction to be consistent with the 
principles of universal design for learning as recommended by the 
commenters.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters recommended that the Department promote 
racial, economic, and gender integration in STEM programs. These 
commenters stated that programs funded by the Department have an 
obligation to be inclusive and remove discriminatory barriers. One 
commenter noted that STEM programs should be included in schools that 
serve low-income students to ensure that such students have access to 
STEM programs. Another commenter recommended that the Department 
reiterate that recipients of Race to the Top funds should remove 
obstacles that might discourage female students from enrolling and 
completing STEM programs.
    Discussion: We agree with these commenters that all students should 
have access to rigorous courses of study in STEM programs. Paragraph 
(iii) in priority 2 specifically refers to State plans addressing the 
needs of underrepresented groups and of women and girls in the areas of 
science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Therefore, we do not 
believe that additional language needs to be added to priority 2 to 
address the commenters' concerns.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters recommended that the final notice reference 
advanced laboratory work, service learning, project-based learning, and 
work-based learning as examples of ``applied learning opportunities.'' 
The commenters stated that providing such examples would help clarify 
the meaning of applied learning opportunities as it is used in priority 
2. One commenter recommended that the Department clarify that applied 
learning opportunities could occur during regular school hours, or 
before or after the regular school day.
    Discussion: A State seeking to meet priority 2 is required to 
cooperate with industry experts, museums, universities, research 
centers, and other STEM-capable community partners to ensure that 
instruction is relevant and that students are provided with 
opportunities to apply what they have learned in the classroom. Such 
cooperative work with experts in STEM fields should provide a State 
with ample examples of applied learning opportunities. In addition, as 
noted elsewhere, we are adding a definition of increased learning time; 
this definition specifically references service learning and 
experiential and work-based learning and encourages such learning to 
occur during or outside of regular school hours. As such, we do not 
believe it is necessary to include examples of applied learning 
opportunities in priority 2, which could limit, rather than promote 
ideas and strategies to improve or enhance STEM education programs.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that priority 2 be changed to 
require State reform plans to describe how technology will be 
incorporated as a required component in STEM education programs. The 
commenter also recommended requiring State reform plans to include 
online access to high-quality STEM courses and instructors, remediation 
for low-performing students through interactive instructional software, 
virtual field trips, and online connections to STEM professionals.
    Another commenter noted that programs supported by universities use 
technology and multimedia to improve teaching and learning of STEM 
subjects and recommended that universities and the business sector work 
in partnership with schools to prepare students for postsecondary 
education and workplace success.
    Discussion: We agree that the approaches that commenters discussed 
can be useful in implementing STEM programs. However, we believe such 
decisions are best left to local officials who understand the needs and 
available resources in their schools and communities. We decline, 
therefore, to make the changes that the commenters recommend.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter asked how the Department will determine 
whether a State's application meets the competitive preference 
priority. The commenter asked specifically whether a ``pilot'' project 
focused on STEM education, rather than a comprehensive STEM program, 
would meet priority 2. Another commenter recommended that the 
Department require a State's proposed STEM programs to be evidence-
based.
    Discussion: Priority 2 describes the three elements that a State's 
reform plan must address to meet priority 2. These elements include the 
need to (i) offer a rigorous course of study in STEM subjects; (ii) 
cooperate with industry experts, museums, universities, research 
centers, or other STEM-capable community partners to prepare and assist 
teachers in integrating STEM content across grades and disciplines, in 
promoting effective and relevant instruction, and in offering applied 
learning opportunities; and (iii) prepare more students for advanced 
study and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, 
including by addressing the needs of underrepresented groups and of 
women and girls in STEM areas. We are clarifying that, to meet the 
priority, the State's application must have a high-quality plan to 
address each of these elements. We do not believe it is necessary to 
require that a State's proposed STEM program be evidence-based in order 
to meet this priority; reviewers will judge the quality of the program 
that a State proposes, which will necessarily include the extent to

[[Page 59713]]

which the State's proposed STEM education program is evidence-based.
    Changes: We have revised the priority to specify that, to meet this 
priority, the State's application must have a high-quality plan to 
address the areas specified in the priority.
    Comment: One commenter stated that a significant investment is 
necessary to successfully improve student performance in STEM subjects 
and recommended that the Department revise priority 2 to provide a 
preference to States with the infrastructure to demonstrate results.
    Discussion: We do not believe that preference should be given to 
States that already have the infrastructure in place to evaluate and 
demonstrate results. As part of its application, each State must 
provide a detailed budget and accompanying budget narrative describing 
how the State plans to use Race to the Top funds to accomplish the 
State's reform plan and meet its targets. The detailed plan for using 
grant funds must include, among other things, the key goals, the key 
activities to be undertaken, the rationale for the activities, and the 
timeline for implementing the activities (see application 
requirements). A State that includes a focus on STEM education must, 
therefore, include in its proposed budget how it plans to use grant 
funds or other Federal, State, and local funds to meet its goals 
related to improving STEM education.
    Changes: None.
    Priority 4--Invitational Priority--Expansion and Adaptation of 
Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (Proposed Priority 3):
    Comment: A number of comments were received on priority 4 that were 
similar to the comments received on criterion (C)(1), regarding 
implementing a statewide longitudinal data system; criterion (C)(2), 
regarding accessing and using State data; and criterion (C)(3), 
regarding using data to improve instruction.
    Discussion: In some cases we have responded to comments received in 
response to priority 4 under section (C), Data Systems to Support 
Instruction. This enabled us to group similar comments and concerns in 
order to be more responsive to the commenters.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended changing the title of this 
priority to ``Expansion, Adaptation, and Appropriate Utilization of 
State Longitudinal Data Systems.''
    Discussion: We do not believe the lengthier title recommended by 
the commenter is necessary, and therefore, decline to change the title 
of priority 4.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that priority 4 be eliminated. 
The commenter stated that Race to the Top funds should be used to 
improve teaching and not for expanding data systems.
    Discussion: Establishing a statewide longitudinal data system that 
provides data on student achievement or student growth to teachers and 
principals, as well as policymakers, researchers, and other 
stakeholders, is key to driving education reform in general, and 
improvements in the classroom, in particular. Therefore, we decline to 
eliminate priority 4.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters recommended that priority 4 be changed 
from an invitational priority to a competitive preference priority 
because of the importance of linking data from various program areas 
with statewide longitudinal data systems. Several commenters stated 
that expanding and linking data systems are essential to achieving 
comprehensive reform in the four ARRA education reform areas, and 
therefore, recommended changing the priority to an absolute priority.
    Discussion: We believe that priority 4 is appropriately designated 
as an invitational priority because it extends the work that States are 
already doing to address the criteria related to fully implementing 
statewide longitudinal data systems. A State will already be judged on 
the extent to which it has a statewide longitudinal data system that 
includes all of the America COMPETES Act elements (see criterion 
(C)(1)) and the extent to which it has a high-quality plan to ensure 
that data from the State's statewide longitudinal data system are used 
to support decision-makers in the continuous improvement of policy, 
instruction, operations, management, resource allocation, and overall 
effectiveness (see criterion (C)(2)). While we believe that the focus 
of priority 4 is important, it is not part of the core work that States 
must do to address the four education reform areas. Therefore, we 
decline to re-designate priority 4 as an absolute priority or as a 
competitive preference priority.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter requested clarification about the data that 
are required to meet this priority and the questions these data should 
be able to answer.
    Discussion: Criterion (C)(1) will examine the extent to which a 
State has a statewide longitudinal data system that includes all of the 
America COMPETES Act. The purpose of priority 4 is to reward States 
that go beyond the 12 elements of the America COMPETES Act to connect 
their statewide longitudinal data systems to other data or data systems 
that may exist independently from a State's statewide longitudinal data 
system. The information that will be responsive to this priority will 
depend on each State's current statewide longitudinal data system, the 
extent to which it is already connected to other data or data systems, 
and the types of questions related to policy, practice, or overall 
effectiveness that a State needs to answer in order to implement its 
reform agenda. We believe that this purpose could have been stated more 
clearly in the priority and, therefore, are adding clarifying language.
    Changes: We have changed the end of the last sentence in the first 
paragraph of the priority as follows: ``* * * with the purpose of 
connecting and coordinating all parts of the system to allow important 
questions related to policy, practice, or overall effectiveness to be 
asked, answered, and incorporated into effective continuous improvement 
practices.''
    Comment: One commenter noted that statewide longitudinal data 
systems could be expanded in a number of ways such as including 
additional data from within the agency, from other State agencies, from 
other States, or from management systems that track and allocate 
resources. The commenter recommended that the priority include this 
clarification. Another commenter recommended that the priority 
encourage States to link their longitudinal data systems with data from 
other State agencies.
    Discussion: While the commenter noted several ways in which 
statewide longitudinal data systems could be expanded, we do not 
believe that it is necessary to include this information in the 
priority, nor to encourage States to link their longitudinal data 
systems with data from other agencies. How States expand their data 
systems will depend on the current needs, resources, and capabilities 
of each State's statewide longitudinal data system. We remind States 
that they must consider how to protect student privacy as data are 
shared across agencies. Successful applicants that receive Race to the 
Top grant awards will need to comply with the Family Educational Rights 
and Privacy Act (FERPA), including 34 CFR Part 99, as well as State and 
local requirements regarding privacy.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Many commenters recommended that statewide longitudinal 
data systems include student-level data on transfers, chronic

[[Page 59714]]

absenteeism, and in- and out-of-school suspensions, as well as school 
dropout rates, dropout and re-enrollment data, and data on students 
completing P-16 programs. One commenter recommended that data on 
``student mobility'' be included in all data gathering and reporting. 
Other commenters strongly recommended that State longitudinal data 
systems include measures of school safety, culture, and climate.
    Discussion: Applicants for Race to the Top grants will already be 
judged on the extent to which the State has a statewide longitudinal 
data system that includes all of the America COMPETES Act elements (see 
criterion (C)(1)). Those elements include, among other, student level 
enrollment, demographic, and program participation information; and 
student-level information about the points at which students exit, 
transfer in, transfer out, dropout, or complete P-16 education 
programs. It would not, therefore, be appropriate to include these 
elements in priority 4, which is focused on expanding statewide 
longitudinal data systems. However, we believe that it is appropriate 
to reference in priority 4 linking data from at-risk and dropout 
prevention programs, school climate and culture programs, and 
information on student mobility. Such data will complement and expand 
the data that States will be collecting through the America COMPETES 
Act elements. Therefore, we are adding language to the priority to 
refer to at-risk and dropout prevention programs, school climate and 
culture programs, and information on student mobility. For clarity, we 
also are adding a parenthetical following ``human resources.''
    Changes: We have added the phrase ``at-risk and dropout prevention 
programs, and school climate and culture programs, as well as 
information on student mobility'' following ``early childhood 
programs'' in priority 4. We also have added ``(i.e., information on 
teachers, principals, and other staff)'' following ``human resources.''
    Comment: None.
    Discussion: Throughout this notice, we have used the term ``English 
language learner,'' rather than ``limited English proficient,'' 
whenever possible. During our internal review, we noted that we 
inadvertently used ``limited English proficient'' in priority 4. 
Therefore, we are changing ``limited English proficient,'' to ``English 
language learner'' in priority 4.
    Changes: We have replaced ``limited English proficiency'' with 
``English language learner'' in priority 4.
    Comment: Two commenters recommended that statewide longitudinal 
data systems include data on all postsecondary students, including 
adults who are enrolled part[hyphen]time, taking non[hyphen]credit 
courses, or participating in remedial programs. These commenters also 
recommended that statewide longitudinal data systems include data on 
participants in other educational and workforce training programs such 
as adult basic education programs. Several commenters recommended 
referencing data on career placements and State employment wage records 
as areas in which States should expand their systems.
    Discussion: As priority 4 already references postsecondary data, we 
do not believe it is necessary to add specific detail about the types 
of postsecondary data that States should collect. Nor do we believe 
that it is necessary to reference data on career placements and State 
employment wage records. States that believe such data are important to 
their overall reform strategy can certainly propose to expand their 
statewide longitudinal data base by adding these elements.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters referred to the statement in the proposed 
priority stating that the Secretary was interested in applications in 
which States propose working together to adapt statewide longitudinal 
data systems, rather than having each State build such systems 
independently. The commenters requested guidance on how States should 
work together and asked for clarity about whether one State should be 
designated as the lead and what would happen if only one of the States 
in the partnership is successful in receiving a Race to the Top award.
    Discussion: States that propose to work together to adapt their 
statewide longitudinal data systems should include these proposed 
efforts in their reform plan and show how these efforts are coordinated 
with the State's larger reform efforts. When developing their plans, 
States should propose alternative options should one of the States not 
be awarded Race to the Top funds and be unable to devote other funds to 
achieve the outlined goals.
    Changes: None.
    Priority 5--Invitational Priority--P-20 Coordination, Vertical and 
Horizontal Alignment (Proposed Priority 4):
    Comment: Several commenters recommended that priority 5, regarding 
P-20 coordination, include an emphasis on aligning a State's 
educational system with other State agencies and community 
organizations. The commenters stated that such ``horizontal'' alignment 
is just as important as ``vertical alignment,'' particularly for high-
need students. One commenter recommended that the Department require 
State reform plans to provide information about how all parts of the 
State's education system will work to improve student achievement and 
the overall quality of schools, and how the State's education system 
will work with other supporting agencies and institutions to address 
the needs of all students. The commenter also recommended that State 
reform plans address how the improvement process will be managed 
effectively both within the educational system and across supporting 
agencies and institutions.
    Numerous commenters stated that community-based organizations play 
a key role in assisting youth at the secondary level, particularly in 
helping them transition to postsecondary education, and therefore, 
should be included as partners in creating a seamless P-20 route for 
students. A few commenters stated that the educational system should 
work with child welfare, juvenile justice, and criminal justice 
agencies to help re-engage high school dropouts.
    Discussion: We agree that priority 5 would be strengthened by 
including a focus on coordinating educational systems with other State 
agencies and community organizations that provide services to students 
that are beyond the capacity of schools to provide. This would include, 
for example, community-based organizations that serve youth, as well as 
child welfare, juvenile justice, and criminal justice agencies, as 
mentioned by commenters. Therefore, we are revising the priority, as 
well as the title of the priority, to reflect a focus on the 
``horizontal alignment'' of the educational system with other agencies 
and community organizations. Applicants that choose to address priority 
5 should include in their State reform plans how all parts of the 
education system will coordinate their work to create a more seamless 
P-20 route for students--both vertically, to ensure that students 
exiting one level of the education system are prepared for success in 
the next, as well as horizontally, to ensure that services across 
schools, State agencies, and community partners are coordinated and 
aligned.
    With regard to the comment that State reform plans address how the 
improvement process will be managed effectively, we note that criterion 
(A)(2) focuses on the extent to which States have built strong 
statewide capacity to

[[Page 59715]]

implement, scale up, and sustain their proposed reform plans.
    Changes: We have changed the title of priority 5 to: P-20 
Coordination, Vertical and Horizontal Alignment. In addition we have 
added ``and other State agencies and community partners (e.g., child 
welfare, juvenile justice, and criminal justice agencies)'' following 
``organizations'' in the first sentence of the priority. Finally, we 
have added the following sentence at the end of the priority: 
``Horizontal alignment, that is, coordination of services across 
schools, State agencies, and community partners, is also important to 
ensure that high-need students (as defined in this notice) have access 
to the broad array of opportunities and services they need and that are 
beyond the capacity of the school itself to provide.''
    Comment: Many commenters recommended changing priority 5 from an 
invitational priority to a competitive preference priority, stating 
that P-20 alignment efforts are key to improving student transitions, 
and ultimately, student success. A few commenters recommended changing 
priority 5 from an invitational priority to an absolute priority. One 
commenter stated that coordination across and within systems can 
improve instruction, service delivery, and communication, and thus 
create an environment that encourages innovation.
    Discussion: We believe that priority 5 is appropriately designated 
as an invitational priority because it extends beyond the core K-12 
focus of the Race to the Top program. States will already be judged on 
the extent to which they set forth a comprehensive and coherent reform 
agenda for improving student outcomes statewide (see criterion (A)(1)) 
and the extent to which they enlist strong statewide support and 
commitment for their plans from a broad group of stakeholders, which 
may include other State agencies, nonprofit organizations, and 
community-based organizations (see criterion (A)(2)(ii)). While we 
believe that the focus of priority 5 is important, it is not part of 
the core work that States must do to address the four education reform 
areas. Therefore, we decline to re-designate priority 5 as an absolute 
priority or a competitive preference priority.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters recommended that priority 5 encourage 
collaboration between K-12 schools, higher education, and workforce 
development organizations in order to create pathways to college and 
work. One commenter stated that partnerships with workforce development 
organizations would add relevance to classroom instruction and help 
develop school-work partnerships.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenters and are changing 
``workforce organizations'' to ``workforce development organizations'' 
to be clear that such organizations are important to creating a more 
seamless P-20 route for students. We also are including careers as an 
example of a critical transition point.
    Changes: We have changed ``workforce organizations'' to ``workforce 
development organizations.'' In the parenthetical following ``each 
point where a transition occurs,'' we have changed ``postsecondary'' to 
``postsecondary/careers.''
    Comment: Two commenters recommended including family engagement in 
each State's P-20 plan.
    Discussion: As part of its overall reform plan, States will be 
judged on the extent to which they have enlisted strong statewide 
support and commitment from a broad array of stakeholders, which 
includes community organizations, such as parent-teacher associations. 
Therefore, we do not believe it is necessary to add family engagement 
in this priority, as recommended by the commenters. We also note that 
priority 6 specifically focuses on flexibilities and autonomies for 
school-level reform, including those related to implementing strategies 
to effectively engage families and communities in supporting the 
academic success of their students (see paragraph (vii) in priority 6).
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the reference to vertical 
alignment in this priority include multiple education pathways to 
graduating from high school, such as alternative education programs, 
general educational development (GED) programs, and community college 
programs. Another commenter recommended that priority 5 focus on 
alignment between the traditional education system and alternative 
education programs for high school dropouts. Two commenters urged the 
Department to include adult education programs in this priority, 
stating that adult education programs play a key role in the P-20 route 
for some students, particularly English language learners.
    Discussion: Priority 5 refers to K-12 schools, postsecondary 
institutions, workforce development organizations, and other State 
agencies and community partners, which would encompass the programs 
referenced by the commenters. We do not believe that the notice needs 
to include additional references to these programs or to other specific 
types of schools or programs. Therefore, we decline to make the changes 
requested by the commenters.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Many commenters highlighted the importance of improving 
the transition from early childhood to K-12 programs. One commenter 
asked that States be allowed to focus on coordination between early 
childhood and elementary school exclusively and without penalty for 
excluding middle school, high school, and post-secondary education in 
their plans. One commenter recommended that the Department more 
explicitly identify the ways in which early childhood and higher 
education sectors should participate in States' reform strategies and 
provide guidance on how cross-system alignment will be evaluated in the 
peer review process. Two commenters recommended that SEAs work with 
State early childhood advisory councils to improve the transition from 
early childhood programs to K-12 programs.
    Discussion: As discussed elsewhere, we are adding a new 
invitational priority 3 on improving early educational outcomes for 
high-need students who are young children, which includes a focus on 
improving transitions between preschool and kindergarten.
    With regard to the comment asking whether States could focus on the 
transition between early childhood and elementary school exclusively 
without penalty for excluding middle and high school transitions, and 
the comment regarding how alignment will be evaluated in the peer 
review process, we note that States will be judged on the extent to 
which their plans set forth comprehensive and coherent reform agendas 
for improving student outcomes statewide (see criterion (A)(1)), and on 
the extent to which States have enlisted strong statewide support and 
commitment for their plans from a broad group of stakeholders, which 
may include IHEs and agencies providing early childhood education (see 
criterion (A)(2)(ii)). States that choose to address priority 5 should 
discuss how to coordinate all parts of their systems to create more 
seamless P-20 routes for students--both vertically, to ensure that 
students exiting one level of the education system are prepared for 
success in the next, and horizontally, to ensure that services across 
schools, State agencies and community partners are coordinated and 
aligned.
    The ways in which early childhood and higher education programs 
participate in States' reform strategies

[[Page 59716]]

will vary from State to State depending on the needs and resources in 
each State. Therefore, we decline to include in priority 5 specific 
ways in which these sectors should participate in their State's reform 
plans, as requested by one commenter.
    We agree that one way to improve transitions from early childhood 
programs to K-12 programs is for SEAs to work with State early 
childhood advisory councils. We are not including specific examples of 
processes the State may use to improve transitions across the P-20 
system; we believe such decisions are best left to local decision-
makers.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters recommended adding a reference in this 
priority to middle school transitions (i.e., elementary to middle 
school and middle to high school) because these transitions can be 
particularly challenging with the increased expectations for student 
performance and responsibility, often in environments that are far less 
personalized than elementary schools.
    Discussion: We agree that transitions to and from middle school can 
be challenging. Ensuring smooth transitions from elementary to middle 
school and from middle school to high school would be important aspects 
of creating a seamless P-20 route for students. The fact that priority 
5 does not specifically reference the transitions to and from middle 
school does not mean that State reform plans should not include efforts 
to improve these important transitions. We note that the parenthetical 
in priority 5 provides examples of critical transition points before 
and after K-12 and is not meant to exclude transition points within K-
12 that States may address within their core Race to the Top reform 
plans.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters requested that priority 5 include a 
requirement to coordinate early childhood programs that serve children 
from birth to age five. These commenters pointed to research 
documenting the importance of high quality education in the first three 
years of life.
    Discussion: We agree that the Race to the Top program should 
recognize the importance of early learning programs in preparing 
children for success in school. Therefore, as noted elsewhere, we are 
adding priority 3 to focus on improving early educational outcomes for 
high-need students who are young children (pre-kindergarten through 
third grade). Because Race to the Top focuses its efforts primarily on 
States and LEAs, an early childhood educational focus starting in pre-
kindergarten seems most applicable. The Department has other programs 
that will focus exclusively and comprehensively on children younger 
than pre-kindergarten age.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that States include private 
schools in developing their plans to create a more seamless P-20 route 
for students. The commenter noted that many students attend both public 
and private schools at various times in their educational careers.
    Discussion: There is nothing that would preclude a State from 
including in its plan efforts to improve coordination with private 
schools. We note that nothing in the Race to the Top program requires a 
State that receives funds under Race to the Top to include private 
schools in the four reform areas. Because the Race to the Top program 
is directed to improving public K-12 education, we decline to include a 
reference to private schools in priority 5, which addresses a more 
seamless P-20 route for students.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter asked whether the focus of priority 5 is on 
developing a P-20 data system. Another commenter asked how the data 
elements in a P-20 system would differ from a P-16 system's required 
elements.
    Discussion: Priority 5 focuses on improving all parts of the 
education system by coordinating within the educational system (e.g., 
between early childhood programs, K-12 schools, postsecondary 
institutions) and between the educational system and other State 
agencies and community partners (e.g., child welfare, juvenile justice, 
and criminal justice agencies). Priority 5 is not focused on P-20 data 
systems; that is the focus of priority 4, Expansion and Adaptation of 
Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems.
    Under criterion (C)(1), States will be judged on the extent to 
which they have a statewide longitudinal data system that includes the 
America COMPETES Act elements. Beyond these 12 elements, the Department 
has not specified any additional elements that States must include in 
their statewide longitudinal data systems.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that States use longitudinal 
data to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of programs designed to 
facilitate vertical alignment in the education system. Two commenters 
recommended that the Department include an incentive in this priority 
for States and LEAs to learn from LEAs with outstanding records in data 
development and reporting in order to improve the vertical alignment of 
the State's education system.
    Discussion: We agree that longitudinal data could be used to 
evaluate and improve the effectiveness of programs designed to improve 
transitions from one level of the education system to another. We also 
agree that States and LEAs should learn from each other on using data 
to improve the vertical alignment of educational systems. Priorities 3, 
4, and 5 encourage States to undertake such practices. We note that 
States receiving Race to the Top funds, along with their LEAs and 
schools, are expected to identify and share promising practices, make 
work freely available within and across States, make data available in 
appropriate ways to stakeholders and researchers, and help all States 
focus on continuous improvement of student outcomes.
    Changes: None.
    Priority 6--Invitational Priority--School-Level Conditions for 
Reform, Innovation, and Learning (Proposed Priority 5).
    General:
    Comment: Numerous commenters expressed support for priority 6. 
While some commenters stated that it was appropriate for priority 6 to 
be an invitational priority, numerous other commenters recommended 
changing priority 6 to a competitive preference priority stating that 
the conditions listed for reform and innovation are critical to 
supporting school reform efforts. One commenter stated that it is 
important to give priority to school-level conditions for reform 
because reform is most evident when changes are implemented at the 
local level, where student learning can be directly and immediately 
influenced.
    Several commenters urged the Department to make priority 6 a 
competitive preference priority in order to ensure that districts 
create the preconditions for dramatically improving student 
achievement. Other commenters stated that the flexibilities and 
autonomies listed in the priority are essential to school success and 
that it is highly unlikely that any State will turn around low-
performing schools without these ingredients. Another commenter stated 
that LEA actions are fundamental to enabling schools to turn around and 
that if this priority was a competitive preference priority, it would 
motivate LEAs to undertake challenging reforms. Lastly, one commenter 
recommended that the priority be changed to an absolute priority.
    Discussion: States may choose to address priority 6, which examines 
the

[[Page 59717]]

extent to which a State's participating LEAs are broadly creating the 
conditions for reform and innovation by providing schools with 
flexibilities and autonomies. All States, however, will be rewarded for 
flexibilities and autonomies that are provided to schools in the 
highest need situations--turning around persistently lowest-achieving 
schools--as part of criterion (E)(2). In addition, criterion (F)(2) 
will assess the extent to which States ensure successful conditions for 
high-performing charter schools and other innovative schools. 
Therefore, we do not believe it is necessary to change priority 6 to an 
absolute or competitive preference priority.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters noted that priority 6 focuses on school-
level conditions for reform and innovation but does not speak to the 
conditions that are necessary for student learning. The commenters 
recommended that the title and content of the priority be changed to 
also focus on creating the school-level conditions for learning. One 
commenter stated that school-level conditions for reform should be 
clearly defined in the notice to ensure that all of the comprehensive 
learning opportunities necessary for school success are in place.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenters that priority 6 should 
emphasize reform and innovation in the service of learning, and thus 
are adding ``learning'' to the title of the priority. We also are 
clarifying, in the text of the priority, that the Secretary is 
interested in applications in which the State's participating LEAs 
create the conditions for reform and innovation, as well as the 
conditions for learning. We decline to provide an exhaustive list of 
school-level conditions for reform as requested by one commenter as 
such conditions will vary depending on the unique needs of schools and 
communities. Therefore, priority 6 only includes examples of 
flexibilities and autonomies that an LEA might provide to its schools 
in order to help create the conditions for reform, innovation, and 
learning. We also are making a few technical edits for clarity.
    Changes: We have changed the title of priority 6 to ``School-Level 
Conditions for Reform, Innovation, and Learning.'' We have added the 
phrase ``seek to create the conditions for reform and innovation as 
well as the conditions for learning. * * *'' following ``The Secretary 
is particularly interested in applications in which the State's 
participating LEAs.''
    Comment: One commenter stated that in order to meet priority 6, 
States should describe the ways in which their participating LEAs 
provide schools, in particular turnaround schools, with flexibilities 
and autonomies conducive to reform and innovation.
    Discussion: Under criterion (E)(2), States must describe the ways 
in which they will support their LEAs to implement the flexibilities 
provided in the school intervention models (described in Appendix C) 
for their persistently lowest-achieving schools. Therefore, in 
addressing priority 6, a State should describe other flexibilities and 
autonomies that its LEAs currently provide, or plan to provide, to 
their schools in order to create the conditions for reform, innovation, 
and learning.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that priority 6 be changed to 
reach beyond LEA-school governance to include State-LEA flexibility and 
autonomy. The commenter stated that emphasis should be placed on 
demonstrating how changes in governance and rules affect school reform 
efforts and instructional innovations. The commenter further 
recommended that we add examples of flexibilities and autonomies 
conducive to reform and innovation such as coordinated planning between 
categorical programs and budgets, changing education delivery models to 
increase productivity, and more efficiently using existing learning 
time and resources.
    A few commenters recommended that the Department provide additional 
regulatory waivers and flexibilities to improve the coordination of 
funds and create the conditions for systemic reforms and instructional 
innovations. One commenter stated that Federal funding and regulatory 
flexibility could have a significant effect on State and LEA reform 
efforts and suggested that funds be competitively awarded in return for 
a State meeting a number of key requirements.
    Discussion: The Department is placing particular emphasis on these 
school-level flexibilities because their effectiveness has been shown 
in a number of educational settings and because they are related to 
efforts to turn around struggling schools, which is a priority of the 
ARRA. We are, however, open to State innovation around exploring 
further flexibilities with their LEAs and, to the extent that such 
flexibilities are in place, the State could describe them in response 
to criterion (F)(3), Demonstrating Other Significant Reform Conditions. 
We also note that under criterion (A)(2)(i)(d), a State will be 
evaluated based on its capacity to accomplish its plan and targets by 
coordinating, reallocating, or repurposing education funds from other 
Federal, State, and local sources where feasible. We, therefore, 
believe it is unnecessary to add to priority 6 the language regarding 
coordinated planning between categorical programs and budgets and 
changing delivery models suggested by the commenter.
    In response to commenters who recommended that the Department 
provide additional regulatory waivers and flexibilities, we note that 
such waivers and flexibilities are often limited by statute. However, 
the Department fully supports efforts to coordinate the use of funds in 
order to make the most efficient and effective use of limited resources 
and will continue to consider States' requests for waivers that are 
permissible under current Federal statutes and regulations.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters recommended that the list of 
flexibilities and autonomies conducive to reform and innovation include 
providing high-quality, engaging curricula and instruction that focus 
on real-world problem solving. The commenters also recommended that 
instruction be consistent with the principles of universal design for 
learning.
    Discussion: Several Race to the Top selection criteria established 
in this final notice emphasize an approach to curriculum and 
instruction that is based on an evidence-driven cycle of continuous 
instructional improvement (see criteria (B)(3), (C)(3), and (D)(5)). 
Because this issue is addressed directly in the criteria, we do not 
believe it is necessary to reference specific principles used to design 
curricula or instruction (i.e., universal design for learning).
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters requested that priority 6 clearly state 
that the flexibilities and autonomies provided to schools must not 
include waiving the program requirements under the IDEA.
    Discussion: There is nothing in priority 6 to suggest that LEAs 
would be permitted to waive program requirements required under other 
Federal laws and regulations, including those required by the IDEA. 
Therefore, we believe it is unnecessary to add the language requested 
by the commenters.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter requested that the final notice provide 
examples of flexibilities and autonomies that LEAs could provide to 
schools to improve early learning. The commenter provided numerous 
examples, including

[[Page 59718]]

increasing the use of Title I funds for early learning programs and 
permitting the use of school facilities for early learning programs and 
family centers.
    Discussion: Several of the flexibilities and autonomies included in 
priority 6 are applicable to early learning--for example, flexibility 
in selecting staff (paragraph (i)) and controlling the school's budget 
(paragraph (iii)). Therefore, we do not believe that examples 
specifically applicable to early learning are necessary. We note that, 
as discussed elsewhere in this notice, we are adding an invitational 
priority (Priority 3) focused on early learning. An applicant who 
chooses to address the early childhood priority could choose to include 
flexibilities, such as those recommended by the commenter, in its 
application.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Numerous commenters recommended that the list of 
flexibilities and autonomies conducive to reform and innovation include 
charter schools and charter school autonomies. Several of these 
commenters recommended that States be rewarded for their past and 
proposed efforts to support charter school flexibilities and, 
conversely, that States should lose points if they do not provide 
adequate school-level autonomy or are implementing efforts to restrict 
charter school flexibility. One commenter suggested that we clarify 
that flexibilities and autonomies conducive to reform and innovation do 
not include policies that would exempt charter schools or other non-
traditional public schools from open enrollment mandates or from 
requirements that they be subject to and rated by the same academic 
achievement standards as traditional public schools.
    Discussion: As part of its application, a State is already asked to 
address several criteria to ensure that it is creating the conditions 
for high-quality charter schools. (See criterion (F)(2)). Therefore, we 
decline to include additional criteria related to charter schools in 
priority 6. We also decline to add language specifying the 
flexibilities and autonomies that LEAs may provide to charter schools. 
State and local governments possess the authority to authorize charter 
schools and as such, requirements for charter school admissions are 
primarily State and local matters.
    Changes: None.
Selecting Staff (Paragraph (i))
    Comment: One commenter recommended that paragraph (i) of this 
priority specifically refer to schools having the flexibility to select 
``leadership team members.'' Another commenter stated that school 
principals must have the authority to replace consistently low-
performing educators and suggested changing paragraph (i) to clarify 
that principals should be given the authority to select and replace 
staff.
    Discussion: We decline to add ``leadership team members'' to 
paragraph (i) in priority 6 because we are unsure to whom the term 
refers. With regard to the suggestion that we refer specifically to 
principals selecting and replacing staff, we note that there may be 
other school leaders or groups of school staff responsible for hiring 
staff (e.g., department chairs; a panel of teachers, parents, and the 
principal; an executive in a private management organization). 
Therefore, we decline to make the change proposed by the commenters.
    Changes: None.
Increased Learning Time (Paragraph (ii))
    Comment: Many commenters expressed support for reform efforts that 
put in place new structures and formats for the school day or year in 
order to expand learning time. Commenters provided many examples of 
activities that should be conducted during expanded learning time 
including extra-curricular pursuits, experiential learning, enrichment 
activities, family and community engagement, recreational activities, 
and activities that support students' transition between grade levels. 
Other commenters focused on the use of expanded learning time for 
academic supports, and as a strategy to improve student achievement, 
close achievement gaps, and support struggling schools. One commenter 
stated that priority 6 should include other flexibilities such as 
expanding opportunities for youth that include, but are not limited to, 
a longer school day. Several commenters recommended clarifying that 
expanded learning time includes after-school and summer school 
programs. Another commenter strongly recommended that the final notice 
clarify that expanded learning time includes strategies that go beyond 
those that mirror the instruction provided to students during the 
school day. Other commenters stated that it is important for the 
Department to acknowledge that expanded learning time includes 
increasing educators' learning time for activities such as professional 
development that is collaborative, on-site, and tailored to the needs 
of school staff and leadership, and to allow teachers to plan and learn 
together.
    Discussion: We appreciate the numerous comments we received on 
increasing learning time. We acknowledge that the term, ``expanded 
learning time'' is typically used to refer to programs that redesign 
the school day, week, and year to provide additional hours of learning 
time, and that ``extended learning time'' is typically used to describe 
before school, after school, and summer programs. We, therefore, are 
defining a new term, increased learning time, to indicate the need for 
schools to provide additional time for academic work to improve the 
proficiency of students in core academic subjects, as well as for 
additional subjects and enrichment activities that can contribute to a 
well-rounded education. We agree with commenters that teachers could 
also use the additional time to collaborate, plan, and engage in 
professional development.
    Changes: We have replaced ``expanded learning time'' with 
``increased learning time.'' We also have added a definition of 
increased learning time in the definitions section of this notice to 
read as follows: ``Increased learning time means using a longer school 
day, week, or year schedule to significantly increase the total number 
of school hours to include additional time for (a) instruction in core 
academic subjects, including English; reading or language arts; 
mathematics; science; foreign languages; civics and government; 
economics; arts; history; and geography; (b) instruction in other 
subjects and enrichment activities that contribute to a well-rounded 
education, including, for example, physical education, service 
learning, and experiential and work-based learning opportunities that 
are provided by partnering, as appropriate, with other organizations; 
and (c) teachers to collaborate, plan, and engage in professional 
development within and across grades and subjects.'' \2\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ Research supports the effectiveness of well-designed 
programs that expand learning time by a minimum of 300 hours per 
school year. (See Frazier, Julie A.; Morrison, Frederick J. ``The 
Influence of Extended-year Schooling on Growth of Achievement and 
Perceived Competence in Early Elementary School.'' Child 
Development. Vol. 69 (2), April 1998, pp.495-497 and research done 
by Mass2020.) Extending learning into before- and after-school hours 
can be difficult to implement effectively, but is permissible under 
this definition with encouragement to closely integrate and 
coordinate academic work between in-school and out-of school. (See 
James-Burdumy, Susanne; Dynarski, Mark; Deke, John. ``When 
Elementary Schools Stay Open Late: Results from The National 
Evaluation of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program.'' 
http://www.mathematica-mpr.com/publications/redirect_
PubsDB.asp?strSite=http://epa.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/29/4/
296 Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Vol. 29 (4), 
December 2007, Document No. PP07-121.)

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[[Page 59719]]

    Comment: Many commenters recommended that priority 6 focus on 
removing barriers to innovative approaches to serving students in 
after-school and summer school programs. The commenters stated that 
schools should be encouraged to allow the use of school buildings for 
summer programs. Other commenters recommended requiring LEAs to 
coordinate funding streams for after-school and summer school programs, 
such as those tied to Title I, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, 
and other Federal, State, and local funds in order to maximize impact, 
improve efficiencies, and provide comprehensive services.
    Discussion: Priority 6 focuses on creating the conditions for 
reform, innovation, and learning at the school level and includes a 
list of the types of flexibility and autonomy that LEAs may provide to 
schools; the list provides examples and is not exhaustive. We do not 
believe it is necessary to include the very specific flexibility of 
removing barriers to using school buildings for after-school and summer 
school programs. Likewise, flexibilities that permit coordinating 
funding streams for after-school and summer school programs are already 
covered in paragraph (iii) of the priority, which references placing 
budgets under the school's control.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that LEAs be encouraged to form 
partnerships with providers of out-of-school-time programming that have 
proven outcomes and that can bring innovative approaches to support 
true reform. Another commenter recommended that States ensure that 
nonprofit partners have the opportunity to apply for extended learning 
funds in partnership with one or more struggling schools in order to 
maximize competition and increase the quality of programs provided. One 
commenter recommended requiring States to ensure that expanded learning 
time models do not limit staffing to existing teachers. The commenter 
stated that flexibility should be provided to engage educators outside 
of the school such as tutors, mentors, individuals in teaching 
fellowship programs and alternative certification programs, and 
volunteers from the community, business, and industry.
    Discussion: Developing local partnerships can be an effective 
strategy to move local school reform agendas forward, particularly in 
providing comprehensive services to high-need students. However, we 
believe it would be inappropriate to require States to form 
partnerships with nonprofit organizations or individuals outside of the 
school; such decisions are best left to local decision-makers who 
understand the unique needs of their schools and the resources 
available in their communities. We are changing the language in 
paragraph (v) regarding comprehensive services to high-need students to 
include examples of how such services might be provided to high-need 
students.
    Changes: The parenthetical in paragraph (v) now reads, ``(e.g., by 
mentors and other caring adults; through local partnerships with 
community-based organizations, nonprofit organizations, and other 
providers).''
    Comment: One commenter supported expanded learning time but stated 
that educators should not be forced to work longer hours for the same 
compensation and that adjustments to work schedules should be 
determined locally between the district and educators and bargained 
where collective bargaining agreements exist. A few commenters stated 
that collaboration among labor, management, and parents is critical for 
expanded learning time models to succeed.
    Discussion: Decisions about work hours and compensation are 
determined at the local level. As with all educational reform efforts, 
we believe that collaboration among stakeholders is critical to 
success.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the final notice provide a 
clear picture of how strategies for expanded learning time and 
comprehensive services for high-need students fit together as part of a 
broader approach to reform and recommended that language be added to 
encourage applications that demonstrate how States and LEAs will align 
their strategies to produce results.
    Discussion: It will be up to each applicant to describe how its 
plan for reform is comprehensive and coherent and will increase student 
achievement, reduce achievement gaps, and increase graduation rates. 
Absolute priority 1 specifically requires that States comprehensively 
address each of the four education reform areas specified in the ARRA 
and demonstrate that the State and its participating LEAs are taking a 
systemic approach to education reform. Applicants who choose to address 
priority 6 should address how their approach to meeting this priority 
fits into the State's overall reform efforts.
    Changes: None.
Budgets (Paragraph (iii))
    Comment: One commenter recommended revising paragraph (iii) 
regarding placing budgets under the schools' control to ensure that 
teachers and parents are involved in making budget decisions.
    Discussion: The process that a school or LEA uses to establish its 
budget is a local matter. Therefore, we decline to add the language 
requested by the commenter.
    Changes: None.
Credit Based on Student Performance (Paragraph (iv))
    Comment: Several commenters expressed support for awarding credit 
to students based on student performance instead of instructional time 
and providing multiple pathways to a graduation with a regular high 
school diploma. One commenter recommended that funds be used to 
encourage State policies that allow middle or high school students to 
receive high school graduation credit or to meet a subject area 
requirement earlier than typically would be expected. The commenters 
advocated for options that create flexibility for students without 
sacrificing rigorous learning and cited school-work partnerships, 
diploma-plus programs, and dual enrollment (high school-community 
college) programs as examples of innovative approaches to creating 
multiple options that help students graduate from high school and 
pursue additional educational goals.
    Discussion: We believe that the commenters' recommendations are all 
addressed in paragraph (iv), which provides for ``awarding credit to 
students based on student performance instead of instructional time.'' 
We, therefore, do not see a need to add the commenter's recommended 
language in priority 6.
    Changes: None.
Comprehensive Services (Paragraph (v))
    Comment: A few commenters noted that instruction and services for 
high-need students cannot be provided by traditional education systems 
alone and recommended adding language to the priority to emphasize the 
importance of community-based organizations and nonprofit organizations 
in providing comprehensive services to high-need students. One 
commenter stated that the final notice should clarify that the goal of 
State and local educational agencies should be to build a comprehensive 
picture of children's progress--academically, socially, and in terms of 
health and well-being. One commenter stated that in order to provide

[[Page 59720]]

comprehensive services to high-need students, States must create a 
safety net of wrap-around services designed to increase student success 
and focus on both community- and district-level conditions.
    Another commenter suggested using the term ``comprehensive 
supports'' rather than ``comprehensive services,'' stating that 
``comprehensive supports'' includes services and has more salience with 
educators. Another commenter recommended clarifying that comprehensive 
services for high-need students address the health, safety, social, 
emotional, behavioral, physical, and educational needs of a child.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenters that high-need students 
often require a broad array of services that are beyond the capacity of 
the school itself to provide, and that community-based organizations 
and nonprofit organizations play an important role in meeting these 
needs. As noted in an earlier comment regarding the role of community-
based organizations and nonprofit organizations in schools that provide 
increased learning time, we are changing paragraph (v) to reference 
community-based organizations and nonprofit organizations.
    With regard to comments concerning the need for comprehensive 
services and creating a safety net of wrap-around services with 
involvement of both communities and districts, we note that priority 5 
focuses on the need to coordinate services across schools, State 
agencies, and community partners in order to ensure that high-need 
students have access to the broad array of opportunities and services 
they need (see the discussion on priority 5).
    We decline to change the term ``comprehensive services'' to 
``comprehensive supports,'' as requested by one commenter; we do not 
agree that the two terms are substantively different or that one term 
has more salience for educators than the other. We also decline to 
specify the array of services included in ``comprehensive services'' 
because, by doing so, we could inadvertently restrict the range of 
services that a State may determine are necessary to serve high-need 
students.
    Changes: None.

II. Requirements

Eligibility Requirements

    Eligibility Requirement (a): State Fiscal Stabilization Fund 
(Stabilization) Phase 1 and 2:
    Comment: Many commenters expressed support for the eligibility 
requirement that States have their State Fiscal Stabilization Fund 
program Phase 1 and Phase 2 applications approved in order to be 
eligible for a Race to the Top award. Other commenters expressed 
concern that States may have difficulty obtaining approval of their 
Stabilization Phase 2 applications in time to submit a Race to the Top 
application. One commenter expressed concern that the Department's 
approval of Stabilization Phase 2 applications may occur too late for a 
State to apply during Phase 1 of the Race to the Top competition. One 
commenter specifically noted the difficulty in satisfying the data 
requirements for Stabilization Phase 2 in time to apply for the Race to 
the Top competition. Some commenters requested information pertaining 
to the timing of Stabilization Phase 2 applications and the Race to the 
Top competition.
    Discussion: The eligibility requirement pertaining to the approval 
of Stabilization applications is being changed to require only that the 
State have approved Stabilization Phase 1 and Phase 2 applications by 
the time the State is awarded a Race to the Top grant. Thus, a State's 
Stabilization Phase 2 application will not need to be approved at the 
time it prepares or submits its Race to the Top application.
    Changes: Eligibility requirement (a) has been changed to read: ``A 
State must meet the following requirements in order to be eligible to 
receive funds under this program. (a) The State's applications for 
funding under Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the State Fiscal Stabilization 
Fund program must be approved by the Department prior to the State 
being awarded a Race to the Top grant.''
    Eligibility Requirement (b): Linking Student Data to Teachers and 
Principals:
    Comment: Numerous commenters expressed their support for evaluating 
teachers and principals based on student achievement or growth. These 
commenters suggested that the final notice should require States to use 
student growth data in teacher and principal evaluations. Several 
commenters offered their support for the requirement that a State not 
have any barriers to linking student achievement or student growth data 
to teacher and principal evaluations. These commenters specifically 
noted that teachers should be judged by their effectiveness, not by 
their credentials or years of service.
    Several commenters, however, claimed that there is a lack of 
research or evidence demonstrating that the use of such data for 
teacher and principal evaluations has any positive impact on teacher, 
principal, or student performance. A few commenters disagreed with the 
Department's reference to research indicating that teacher 
qualifications, including certification status and years of experience, 
are not accurately predictive of teacher quality. Other commenters 
identified research explaining the difficulty in disaggregating student 
achievement data to determine a teacher's effect from other variables. 
One commenter suggested that States should pass laws requiring a peer 
reviewed validation of any value-added methodology before including 
student achievement data as part of any evaluation or compensation 
mechanism and further argued that such laws should not constitute a 
State barrier under the eligibility requirements.
    Discussion: As indicated in the NPP, we believe that research 
clearly shows that teacher and principal quality are critical 
contributors to student learning. The Department believes that student 
achievement and student growth data are meaningful measures of teacher 
and principal effectiveness, and therefore, should be considered as a 
part of a rigorous, transparent and fair evaluation system. 
Consequently, legal barriers to linking data about student achievement 
or student growth to teachers and principals for evaluation purposes 
effectively prevents schools from having the core information systems 
they need to serve students well. For these reasons, we decline to make 
substantive changes to eligibility requirement (b).
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters asked whether teacher or principal 
contracts or local collective bargaining agreements that prohibit the 
use of student achievement data for teacher and principal evaluations 
would constitute a State barrier, thus making a State ineligible for 
the Race to the Top competition. One commenter noted that one specific 
State lacks control over teacher and principal evaluation systems.
    Discussion: The Department has revised eligibility requirement (b) 
to clarify that the State must not have any legal, statutory, or 
regulatory barriers at the State level to linking student achievement 
or student growth data to teachers and principals for purposes of 
evaluation. Therefore, a State would be eligible to apply for a Race to 
the Top grant even if a teacher or principal contract or collective 
bargaining agreement at the local level prohibited the use of student 
achievement or student growth data for evaluation purposes.

[[Page 59721]]

    Changes: Eligibility requirement (b) has been changed to read: ``At 
the time the State submits its application, there must not be any 
legal, statutory, or regulatory barriers at the State level to linking 
data on student achievement (as defined in this notice) or student 
growth (as defined in this notice) to teachers and principals for the 
purpose of teacher and principal evaluation.''
    Comment: One commenter suggested limiting the eligibility 
requirements pertaining to linking student achievement data to teacher 
and principal evaluations to exclude educators working in early 
learning or child care programs. This commenter claimed that teacher 
and principal evaluation systems would not be applicable to a State's 
proposal emphasizing early learning initiatives.
    Discussion: The Department believes that student growth data are 
strong measures of teacher effectiveness across the spectrum from 
preschool to grade 12. While traditional student achievement and 
student growth data may not be routinely collected in early learning 
settings, relevant student achievement and student growth data are 
available in other forms. Child outcome data should not be the only 
measures of teacher effectiveness in early learning settings, but can 
provide useful information to improve the effectiveness of early 
childhood educators and administrators when coupled with other 
quantitative and qualitative indicators.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the notice clarify what 
level of change to a State law regarding linking data on student 
achievement or student growth to teachers and principals would be 
necessary in order to be eligible for Race to the Top funds. For 
example, one commenter asked if legislation to remove a barrier to 
linking student achievement data to teachers and principals would need 
to be enacted prior to applying for Race to the Top funds or whether 
the introduction of such legislation would be adequate to the meet 
eligibility requirements. Another commenter asked whether a State would 
need to enact legislation adopting its plan in its State education code 
to be eligible to apply for Race to the Top funds.
    Discussion: Eligibility requirement (b) contemplates only existing 
laws; a State will not be able to establish its eligibility based on 
intent to change those laws. There is no requirement in the ARRA or in 
this notice requiring States to enact legislation adopting their Race 
to the Top plans.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Some commenters suggested that States should be eligible 
for the Race to the Top competition even if barriers exist to linking 
student achievement or student growth data to teachers and principals 
for evaluation purposes, so long as the State's reform plan only 
includes LEAs and charter schools that allow such linkages. One 
commenter argued that the eligibility requirement is unfair because 
LEAs without such prohibitions would not receive Race to the Top funds 
if they were situated in a State with such barriers.
    Discussion: Under eligibility requirement (b), States are required 
to demonstrate that they do not have any legal, statutory, or 
regulatory barriers at the State level to linking student achievement 
or student growth data to teachers and principals for the purpose of 
evaluations. States that have such barriers are not eligible for Race 
to the Top awards. Race to the Top is meant to provide an incentive for 
statewide reform and improvements, and is a competitive grant program 
encouraging States to be bold and innovative. While individual LEAs and 
charter schools in States with barriers may be ready and eager to use 
student growth data to identify and improve teacher and principal 
effectiveness, Race to the Top focuses on the extent to which the 
State's conditions and plans lead to statewide impact.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Numerous commenters argued that one specific State's law, 
which prohibits linking teacher and student achievement data, should 
not disqualify it from applying for the Race to the Top competition. 
Some of these commenters argued that the State's law does not prohibit 
data linking between students and teachers at the district level where 
personnel decisions are made, and therefore should not make the State 
ineligible for Race to the Top funds. One commenter, however, 
specifically stated their support for the data linkage eligibility 
requirement with respect to the State.
    Another commenter argued that an existing statute regulating the 
use of student achievement data in tenure determinations in another 
State should not make the State ineligible to apply for the Race to the 
Top competition. The commenter argued that the statute does not 
prohibit use of student test data in annual teacher performance reviews 
or for tenure consideration.
    Discussion: As stated earlier, the Department believes that student 
growth should be one significant measure of several when evaluating 
teacher and principal effectiveness. State level data linkage barriers 
unduly restrict schools and LEAs from using student achievement or 
student growth data to identify and improve teacher and principal 
effectiveness. The Department also believes that schools and LEAs 
should have the ability to choose to use student achievement and 
student growth data in this manner. For this reason, the Department 
declines to exempt any one State from this requirement and encourages 
States to lift legal, statutory, and regulatory barriers that prohibit 
these linkages.
    The Department notes that this notice requires the State's Attorney 
General to certify that the State has no legal, statutory, or 
regulatory barriers at the State level to linking student achievement 
or student growth data to teachers and principals for the purpose of 
evaluations.
    Changes: None.

Eligibility Overall

    Comment: Multiple commenters suggested adding an eligibility 
requirement to limit eligibility for Race to the Top funds to States 
that meet the requirements in their FY 2007 Annual Performance Report 
under the IDEA. Those commenters noted that States unable to meet basic 
IDEA requirements should not be eligible to apply for Race to the Top 
funds.
    Discussion: Race to the Top is a competitive grant program intended 
to improve educational outcomes for all students. The Department 
already has a mechanism to monitor States' progress, as reported in 
their Annual Performance Reports, in meeting the targets in their State 
Performance Plan under the IDEA. Therefore, we decline to include the 
requirement suggested by the commenter as an eligibility requirement in 
the Race to the Top competition.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested the Department consider the number 
of outstanding audits and audit exceptions against a State for any 
Federal education program as part of the Race to the Top program 
eligibility determination. One commenter suggested that if awards were 
given to States with audit exceptions, conditions should be imposed on 
the award of funds, including onsite monitoring.
    Discussion: The Department has taken extraordinary measures to 
ensure accountability in the use of all ARRA funds, including the Race 
to the Top program, so that all dollars are used wisely and accounted 
for in a transparent manner. Indeed, as explained in the Reporting 
section of this final notice and the notice inviting

[[Page 59722]]

applications, successful applicants must comply with the ARRA annual 
reporting requirements in section 14008 of the ARRA and quarterly 
reporting requirements in section 1512(c) of the ARRA, which are 
designed to ensure thorough and public oversight of the expenditure of 
ARRA funds. The Department has established a Recovery Act Web site and 
hotline for members of the public to report suspected misuse of funds. 
Additionally, the Department has other mechanisms and protections in 
place to enforce and monitor progress and resolution of any prior audit 
findings from other programs. Accordingly, we do not believe it is 
necessary to add requirements pertaining to States that have audit 
exceptions.
    Changes: None.

Application Requirements

Reorganization of the Application Requirements
    Comment: None.
    Discussion: In order to streamline the application requirements and 
the criteria and reduce burden for applicants, we are removing from 
this final notice proposed application requirements that were 
duplicative of the criteria. The remaining application requirements are 
being renumbered, accordingly. For instance, proposed application 
requirement (c) concerning the level of State funding for education is 
being removed from the final application requirements but is still 
being retained in criterion (F)(1)(i); and proposed application 
requirement (d) concerning support from stakeholders is being removed 
but is still being retained in criterion (A)(2)(ii). In addition, we 
are revising the application requirements to make minor editorial 
changes, providing internal cross references to relevant portions of 
the notice, and reorganizing application requirement (e) to better 
clarify the components of this requirement.
    Changes: We have removed proposed application requirements (c) and 
(d). We have reordered the application requirements accordingly. We 
have made minor editorial changes to provide better clarification to 
this section, have clarified that the Governor must sign the assurances 
in Section IV of the application, and have reorganized application 
requirement (e).
    Comment: Some commenters recommended providing benchmarks or 
statutory tests to help provide consistency in how State Attorneys 
General determine and certify their State's eligibility for Race to the 
Top. Some commenters suggested that the Department provide a ``test'' 
for Attorneys General to apply to their State law to determine 
eligibility.
    Discussion: Under application requirement (f) (proposed application 
requirement (h)), the State's Attorney General is asked to certify that 
the State has no legal, statutory or regulatory barriers at the State 
level with respect to eligibility requirement (b). We interpret this to 
mean State constitutions, case law, statutes, or regulations. 
Interpretation of a State's laws falls uniquely within the expertise of 
the State Attorney General and therefore, we leave this task to the 
Attorney General. The Department notes that the certification 
requirement does not seek a formal legal opinion. Instead, the 
Department provides forms in the application for Attorneys General to 
sign certifying that (a) the description of, and statements and 
conclusions in the application concerning State law, statute, and 
regulation in its application are complete, accurate, and constitute a 
reasonable interpretation of State law, statute and regulation; and (b) 
that the State does not have any legal, statutory, or regulatory 
barriers at the State level to linking data on student achievement or 
student growth to teachers and principals for the purpose of teacher 
and principal evaluations. The certification of the Attorney General 
addresses this requirement. The applicant may provide explanatory 
information, if necessary.
    In addition, we note that we are changing application requirement 
(f) to be consistent with the changes to eligibility requirement (b), 
as discussed earlier, and separating application requirement (f) into 
two subparagraphs.
    Changes: Application requirement (f) has been made consistent with 
eligibility requirement (b), as discussed earlier, and separated into 
two subparagraphs.
High-Need LEAs
    Comment: Many commenters had difficulty interpreting proposed 
application requirement (e)(2) that would have required States to 
explain in their budget plans how it will use Race to the Top funds to 
give priority to high-need LEAs over and above the participating LEA 
share.
    Discussion: First, the Department notes that it inadvertently 
neglected to use the statutory definition of high-need LEA in the NPP, 
as found in section 14013(2) of the ARRA. Accordingly, and as discussed 
in this notice, we are changing the definition of high-need LEA to 
reflect the statutory definition: ``[an LEA] that serves not fewer than 
10,000 children from families with incomes below the poverty line; or 
for which not less than 20 percent of the children served by the LEA 
are from families with incomes below the poverty line.''
    Consistent with section 14006(c) of the ARRA, States must subgrant 
50 percent of their grant awards to participating LEAs, based on the 
LEAs' relative share of Title I, Part A allocations in the most recent 
year. We have clarified in application requirement (c)(2) that, because 
all Race to the Top grants will be made in 2010, relative shares will 
be based on total funding received in FY 2009, including both the 
regular Title I, Part A appropriation and the amount made available by 
the ARRA.
    Consistent with section 14005(c)(4) of the ARRA, application 
requirement (c)(2) requires a State to include in its application a 
budget detailing how the State will use Race to the Top funds to ``give 
priority to high-need LEAs'' beyond the base amount provided to all 
participating LEAs. States have flexibility to determine the meaning of 
``give priority to,'' which could include, for example, additional 
funding, more comprehensive technical assistance, coordination of State 
or local social services for students in such LEAs, expanded 
professional development, and larger incentives for teachers and 
principals who agree to work in these LEAs.
    Changes: Application requirement (c)(2) has been revised to 
include: ``(Note: Because all Race to the Top grants will be made in 
2010, relative shares will be based on total funding received in FY 
2009, including both the regular Title I, Part A appropriation and the 
amount made available by the ARRA).''

Reporting Requirements

    Comment: Several commenters raised questions concerning 
accountability for Race to the Top funds. One commenter praised the 
proposed requirements but wanted greater detail on how we would ensure 
``successful on-the-ground implementation'' of the Race to the Top 
program. One strategy suggested by the commenter was to withhold funds 
from States that do not meet the commitments they make in their Race to 
the Top applications. Other commenters recommended that Race to the Top 
funds be conditioned on meeting performance goals as reflected in the 
annual reports, or that the Department withhold funds from those States 
not meeting their commitments. Two commenters requested flexibility for 
States to revise their State plans to encourage continuous improvement.

[[Page 59723]]

    Discussion: The Reporting Requirements section in this final notice 
explains that the Department plans to both support and carefully 
monitor State and LEA progress in meeting their goals, timelines, 
budgets, and annual performance targets. If we determine that a State 
is not meeting one or more of the requirements for this program, the 
Department may take a range of actions to remedy the situation, 
including placing the State in high-risk status, putting the State on 
reimbursement payment status, or delaying or withholding funds. The 
Department also recognizes that States may wish to, or need to, revise 
their Race to the Top plans occasionally to take into account changing 
circumstances; such revisions will be subject to approval by the 
Secretary. The Department recognizes that many of the accountability 
requirements of the Race to the Top program differ from those of the 
ESEA, and that winning States will be adding a new layer of goal-
setting, performance measurement, and data collection to their existing 
accountability systems. Finally, to provide greater clarity and 
completeness to the Reporting Requirements section, we are including 
the reporting requirements contained in sections 1512(c) and 14008 of 
the ARRA.
    Changes: We have added the reporting requirements contained in 
sections 1512(c) and 14008 of the ARRA.
    Comment: One commenter argued that the Department may not use 
written performance agreements or cooperative agreements to monitor a 
State's progress because, they claimed, ARRA only allows grants 
monitoring. Another commenter stated that the Department should be a 
full participant in the Race to the Top program and, therefore, that 
Race to the Top awards should be cooperative agreements, rather than 
grants.
    Discussion: The Department intends to support States and LEAs 
through technical assistance, evaluations, and other mechanisms to 
facilitate them in meeting their goals, timelines, budgets, and annual 
performance targets. Contrary to the assertion by one commenter, the 
Department has the authority under the Federal Grant and Cooperative 
Agreement Act of 1977 (31 U.S.C. Chapter 63) to use written performance 
agreements or cooperative agreements to monitor Race to the Top grantee 
performance. As stated in the NPP and reiterated in this notice, the 
Department may require grantees to enter into a written performance or 
cooperative agreement with the Department as a condition of receiving 
the grant; a final determination will be made at the time of grant 
awards. We do not believe it is necessary to arbitrarily require these 
agreements for all grantees because the determination whether to use a 
cooperative agreement as the award instrument is based on the nature of 
the relationship and the activities to be performed by the grantee, and 
is therefore highly case specific.
    Changes: None.

Program Requirements

Evaluation
    Comment: In response to the NPP's request for advice on the best 
way to conduct an evaluation of the Race to the Top program, many 
commenters recommended that States conduct their own Race to the Top 
evaluations. These commenters believed that the likely breadth of 
variation in Race to the Top plans would make it difficult to conduct a 
national evaluation, and that State-level evaluations would provide the 
kind of detailed feedback needed to support continuous improvement. 
However, another commenter asserted that a relatively small number of 
States were expected to receive a Race to the Top award and, according 
to the commenter, that a national evaluation is a far more efficient 
method than using Race to the Top funds to pay for individual State-led 
evaluations. Another commenter emphasized the importance of a national 
evaluation of the Race to the Top program using State data. A few 
commenters recommended that we carry out both national and State-level 
evaluations of the Race to the Top program.
    Other commenters requested information on funding for Race to the 
Top evaluations, and two commenters recommended that up to 10 percent 
of Race to the Top awards be available to support those evaluations. 
One commenter expressed concern that the reporting requirements were 
focused on outcomes only, and did not include a description of the 
processes used to achieve those outcomes. Finally, four commenters 
suggested that a national evaluation should focus on identifying 
promising or best practices, while two commenters recommended the 
inclusion of ``process metrics'' to ensure that best practices can be 
fully documented to facilitate dissemination and adoption by others.
    Discussion: The Department appreciates this advice on how to 
structure an evaluation plan for the Race to the Top program. As 
described later in this notice, the Institute of Education Sciences 
(IES) will conduct a series of national evaluations of Race to the Top 
State grantees. The Department's goal for these evaluations is to 
ensure that its studies not only assess program impacts but also 
provide valuable information to State and local educators to help 
inform and improve their practices. We are not requiring through this 
notice that Race to the Top grantee States conduct independent 
evaluations. However, they are free to propose, within their 
applications, to use funds from Race to the Top to support independent 
evaluations. A full explanation of the Race to the Top evaluation plan 
is included in the Program Requirements section of this notice and the 
notice inviting applications.
    Changes: We have revised the Program Requirements section to 
reflect the evaluation requirements for all States that win a Race to 
the Top grant. Specifically, this notice has been revised to require 
State grantees to participate in a series of national evaluations that 
will be conducted by IES. This notice has been revised to reflect that 
these evaluations will involve components described further in this 
notice, including surveys, case studies, and evaluation of outcomes. We 
have further clarified that States have the option of conducting 
additional evaluations using Race to the Top funds or other funds. We 
have also revised this notice to reflect that State grantees, LEAs, and 
schools are expected to identify and share promising practices and make 
data available to help all States focus on continuous improvement.
Participating LEA Scope of Work
    Comment: None.
    Discussion: The Program Requirement concerning Participating LEA 
Scope of Work is addressed in the discussion for Section A, State 
Success Factors.
    Change: The Program Requirement section is revised to include a 
requirement on Participating LEA Scope of Work.
Making Work Available
    Comment: Two commenters suggested that the Department require that 
any new educational materials developed by Race to the Top State 
grantees be made available as open educational resources. One of these 
recommended that all outputs be open source and royalty-free. Several 
other commenters expressed concern about copyrighted intellectual 
property, proprietary systems, and the rights of contractors or 
partners, and that a requirement to share all outputs would preclude 
States from entering into contracts or licensing agreements or would 
conflict with agreements already in place. A commenter noted that one

[[Page 59724]]

specific State relies on subscriptions to copyrighted services for data 
warehousing and would have to build new systems to share data tools 
freely with the public. Two commenters suggested using the exclusion in 
the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems grant program to protect 
intellectual property and proprietary products in Race to the Top.
    Discussion: We understand and agree with the concerns about 
proprietary information in the context of the proposed requirement that 
States and LEAs make available materials developed with Race to the Top 
funds. We are revising the Program Requirements section entitled Making 
Work Available to provide that such materials must be available 
``unless otherwise protected by law or agreement as proprietary 
information.'' We also have clarified that this agreement applies to 
work developed under this grant.
    Changes: The Making Work Available requirement has been revised to 
read as follows: ``Unless otherwise protected by law or agreement as 
proprietary information, the State and its subgrantees must make any 
work (e.g., materials, tools, processes, systems) developed under its 
grant freely available to others, including but not limited to by 
posting the work on a Web site identified or sponsored by the 
Department.''
State Summative Assessments
    Comment: None.
    Discussion: The Program Requirement concerning State summative 
assessments is addressed in the discussion for Section B, Standards and 
Assessments.
    Changes: The Program Requirement Section is revised to include a 
program requirement on State summative assessments.
Technical Assistance
    Comment: One commenter expressed support for the requirement that 
States participate in the Department's technical assistance activities. 
This commenter also suggested that technical assistance be provided by 
the federally supported research and development infrastructure, such 
as the regional labs. Another commenter argued that because successful 
implementation may be difficult, the Department should devote more 
resources and personnel to providing clear and fair technical 
assistance. One commenter recommended that the Department provide 
States with funds to cover the estimated costs of participating in 
technical assistance.
    Discussion: The Department intends to conduct extensive technical 
assistance activities related to Race to the Top grants and will 
utilize to the extent feasible all available resources, including 
federally supported research centers and regional laboratories, to 
support those activities. In addition, we will work to minimize the 
cost of this technical assistance to participants.
    Changes: None.
Using Subgroups Under NAEP and the ESEA
    Comment: None.
    Discussion: The application requirement concerning use of subgroups 
under NAEP and the ESEA for reporting achievement gains and for setting 
future targets is addressed in the discussion for Section A, State 
Success Factors.
    Changes: We have added new paragraph (g) in the application 
requirements that explains the subgroup data that a State must provide 
in various parts of the application.

A. State Success Factors

    Definitions: college enrollment, involved LEAs, participating LEAs.
    Comments regarding the preceding definitions are addressed, as 
appropriate, below.
New Selection Criterion (A)(1)(i)
    Comment: None.
    Discussion: As noted elsewhere, we are adding a new section, 
``State Success Factors,'' to the beginning of the Selection Criteria 
section in order to provide an opportunity for States to begin their 
Race to the Top proposals with a clear statement of their comprehensive 
and coherent statewide reform agendas. We are adding criterion 
(A)(1)(i) which will be used to assess the extent to which a State is 
successful in articulating the State's reform agenda.
    Changes: Criterion (A)(1) begins: ``Articulating the State's 
education reform agenda and LEAs' participation in it: The extent to 
which--(i) The State has set forth a comprehensive and coherent reform 
agenda that clearly articulates its goals for implementing reforms in 
the four education areas described in the ARRA and improving student 
outcomes statewide, establishes a clear and credible path to achieving 
these goals, and is consistent with the specific reform plans that the 
State has proposed throughout its application.''
    Selection Criteria (A)(1)(ii) and (iii): Participating LEAs 
(proposed criteria (E)(3)(iv) and (E)(4)):

    Note:  A number of comments common to criteria (A)(1)(iii) and 
(A)(3)(ii) are addressed in the discussion of (A)(3)(ii) later in 
this notice.

    Comment: Many commenters requested clarification regarding funding 
for LEAs under the Race to the Top program, State discretion to select 
participating LEAs, and whether LEAs may decline Race to the Top 
funding. Many commenters questioned whether State applications may 
exclude LEAs that are not committed to part or all of a State's Race to 
the Top plan. One commenter recommended giving States complete control 
over how Race to the Top funds are spent by participating LEAs, 
claiming that the State, not the LEA, will be held accountable for 
meeting Race to the Top goals and targets. Other commenters suggested 
that Race to the Top funds should be awarded only to LEAs that sign an 
agreement or otherwise fully agree to implement its State's Race to the 
Top plans. One commenter asked whether LEAs receiving a share of the 50 
percent of Race to the Top funds distributed on the basis of the Title 
I, Part A formula under the ESEA are required to participate in the 
Race to the Top program. Several commenters asked if LEAs would be 
subject to Race to the Top requirements even if they declined to 
participate.
    Discussion: In response to these comments, and because LEAs are 
ultimately responsible for implementing many of the items in a State's 
Race to the Top plan, we have made a number of changes to provide great 
clarity on how LEAs can be involved in a State's plan. First, we are 
providing that LEAs can be included in States' Race to the Top projects 
at one of two levels: as ``participating LEAs'' or as ``involved 
LEAs.''
    Participating LEAs, as defined in this notice, means LEAs that 
choose to work with the State to implement all or significant portions 
of the State's Race to the Top plan, as specified in each LEA's 
agreement with the State. Each participating LEA that receives funding 
under Title I, Part A will receive a share of the 50 percent of a 
State's grant award that the State must subgrant to LEAs, based on the 
LEA's relative share of Title I, Part A allocations in the most recent 
year, in accordance with section 14006(c) of the ARRA. Any 
participating LEA that does not receive funding under Title I, Part A 
(as well as one that does) may receive funding from the State's other 
50 percent of the grant award, in accordance with the State's plan.
    States do not have the discretion to select participating LEAs; 
instead, each LEA will make the decision to sign on to the State's plan 
as a participating

[[Page 59725]]

LEA. All LEAs that agree to work with the State, and that sign valid 
agreements stating their commitment to implement all or significant 
portions of the State's plan (as defined by the State) must be included 
in the State's plan. States do have the flexibility to develop detailed 
reform plans in which LEAs must choose whether to participate. States 
also have the authority to define the ``significant portions'' of their 
Race to the Top plans that LEAs must agree to implement in order to 
qualify as participating LEAs. As described earlier, States that 
receive a Race to the Top grant must use at least 50 percent of the 
award to provide subgrants to their participating LEAs based on their 
relative shares of funding under Part A of Title I of the ESEA for the 
most recent year. Because all Race to the Top grants will be made in 
2010, relative shares will be based on total funding received in FY 
2009, including both the regular Title I, Part A appropriation and the 
amount made available by ARRA. The remaining funds will be available to 
the State for State-level activities and for disbursement to 
participating LEAs (regardless of their Title I eligibility), involved 
LEAs, or other entities, consistent with the State's plan. A State has 
no obligation to provide Race to the Top funds, benefits, or supports 
to non-participating LEAs.
    Participating LEAs must in turn use their funding in a manner that 
is consistent with the State's plan and its MOU or other binding 
agreement with the State. States may establish more detailed rules on 
uses of funds provided they are consistent with the ARRA, the terms of 
the grant award, and the Department's applicable administrative 
regulations. Although participating LEAs will receive subgrants from 
the State as described earlier, Race to the Top funds are not governed 
by the Title I restrictions on the uses of funds.
    As described earlier, participating LEAs agree to implement all or 
a significant portion of State's Race to the Top plans. However, other 
LEAs may choose to work with the State to implement those specific 
portions of the State's plan that require statewide or nearly statewide 
implementation, such as transitioning to a common set of K-12 
standards. We have defined these LEAs in this notice as involved LEAs. 
As defined, involved LEAs do not receive a share of the 50 percent of a 
State's grant award that it must subgrant to LEAs in accordance with 
section 14006(c) of the ARRA, but States may provide other funding to 
involved LEAs under the State's Race to the Top grant in a manner that 
is consistent with the State's application.
    In general, involved LEAs are not included in, and are not subject 
to, the requirements of a State's Race to the Top plan.
    It is important to note that this notice does not require LEAs to 
participate in a State's plan (whether as participating or as involved 
LEAs) or give States the authority to impose such a requirement. 
Rather, through the definitions of participating LEA and involved LEA, 
we are setting the parameters for what LEAs must do to be eligible for 
certain funding streams. In addition, through absolute priority 1, the 
Department is specifying that States will only be awarded grants if 
they demonstrate sufficient LEA participation and commitment to 
successfully implement and achieve the goals of their plans; and 
through criteria (A)(1)(ii) and (A)(1)(iii), this notice sets forth the 
terms by which reviewers will award points to each State based on the 
participation and commitment of their LEAs.
    Changes: We have added two new definitions to this notice. The 
definition of participating LEAs clarifies that participating LEAs 
choose to work with the State to implement all or significant portions 
of the State's Race to the Top plan, as specified in each LEA's 
agreement with the State. Each participating LEA that receives funding 
under Title I, Part A will receive a share of the 50 percent of a 
State's grant award that the State must subgrant to LEAs, based on the 
LEA's relative share of Title I, Part A allocations in the most recent 
year, in accordance with section 14006(c) of the ARRA. Any 
participating LEA that does not receive funding under Title I, Part A 
(as well as one that does) may receive funding from the State's other 
50 percent of the grant award, in accordance with the State's plan.
    The definition of involved LEAs clarifies that such LEAs choose to 
work with the State to implement those specific portions of the State's 
plan that necessitate full or nearly-full statewide implementation, 
such as transitioning to a common set of K-12 standards (as defined in 
this notice). Involved LEAs do not receive a share of the 50 percent of 
a State's grant award that it must subgrant to LEAs in accordance with 
section 14006(c) of the ARRA, but States may provide other funding to 
involved LEAs under the State's Race to the Top grant in a manner that 
is consistent with the State's application.
    Comment: Many commenters recommended that the Department define 
``participating school'' in the final notice.
    Discussion: Participating LEAs are responsible for determining the 
roles and responsibilities of their schools in Race to the Top 
activities; these should be consistent with the LEA's agreement with 
the State. Consequently, we do not believe that there is a need for a 
definition of participating school in this notice.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Commenters requested additional clarification pertaining 
to how States would identify and account for LEA participation and 
support in State reform plans. Multiple commenters recommended that 
participating LEAs and charter schools formally declare their support 
in writing as part of the Race to the Top application. One commenter 
recommended requiring States to list all the LEAs that requested to be 
included in designing and developing the State plan.
    Discussion: Proposed criterion (E)(3)(iv) was included to elicit 
information about the extent of the commitment to and participation of 
LEAs in a State's Race to the Top plan. Because we believe that States 
should begin their Race to the Top proposals with clear statements of 
their entire reform agendas, and because LEA implementation is a 
central component of that agenda, we are moving this criterion into the 
new ``State Success Factors'' section. Furthermore, to add clarity, we 
are dividing the proposed criterion into two revised criteria. In this 
final notice, criterion (A)(1)(ii) addresses the level of commitment 
among participating LEAs, while criterion (A)(1)(iii) addresses the 
extent of LEA participation.
    Because the extent of LEA participation should be measured partly 
by the expected effects on student outcomes statewide, we have 
incorporated into criterion (A)(1)(iii) the language from proposed 
criterion (E)(4) regarding a State's goals for increasing student 
achievement, decreasing achievement gaps, and increasing graduation 
rates. As discussed later, we also include new criterion (A)(1)(iii)(d) 
regarding increasing college enrollment and credit accumulation.
    In addition, as evidence to support the State's response to 
criteria (A)(1)(ii) and (A)(1)(iii), Appendix A to this notice asks 
States for the following information: (1) An example of the State's 
standard participating LEA MOU and description of variations used, if 
any; (2) the completed summary table indicating which specific portions 
of the State's plan each LEA is committed to implementing and relevant 
summary statistics; (3) the completed summary table, indicating which 
LEA leadership signatures have been obtained; (4) the completed summary 
table, indicating

[[Page 59726]]

the numbers and percentages of participating LEAs, schools, K-12 
students, and students in poverty; (5) tables and graphs that show the 
State's goals, overall and by subgroup, requested in criterion 
(A)(1)(iii), together with the supporting narrative; and (6) the 
completed detailed table, by LEA, that includes the information 
requested in criteria (A)(1)(ii) and (A)(1)(iii).
    As discussed in greater detail elsewhere in this notice, the 
Department is providing a sample MOU (see Appendix D) to assist States 
and LEAs during this process.
    Changes: Criterion (A)(1)(ii) specifies that reviewers will 
evaluate the extent to which the participating LEAs are strongly 
committed to the State's plans and to effective implementation of the 
four education reform areas, as evidenced by Memoranda of Understanding 
(MOUs) (as set forth in Appendix D) or other binding agreements between 
the State and its participating LEAs (as defined in this notice) that 
include--
    (a) Terms and conditions that reflect strong commitment by the 
participating LEAs (as defined in this notice) to the State's plans;
    (b) Scope-of-work descriptions that require participating LEAs (as 
defined in this notice) to implement all or significant portions of the 
State's Race to the Top plans; and
    (c) Signatures from as many as possible of the LEA superintendent 
(or equivalent), the president of the local school board (or 
equivalent, if applicable), and the local teachers' union leader (if 
applicable) (one signature of which must be from an authorized LEA 
representative) demonstrating the extent of leadership support within 
participating LEAs (as defined in this notice).
    In addition, criterion (A)(1)(iii) specifies that LEA participation 
will be evaluated based on the extent to which the LEAs that are 
participating in the State's Race to the Top plans (including 
considerations of the numbers and percentages of participating LEAs, 
schools, K-12 students, and students in poverty) will translate into 
broad statewide impact, allowing the State to reach its ambitious yet 
achievable goals, overall and by student subgroup, for--
    (a) Increasing student achievement in (at a minimum) reading/
language arts and mathematics, as reported by the NAEP and the 
assessments required under the ESEA;
    (b) Decreasing achievement gaps between subgroups in reading/
language arts and mathematics, as reported by the NAEP and the 
assessments required under the ESEA;
    (c) Increasing high school graduation rates (as defined in this 
notice); and
    (d) Increasing college enrollment (as defined in this notice) and 
increasing the number of students who complete at least a year's worth 
of college credit that is applicable to a degree within two years of 
enrollment in an institution of higher education.
    Finally, Appendix A, Evidence and Performance Measures, has been 
revised to specify the evidence that States must submit when responding 
to criteria (A)(1)(ii) and (A)(1)(iii).
Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs)
    Comment: Many commenters requested clarification regarding the MOUs 
between States and participating LEAs, including the purpose, 
requirements, and expected contents of the MOUs.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenters that additional 
clarification is needed on the purpose and content of the MOUs. As 
discussed earlier, we are clarifying in criterion (A)(1)(ii) the 
elements of the MOU or other binding agreements that reviewers will 
consider in evaluating LEA commitment. We also are adding a new 
requirement that clarifies the expectations for the Participating LEA 
scope of work. Finally, we are including in Appendix D to this final 
notice a model MOU to provide further guidance to States in preparing 
these agreements with their LEAs.
    Changes: We have added to the program requirements a new 
Participating LEA Scope of Work requirement, which clarifies that the 
agreements signed by participating LEAs (as defined in this notice) 
must include a scope-of-work section. The scope of work submitted by 
LEAs and States as part of their Race to the Top applications will be 
preliminary. Preliminary scopes of work should include the portions of 
the State's proposed reform plans that the LEA is agreeing to 
implement. If a State is awarded a Race to the Top grant, its 
participating LEAs (as defined in this notice) will have up to 90 days 
to complete final scopes of work, which must contain detailed work 
plans that are consistent with their preliminary scopes of work and 
with the State's grant application, and should include the 
participating LEAs' specific goals, activities, timelines, budgets, key 
personnel, and annual targets for key performance measures. We have 
added a new Appendix D to this notice which provides a model MOU that 
States may use in developing these agreements.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that final agreements with 
participating LEAs should be based on the actual amount of funding a 
State receives and, therefore, that States should not be required to 
provide detailed MOUs with their applications.
    Discussion: The Department agrees that LEAs should not have to 
provide final agreements detailing their precise activities at the time 
that States apply, and as discussed earlier, we are clarifying in the 
new Participating LEA Scope of Work requirement that States will have 
90 days after the receipt of a grant to negotiate the final scope of 
work agreements with their participating LEAs. However, we believe that 
it is critical that LEAs indicate, at the time they sign their MOU in 
connection with the State's application, which parts of the State's 
plan they will participate in implementing. Peer reviewers must have 
this information in order to determine, under criterion (A)(1)(ii), 
whether the State's participating LEAs are indeed strongly committed to 
the State's plan. We also note that, because we are providing 
nonbinding budget ranges in the notice inviting applications and 
encouraging States to propose budgets that match the plans they 
propose, States should have some sense of the expected funding 
available for LEAs before they apply for their grants.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department accept a 
signed ``certification of consultation,'' rather than an MOU. The 
commenter stated that such a certification would be the more 
appropriate method for demonstrating agreement in the commenter's 
State.
    Discussion: We understand that States may have processes and 
procedures other than an MOU that they use to establish agreements with 
their LEAs. As long as such certifications or agreements are binding, 
they may be included in a State's application as evidence of its LEAs' 
commitment to its reform plan. We are adding language in criterion 
(A)(1)(ii) to make this clear.
    Changes: Criterion (A)(1)(ii) provides that participating LEAs' 
commitment to the State's plans may be evidenced by an MOU or other 
binding agreement.
    Comment: A few commenters stated that it would be burdensome and 
time-consuming to require MOUs between an SEA and its LEAs with 
required signatories, and suggested that the Department allow SEAs to 
design and propose a stakeholder input process in accordance with State 
and local needs. One commenter requested clarification

[[Page 59727]]

as to whether a State's Race to the Top application must include an MOU 
with each LEA or whether an outline of what would be covered in an MOU 
with an LEA would suffice.
    Discussion: The Department acknowledges that requiring States to 
develop and obtain signed MOUs for submission with Race to the Top 
applications on a short timeline will be a challenge. However, strong 
LEA participation in State Race to the Top plans is essential if those 
plans are to have a broad impact on student outcomes. To assist States 
in this work, we are providing, as part of the application package and 
Appendix D in this notice, a model MOU that States can adapt or use in 
signing agreements with their participating LEAs.
    With regard to the question of whether a State's Race to the Top 
application must include an MOU with each LEA or whether an outline of 
what would be covered in an MOU with an LEA would suffice, criterion 
(A)(1)(ii) makes clear that the MOUs included in a State's application 
will be used as evidence of LEAs' commitment to the State's plan. 
Therefore, in order to receive maximum points on criterion (A)(1)(ii), 
a State should have an MOU for each participating LEA. However, in 
acknowledgement of the short timeline, we are clarifying in the new 
Participating LEA Scope of Work requirement that a State need only 
include preliminary scopes of work from its participating LEA in its 
application. States will have up to 90 days after receiving a grant 
award to obtain the final scope of work from participating LEAs. States 
also can use this time to reach agreements with additional 
participating LEAs.
    Changes: We have included in Appendix D to this notice a model MOU 
that States can adapt or use for their LEAs who will be participating 
LEAs. In addition, we have added a new Participating LEA Scope of Work 
requirement in order to clarify that the MOUs need only include a 
preliminary scope of work, which must be finalized within 90 days of 
the State receiving a Race to the Top award. This requirement also 
clarifies that winning States can reach agreements with additional 
participating LEAs within 90 days of the State receiving a Race to the 
Top award.
    Comment: Several commenters requested that the MOU between the 
State and its LEAs require the signature of the president of the local 
PTA units and State charter school membership associations. Another 
commenter requested that State union leaders be required to approve the 
State's entire application.
    Discussion: The Department agrees that Race to the Top plans would 
benefit from input and involvement by parents, teachers, and the 
organizations that represent them. Thus, at the State level, criterion 
(A)(2)(ii) includes teachers' unions, parent-teacher organizations, and 
charter school membership associations among the broad group of 
stakeholders from which a State could obtain statements or actions of 
support to demonstrate statewide commitment to its Race to the Top 
plan. In addition, at the LEA level, criterion (A)(1)(ii)(c) specifies 
that LEA leadership support will be evaluated based on the number of 
signatures gathered from among the superintendent (or equivalent), 
school board president (or equivalent, if applicable), and teachers' 
union leader (if applicable).
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters recommended removing the phrase ``ambitious 
yet achievable'' in proposed criterion (E)(4) on the grounds that it 
might encourage States to set a low bar and that it reflects a step 
backward from current ESEA accountability requirements emphasizing 100 
percent proficiency for all students. A number of commenters requested 
that the Department provide more guidance on expectations for State 
targets.
    Discussion: We are retaining the ``ambitious yet achievable'' 
language in criterion (A)(1)(iii) (proposed criterion (E)(4)). The 
Department believes that this language strikes the right balance 
between encouraging States to set a high bar for Race to the Top goals 
while recognizing that real change in education is difficult and takes 
time. The purpose of this language is to encourage realistic thinking 
and planning that connects specific activities to specific achievable 
results. Further, the Department believes that the competitive aspect 
of the Race to the Top program will prevent States from setting low 
bars.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter objected to our proposal that in responding 
to proposed criterion (E)(4), regarding targets for improved student 
outcomes, States submit an estimate of the State's expected levels of 
future performance were the State not to receive Race to the Top 
funding; this commenter argued that a State's goal should be the same 
with or without additional funding. Another commenter requested 
clarification as to how such outcomes should be estimated.
    Discussion: Because this requested piece of evidence was confusing 
to States, we have decided not to include it in the final notice.
    Changes: The final notice does not ask States to provide estimates 
of their expected levels of future performance were they not to receive 
funds under this program.
    Selection Criterion (A)(2)(ii): Stakeholder Support (proposed 
criterion (E)(3)):
    Comment: We received many comments on the list of stakeholders in 
proposed criterion (E)(3) from which States could enlist support and 
commitment for their State plans. Many commenters welcomed the broad 
list of stakeholders; in particular, several commenters expressed 
appreciation for including teachers' unions in the list of stakeholders 
given the need for teacher and school staff support to effectively 
implement Race to the Top reforms. A few commenters recommended adding 
principals to the list of stakeholders. Some commenters recommended 
that States obtain the signature of union leaders on their 
applications, while another recommended that teachers' unions not be 
given ``veto power'' over statewide or local plans.
    Discussion: We agree with commenters that it is important for 
States to obtain support for their reform plans from teachers and 
principals, and that this should include a State's teachers' union or 
statewide teachers' association. As stewards of the teaching workforce, 
teachers' unions have a critical role to play in education reform. 
Therefore, in this final notice, criterion (A)(2)(ii)(a) (proposed 
criterion (E)(3)) specifically identifies teachers and principals, 
which include a State's teachers' union or statewide teachers' 
association, as stakeholders whose support will earn States points. 
However, we decline to require States to obtain signatures from union 
leaders in order to apply for a Race to the Top Grant.
    Note that for clarity, we have moved ``charter school authorizers'' 
from this list to the list in criterion (A)(2)(ii)(b), regarding other 
critical stakeholders.
    Changes: Criterion (A)(2)(ii)(a) provides for evaluation of a 
State's application based on the extent to which it has a high-quality 
plan to use the support from its teachers and principals, which include 
the State's teachers' unions or statewide teacher associations, to 
better implement its plans.
    Comment: Some commenters stated that State plans should not include 
elements that potentially undermine collective bargaining agreements.
    Discussion: We agree with the comment that State reform plans 
should

[[Page 59728]]

not undermine collective bargaining agreements. We also believe that 
Race to the Top may lead to forward-thinking approaches that change how 
LEAs and teachers' unions work together within the framework of 
collective bargaining. Of course, any changes to collective bargaining 
agreements must be collectively bargained.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Many commenters recommended that other stakeholder groups 
be included in proposed criterion (E)(3) as groups from which States 
should obtain support and commitment for their State plans. Commenters 
recommended that the following groups be included: State legislatures, 
charter school associations, parent and family organizations, parent-
teacher associations, Parent Information and Resource Centers, youth-
serving community-based organizations (CBOs) and other community 
groups, CBOs serving Native American tribes, higher education leaders 
and providers, members of the business community, private and faith-
based school leaders, students, local education funds, value-added 
intermediaries, public broadcasting entities, municipal leaders, 
teachers and principals who have successfully turned around schools, 
school service providers, guidance counselors, statewide after-school 
networks, and statewide teacher associations.
    Discussion: We appreciate the broad and diverse group of 
stakeholders that commenters identified as important to States' reform 
efforts. Obviously, the stakeholders from which a State should garner 
support for its reform plan will vary based, to a large extent, on the 
unique needs of the State and its LEAs. While we cannot include all of 
the stakeholders recommended by commenters in this notice, we believe 
it is important to include several examples for illustrative purposes 
and to encourage States, as appropriate to their unique contexts, to 
solicit broad support. We are, therefore, designating proposed 
criterion (E)(3)(ii) as criterion (A)(2)(ii)(b), and adding ``charter 
school authorizers'' from proposed criterion (E)(3)(i), as well as 
additional stakeholders from whom the State may want to obtain support 
for its plans.
    Changes: Criterion (A)(2)(ii)(b) reads as follows: ``Other critical 
stakeholders, such as the State's legislative leadership; charter 
school authorizers and State charter school membership associations (if 
applicable); other State and local leaders (e.g., business, community, 
civil rights, and education association leaders); Tribal schools; 
parent, student, and community organizations (e.g., parent-teacher 
associations, nonprofit organizations, local education foundations, and 
community-based organizations); and institutions of higher education.''
    Comment: Some commenters viewed proposed criterion (E)(3) as an 
opportunity to be involved in developing a State's reform plan. One 
commenter recommended adding language to the final notice to require 
LEA participation in the development of the State plan, while another 
commenter proposed that States develop their plans in consultation with 
civil rights leaders, parents, and community groups that are 
representative of the State's population, and document such 
consultation. Other commenters recommended that the Department award 
additional points for State plans that coordinate and integrate support 
from education, health, nutrition, social services, and juvenile 
justice stakeholders, or for demonstrating a broad spectrum of 
stakeholder support.
    Discussion: There is no requirement that a State involve its LEAs, 
or any other persons or groups, in developing its reform plan. However, 
given that the success of a State's plan depends, to a large extent, on 
the support and commitment of its LEAs to implement the plan, we 
strongly encourage States to work together with their LEAs in 
developing their State plan. Similarly, we believe that committed and 
interested stakeholders can make the difference in a reform's success 
or failure. We decline to require States to develop their plans with 
any specific stakeholders or to award additional points for plans that 
coordinate with specific groups or agencies, as recommended by 
commenters. We believe the decision on who to work with in developing a 
State plan is best left to States.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A number of commenters expressed concern that requiring 
support or input from a broad range of stakeholders could lead to less 
rigorous, ``watered-down'' plans if States were to satisfy all the 
different groups with their competing interests. Some of these 
commenters recommended eliminating the provision on stakeholder support 
from the final notice, while others suggested clarifying that ``buy-
in'' from all stakeholders is not required. Several commenters 
requested a definition of ``statewide support.''
    Discussion: Race to the Top does not require States to work with 
specific stakeholders (other than LEAs) or obtain their support and 
commitment in order to be eligible for a grant. Instead, States will 
earn points for demonstrating stakeholder support under criterion 
(A)(2)(ii). In addition, we note that the list of proposed stakeholders 
in criterion (A)(2)(ii)(b) is illustrative. We believe that this list 
provides sufficient clarity regarding the phrase ``statewide support'' 
and, therefore, decline to define it in this notice.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Some commenters requested that the Department include in 
the final notice examples of the specific kinds of evidence that should 
be used to demonstrate stakeholder support. For example, one commenter 
suggested that evidence of support should include strong letters of 
commitment from teachers' unions; another commenter suggested that 
States provide documentation that plans were developed with stakeholder 
support.
    Discussion: We agree that it would be helpful to specify the 
evidence that a State should submit to demonstrate the strength of its 
support from a broad range of stakeholders. To give further guidance as 
to how States should respond to this criterion, we are revising 
criterion (A)(2)(ii) to clarify that reviewers will judge the extent to 
which a State has a high-quality plan to use its stakeholder support to 
better implement its Race to the Top plans, as evidenced by the 
strength of its stakeholders' statements or actions of support. We are 
also clarifying in Appendix A to this notice that States should provide 
the key statements or actions of support and a summary of them in their 
applications.
    Changes: We have added to the introduction in criterion (A)(2)(ii), 
the following: ``Use support from a broad group of stakeholders to 
better implement its plans, as evidenced by the strength of the 
statements or actions of support from--.'' We have changed the 
requested evidence in Appendix A to require that States provide ``a 
summary in the narrative of the statements or actions and inclusion of 
key statements or actions in the Appendix'' when responding to this 
criterion.
    Selection Criterion (A)(2): Building State Capacity (proposed 
criterion (E)(5)):
    Comment: A number of commenters expressed support for criterion 
(A)(2) (proposed criterion (E)(5)), which focuses on a State's plan to 
build statewide capacity to implement, scale up, and sustain its reform 
plan. One commenter in particular emphasized the importance of plan 
implementation. This commenter claimed that States

[[Page 59729]]

often make empty promises and fail to deliver on their grant 
applications.
    Discussion: We agree that the Race to the Top competition must 
judge States' capabilities to implement their plans, as well as the 
quality of the plans themselves. To emphasize this point, we are moving 
most of the criteria in proposed criterion (E)(5) to criterion 
(A)(2)(i), in which the Department will evaluate the extent to which a 
State has a high-quality plan to ensure it has the capacity necessary 
to implement its proposed Race to the Top plans. We are adding a 
criterion regarding State leadership. We are also including in 
criterion (A)(2)(i)(c) (proposed (E)(5)(i)) more specific examples of 
activities that support effective and efficient grant administration, 
such as budget reporting and monitoring, performance measure tracking 
and reporting, and fund disbursement.
    Changes: Criterion (A)(2)(i)(a) has been added to address the 
extent to which a State has a high-quality plan to provide strong 
leadership and dedicated teams to implement the statewide education 
reforms plans the State has proposed. Criterion (A)(2)(i)(c) 
incorporates with minor changes the language from proposed criterion 
(E)(5)(i) and now reads: ``Providing effective and efficient operations 
and processes for implementing its Race to the Top grant in such areas 
as grant administration and oversight, budget reporting and monitoring, 
performance measure tracking and reporting, and fund disbursement.''
    Comment: Some commenters supported proposed criterion (E)(5)(ii) 
and its focus on ensuring the dissemination of best practices.
    Discussion: We agree that supporting LEAs to implement the State's 
reform plans and disseminate successful practices is critical to a 
State's reform efforts. Therefore, we are re-designating proposed 
criterion (E)(5)(ii) as criterion (A)(2)(i)(b) and adding examples of 
State activities that will help LEAs successfully implement reform 
plans, such as identifying promising practices, evaluating the 
effectiveness of these practices, ceasing ineffective practices, and 
widely disseminating and replicating effective practices.
    Changes: We have re-designated proposed criterion (E)(5)(ii) as 
criterion (A)(2)(i)(b) and added additional text for clarity and 
completeness. Criterion (A)(2)(i)(b) now reads as follows: ``Supporting 
participating LEAs (as defined in this notice) in successfully 
implementing the education reform plans the State has proposed, through 
such activities as identifying promising practices, evaluating these 
practices' effectiveness, ceasing ineffective practices, widely 
disseminating and replicating the effective practices statewide, 
holding participating LEAs (as defined in this notice) accountable for 
progress and performance, and intervening where necessary.''
    Comment: Some commenters suggested that the Department require 
coordination between State agencies and education-related 
organizations, for example, to share and scale up the adoption of 
successful Race to the Top strategies. Other commenters requested 
clarification regarding the collaboration contemplated by the 
Department in proposed criterion (E)(5)(iv), which would examine the 
quality of a State's plan to collaborate with other States on key 
elements of a State's application. Another commenter suggested that the 
Department strengthen this collaboration requirement.
    Discussion: We agree that States and LEAs should partner with and 
learn from outside organizations, other agencies, and other States and 
LEAs whenever doing so would help them improve student outcomes. 
However, commenters' confusion over the Department's intentions around 
collaboration convinced us that reviewers would be best able to 
reliably score State applications if collaboration were evaluated in 
the context of specific plans rather than as a stand-alone portion of a 
State's application. In other words, to the extent that a State 
improves the quality of its plan in response to a given criterion by 
collaborating with others, the State will receive credit under that 
criterion for having a high-quality plan. In addition, in situations 
where there is especially clear value to collaboration among States, 
such as in the development of common standards and assessments (see 
criteria section B), we have specifically encouraged collaboration. We 
have therefore removed from this notice the more general criterion on 
collaboration (proposed criterion (E)(5)(iv)).
    Changes: We have removed proposed criterion (E)(5)(iv), regarding 
collaboration with other States, from this final notice.
    Comment: Some commenters emphasized the need for States to ensure 
that LEAs have sufficient resources to implement reforms.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenters that LEA activities are 
central to Race to the Top and that LEAs will need sufficient resources 
to make their activities a success. In the NPP, proposed application 
requirement (e) required a State to include a budget that detailed, 
among other things, how it would use grant funds and other resources to 
meet targets and perform related functions. In this notice, we have 
retained that application requirement (re-designated as application 
requirement (c)), but also included language in criterion (A)(2)(i)(d) 
directing reviewers to evaluate how the State will use its Race to the 
Top funds to accomplish its plans and meet its targets. We also note 
that, under section 14006(c) of the ARRA, States must subgrant at least 
50 percent of their Race to the Top grant to participating LEAs based 
on LEAs' relative shares of funding under Part A, Title I of the ESEA. 
In addition, States have considerable flexibility in awarding or 
allocating the remaining 50 percent of their Race to the Top awards, 
which are available for State-level activities, disbursements to LEAs, 
and other purposes as the State may propose in its plan.
    Changes: Criterion (A)(2)(i)(d) provides for the evaluation of the 
extent to which the State has a high-quality plan for using the funds 
for this grant, as described in the State's budget and accompanying 
budget narrative, to accomplish the State's plans and meet its targets, 
including, where feasible, by coordinating, reallocating, or 
repurposing education funds from other Federal, State, and local 
sources so that they align with the State's Race to the Top goals.
    Comment: A number of commenters expressed concern regarding 
proposed criterion (E)(5)(v), which focuses on the extent to which 
States coordinate, allocate, or repurpose funds from other sources to 
align with the State's Race to the Top goals. One commenter suggested 
that it was beyond the scope of the Race to the Top program to suggest 
that non-ARRA funds be reallocated to meet the goals of the Race to the 
Top program. A number of commenters requested that the Department add 
the phrase ``consistent with program requirements'' after proposed 
criterion (E)(5)(v) to ensure that reallocation of funds does not 
violate the program requirements of the IDEA.
    Discussion: In response to concerns raised by many commenters 
regarding a State's ability or authority to repurpose education funds 
from other sources to align with a State's Race to the Top plan, we are 
adding ``where feasible'' in proposed criterion (E)(5)(v). We also are 
re-designating proposed criterion (E)(5)(v) as criterion (A)(2)(d) and 
adding additional text for clarity and completeness. However, we 
continue to believe that States need to focus and align their education 
funding resources for maximum impact consistent with

[[Page 59730]]

existing program requirements, and that Race to the Top should 
encourage States to leverage the improved use of all available 
resources, regardless of the source, to support effective, 
comprehensive changes in State and local education systems. In this 
context, consideration of the extent to which a State is willing to 
realign available resources in support of Race to the Top goals is not 
only appropriate, but necessary.
    Changes: We have re-designated criterion (E)(5)(v) as criterion 
(A)(2)(d) and clarified that States will be judged based on their 
coordination, reallocation, or repurposing of education funds so that 
they support Race to the Top goals ``where feasible.''
    Comment: One commenter recommended amending proposed criterion 
(E)(5)(iii) to include fiscal resources, rather than ``economic 
resources'' in the list of resources that States should use to continue 
Race to the Top reforms after the grant funding. Another commenter 
recommended clarifying that grant activities should be continued only 
if there is evidence of success.
    Discussion: We agree that ``fiscal'' is a better word than 
``economic'' to describe the financial resources that a State will use 
to continue Race to the Top reforms after the period of Race to the Top 
funding has ended. Therefore, we are changing proposed criterion 
(E)(5)(iii) to refer to fiscal resources and re-designating criterion 
(E)(5)(iii) as criterion (A)(2)(i)(e). In addition, we are adding 
language to criterion (A)(2)(i)(e) to clarify that post-Race to the Top 
grant planning applies only to continuing support for Race to the Top 
activities for which there is evidence of success.
    Changes: We have re-designated proposed criterion (E)(5)(iii) as 
criterion (A)(2)(i)(e) and revised the criterion to read as follows: 
``Using the fiscal, political, and human capital resources of the State 
to continue, after the period of funding has ended, those reforms 
funded under the grant for which there is evidence of success.''
    Selection Criterion (A)(3): Demonstrating Significant Progress in 
Raising Achievement and Closing Gaps (proposed criteria (E)(1) and 
(E)(4)):

    Note: This section includes issues common to criteria 
(A)(1)(iii) and (A)(3)(ii).

    Comment: None.
    Discussion: The ARRA emphasizes the importance of States 
demonstrating significant progress in meeting the objectives of the 
four assurance areas. In the NPP, proposed criterion (E)(1)(i) asked 
States to describe their progress in each of the four education reform 
areas generally, proposed criterion (E)(1)(ii) asked States to describe 
how they have used ARRA and other Federal and State funding to pursue 
reforms in these areas, and proposed criterion (E)(1)(iv) asked States 
to describe the successes they have had in increasing student 
achievement, closing achievement gaps, and increasing graduation rates. 
In order to reduce redundancy and the burden on States, we are 
combining proposed criteria (E)(1)(i) and (E)(1)(ii) into one criterion 
and designating it as criterion (A)(3)(i). We are also designating 
proposed criterion (E)(1)(iv) as criterion (A)(3)(ii). Both of these 
revised criteria are now part of the State Success Factors section. We 
believe this reorganization more logically groups our requests for 
information regarding progress. We have also added, in criterion 
(A)(3)(ii), that States may report progress since ``at least'' 2003 to 
allow a longer data history for States that have such data (all States 
have NAEP and ESEA data since 2003, but not all States participated in 
all of NAEP prior to 2003). Further changes to criterion (A)(3)(ii) are 
discussed later in this section.
    Changes: We have combined proposed criteria (E)(1)(i) and 
(E)(1)(ii) into one criterion, designated (A)(3)(i), and designated 
proposed criterion (E)(1)(iv) as criterion (A)(3)(ii). Criterion (A)(3) 
now evaluates a State based on the extent to which the State has 
demonstrated its ability to--
    (i) Make progress over the past several years in each of the four 
education reform areas, and used its ARRA and other Federal and State 
funding to pursue such reforms;
    (ii) Improve student outcomes overall and by student subgroup since 
at least 2003, and explain the connections between the data and the 
actions that have contributed to--
    (a) Increasing student achievement in reading/language arts and 
mathematics, both on the NAEP and on the assessments required under the 
ESEA;
    (b) Decreasing achievement gaps between subgroups in reading/
language arts and mathematics, both on the NAEP and on the assessments 
required under the ESEA; and
    (c) Increasing high school graduation rates.
    Comment: A number of commenters objected to our proposal that 
States demonstrate progress in increasing student achievement and 
closing the achievement gap using the National Assessment of 
Educational Progress (NAEP). Some of these commenters asserted that the 
NAEP provides an incomplete and distorted view of student achievement, 
particularly the achievement of students with disabilities. Another 
commenter noted that the NAEP does not include high school results. 
Others expressed concern that using the NAEP data would only encourage 
teaching to a test or would conflict with the NAEP's purpose as an 
outside and valid measurement. Several commenters stated that, in 
addition to the NAEP, the Department should allow States to demonstrate 
achievement gains on assessments or achievement measures under the 
ESEA, such as the annual proficiency scores and targets used to 
determine adequate yearly progress (AYP), including proficiency rates 
broken down by subgroup. One commenter stated that it would be 
particularly unfair to require a State to use NAEP data where the State 
could demonstrate that it has more rigorous assessments. Other 
commenters suggested the final notice permit States to include other 
measures to demonstrate achievement gains.
    Discussion: The Department proposed using NAEP results to measure 
State progress in increasing student achievement and decreasing 
achievement gaps because NAEP is the only national measure of student 
achievement that is comparable across States. The limitations of the 
NAEP, as pointed out by commenters, are well-known: It is not aligned 
to State content standards, does not include high school results, and 
may not provide accurate achievement information for students with 
disabilities and certain other subgroups. Also, the NAEP is not 
administered annually, limiting the number of data points available for 
measuring progress toward Race to the Top goals. However, the ability 
of NAEP to compare progress across States and to be a consistent 
measure over time remains a compelling reason to use it for Race to the 
Top. Accordingly, we believe that including data from both the NAEP and 
the annual State assessments required under the ESEA will provide a 
more complete and valid picture of State progress to date and States' 
goals for increasing student achievement and decreasing achievement 
gaps. We are incorporating with some revisions the language from 
proposed criteria (E)(1)(iv) and (E)(4) into criteria (A)(3)(ii) and 
(A)(1)(iii) to reflect this decision. In addition, we are specifying in 
application requirement (g) that when describing data for the 
assessments required under the ESEA, the State should note any factors 
(e.g., changes in cut scores) that would impact the comparability of 
data from one year to the next. We also note that

[[Page 59731]]

including more than one assessment should significantly reduce any 
risks of teaching to the test. As a result, we do not believe that 
including this use of the NAEP in Race to the Top will affect NAEP's 
validity or utility as an objective measure of student achievement, as 
suggested by commenters.
    Regarding the comment that we should allow States to demonstrate 
achievement gains on assessments or achievement measures under the 
ESEA, such as the annual proficiency scores and targets used to 
determine AYP, we note that States already issue annual reports on AYP 
status for schools and LEAs, including proficiency rates for all 
schools; there is no need to duplicate this reporting by requiring its 
inclusion in a State's annual Race to the Top report. However, States 
that desire to include AYP data (or other measures) in their annual 
Race to the Top reports would be free to do so.
    Changes: Proposed criteria (E)(1)(iv) and (E)(4) have been 
redesignated as criteria (A)(3)(ii) and (A)(1)(iii), respectively. They 
have been revised to consider both NAEP and ESEA assessment results 
when evaluating increases in student achievement and decreases in 
achievement gaps in reading/language arts and mathematics; criterion 
(A)(3)(ii) considers these in terms of historic gains (since at least 
2003), while criterion (A)(1)(iii) considers them in terms of future 
goals in light of the participation of the State's LEAs in the State's 
reform plans. The evidence requested in Appendix A has also been 
revised to conform with the criteria. We have also added application 
requirement (g), which we discuss in more detail later in this notice.
    Comment: Many commenters recommended modifications or additions to 
the achievement measures for assessing past progress and setting future 
targets in proposed criteria (E)(1)(iv) and (E)(4). Other commenters 
supported the NPP's emphasis on increasing student achievement, 
narrowing achievement gaps, and increasing graduation rates. One key 
area of concern for several commenters was dropout recovery and 
prevention, with one commenter recommending that the Department 
supplement existing measures on graduation rates in proposed criteria 
(E)(1)(iv) and (E)(4)(iii) with targets for decreasing the number of 
young people aged 18 to 24 without a high school diploma. Other 
commenters recommended that States set targets and report on the 
percentage of low-income and minority 9th grade students who graduate 
from high school in four years, the number of low-income and minority 
students who are on track to be college- and career-ready, and 
increases in the percentage of low-income and minority students being 
taught by effective teachers. Other commenters recommended the addition 
of targets for early childhood education, such as goals for 
kindergarten readiness and third-grade reading and mathematics. A few 
commenters suggested that in evaluating Race to the Top applications, 
the Department consider the extent to which a State has ambitious 
annual targets for increasing college enrollment and completion rates 
or increasing college and career readiness.
    Discussion: The Department acknowledges that many measures could 
demonstrate progress toward Race to the Top goals. We especially agree 
that increasing college enrollment is an important area that should be 
reviewed in the context of Race to the Top. We are, therefore, adding 
criterion (A)(1)(iii)(d), which examines the extent to which a State's 
LEA participation will allow the State to reach its ambitious yet 
achievable goals for increasing college enrollment and credit 
accumulation. We are also adding a definition of college enrollment to 
help States respond appropriately to this criterion.
    After careful consideration of the comments, the Department 
believes that this new criterion, in combination with the proposed 
measures--which focus on reading, mathematics, and increasing 
graduation rates--reflect the right emphasis on key areas that States 
can report on with some validity and comparability. Further increasing 
the number of measures would increase data collection and reporting 
burdens on States and LEAs, many of which have not been collecting data 
in the areas suggested by commenters. States that want to include their 
own supplemental measures and targets are free to do so, and the 
ongoing expansion of State data systems, which is supported by the Race 
to the Top program and encouraged under invitational priority 4, will 
likely facilitate future indicators and targets in such areas as early 
childhood, drop-out prevention, and student mobility.
    Changes: We have added criterion (A)(1)(iii)(d), which rewards 
States whose LEA participation will translate into broad statewide 
impact, allowing the State to reach its ambitious yet achievable goals, 
overall and by student subgroup, for increasing college enrollment (as 
defined in this notice) and increasing the number of students who 
complete at least a year's worth of college credit that is applicable 
to a degree within two years of enrollment in an institution of higher 
education. We have also added a definition of college enrollment, which 
refers to the enrollment of students who graduate from high school 
consistent with 34 CFR 200.19(b)(1) and who enroll in an institution of 
higher education (as defined in section 101 of the Higher Education 
Act, Public Law 105-244, 20 U.S.C. 1001) within 16 months of 
graduation.
    Comment: Many commenters requested that the Department ensure that 
State applicants set targets for all core academic subjects reported by 
the NAEP, and not only in reading and mathematics, as in proposed 
criteria (E)(4)(i) and (ii).
    Discussion: The final notice continues to focus on reading and 
mathematics achievement, partly to ensure consistency with ESEA 
assessment requirements and partly to promote comparability, since all 
States have NAEP and ESEA assessment results dating back to at least 
2003 in those subjects. The Department notes, however, that these are 
minimum expectations; States may include assessment results in other 
subjects both to demonstrate past progress and to measure Race to the 
Top performance going forward.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Many commenters recommended that States focus more 
narrowly on specific student groups in crafting their State Plans to 
raise student achievement and close achievement gaps, including among 
high-need students.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenters that closing achievement 
gaps is an urgent national priority. Proposed criterion (E)(4) asked 
States to set ambitious yet achievable goals for closing achievement 
gaps, as well as for increasing student achievement and graduation 
rates overall and by subgroup. Criterion (A)(1)(iii) in this final 
notice retains these provisions and includes similar subgroup-specific 
goals in new criterion (A)(1)(iii)(d), regarding college enrollment and 
credit accumulation. This final notice also includes new language in 
criterion (A)(3)(ii) specifying that States' recent gains in increasing 
student achievement and graduation rates will be evaluated both overall 
and by student subgroup. We leave it to States to determine which of 
the subgroups in their student populations need the most attention.
    Changes: Criterion (A)(3)(ii) rewards States that have demonstrated 
the ability to improve student outcomes overall and by student subgroup 
since at least 2003 and explain the connections

[[Page 59732]]

between the data and the actions that have contributed to--
    (a) Increasing student achievement in reading/language arts and 
mathematics, both on the NAEP and on the assessments required under the 
ESEA;
    (b) Decreasing achievement gaps between subgroups in reading/
language arts and mathematics, both on the NAEP and on the assessments 
required under the ESEA; and
    (c) Increasing high school graduation rates.
    Comment: A number of commenters suggested that the Department 
should not ask States to report data disaggregated by the student 
subgroups in section 303(b)(2)(G) of the NAEP but rather use the 
student subgroups as described in section 1111(b)(2)(C)(v)(II) of the 
ESEA. Others emphasized the importance of disaggregating data by 
subgroup, including race and gender.
    Discussion: We agree with the need to clarify the subgroups for 
which States must report achievement data given the differences in 
reporting achievement data by subgroups under the NAEP versus under the 
ESEA. As discussed earlier, we are adding new paragraph (g) in the 
application requirements that explains the subgroup data that a State 
must provide in various parts of the application. Specifically, when 
addressing items in the criteria for student subgroups with respect to 
the NAEP, the State must provide data using the NAEP subgroups as 
described in section 303(b)(2)(G) of the National Assessment of 
Educational Progress Authorization Act (20 U.S.C. 9622) (i.e., race, 
ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, disability, and limited 
English proficiency); and when addressing items in the criteria for 
student subgroups with respect to high school graduation rates, college 
enrollment and credit accumulation rates, and the assessments required 
under the ESEA, the State must provide data for the subgroups described 
in section 1111(b)(2)(C)(v)(II) of the ESEA (i.e., economically 
disadvantaged students, students from major racial and ethnic groups, 
students with disabilities; and students with limited English 
proficiency). We note that States are required under section 
1111(b)(3)(C)(xiii) of the ESEA to also report achievement data 
disaggregated by gender and migrant status.
    Changes: As discussed earlier, we have added new paragraph (g) in 
the application requirements, which specifies that when addressing 
issues related to assessments required under the ESEA or subgroups in 
the selection criteria, the State must meet the following requirements:
    (1) For student subgroups with respect to the NAEP, the State must 
provide data for the NAEP subgroups described in section 303(b)(2)(G) 
of the National Assessment of Educational Progress Authorization Act 
(i.e., race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, disability, and 
limited English proficiency). The State must also include the NAEP 
exclusion rate for students with disabilities and the exclusion rate 
for English language learners, along with clear documentation of the 
State's policies and practices for determining whether a student with a 
disability or an English language learner should participate in the 
NAEP and whether the student needs accommodations;
    (2) For student subgroups with respect to graduation rates, college 
enrollment and credit accumulation rates, and the assessments required 
under the ESEA, the State must provide data for the subgroups described 
in section 1111(b)(2)(C)(v)(II) of the ESEA (i.e., economically 
disadvantaged students, students from major racial and ethnic groups, 
students with disabilities, and students with limited English 
proficiency); and
    (3) When asked to provide information regarding the assessments 
required under the ESEA, States should refer to section 1111(b)(3) of 
the ESEA; in addition, when describing this assessment data in the 
State's application, the State should note any factors (e.g., changes 
in cut scores) that would impact the comparability of data from one 
year to the next.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department clarify that 
States must still meet AYP targets as required by the ESEA, even as 
they set new targets based on NAEP scores for Race to the Top 
accountability purposes. Another expressed concern that these criteria 
would tie State accountability goals and reporting to NAEP, which would 
conflict with ESEA requirements that link accountability to State-based 
standards and assessments.
    Discussion: The Department does not believe that additional 
language is required to clarify that States must still meet existing 
ESEA requirements. Neither the ARRA nor this final notice affects 
States' compliance with and obligations under the ESEA.
    Changes: None.

B. Standards and Assessments

    Definitions: Common set of K-12 standards and high-quality 
assessment. Comments regarding the preceding definitions are addressed, 
as appropriate, below.
    Selection Criterion (B)(1): Developing and adopting common 
standards (Proposed Selection Criterion (A)(1)):
    Comment: Commenters were divided in their reactions to the 
criterion under which the Department would evaluate States' 
applications based on their commitment to adopt a common set of K-12 
standards (as defined in this notice). Many commenters supported this 
criterion. Some suggested procedures that should be followed in the 
process of developing standards, including the need for broad 
participation from representatives of all student subgroups within a 
State prior to formal adoption of standards.
    A few commenters, however, were opposed to the adoption of common 
standards for various reasons, such as a lack of evidence that common 
standards will benefit students and the potential cost of adopting new 
content standards. One commenter urged removing participation in a 
consortium as a necessary condition of funding because of concerns that 
the size and the complexity of the relationships in a consortium may 
have the potential for conflicts of interest. Some commenters regarded 
the proposed criterion as punitive. A few commenters suggested making 
participation in common standards an invitational priority in the 
interest of making adoption truly voluntary. Another commenter 
expressed concern that a criterion under which States would be rewarded 
for their commitment for adopting a common set of K-12 standards will 
preempt what, up to now, has been a State-led process and would call 
into question the voluntary nature of State adoption of standards.
    Many commenters argued that States should be excused from the 
requirement to adopt common core standards if their current standards 
are as rigorous as common standards. One commenter suggested that the 
Department include in the final notice an additional criterion to 
provide recognition for those States with rigorous standards and 
improved student achievement. Another recommended an external review 
focused on rigor, college and career readiness and international 
benchmarking to determine whether adoption of a common set of K-12 
standards is necessary.
    Discussion: We appreciate commenters' support for this criterion. 
The Department believes that States' adoption of common sets of K-12 
standards will provide a foundation for more efficient and effective 
creation of the instructional and assessment resources needed to 
implement a coherent system of teaching and

[[Page 59733]]

learning. We do not agree that an external review is needed to 
determine whether States' adoption of common K-12 standards is 
necessary.
    Some readers appear to have been confused about the role of the 
criteria. One mistakenly believed that joining a consortium was a 
condition of funding under Race to the Top. This is not the case. 
Criteria are used to evaluate grant applications and applicants. States 
receive points for the strength and content of their responses to the 
criteria. In this program, we proposed that States' applications would 
be evaluated and receive points for demonstrating their commitment to 
improve standards by participating in a consortium of States working 
toward jointly adopting common K-12 standards. Thus, States with 
stronger proposals would receive more points; however, a State could 
receive a grant even without getting any points for this criterion. An 
individual State that chooses not to participate in a consortium for 
the development and adoption of common standards is eligible to apply 
for funds, but the application will not receive points under this 
criterion. A State that chooses not to join a consortium could describe 
its accomplishments in response to new criteria (F)(3) under which it 
could earn points for other significant reform conditions that have 
contributed to increased student achievement, narrowed achievement 
gaps, or other important outcomes. We decline to make participation in 
common standards an invitational priority for which a State would 
receive no points in the competition, rather than a selection 
criterion. We believe that common internationally benchmarked standards 
that prepare students for college and careers are a critical foundation 
for students' education and, therefore, are a component of a State's 
application deserving of evaluation and points in the competition.
    We agree that there is potential for conflicts of interest to arise 
within consortia, but believe there are ways for consortia to mitigate 
such conflicts and that removal of the criterion on these grounds is 
not warranted.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters recommended that the Department clarify 
in the final notice whether the reference to common standards refers 
specifically to the common core standards currently being developed 
jointly by members of the National Governors Association and the 
Council of Chief State School Officers. Others recommended that the 
guidelines be modified to recognize other multi-State consortia that 
have defined or adopted common standards. One commenter requested 
recognition of the national collaborative of State leaders developing 
national standards and assessments in arts education.
    Discussion: In this program, the phrase ``common standards'' does 
not refer to any specific set of common standards, such as the common 
core standards currently under development by members of the National 
Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. 
The Department declines to make changes in order to endorse any 
particular standards-development consortium.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters recommended that we clarify the meaning 
of ``a significant number of States'' within a consortium. One 
recommended that the number of States be set at a minimum of three if 
the quality of their common standards is comparable to the common 
standards developed by members of the National Governor's Association 
and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Others suggested that 
instead of a minimum number, the criterion should focus on the 
importance or potential impact of the proposed work.
    Discussion: The goal of common K-12 standards is to replace the 
existing patchwork of State standards that results in unequal 
expectations based on geography alone. Some of the major benefits of 
common standards will be the shared understanding of teaching and 
learning goals; consistency of data permitting research on effective 
practices in staffing and instruction; and the coordination of 
information that could inform the development and implementation of 
curriculum, instructional resources, and professional development. The 
Department believes that the cost savings and efficiency resulting from 
collaboration in a consortium should be rewarded through the Race to 
the Top program when the impact on educational practices is pronounced. 
And generally, we believe that the larger the number of States within a 
consortium, the greater the benefits and potential impact. We decline 
to define the term ``significant number of States'' by providing a 
particular number of States. We are providing additional information in 
Appendix B regarding how this selection criterion will be scored by 
reviewers and adding a cross reference to Appendix B in criterion 
(B)(1) to emphasize that States' evidence will be evaluated using 
Appendix B.
    Changes: The term ``significant number of States'' has been 
clarified in the Scoring Rubric (see Appendix B) so that, on this 
aspect of the criterion, a State will earn ``high'' points if its 
consortium includes a majority of the States in the country, and 
``medium'' or ``low'' points if its consortium includes one-half of the 
States in the country or less. Additionally, we have added a reference 
to this in criterion (B)(1) by adding the parenthetical ``(as set forth 
in Appendix B)'' after ``evidenced by.''
    Comment: Many commenters expressed concern regarding the proposed 
timeline for the adoption of common standards by June 2010. Commenters 
urged delay of the adoption target date in order to allow adequate time 
for activities such as local review and evaluation of the common 
standards, legislative or administrative action required for adoption, 
and broad stakeholder participation. Several pointed out that the 
proposed timeline for adoption of common standards by June 2010 
conflicts with the timeline agreed to by governors and State chiefs 
currently participating in one consortium for the development of common 
standards. One commenter objected that the Race to the Top process does 
not allow States enough time to review the final standards from that 
consortium before submitting a grant application. Others questioned 
apparent differences for Phase 1 applicants and Phase 2 applicants 
regarding the actual adoption of common standards.
    Discussion: The Department recognizes that States need as much time 
as possible to review, evaluate, and adopt common K-12 standards. We 
are therefore extending the deadline for adopting standards as far as 
possible, while still allowing the Department to comply with the 
statutory requirement that the Department obligate all Race to the Top 
funds by September 30, 2010. The new deadline in this criterion for 
adopting common K-12 standards is August 2, 2010, or, at a minimum, by 
a later date in 2010 specified by the State. As described in the 
Scoring Rubric, States that meet the August 2, 2010 target date will 
earn more points for this criterion; a State that has a high-quality 
plan to adopt common standards by a later date in 2010 will earn some 
points for this criterion. In addition, we have clarified that Phase 1 
applicants must demonstrate commitment to and progress toward adoption 
by August 2, 2010, or, at a minimum, by a later date in 2010 specified 
by the State, and that Phase 2 applicants must demonstrate adoption by 
that date in order to earn the most points for this criterion. We 
understand that adoption of standards is a legal process at the State 
level, and

[[Page 59734]]

fully expect that implementation of the standards will follow a 
thoughtful, deliberate course in subsequent year(s). For any State 
receiving funds, the Department will monitor the State's progress in 
meeting its goals and timelines as established in its plan, including 
States' progress towards adoption of common standards.
    Changes: We have revised the deadline in criterion (B)(1) regarding 
adoption of a common set of K-12 standards. Phase 1 applicants will be 
evaluated based on their high-quality plans demonstrating commitment to 
and progress toward adopting a common set of K-12 standards by August 
2, 2010, or, at a minimum, by a later date in 2010 specified by the 
State. Phase 2 applicants will be evaluated based on whether they adopt 
such standards by August 2, 2010, or at a minimum, by a later date in 
2010 specified by the State in a high-quality plan toward which the 
State has made significant progress. Both Phase 1 and Phase 2 
applicants will also be evaluated on their commitment to implementing 
the standards after the deadline in a well-planned way.
    We also have revised and reorganized criterion (B)(1) non-
substantively for purposes of clarity. When describing how a State can 
demonstrate its commitment to developing standards we have changed the 
phrase, ``improving the quality of its standards'' to ``adopting a 
common set of high-quality standards, as evidenced by * * *''. In 
criterion (B)(1)(ii)(a), we also have removed the qualifier to a common 
set of K-12 standards (``that are internationally benchmarked and that 
build toward college and career readiness by the time of high school 
graduation * * *'') because it is redundant with similar language in 
criterion (B)(1)(i)(a).
    Comment: Several commenters recommended that the Department clarify 
in the final notice the evidence necessary for criterion (B)(1), asking 
whether participation in a standards development consortium or an 
expression of intent to participate in such a consortium, such as a 
Memorandum of Agreement, is sufficient. One commenter suggested that a 
State should be allowed to provide whatever evidence it believes is 
appropriate to demonstrate its efforts to address this criterion.
    Discussion: We agree that the evidence for this criterion should be 
clearer, and have made some revisions to the evidence requested for 
that purpose. The evidence requested is shown in Appendix A of this 
notice. We do not agree with the commenter that a State should provide 
whatever evidence it believes is appropriate to demonstrate its efforts 
to address this criterion.
    Changes: We have clarified some of the requested evidence for 
criterion (B)(1). We request that a State supply a copy of the 
Memorandum of Agreement, executed by the State, showing that it is part 
of a standards consortium, and provide the number and names of States 
participating in the consortium. A State should provide a copy of the 
final standards, or if the standards are not yet final, a copy of the 
draft standards and anticipated date for completing the standards. A 
State should also provide documentation that the standards are or will 
be internationally benchmarked. For Phase 1, States must provide a 
description of the legal process in the State for adopting standards, 
and the State's plan, current progress, and timeframe for adoption. For 
Phase 2, States must show evidence that they have adopted the 
standards; or, if the State has not yet adopted the standards, provide 
a description of the legal process in the State for adopting standards, 
and the State's plan, current progress, and timeframe for adoption. 
States may provide additional evidence beyond that requested.
    Comment: One commenter asked what national and international 
benchmarks are required under criterion (B)(1).
    Discussion: The Department is not requiring that common standards 
adopted by State applicants be benchmarked to particular international 
standards, but the standards should be supported by evidence that they 
are internationally benchmarked.
    Changes: We have revised criterion (B)(1)(i) to clarify that the K-
12 standards adopted by the State should be ``supported by evidence 
that they are'' internationally benchmarked.
    Comment: A few commenters requested more detail regarding the 
desired characteristics of college and career ready standards. Some 
suggested that the Department require specific types of evidence to 
meet this criterion, such as measurement of the skills needed to 
succeed in non-remedial college courses, validation by the 
postsecondary system or involvement of postsecondary faculty in 
development of the standards and assessments.
    Discussion: Criterion (B)(1) focuses on States' development and 
adoption of common K-12 standards that build toward college and career 
readiness. By using these terms, we mean that the standards should 
build on content knowledge and skills regarded as essential for success 
in college and the workforce. The Department recognizes that many kinds 
of documentation could reasonably support the claim that common 
standards build toward college and career readiness and prefers to 
leave the selection of appropriate documentation to the States.
    Changes: None.
Definition of Common Set of K-12 Standards
    Comment: We received several recommendations to modify the 
definition of common set of K-12 standards. Some commenters suggested 
that the definition of common set of K-12 standards should refer to 
21st century skills; English language proficiency standards aligned to 
the language arts standards; and standards for science, technology, and 
engineering. Another commenter recommended expanding the definition to 
include standards currently shared across States, such as the American 
Diploma Project standards or ACT College Benchmarks. Other commenters 
recommended that the definition clearly specify whether the common 
standards should include standards for each high school grade or for 
each high school course. One commenter asked if the term ``standard'' 
refers to a broad statement about content or to a discrete concept or 
skill.
    Discussion: It is up to States participating in the development of 
common standards to determine the content and scope of the standards, 
whether to organize the standards for high school by grade or by 
course, and whether the statement of each standard is focused broadly 
on general concepts or narrowly on particular skills. Therefore, we 
decline to make the changes recommended by the commenters.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Commenters requested clarification of what it means for 
the common standards to be ``identical'' across all States in a 
consortium given that a State may supplement the common standards with 
additional standards. Some commenters suggested changing the definition 
to refer to standards that are ``aligned,'' across States, rather than 
``identical.'' Other commenters suggested that the additional standards 
adopted by a State should be more stringent than the common standards, 
foster innovation, or focus on particular skills of local relevance.
    Discussion: Some commenters appeared to be confused by the term 
``identical'' when it was qualified by the possible addition of a 
supplementary group of standards that could vary across States in a 
consortium. The term

[[Page 59735]]

``identical'' refers to the common standards and not the supplementary 
standards and would not permit the standards to be ``aligned'' across 
States in a consortium, as recommended by one commenter. Upon further 
reflection, we believe that there may be reasons for the common 
standards to be slightly different across States (e.g., States may use 
slightly different terms to refer to the same concepts or may have a 
particular format which would require slight changes in language) and 
therefore, are changing ``identical'' to ``substantially identical.'' 
The Department believes that it is unnecessary to include in the 
definition additional requirements for the supplementary standards, 
such as being more rigorous or fostering innovation, and therefore, 
declines to change the definition as requested by commenters.
    Changes: We have changed ``identical'' to ``substantially 
identical'' to clarify that a common set of K-12 standards are 
``substantially identical'' across all States in a consortium.
    Selection Criterion (B)(2): Developing and Implementing Common, 
High-quality Assessments (Proposed Selection Criterion (A)(2)):
    Comment: A number of commenters supported the Department's proposal 
to evaluate a State's commitment to improving the quality of its 
assessments by participating in a consortium of States developing 
common high-quality assessments (as defined in this notice) aligned 
with the consortium's common set of K-12 standards. However, other 
commenters requested that the Department remove this criterion, 
stressing that the Department has overemphasized standardized testing 
and that the ESEA has stressed reading and math to the detriment of 
other subjects. One commenter asserted that a State should not have to 
join a consortium if its own assessment is of high quality. Another 
commenter questioned why we would encourage States to change current 
assessment programs; this commenter suggested that we not replace 
current assessments until there is certainty about which aspects of 
current testing need change so as to not waste resources and risk 
development of low-quality assessments. Another commenter suggested the 
Department support the improvement of State and local assessment 
systems rather than pressuring States to ``swap one standardized test 
for another.''
    Discussion: The Department believes that consortia of States, by 
pooling resources, will be able to produce significantly higher-quality 
assessments more cost-effectively than any one State could produce 
alone. Significant improvement of student outcomes can be realized when 
high-quality assessments aligned to common standards inform and support 
teacher instruction and, thus, student learning. An individual State 
that chooses not to participate in a consortium for the development and 
adoption of assessments aligned to common standards is eligible to 
apply for funds, but the application will not receive points for this 
criterion.
    We understand commenters' concerns about the overemphasis of 
standardized testing, but believe that educators need good information 
about what students know and can do so that they can guide their 
students' learning, and adjust and differentiate their instruction 
appropriately. This information needs to come, in part, from academic 
assessments.
    With respect to support for local assessments, criteria (B)(3) and 
(C)(3) provide opportunities for focus on local assessments and 
instructional improvement systems. Criterion (B)(3) evaluates a State 
on the extent to which it has a high-quality plan for supporting 
statewide transition to and implementation of enhanced standards and 
high-quality assessments and provides examples of State or LEA support 
activities, including implementation of high-quality instructional 
materials and assessments. In responding to this criterion, States 
could propose to support development of local assessments, including 
formative and interim assessments, that would assist in the transition 
to new statewide standards and assessments. Criterion (C)(3) evaluates 
a State on the extent to which it has a high-quality plan to increase 
the acquisition, adoption, and use of local instructional improvement 
systems (as defined in this notice); supports LEAs and schools that are 
using instructional improvement systems; and makes data from these 
systems available and accessible to researchers. Instructional 
improvement systems may include local assessment data.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters opposed the provision in criterion 
(B)(2) that asked a State to describe the extent to which its 
consortium working on developing common high-quality assessments 
includes a ``significant number of States,'' recommending instead that 
the criterion focus only on the quality of the assessments. One 
commenter recommended that the criterion evaluate the extent to which 
the consortium has the potential to have a significant national impact, 
including consideration of the number and diversity of students in 
participating States, or the ability of participating States to serve 
as exemplars for statewide reform, rather than focus on the number of 
participating States.
    Discussion: The Department believes that the cost savings and 
efficiency resulting from collaboration in a consortium should be 
rewarded through Race to the Top when the impact on educational 
practices is pronounced. Generally, we believe that the larger the 
number of States within a consortium, the greater the benefits and 
potential impact. While the other measures suggested by the commenters 
could be valuable, they would not be as objective a measure for the 
reviewers to consider when evaluating a State's plan. We are providing 
information about the scoring of this criterion in the Scoring Rubric 
set forth in Appendix B. Additionally, we are adding a cross reference 
to Appendix B in criterion (B)(2) to emphasize that States' evidence 
will be evaluated using Appendix B.
    Changes: The term ``significant number of States'' has been 
clarified in the Scoring Rubric (see Appendix B) so that, on this 
aspect of the criterion, a State will earn ``high'' points if its 
consortium includes a majority of the States in the country, and 
``medium'' or ``low'' points if its consortium includes one-half of the 
States in the country or less. Additionally, we added the parenthetical 
``(as set forth in Appendix B)'' after ``evidenced by'' in criterion 
(B)(2).
    In addition, we have made some non-substantive changes to this 
section for clarity. We have replaced ``whether'' with ``to the extent 
to which'' in criterion (B)(2); we have added ``as evidenced by (i) the 
State's participation * * *''; and we have removed the phrase ``that 
are internationally benchmarked'' when we refer to a common set of K-12 
standards because the phrase is unnecessary and redundant with language 
in criterion (B)(1)(i)(a).
    Comment: Many commenters suggested that the Department consider 
additional factors in examining a State's commitment to developing 
common assessments. One commenter recommended that States submit 
evidence from assessment developers demonstrating that the assessments 
are valid and reliable for English language learners, as well as 
showing the research base for use of accommodations. Another commenter 
suggested that the criterion explicitly encourage States to develop a 
more comprehensive local assessment system.

[[Page 59736]]

    Discussion: Members of an assessment consortium are responsible for 
ensuring that assessments are developed to meet the definition of high-
quality assessments (as defined in this notice), including the 
requirement that assessments are of high technical quality and include 
students with disabilities and English language learners. Local 
assessments can be addressed in response to other criteria, such as 
criterion (B)(3) and (C)(3) as previously discussed.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A number of commenters requested that the Department 
clarify in the final notice how an applicant should describe its 
strategy for and commitment to joining a common assessments consortium 
and implementing common assessments. One commenter suggested that 
States demonstrate compliance with this criterion by developing a 
timeline for when assessments would be aligned to the common standards. 
Two commenters asked if States can include the cost of additional 
assessments, such as formative and benchmark assessments, in addition 
to summative tests in its application. Another commenter suggested that 
we evaluate States' progress in relation to developing common 
assessments on a regular basis and that reports should be provided on 
these evaluations.
    Discussion: It is not necessary for a State to describe its 
strategy for joining a common assessments consortium; the evidence for 
this criterion focuses on a State's participation in a consortium that 
intends to develop high-quality assessments. The minimum evidence for 
which a State will receive points for this criterion is described in 
detail in Appendix A of this notice (Evidence and Performance 
Measures). The Department intends to hold a separate Race to the Top 
Assessment competition that will fund the development of common, 
summative assessments tied to common K-12 standards. We therefore 
believe that funds within this Race to the Top competition would be 
better spent on other activities. Accordingly, we have added a 
requirement specifying that no funds awarded under this competition may 
be used to pay for costs related to statewide summative assessments. 
Formative and interim assessments (as defined in this notice) may be 
funded within this competition, and would be funded as part of a 
State's plan for criterion (B)(3). In addition, for any State receiving 
funds, the Department will monitor the State's progress in meeting its 
goals and timelines.
    Changes: We have added a program requirement that no funds awarded 
under this competition may be used to pay for costs related to 
statewide summative assessments.
    Comment: A few commenters suggested that high-quality assessments 
include grade-by-grade specificity of core subject matter. Others 
suggested this notice explicitly include the assessment of broad-based 
humanities centered curricula, including art, science, and social 
studies.
    Discussion: This notice does not limit or require certain grade or 
content coverage for high-quality assessments.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Another commenter suggested that we award additional 
points to States that commit to developing a common STEM assessment.
    Discussion: A State may choose to address competitive preference 
priority 2, which addresses STEM issues, and, if peer reviewers 
determine the State has met the priority, would receive extra points in 
the Race to the Top competition. The third element of this priority (a 
plan to address the need to prepare more students for advanced study 
and careers in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics) 
could be addressed, in part, by a commitment to develop a common STEM 
assessment. Note, however, that a statewide summative STEM assessment 
would have to be developed using funds other than those awarded under 
this competition because, as noted in the previous comment, Race to the 
Top funds cannot be used to pay for costs related to statewide 
summative assessments.
    Changes: None.
    Comments: Some commenters asked that the Department provide 
incentives for States to develop and implement high-quality assessments 
beginning at pre-kindergarten.
    Discussion: As previously stated, this notice does not limit or 
require certain grade or content coverage for high-quality assessments. 
We note, however, that invitational priority 3 invites States to 
include in their applications practices, strategies, or programs to 
improve educational outcomes for high-need young children by enhancing 
the quality of preschool programs. Of particular interest are proposals 
that support practices that (i) improve school readiness (including 
social, emotional, and cognitive); and (ii) improve the transition 
between preschool and kindergarten.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter requested that the Department state in the 
final notice that new assessment systems should be aligned with content 
standards, and be vertically integrated. Another commenter suggested 
that the entire K-12 assessment system should be vertically moderated 
to the anchor assessments so ``proficient'' means ``prepared'' and that 
students are on-track to meet college and career ready standards by 
graduation.
    Discussion: Under criterion (B)(2) States will be rewarded for the 
development of assessments aligned with common standards that build 
toward college and career readiness. The technical aspects of how the 
assessment system is organized to reflect increasing student competence 
from grade to grade will be determined by the consortia developing the 
assessments.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter stated that a plan for implementing high-
quality assessments must include high-quality alternate assessments.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenter; however, we do not believe 
it is necessary to include additional language to that effect in this 
notice because section 1111(b)(3)(C)(ix)(II) of the ESEA requires that 
States include students with disabilities in their assessments. In 
addition, section 612(a)(16)(C) of the IDEA requires States to provide 
an alternate assessment to a student with a disability who needs it for 
any statewide assessment.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters supported the statement in the NPP 
that, at a later date, we may announce a separate Race to the Top 
Assessment Competition, for approximately $350 million, to support the 
development of assessments by consortia of States. Several commenters 
asked for more explicit guidelines on standards and assessment work for 
Phases 1 and 2 as described in this notice, as opposed to the work for 
the separate $350 million fund for the development of assessments.
    Discussion: As previously indicated, the Department intends to hold 
a separate Race to the Top Assessment competition that will fund 
consortia in developing common, summative assessments tied to common K-
12 standards. The Department may provide additional information about 
this competition in the future, and as noted previously, more 
requirements may be articulated in that competition's notice.
    Changes: None.
Definition of High-Quality Assessment
    Comment: Many commenters supported the proposed definition of


[[Continued on page 59737]]


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[[Continued from page 59736]]

[[Page 59737]]

high-quality assessment. Several commenters recommended that the 
definition refer to the use of universal design principles in test 
development and administration. A few commenters suggested revising the 
definition to clarify that the use of open-ended items, performance-
based tasks, and technology are desirable and necessary only insofar as 
they are grade-appropriate for the subject matter and consistent with 
the skills to be measured. Many other commenters recommended revising 
the definition to include assessments and assessment systems that 
measure higher order and critical thinking, problem-solving, reasoning, 
research, writing, scientific investigation, communication, and 
teamwork skills.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenters that the definition of 
high-quality assessment should refer to the use of universal design 
principles in test design and administration and are making that 
change. However, we are not revising the definition to include specific 
skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving, research, or 
writing skills, mentioned by the commenters because the skills and 
content included in an assessment will be determined by the content 
standards on which the assessment is based. Instead, we are revising 
the definition to state that a high-quality assessment is an assessment 
that is designed to measure a student's ``knowledge, understanding of, 
and ability to apply, critical concepts,'' rather than an assessment 
that is designed to measure ``understanding of, and ability to apply, 
critical concepts.''
    We do not believe it is necessary to clarify that open-ended items, 
performance-based tasks, and technology should be appropriate for the 
grade and subject to be assessed and consistent with the skills to be 
measured, as recommended by commenters. We believe this is implicit in 
the design of any assessment and have included open-ended responses, 
performance-based tasks, and technology as examples, not as 
requirements of a high-quality assessment.
    Finally, based on the Department's internal review, we are making 
several changes to the definition. First, in the NPP, we stated that a 
high-quality assessment uses a ``variety of item types, formats, and 
administration conditions (e.g., open-ended responses, performance-
based tasks, technology).'' We believe that a variety of administration 
conditions is not necessarily a requirement for an assessment to be of 
high quality. Therefore, we are revising the definition to clarify that 
a high-quality assessment uses a variety of item types and formats 
(e.g., open-ended responses, performance-based tasks) and incorporates 
technology, where appropriate. Second, for consistency with the rest of 
the notice, we are changing the reference to ``limited English 
proficient students'' to ``English language learners.'' Next, the 
proposed definition stated that a high-quality assessment be ``of high 
technical quality (e.g., valid, reliable, and aligned to standards).'' 
For completeness, we are adding ``fair'' to the examples in the 
parenthetical. Finally, for clarity, we are changing ``Such assessments 
are structured to enable measurement of student achievement * * *'' to 
``Such assessments should enable measurement of student achievement.''
    Changes: With the aforementioned changes, the definition of high-
quality assessment is as follows: ``High-quality assessment means an 
assessment designed to measure a student's knowledge, understanding of, 
and ability to apply, critical concepts through the use of a variety of 
item types and formats (e.g., open-ended responses, performance-based 
tasks). Such assessments should enable measurement of student 
achievement (as defined in this notice) and student growth (as defined 
in this notice); be of high technical quality (e.g., be valid, 
reliable, fair, and aligned to standards); incorporate technology where 
appropriate; include the assessment of students with disabilities and 
English language learners; and to the extent feasible, use universal 
design principles (as defined in section 3 of the Assistive Technology 
Act of 1998, as amended, 29 U.S.C. 3002) in development and 
administration.''
    Comment: Several commenters recommended that the Department require 
that high-quality assessments address the needs of English language 
learners, students with disabilities, and other learners who need 
targeted services.
    Discussion: As defined in this notice, a high-quality assessment 
includes assessment of students with disabilities and English language 
learners.
    Changes: None.
    Selection Criterion (B)(3): Supporting the Transition to Enhanced 
Standards and High-Quality Assessments (Proposed Selection Criterion 
(A)(3)):
    Comment: Many commenters approved of criterion (B)(3) regarding a 
State's high-quality plan for supporting a statewide transition to and 
implementation of enhanced standards and high-quality assessments, but 
stated that the Department should expand the activities that a 
transition plan might include. For instance, several commenters 
suggested that States show that they plan to increase student 
participation in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate 
courses, as well as dual enrollment in postsecondary credit-bearing 
courses, while transitioning to common standards and assessments. A few 
commenters suggested States commit to increasing student participation 
in pre-Advanced Placement courses for middle school students, and in 
after-school programs to accelerate achievement for students having 
difficulty meeting academic targets. One commenter recommended that 
States provide a roll-out plan for adoption of the common standards and 
all of their supporting components. Some commenters suggested that 
adoption of common standards be accompanied by the necessary supporting 
components, such as curricular frameworks, unit plans, lesson plans, 
curriculum-embedded formative assessments, anchor assignments, and 
rubrics. One commenter noted that States should amend course 
requirements for graduation to ensure that students are guaranteed to 
receive the content.
    However, not all commenters supported additional supports and 
resources during a State's transition to enhanced standards and high-
quality assessments. One commenter questioned whether limited Race to 
the Top funds should be used by States and LEAs to develop 
instructional materials. Another commenter was critical of requiring a 
plan for transition; instead this commenter suggested that a State 
should be judged on its transition after implementation of common 
standards and assessments, not before the State has developed best 
practices.
    Discussion: We agree with many of the commenters' suggestions 
regarding which supporting components should be considered when 
transitioning to new standards and assessments. We encourage States to 
create plans that increase student participation in advanced coursework 
in order to provide for a smooth transition to internationally 
benchmarked standards aligned with college and career ready 
expectations. We also agree that a rollout plan and additional supports 
would aid in the transition to enhanced standards and high-quality 
standards, and have therefore incorporated these suggestions. We 
understand the commenter's concern that States may need to amend course 
requirements for graduation to ensure that students are guaranteed to 
receive the content. We

[[Page 59738]]

believe a statement in criterion (B)(3) addresses this comment--that 
State or LEA activities might include, ``in cooperation with the 
State's institutions of higher education, aligning high school exit 
criteria and college entrance requirements with new standards and 
assessments.''
    We disagree with commenters who questioned whether limited Race to 
the Top funds should be used by States and LEAs to develop 
instructional materials. We believe that the transition to enhanced 
assessments and a common set of K-12 standards will not be successful 
without support from the States doing this work in collaboration with 
their participating LEAs.
    We have made several edits for clarity in the illustrative list of 
State and LEA support activities for transition to enhanced standards 
and high-quality assessments. We deleted the reference to developing 
curricular frameworks, for example, but added a reference to ``high-
quality instructional materials and assessments (including, for 
example, formative and interim assessments).'' Additionally, we 
accepted commenters' suggestion to add ``development of a rollout plan 
for the standards with all supporting components,'' which could 
include, among other things, development of curricular frameworks and 
materials.
    Changes: We have revised the language in criterion (B)(3) to 
include many of the commenters' suggestions. The language now reads 
that State or LEA activities might, for example, include, ``developing 
a rollout plan for the standards together with all of their supporting 
components; in cooperation with the State's institutions of higher 
education, aligning high school exit criteria and college entrance 
requirements with the new standards and assessments; developing or 
acquiring, disseminating, and implementing high-quality instructional 
materials and assessments (including, for example, formative and 
interim assessments (both as defined in this notice)); developing or 
acquiring and delivering high-quality professional development to 
support the transition to new standards and assessments; and engaging 
in other strategies that translate the standards and information from 
assessments into classroom practice for all students, including high-
need students (as defined in this notice).''
    Comment: One commenter suggested including, as an additional 
activity to support statewide transition to and implementation of 
enhanced standards and high-quality assessments, building improvements 
for science labs and technology in the classrooms.
    Discussion: Consistent with the Department's May 11, 2009, State 
Fiscal Stabilization Fund guidance ,\3\ the Department also discourages 
States and LEAs from using Race to the Top funds for new construction 
because this use may limit the ability of the State and its LEAs to 
implement the State's core Race to the Top plans. States may propose 
that certain participating LEAs may use Race to the Top funds for 
modernization, renovation, or repair projects to the extent that these 
projects are consistent with the State's Race to the Top plan.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \3\ Available at: 
http://www.ed.gov/programs/statestabilization/guidance-mod-05112009.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters observed that teachers will be 
primarily responsible for ensuring successful implementation of new 
standards and, accordingly, recommended that teachers be involved in a 
State's transition plan. Commenters stated that a transition plan 
should include model lesson plans, pre-service teacher education, and 
in-service professional development to familiarize and train teachers 
on the content standards and how to use assessment results. One 
commenter suggested that professional development be focused on middle 
school and high school teachers.
    Discussion: We agree with commenters that a successful transition 
plan should include high-quality professional development to support 
the transition to new standards and assessments. The NPP included 
developing, disseminating and implementing professional development 
materials as a suggested State or local activity in this criterion. We 
are strengthening the language about this activity to suggest 
development or acquisition and delivery of high-quality professional 
development to support the transition to new standards and assessments. 
We also agree with the commenter that teachers should be involved in a 
State's transition plan. Under criterion (B)(3) the Department will 
evaluate a State application on the extent to which it has a high-
quality plan for supporting the transition to and implementation of 
enhanced standards and high-quality assessments, in collaboration with 
its participating LEAs. We expect that LEAs will collaborate with 
teachers on this criterion. In addition, in criterion (A)(2)(ii)(a), a 
State is judged on the extent to which it has a high-quality overall 
plan to (among other things) utilize the support it has from a broad 
group of stakeholders to better implement its plans, as evidenced by 
the strength of the statements or actions of support from the State's 
teachers and principals, which include the State's teachers' unions or 
statewide teacher associations.
    We decline to take the commenter's suggestion that a State focus 
its professional development on middle and high school teachers because 
we believe all teachers implementing enhanced standards and high-
quality assessments would benefit from high-quality professional 
development.
    Changes: We have included language in criterion (B)(3) to clarify 
that a State or LEA activity might, for example, include ``developing 
or acquiring and delivering high-quality professional development to 
support the transition to new standards and assessments.''
    Comment: Numerous commenters articulated a need for collaboration, 
stakeholder engagement, financial support, autonomy, and flexibility 
during the transition to enhanced standards and assessments. One 
commenter stated that unless States are committed to the adoption and 
implementation of the standards, and support LEAs and schools in 
implementing them, the new standards and assessments will not 
positively affect teaching or learning. One commenter suggested that 
the State plans require local school boards to ensure collaboration 
between school administrators and union leaders to ensure that all 
educators are part of the alignment of assessments. A few commenters 
urged the Department to encourage continuity between pre-kindergarten 
and elementary school as part of the transition process. One commenter 
supported efforts to promote a seamless articulation of standards and 
assessments between pre-kindergarten, K-12, and post-secondary 
education, since any gap leads to critical loss of learning for 
students.
    Discussion: The Department agrees with commenters that 
collaboration, support, and engagement are critical factors for a 
successful transition to enhanced standards and high-quality 
assessments. The criteria in (A) establish State Success Factors, which 
ask States to articulate their education reform agendas and LEAs' 
participation in it, and explain their strategies for building strong 
statewide capacity to implement, scale and sustain proposed plans. 
Specifically, criterion (A)(2)(ii) provides for evaluation of a State's 
plan to utilize the support it has from a broad group of stakeholders 
to better implement its plans, as evidenced by

[[Page 59739]]

the strength of statements or actions of support from critical 
stakeholders.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter requested clarification about whether all 
LEAs or only participating LEAs must transition to the enhanced 
standards and high-quality assessments. Many commenters noted that the 
adoption of common standards will affect all LEAs, not only those 
participating in a State's Race to the Top application. Accordingly, 
commenters suggested that a State include in its plan how it will 
provide direct financial support for the operational costs incurred by 
LEAs as they transition to common standards and assessments.
    Discussion: The NPP was clear that a State will be judged on the 
extent to which it has a high-quality plan for supporting a statewide 
transition to a common set of K-12 standards and high-quality 
assessments aligned to those standards. We recognize that a statewide 
system of standards and assessments eventually would be implemented in 
all LEAs, some of which are not participating in the Race to the Top 
grant. To address this situation, we are adding a new definition of 
involved LEAs. An involved LEA is an LEA that chooses to work with the 
State to implement those specific portions of the State's plan that 
necessitate full or nearly-full statewide implementation, such as 
transitioning to a common set of K-12 standards. Involved LEAs do not 
receive a share of the 50 percent of a State's grant award that it must 
subgrant to LEAs in accordance with section 14006(c) of the ARRA, but 
States may provide other funding to involved LEAs under the State's 
Race to the Top grant in a manner that is consistent with the State's 
application. We expect that participating LEAs will have a greater role 
than involved LEAs in collaborating with States as States develop their 
plans, but believe that the specifics of such decisions are best left 
to local decision makers.
    Changes: We have added a new definition of involved LEAs, which 
reads as follows: ``Involved LEAs mean LEAs that choose to work with 
the State to implement those specific portions of the State's plan that 
necessitate full or nearly-full statewide implementation, such as 
transitioning to a common set of K-12 standards (as defined in this 
notice). Involved LEAs do not receive a share of the 50 percent of a 
State's grant award that it must subgrant to LEAs in accordance with 
section 14006(c) of the ARRA, but States may provide other funding to 
involved LEAs under the State's Race to the Top grant in a manner that 
is consistent with the State's application.''
    Comment: One commenter recommended that States should provide 
minimum protections for their students during the transition to new 
standards and assessments, including a period of time to orient 
students and teachers to new standards and assessments, to ensure 
instruction time, and to eliminate disparate impact on minority 
students. One commenter requested that the Department address equity in 
the adequacy of instructional materials, suggesting that States ensure 
that every student has access to print or digital instructional 
materials that are current and aligned to the enhanced standards.
    Discussion: We agree with commenters that a State should address 
supports for high-need students in its plan to transition to enhanced 
standards and high-quality assessments. We are adding a reference to 
high-need students in criterion (B)(3) and including a definition of 
high-need students in the Definitions section of this notice. States 
should have the flexibility to decide on the appropriate supports for 
their high-need students; therefore, we decline to specify the supports 
States must provide to students.
    Changes: We have added language to criterion (B)(3) indicating that 
State or LEA activities might include ``engaging in other strategies 
that translate the standards and information from assessments into 
classroom practice for all students, including high-need students (as 
defined in this notice).'' We also have added a definition of high-need 
students, which reads as follows: ``High-need students means students 
at risk of educational failure or otherwise in need of special 
assistance and support, such as students who are living in poverty, who 
attend high-minority schools (as defined in this notice), who are far 
below grade level, who have left school before receiving a regular high 
school diploma, who are at risk of not graduating with a diploma on 
time, who are homeless, who are in foster care, who have been 
incarcerated, who have disabilities, or who are English language 
learners.''
    Comment: One commenter suggested that a State demonstrate that its 
public higher education institutions will certify readiness for entry 
into credit-bearing coursework if students meet the high school common 
standards through completing a course of study aligned with those 
standards and score at the defined college-ready level on high school 
assessments.
    Discussion: We do not believe that we should prescribe the exact 
policy mentioned by the commenter; we believe a State should have the 
flexibility to determine, in cooperation with its institutions of 
higher education, the best way to align high school exit criteria and 
college entrance requirements with the new standards and assessments. 
However, we believe that some clarification of the language in 
criterion (B)(3) is necessary and have revised accordingly.
    Changes: Criterion (B)(3) has been revised to provide that State or 
LEA activities might, for example, include, ``in cooperation with the 
State's institutions of higher education, aligning high school exit 
criteria and college entrance requirements with the new standards and 
assessments.''
    Comment: A few commenters requested that States provide minimum 
evidence as to how they are ensuring proper implementation of their 
current standards, including evidence of actual implementation in 
classrooms, such as survey results from a representative sample of 
teachers demonstrating how standards are being disseminated and 
utilized.
    Discussion: For any State receiving funds, the Department will 
monitor the State's progress in meeting its goals and timelines as 
established in its plan. Rather than requiring a State to use survey 
results as minimum evidence for this criterion, as some commenters 
suggested, we will be gathering this kind of information through 
evaluations. As stated elsewhere in this notice, IES will be conducting 
a series of national evaluations of Race to the Top State grantees as 
part of its evaluation of programs funded under the ARRA. Race to the 
Top grantee States are not required to conduct independent evaluations, 
but may propose, within their applications, to use funds from Race to 
the Top to support independent evaluations. Grantees must make 
available, through formal or informal mechanisms, the results of any 
evaluations they conduct of their funded activities. In addition, as 
described elsewhere in this notice and regardless of the final 
components of the national evaluation, Race to the Top States, LEAs, 
and schools are required to make work developed under this grant freely 
available to others, and should identify and share promising practices 
and make data available to stakeholders and researchers (in appropriate 
ways that must comply with FERPA, including 34 CFR Part 99, as well as 
State and local requirements regarding privacy).
    Changes: None.

[[Page 59740]]

C. Data Systems To Support Instruction

Definitions: Instructional Improvement System
    Comments regarding the preceding definition are addressed, as 
appropriate, below.
    Selection Criterion (C)(1): Fully Implementing a Statewide 
Longitudinal Data System (Proposed Selection Criterion (B)(1)):
    Comment: Many commenters supported criterion (C)(1) that provides 
for a State to be evaluated based on the extent to which it has a 
statewide longitudinal data system that includes all of the America 
COMPETES Act elements. Other commenters suggested that the Department 
consider using Race to the Top funds for purposes other than data 
systems, such as providing direct services in schools with demonstrated 
needs or improving the infrastructure for the delivery of instruction. 
One commenter suggested using the funds to develop new standards and 
assessments first, rather than building a longitudinal data system 
based on current standards and assessment systems. One commenter 
suggested that rather than having a major focus on State collection and 
sharing of data, the Department should require States to help schools 
and LEAs develop longitudinal data collection systems.
    Discussion: The Department appreciates the support for the 
development and implementation of statewide longitudinal data systems. 
We disagree with commenters who recommend that funds not be used for 
this purpose. Data is an important tool to identify needs and improve 
instruction. In addition, section 14006(a)(2) of the ARRA directs the 
Secretary to make grants to States that have made significant progress 
in meeting the objectives of paragraphs (2), (3), (4), and (5) of 
section 14005(d), including the development of statewide longitudinal 
data systems that include the elements described in section 
6401(e)(2)(D) of the America COMPETES Act. While criterion (C)(1) is a 
measure of the current status of States' implementation of their 
statewide longitudinal data systems under the America COMPETES Act (as 
defined in this notice), both criteria (C)(2) and (C)(3) provide for 
the evaluation of States' plans to enhance their statewide longitudinal 
data systems and local instructional improvement systems. Funds awarded 
under the Department's statewide longitudinal data systems grants 
program may also be used, in coordination with Race to the Top funds, 
to build out a State's data infrastructure.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter indicated that a State should plan for the 
operational costs of implementing data systems that a Race to the Top 
grant does not cover. This commenter recommended that the Department 
require each State to specifically indicate in its application how it 
plans to technically and financially support LEAs across the State, 
including developing contracts and systems that can reduce costs by 
involving multiple LEAs.
    Discussion: We agree with commenters that it is important for a 
State to consider funding issues in its data system implementation 
plans, as well as its overall plans. Under criterion (A)(2)(i)(e), a 
State will be evaluated on the extent to which it has a high-quality 
overall plan to ensure that it has the capacity required to implement 
its proposed plans by using the fiscal, political, and human capital 
resources of the State to continue, after the period of funding has 
ended, those reforms funded under the grant for which there is evidence 
of success.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Many commenters applauded criterion (C)(1), which 
evaluates the extent to which a State has a statewide longitudinal data 
system that includes all of the elements specified in section 
6401(e)(2)(D) of the America COMPETES Act. Several commenters 
specifically highlighted the importance of including unique identifiers 
for students, teachers, and administrators in the list of America 
COMPETES Act data elements. However, many commenters suggested 
additional data elements that should be collected and reported through 
these systems.
    Commenters indicated that these data systems should include 
multiple achievement measures and multiple data sources, such as annual 
achievement data for all core academic subjects, as defined in the 
ESEA, valid and reliable local and State assessment results, formative 
assessment results, performance assessment results, and English 
language proficiency results. One commenter recommended that the data 
systems include data that demonstrate a student's ability to apply, 
analyze, synthesize and evaluate content knowledge. A few commenters 
recommended collecting data on the rates of students reading at grade-
level by grade 3.
    Some commenters recommended various ways data should be 
disaggregated. They suggested that statewide longitudinal data systems 
be designed to allow for analysis of student achievement by race, 
ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, disability, and English 
language learner status. One commenter recommended that the Department 
encourage States to disaggregate data of vulnerable populations such as 
pregnant and parenting students. One commenter noted that it is 
critical that the statewide longitudinal data system measure all 
proficiency levels (i.e., below proficiency, at proficiency, above 
proficiency, and advanced) instead of just measuring below or above 
proficiency.
    Other commenters recommended non-assessment related data elements 
to be included in statewide longitudinal data systems, such as college 
readiness indicators, graduation rates, attendance rates, student 
enrollment data, course enrollment, student mobility rates, budget 
information, completion rates, curriculum changes, and instructional 
time. A few commenters suggested that in order to evaluate the progress 
of individual students through the K-12 system and into postsecondary 
education, systems should include information such as the percentage of 
students from each high school enrolling in institutions of higher 
education, students taking remedial or developmental coursework in 
college, or the points at which students exit, transfer in, transfer 
out, drop out, or complete P-16 education programs. One commenter 
suggested that the data systems include model lesson plans for 
teachers.
    Some commenters recommended including data related to indicators of 
school safety, culture and climate. Others suggested including 
information about student, family and community engagement. A few 
commenters requested that the data systems include student social 
service-related data elements and health indicators, such as 
immunization rates, asthma rates, vision and hearing screening, and 
obesity rates. Several commenters recommended including measures of 
students' social and emotional health and character development. Others 
believed that data systems should provide data regarding the numbers of 
transfers, dropout rates, chronic absenteeism, suspension rates, 
truancy, and dropout re-enrollment in order to trigger supports and 
interventions for students and families.
    Commenters also suggested that statewide longitudinal data systems 
should include data about teaching and learning conditions, such as 
teacher recruitment and retention, educator turnover, pupil and teacher 
ratios,

[[Page 59741]]

subject area teacher certification, full-time equivalent teacher 
employment, and the commitment to current educational programs (i.e., 
whether the curriculum has changed) in order to help schools, districts 
and States better understand supports and barriers to teacher 
effectiveness.
    One commenter recommended that statewide longitudinal data systems 
include information about English language learners, such as the type 
of English language learner instructional program in which a student 
participates, time in that program, level of English proficiency, and 
date of reclassification. Some commenters suggested requiring data 
about student participation in other programs, such as data on students 
served in gifted and talented education programs, innovative programs, 
expanded learning programs, or students receiving advanced coursework. 
One commenter recommended that data on technology use be explicitly 
included in statewide longitudinal data systems.
    Some commenters recommended that statewide longitudinal data 
systems include linkages with students in adult basic education, 
workforce and skills training programs and corrections systems, and 
student information from State employment wage records.
    One commenter stated that we did not provide sufficient 
justification for why all these data elements are essential. Another 
commenter suggested that the Department give States latitude to define 
the elements included in their data systems.
    Discussion: Some of the data elements suggested by commenters 
mirror the data elements listed in the America COMPETES Act. Although 
the Department will not be evaluating whether a State's system has 
information beyond the 12 elements of the America COMPETES Act, we 
recognize the varying needs and capabilities of States, and we 
encourage States to track additional information through their 
longitudinal data systems or to add additional components to their 
State plans to the extent the State deems appropriate. However, the 
Department recognizes the financial burden of collecting data, and we 
believe that it is sufficient to specifically evaluate States only on 
the extent to which their statewide longitudinal data systems include 
the elements in the America COMPETES Act.
    As stated in invitational priority 4, the Secretary is particularly 
interested in applications in which the State plans to expand statewide 
longitudinal data systems to include or integrate data from special 
education programs, English language learner programs, early childhood 
programs, at-risk and drop-out prevention programs, and school climate 
and culture programs, as well as information on student mobility, human 
resources (i.e. information on teachers, principals, and other staff), 
finance, student health, postsecondary, and other relevant areas, with 
the purpose of connecting and coordinating all parts of the system to 
allow important questions related to policy, practice, or overall 
effectiveness to be asked and answered, and incorporated into effective 
continuous improvement practices. While the Secretary is interested in 
applications that meet this invitational priority, a State meeting the 
priority would not receive additional points or preference over other 
applications. A State will be evaluated based on the extent to which it 
has a statewide longitudinal data system that includes all of the 
elements specified in section 6401(e)(2)(D) of the America COMPETES 
Act.
    Changes: None.
Early Childhood
    Comment: Several commenters supported the fact that a statewide 
longitudinal data system, as specified by the America COMPETES Act, 
would include student information beginning at the pre-kindergarten 
level. Some commenters recommended that the Department require a State 
to expand its longitudinal data system by linking with available data 
on young children; their participation in early childhood education 
programs; and the characteristics, quality, staffing, and funding of 
those programs in order to increase access, improve quality, identify 
critical social services and interventions, and align standards, 
curricula and assessments from pre-kindergarten through grade 3. A few 
commenters recommended that a data system be designed so that data 
eventually can be captured at birth and fed into a Quality Rating 
Improvement System, if a State has such a system.
    Discussion: We agree with commenters that data about early 
childhood education programs are important to help ensure that young 
children begin school ready to learn. The America COMPETES Act elements 
specify a pre-kindergarten-16 data system. If it chooses, a State may 
link its longitudinal data system to available data on young children 
and their participation in early childhood programs, consistent with 
FERPA, including 34 CFR Part 99. This notice has several invitational 
priorities regarding early childhood programs: (a) Invitational 
priority 3, inviting applications in which the State plans to create 
practices, strategies, or programs to improve educational outcomes for 
high-need young children by enhancing the quality of preschool 
programs; (b) invitational priority 4, which invites applications that 
propose to expand statewide longitudinal data systems to include or 
integrate data from early childhood programs, among other programs; and 
(c) invitational priority 5, inviting applications in which the State 
plans to address how early childhood programs, K-12 schools, 
postsecondary institutions, workforce development organizations, and 
other State agencies and community partners, will coordinate to improve 
all parts of the education system and create a more seamless pre-
kindergarten-20 route for students. While the Secretary is interested 
in applications that meet these invitational priorities, we decline to 
require that statewide longitudinal data systems include additional 
information about early childhood programs because that would go beyond 
the data elements specified in the America COMPETES Act.
    Changes: None.
Timeline
    Comment: Many commenters suggested that a State be evaluated based 
on the degree of progress it has made on developing a system that would 
comply with the America COMPETES Act rather than on the extent to which 
a State has completed these efforts. Another commenter suggested a 
State be judged on a plan to implement any missing elements of its 
statewide longitudinal data system. Several commenters also stated that 
it is not feasible for some States to have a completed statewide 
longitudinal data system to be in place by September 30, 2011, the date 
specified in the notice of proposed requirements for the State Fiscal 
Stabilization Fund.
    Discussion: The State Reform Conditions Criteria are used to assess 
a State's past progress and its success in creating conditions for 
reform in special areas related to the four ARRA education reform 
areas. A State will be judged on the extent to which it has, already in 
place, a statewide longitudinal data system that includes the elements 
in the America COMPETES Act. Some commenters misunderstood criterion 
(C)(1); this notice does not require the statewide longitudinal data 
system to be completed by a particular date. Rather, a State will 
receive points for the elements it has completed at the time it submits 
its application.
    Changes: None.

[[Page 59742]]

Development of a Statewide Longitudinal Data System
    Comment: Several commenters stressed the importance of stakeholder 
support and technical expertise in the development and implementation 
of statewide longitudinal data systems. Some commenters suggested that 
we provide incentives to encourage States to design data systems using 
input from professional standards boards. Other commenters recommended 
seeking feedback from parents, businesses, educators, community-based 
partners, universities, hospitals, and students on the content and 
overall effectiveness of the statewide longitudinal data system.
    Discussion: We agree with commenters that stakeholder and expert 
support in developing a longitudinal data system is important. However, 
we believe that each State is in the best position to determine how 
best to solicit technical expertise and stakeholder support and from 
which groups. Accordingly, we do not believe it is necessary to specify 
the input and support each State should seek.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Some commenters suggested particular qualities of strong 
statewide longitudinal data systems. They argued that data sets must be 
common across districts, cross-operational, and supportive of 
developing a robust, accurate, and immediately useful data mine. 
Commenters emphasized the importance of developing data systems that 
are comprehensive, systemic, reliable, valid, and designed for long-
term use. One commenter suggested that the Department ensure data 
elements are used to create uniform cohorts.
    Discussion: We agree with commenters that these are important 
characteristics of a statewide longitudinal data system. We believe 
that the 12 data elements in the America COMPETES Act represent the 
qualities suggested by the commenters, and therefore, no change is 
necessary.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the State data systems 
should reflect sufficient grade-to-grade alignment in order to ensure 
that valid grade-level growth determinations can be made in each State. 
This commenter urged that the Department require that such growth 
measures be used only with vertically scaled assessments that are 
appropriate for examining value-added growth. Two commenters 
recommended emphasizing the importance of States using cohort data in 
the statewide longitudinal data systems for determining student 
progress.
    Discussion: We agree with commenters who emphasize the importance 
of data and assessment systems that support the measurement of student 
growth. In this notice, student growth is defined as the change in 
achievement data for an individual student between two or more points 
in time. A State may also include other measures that are rigorous and 
comparable across classrooms. Given this definition, we decline to 
specify or restrict the structure of statewide longitudinal data or 
assessment systems but rather allow States the flexibility to develop 
data and assessment systems, as long as they support a growth measure 
that is rigorous and comparable across classrooms.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Many commenters stressed that it was important for States 
to develop interoperable data systems that are aligned with existing 
technology platforms and able to incorporate data from existing data 
management systems. Commenters also stressed the importance of ensuring 
that statewide longitudinal data systems can ``communicate'' with each 
other so that the data in these systems can be used by early childhood 
centers and institutions of higher education, within and among schools, 
within and among LEAs, among State and local agencies, across States 
and with Federal agencies. One commenter requested that the Department 
provide additional clarification regarding America COMPETES Act element 
(4), ``the capacity to communicate with higher education data systems'' 
and whether this capacity includes data integration or two-way 
communication.
    Discussion: The COMPETES Act requires a statewide longitudinal data 
system to have the capacity to communicate with higher education data 
systems. Therefore, statewide longitudinal data systems should have the 
ability to link an individual student record from one system to 
another, consistent with FERPA, including 34 CFR Part 99. Additionally, 
these systems should meet interoperability and portability standards, 
which will ensure that they have timely and reliable opportunities to 
share data across different sectors within a State and across States. 
Timely and reliable information from across sectors will facilitate the 
evaluation of which program or combinations of programs is improving 
outcomes for students. Note that States must consider how to protect 
student privacy as data are shared across agencies. Successful 
applicants that receive Race to the Top grant awards will need to 
comply with FERPA, including 34 CFR Part 99, as well as State and local 
requirements regarding privacy.
    Changes: None.
    Selection Criterion (C)(2) (proposed Selection Criterion (B)(2)): 
Accessing and using State data:
Uses of Data
    Comment: Several commenters expressed support for our proposal to 
evaluate State Race to the Top applications based on the extent to 
which the State plans to use this data to inform and engage key 
stakeholders, such as policymakers, parents, students, and the public, 
so that they have information about how well students are performing. 
Many commenters recommended that these data systems should also be used 
to identify continuous improvement goals, address barriers that 
compromise student success, and highlight understanding of best 
practices. Some commenters suggested these data systems be used to 
improve instructional practice by facilitating the use of 
differentiated instruction, to make individualized decisions about 
students' academic and developmental needs, and to design comprehensive 
interventions to address those needs. A few commenters suggested that 
States use these data systems to inform professional development and 
teacher and administrator evaluations, evaluate teacher preparation 
programs, allow for the monitoring of teacher and principal 
assignments, and ensure equitable distribution of teachers. One 
commenter suggested that data be used to address conditions that lead 
to the racial isolation of low income students. Commenters recommended 
that data systems be used to inform strategic planning, inform resource 
allocation decisions, and support decision-makers in overall 
organizational effectiveness. In order to ensure that all students have 
equitable access to education, one commenter recommended that data be 
analyzed to identify and implement an appropriate array of options that 
use early access to college coursework as a way to promote college 
readiness for every student.
    Discussion: Criterion (C)(2) will be used to evaluate a State on 
the extent to which it has a high-quality plan to ensure that the data 
from its statewide longitudinal data system are accessible to, and used 
to inform and engage decision-makers in the continuous improvement of 
policy, instruction, operations, management, resource allocation, and 
overall effectiveness. We

[[Page 59743]]

agree with the commenters that data from these systems can be used for 
many of the purposes indentified by the commenters. However, we believe 
most of these are covered in the broad categories of instruction, 
operations management, and resource allocation. We are revising the 
criterion to specify that such data can also be used in the areas of 
``policy'' and ``overall effectiveness.''
    Changes: We have revised criterion (C)(2) to include ``policy,'' 
and ``overall effectiveness'' as areas for which data may be used.
Building Capacity
    Comment: Several commenters stated that the Race to the Top funds 
should be used to build State capacity for data accuracy, analysis, and 
dissemination. One commenter urged the Department to consider ways to 
help States expand and use longitudinal data systems. Other commenters 
recommended that a State be judged on its capacity to use the data 
contained in these systems or how it has moved from collecting data to 
transforming the data into actionable information for use.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenter that State plans under this 
criterion should include a proposal for how the State will improve its 
own capacity to analyze and use data. We believe the criterion makes 
this clear and that no further changes are needed. In addition, 
invitational priority 4 indicates that the Secretary is particularly 
interested in applications in which States propose working together to 
adapt one State's statewide longitudinal data system so that it may be 
used, in whole or in part, by other States, rather than having each 
State build or continue building such systems independently. We will 
consider the commenter's request for the Department to help States 
expand their statewide longitudinal data systems as we develop plans to 
provide technical assistance to grantees.
    Changes: None.
Accessibility of Data
    Comment: Some commenters recommended adding language to criterion 
(C)(2) to ensure that data from a State's statewide longitudinal data 
system are accessible to key stakeholders. For instance, commenters 
suggested requiring a State to describe how its data are presented in a 
format and language that key stakeholders can access and understand, 
and are in a format that is easy to interpret and analyze. One 
commenter suggested that this notice compel a State to describe the 
format (e.g., dashboards, reports, data downloads) and timelines in 
which it plans to provide the appropriate level of data to the 
different stakeholders, as well as its communication plans to ensure 
that stakeholders are aware this information is available. Some 
commenters were especially concerned that the data are accessible to 
communities and families, and in particular, that these stakeholders be 
provided support in understanding data and their uses to monitor 
children's progress and to hold districts and schools accountable.
    A few commenters recommended that States and LEAs provide parents 
and the public with clear and concise annual reports that are useful 
and relevant to all constituencies. Commenters suggested topics that 
should be included in these reports, such as an overall assessment of 
education, reports on school quality, descriptions of progress in the 
core academic subjects, and indicators of the health and safety of 
children. One commenter suggested that States include in reports an 
opportunity-to-learn index to track data about the quality of State and 
local education systems. Another commenter suggested that reports 
provide teachers with data on the growth of their students on interim 
or summative assessments. A few commenters noted the importance of 
consultation with stakeholders after the data are reported, 
recommending that States and LEAs address in their application how they 
plan to disseminate and explain the data to stakeholders and how they 
will use community input to develop a plan of action to improve 
schools.
    Discussion: We agree with commenters that data should be accessible 
to key stakeholders and that reports including those data should 
provide useful information to them. A State's application will be 
evaluated on the extent to which it has a high-quality plan to make 
sure its data are accessible to, and used to inform and engage key 
stakeholders. However, we decline to specify the exact format of the 
data, what might be included in reports, the specific input or 
consultation with stakeholders, or the timelines for sharing data given 
the unique nature of statewide longitudinal data systems and the 
differing needs of constituencies within States. These are all 
potential elements that States could include, however, in their Race to 
the Top plans.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Some commenters suggested adding to the list of 
stakeholders in criterion (C)(2) other groups who should have access to 
data from statewide longitudinal data systems, such as families 
(instead of parents), youth-serving community-based organizations and 
value-added intermediaries, parent teacher associations, nonprofit 
organizations, workforce investment boards, business leaders, community 
groups, institutions of higher education involved in the preparation of 
new teachers, and early childhood program providers.
    Discussion: The list of stakeholders in criterion (C)(2) is meant 
to be illustrative, but not exhaustive. States should make data 
available, consistent with FERPA, including 34 CFR Part 99, to any 
relevant stakeholder it deems appropriate. We do not, however, think it 
is necessary to add more examples of stakeholders to this criterion.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Many commenters recommended that the Department require a 
State to address how public charter schools will have the same access 
to the information produced by these data systems as traditional public 
schools. Commenters believed that access to high-quality student-level 
data is critical to the successful operation of all public schools, 
including public charter schools, and is a key underpinning of any 
accountability based system. Another commenter requested that the 
Department clarify that charter schools must provide data to States.
    Discussion: The Department agrees that charter schools should have 
the same access to the information produced by statewide longitudinal 
data systems as traditional public schools and States should ensure 
this access. Nothing in this notice would prohibit equal access to data 
for public charter schools. Public charter schools must provide States 
with any data specified by the State on the same basis as other public 
schools.
    Changes: None.
Privacy Issues
    Comments: Several commenters recommended that the Department 
require a State to provide assurances concerning the safeguards it has 
in place to protect the privacy of students and school employees as 
data about them are shared.
    Discussion: States must consider how to protect student privacy as 
data are shared. Successful applicants that receive Race to the Top 
grant awards will need to comply with FERPA, and its implementing 
regulations 34 CFR Part 99, as well as any applicable State and local 
requirements. Because a State's compliance with FERPA is a requirement 
with which all recipients of Department funds must meet, we are 
removing the reference to compliance

[[Page 59744]]

with FERPA from the text of the selection criteria in (C). To remind 
States of their obligations under FERPA, we are including a footnote 
with a reference to the statute and implementing regulations in this 
section.
    The Department agrees that teacher and principal privacy also must 
be protected. However, teacher and principal privacy is governed by 
State law. States, LEAs, and schools should consider their individual 
State privacy statutes when addressing these privacy issues in the 
establishment of a statewide longitudinal data system.
    Changes: We moved the references to FERPA from the criteria in (C) 
to a footnote in that same section.
    Comments: Several commenters stated that the Department should 
harmonize Federal policy to ensure that individual privacy protections 
are safeguarded in a way that does not interfere with timely and 
necessary information sharing. Some commenters expressed concern that 
States may face challenges in fully implementing statewide longitudinal 
data systems while meeting the requirements of FERPA unless current 
FERPA regulations regarding data-sharing among State agencies are 
revised. They recommended that the FERPA regulations be revised to 
explicitly allow for interagency data exchanges so the Administration's 
policy goals for Race to the Top can be realized.
    Discussion: The Department recognizes that further clarity on FERPA 
and the America COMPETES Act will facilitate States' ability to develop 
and implement statewide longitudinal data systems that contain all 12 
data elements outlined in the America COMPETES Act. The establishment 
of a statewide longitudinal data system with the necessary 
functionality to incorporate all 12 of the COMPETES Act elements, by 
itself, does not violate FERPA. The actual implementation of such a 
system (including the disclosure and redisclosure of personally 
identifiable information from education records) also does not violate 
FERPA provided that States follow FERPA's specific requirements. For 
example, the Department's current interpretation of FERPA is not a 
barrier to importing data into an educational agency from another State 
agency, since FERPA only applies to the personally identifiable 
information contained in education records. In the following 
discussions, in response to specific questions from commenters, we 
provide greater detail about how a statewide longitudinal data system 
may be established and implemented in compliance with FERPA. The 
Department is not aware of any other Federal laws that would prohibit 
or pose barriers to a State establishing a statewide longitudinal data 
system. To the extent that State laws present barriers to the 
development of a statewide longitudinal data system in compliance with 
the ARRA, the State will likely need to take specific actions to 
address those barriers. The Department will provide further 
clarification in this area as warranted.
    Changes: None.
    Comments: Some commenters asked the Department to clearly explain 
how post-secondary institutions, K-12, and pre-kindergarten-K education 
systems can share restricted student information.
    Discussion: As stated previously, the establishment of a statewide 
longitudinal data system with the necessary functionality to 
incorporate all 12 of the COMPETES Act elements, including the sharing 
of data between pre-kindergarten-12 and postsecondary data systems, by 
itself, does not violate FERPA. States also may implement a statewide 
longitudinal data system that includes the disclosure and redisclosure 
of personally identifiable information from education records in a 
manner that complies with FERPA. In addition to complying with FERPA, 
any sharing of student data must also comply with the requirements of 
34 CFR 104.42(b)(4) (the regulations implementing section 504 of the 
Rehabilitation Act), generally prohibiting postsecondary institutions 
from making pre-admission inquiries about an applicant's disability 
status.
    We first address the question of the disclosure and redisclosure of 
personally identifiable information in the pre-kindergarten context. 
The disclosure of personally identifiable information from pre-
kindergarten to LEAs is not affected by FERPA with respect to pre-
kindergarten programs that do not receive funding from the Department, 
as FERPA does not apply to those programs. With respect to pre-
kindergarten programs that receive funding from the Department, the 
non-consensual disclosure of personally identifiable information from 
the students' pre-kindergarten education records to LEAs is permitted 
under the enrollment exception in the FERPA regulations, provided that 
certain notification and access requirements are met. (20 U.S.C. 
1232g(b)(1)(B); 34 CFR 99.31(a)(2) and 99.34).
    The second issue raised by commenters involved the sharing of 
information between postsecondary institutions and SEAs. Similar to the 
pre-kindergarten context, the non-consensual disclosure of personally 
identifiable information from K-12 education records to a postsecondary 
institution is permitted under the enrollment exception, provided the 
notification and access conditions are met. Postsecondary institutions 
may disclose personally identifiable information to an SEA under the 
evaluation exception if the SEA has the authority to conduct an audit 
or evaluation of the postsecondary institution's education programs. 
(20 U.S.C. 1232g(b)(1)(C), (b)(3), and (b)(5); 34 CFR 99.31(a)(3) and 
99.35). States that have not established the requisite authority may do 
so in a number of ways, such as: (1) Creating an entity in the State to 
house the statewide longitudinal data system and endowing that entity 
with the authority to conduct evaluations of elementary, secondary, and 
postsecondary education programs; or (2) granting authority at the SEA 
or IHE level to conduct evaluations of elementary, secondary and 
postsecondary education programs. States may grant authority through 
various vehicles, including for example, Executive Orders, regulations 
and legislation. In some States the formation documents for SEAs, IHEs 
or other educational entities may already grant the necessary 
authority; however, explicit statutory authority is not required by 
FERPA.
    The Department recognizes that there is considerable variation 
among States' governance structures and laws, and that using this 
exception to obtain personally identifiable information from 
postsecondary institutions may be difficult. The Department is 
currently reviewing its regulations and policies in this area and will 
be in close communications with States over the next several months 
regarding these issues. Of course, the Department also is available, 
upon request, to provide States with technical assistance on how to 
implement a statewide longitudinal data system that meets the 
requirements of FERPA.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters requested that the Department provide 
specific guidance about the de-identification process that all States 
must adhere to in order to share potentially identifiable information 
about students.
    Discussion: It is not possible to prescribe or identify a single 
method to minimize the risk of disclosing personally identifiable 
information in redacted records or statistical information that will 
apply in every circumstance, including determining whether defining a 
minimum cell size is an appropriate means to protect the

[[Page 59745]]

confidentiality of aggregated data and, if so, selection of an 
appropriate number. This is because determining whether a particular 
set of methods for de-identifying data and limiting disclosure risk is 
adequate cannot be made without examining the underlying data sets, 
other data that have been released, publicly available directories, and 
other data that are linked or can be linked to the information in 
question. For these reasons, we are unable to provide examples of rules 
and policies that necessarily meet the de-identification requirements 
in 34 CFR 99.31(b). The releasing party is responsible for conducting 
its own analysis and identifying the best methods to protect the 
confidentiality of information from education records it chooses to 
release. We recommend that State educational authorities, educational 
agencies and institutions, and other parties refer to the examples and 
methods described in the notice of proposed rulemaking to amend its 
FERPA regulations that the Department published in the Federal Register 
on March 24, 2008 (73 FR 15574, 15584) (FERPA notice of proposed 
rulemaking) and refer to the Federal Committee on Statistical 
Methodology's Statistical Policy Working Paper 22, 
http://www.fcsm.gov/working-papers/spwp22.html, for additional guidance.
    Further, as noted in the preceding paragraph and in the preamble to 
the FERPA NPRM, use of minimum cell sizes or data suppression is only 
one of several ways in which information from education records may be 
de-identified before release. Statistical Policy Working Paper 22 
describes other disclosure limitation methods, such as ``top coding'' 
and ``data swapping,'' which may be more suitable than simple data 
suppression for releasing the maximum amount of information to the 
public without breaching confidentiality requirements. Decisions 
regarding whether to use data suppression or some other method or 
combination of methods to avoid disclosing personally identifiable 
information in statistical information must be made on a case-by-case 
basis.
    With regard to issues with ESEA reporting in particular, 
determining the minimum cell size to ensure statistical reliability of 
information is a completely different analysis than that used to 
determine the appropriate minimum cell size to ensure confidentiality.
    Changes: None.
    Selection Criterion (C)(3): Using data to improve instruction 
(proposed Selection Criterion (B)(3)):
    Comment: One commenter recommended that a State describe in its 
plan the State and LEA roles and responsibilities related to using data 
to improve instruction, including how the plan would ensure that LEAs 
are primarily responsible for creating instructional improvement 
systems with assistance and support from the State. One commenter 
recommended that the Department increase the explicit emphasis on 
adoption and implementation of local data and instructional improvement 
systems.
    Discussion: Application requirement (e)(4) requires States to 
describe, for each Reform Plan Criteria that it chooses to address, the 
parties responsible for implementing the activities. We therefore do 
not feel it is necessary to specify in the criterion itself that a 
State should describe its roles and responsibilities and that of its 
LEAs. However, we agree with the commenters that criterion (C)(3)(i) 
concerns local instructional improvement systems, and we are revising 
it to clarify this. We are also clarifying that the plans under this 
criterion should include efforts to increase the acquisition and 
adoption of such systems.
    Changes: Criterion (C)(3)(i) now begins, ``Increase the 
acquisition, adoption, and use of local instructional improvement 
systems.''
    Comment: Some commenters suggested that a State be evaluated on the 
degree to which it can demonstrate collaboration and cooperation with 
and among LEAs. Several commenters recommended that the Department 
include an incentive for States and LEAs to learn from outstanding LEAs 
in data development and reporting in order to improve vertical 
alignment of the State's education system.
    Discussion: As described elsewhere in this notice, States receiving 
Race to the Top funds, along with their LEAs and schools, are expected 
to identify and share promising practices, make work freely available 
to others and make data available in appropriate ways that comply with 
FERPA to stakeholders and researchers. Specifically, criterion 
(A)(1)(ii) provides for the evaluation of a State based on the extent 
to which the participating LEAs are strongly committed to the State's 
plans and to effective implementation of reform in the four education 
areas. Criterion (A)(2)(i)(b) asks the State to demonstrate how it will 
support participating LEAs in successfully implementing the education 
reform plans the State has proposed, through such activities as 
identifying promising practices, evaluating these practices' 
effectiveness, ceasing ineffective practices, widely disseminating and 
replicating the effective practices statewide, holding participating 
LEAs accountable for progress and performance, and intervening where 
necessary. In addition, under criterion (C)(3)(i), a State will be 
evaluated on the extent to which it, in collaboration with its 
participating LEAs, has a high-quality plan to increase the LEAs' 
acquisition, adoption, and use of local instructional improvement 
systems that provide teachers, principals, and administrators with the 
information and resources they need to improve their instructional 
practices, decision-making, and overall effectiveness. This could 
include facilitating collaboration between LEAs. Given these existing 
criteria, we do not believe a change is necessary.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the Department allow States 
to focus on early childhood care and development data systems 
exclusively, without penalty for not including K-12 instructional 
improvement systems.
    Discussion: While we believe it is important for instructional 
improvement systems to include tools for improving early childhood 
care, we decline to make the commenter's suggested change. Section 
14005(c) of the ARRA requires a State, when applying for a Race to the 
Top grant, to describe the status of the State's progress in each of 
the four assurance areas in section 14005(d), including improving the 
collection and use of data. We believe the assurance in the ARRA 
related to the use of data is intended to cover all levels of the 
educational system.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters recommended revising criterion 
(C)(3)(i) to include other stakeholders, in addition to teachers and 
principals, who can benefit from using data to improve instruction, 
such as youth development professionals in after-school and summer 
programs, mentoring and after-school learning organizations, expanded 
learning time partners, early childhood providers, and program 
directors.
    Discussion: We understand that there are other stakeholders outside 
of the school who play critical roles in education. Criterion (C)(2) 
addresses how data from a statewide longitudinal data system can be 
used by a wide range of stakeholders, whereas criterion (C)(3)(i) is 
focused on how data are specifically used in instructional improvement 
systems to improve instructional practices, decision-making, and 
overall effectiveness during the school day. We believe the list of 
stakeholders in criterion (C)(3)(i) is appropriate given this focus, 
therefore, we do not believe it is necessary to

[[Page 59746]]

revise this criterion. However, nothing in this notice would prevent a 
State from specifying in its plan additional stakeholders who may use 
instructional improvement systems.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Some commenters stated that, in addition to making data 
available, there must also be an equal focus on building the capacity 
of educators and school leaders to analyze and use this information. 
They argued that a State should describe how it will support its LEAs 
in providing effective, collaboratively designed and research-based 
professional development, including pre-service training to teachers, 
principals and administrators on how to analyze and use these data. One 
commenter suggested that professional development opportunities include 
a focus on using multiple sources of information to assess student 
academic performance; using a variety of strategies to analyze data; 
using data to identify barriers for success, design strategies for 
improvement, and plan daily instruction; benchmarking successful 
schools with similar demographics to identify strategies for 
improvement; and, creating a school environment that makes data-driven 
decisions.
    One commenter suggested that a State should articulate the means by 
which it will require educators seeking certification or re-
certification to receive training and show competence in the analysis, 
interpretation, and use of data. Several commenters suggested that time 
during the school day should be dedicated to data analysis and action 
planning for teachers. Another commenter suggested that a State be 
required to explain how it will promote an environment (e.g., a climate 
of autonomy) in which teachers, principals, and administrators have the 
support and conditions to make decisions based on the results of the 
data analyses.
    Discussion: We agree with commenters that States must support their 
LEAs in providing effective professional development. We are adding a 
new criterion (C)(3)(ii) to encourage States to support participating 
LEAs and schools that are using local instructional improvement systems 
to provide effective professional development to teachers, principals, 
and administrators on how to use these systems and the resulting data 
to support continuous instructional improvement. We are also 
clarifying, in criterion (C)(3)(i), that the purpose of instructional 
improvement systems is to provide educators with the resources they 
need, as well as the information they need. In addition, criterion 
(D)(5) addresses the need for high-quality professional development. 
The Department also encourages States to utilize current Federal 
education funding, for example Title II-A Improving Teacher Quality 
State grants, as a funding mechanism to provide further professional 
development to teachers in the use of data in the classroom.
    We do not believe we should require a State to articulate the means 
by which it will require educators seeking certification or re-
certification to receive training and show competence in the analysis, 
interpretation, and use of data. A State may address this issue in its 
plan if it chooses.
    Changes: Criterion (C)(3)(ii) has been added to provide that a 
State will be evaluated based on the extent to which it has a high-
quality plan to support LEAs and schools that are using instructional 
improvement systems (as defined in this notice) in providing effective 
professional development to teachers, principals, and administrators on 
how to use these systems and the resulting data to support continuous 
instructional improvement. As a result of this addition, proposed 
criterion (C)(3)(ii) has been redesignated (C)(3)(iii). We have also 
revised criterion (C)(3)(i) to clarify that instructional improvement 
systems should provide educators with the ``information and resources 
they need to inform and improve their instructional practices, 
decision-making, and overall effectiveness.''
    Comment: One commenter did not support making data available and 
accessible to researchers. This commenter stated that large urban 
districts are deluged with requests for information and access to data, 
which diverts time and resources from student-centered activities, and 
that this misconstrues the purpose of Race to the Top to improve 
student achievement and close achievement gaps. Rather than making data 
available to researchers for the purposes specified in criterion 
(C)(3)(iii), this commenter suggested that the data be available 
instead to evaluation contractors and State and Federal officials.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenter's concern about the 
resources needed to share data with researchers. However, we believe it 
is very important that researchers, consistent with FERPA, including 34 
CFR Part 99, be able to conduct studies to improve instruction. We 
therefore decline to make the recommended change to make the data 
available only to evaluation contractors and State and Federal 
officials.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Many commenters suggested that the Department clarify that 
instructional improvement systems should identify students who are off-
track to graduation or have dropped out of school. These commenters 
said that early warning indicators can be used by LEAs and States to 
develop and implement options that will keep students on track, or put 
them back on track, to graduation.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenter that instructional 
improvement systems should provide early warning indicators about 
students at risk of educational failure and are revising the definition 
of instructional improvement systems accordingly. We also are revising 
criterion (C)(3)(iii) to be consistent with criterion (C)(3)(ii) and to 
clarify that the data from instructional improvement systems, together 
with statewide longitudinal data system data, should be made available 
and accessible to researchers.
    Changes: We have revised the definition of instructional 
improvement systems to clarify that such systems may also integrate 
instructional data with other student-level data such as attendance, 
discipline, grades, credit accumulation, and student survey results to 
provide early warning indicators of a student's risk of educational 
failure. We have also revised criterion (C)(3)(iii) to clarify that the 
data from ``instructional improvement systems,'' together with 
statewide longitudinal data system data, should be made available and 
accessible to researchers.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department clarify the 
definition of instructional improvement systems to reference use of 
technology-based tools and other strategies to systemically manage 
cycles of continuous instructional improvement. A few commenters 
suggested that instructional improvement systems should be research-
based. Some commenters suggested that the definition of this term 
should state that the purposes of these systems are to: Ensure that 
every student has access to instructional materials that are current 
and aligned to these standards; differentiate instruction; provide 
individualized learning; gather input and feedback from stakeholders; 
translate data into knowledge; drive innovation; use knowledge to 
create networks of best practices; and inform decision-making.
    Discussion: In response to these comments, we are clarifying the

[[Page 59747]]

definition of instructional improvement systems. However, we are not 
specifying additional purposes of instructional improvement systems, as 
this could inadvertently discourage States and LEAs from developing new 
and innovative strategies for addressing students' learning needs.
    In response to the commenters who indicated that instructional 
improvement systems should be research-based, we believe that much 
research has been done on the effectiveness of using data to inform 
instructional decisions. Instructional improvement systems provide 
teachers and instructional leaders with the evidence they need to make 
informed instructional decisions. Therefore, such systems are a 
critical element of any classroom-based, evidence-driven approach to 
instruction.
    Changes: We have revised the definition of instructional 
improvement systems to reference that such systems are ``technology-
based tools and other strategies that provide teachers, principals, and 
administrators with meaningful support and actionable data to 
systemically manage continuous instructional improvement * * *.'' In 
addition, we have included summative assessments as an additional 
example of information gathering on instructional improvement.
Performance Measures and Minimum Evidence for Selection Criteria 
(C)(1), (C)(2), and (C)(3)
    Comment: Several commenters recommended specific performance 
measures for criteria (C)(1), (C)(2), and (C)(3). For instance, one 
commenter recommended that data performance measures include indices or 
rankings on districts' and schools' actual provision of basic resources 
and opportunities that the ARRA contemplates. Another commenter 
encouraged the Department to include a performance measure that States 
must ensure data are in a format and in a language that families can 
access and understand, consistent with the myriad roles parents are 
required to play under the ESEA. Another commenter recommended that 
performance measures for criterion (C)(2) include the results of 
surveys of stakeholders. One commenter suggested that performance 
measures be used to evaluate the extent to which the output from the 
statewide longitudinal data system is geared to stakeholder needs.
    Discussion: A State may propose its own performance measure(s) for 
the section on Data Systems to Support Instruction. Rather than 
requiring particular performance measures for this section, we are 
choosing to give a State the flexibility to define its own measures 
that are tailored to the context of its statewide longitudinal data 
system.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that criterion (C)(3)(iii) require 
minimum evidence to ensure that competing applications are judged in a 
consistent manner. Another commenter recommended that minimum evidence 
should include the adoption and publication of procedures for the 
request and release of longitudinal data for research purposes. In 
addition, this commenter suggested that evidence include the State's 
partnerships with national researchers to evaluate the effectiveness of 
the instructional practices in each participating LEA.
    Discussion: We believe that the basic elements of a plan, as 
specified in Application Requirement (e), should be sufficient to yield 
consistent judging on this criterion. We therefore decline to require 
the specific minimum evidence suggested by the commenters.

D. Great Teachers and Leaders

    Selection Criterion (D)(1): Providing High-Quality Pathways for 
Aspiring Teachers and Principals (Proposed Criterion (C)(1)):
    Comment: Many commenters recommended changes to the proposed 
definition of alternative certification routes. Two commenters 
suggested changing the term to ``alternative routes to certification'' 
to be consistent with the terminology in criterion (D)(1). Some 
commenters recommended that the definition refer to school districts 
and nonprofit organizations as providers of programs offering 
alternative routes to certification. A few commenters sought to ensure 
that programs offering alternative routes to certification be selective 
in accepting candidates into their programs. Many commenters objected 
to defining an alternative route to certification as one that includes 
clinical or student teaching experience, claiming that such experiences 
are characteristic of traditional preparation programs, and that other 
kinds of training, such as intensive mentoring support during the first 
months of teaching, are more valuable than clinical or student teaching 
experiences. However, one commenter supported field-based experiences 
for principals, and other commenters stated that administrators seeking 
alternative routes to certification should have prior teaching 
experience.
    Commenters also had different views on the level and type of 
coursework that should be part of alternative routes to certification. 
One commenter supported alternative routes to certification involving 
limited amounts of coursework, one commenter disagreed, and a third 
commenter specifically recommended requiring substantive coursework in 
reading and math content and teaching methods.
    Several commenters recommended that the definition include a 
requirement that all alternative routes to certification ensure that 
graduates of such programs have the skills to address the needs of all 
students. One commenter expressed concern that alternative routes to 
certification, given their shortened timeframe, are not designed to 
ensure that teachers develop the skills needed to effectively instruct 
students with disabilities. The commenter recommended strengthening 
both traditional and alternative route preparation programs so that all 
teachers are more skilled in teaching students with disabilities.
    Two commenters sought changes aimed at ensuring that graduates of 
alternative routes to certification receive the same level of 
certification as teachers and leaders who complete traditional 
preparation programs. Similarly, a few commenters recommended that the 
Department require States to verify that teachers certified through 
alternative routes to certification are treated equally and fairly in 
hiring under all State regulations and statutes, while another 
commenter suggested sanctioning States that treat alternative routes to 
certification as a ``route of last resort.'' On the other hand, one 
commenter stated that teachers certified through alternative routes 
generally should not be assigned to high-need schools because of their 
limited experience.
    Discussion: In response to these comments, the Department is making 
a number of changes to the definition of alternative certification 
routes. First, we agree that the various terms used in the Race to the 
Top program should be consistent; therefore, we are changing the 
proposed term ``alternative certification routes'' to ``alternative 
routes to certification'' in this notice. We also agree that the NPP 
was unclear regarding providers of alternative routes to certification, 
and are changing the definition to clarify that qualified providers of 
States' teacher and administrator preparation programs include both 
institutions of higher education and other providers that operate 
independently from institutions of higher education. In addition, we 
agree that providers of alternative routes to certification, as with 
all preparation programs, should be selective in enrolling individuals 
in their programs

[[Page 59748]]

and, therefore, are changing the definition to ensure that qualified 
providers of teacher and principal preparation programs are selective 
in the candidates they accept.
    The Department believes it is important to provide prospective 
teachers and principals with direct school and classroom experiences as 
part of their preparation. Because alternative routes to certification 
are accelerated and vary in delivery models, there are a variety of 
ways, in addition to clinical or student teaching experiences, to 
provide this experience, such as through practicum and job embedded 
experiences, coupled with intensive mentoring or support during the 
first months of teaching, as suggested by the commenters. We agree with 
the commenters and are revising the definition to refer to school-based 
experiences and ongoing support such as effective mentoring and 
coaching.
    As to the extent of the coursework required by programs providing 
alternative routes to certification, the Department believes that 
States are in the best position to determine the courses and coursework 
that could be reduced or limited as a part of any alternative route to 
certification program, consistent with the needs of local schools, the 
accelerated nature of alternative routes to certification, and the wide 
range of previous education and experience that candidates bring to 
these programs. The Department, therefore, declines to change the 
definition to specify the amount or type of coursework that must be 
included in programs providing alternative routes to certification. We 
are specifying in the final definition, however, that alternative 
routes to certification should include standard features such as 
demonstration of subject-matter mastery and high-quality instruction in 
pedagogy.
    We also believe that programs providing alternative route to 
certification should not award levels of certification that are 
different from the certifications available from traditional 
preparation programs, which could limit the opportunities for teachers 
to teach and leaders to lead; rather, alternative routes to 
certification programs, whether for teachers or principals, should be 
considered different pathways to certification with the same rigor as 
other State-approved routes. The Department's view is that States, 
LEAs, and schools should treat individuals prepared through State-
approved alternative routes to certification in the same manner as 
those prepared and certified through traditional teacher and principal 
preparation programs, and we are changing the definition to reflect 
this view.
    The Department agrees that there is a need to strengthen 
preparation programs to prepare teachers and principals to meet the 
needs of all students. We are revising the definition of alternative 
routes to certification to clarify that such routes should prepare 
teachers and principals to address the needs of all students, including 
English language learners and students with disabilities.
    Changes: We have changed the term ``alternative certification 
routes'' to ``alternative routes to certification.'' We also have made 
the following changes: (1) Revised clause (a) to clarify that ``other 
providers'' refers to ``other providers operating independently from 
institutions of higher education''; (2) added a new clause (b) to 
clarify that alternative routes to certification programs must be 
selective in accepting candidates; (3) re-designated proposed clause 
(b) as new clause (c) and changed ``clinical/student teaching 
experiences'' to ``supervised, school-based experiences and ongoing 
support such as effective mentoring and coaching;'' (4) re-designated 
proposed clause (c) as new clause (d); and (5) re-designated proposed 
clause (d) as new clause (e) and revised it to clarify that upon 
completion, programs providing alternative routes to certification must 
award the same level of certification that traditional preparation 
programs award upon completion. We have also revised the definition of 
alternative routes to certification to clarify that such routes should 
include ``standard features such as demonstration of subject-matter 
mastery, and high-quality instruction in pedagogy and in addressing the 
needs of all students in the classroom including English language 
learners and students with disabilities.''
    Comment: Many commenters suggested that the Race to the Top 
competition places too much emphasis on alternative routes to 
certification and recommended that the Department eliminate the focus 
on alternative routes and expand the criterion to include multiple 
routes. Several commenters expressed concern that alternative routes to 
certification are not as effective as traditional routes. Those 
commenters argued that alternative routes to certification do not 
provide the necessary skill sets to impact teaching and learning, and 
do not attract educators with the necessary background to provide 
instructional leadership. A few commenters questioned whether criterion 
(D)(1) is necessary. One commenter recommended that the Department not 
require States to require alternative routes for principals. A few 
commenters argued that research shows that alternative routes have not 
been as effective as traditional programs. One commenter suggested that 
the Department focus on the quality of pathways to certification rather 
than the number of those pathways. Multiple commenters suggested that 
States develop common standards of performance for those entering the 
profession, regardless of the route taken. One commenter recommended 
that the Department establish safeguards to ensure that alternative 
routes successfully prepare candidates to meet a consistent set of 
standards that govern teacher licensure. A few generally supportive 
commenters recommended monitoring these routes to ensure quality 
programs, and requiring States to provide evidence of a quality control 
process for their certification programs.
    Discussion: The Department agrees that we should encourage the 
creation of high-quality pathways for aspiring teachers and principals 
through both traditional and alternative routes to certification. We 
are therefore adding criterion (D)(1)(iii), under which States will be 
rewarded for having a process for monitoring, evaluating, and 
identifying areas of teacher and principal shortage and for preparing 
teachers and principals to fill these areas of shortage.
    At the same time, we believe it is important to retain the original 
substance of proposed criterion (C)(1), regarding alternative routes to 
certification, for two reasons. First, to increase the supply of high-
quality talent entering the field of education we must reduce the 
barriers to entry into the education profession, especially for high-
achieving individuals, such as individuals who have changed careers and 
recent college graduates who have the potential to be good educators. 
Alternative routes to certification are typically optimized for such 
new entrants into the profession. Second, the Secretary believes that 
competition between traditional and alternative certification providers 
will help increase the quality of all programs. To provide clarity, and 
to emphasize the importance of alternative routes actually being in 
use, we are separating proposed criterion (C)(1) into two criteria, 
(D)(1)(i) and (D)(1)(ii).
    To further support the notion that all teacher and administrator 
preparation programs must train candidates to become high-performing 
professionals, we proposed in the NPP and establish in this final 
notice, criterion (D)(4). This

[[Page 59749]]

criterion is intended to shine a light on the quality of all 
preparation programs in the State by providing both potential 
candidates and schools recruiting graduates with valuable information 
about which programs are actually best preparing candidates for 
success. We are also adding criterion (D)(4)(ii), which encourages 
States to expand preparation and credentialing options and programs 
that are successful at producing effective teachers and principals.
    Together, we believe that criteria (D)(1) and (D)(4) provide a 
combination of rewards, incentives, and transparency that could result 
in significant quality improvements in educator preparation and 
recruitment.
    Finally, we do not believe we should remove principals from this 
criterion. Well-prepared principals are critical to providing the 
instructional leadership necessary to support teaching and learning in 
our schools. We know that chronically underperforming schools too often 
have poor leadership, and that poor leadership drives away good 
teachers. The focus on principal preparation is therefore critical.
    Changes: Criterion (D)(1) now reads, ``Providing high-quality 
pathways for aspiring teachers and principals: The extent to which the 
State has--
    (i) Legal, statutory, or regulatory provisions that allow 
alternative routes to certification (as defined in this notice) for 
teachers and principals, particularly routes that allow for providers 
in addition to institutions of higher education;
    (ii) Alternative routes to certification (as defined in this 
notice) that are in use; and
    (iii) A process for monitoring, evaluating, and identifying areas 
of teacher and principal shortage and for preparing teachers and 
principals to fill these areas of shortage.''
    In addition, we have added criterion (D)(4)(ii), which encourages 
States to ``expand preparation and credentialing options and programs 
that are successful at producing effective teachers and principals 
(both as defined in this notice).''
    Comment: One commenter recommended including an additional 
requirement that States demonstrate the extent to which their 
alternative routes for STEM teachers draw upon nationally recognized 
models.
    Discussion: The Department places great emphasis in Race to the Top 
on STEM, as evidenced by the fact that we have established a 
competitive preference priority for STEM proposals in this notice. We 
also recognize the importance of using models that have shown success 
in raising student achievement in STEM areas. However, we do not 
believe it is necessary to require that States demonstrate the extent 
to which their alternative routes to certification for STEM teachers 
utilize nationally recognized models. We expect that all alternative 
routes to certification, including those for STEM teachers, would 
include standard features such as demonstration of subject-matter 
mastery, and high-quality instruction in pedagogy and in addressing the 
needs of all students in the classroom including English language 
learners and student with disabilities. As previously stated, we are 
adding language to the definition of alternative routes to 
certification that clarifies this point.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters recommended that a portion of the Race to 
the Top funds be used to promote new approaches to alternative routes 
to certification, incentivizing existing programs to adopt research-
based and effective strategies.
    Discussion: The Department recognizes that there are many research-
based, innovative practices that can help teachers, principals, and 
others improve student achievement. Nothing in this notice prevents 
States from engaging in or supporting such innovation. The Department 
notes that it recently announced proposed priorities, requirements, 
definitions, and selection criteria for the Investing in Innovation 
Fund. Established under section 14007 of the ARRA, the Investing in 
Innovation fund will provide competitive grants to expand the 
implementation of innovative practices that show the promise of 
significantly improving K-12 student achievement for high-need 
students, as well as help close the achievement gap, and improve 
teacher and principal effectiveness. The grants will allow eligible 
entities to expand their work and serve as models of best practices. 
LEAs and nonprofit organizations interested in developing new 
approaches to improve teacher and principal effectiveness in meeting 
the needs of high-need students and scaling-up such strategies may wish 
to consider applying for an Investing in Innovation grant.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that, instead of asking States 
to show the extent to which they encourage alternative routes to 
certification, States should be required to demonstrate the extent to 
which teacher preparation programs partner with high-need LEAs and 
schools to meet the specific personnel needs of those LEAs and schools.
    Discussion: The Department agrees that creating partnerships 
between effective teacher preparation programs and high-need LEAs and 
schools could be an effective strategy to meet personnel needs. As 
discussed earlier, we are adding criterion (D)(1)(iii), which is 
focused on identifying areas of teacher and principal shortage and 
preparing teachers and principals to fill them. States could address 
part of this criterion by establishing the partnerships suggested by 
the commenter.
    Changes: None.
    Selection Criterion (D)(2): Improving Teacher and Principal 
Effectiveness Based on Performance (Proposed Criterion (C)(2)):
    Comment: Several commenters recommended requiring that teacher and 
principal evaluations be conducted at the local level and that States 
only provide support rather than be directly involved in the evaluation 
process. Many commenters also stated that the consequences of those 
evaluations (e.g., performance pay) should also be decided at a local 
level. Those commenters argued that local school systems are better 
able to identify effective and ineffective educators, allowing for 
meaningful comparisons and interpretations across schools. Another 
commenter recommended adding an assurance encouraging States to provide 
local control to principals over issues such as hiring, leadership team 
appointments, school-based funding, and scheduling flexibility. Two 
commenters suggested replacing ``differentiating'' in the title of 
criterion (D)(2) (proposed criterion (C)(2)) with ``evaluating.'' Other 
commenters stated that the focus of this criterion should be primarily 
on improving the performance of teachers and principals in order to 
improve student achievement.
    Discussion: It was the Department's intent that LEAs would be the 
entities conducting teacher and principal evaluations and making 
informed decisions, based on the evaluations, regarding teacher and 
principal development, compensation, promotion, retention, tenure, and 
removal. We are revising criterion (D)(2) to clarify that participating 
LEAs (as defined in this notice) should perform these functions and 
States should have a plan for ensuring that participating LEAs do so.
    While differentiating performance is an important component of 
evaluation systems, we agree that criterion (D)(2) is focused on 
improving teacher and principal effectiveness, and we are changing the 
title to make this clear. We

[[Page 59750]]

also have made the development of evaluation systems (rather than 
differentiation) the centerpiece of this criterion by revising (D)(2) 
to encourage the design and implementation of high-quality evaluation 
systems, and to promote their use for feedback, professional 
improvement, and decision-making.
    Changes: We have revised criterion (D)(2) to clarify that the 
State's role is to ``ensure that participating LEAs'' perform the 
functions described in criterion (D)(2). We have also replaced 
``differentiating'' with ``improving'' in the title of criterion 
(D)(2). We have also reframed this criterion so that it focuses on the 
creation and use of evaluation systems.
    Comment: One commenter recommended changing criterion (D)(2)(i) 
(proposed criterion (C)(2)(a)) to read ``Establish and provide a clear 
description of a system to measure impact on student growth (as defined 
in this notice) that uses a rigorous statistical approach.''
    Discussion: We accept the commenter's suggested language, in part. 
We do not, however, believe it is necessary to include in criterion 
(D)(2)(i) that the measure of student growth uses a rigorous 
statistical approach. The definition of student growth in this notice 
already provides that the approaches used to measure growth must be 
rigorous. We are changing criterion (D)(2)(i) to reflect the first part 
of the commenter's suggested language. We are also clarifying that 
growth should be measured for each individual student.
    Changes: Criterion (D)(2)(i) has been revised to read, ``Establish 
clear approaches to measuring student growth (as defined in this 
notice) and measure it for each individual student.''
    Comment: One commenter asked for clarification regarding the word 
``overall'' in the proposed definition of an effective principal.
    Discussion: The word ``overall'' in the definition of effective 
principal refers to the performance of all of the students in the 
school, taken as a whole. The analogue from the ESEA is the ``all 
students'' group used in AYP determinations. We are removing the 
reference to section 1111(b)(2)(C)(v)(II) of the ESEA from the 
definition of effective principal because, as noted elsewhere, a new 
paragraph (g) in the Application Requirements section of this notice 
explains that references to ESEA subgroups throughout the notice are 
the subgroups described in section 1111(b)(2)(C)(v)(II) of the ESEA.
    Changes: We have removed the parenthetical ``(described in section 
1111(b)(2)(C)(v)(II) of the ESEA)'' from the definition of effective 
principal.
    Comment: Many commenters stated that the proposed definition of 
effective principal relies too heavily on standardized test scores as 
the sole measure of effectiveness. Several commenters recommended that 
the definition be changed to require States to expand the definition 
beyond student growth to include multiple measures such as 
effectiveness as a leader; effective fiscal management; student, 
community, and parental engagement; effective school safety; evidence 
of providing a supportive teaching and learning environment; 
discipline; college matriculation rates; college readiness rates; and 
data on staff turnover rates and working conditions. One commenter 
suggested balancing the evaluation of principals by including data from 
State assessments and other data on student learning in all core 
academic subjects, so as to avoid ``narrowing the curriculum.'' Other 
commenters emphasized the principal's role in creating a positive 
school climate, engaging students, increasing the number of effective 
teachers, continuous improvement, connecting learning to solving 
community problems, implementing school-wide practices that drive 
substantial student achievement gains, and preparing students for 
success in work and post-secondary education. One commenter suggested 
supplementing the definition to state that an effective principal is 
one who demonstrates growth in the number and percentage of effective 
and highly effective teachers within the school through demonstrated 
success in strategies such as teacher recruitment and selection, 
retention, high quality data-driven professional development, feedback 
and coaching to individual teachers, counseling out, and fair 
dismissals.
    Discussion: The Department believes that student growth must be a 
significant factor in determining principal effectiveness. However, we 
agree with commenters that data on student growth should not be used as 
the sole means of evaluating principals and that States, LEAs, and 
schools should supplement student growth with other measures of 
effectiveness. Accordingly, we are revising the definition of effective 
principal to require that they do so. While we cannot include in the 
definition all of the measures recommended by the commenters, we 
believe it is important to include several examples for illustrative 
purposes and are adding examples of the following measures in the 
definition of effective principal: high school graduation rates and 
college enrollment rates, as well as evidence of providing supportive 
teaching and learning conditions, strong instructional leadership, and 
positive family and community engagement. We also are making minor 
changes to the definition for purposes of clarification.
    Changes: We have changed the definition of effective principal as 
follows: (a) Replaced ``States may supplement this definition as they 
see fit'' with ``States, LEAs, or schools must include multiple 
measures;'' (b) added ''Supplemental measures may include, for example, 
high school graduation rates and college enrollment rates, as well as 
evidence of providing supportive teaching and learning conditions, 
strong instructional leadership, and positive family and community 
engagement;'' and (c) replaced ``so long as principal effectiveness is 
judged, in significant measure by student growth'' with ``provided that 
principal effectiveness is evaluated, in significant part, by student 
growth.''
    Comment: One commenter supported the definition of effective 
teacher and agreed that student growth should be used as a measure of 
teacher effectiveness along with other supplemental measures. However, 
many commenters stated that the proposed definition relies too heavily 
on standardized test scores and recommended requiring supplemental 
measures. Another commenter recommended giving States the flexibility 
to define effective teachers using models that make sense in their 
States. Several commenters suggested that the definition include 
examples of supplemental measures such as using research-based teaching 
practices, implementing practices that have been documented in the 
classrooms of teachers who are driving substantial student achievement 
gains, and using feedback and student performance data to improve 
teaching.
    Discussion: As noted in our response to commenters' concerns that 
student growth data should not be used as the sole means to evaluate 
principals, we agree with commenters that States, LEAs, and schools 
should include multiple measures in determining teacher effectiveness. 
We are, therefore, changing the definition to require States, LEAs, or 
schools to take into account data on student growth as a significant 
measure of teacher effectiveness, but also to include multiple 
measures. We also are adding multiple observation-based assessments of 
teacher performance as an example of

[[Page 59751]]

a supplemental measure in the definition of effective teacher.
    Changes: We have defined effective teacher to mean ``a teacher 
whose students achieve acceptable rates (e.g., at least one grade level 
in an academic year) of student growth (as defined in this notice). 
States, LEAs, or schools must include multiple measures, provided that 
teacher effectiveness is evaluated, in significant part, by student 
growth (as defined in this notice). Supplemental measures may include, 
for example, multiple observation-based assessments of teacher 
performance.''
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the definition of effective 
teacher be changed to require student growth to be a ``predominant 
measure,'' rather than a ``significant measure,'' of teacher 
effectiveness. The commenter noted that using student growth as a 
``significant measure'' for judging teacher effectiveness would allow 
other factors to outweigh a teacher's impact on student achievement.
    Discussion: We believe that having student growth as a significant 
factor in determining teacher effectiveness is a sufficiently rigorous 
standard. The revised definition also provides States, LEAs, and 
schools with more flexibility in determining the appropriate use of 
supplemental measures without outweighing the importance of teachers' 
impact on student growth in determining teacher effectiveness.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters suggested that the definition of 
effective teacher acknowledge and address the need to mentor and 
support new teachers who disproportionately work in struggling schools.
    Discussion: We agree that professional development, including 
mentoring and coaching, are important aspects of teacher effectiveness. 
For this reason, criterion (D)(2)(iv)(a) focuses on using evaluations 
to inform decisions regarding developing effective teachers and 
principals, including by providing relevant coaching, induction 
support, and/or professional development. Criterion (D)(5) also 
provides for evaluation of the extent to which a State has a high-
quality plan for its participating LEAs to provide effective, data-
informed professional development, coaching, induction, and common 
planning and collaboration time to teachers and principals. We believe 
these criteria address the need for mentoring and other forms of 
professional development for teachers and therefore, are not changing 
the definition of effective teacher in the manner recommended by the 
commenter.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter strongly recommended including high school 
graduation rates as a measure to evaluate teacher effectiveness in 
order to provide a disincentive to ``creaming'' students and to signal 
the importance of preventing students from dropping out.
    Discussion: We believe it could be misleading to include high 
school graduation rates as a required or supplemental measure of 
teacher effectiveness, because, more than other measures, graduation 
rates typically reflect the work of many teachers and school 
administrators. Accordingly, we have included graduation rates as an 
example of a supplemental measure of effectiveness in the definitions 
of effective principal and highly effective principal.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that effective teacher be 
defined as a teacher whose students, overall and for each subgroup, 
demonstrate acceptable rates of student growth. The commenter noted 
that the definition of effective principal refers to ``each subgroup'' 
and expressed concern that the omission of ``each subgroup'' in the 
definition of effective teacher could be misinterpreted to mean that 
teachers could be deemed effective (or highly effective) even if their 
students from different subgroups are not making sufficient learning 
gains.
    Discussion: The Department included the performance of subgroups in 
the definitions of effective principal and highly effective principal 
because there would generally be a sufficiently large number of 
students in a particular subgroup at the school level to evaluate 
principal effectiveness. However, it is generally unlikely that a class 
would have a sufficient number of students in any particular subgroup 
on which to base an evaluation of a teacher's effectiveness.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Some commenters recommended that, instead of defining 
effective teacher, this notice should encourage the use of proven 
tactics for improving teacher effectiveness (e.g., lowering class sizes 
or innovative solutions for addressing the challenges teachers face). 
Other commenters suggested encouraging States to develop and use 
performance assessments of teachers that reliably and validly assess 
the use of teaching practices known to be associated with student 
achievement gains and to experiment with a range of strategies to 
incorporate evidence of student learning and accomplishment into 
teacher evaluation tools. One commenter recommended that educators 
should use research data and scientific recommendation as a basis for 
instruction and developing appropriate methods.
    Discussion: Throughout this final notice, the Department encourages 
States, LEAs, and schools to use proven strategies for improving 
teacher effectiveness and addressing other challenges teachers face. 
For example, Invitational Priority 6--School-Level Conditions for 
Reform, Innovation, and Learning focuses on providing schools with 
flexibility and autonomy, such as creating school climates and cultures 
that remove obstacles to, and actively support, student engagement and 
achievement, and implementing strategies to effectively engage families 
and communities in supporting the academic success of their students. 
Criterion (C)(3) focuses on using data to improve instruction by 
increasing the acquisition, adoption, and use of local instructional 
improvement systems that provide teachers and principals with the 
information they need to inform and improve instructional practices; 
supporting LEAs and schools that use these systems in providing 
professional development on how to use these systems to support 
instructional improvement; and making data available and accessible to 
researchers so they can evaluate the effectiveness of instructional 
materials, strategies, and approaches. Criteria (D)(2)(iv)(a) and 
(D)(5) emphasize that the supports provided to teachers and principals 
should be ongoing and informed by data and evaluations.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed concern that data on student 
growth are available only for the limited number of subjects included 
in the annual assessments required under the ESEA. The commenter 
recommended that we clarify that alternative measures of student 
performance should be used for teachers teaching subjects that are not 
tested under the ESEA. Another commenter asked how teacher 
effectiveness would be determined when there are no data on student 
growth, such as might be the case for novice teachers and teachers 
teaching subjects or grades that are not tested under the ESEA.
    Discussion: As defined in this notice, the term student growth 
means the change in student achievement (as defined in this notice) for 
an individual student between two or more points in time. In turn, the 
definition of student achievement includes alternative measures of 
student performance for

[[Page 59752]]

non-tested grades and subjects. As noted elsewhere, we are adding, in 
the definition of student achievement, a number of examples of 
alternative measures of student performance for both tested and non-
tested grades and subjects and clarifying that for tested grades and 
subjects, student achievement must include a student's score on the 
State assessments required under the ESEA (which will allow for the 
determination of student growth) and may include other measures of 
student learning as well. Therefore, we do not believe that additional 
language needs to be added to the definition of effective teacher.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed concern that the definition of 
effective teacher equates effectiveness with advancing students one 
grade level in an academic year. The commenter stated that this 
approach ignores the fact that research has not identified a standard 
for student gains in a given school year in a given subject. Another 
commenter requested clarification regarding the meaning of ``at least 
one grade level in an academic year'' as used in the definition of 
effective teacher. Another commenter inquired whether States that use 
summative tests to measure one or more years of student growth would 
need to change their assessment system.
    Discussion: We included ``at least one grade level in an academic 
year'' as an example of an acceptable rate of student growth in the 
definition of effective teacher (and effective principal). We 
recognized that this example of an acceptable rate of student growth 
may not be appropriate for all students and therefore, did not include 
it as a requirement but rather as an example. We believe States, LEAs, 
and schools should determine what constitutes an acceptable rate of 
student growth for purposes of assessing teacher (or principal) 
effectiveness.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: As with the definition of effective principal, many 
commenters expressed concern about using student growth as the sole 
measure for defining a highly effective principal. Some commenters 
stated that a good measure of a highly effective principal is success 
in attracting, developing, and retaining effective teachers. Another 
commenter, however, stated that significant growth in student 
achievement would suffice as evidence of a highly effective principal's 
ability to improve teacher effectiveness.
    Discussion: As noted earlier, the Secretary believes that student 
growth must be included as a significant factor in evaluating principal 
and teacher effectiveness. However, he understands and appreciates 
commenters' concerns that student growth should not be used as the sole 
means to evaluate principals and teachers. Therefore, we are changing 
the definition of highly effective principal, consistent with the 
changes to the definition of effective principal, to require States, 
LEAs, or schools to take into account multiple measures, in addition to 
data on student growth, in defining a highly effective principal. We 
agree with commenters that success in attracting, developing, and 
retaining high numbers of effective teachers would be a good measure of 
a highly effective principal and are adding this to the definition 
along with other examples of supplemental measures. We also are making 
minor technical changes for clarity and removing the statutory 
reference to section 1111(b)(2)(C)(v)(II) of the ESEA, regarding 
student subgroups. We are removing the statutory reference to the ESEA 
because, as noted elsewhere, a new paragraph (g) in the Application 
Requirements section of this notice explains that references to ESEA 
subgroups throughout the notice are the subgroups described in section 
1111(b)(2)(C)(v)(II) of the ESEA.
    Changes: We have changed the definition of highly effective 
principal to read as follows: ``Highly effective principal means a 
principal whose students, overall and for each subgroup, achieve high 
rates (e.g., one and one-half grade levels in an academic year) of 
student growth (as defined in this notice). States, LEAs, or schools 
must include multiple measures, provided that principal effectiveness 
is evaluated, in significant part, by student growth (as defined in 
this notice). Supplemental measures may include, for example, high 
school graduation rates; college enrollment rates; evidence of 
providing supportive teaching and learning conditions, strong 
instructional leadership, and positive family and community engagement; 
or evidence of attracting, developing, and retaining high numbers of 
effective teachers.''
    Comment: One commenter noted that the definition of highly 
effective principal refers to ``high rates of student growth'' and 
recommended modifying the definition of student growth accordingly.
    Discussion: We believe that States' definition of highly effective 
principal should demonstrate high rates of student growth for their 
students overall, and for each subgroup. The Department believes that 
one and one-half grade levels of growth in an academic year is a good 
example of a high rate of student growth. We recognize, however, that 
this example of ``high rates of student growth'' may not be appropriate 
for all students. We included ``one and one-half grade levels in an 
academic year'' as an example, not a requirement. We believe States, 
LEAs, and schools should determine what constitutes a high rate of 
student growth, as the definitions of highly effective principal (and 
highly effective teacher) clearly permit. We, therefore, do not believe 
it is necessary to revise the definition of student growth, as 
requested by the commenter.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that successful completion of a 
State-approved principal licensure program that builds the knowledge, 
skills, and attitudes to effectively lead people, lead learning, and 
manage school operations should be included as a measure of a highly 
effective principal.
    Discussion: States, LEAs, and schools may choose to use successful 
completion of a State-approved principal licensure program as a 
supplemental measure of a highly effective principal. However, we 
decline to include it as an example of a supplemental measure in the 
definition of a highly effective principal because we believe that 
principal effectiveness is best determined by measuring results and 
outcomes.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Some commenters commended the Department for focusing the 
definition of teacher effectiveness on student achievement and growth. 
Other commenters recommended adding language that would allow States 
and LEAs to supplement student growth with multiple measures determined 
on the State or local level. Other commenters suggested that States and 
LEAs be required to supplement their definitions of student growth with 
multiple measures. Commenters also recommended that such measures 
include the use of evidence-based practices for improving student 
achievement, the use of feedback and professional development 
opportunities, and leadership activities such as mentoring or leading 
an instructional community.
    One commenter did not believe the definition should include a 
teacher's commitment and ability to use feedback and performance data 
to improve instructional practices. The commenter reasoned that a 
teacher who improves student achievement is using (1) practices that 
are both effective for student learning and healthy for social and 
emotional development of students and (2) feedback to improve practice. 
One commenter urged the Department

[[Page 59753]]

to have ``an equity focus on those current highly qualified teacher 
proxies that have some research base grounded in student achievement: 
Novice and out of field teaching.'' Another commenter suggested that 
the definition provide individual school districts with the flexibility 
to establish policies to determine whether a teacher is highly 
effective in order to ``recognize that a wide range of conditions can 
vary from district to district that would make a state-wide definition 
inappropriate for evaluation, promotion, or compensation purposes.''
    Discussion: We agree with commenters that States, LEAs, and schools 
should be required to supplement their definition of a highly effective 
teacher with multiple measures. We are, therefore, revising the 
definition to require that States, LEAs, or schools include multiple 
measures. In addition, we are including examples of supplemental 
measures that States, LEAs, and schools might use, including leadership 
roles.
    Changes: We have revised the definition of highly effective teacher 
to mean a teacher whose students achieve high rates (e.g., one and one-
half grade levels in an academic year) of student growth (as defined in 
this notice). States, LEAs, or schools must include multiple measures, 
provided that teacher effectiveness is evaluated, in significant part, 
by student growth (as defined in this notice). Supplemental measures 
may include, for example, multiple observation-based assessments of 
teacher performance or evidence of leadership roles (which may include 
mentoring or leading professional learning communities) that increase 
the effectiveness of other teachers in the school or LEA.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that adopting the definitions of 
effective teacher and highly effective teacher in the NPP would be at 
odds with the value-added system prescribed in the State Fiscal 
Stabilization Fund.
    Discussion: The definitions of effective teacher and highly 
effective teacher in this notice are not at odds with the requirements 
of the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund. The Race to the Top definitions 
are broad enough to give States, LEAs, and schools sufficient 
flexibility to determine the approach to measuring growth that works 
best for them, giving them a variety of ways to comply with the 
requirements of the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that standardized tests are not 
created to measure teacher effectiveness and therefore are an invalid 
measure of effectiveness.
    Discussion: We believe students' standardized test scores are one 
of many measures that can be used to determine student growth. However, 
we recognize that teacher effectiveness should not be determined solely 
on the basis of standardized test scores, which is why we are 
requiring, in this final notice, the use of student growth as a 
significant factor in teacher evaluations that must include multiple 
measures.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Commenters stressed that it is imperative that there is 
common ground on how to develop, fairly compensate, and accurately 
evaluate teachers. A few commenters stated that there should be 
collaboration between teachers and principals in determining 
appropriate measures for evaluation.
    Discussion: We agree about the importance of involving teachers and 
principals in the design and development of these evaluation systems, 
and are adding in this final notice language requiring such systems to 
be designed and developed with teacher and principal involvement.
    Changes: We have revised criterion (D)(2)(ii) to read, ``Design and 
implement rigorous, transparent, and fair evaluation systems for 
teachers and principals that (a) differentiate effectiveness using 
multiple rating categories that take into account data on student 
growth (as defined in this notice) as a significant factor, and (b) are 
designed and developed with teacher and principal involvement.''
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department replace the 
word ``rating'' with ``personnel evaluation'' to account for a more 
nuanced approach with multiple measures.
    Discussion: We believe that the reference to ``rating categories'' 
in criterion (D)(2)(ii) is sufficiently clear that the criterion does 
not need to be revised.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A large number of commenters recommended changes to the 
proposed definition of student growth. Some suggested that we include 
in the definition the use of non-achievement-based measures of student 
learning, performance-based or portfolio assessments, and interim 
assessments. Other commenters suggested including in the definition the 
specific amount of growth required. Some commenters supported the 
proposed definition's emphasis on individual growth, while others 
called for comparisons among ``like populations,'' such as students 
with disabilities or English language learners. One commenter warned 
that the use of a growth-based model could make teachers unwilling to 
serve students with disabilities. Some commenters urged the Department 
to require specific models, such as value-added, while others urged the 
Department not to require specific models in order to leave States with 
the flexibility to develop their own measures of student growth. One 
commenter was concerned that the definition ``amounts to another all or 
nothing model'' and pointed out that research on student growth 
cautions against making judgments about student growth using solely two 
data points, and suggested that we reconsider this approach.
    Discussion: Our purpose, in the context of a competitive grant 
program intended to provide leading-edge States with incentives to 
develop and test innovative education reform ideas, is to give States 
freedom to create their own systems for measuring student growth within 
a few key parameters. We believe that the proposed definition strikes 
this balance and that, therefore, significant changes are not needed. 
We acknowledge that LEAs or schools may reasonably want to measure 
student growth using more than two data points. We are changing the 
phrase ``two points in time'' to ``two or more points in time'' to 
permit the use of interim assessments or achievement data collected 
across multiple years. We are also editing the second sentence for 
clarity; this includes deleting the phrase ``in order to increase the 
construct validity and generalizability of the information.''
    Changes: We have revised the definition of student growth to read 
as follows: ``Student growth means the change in student achievement 
(as defined in this notice) for an individual student between two or 
more points in time. A State may also include other measures that are 
rigorous and comparable across classrooms.''
    Comment: Numerous commenters expressed their support for evaluating 
teachers and principals based on student achievement or growth. One 
commenter stated that principal evaluations should include an 
aggregation of data on student growth. Several of these commenters, 
however, asserted that student growth data have limitations, including 
a lack of common definitions between States, difficulty in 
disaggregating a teacher's effect on student achievement from other 
effects, and the lack of data for all grade levels and subject areas. 
Additionally, many commenters expressed their disapproval of the 
proposed criteria regarding using student achievement data or student

[[Page 59754]]

growth for the evaluation of teachers and principals. In support of 
their arguments, those commenters cited factors such as the current 
limitations of student assessments, and the inadequacy of assessments 
as an evaluation factor. Several of those commenters claimed that there 
is a lack of research or evidence demonstrating that the use of such 
data for teacher and principal evaluations has any positive impact on 
teacher, principal, or student performance. One commenter disagreed 
with the Department's statement that ``It is difficult to predict 
teacher quality based on the qualifications that teachers bring to the 
job. Indeed measures such as certification, master's degrees, and years 
of teaching experience have limited predictive power on this point.'' 
The commenter argued that the research the Department cites (i.e., Kane 
et al.) actually demonstrates that teaching experience and whether a 
teacher is fully certified does indeed have substantial impact on 
students' achievement. Other commenters argued that research indicates 
growth models are unstable and too vulnerable to multiple sources of 
error and to other student and school factors separate and apart from 
student achievement. Additionally, many commenters offered reasons for 
not using student assessments as a factor in teacher and principal 
evaluations, including the claims that: Using student achievement data 
to make employment decisions may lead to corruption, students are not 
held accountable for the results of State assessments, and that such a 
policy would detract from other priorities, such as equitable 
distribution of effective teachers. Another commenter argued that 
measuring teacher effectiveness ignores the organizational context of 
schools and inappropriately defaults to a single measure of student 
test scores as the basis to evaluate, compensate, and dismiss teachers.
    Discussion: Research shows that teacher quality is a critical 
contributor to student learning, and that differences between teachers 
are persistent. Kane et al. found in their study that the certification 
status of teachers (e.g., certified, uncertified, and alternative 
certified) ``has at most small impacts on student test performance.'' 
At the same time, they found that, ``among those with the same 
certification status, there are large and persistent differences in 
teacher effectiveness.'' They also reported that evidence suggests that 
teachers' classroom performance during their first two years of 
teaching is a more reliable indicator of a teacher's future 
effectiveness than their certification status.\4\ Another study used 
data from Chicago public high schools to estimate the importance of 
teachers on student achievement in mathematics and found that, ``one 
semester with a teacher rated two standard deviations higher in quality 
could add 0.3 to 0.5 grade equivalents, or 25 to 45 percent of an 
average school year, to a student's math score performance.'' The study 
further concluded that the resulting teacher quality ratings ``remain 
relatively stable for an individual instructor over time.'' \5\ A 
recent study of New York City public charter schools concluded that 
charter schools that pay teachers in part based on evaluations of their 
performance have more positive effects on student achievement.\6\ In 
light of this evidence, the Department believes that the best indicator 
we have today for teacher (and by extension principal) quality is 
student academic growth, but that (as noted above) this data must be 
supplemented with additional measures. At the same time, the Secretary 
appreciates that growth models are not yet perfect, that there are some 
challenges to using student growth data, and that there is more work to 
be done in this area. For this reason, we do not stipulate which 
approach States, LEAs, or schools should use to measure student growth 
so long as the approach used is rigorous and comparable across 
classrooms (see the definition of student growth). The criteria and 
definitions in this notice reflect the Department's belief that student 
growth data should be used as a significant factor in determining 
teacher and principal effectiveness; that evaluation systems should use 
multiple measures; that these evaluation systems should be rigorous, 
transparent, and fair; and that they should be designed and developed 
with teacher and principal involvement.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \4\ See, Kane, Thomas J., Jonah E. Rockoff, and Douglas O. 
Staiger (2006), ``What Does Certification Tell Us About Teacher 
Effectiveness? Evidence from New York City.''
    \5\ Daniel Aaronson, Lisa Barrow, and William Sander (2003), 
``Teacher and Student Achievement in the Chicago Public High 
Schools,'' Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Working Paper 2002-28.
    \6\ Hoxby, Caroline M., Sonali Murarka, and Jenny Kang. ``How 
New York City's Charter Schools Affect Achievement, August 2009 
Report.'' Second report in series. Cambridge, MA: New York City 
Charter Schools Evaluation Project, September 2009.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We do not agree that using student growth data as a part of a 
rigorous, transparent, and fair evaluation system that is designed and 
developed with teacher and principal involvement will lead to 
corruption or detract from other priorities. We contend that 
implementing fair and transparent evaluation systems developed with the 
involvement of both teachers and principals, and that include student 
growth as a significant factor in evaluations, will lead to greater 
trust between teachers and principals, enable meaningful decision-
making and support, and push educators to remain focused on the 
ultimate priority -- improving student achievement.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department encourage 
the development of research-based rubrics and/or innovative teacher 
performance evaluation programs.
    Discussion: We encourage LEAs to be innovative and draw on rigorous 
research in creating evaluation systems; this is an area that has high 
leverage and is ripe for change. However, in order to avoid creating a 
one-size-fits-all policy or stifling innovation, we decline to name 
specific tools that LEAs should use in their evaluation systems.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department consider 
designating NAEP as the standard test for every State to measure 
student achievement.
    Discussion: Race to the Top will use both the NAEP and the 
assessments required under the ESEA to measure student achievement. 
Each test has its benefits and its drawbacks; together, we believe they 
will offer the Nation an appropriate ``picture'' of how Race to the Top 
States are performing.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended removing the phrase ``targeted 
professional development'' from criterion (D)(2)(iv)(a) (proposed 
criterion (C)(2)(d)(i)). The commenter's rationale was that the 
Department should promote a comprehensive system for managing and 
developing human capital rather than a one-to-one system based on 
remediation. In addition, the commenter asserted that the Department 
should be explicit that professional development must be for the 
purpose of increasing student achievement.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenter that the term ``targeted 
professional development'' does not connote the appropriately broad 
range of professional development and support for teachers and 
principals originally envisioned by the Department. We are therefore 
changing this criterion to include the phrase ``providing relevant 
coaching, induction support, and/or professional development.'' We do, 
however, want to make clear that in the context of criterion (D)(2), we 
are encouraging LEAs and schools to consider how they will use 
teachers' and principals'

[[Page 59755]]

evaluations to inform their specific professional development plans. In 
other criteria, such as (D)(5) and (C)(3)(ii), we encourage a broad 
range of professional development activities. We also believe that, by 
specifying that professional development should be responsive to 
evaluations that use student growth as a significant factor, we make 
clear in this final notice that professional development should be 
oriented around supporting teachers and principals in increasing 
student achievement.
    Changes: We have split proposed criterion (C)(2)(d)(i) into two 
parts. We have combined the first part with proposed criterion 
(C)(2)(c), resulting in criterion (D)(2)(iii), which reads, ``Conduct 
annual evaluations of teachers and principals that include timely and 
constructive feedback; as part of such evaluations, provide teachers 
and principals with data on student growth for their students, classes, 
and schools.'' The second part has been designated criterion 
(D)(2)(iv)(a), which specifies that evaluations should inform decisions 
regarding ``Developing teachers and principals, including by providing 
relevant coaching, induction support, and/or professional 
development.''
    Comment: A few commenters recommended that the Department include a 
clear statement indicating that State reform plans should specify that 
teachers and principals will be assessed on more than a single year of 
data.
    Discussion: We believe it is important to use accurate data when 
evaluating teacher and principal performance, and that those 
evaluations should be done at least annually and should involve timely 
and constructive feedback. To make it clear, however, that annual 
evaluations do not have to be conducted based on only one year of 
information, we have revised the definition of student growth to 
clarify that student growth should be measured using achievement data 
between ``two or more points in time,'' rather than between only two 
points in time.
    Changes: We have revised the definition of student growth so that 
it means the change in achievement data for an individual student 
between ``two or more points in time.''
    Comment: A number of commenters supported the use of student growth 
data in determining compensation and promotions. A few commenters 
stated that the Department needs to specify how to structure 
performance pay (e.g., how to offer it for teachers of subjects that 
are not tested). However, many commenters expressed their opposition to 
pay based on student achievement or growth data. Several commenters 
stated that there is no evidence suggesting that performance pay linked 
to achievement data leads to improved educational outcomes. Several 
commenters asserted that performance pay places an undue emphasis on 
teachers and principals as individuals as opposed to parts of the 
education system as a whole. One commenter recommended that Race to the 
Top funds be used to design tests in pilot districts that could test 
the effectiveness of alternative compensation programs.
    Discussion: The Department believes that we need to do much more to 
shine a spotlight on and reward excellence in teaching and school 
leadership, and that one way to do so is through compensation and 
promotion. At the same time, we recognize that rewarding excellence 
while fulfilling the demands of fairness and the need to maintain a 
collaborative school environment is a delicate task that requires 
cooperation between LEA leadership, principals, and teachers.
    We also recognize that pay-for-performance systems in education are 
controversial and spark much debate. Some States, LEAs, and schools 
have experimented with such models and shown relative success and 
promise, while others have experienced less encouraging results. The 
ARRA also includes funds for the Teacher Incentive Fund, which will 
award grants to LEAs to develop performance-based compensation models. 
While research on pay-for-performance plans is limited, there is 
evidence to suggest that a well-designed performance-based pay system 
can lead to improved student achievement.\7\ Studies indicate that the 
most effective and successful pay-for-performance systems incorporate 
factors such as using multiple measures for evaluating performance; 
making student growth just one measure of performance; having a clearly 
identified purpose (e.g.. improving student achievement, improving 
recruitment and retention, or attracting teachers to hard-to-staff 
schools); and creating collaboration among teachers, principals, and 
other stakeholders. The Department believes that criterion (D)(2) 
incorporates these factors by specifying that evaluation systems for 
teacher and principals should use multiple measures, take into account 
student growth as a significant factor, and be designed and developed 
with teacher and principal involvement.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \7\ See e.g., Joshua H. Barnett, Gary W. Ritter, Marcus A. 
Winters, and Jay P. Greene, ``Evaluation of Year One of the 
Achievement Challenge Pilot Project in the Little Rock Public School 
District,'' University of Arkansas, January 2007.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We also note that the criterion refers to decisions regarding 
promotion and retention as well as compensation because we believe that 
great teaching and school leadership should be recognized and rewarded 
as much as possible, and that talented educators should have 
opportunities for increased responsibilities and other retention 
incentives, where appropriate, as well as for additional compensation.
    Changes: We have reorganized criterion (D)(2) to make it clearer 
that the decisions discussed in criterion (D)(2)(iv) should be based on 
the evaluation systems discussed in criterion (D)(2)(ii) and the 
evaluations discussed in criterion (D)(2)(iii). We have also added 
``retaining'' to the list of decisions in criterion (D)(2)(iv)(b).
    Comment: Numerous commenters argued that performance pay would 
create perverse incentives for teachers to work only with student 
groups most likely to demonstrate improvement, thereby marginalizing 
difficult-to-teach student groups and communities, including low-income 
communities, English language learners, and students with disabilities.
    Discussion: As contemplated in the notice, performance pay would be 
based on teacher and principal evaluations that, as discussed 
previously, use student growth--not raw student achievement data or 
proficiency levels--as a significant factor. Thus, teachers whose 
pupils start behind their peers or who are working with students with 
disabilities or English language learners are in no way penalized. This 
final notice also gives States, LEAs, and/or schools sufficient 
flexibility to take these concerns of commenters into account when 
creating systems for evaluation, compensation, and promotion. We also 
note that the Department is placing an emphasis on attracting teachers 
to hard-to-staff subjects, specialty areas, and schools in criterion 
(D)(3).
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters recommended including language 
requiring States to provide additional responsibilities for effective 
teachers. Many of the commenters included specific examples of 
professional opportunities States or LEAs should provide to highly 
effective teachers, such as serving as a community liaison, induction 
leader, or curriculum developer after earning an endorsement on their 
teacher's license.
    Discussion: The Department believes that it is critical to 
adequately compensate and promote our best

[[Page 59756]]

teachers and principals. These professionals are the role models and 
leaders of our schools and are essential to implementing effective 
educational reforms and improving student achievement. For these 
reasons, this notice makes clear that highly effective teachers and 
principals should have an opportunity to obtain additional compensation 
and responsibilities for their high performance.
    We believe that LEAs and schools, in collaboration with their 
teachers and principals, are best situated to determine the timing and 
types of additional responsibilities that should be given to their 
staff and that it would be inappropriate for the Department to set 
requirements around this issue.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended replacing the word ``tenure'' 
with ``continuing employment status'' for the sake of clarity.
    Discussion: The Department believes the word ``tenure'' is more 
widely understood and declines to make the suggested change.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters expressed concern that, while proposed 
criterion (C)(2)(iii) mentions using information to grant tenure and 
dismiss teachers, it does not focus on the need to retain teachers. One 
of these commenters stated that dismissals are going to involve a very 
small percentage of teachers and principals. The commenter further 
stated that both rural and urban schools may have difficulty attracting 
and retaining effective teachers. One commenter cited the difficulties 
in attracting and retaining effective or highly effective teachers in 
extremely rural areas. The commenter further stated that school 
districts in rural areas are forced to hire beginning teachers who 
cannot be considered effective or highly effective as defined in the 
NPP. A couple of commenters believed that robust, strong, and fair 
evaluation systems are important for attracting and retaining highly 
qualified, effective teachers and principals to high-poverty schools.
    Discussion: The Department concurs that recruiting and retaining 
effective and highly effective teachers and principals is critical for 
States and LEAs to meet their goals for education reform and improve 
student achievement, particularly in high-poverty and/or high-minority 
schools. For this reason, criterion (D)(3) discusses the equitable 
distribution of effective teachers and principals in high-poverty and/
or high-minority schools and encourages States and LEAs to provide 
incentives and strategies to attract and retain effective teachers and 
principals. Criteria (D)(2)(iv)(a) and (D)(5) also encourage States to 
support LEAs in providing professional development and undertaking 
other efforts, especially those informed by data and evaluations, to 
make their existing teachers more effective. We are also revising 
criterion (D)(2)(iv)(b) to specifically clarify that teacher and 
principal evaluations should inform retention decisions.
    Changes: We have revised criterion (D)(2)(iv)(b) to read as 
follows, ``Compensating, promoting, and retaining teachers and 
principals, including by providing opportunities for highly effective 
teachers and principals (both as defined in this notice) to obtain 
additional compensation and be given additional responsibilities.''
    Comment: Many commenters supported using evaluations in making 
employment decisions, such as those regarding teacher and principal 
tenure, dismissal, displacement, and layoff. Most of these commenters 
supported using multiple measures in these evaluations and not basing 
such employment decisions primarily or solely on assessment results.
    Discussion: We agree that rigorous, transparent, and fair 
evaluation systems should be used to inform a variety of decisions, 
including development, compensation, retention, tenure, certification, 
and removal. As discussed earlier, we are requiring that evaluation 
systems include multiple measures and that student growth be a 
significant factor, and we are revising criterion (D)(2) to make it 
clearer that the decisions under criterion (D)(2)(iv) should be based 
on the evaluation systems discussed in criterion (D)(2)(ii) and the 
evaluations discussed in criterion (d)(2)(iii). For purposes of 
clarity, we are dividing proposed criterion (C)(2)(d)(iii) into two 
criteria and adding decisions regarding full certification to one of 
the criteria.
    Changes: Proposed criterion (C)(2)(d)(iii) has been reorganized as 
criteria (D)(2)(iv)(c) and (D)(2)(iv)(d). Criterion (D)(2)(iv)(c) 
addresses the use of evaluation systems to inform decisions regarding 
whether to grant tenure and/or full certification to teachers and 
principals, and criterion (D)(2)(iv)(d) addresses removing ineffective 
tenured and untenured teachers and principals after they have had ample 
opportunities to improve. For both criteria, we have clarified that 
these decisions should be made using rigorous standards and 
streamlined, transparent, and fair procedures.
    Comment: Some commenters suggested that the Department should 
clarify the statement that the removal of teachers and principals must 
only occur after they have received ample support and opportunities to 
improve their performance yet have failed to do so. A few commenters 
recommended that we clarify the term ``ample opportunities'' and 
specify the amount of time that low-performing teachers should have to 
improve their performance (e.g., as one school year).
    Discussion: Providing teachers and principals with the needed 
support to improve the effectiveness of instruction and student 
outcomes is a critical element of Race to the Top, and removing 
ineffective professionals from schools is important as well.
    Race to the Top includes a number of criteria, in addition to 
criterion (D)(2), that are dedicated to teacher and principal 
professional development and supports; parts of criteria (B)(3) and 
(C)(3) and all of criterion (D)(5) concern this issue, including 
discussions of professional collaboration and planning time, 
individualized development plans, training and support in the analysis 
and use of data, classroom observations with immediate feedback, and 
other activities critical to supporting and improving teacher and 
principal capacity. These supports are paired, in the Race to the Top 
criteria, with criteria that focus on rigorous, fair and transparent 
teacher and principal evaluation systems that should include providing 
feedback on areas where professional improvements are needed.
    We decline to specify the amount of time teachers should be given 
to make improvements in their performance, beyond specifying that they 
should have ``ample opportunities to improve.'' It is the 
responsibility of the LEA and school to provide their students with 
effective teachers and principals, to provide their teachers and 
principals with effective support, and to take action when appropriate. 
We have deleted the phrase ``but have not done so'' to reflect this.
    Changes: We have removed the phrase ``but have not done so'' from 
criterion (D)(2)(iv)(d).
    Comment: One commenter argued that aspects of criterion (D)(2) 
(proposed criterion (C)(2)) may contravene the Personnel Evaluation 
Standards that, according to the commenter, have been federally 
accredited.
    Discussion: The Personnel Evaluation Standards referenced by the 
commenter are not federally accredited or approved by the Department. 
They are voluntary guidelines published by a private organization and 
are in no way binding on the Department or its grantees.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters recommended that States should have a

[[Page 59757]]

flexible amount of time to develop evaluation systems that link data on 
student growth to teachers and principals in order to allow time for 
the development of advanced assessment systems. Other commenters 
recommended that this notice reflect an understanding of the timeframe 
that may be necessary to build a comprehensive and fair teacher and 
principal evaluation system that takes student growth data into account 
given the state of the research in this area and the practical 
considerations in establishing such a system. The commenter stated that 
the proposed criterion would compel States to rush into imposing 
current value-added indicators of student learning on current 
evaluation systems rather than developing new advanced systems.
    Discussion: The notice does not state a specific timeframe for 
States to develop assessment systems and teacher and principal 
evaluation systems. Through their applications, States must provide, 
for each Reform Plan Criterion in this notice, a detailed plan for the 
use of grant funds that includes, among other things, (1) the key 
activities to be undertaken; (2) the timeline for implementing the 
activities; and (3) annual targets (where applicable) with respect to 
performance measures for the four school years beginning with the 2010-
2011 school year. (See Application Requirements, section (e), for a 
complete list of requirements). It is through this process that States 
have the flexibility to define the timeframe for implementing their 
activities, including systems development. States' applications will be 
judged, in part, on whether their activities and targets are ambitious 
yet achievable. As a result, we believe that this final notice 
appropriately encourages States and LEAs to strike the right balance 
between speed and thoughtfulness. We emphasize, however, that States 
should not wait to develop improved evaluation systems until higher-
quality assessments are available, as doing so would delay this 
essential progress by years and, in the process, harm student 
achievement. We expect that these evaluation systems will improve over 
time, as LEAs learn from their own experiences and from the experiences 
of others, and as States develop higher-quality assessments, the 
results of which will improve the measures of student growth that feed 
into these evaluation systems.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A number of commenters recommended requiring States to 
include in their plans a commitment to adhere to due process rights and 
existing State statutes concerning tenure and dismissal. A few 
commenters recommended requiring States to comply with local collective 
bargaining agreements or involve employee representatives where there 
is no collective bargaining agreement. One commenter specifically 
suggested requiring that collective bargaining be the vehicle for 
implementing performance pay schemes in local school districts.
    Discussion: In order to successfully implement many of the plans 
under criterion (D)(2), LEAs in collective bargaining States will need 
to work collaboratively with their local unions. Because this work and 
collaboration are so important, States will earn points based on the 
extent to which the local union leadership in their participating LEAs 
have signed the MOUs between the States and the LEAs indicating their 
intent to work in partnership with the LEAs in implementing the plans, 
including by addressing contractual issues such as local bargaining 
agreements. (See criterion (A)(1)). In addition, criterion (D)(2)(ii) 
creates incentives for LEAs to design and implement rigorous, 
transparent, and fair evaluation systems with teacher and principal 
involvement, while criterion (D)(2)(iv)(d) encourages LEAs to make 
decisions regarding removal using rigorous standards, and streamlined, 
transparent, and fair procedures.
    Changes: None.
    Selection Criterion (D)(3): Ensuring Equitable Distribution of 
Teachers and Principals (Proposed Criterion (C)(3)):
    Comment: One commenter recommended adding a definition of high-
minority school and defining the term as a school in the highest 
quartile of schools in a State with respect to enrollment of minority 
students. The commenter also recommended adding a definition of low-
minority school and defining the term as a school in the lowest 
quartile of schools in a State with respect to enrollment of minority 
students. These comments were in the context of a recommendation by the 
commenter to add to criterion (D)(3) a focus on the equitable 
distribution of effective teachers with respect to high-minority 
schools.
    Discussion: We agree that it is important to consider the equitable 
distribution of effective teachers with respect to both high-poverty 
and high-minority schools, and we are revising criterion (D)(3) 
accordingly. To give greater clarity to this change, we are adding 
definitions of high-minority school and low-minority school to this 
notice. However, in acknowledgment of the vast demographic differences 
between States, we have opted to give States greater flexibility in 
defining these terms than the commenter recommended, and are asking 
each State to define the terms consistent with its Teacher Equity Plan.
    Changes: We have added definitions of high-minority school and low-
minority school, both of which are defined ``by the State in a manner 
consistent with its Teacher Equity Plan. The State should provide, in 
its Race to the Top application, the definition used.''
    Comment: One commenter recommended defining low-poverty school for 
the purposes of reporting and accountability related to ensuring the 
equitable distribution of effective teachers and principals under 
criterion (D)(3) (proposed criterion (C)(3)).
    Discussion: The Department agrees that a definition of low-poverty 
school, in conjunction with the definition of high-poverty school 
proposed in the NPP and retained in this notice, would help ensure that 
States are using the same standards to inform their efforts to ensure 
that students in high-poverty schools have equitable access to highly 
effective teachers and principals and are not served by ineffective 
teachers and principals at higher rates than other students. We are, 
therefore, adding a definition of low-poverty school, adapted from 
similar language in the ESEA.
    Changes: We have included the definition of low-poverty school in 
this notice, defining the term to mean, ``consistent with section 
1111(h)(1)(C)(viii) of the ESEA, a school in the lowest quartile of 
schools in the State with respect to poverty level, using a measure of 
poverty determined by the State.''
    Comment: Multiple commenters suggested that the Department take 
further steps toward ensuring the equitable distribution of teachers by 
requiring States to have a plan to ensure that low-income and minority 
students are not taught by ineffective teachers at higher rates than 
other students. Other commenters recommended that the Department ask 
States to document their efforts to address gaps in teacher quality 
between high-poverty and low-poverty and high-minority and low-minority 
schools. Another commenter recommended revising the performance 
measures for this criterion to include the number and percentage of 
effective teachers and principals in high-poverty, low-poverty, high-
minority, and low-minority schools. Along those lines, one commenter 
stated that evidence of existing progress was more compelling

[[Page 59758]]

than reform plans and should therefore be given more weight.
    Discussion: The Department believes that great teaching and 
leadership matter tremendously, and that the inequitable distribution 
of highly effective teachers and principals is a major cause of the 
achievement gap. We therefore agree with the commenters that we should 
take further steps to ensure equitable distribution of effective 
teachers and principals. To that end, we are revising criterion 
(D)(3)(i) so that it addresses the equitable distribution of effective 
teachers and principals with respect to high-minority schools, in 
addition to high-poverty schools. We are also specifying that, in 
addition to having equitable access to highly effective teachers and 
principals, students in high-poverty and/or high-minority schools 
should not be served by ineffective teachers and principals at higher 
rates than other students. We agree that the performance measures for 
this criterion should allow for comparisons between high-minority and/
or high-poverty schools and low-minority and/or low-poverty schools, 
and we are revising the evidence and performance measures to reflect 
this. (See Appendix A: Evidence and Performance Measures.)
    We appreciate the suggestion from commenters that this criterion 
should reflect States' past actions, and we are revising this criterion 
to specify that the plans States submit should be informed by past 
actions and data. We understand the skepticism expressed by commenters 
who note that States have had Teacher Equity Plans in place since 2002 
and have not made sufficient progress, but we emphasize that Race to 
the Top will use States' performance targets to create a level of 
accountability that did not exist for these prior plans.
    Furthermore, we believe that judging State progress to date would 
be difficult given the lack of measures of teacher and principal 
effectiveness and the imperfections with the existing input-based 
measures, and we believe that asking States to report on their progress 
using one type of measure and to craft plans using another type would 
be confusing. Therefore, we choose not to give more weight to progress 
to date. At the same time, we encourage States to build on their 
successes and learn from their experiences in recent years.
    We are also clarifying that the State's plan for ensuring equitable 
distribution of effective teachers and principals should be developed 
in collaboration with the State's participating LEAs. This revision is 
necessary to ensure consistency with criteria (D)(2) and (D)(5) and to 
respond to commenters' general concerns about the roles of States and 
LEAs.
    Changes: We have added the phrase ``in collaboration with its 
participating LEAs (as defined in this notice)'' to criterion (D)(3). 
We also have revised criterion (D)(3)(i) to read, ``Ensure the 
equitable distribution of teachers and principals by developing a plan, 
informed by reviews of prior actions and data, to ensure that students 
in high-poverty and/or high-minority schools (both as defined in this 
notice) have equitable access to highly effective teachers and 
principals (both as defined in this notice) and are not served by 
ineffective teachers and principals at higher rates than other 
students.''
    Comment: Some commenters recommended requiring that teachers 
assigned to high-poverty schools with a significant number of English 
language learners have dual certification.
    Discussion: We believe that the decision regarding dual 
certification for teachers is best left to the States, who have a 
better understanding of their own demographics as well as whether this 
critical training is needed for all teachers in such schools or just 
certain teachers. For this reason, we have decided not to include this 
specific requirement. However, as discussed previously, we are revising 
the definition of alternative routes to certification to clarify that 
these routes should prepare teachers and principals to address the 
needs of all students, including English language learners.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed concern that Race to the Top's 
criterion for ensuring equitable teacher distribution, though well-
intended, would have a generally negative impact on struggling schools.
    Discussion: The Department intends for this criterion to improve 
conditions in struggling schools, and does not agree that filling high-
minority or high-poverty schools with highly effective teachers through 
equitable teacher distribution strategies would have a negative impact 
on struggling schools.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Multiple commenters recommended clarifying that special 
education is an area of teaching, rather than a subject. One commenter 
made a similar recommendation regarding English language acquisition.
    Discussion: We agree that special education and English language 
acquisition are areas of teaching, not stand-alone subjects. We are 
revising criterion (D)(3)(ii) to clarify this. We are also clarifying 
the criterion to refer to ``language instruction education programs (as 
defined under Title III of the ESEA)'' instead of ``English language 
proficiency.''
    Changes: The Department has revised criterion (D)(3)(ii) to read, 
``Increase the number and percentage of effective teachers (as defined 
in this notice) teaching hard-to-staff subjects and specialty areas 
including mathematics, science, and special education; teaching in 
language instruction educational programs (as defined under Title III 
of the ESEA); and teaching in other areas as identified by the State or 
LEA.''
    Comment: Several commenters requested an expansion of hard-to-staff 
subjects to include additional subjects or programs such as career and 
technical education, computer science, and gifted and talented 
programs. One commenter recommended the addition of over-age students 
and under-credited youth to this definition.
    Discussion: While there are some nationwide teacher shortages, the 
list of hard-to-staff subjects varies from region to region. The 
Department has therefore focused its list on national needs, and is 
providing States with the flexibility to add other subjects or areas as 
they see fit. The NPP allowed States or LEAs to identify hard-to-staff 
subjects other than math and science. In this notice, we are clarifying 
that they may also identify hard-to-staff specialty areas beyond those 
listed.
    Changes: We have revised criterion (D)(3)(ii) by inserting the 
phrase ``and teaching in other areas as identified by the State or 
LEA.''
    Comment: Several commenters argued that teachers value working 
conditions over relocation bonuses. Multiple commenters recommended 
that we focus on the value of class size reduction, improving school 
safety, and repairing school facilities in order to improve working 
conditions and achieve equity in teacher distribution. One commenter 
stressed that States' Teacher Equity Plans should specifically address 
the steps States will take to remedy disparities in resources, 
services, and opportunities. Multiple commenters expressed opposition 
to plans that would encourage involuntary transfers of faculty and 
principals to high-poverty schools and arbitrary abolition of seniority 
in contracts. The same commenters also expressed support for certain 
incentives for teachers in high-poverty schools, including extended 
contracts or loan forgiveness programs. Many commenters recommended 
expanding the criterion to refer to attracting high-quality teachers to 
all classrooms and subjects, rather than just hard-to-staff ones. 
Several commenters recommended that the list of incentives

[[Page 59759]]

and strategies that States might use to ensure equitable distribution 
of effective teachers and principals should include professional 
development and training programs. In fact, multiple commenters noted 
the value of retaining effective teachers and supporting teachers in 
high-poverty schools through long-term investments such as preparation 
programs, mentoring, peer review, and wraparound programs, and argued 
for their superiority over purely monetary incentives or one-size-fits-
all approaches. One commenter suggested supporting teachers in their 
efforts to receive National Board Certification and placing these 
nationally certified teachers in high-poverty schools. One commenter 
suggested that the Department provide direct guidance on recruitment 
and retention, including incentives to persuade high-quality teachers 
who have retired from or left high-need urban schools to return.
    Discussion: The Department agrees that high-quality working 
conditions are important for all professionals. In the context of 
criterion (D)(3), ensuring the equitable distribution of teachers and 
principals, we agree that strategies to attract teachers to hard-to-
staff schools, subjects, and specialty areas may encompass a range of 
different approaches. Many of the ideas put forth in the comments could 
form the basis for States' strategies to more equitably allocate their 
teachers. While we have not included all of the examples in this final 
notice, we are adding ``teaching and learning environments'' and 
``professional development'' as examples of areas in which States could 
offer incentives and strategies. In creating their plans, States should 
not feel bound by this illustrative list; rather, they should determine 
which areas will be most likely to succeed to meet their unique 
circumstances.
    Changes: We have revised criterion (D)(3) to specify that plans 
submitted under criterion (D)(3)(1) and (ii) may include, but are not 
limited to the implementation of incentives and strategies in such 
areas as recruitment, compensation, teaching and learning environments, 
professional development, and human resources practices and processes.
    Comment: Multiple commenters expressed opposition to incentives 
that provide salary compensation for teachers based on the subject they 
teach, and one supported the use of an enhanced compensation system 
available to all employees, which would work in tandem with the 
traditional bargained single-salary schedule.
    Discussion: The Department recognizes that, for a variety of 
reasons, including outside labor market opportunities, it may be harder 
to recruit teachers for some subjects and specialty areas than for 
others. We believe that State policy should be responsive to this 
reality so that hard-to-staff subjects and specialty areas, like other 
subjects and areas, are filled with exceptional teachers and leaders. 
We leave it up to States and LEAs to determine the best methods for 
achieving this goal, and we have provided some illustrative examples in 
criterion (D)(3)(ii) that we believe are appropriate responses to this 
long-standing problem.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that Race to the Top funds could 
be used to bolster recruitment to the teaching profession by investing 
in research to determine why many college students choose not to enter 
the profession of teaching.
    Discussion: While the commenter suggests one possible idea for 
bolstering recruitment, we decline to prescribe methods of improving 
recruitment, but encourage applicants to suggest approaches that they 
believe will work in their contexts.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that in light of the historical 
challenges of improving equitable teacher distribution, we provide 
additional guidance on how States and districts may demonstrate such 
progress. Another commenter asserted that the Department's NPP fell 
short of the kind of clear and decisive guidance needed in this area.
    Discussion: The Department believes that this final notice as a 
whole provides a sufficient framework for States to embark on a path to 
improving the equitable distribution of their teachers and principals, 
while leaving States and LEAs with sufficient discretion to prepare and 
implement plans that make sense in their specific circumstances. The 
Department looks forward to working with grantee States to provide 
advice and technical assistance where they need it most, which could 
include the implementation of equitable distribution plans.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended encouraging States to pass 
legislation requiring districts and unions to discuss the issue of 
equitable teacher and principal distribution in collective bargaining 
negotiations.
    Discussion: The Department encourages collaboration and 
partnerships between LEAs and teacher unions to resolve issues that may 
arise as a result of States' Race to the Top plans, such as the 
equitable distribution of teachers and principals in high-poverty and/
or high-minority schools. We believe that Race to the Top may lead to 
changes in how LEAs and teachers' unions work together within the 
framework of collective bargaining to address these issues. However, 
any changes to laws or policies governing collective bargaining are 
best determined at the State and/or LEA level.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters recommended including performance 
measures on the percentage of teachers who have taught a minimum number 
of years, are non-qualified, or are teaching out-of-subject or out-of-
field.
    Discussion: The Department believes that the performance measures 
included in this final notice are designed with an appropriate focus on 
student outcomes. We do not believe it is necessary to include these 
additional requirements, but welcome States to propose additional 
performance measures where appropriate for their plans.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed concern that Race to the Top lacks 
the adequate funding required for the preparation, recruitment, 
retention, and professional development of teachers that is necessary 
to successfully create equitable teacher distribution.
    Discussion: The ARRA provides $4.3 billion for the Race to the Top 
Fund. This is the largest-ever single investment in school reform. It 
is our belief that States that use these funds wisely will be able to 
make significant inroads in addressing the problems of equitable 
teacher distribution.
    Changes: None.
    Selection Criterion (D)(4): Improving the Effectiveness of Teacher 
and Principal Preparation Programs (Proposed Criterion (C)(4)):
    Comment: One commenter encouraged us to specify a link between 
preparation programs and student growth, not just student achievement, 
to account for teachers and principals serving in persistently low-
performing schools where their effectiveness will be determined solely 
based on student test scores.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenter that teacher and principal 
effectiveness should be measured by student growth (and student 
achievement is an input to calculating student growth); therefore both 
student achievement and student growth data should be linked to 
students' teachers and principals and, in turn, this data should be 
linked to the programs from which those teachers and principals

[[Page 59760]]

received their education credentials. We are revising the notice to 
this effect.
    Changes: We have revised criterion (D)(4)(i) by adding ``and 
student growth'' after ``student achievement.''
    Comment: Many commenters encouraged the Department to require 
States to link multiple measures of teacher effectiveness to 
preparation programs, rather than requiring a link only to student test 
scores. Some commenters pointed out that just as teachers should be 
evaluated by multiple measures, the same is true of preparation 
programs, which contribute to more aspects of a teacher's performance 
than just their students' test scores. One commenter stated that 
teacher and principal preparation programs should also be evaluated on 
their ability to develop the capacity of family, school, and community 
engagement programs to improve student performance. Another commenter 
recommended that equal priority be placed on teacher preparation that 
recognizes the importance of teachers being responsible for the social, 
creative, and emotional development of the child as well as academic 
growth. One commenter stressed that effective preparation programs 
should be evaluated on measures such as the pedagogical training and 
clinical experiences provided to participants. Other commenters 
expressed concern that evaluating preparation programs by linking 
student achievement data alone would lead to a narrowing of the 
curriculum in preparation programs to focus on student test 
preparation.
    Discussion: We agree that many outcome indicators are important for 
measuring the effectiveness of teacher and principal preparation 
programs. However, the Department believes that the most important 
indicator of the quality of a preparation program is the performance of 
the students served by the teachers and principals the program 
prepared. At the same time, we welcome States to supplement this 
reporting with other indicators that they believe are important. We do 
not agree with the commenters that focusing on student achievement will 
lead to preparation programs narrowing their curriculum and focusing on 
student test preparation. We believe that publicly reporting 
effectiveness based primarily on student achievement and student growth 
will result in preparation programs reevaluating their programs to 
ensure that all teachers and principals completing their programs have 
the wide range of knowledge and skills necessary to help raise student 
achievement.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed concern that State assessments are 
not always valid or reliable for English language learners, making 
their use to evaluate preparation programs for teachers of this 
population problematic.
    Discussion: States are currently required under the ESEA to assess 
English language learners in a valid and reliable manner and provide 
reasonable accommodations including, to the extent practicable, 
assessments in the language and form most likely to yield accurate and 
reliable information on what they know and can achieve in academic 
content areas, until such students have achieved English language 
proficiency. As States currently use these data in setting academic 
achievement standards under the ESEA and determining targets and 
educational needs for English language learners in their States, we 
believe these data are equally appropriate for evaluating preparation 
programs under Race to the Top.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters asked us to clarify whether the intent 
of this criterion is to link data only to public institutions within a 
given State or to link teachers to out-of-State or out-of-country 
institutions, or private credentialing institutions.
    Discussion: The language in criterion (D)(4)(i) specifies that 
States should report the effectiveness of ``each credentialing program 
in the State.'' The Department understands the phrase ``each 
credentialing program'' to include both public and private 
credentialing institutions. To the extent possible, we encourage inter-
State reporting as well.
    Changes: We have clarified in criterion (D)(4)(i) that student 
achievement and student growth data linked to the students' teachers 
and principals should be linked to ``in-State'' programs where those 
teacher and principals were prepared for credentialing, and that States 
only need to publicly report data for those credentialing programs ``in 
the State.''
    Comment: Several commenters expressed concern regarding the 
provision that States report the data for each credentialing program 
``that has twenty or more graduates annually.'' One commenter stated 
that creating an arbitrary threshold of 20 or more graduates would have 
the effect of only requiring data for large teacher and principal 
preparatory programs and recommended that all teacher and principal 
programs be held accountable. One commenter expressed concern that data 
on new credentialing programs, such as computer science teacher 
preparation programs, which are currently small (less than 20 graduates 
annually), and where student performance data may lag, would not be 
included in the State's report of the effectiveness of teacher 
preparation programs. This commenter further stated that institutions 
of higher education may shy away from starting new programs that are 
not guaranteed to perform well, given the threshold of 20 graduates 
annually.
    Discussion: We agree that restricting the reporting to those 
teacher and principal preparation programs that have 20 or more 
graduates annually will unnecessarily exclude many teacher and 
principal preparation programs, including those that provide 
alternative routes to certification. Based on the comments, we also 
realize that it would be a burden on States to obtain the information 
on the many preparation programs to determine whether such programs 
annually graduate at least 20 or more students. We are, therefore, 
revising criterion (D)(4)(i) by removing the phrase ``that has twenty 
or more graduates annually.''
    Changes: We have removed the phrase in criterion (D)(4)(i) that 
States report data on each credentialing program ``that has twenty or 
more graduates annually.''
    Comment: One commenter suggested that we change the criterion so 
that States publicly report ``data'' instead of ``findings'' for each 
credentialing program, and to clarify that States need only report raw 
data, not an analysis of that data. Raw data could then be analyzed by 
both States and outside researchers.
    Discussion: We agree that asking States to report the ``data'' and 
not ``findings'' for each credentialing program clarifies what States 
should report, and we are making this change.
    Changes: We have replaced ``findings'' with ``data'' in criterion 
(D)(4)(i).
    Comment: Several commenters asked us to explicitly state that we 
are including programs that provide alternative routes to certification 
in the group of credentialing programs for which States should collect 
and report data.
    Discussion: Teacher and principal credentialing programs that 
provide alternative routes to certification must be included in the 
group of credentialing programs on which States must report data. We do 
not, however, believe it is necessary to explicitly state this in the 
notice, as criterion (D)(4)(i) is clear that data should be collected 
for ``each credentialing program'' in the

[[Page 59761]]

State where a State's teachers and leaders received their credential.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters suggested additional requirements be 
applied to teacher preparation programs, such as requiring instruction 
in certain subjects, or creating data systems to track different 
aspects of teacher preparation.
    Discussion: We decline to specify detailed requirements of 
preparation programs because we believe these decisions are generally 
best left to the States. We encourage States to use evidence, including 
the data States will gather over time from the systems they put into 
place for criterion (D)(4)(i), to continuously improve the quality of 
their teacher and principal preparation programs.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters recommended that we require States to 
report information regarding teacher and principal effectiveness 
directly to the preparation programs.
    Discussion: In order to meet this criterion, States must publicly 
report the data for each credentialing program. Preparation programs 
will therefore have access to these public reports.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter requested clarification on which institution 
data would be linked to in the event that a teacher or principal held 
multiple credentials, each from a different institution.
    Discussion: If a teacher or principal holds multiple credentials 
from different credentialing programs, States need only link their data 
to the credentialing institutions that issued the credential that the 
teacher or principal is using for the teacher or principal's current 
assignment. States also would have the option to link such teachers or 
principals to each institution from which they received a credential.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed concern that it is unrealistic for 
States to achieve the required data linkages in a reasonable period of 
time.
    Discussion: We recognize that many States may not currently have 
data systems in place to collect the required data, but we believe that 
the four-year period in which States may use Race to the Top funds 
should be sufficient for them to implement their plans in this area. In 
responding to this criterion, as with others, States should propose 
plans that build on and are informed by the assets the State currently 
has.
    Changes: None.
    Selection Criterion (D)(5): Providing Effective Support to Teachers 
and Principals (Proposed Criterion (C)(5)):
    Comment: A few commenters stressed that LEAs must take the lead in 
providing effective, high-quality professional development. One 
commenter stated that this criterion should focus on support for 
comprehensive professional learning and supports for teachers and 
principals with the understanding that this must be primarily a local 
effort with State support.
    Discussion: We agree that the role of States under this criterion 
should be to support LEAs in providing effective professional 
development to their teachers and principals, and we are revising the 
criterion to clarify this.
    Changes: Criterion (D)(5)(i) has been revised to clarify that the 
States' plans are for participating LEAs (as defined in this notice) to 
provide effective, data-informed support to teachers and principals.
    Comment: Many commenters applauded the Department's inclusion of 
this criterion, and some suggested it is one of the most important Race 
to the Top criteria. One commenter stated that teachers will be more or 
less effective in meeting the goal of improving student achievement to 
the degree that they have the necessary supports and resources 
available to them in their workplace. One commenter suggested that 
professional development should be utilized not simply to provide new 
information but to support teachers in becoming more effective. One 
commenter stated there should be more emphasis on expanding the pool of 
experienced school leaders and teachers available to lead reform 
efforts. In that respect, some commenters stated that the States need 
more guidance in developing comprehensive professional development 
systems. The commenters argued that while professional development and 
common planning and collaboration time are helpful, such supports in 
and of themselves are not likely to be sufficient in bringing about 
significant changes needed to meet reform goals. Several commenters 
suggested that in developing professional development systems States 
should require teachers and administrators to collaborate with each 
other with the goal of individualizing support tailored to fit specific 
teacher needs for meeting reform goals. They recommended that such 
individualized support should be provided for both teachers and 
principals through implementation of ongoing, job-embedded professional 
learning opportunities aligned with district improvement plans for 
increasing student achievement.
    Discussion: The Department agrees that supporting teachers and 
leaders through comprehensive professional development systems is a 
crucial component of education reform efforts, which is why we included 
this Reform Plan Criterion in the NPP. We also believe the support and 
professional opportunities provided to teachers and principals should 
be relevant to the individual needs of teachers and principals and 
should be ongoing and job-embedded, not short-term ``one-shot'' efforts 
that do very little to improve the quality of teaching.
    We appreciate the suggestions we received for examples of the types 
of professional development activities that are most effective, and we 
have chosen to include several of these in this notice (see criterion 
D(5)). It is the Department's expectation, however, that professional 
development plans will be developed in response to data and to specific 
staff needs, rather than around the illustrative examples.
    Changes: We have re-organized and revised criterion (D)(5) by 
inserting a new paragraph (i) and clarifying that the professional 
development, coaching, induction, and common planning and collaboration 
time provided to teachers and principals should, where appropriate, be 
``ongoing and job-embedded.'' We also have added that such supports 
might focus, for example, on gathering, analyzing, and using data; 
designing instructional strategies for improvement; differentiating 
instruction; creating school environments supportive of data-informed 
decisions; designing instruction to meet the specific needs of high-
need students (as defined in this notice); and aligning systems and 
removing barriers to effective implementation of practices designed to 
improve student learning outcomes.
    Comment: Several commenters suggested that States should include 
teacher induction as a part of the high-quality plan they submit under 
criterion (D)(5). One commenter stated that new teachers require a 
strong induction program, or at a minimum, support and assistance from 
accomplished teachers to help them develop the skills needed to 
construct high-quality assessments and effectively diagnose student 
responses. Another commenter pointed out that studies show induction 
programs and other intensive supports for beginning teachers improve 
teacher retention, increase student achievement, and provide a 
significant return on investment. One commenter suggested requiring 
States to include in their plans

[[Page 59762]]

measures that take into account the unique professional development 
needs of new teachers and leaders, especially given the 
disproportionate number of new teachers and leaders working in high-
need schools. Other commenters recommended that new teachers partner 
with effective and experienced teachers as an effective approach for 
addressing the unique needs of new teachers. One commenter recommended 
including structured mentoring from principals and teachers who have 
demonstrated success in turning around struggling schools.
    Discussion: We agree that induction programs and coaching by 
accomplished teachers and principals can be important and effective 
strategies for supporting novice teachers and principals upon their 
entering the profession. We are revising the criterion to clarify that 
States' plans in response to this criterion should provide for coaching 
and induction programs as supports for teachers and principals.
    Changes: We have revised criterion (D)(5)(i) to clarify that plans 
should include providing effective, data-informed ``coaching'' and 
``induction.''
    Comment: A few commenters stated that, in addition to providing 
positive conditions within which teachers can be successful, there are 
also barriers to success that should be eliminated. The greatest 
barrier cited is time--that teachers are not given sufficient time to 
collaborate, plan, or review data. Some commenters suggested that 
States should be required to determine whether or not school and 
classroom climates were conducive to teaching and learning, and thus 
supportive of teachers' efforts. One commenter contended that student 
learning is linked to educators' perceptions of the culture and context 
of their schools and a better understanding by administrators of these 
perceptions can help administrators address these barriers to success.
    Discussion: The Department agrees that supporting teachers and 
principals includes ensuring that school environments are positive and 
conducive to teaching and learning, and that barriers to effectiveness 
are minimized.
    Changes: In the list of supports that LEAs might provide to 
teachers and principals in criterion (D)(5)(i), we have added 
``creating school environments supportive of data-informed decisions'' 
and ``aligning systems and removing barriers to effective 
implementation of practices designed to improve student learning 
outcomes.''
    Comment: Two commenters insisted that the provision of content-rich 
professional development for STEM teachers is imperative. One commenter 
suggested that States provide high-quality teacher education programs, 
including immersion experiences both in the U.S. and abroad, for 
foreign language teachers. A few commenters argued for the provision of 
professional development designed specifically to meet the needs of 
teachers working with diverse populations, including students with 
disabilities, gifted and talented students, Native Americans, and 
English language learners.
    Discussion: All teachers, including teachers working with the 
students in the areas and subjects mentioned by the commenters, should 
have access to high-quality professional development and support. As 
LEAs and States collaborate to develop their plans for providing 
support to teachers and principals, we expect they will identify the 
various types of professional development and other supports necessary 
for different teachers and principals. For this reason, we do not 
believe it is necessary to reference specific subject areas or student 
populations in criterion (D)(5). In addition, the Department clarified 
language in the definition of alternative routes to certification to 
note that ``standard features'' of such a program would include ``high-
quality instruction in pedagogy and in addressing the needs of all 
students in the classroom including English language learners and 
students with disabilities.''
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters suggested including opportunities for 
improving professional learning for support personnel.
    Discussion: All adults in a school, including support personnel, 
play an important role in creating a school culture of high 
expectations and share responsibility for student success. While the 
focus of States' plans in response to criterion (D)(5) should be on 
support for teachers and principals, States may choose to include in 
their plans professional development opportunities and support for 
individuals other than teachers and leaders, such as support personnel.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that professional development 
aimed at improving teacher and principal quality should include 
investing in technical assistance for implementation of the Positive 
Behavior Support model.
    Discussion: The Department cannot assume all schools need to 
implement a particular reform model. Inclusion of examples of different 
types of professional development in this notice, does not, however, 
preclude States and LEAs from providing more specific supports based on 
student data and the individual needs of teachers and leaders to 
improve the effectiveness of instruction for improving student 
outcomes.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested integrating family, school, and 
community engagement into professional development opportunities. 
Another commenter suggested that such opportunities should include 
training parents in partnership with professionals.
    Discussion: The Department recognizes the need for family and 
community engagement in schools. While several examples of professional 
development opportunities in this area have been included, LEAs and 
schools are encouraged to utilize data to inform program development to 
meet local needs. As noted previously, States may choose to include in 
their plans professional development opportunities and support for 
individuals other than teachers and leaders, including parents.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters endorsed the Department's goal to 
provide support for teachers and principals but contended that 
professional development opportunities and other support services 
should also be provided for individuals working with students outside 
of the regular school day. Such individuals might include youth 
development professionals, expanded learning providers, and those 
working in schools for over-age and under-credited youth. Commenters 
pointed out that students should have access to engaging learning 
opportunities throughout the continuum of their learning day. They 
argued that individuals from other agencies or sources outside the 
school working with students in these programs need professional 
support and training to enable them to align their services with school 
goals to improve student outcomes.
    Discussion: The Department supports the coordination of services 
and opportunities for high-need students across schools, State 
agencies, and community partners. For this reason, the Department has 
included in this notice an invitational priority specifically 
addressing the coordination of services across various agencies and 
community partners. (See priority 5: Invitational priority--P-20 
Coordination, Vertical and Horizontal Alignment). If a State elects to 
address this invitational priority in its application, it could choose 
to include

[[Page 59763]]

in its plan any professional development or support activities that are 
needed to align services to improve student outcomes. Again, as stated 
previously, States may also choose to include in their plans 
professional development opportunities and support for individuals 
other than teachers and leaders.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters encouraged the Department to require 
States to provide guidance to LEAs in developing evaluation plans that 
are designed to examine the impact of professional development 
opportunities. One commenter stated that such evaluation plans should 
be designed to provide data on the impact of professional development 
on leadership, instruction, and student achievement. One commenter 
argued that States and LEAs need to engage in inquiry, analysis, and 
reflection about the results of professional development as a means for 
improving its quality. The commenter further stated that comprehensive 
evaluation plans would capture data to inform leadership actions for 
allocating resources as well as for aligning staff, policies, and 
structures to improve student learning and teacher effectiveness 
outcomes.
    Discussion: We agree that the supports provided to teachers and 
principals should be continuously measured to improve the effectiveness 
of those supports. We also agree that the purpose of this measurement 
and improvement is to ensure that the supports result in improved 
student achievement. While that was our intent in the NPP, we believe 
that we should more clearly state that intent in this notice. 
Accordingly, we are revising criterion (D)(5)(ii) to that effect. We 
believe that the resulting language sufficiently addresses the 
commenters' suggestion about evaluation plans. The Department expects 
that, through the process of working with LEAs, States will determine 
what guidance LEAs may need to help them continuously measure and 
improve the supports they provide to teachers and principals.
    Changes: We have reorganized and revised criterion (D)(5) by adding 
criterion (D)(5)(ii) and clarifying that the measurement, evaluation, 
and improvement of the effectiveness of the supports provided to 
teachers and principals is conducted in order to improve student 
achievement.
    Comment: Several commenters expressed concern with using rapid-time 
student data to inform and guide the support provided to teachers and 
principals. Many of these commenters recommended removing this language 
from proposed criterion (C)(5). One commenter noted that while the 
Department's call for providing effective support for teachers and 
principals is appreciated, the language in the final notice should 
place a greater emphasis on vital supports rather than on the 
utilization of rapid-time data to inform it. A few commenters agreed 
that student data provide a useful tool for guiding instruction but 
argued that an undue emphasis on rapid-time student data will have a 
negative impact on overall data quality for improving outcomes. They 
stated that student data alone is not sufficient for evaluating and 
improving teaching effectiveness, and argued that a variety of 
evaluation techniques are needed to capture the breadth of effective 
teaching and professional practice. They suggested that teacher support 
is better informed through the incorporation of portfolio assessments, 
review of lesson plans, self-assessments, teaching artifacts, classroom 
observation, and feedback on teaching practice. Another commenter noted 
that utilization of rapid-time student data is far too limited as a 
concept and practice, and argued that the emphasis should be on 
building comprehensive professional learning systems that can be 
integrated into building the capacity of all schools to serve children 
well.
    Discussion: The Department is persuaded by the concerns expressed 
by the commenters regarding using rapid-time student data to inform and 
guide the support provided to teachers and principals. Accordingly, we 
are removing this language from criterion (D)(5).
    Changes: The phrase ``use rapid-time (as defined in this notice) 
student data to inform and guide the support provided to teachers and 
principals'' has been removed from criterion (D)(5).
    Comment: One commenter suggested revising the notice to provide 
funds for professional learning to help educators improve the knowledge 
and skills that will enable them to do their jobs well. Another 
commenter expressed concern that there are not enough funds to design 
and implement the professional development required to improve teaching 
and learning. One commenter recommended specifying that States that 
have reduced funding for professional development activities should be 
penalized in their applications. The commenter also recommended that 
Race to the Top funding should be used to ensure that meaningful 
standards-based professional development activities are provided.
    Discussion: States must include a description of how they will use 
Race to the Top funds to accomplish their plans and meet their targets. 
It is up to the States to determine how much funding to designate for 
providing support to teachers and principals under criterion (D)(5). In 
response to the recommendation that States be penalized for reducing 
professional development funding, we note that, under criterion (F)(1), 
States will be evaluated based on the extent to which they have made 
education funding a priority. We do not believe it is necessary to 
include a criterion specific to funding for professional development.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: None.
    Discussion: We are revising some of the evidence and performance 
measures to be consistent with the changes made to criterion (D) in 
this notice. In some instances we also are revising the evidence and 
performance measures to provide greater clarity.
    Changes: Appendix A, Evidence and Performance Measures, criterion 
(D) Great Teachers and Leaders, has been revised to reflect the changes 
made to criterion (D) and to provide greater clarity.

E. Turning Around the Lowest-Achieving Schools

    Definitions: increased learning time, persistently lowest-achieving 
schools.
    Comments regarding the preceding definitions are addressed, as 
appropriate, below.
Introduction
    A central purpose of ARRA funds is to increase the academic 
achievement of students in struggling schools. As a result, the Notices 
of Proposed Requirements (NPRs) regarding the State Fiscal 
Stabilization Fund Phase II and the School Improvement Grants programs, 
as well as the Race to the Top NPP, each included requirements related 
to struggling schools. The most explicit requirements were included in 
the School Improvement Grants NPR that was published in the Federal 
Register on August 26, 2009 (74 FR 43101), in which the Department 
proposed four rigorous school intervention models--turnaround, restart, 
school closure, and transformation--that an LEA seeking School 
Improvement Grant funds would implement in the lowest-achieving Title I 
schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring identified 
by each State and could also implement in secondary schools that are 
eligible for, but do not receive, Title I funds. Commenters on each 
notice recommended that the Department

[[Page 59764]]

make the identity of, and requirements for, struggling schools 
consistent among all three programs. We agree with these comments and, 
in response, have revised the four school intervention models and are 
integrating them into the criteria, definitions, and requirements for 
all three programs. In addition, we have developed a definition of 
persistently lowest-achieving schools to substitute for ``schools in 
the lowest five percent'' (Stabilization Fund) and persistently lowest-
performing schools (Race to the Top) for use in all three programs.
    Because both the Stabilization Fund and Race to the Top notices of 
final requirements are being published prior to the final School 
Improvement Grants notice, we have published the requirements for the 
four models in the final notice for the Stabilization Fund, are 
including them in Appendix C to this final notice, and will incorporate 
them into the final School Improvement Grants notice when it is issued. 
In order to clarify and fully explain the definition of persistently 
lowest-achieving schools and the changes that we made to the four 
models, we also are including in this notice the comments and responses 
related to the definition and those models from the School Improvement 
Grants NPR. In the following sections, we first discuss the comments we 
received on struggling schools in reply to the Race to the Top NPP and 
our responses. We then discuss the comments we received related to the 
definition and the four intervention models as proposed in the School 
Improvement Grants NPR and our responses to those comments.
    Selection Criterion (E)(1): Intervening in the Lowest-Achieving 
Schools and LEAs (Proposed Selection Criterion (D)(1)):
    Comment: None.
    Discussion: The Department is changing the headings in this section 
to describe ``lowest-achieving schools'' instead of ``lowest-performing 
schools'' to be consistent with the revised definition of persistently 
lowest-achieving schools, which is based primarily on achievement 
scores and not on broader measures of school performance, as suggested 
by the headings in the NPP. We also are replacing the phrase 
``struggling schools'' with ``persistently lowest-achieving schools'' 
to avoid confusion on this subject.
    Changes: The Department has changed the terms ``lowest-performing 
schools'' and ``struggling schools'' to ``persistently lowest-achieving 
schools'' throughout this notice.
    Comment: Several commenters expressed support for criterion (E)(1) 
(proposed criterion (D)(1)), which will examine the extent to which a 
State has the legal, statutory, or regulatory authority to intervene 
directly in its persistently lowest-achieving schools (as defined in 
this notice) and in LEAs identified for improvement or corrective 
action under the ESEA. Two of these commenters proposed that the 
Department require additional information about a State's authority to 
intervene, including examples of when and how the authority had been 
used and any available evaluation of State plans and processes for 
using the authority. Another commenter recommended that States receive 
extra points for aggressive use of any authority to intervene in low-
performing schools and LEAs.
    Discussion: Criterion (E)(1) is intended to reward States based on 
the extent to which they have the legal authority to intervene directly 
in their persistently lowest-achieving schools, as well as in LEAs 
identified for improvement or corrective action. The Department 
believes that such authority to intervene is important for a State's 
ability to hold LEAs accountable for turning around their persistently 
lowest-achieving schools. However, the Department is not seeking to 
encourage direct State intervention per se; the language of criterion 
(E)(2) (proposed criterion (D)(3)) makes clear that the primary role of 
a State with regard to its persistently lowest-achieving schools is to 
``identify'' and ``support its LEAs in turning around these schools by 
implementing one of the four school intervention models.'' For this 
reason, the Department declines to require States to provide more 
information about their implementation of this authority or to award 
``extra points'' to States that have demonstrated ``aggressive'' use of 
such authority.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Many commenters appeared to misunderstand the impact of 
criterion (E)(1) that a State's application for a Race to the Top grant 
describe the extent to which it has the legal, statutory, or regulatory 
authority to intervene directly in its lowest-performing schools and in 
LEAs identified for improvement or corrective action. For example, some 
of these commenters appeared to believe that the criterion itself would 
provide States the authority to intervene in their lowest-performing 
schools and LEAs; these commenters objected to such authority on the 
grounds that school improvement must be locally based and not imposed 
by the Federal Government. Other commenters expressed concerns about 
the processes, procedures, and funding for any State intervention in 
schools and LEAs. Commenters also claimed that State intervention in 
schools and LEAs would violate State constitutions, that most States 
did not have the capacity to support effective intervention, and that 
many such efforts in the past had ended in failure.
    Discussion: The purpose of criterion (E)(1) is to reward States 
for, and encourage them to have, the authority to intervene, if 
necessary, in their persistently lowest-achieving schools and LEAs that 
are in improvement or corrective action status. The Department believes 
that States that have such authority are in a stronger position to hold 
LEAs and schools accountable for implementing effective school 
intervention strategies, particularly in cases where LEAs or schools 
continue to fail their students year after year. Criterion (E)(1) will 
give States credit only for having the authority to intervene, and not 
for actual intervention. This criterion is not intended to encourage 
such interventions by States; rather, it recognizes that, in cases 
where LEAs are unwilling or unable to successfully implement the school 
intervention models required by section (E)(2) of this notice, State 
intervention may be both appropriate and necessary. However, we also 
believe that as States build State and local capacity to turn around 
their persistently lowest-achieving schools, they should have fewer and 
fewer reasons for direct intervention.
    Changes: None.
    Selection Criterion (E)(2): Turning Around the Lowest-Achieving 
Schools (Proposed Selection Criterion (D)(3)):
    Comment: None.
    Discussion: As discussed in the introduction to this section, we 
are replacing the models described in proposed criterion (D)(3) of the 
NPP with the four models that have been developed in response to public 
comments across all three notices. The four school intervention models 
are (1) a turnaround model, which would involve, among other actions, 
replacing the principal and rehiring no more than 50 percent of the 
school's staff, adopting a new governance structure, and implementing a 
research-based and vertically aligned instructional program; (2) a 
restart model, in which an LEA would convert a school or close and 
reopen a school under the management of a charter school operator, a 
charter management organization (CMO), or an educational management 
organization (EMO) that has been selected through a rigorous review 
process; (3) a school

[[Page 59765]]

closure model, in which an LEA would close the school and enroll the 
students who attended the school in other, higher-achieving schools in 
the LEA; and (4) a transformation model, which would address four 
specific areas critical to transforming a persistently lowest-achieving 
school. Each of these models is described in detail in Appendix C of 
this notice.
    Changes: We have removed the description of the school intervention 
models in criterion (E)(2), which now provides for a State to have a 
high-quality plan and ambitious yet achievable annual targets for (1) 
identifying its persistently lowest-achieving schools (as defined in 
this notice) and, at the State's discretion, any non-Title I eligible 
secondary schools that would be considered persistently lowest-
achieving schools if they were eligible to receive Title I funds, and 
(2) supporting its LEAs in turning around these schools by implementing 
one of the four school intervention models adopted from the School 
Improvement Grants program: a turnaround model, restart model, school 
closure, or transformation model (provided that an LEA with more than 
nine persistently lowest-achieving schools may not use the 
transformation model for more than 50 percent of its schools). These 
models are described in detail in Appendix C of this notice.
    Comment: Several commenters supported the strategies in criterion 
(E)(2) for turning around the lowest-achieving schools, but many 
commenters objected to these strategies as too prescriptive, overly 
focused on governance issues, poorly grounded in research, and not 
truly innovative. Several commenters, in particular, focused on what 
they described as the punitive nature of the proposed school 
intervention models due to the emphasis on leadership and staff 
replacement, charter school conversions, turning over operations to 
outside management, and closing schools. Others believed that these 
strategies would prove ``unrealistic'' in many areas, with one 
commenter claiming that they ``simply won't work in our rural/frontier 
State.'' A few commenters observed that limiting school intervention 
options as proposed in criterion (E)(2) appeared to be contrary to the 
Secretary's stated commitment to be ``tight on goals and loose on the 
means.'' In response to such concerns, many of these commenters called 
for greater flexibility to adopt other school intervention models, 
including those that they claimed were grounded in research, as well as 
the option of continuing existing school intervention strategies that 
were achieving positive results. Several commenters identified other 
reform strategies that they believe should be included in the school 
intervention options under (E)(2), including common planning time for 
teachers, career pathways or career cluster programs, inquiry-based and 
applied learning strategies, such as service learning, summer camp, 
character education, magnet schools, improving school library programs, 
and the use of technology as part of school intervention models. Other 
recommended strategies included, for example, the involvement of 
teachers in school-based decision-making, district and union leadership 
support for school staff, providing additional trained staff to support 
classroom needs, smaller class sizes, the promotion of a safe and 
orderly school climate, and a focus on students' social, emotional, and 
health needs.
    Discussion: The Department recognizes that there are other reform 
models and interventions not identified in the NPP that can be 
successful in turning around the persistently lowest-achieving schools. 
We also understand that no single reform model will be effective in 
every State or every district. However, the school intervention models 
in criterion (E)(2) focus on dramatic change, including significant 
changes in leadership and staffing, because they are targeted to the 
nation's persistently lowest-achieving schools, which in most cases 
have not responded to multiple earlier school improvement and 
turnaround efforts. Research indicates that fundamental, comprehensive 
changes in leadership, staffing, and governance hold the greatest 
promise for bringing about the improvements in school structure, 
climate, and culture that are required to break the cycle of chronic 
educational failure. In addition, the commenters' focus on staffing and 
governance issues led them to overlook the significant flexibility 
provided to adopt specific reforms such as teacher involvement in 
decision-making and smaller class sizes. A key purpose of changes in 
leadership and governance is to promote greater school-based 
flexibility over things that matter, such as hiring effective teachers, 
increasing time for both instruction and staff collaboration, and 
control over budget decisions. The Department recognizes that 
implementing these turnaround models will be challenging for LEAs, and 
expects State plans to include technical assistance and other support, 
including support for successful turnarounds in rural and other areas 
that may need to overcome a variety of resource limitations. Further, 
as noted in Appendix C, if a school identified as persistently lowest-
achieving has implemented an intervention or part of an intervention in 
the last two years that meets the requirements of the turnaround, 
restart, or transformation models, the school may continue or complete 
its work.
    Changes: Criterion (E)(2) replaces the school intervention models 
proposed in criterion (D)(3) of the NPP with the four models adopted 
from the School Improvement Grants program and described in Appendix C 
of this notice.
The Role of States and LEAs in School Intervention
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Race to the Top 
application require States to explain how they will meet the existing 
ESEA requirements regarding schools identified for improvement. Other 
commenters called for States and LEAs to propose their own intervention 
plans on the basis of evidence from research and evaluation, including 
``charter-like'' options, or to build on current turnaround efforts. 
Similarly, another commenter recommended requiring States to explain 
how they will combine governance changes with transformation models to 
improve teaching and learning. One commenter called for LEAs to propose 
their own school intervention strategies to their States, which could 
mandate alternatives if the LEA proposals were not rigorous enough. Two 
commenters, however, called for States, not LEAs, to mandate required 
school interventions based on their own analyses of those schools' low 
performance.
    Discussion: States and LEAs have had considerable flexibility in 
implementing the school improvement provisions under section 1116 of 
the ESEA; unfortunately there is little evidence of success, as the 
number of schools in the final stage of improvement--restructuring--has 
nearly tripled over the past few years, to about 5,000 schools. The 
emphasis of the ARRA on turning around struggling schools reflects, in 
part, the response of the Congress to this limited success of ESEA 
school improvement measures in turning around chronically low-
performing schools. States and LEAs are expected to use other ARRA 
funds, including the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, Title I Grants to 
Local Educational Agencies, and Title I School Improvement Grants, to 
carry out the school improvement requirements of the ESEA. Under the 
Race to the Top program, the

[[Page 59766]]

Department is asking States to raise the bar for school improvement by 
agreeing to undertake, in addition to existing ESEA school improvement 
activities, dramatic changes and improvement in their persistently 
lowest-achieving schools, drawing from a set of models that the 
Department believes holds the greatest promise for breaking the cycle 
of chronic educational failure in these schools. States and LEAs are 
not required to use these models--they are part of the criteria for the 
Race to the Top competition, not eligibility requirements--but States 
that agree to support the interventions required by criterion (E)(2) 
will earn points that will strengthen their overall Race to the Top 
application and increase their chances of winning a Race to the Top 
grant. In general, the Department anticipates that LEAs will select the 
appropriate school intervention models and that States will support 
LEAs in implementing these models. However, criterion (E)(1), which 
will assess a State's authority to intervene directly in its 
persistently lowest-achieving schools and LEAs that are identified for 
improvement or corrective action under the ESEA, reflects the 
Department's recognition that some States may wish, or in some States 
it may be necessary, to take additional actions.
    This final notice, like the NPP, does include criteria that allow 
States to earn points for their own existing or planned efforts to 
support effective school interventions. Criterion (F)(3) (proposed 
criterion (E)(1)(iii)) provides that a State will receive points if the 
State, through law, regulation, or policy, has created other conditions 
supporting education reform and innovation that are not addressed under 
other State Reform Conditions Criteria and that have increased student 
achievement or graduation rates, narrowed achievement gaps or resulted 
in other important outcomes.
    Changes: Criterion (F)(3) has been revised to measure the extent to 
which a State, in addition to information provided under other State 
Reform Conditions Criteria, has created, through law, regulation, or 
policy, other conditions favorable to education reform or innovation 
that have increased student achievement or graduation rates, narrowed 
achievement gaps, or resulted in other important outcomes.
LEA Capacity
    Comment: Several commenters recommended an increased focus on the 
LEA role in school interventions. Three commenters observed that States 
should be required to provide technical assistance to LEAs to increase 
their capacity to support school-level reform, and four commenters 
recommended that the final notice require States to specify the LEA 
role in, and capacity to manage, school interventions that will be 
required under their Race to the Top plans.
    Discussion: We agree that participating LEAs will play a leading 
role in implementing school intervention models, and that States should 
help build LEA capacity to fulfill this role effectively. In criterion 
(A)(2)(i)(b), States will be evaluated based upon their plans to 
support participating LEAs (as defined in this notice) in successfully 
implementing the State's Race to the Top plans, through such activities 
as identifying promising practices, evaluating these practices' 
effectiveness, ceasing ineffective practices, widely disseminating and 
replicating the effective practices statewide, holding participating 
LEAs (as defined in this notice) accountable for progress and 
performance, and, if necessary, intervening directly to effectively 
implement school intervention models. The Department declines to 
specify the LEA role in the school intervention models, as this role 
will vary based on local capacity and circumstances. We want to give 
States and LEAs flexibility to define the LEA role both in State reform 
plans and in the MOUs completed by participating LEAs (as defined in 
this notice).
    Changes: None.
Number of School Interventions
    Comment: Several commenters requested that the Department clarify 
how a State determines the schools that it must target for intervention 
under section (E)(2). Another commenter expressed concern about the 
potentially low number of schools that would be subject to school 
intervention options under the proposed requirements; in particular, 
this commenter worried that the combination of required Title I status 
and varying rates of State identification of schools for improvement 
under section 1116 of the ESEA could significantly limit the 
application of Race to the Top school intervention requirements, 
particularly to the lowest-performing high schools. The commenter 
suggested replacing the proposed ``bottom five percent'' approach with 
a requirement to turn around the lowest-performing one percent of all 
schools annually, with the one-percent cap applied separately to 
elementary/middle schools and high schools. This commenter added that 
interventions should include schools with generally high performance 
that serve significant numbers of students who are not performing well. 
Another commenter stated that linking the number of schools that a 
State must turn around to the number of schools identified for 
improvement under the ESEA would penalize States with more ambitious 
AYP criteria. Finally, one commenter asked how schools would exit the 
``bottom five percent status'' described in the NPP.
    Discussion: The Department agrees that the language in the NPP, in 
combination with the proposed definition of persistently lowest-
performing schools, was unclear and potentially created confusion about 
how States would identify schools for the interventions described in 
criterion (E)(2). We also recognize the concerns of commenters that the 
criteria in the NPP could lead some States to identify too few schools 
for intervention efforts. In response, the Department has (1) modified 
the definition of the term persistently lowest-achieving schools and 
(2) modified criterion (E)(2) to give States discretion to identify for 
intervention any non-Title I eligible public secondary school that 
would be considered a persistently lowest-achieving school (as defined 
in this notice) if it were eligible to receive Title I funds. The 
Department believes that these changes will ensure that States identify 
a sufficient number of schools to target for intervention efforts and 
that such efforts are not limited by the Title I status of the State's 
lowest-achieving schools. As for how schools would exit the 
persistently lowest-achieving schools (as defined in this notice) 
category, we note that the purpose of this category, consistent with 
criterion (E)(2), is to identify schools in which LEAs will implement 
one of four school intervention models. For this purpose, a school in 
which one of these models has been implemented would no longer be 
subject to intervention, but may remain on a State's list of 
persistently lowest-achieving schools as long as it meets one of the 
criteria in the definition of persistently lowest-achieving schools.
    Changes: We have revised the definition of persistently lowest-
achieving schools to mean, as determined by the State: (i) Any Title I 
school in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring that (a) Is 
among the lowest-achieving five percent of Title I schools in 
improvement, corrective action, or restructuring or the lowest-
achieving five Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, or 
restructuring in the State, whichever number of schools is greater; or 
(b) Is a high school that has had a graduation

[[Page 59767]]

rate as defined in 34 CFR 200.19(b) that is less than 60 percent over a 
number of years; and (ii) Any secondary school that is eligible for, 
but does not receive, Title I funds that (a) Is among the lowest-
achieving five percent of secondary schools or the lowest-achieving 
five secondary schools in the State that are eligible for, but do not 
receive, Title I funds, whichever number of schools is greater; or (b) 
Is a high school that has had a graduation rate as defined in 34 CFR 
200.19(b) that is less than 60 percent over a number of years.
    To identify the lowest-achieving schools, a State must take into 
account both (i) The academic achievement of the ``all students'' group 
in a school in terms of proficiency on the assessments under section 
1111(b)(3) of the ESEA in reading/language arts and mathematics 
combined; and (ii) The school's lack of progress on those assessments 
over a number of years in the ``all students'' group.
Governance Issues
    Comment: One commenter did not agree with the perceived emphasis in 
the NPP on existing school governance as the cause of school failure, 
or that there is research or other evidence that changing lines of 
authority or reporting will help turn around a low-performing school. 
This commenter added that the Secretary has indicated that he supports 
partnerships between school boards and mayors, as opposed, for example, 
to a mayor taking direct control of a school district. Another 
commenter suggested an additional governance-based intervention option, 
for a school that already has undergone unsuccessful restructuring, 
involving placement of the school under the direct control of the 
district's superintendent or establishing a ``professional learning 
community'' in partnership with another school district.
    Discussion: Changing school governance can take a variety of forms, 
and different solutions may be appropriate to different situations. One 
possible option consistent with this final notice is conversion to a 
charter school or management by a CMO or EMO. Another possibility, 
suggested by one commenter, would be for a superintendent or someone 
reporting directly to the superintendent to oversee turnaround schools. 
Alternatively, a mayor might, in consultation with the local school 
board, create an office charged with supervising turnaround efforts, or 
a State might directly intervene with a takeover. The Department 
understands and agrees that none of these governance changes is a 
``silver bullet'' for low-achieving schools, but believes each may help 
to create the conditions of autonomy and flexibility that are 
associated with successful turnaround efforts.
    Changes: None.
Replacing Leadership and Staff
    Comment: Many commenters opposed replacing school leadership and 
staff as part of the school intervention models required by proposed 
criterion (D)(3) and now described in detail in Appendix C, with some 
commenters claiming that research shows that staff replacement is an 
ineffective reform strategy, others stating that such strategies are 
not really an option in many communities that already face teacher and 
principal shortages, and a few commenters arguing that fear of what 
might be perceived as arbitrary dismissals associated with school 
intervention models could create a disincentive for talented teachers 
and principals to work in struggling schools. Another commenter, 
however, generally supported the emphasis on changing leadership, 
citing research showing that principals are the second most important 
factor contributing to student achievement, after classroom 
instruction. A number of other commenters recommended changes to the 
staff and leadership replacement requirements in these models, 
including (1) giving the new leadership under the turnaround model 
greater flexibility to make its own firing and hiring decisions instead 
of simply requiring the replacement of a ``majority'' of staff; (2) 
requiring all staff to reapply for their positions as long as the 
principal has full authority to hire either former staff or staff from 
outside the school; (3) retaining leadership and staff if they support 
the rest of the turnaround plan; (4) retaining at least 50 percent of 
current staff who reapply and meet all of the requirements of the 
redesigned school; and (5) focusing on staff qualifications and putting 
in place effective staff rather than on a particular target level of 
replacements. One commenter requested clarification of the terms ``new 
leadership'' and ``a majority of new staff.'' A few commenters sought 
greater flexibility for principals under the school intervention 
models, including the option of retaining principals who have had a 
positive impact on student outcomes or were recently hired and giving 
current principals a minimum of two years to improve before being 
replaced. Other commenters stated that replacement principals should be 
required to have a record of significantly increasing student 
achievement at similar schools, or that new leadership should have a 
``documented likelihood'' of successfully raising student achievement. 
One commenter recommended modifying the first three school intervention 
models--turnaround, restart, and school closure--to include provisions 
for consensual placement (i.e., with the agreement of the hiring 
school) of staff that lose their jobs due to implementation of these 
options or, in the absence of such consensual placement, release from 
employment.
    Discussion: The Secretary understands that replacing leadership and 
staff is one of the most difficult aspects of the school intervention 
models required by criterion (E)(2). However, he also believes that in 
our lowest-achieving schools, many of which have failed to improve 
despite repeated earlier interventions, dramatic changes in leadership 
and staffing can be the key to creating the new climate and culture 
needed to break the cycle of educational failure. On the other hand, 
while we believe the required intervention models leave room to 
accommodate many of the flexibilities requested by these commenters, 
the four school intervention models adopted from the School Improvement 
Grants program and described in detail in Appendix C specifically 
include several of the changes suggested by commenters. For example, we 
have clarified that by ``new leadership'' under the turnaround model, 
we mean the principal of the school, and that by requiring ``a majority 
of new staff'' in a turnaround school we mean that no more than 50 
percent of existing staff may be rehired. Also, the turnaround model 
adopted from the School Improvement Grants program now must include 
giving the new principal significant operating flexibility in areas 
such as staffing, school calendar and scheduling, and budgeting. In 
addition, in determining which staff to rehire, LEAs must use locally 
adopted competencies to measure the effectiveness of staff who can work 
within the turnaround environment to meet the needs of students. Also, 
a principal hired in the past two years as part of a planned 
intervention would have time to continue or complete the intervention 
as part of one of the four models. Moreover, there is nothing in the 
models described in Appendix C to this notice that would prevent a 
State or LEA from requiring replacement principals or other school 
leaders to have a record of success in previous assignments. As for 
consensual placement policies, such issues are best

[[Page 59768]]

resolved at the State and local level in the context of existing 
collective bargaining agreements. Finally, while the implementation or 
potential implementation of dramatic school intervention models could 
encourage some effective principals and teachers to leave or not seek 
employment in the lowest-achieving schools, the Race to the Top and 
other Federal programs also are creating incentives and providing 
resources that can be used to reward effective teachers and principals 
and improve strategies for recruitment, retention, and professional 
development. Moreover, the flexibilities for improving teaching and 
learning and the focus on school improvement that are created by the 
intervention models in criterion (E)(2) are equally likely to draw 
talented new leaders and staff to schools implementing these models.
    Changes: We have replaced the interventions outlined in proposed 
criterion (D)(3) (new (E)(2)) with the four school intervention models 
adopted from the School Improvement Grants program and described in 
detail in Appendix C of this final notice.
Impact of Collective Bargaining Agreements on Intervention Options
    Comment: Several commenters stated that because the school 
intervention models referenced in criterion (E)(2) include provisions 
that would affect collective bargaining agreements related to staffing, 
time, evaluation, and compensation, such options would have to be 
locally negotiated by the collective bargaining representative. One 
commenter also noted that the hiring and firing of teachers and 
principals required by the proposed intervention options currently are 
limited by State law. Another commenter added that interventions should 
be subject to due process.
    Discussion: The Department recognizes that State and local Race to 
the Top plans, including school intervention models implemented as part 
of these plans, may have an impact on issues covered by collective 
bargaining agreements, and agrees that such issues would have to be 
negotiated within the context of these agreements. The Department urges 
LEAs to work with teacher unions and teacher membership associations to 
resolve such issues, as well as other legal and regulatory barriers to 
successful implementation of school intervention models. To encourage 
such collaboration and partnership, one measure of an LEA's strong 
commitment to a State's Race to the Top plan is the signature of the 
local teachers' union leader on the Memoranda of Understanding or other 
binding agreements completed by participating LEAs (as defined in this 
notice) under criterion (A)(1)(ii)(c). In addition, criterion 
(A)(2)(ii)(a) calls for States to demonstrate support for their Race to 
the Top plans by obtaining statements or actions of support from, among 
other stakeholders, State teachers' unions or statewide teacher 
associations. As stated elsewhere in this notice, the concerns raised 
by commenters are not insurmountable, and the Secretary believes that 
LEAs and unions can work together to make the changes required to turn 
around our persistently lowest-achieving schools.
    Changes: None.
The Role of Charter Schools
    Comment: Several commenters recommended that State school 
intervention plans include the use of the charter school model both to 
improve the persistently lowest-achieving schools (as defined in this 
notice) and to create a large number of new high-quality charter 
schools to better serve students currently attending such schools. 
However, two commenters said that the criteria in proposed section (D) 
for turning around the persistently lowest-achieving schools (as 
defined in this notice) relied too heavily on charter schools; one of 
them noted that charters originally were intended as ``experimental 
incubators for education change'' and not as the ``parallel educational 
system'' that they claimed would be promoted by the NPP.
    Discussion: We believe strongly that high-performing charter 
schools can be especially valuable in communities where chronically 
low-performing traditional public schools have failed to improve after 
years of conventional efforts to turn them around. In such cases, high-
performing charter schools, whether created through the conversion of a 
traditional public school enrolling the same students or by 
establishing a new school that provides an alternative to the regular 
public schools, can offer promising and proven options for breaking the 
cycle of educational failure. At the same time, we acknowledge that the 
placement of the proposed charter schools criterion (D)(2) in the 
struggling schools section in the NPP potentially gave the impression 
that the NPP was emphasizing charter school expansion as the primary 
strategy for turning around the nation's lowest-achieving schools. This 
was not the intention. Proposed criterion (D)(2) was aimed more broadly 
at measuring the extent to which a State had created the conditions 
supporting an increase in the number of high-performing charter schools 
(as defined in this notice). Additionally, restart schools based on the 
charter school model are only one of the four school intervention 
models required in section (E)(2) of this notice. We are therefore 
moving proposed criterion (D)(2) to (F)(2) in this notice to help 
clarify that a State's support for increasing the number of high-
performing charter schools is only part of its overall Race to the Top 
plan, including its efforts to turn around its lowest-achieving 
schools. Also, we believe that the new criterion (F)(2) will better 
communicate the emphasis not just on increasing the number of charter 
schools, but on increasing the number of high-performing charter 
schools (as defined in this notice). Finally, new criterion (F)(2)(v) 
will give States credit for the extent to which they enable LEAs to 
operate innovative, autonomous public schools other than charter 
schools.
    Changes: Proposed criterion (D)(2), Increasing the Supply of High-
Quality Charter Schools, has been renamed Ensuring Successful 
Conditions for High-Performing Charter Schools and Other Innovative 
Schools and moved to (F)(2) in this final notice. In addition, new 
criterion (F)(2)(v) will give States credit for the extent to which 
they enable LEAs to operate innovative, autonomous public schools other 
than charter schools. We have added a definition of innovative, 
autonomous public schools to give greater clarity to new criterion 
(F)(2)(v).
Charter School Conversions
    Comment: Several commenters recommended modifying the proposed 
charter school restart option to emphasize the need to first close a 
school and then re-open it as a charter school, rather than directly 
convert an existing low-performing school into a charter school. Two 
other commenters urged the Department to require intervention planning 
to be done while students still attend their current school. These 
commenters stressed the importance of ensuring that charter schools 
``start fresh with the student body and fully implement their own 
approach.'' One commenter emphasized that the selection of the charter 
school conversion option should result in ``schools of choice''--
schools chosen by both students who enroll and the staff who work 
there--to create the sense of shared commitment and high expectations 
that have characterized the most successful existing charter schools.
    Discussion: The Department understands that charter school 
supporters and operators have different ideas about the best way to 
create high-

[[Page 59769]]

performing charter schools. When using a charter school conversion as a 
restart option, LEAs and charter school operators should endeavor to 
strike a balance between allowing sufficient time for planning and 
reconfiguring an existing school and moving quickly enough to minimize 
disruption to students, parents, teachers, and other staff. One way to 
do this would be to utilize, wherever possible, charter school 
operators, CMOs, or EMOs with experience in converting existing schools 
to new management. In addition, every effort should be made to permit 
and encourage previously enrolled students to enroll in the new charter 
school. The primary purpose of turning around the lowest-achieving 
schools is to give the students in those schools the high-quality 
education they deserve and need to prepare for further education, 
college, and careers.
    Changes: The restart model, as described in paragraph (b) of 
Appendix C, specifically allows for an LEA to convert a school or close 
and reopen a school under a charter school operator, a CMO, or an EMO 
that has been selected through a rigorous review process.
Education Management Organizations
    Comment: A few commenters questioned the proposed role for EMOs in 
school interventions, raising concerns about the research base 
underlying the use of EMOs and how they would be held accountable. One 
commenter recommended that the Secretary consider requiring EMOs to 
have a demonstrated record of success in managing schools before they 
are used as part of a school intervention strategy, and also 
recommended that EMOs be prohibited from refusing to serve certain 
students based on student needs. One commenter added that charter 
schools should be required to have a demonstrated track record of 
success.
    Discussion: The Department agrees that LEAs should carefully screen 
EMOs before using them as part of a school intervention model. The 
restart model adopted from the School Improvement Grants program, and 
described in Appendix C to this notice, requires the use of an EMO 
``that has been selected through a rigorous review process,'' which may 
include an examination of an EMO's record of success in managing 
schools as well as an analysis of the extent to which EMOs have served 
students with diverse educational needs. Charter school operators and 
CMOs would be subject to the same review requirement under a restart 
model.
    Changes: The restart model, described in detail in Appendix C, 
states that the organization chosen to restart the school should be 
``selected through a rigorous review process.''
School Closures
    Comment: Several commenters objected to closing schools, either as 
part of a charter conversion or the school closure model under 
criterion (E)(2), because such actions can displace students and 
disrupt communities. One commenter added that the impact of closing 
schools may be particularly severe in minority communities, where there 
may not be a higher-performing school nearby, while another observed 
that closing schools is not always possible in rural areas. Other 
commenters variously recommended that school closing be used as a 
school intervention option only when a high-performing school is 
available as an alternative, is in close proximity to the closed 
school, and has room to accommodate new students. Another commenter 
recommended that LEAs promote the use of inter-district transfers for 
students in closed schools. Finally, concerns about the impact of 
closures led one commenter to recommend that school intervention 
efforts be targeted on existing schools, as opposed to charter school 
conversion or school closing.
    Discussion: The Department recognizes that school interventions, 
regardless of the strategy or option selected, may lead to some 
displacement and disruption for both students and adults. LEAs and 
schools should work together to facilitate a smooth transition, 
particularly for students and families, when schools are closed as part 
of school intervention plans. We agree that inter-district transfers 
could help to mitigate the impact of school closures, and LEAs are 
already encouraged to promote such transfer options under section 
1116(b)(11) of the ESEA. Also, school closing is just one of four 
available school intervention options in this final notice; it may not 
be appropriate or even possible for some LEAs. In particular, the 
school closure model adopted from the School Improvement Grants program 
in this notice states that a school to which students from a closed 
school are transferred must be ``within reasonable proximity'' to the 
closed school.
    Changes: The school closure model adopted from the School 
Improvement Grants program and described in Appendix C to this final 
notice states that ``School closure occurs when an LEA closes a school 
and enrolls the students who attended that school in other schools in 
the LEA that are within reasonable proximity to the closed school and 
that are higher-achieving.''
Elevating the School Transformation Model
    Comment: Many commenters recommended that the final notice elevate 
the fourth option, the school transformation model, to the same status 
as the first three school intervention options, rather than a last 
resort if the first three are not possible. Some of these commenters 
also asserted that the transformation model may be among the most 
promising of school intervention options, particularly when it involves 
a comprehensive approach to turning around low-performing schools that 
includes systemic behavioral and learning supports, a safe and orderly 
climate, promotion of students' social-emotional skills and capacities, 
and the kind of collaborative working environment where staff are 
empowered to support students. Two commenters added that the 
``additional learning opportunities and supports referenced'' in the 
transformation model, as described in the NPP, should be required under 
the other school intervention models as well. Another commenter 
asserted that there ``is no basis in scholarly research'' for 
subordinating the transformation model to the other three school 
intervention options. One commenter urged that the fourth option be 
elevated and that the first three options be deemphasized. Another 
commenter recommended that a State first implement the non-staffing 
requirements of the transformation model--improving strategies for 
recruitment, retention, and professional development; implementing a 
comprehensive instructional program; extending learning time and 
utilizing community-oriented supports; and promoting family and 
community engagement--for ``a reasonable time'' before undertaking 
school governance and staffing changes such as those required by the 
other school intervention models described in criterion (E)(2) 
(proposed (D)(3)). However, one commenter urged, consistent with the 
NPP, that the transformation model be a last resort only, such as in a 
remote rural school district that could find it impossible to replace 
most of the staff at one of its schools.
    Discussion: The Department agrees with commenters who recommended 
broader latitude for LEAs to use the transformation model to turn 
around their persistently lowest-achieving schools. Criterion (E)(2) 
includes a

[[Page 59770]]

transformation model as one of the four models adopted from the School 
Improvement Grants program and described in detail in Appendix C of 
this notice. The final notice also removes the provision in proposed 
criterion (D)(3) that the transformation model can be used only if the 
other strategies are not possible. However, we are also adding language 
to criterion (E)(2) specifying that an LEA with more than nine 
persistently lowest-achieving schools may not use the transformation 
model for more than 50 percent of its schools.
    And while the Department does not agree that the elements of the 
transformation model should be required under the turnaround and 
restart models, largely because doing so would undermine the 
flexibility to innovate that is a key benefit of changing governance 
and leadership or a charter school conversion, the turnaround model 
described in Appendix C specifically permits the implementation of 
``any of the required and permissible activities under the 
transformation model.'' However, the Department declines the suggestion 
by one commenter to deemphasize the other options, primarily because we 
believe that changing governance, leadership, and staff often are 
essential for turning around the lowest-achieving schools; we also note 
that such actions (i.e., replacing the principal and removing 
ineffective staff) are required by the transformation model.
    Changes: Criterion (E)(2) (proposed (D)(3)) no longer limits the 
adoption of the transformation model, as described in Appendix C, as a 
``last resort'' when it is not possible for an LEA to implement one of 
the other school intervention models. Instead, it specifies that an LEA 
with more than nine persistently lowest-achieving schools may not use 
the transformation model for more than 50 percent of its schools.
Modifications to School Intervention Options
    Comment: Several commenters proposed modifications to the school 
intervention models set forth in criterion (E)(2) (proposed (D)(3)). 
For example, one commenter recommended that schools subject to 
intervention implement either the turnaround model or the 
transformation model for three years; if these reforms are unsuccessful 
the schools would then be required to convert to a charter school, 
accept CMO or EMO management, or close. Another commenter recommended 
combining the first and fourth models due to their similarity.
    Discussion: The Department recognizes that there are other ways to 
structure school intervention models. However, our goal with respect to 
criterion (E)(2) is to signal a decisive break with the past, rather 
than simply to create a new school improvement timeline with a menu of 
interventions, in order to successfully turn around as many of the 
nation's lowest-achieving schools as possible. As for combining the 
first and fourth models, the commenter appears to have overlooked the 
significant changes in staffing and governance that are central to the 
turnaround model but not required under the transformation model. For 
these reasons, and as described elsewhere in this notice, the school 
intervention models adopted from the School Improvement Grants program 
and described in Appendix C of this notice generally retain the 
structure and timeline proposed in the NPP, except that the 
transformation model no longer is limited to situations where it is not 
possible for an LEA to implement one of the other three models.
    Changes: None.
Continuation of Existing School Intervention Models
    Comment: One commenter requested that the final notice clarify 
whether a school that brought in a CMO or EMO two or three years ago 
would be required under criterion (E)(2) to start over with a new 
intervention.
    Discussion: Appendix C, which describes the school intervention 
models that we are adopting from the School Improvement Grants program, 
includes language stating that if a school identified as a persistently 
lowest-achieving school has implemented, in whole or in part within the 
last two years, an intervention that meets the requirements of the 
turnaround, restart, or transformation models, the school may continue 
or complete the intervention being implemented.
    Changes: We have included the following language at the end of 
Appendix C: ``If a school identified as a persistently lowest-achieving 
school has implemented, in whole or in part within the last two years, 
an intervention that meets the requirements of the turnaround, restart, 
or transformation models, the school may continue or complete the 
intervention being implemented.''
Instructional Reform
    Comment: Numerous commenters supported comprehensive instructional 
reform, including differentiated instruction and a standards-based, 
common curriculum, as a school intervention strategy. One commenter 
observed that many chronically low-performing schools have been 
reconstituted or restructured more than once, with multiple leadership 
and staffing changes, without success. This commenter urged the 
Secretary to recognize that in many cases LEAs must work to improve the 
skills of existing staff by establishing a fifth ``Comprehensive 
Instructional Reform'' option that would emphasize curriculum, new 
instructional approaches, and supports that promise success. However, 
another commenter emphasized that ``comprehensive instructional 
reform'' should not be a single model, as this could create barriers to 
differentiated instruction.
    Discussion: The transformation model provides flexibility for LEAs 
to implement comprehensive instructional reform without significant 
staff changes. In addition, the final notice no longer limits the 
application of this model to situations where the other three 
intervention models--turnaround, restart, and school closure--are not 
possible. We also note that the transformation model described in 
Appendix C requires ongoing, high-quality, job-embedded professional 
development in areas such as subject-specific pedagogy, instruction 
that reflects a deeper understanding of the community served by the 
school, and differentiated instruction.
    Changes: None.
Increased Learning Time
    Comment: Several commenters supported the inclusion of extended 
learning time in the turnaround and transformation models, while others 
recommended that all school intervention models include the provision 
of extended learning time. A number of other commenters requested that 
the Department define the term ``extended learning time'' to include 
before- and after-school programs as well as summer learning programs, 
while one other commenter requested that the Department define the term 
but did not advocate for a particular definition. Several of these 
commenters recommended using the term ``expanded learning time'' 
instead of ``extended learning time.'' A few other commenters urged the 
Department to promote additional compensation for teachers who teach 
during extended school hours, while several others advocated for 
extended learning time strategies that involve outside community 
partners. One of these commenters warned that extended learning time 
should not be ``more of the same.'' Instead, according to this

[[Page 59771]]

comment, State Race to the Top plans should describe how States and 
LEAs will ensure that expanded learning time is used to introduce 
students to new, more effective methods of instruction. This commenter 
also recommended that the Department give preference to proposals that 
increase learning time by 30 to 50 percent, consistent with the amount 
added by the highest-performing charter schools.
    Discussion: The Department agrees that increased learning time (as 
defined in this notice) can drive significant increases in student 
achievement. Though we know that community-based organizations can play 
a key role in providing these services in some places, we decline to 
give preference to such efforts in this competition. States and 
participating LEAs may choose to engage community-based organizations 
in efforts to increase learning time as described in the State's plan. 
We appreciate the commenter's suggestion to give preference to 
proposals that increase learning time by 30 to 50 percent, but decline 
to unnecessarily limit SEA and LEA flexibility by specifying the exact 
threshold that such efforts must meet to be considered as having 
increased learning time (as defined in this notice). To avoid confusion 
with other initiatives, we have replaced extended learning time with 
increased learning time and defined the term to mean using a longer 
school day, week, or year. Lastly, we chose not to require that States 
provide additional compensation for teachers in extending the school 
day; we expect that States will establish appropriate policies as part 
of the development of their State plans in consultation with key 
stakeholders.
    Changes: We have replaced the term ``extended learning time'' with 
``increased learning time'' and defined increased learning time to mean 
using a longer school day, week, or year schedule to significantly 
increase the total number of school hours to include additional time 
for (a) instruction in core academic subjects, including English; 
reading or language arts; mathematics; science; foreign languages; 
civics and government, economics; arts; history; and geography; (b) 
instruction in other subjects and enrichment activities that contribute 
to a well-rounded education, including, for example, physical 
education, service learning, and experiential and work-based learning 
opportunities that are provided by partnering, as appropriate, with 
other organizations; and (c) teachers to collaborate, plan, and engage 
in professional development within and across grades and subjects.
School and Community Partnerships
    Comment: One commenter recommended requiring school and community 
partnerships under all four school intervention options, in particular 
to help transform schools into centers of their communities and to 
support expanded learning time, and to provide comprehensive learning 
supports, more time for enrichment activities, and ongoing mechanisms 
for family engagement and community support.
    Discussion: The transformation model adopted from the School 
Improvement Grants program and described in Appendix C of this notice 
includes as a major strategy for increasing learning time and creating 
community-oriented schools, as well as a specific requirement to 
provide ``ongoing mechanisms for family and community engagement.'' In 
addition, the turnaround model, which also is described in detail in 
Appendix C, requires ``schedules and strategies that provide increased 
learning time'' and ``community-oriented services and supports for 
students,'' while also permitting the adoption of family- and 
community-based strategies identified in the transformation model. 
However, the Department declines to add this requirement to the other 
school intervention models, which are focused in large part on 
governance changes that emphasize autonomy and flexibility for a school 
to pursue its own priorities and activities.
    Changes: None.
Dropout Re-Engagement and Recovery
    Comment: Several commenters advocated the inclusion of programs for 
re-enrolling or re-engaging high school dropouts to the school 
intervention models in criterion (E)(2) (proposed (D)(3)), such as 
``data-driven dropout re-engagement'' and the addition of dropout 
recovery models as an element of the transformation model. Another 
commenter called for multiple pathways--including school-work 
partnerships, diploma-plus programs, and dual enrollment programs--and 
credit based on student performance rather than instructional time as 
successful models for educating struggling students as well as 
dropouts. Three other commenters advocated credit recovery programs, 
and one commenter recommended the inclusion of small schools that draw 
on the best practices from research on re-enrolling high school 
dropouts.
    Discussion: The Department agrees that school intervention models 
should include an emphasis on keeping struggling students in school and 
re-engaging youth who have dropped out of high school. For example, the 
transformation model adopted from the School Improvement Grants program 
provides that LEAs may implement the following activities aimed at 
increasing graduation rates: Credit-recovery programs, re-engagement 
strategies, smaller learning communities, competency-based instruction 
and performance-based assessments, and acceleration of basic reading 
and math skills. In addition, the transformation model also provides 
that LEAs may implement other comprehensive instructional reform 
strategies, such as improving the transition from middle to high school 
through summer transition programs or freshman academies, and 
increasing rigor by offering opportunities to enroll in advanced 
coursework, early-college high schools, dual-enrollment programs, or 
thematic learning academies that prepare students for college and 
careers, including supports to help low-achieving students take 
advantage of these programs.
    Changes: We have adopted a transformation model from the School 
Improvement Grants program that includes, as permissible activities 
under the comprehensive instructional reform strategies component, (1) 
increasing rigor by offering opportunities for students to enroll in 
advanced coursework (such as Advanced Placement or International 
Baccalaureate programs; or science, technology, engineering, and 
mathematics courses, especially those that incorporate rigorous and 
relevant project-, inquiry-, or design-based contextual learning 
opportunities), early-college high schools, dual enrollment programs, 
or thematic learning academies that prepare students for college and 
careers, including by providing appropriate supports designed to ensure 
that low-achieving students can take advantage of these programs and 
coursework; (2) improving student transition from middle to high school 
through summer transition programs or freshman academies; and (3) 
increasing graduation rates through, for example, credit-recovery 
programs, re-engagement strategies, smaller learning communities, 
competency-based instruction and performance-based assessments, and 
acceleration of basic reading and mathematics skills.
Additions to Performance Measures
    Comment: Several commenters proposed additions to the performance 
measures for criterion (E)(2). Three

[[Page 59772]]

commenters recommended the inclusion of indicators of the effectiveness 
of school intervention models, not just the number of schools adopting 
each strategy, and one commenter suggested collecting student 
proficiency data for schools implementing one of the intervention 
models. Another commenter recommended the addition of indicators of 
school climate, such as the number of suspensions and ratings of school 
safety. One commenter recommended adding the increase in the number of 
alternative schools for re-engaging students who have dropped out or 
the increase in the number of students served by such schools. One 
commenter also recommended changing the performance measure for 
criterion (E)(2) to focus on the percentage of the lowest-performing 
schools, rather than the number of such schools, in which the first 
three school intervention options will be implemented. Finally, one 
commenter recommended that the performance measures include assurances 
of a whole-school goal-setting process and the guaranteed use of 
interim or formative assessments.
    Discussion: The Department agrees that there is a wide range of 
potentially useful performance data that could be collected about State 
and local efforts to turn around their persistently lowest-achieving 
schools, and we will be collecting such data through other grants and 
data collections. In addition, we note that, under the ESEA, States are 
already required to publicly report student proficiency data by school. 
The primary purpose of the proposed performance measure for criterion 
(E)(2) is for States to set goals for themselves. At the time it 
applies for a Race to the Top grant, a State may not have determined 
the specific schools in which its LEAs will intervene; therefore, the 
most appropriate goal for a State to set is the number of schools in 
which it will support interventions each year.
    Changes: None.
Attention to Student Subgroups
    Comment: A few commenters recommended that the final notice require 
all four school intervention models to include plans for meeting the 
educational needs of students with disabilities, English language 
learners, and other subgroups.
    Discussion: The Department has addressed this issue through 
criterion (A)(1)(iii), which will measure the extent to which a State's 
Race to the Top plan will translate into broad statewide impact, 
allowing the State to reach its ambitious yet achievable goals, overall 
and by student subgroup, for increasing student achievement in (at a 
minimum) reading/language arts and mathematics, as reported by the NAEP 
and the assessments required under the ESEA, decreasing achievement 
gaps between subgroups, increasing high school graduation rates (as 
defined in this notice), and increasing college enrollment and credit 
attainment. States will not be able to reach these goals unless their 
State and local plans address the needs of the student subgroups cited 
by the commenters. Consequently, there is no need to include new 
requirements regarding student subgroups in the school intervention 
models described in detail in Appendix C to this notice.
    Changes: None.
Comments and Responses on the SIG NPR
    As noted earlier, the following discussion summarizes the comments 
we received, and our responses, on the ``Tier I'' and ``Tier II'' 
schools proposed in the SIG NPR that are now included in the definition 
of persistently lowest-achieving schools. The discussion also 
summarizes the comments and our responses on the four school 
intervention models proposed in the SIG NPR.
Definition of Persistently Lowest-Achieving Schools
    Comment: A number of commenters recommended alternatives to the 
process proposed in the SIG NPR for determining the lowest-achieving 
five percent of all Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, 
or restructuring in the State--that is, ``Tier I'' schools. As proposed 
in the SIG NPR, a Tier I school is a school in the lowest-achieving 
five percent of all Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, 
or restructuring in the State, or one of the five lowest-achieving 
Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring in 
the State, whichever number of schools is greater. Under the SIG NPR, 
to determine this ``bottom five percent,'' a State would have had to 
consider both the absolute performance of a school on the State's 
assessments in reading/language arts and mathematics and whether its 
gains on those assessments for the ``all students'' group over a number 
of years were less than the average gains of schools in the State for 
the ``all students'' group.
    Several commenters said this proposed process was too prescriptive 
and recommended that States have more flexibility in determining the 
lowest-achieving five percent. The commenters specifically suggested 
permitting States to restrict Tier I schools to schools in 
restructuring if this group constitutes more than five percent of a 
State's identified schools; to apply a State's growth model; or to 
consider such other factors as measures of individual student growth, 
writing samples, grades, and portfolios. One commenter suggested that 
the Department determine the lowest-achieving five percent of schools 
in the Nation rather than have each State determine its own lowest-
achieving five percent. Other commenters recommended changes that 
include taking into account the length of time a school has been 
designated for restructuring, measuring gains related to English 
language proficiency, and including newly designated Title I schools 
(especially secondary schools) that do not yet have an improvement 
status.
    Several commenters also suggested changing the method for 
determining ``lack of progress,'' including using subgroups rather than 
the ``all students'' group, measuring progress in meeting adequate 
yearly progress targets, and narrowing achievement gaps. Another 
commenter recommended clarifying that, even if a school shows gains 
greater than the State average, it should not be considered to be 
making progress if those gains are not greater than zero.
    Finally, several commenters suggested that graduation rates be 
taken into account in determining the lowest-achieving Title I high 
schools. One of these commenters suggested including in Tier I all 
Title I high schools in improvement, corrective action, or 
restructuring with a graduation rate below 60 percent as well as their 
feeder middle and junior high schools.
    Discussion: In developing our proposed definition of the lowest-
achieving five percent of schools for each State as defined in the SIG 
NPR, we considered several alternatives, including the use of the 
existing ESEA improvement categories and the possibility of using a 
measure that would identify the lowest-achieving five percent of 
schools in the Nation rather than on a State-by-State basis. The goal 
was to identify a uniform measure that could be applied easily by all 
States using existing assessment data. We started with Title I schools 
in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring as the initial 
universe from which to select the lowest-achieving schools because 
those are the schools eligible to receive SIG funds. ESEA improvement 
categories were deemed too dependent on variations in individual 
subgroup performance, rather than the overall performance of an entire 
school, to reliably identify our

[[Page 59773]]

worst schools. A nationwide measure, although appealing from the 
perspective of national education policy, would likely have identified 
many schools in a handful of States and few or none in the majority of 
States, making it an inappropriate guide for the most effective use of 
State formula grant funds.
    In general, we believe that the changes and alternatives suggested 
by commenters would add complexity to the method for determining the 
lowest-achieving five percent of schools without meaningfully improving 
the outcome. With the changes noted subsequently, we believe the 
definition proposed in the SIG NPR is straightforward, can be easily 
applied using data available in all States, and can produce easily 
understood results in the form of a list of State's lowest-achieving 
schools that have not improved in a number of years.
    Regarding the determination of whether a school is making progress 
in improving its scores on State assessments, the commenters 
highlighted the complexity and potential unreliability of measuring 
year-to-year gains on such assessments. In response, we are simplifying 
this aspect of the definition to give SEAs greater flexibility in 
determining a school's lack of progress on State assessments over a 
number of years.
    We also agree that it is important to include Title I high schools 
in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring that have low 
graduation rates in the definition. The Secretary has made addressing 
our Nation's unacceptably high drop-out rates--an estimated 1 million 
students leave school annually, many never to return--a national 
priority. In recognition of this priority, and in response to 
recommendations from commenters, we are including in the definition any 
Title I high school in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring 
that has had a graduation rate that is less than 60 percent over a 
number of years.
    Accordingly, we have made these changes and incorporated the 
process for determining the lowest-achieving five percent of Title I 
schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring--also known 
as Tier I schools for purposes of SIG funds--into a new definition of 
persistently lowest-achieving schools in this notice.
    Changes: The Department has added a definition of persistently 
lowest-achieving schools to this notice that incorporates the process 
described in the SIG NPR for determining the lowest-achieving five 
percent of Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, or 
restructuring (or the lowest-achieving five such schools, whichever 
number of schools is greater) (``Tier I'' schools for purposes of SIG). 
This new definition also includes any Title I high school in 
improvement, corrective action, or restructuring that has had a 
graduation rate of less than 60 percent over a number of years (as will 
the ``Tier I'' definition for SIG purposes). We have removed language 
in proposed section I.A.1.a(ii) of the SIG NPR defining ``a school that 
has not made progress.''
    Comment: Numerous commenters expressed support for including 
chronically low-achieving secondary schools that are eligible for, but 
not receiving Title I funds as Tier II schools, as proposed in section 
I.A.1.b in the SIG NPR, including one commenter who suggested that LEAs 
be required to fund Tier II schools. Other commenters, however, opposed 
the use of Title I funds in non-Title I schools and recommended that 
other funding be identified to serve those schools or stated that the 
inclusion of those schools is more appropriately addressed in the Title 
I reauthorization. One commenter suggested that it would not be 
appropriate to provide Title I funds to such schools when the SIG NPR 
would restrict the number of Title I schools that can be served in Tier 
I.
    Discussion: We believe that low-achieving secondary schools often 
present unique resource, logistical, and pedagogical challenges that 
require rigorous interventions to address. Yet, many such schools that 
are eligible to receive Title I funds are not served because of 
competing needs for Title I funds within an LEA. The large amounts of 
ARRA funds--available through Stabilization, Race to the Top, and SIG--
present an opportunity to address the needs of these low-achieving 
secondary schools. Accordingly, we have continued in this notice to 
include secondary schools that are eligible for, but do not receive, 
Title I funds in the definition of the persistently lowest-achieving 
schools in a State.
    As proposed in the SIG NPR, such secondary schools would have been 
eligible if they were equally as low-achieving as a Tier I school. We 
realized that this standard was too vague, particularly in light of the 
rigorous interventions that would be required if an SEA identified, and 
an LEA decided to serve, such a school. As a result, we have changed 
the definition to include secondary schools that are eligible for, but 
do not receive, Title I funds and that are among the lowest-achieving 
five percent of such schools in a State (or the lowest five such 
schools, whichever number of schools is greater). An SEA must identify 
these schools using the same criteria as it uses to identify the 
lowest-achieving Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, and 
restructuring.
    For the reasons noted earlier in this notice, we have also included 
in the definition any high school that is eligible for, but does not 
receive, Title I funds and that has had a graduation rate that is less 
than 60 percent over a number of years.
    Changes: The Department has added a definition of persistently 
lowest-achieving schools to this notice that incorporates the lowest-
achieving five percent of secondary schools in a State that are 
eligible for, but do not receive, Title I funds (or the lowest-
achieving five such schools, whichever number of schools is greater) 
(``Tier II'' schools for purposes of SIG). This new definition also 
includes any high school that is eligible for, but does not receive, 
Title I funds that has had a graduation rate of less than 60 percent 
over a number of years (as will the ``Tier II'' definition for SIG 
purposes). We have removed language in proposed section I.A.1.b of the 
SIG NPR that required a comparison of the achievement of secondary 
schools to Tier I schools.
General Comments on the Four Intervention Models
    Comment: One commenter supported the Secretary's intent in 
proposing the four interventions in the SIG NPR. The commenter noted 
that the majority of SIG funds are intended to target the very lowest-
achieving schools in the Nation--schools that have not just missed 
their accountability targets by narrow margins or in a single subgroup. 
Rather, they are schools that have ``profoundly fail[ed]'' their 
students ``for some time.'' Accordingly, the commenter acknowledged 
that the four interventions are appropriately designed to engage these 
schools in bold, dramatic changes or else to close their doors.
    Conversely, several commenters suggested that the four 
interventions are too prescriptive and do not leave room for State 
innovation and discretion to fashion similarly rigorous interventions 
that may be more workable in a particular State. The commenters noted 
that for some school districts, particularly the most rural districts, 
none of the interventions may be feasible solutions. In addition, 
several commenters rejected the idea that there should be any Federal 
requirements governing struggling schools. The commenters suggested 
that schools in need of improvement be permitted to engage in self-
improvement strategies

[[Page 59774]]

tailored to each individual school's needs as determined at the local 
level based on local data, rather than being mandated to adopt specific 
models by the Federal Government.
    Discussion: We disagree that the four models limit State 
innovation. Each model provides flexibility and permits LEAs to develop 
approaches that are tailored to the needs of their schools within the 
broad context created by each model's requirements. We do not believe 
that any one model is appropriate for all schools; rather, it is the 
Department's intention that LEAs select the model that is appropriate 
for each particular school.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters suggested adding a fifth intervention 
option. One commenter, for example, suggested permitting States to 
propose an alternative, but rigorous, intervention model for approval 
through a peer review process. The commenter noted that whatever 
accountability measure is adopted in the SIG notice of final 
requirements should serve to ensure that the model is held accountable 
for results. Another commenter suggested a ``scale up'' model, in which 
an LEA could use SIG funds to expand interventions with documented 
success in producing rapid improvement in student achievement within 
that LEA or in another LEA with similar demographics and challenges. 
Yet another commenter suggested adding a ``supported transformation'' 
model to accommodate, in particular, the needs of children in low-
achieving schools in small, rural communities that lack the capacity to 
transform their schools. The commenter identified the need for an SEA 
to build the capacity of struggling LEAs by working to develop models 
for intervention, to identify specific evidence-based intervention 
strategies, and to provide ongoing, intensive technical, pedagogical, 
and practical assistance so as to increase LEAs' capacity to assist 
their low-achieving schools.
    Discussion: We included the four school intervention models in the 
SIG NPR after an extensive examination of available research and 
literature on school turnaround strategies and after outreach to 
practitioners. Our goal, which we believe was achieved, was to identify 
fundamental, disruptive changes that LEAs could make in order to 
finally break the long cycle of educational failure--including the 
failure of previous reforms--in the Nation's persistently lowest-
achieving schools. We also believe that these models, despite their 
limited number, potentially encompass a wide range of specific reform 
approaches, thus negating the need for a ``fifth model.'' We 
understand, for example, that school closure may not work in some LEAs, 
but that leaves the turnaround, restart, or transformation models as 
possible options for them. We also know that not all States have a 
charter school law, limiting the restart options available to LEAs in 
such States. However, even where charter schools are not an option, an 
LEA could work with an Education Management Organization (EMO) to 
restart a failed school or could pursue one of the other three 
intervention models. And we understand that some rural areas may face 
unique challenges in turning around low-achieving schools, but note 
that the significant amount of funding available to implement the four 
models will help to overcome the many resource limitations that 
previously have hindered successful rural school reform in many areas.
    The four school intervention models described in the SIG NPR also 
are internally flexible, permitting LEAs to develop their own 
approaches in the broad context created by the models' requirements. 
For example, the turnaround and restart models focus on governance and 
leadership changes, leaving substantial flexibility and autonomy for 
new leadership teams to develop and implement their own comprehensive 
improvement plans. Even the transformation model includes a wide 
variety of permissible activities from which LEAs may choose to 
supplement required elements, which are primarily focused on creating 
the conditions to support effective school turnarounds rather than the 
specific methods and activities targeting the academic needs of the 
students in the school.
    We also note that over the course of the past eight years, States 
and LEAs have had considerable time, and have been able to tap new 
resources, to identify and implement effective school turnaround 
strategies. Yet they have demonstrated little success in doing so, 
particularly in the Nation's persistently lowest-achieving schools, 
including an estimated 2,000 ``dropout factories.'' Under the ESEA, 
States have been required to set up statewide systems of support for 
LEA and school improvement; to identify low-achieving schools for a 
range of improvement, corrective action, and restructuring activities; 
and to use the school improvement reservation under section 1003(a) of 
the ESEA to fund such improvement activities. However, the overall 
number of schools identified for improvement, corrective action, and 
restructuring continues to grow; in particular, the number of 
chronically low-achieving Title I schools identified for restructuring 
has roughly tripled over the past three years to more than 5,000 
schools. SEAs have thus far helped no more than a handful of these 
schools to successfully restructure and exit improvement status, in 
large part, we believe, because of an unwillingness to undertake the 
kind of radical, fundamental reforms necessary to improve the 
persistently lowest-achieving schools.
    Finally, although we believe this recent history of failed school 
improvement efforts justifies using ARRA SIG funds to leverage the 
adoption of the more far-reaching reforms required by the four school 
intervention models, we note that Part A of Title I of the ESEA 
continues to make available nearly $15 billion annually, as well as an 
additional $10 billion in fiscal year 2009 through the ARRA, that SEAs 
and LEAs may use to develop and implement virtually any reform strategy 
that they believe will significantly improve student achievement and 
other important educational outcomes in Title I schools. In particular, 
we would applaud State and local efforts to use existing Title I funds 
to scale up successful interventions or to build State and local 
capacity to develop and implement other promising school intervention 
models. For all of these reasons, we decline to add a fifth school 
intervention model to this notice.
    Changes: None.
Turnaround Model
Principal and Staff Replacement
    Comment: Many commenters opposed replacing principals and staff as 
part of the turnaround model. Although several commenters acknowledged 
that poor leadership and ineffective staff contribute to a school's low 
performance, a majority claimed that staff replacement has not been 
established as an effective reform strategy, others stated that such a 
strategy is not a realistic option in many communities that already 
face teacher and principal shortages, and one commenter suggested that 
replacement requirements associated with turnaround plans would 
discourage teachers and principals from working in struggling schools.
    In addition, many commenters opposed sanctioning principals and 
staff, partly because, as one commenter claimed, the turnaround model 
assumes that most problems in a school are attributable to these 
individuals. One

[[Page 59775]]

stated that principals face ``trying'' circumstances and another stated 
that the proposed requirements ignore the ``vital role'' that 
principals play in high-need schools. These commenters stated that 
other factors--such as poverty, lack of proper support, and tenure and 
collective bargaining laws--should be addressed before decisions are 
made to replace principals and staff. One commenter claimed that 
principals and teachers in low-achieving schools could perform their 
jobs if they are given adequate training and support and working 
conditions are improved. Another opposed the replacement requirement 
because the commenter believed a stable and consistent staff is a key 
factor in school improvement.
    Discussion: We understand that replacing leadership and staff is 
one of the most difficult aspects of the four models; however, we also 
know that many of our lowest-achieving schools have failed to improve 
despite the repeated use of many of the strategies suggested by the 
commenters. The emphasis of the ARRA on turning around struggling 
schools also reflects, in part, an acknowledgement by the Congress that 
past efforts have had limited or no success in breaking the cycle of 
chronic educational failure in the Nation's persistently lowest-
achieving schools.
    Accordingly, the Department believes that dramatic and wholesale 
changes in leadership, staffing, and governance--such as those required 
by the turnaround model--are an appropriate intervention option for 
creating an entirely new school culture that breaks a system of 
institutionalized failure. Although we acknowledge the possibility that 
the turnaround model could discourage some principals and teachers from 
working in the lowest-achieving schools, others will likely be 
attracted by the opportunity to participate in a school turnaround with 
other committed staff. In addition, other Federal programs, such as the 
Teacher Incentive Fund and Race to the Top programs, are helping to 
create incentives and provide resources that can be used to attract and 
reward effective teachers and principals and improve strategies for 
recruitment, retention, and professional development.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A number of commenters recommended changes to the 
principal and staff replacement requirements. One commenter proposed a 
detailed ``fifth model'' that focused upon providing additional support 
to teachers by improving working conditions, such as reducing class 
size and providing professional development opportunities. Others 
recommended (1) providing a principal with the autonomy to make his or 
her own firing and hiring decisions instead of requiring the 
replacement of 50 percent of the staff; (2) allowing staff to reapply 
for their positions; (3) retaining principals who were recently hired; 
(4) providing principals with a ``window'' of opportunity to improve 
their schools before being replaced; (5) suggesting that the 
replacement requirement extend to superintendents and boards of 
education; (6) retaining at least 50 percent of current staff who 
reapply and meet all of the requirements of the redesigned school; and 
(7) focusing on staff qualifications and putting in place effective 
staff rather than on a particular target level of replacements.
    Discussion: We agree with some of the changes to the turnaround 
model suggested by commenters. For example, new language in paragraph 
(a)(1)(i) of the turnaround model recognizes the vital role played by 
the principal and acknowledges that new principals need authority to 
make key changes required to turn around a failing school. Under this 
new language, the new principal of a turnaround school would have 
``sufficient operational flexibility (including in staffing, calendars/
time, and budgeting) to implement fully a comprehensive approach to 
substantially improve student achievement outcomes and increase high 
school graduation rates.''
    We also recognize that the staff selected for a turnaround school 
must have the skill and expertise to be effective in this context. We 
are adding language clarifying that all personnel must be screened and 
selected based on locally adopted competencies to measure their 
effectiveness in a turnaround environment.
    In addition, while the SIG NPR would have required an LEA to 
replace at least 50 percent of the staff of a turnaround school, new 
paragraph (a)(1)(ii)(A) of the turnaround model requires an LEA, after 
screening all staff using locally adopted competencies, to rehire no 
more than 50 percent of the school's staff. Further, some commenters 
appear to have overlooked proposed section I.B.1 in the SIG NPR, which 
would give LEAs flexibility to continue implementing interventions 
begun within the last two years that meet, in whole or in part, the 
requirements of the turnaround, restart, or transformation models and, 
thus, would in many cases allow an LEA to retain a recently hired 
principal in a turnaround school. We are retaining this flexibility 
provision in this notice.
    Finally, the turnaround model includes significant provisions aimed 
at supporting teachers. For example, the SIG NPR called for ``ongoing, 
high-quality, job-embedded professional development to staff,'' as well 
as increased time for collaboration and professional development for 
staff. These supports for teachers and other staff are retained in this 
final notice.
    Changes: We have modified the provisions in the turnaround model in 
paragraph (a)(1)(i) to give the new principal of a turnaround school 
``sufficient operational flexibility (including in staffing, calendars/
time, and budgeting) to implement fully a comprehensive approach in 
order to substantially improve student achievement outcomes and 
increase high school graduation rates.'' As described earlier, we have 
also revised paragraph (a)(1)(ii) to require that an LEA use locally 
adopted competencies to measure the effectiveness of staff who can work 
within the turnaround environment to meet the needs of students. In 
addition, instead of the requirement that an LEA replace ``at least 50 
percent of the staff'' in a turnaround school, paragraph (a)(1)(ii)(A) 
of the definition requires an LEA to screen and rehire ``no more than 
50 percent'' of the existing staff.
    Comment: Numerous commenters expressed concerns that a national 
shortage of principals and teachers would prevent successful 
implementation of the turnaround model. Two commenters stated that, in 
order to replace half of the staff as required by the turnaround model, 
an LEA would likely be forced to hire less experienced teachers and 
rely on emergency credentials or licensure to fully staff a turnaround 
school. One commenter claimed that research shows that large pools of 
available applicants are essential for successful replacement of 
principals and teachers. Another commenter stated that there is a 
``national shortage of transformational leaders'' who can lead 
turnaround schools. Further, many commenters claimed that replacing 
half of a school's staff would be difficult or even impossible in rural 
schools and small communities. One commenter asserted that the shortage 
of teachers in rural areas would disqualify these LEAs from applying 
for school improvement funds. Another stated that even with recruitment 
incentives it would be difficult to fill staff vacancies. One commenter 
urged the Secretary to take such shortages into account before 
requiring ``blanket firings'' of teachers. In addition, several 
commenters observed that chronically low-

[[Page 59776]]

performing schools already suffer from a number of vacancies due to 
high staff turnover rates. In fact, one commenter believed replacing 50 
percent of the staff was not a ``tough'' consequence because these 
schools already experience high turnover.
    These concerns led several commenters to recommend flexibility 
regarding the staff replacement requirement of the turnaround model, 
including the opportunity to request a waiver if an LEA could 
demonstrate an inability to fill vacancies, and a required evaluation 
before principals and staff can be replaced. Other commenters opposed 
the replacement of principals without consideration of such factors as 
years of experience and district-level support, recommended a three-
year window in which to make replacement decisions based upon multiple 
measures, and suggested the provision of high-quality professional 
development before replacing any staff.
    Discussion: We recognize that the replacement requirement will 
present challenges for LEAs, particularly in rural areas, where highly 
effective principals and teachers capable of leading educational 
transformation may be in short supply; however, the difficulty of 
identifying new qualified teachers and school leaders for a turnaround 
school must be measured against the enormous human and economic cost of 
accepting the status quo for the Nation's persistently lowest-achieving 
schools. We simply cannot afford to continue graduating hundreds of 
thousands of students annually who are unprepared for either further 
education or the workforce, or to permit roughly one million students 
to drop out of high school each year, many of them never to return to 
school. Instead, States and LEAs must work together to recruit, place, 
and retain the effective principals and staff needed to implement the 
turnaround model. The Department is supporting these efforts through 
Federal grant programs that can provide resources for improving 
strategies used to recruit effective principals and teachers, such as 
the Teacher Incentive Fund program, which helps increase the number of 
effective teachers teaching poor, minority, and disadvantaged students 
in hard-to-staff subjects and schools.
    Finally, we wish to clarify that the requirements for the 
turnaround model do not require ``blanket firings'' of staff. The 
Department agrees that staff should be carefully evaluated before any 
replacement decisions are made and has added new language requiring 
LEAs to use ``locally adopted competencies to measure the effectiveness 
of staff who can work within the turnaround environment to meet the 
needs of students.'' If required by State laws or union contracts, 
principals and staff may have to be reassigned to other schools as 
necessary.
    Changes: As described earlier, we have revised paragraph (a)(1)(ii) 
to require that an LEA use locally adopted competencies to measure the 
effectiveness of staff who can work within the turnaround environment 
to meet the needs of students. The LEA must then screen all existing 
staff before rehiring no more than 50 percent of them.
    Comment: Numerous commenters claimed that there is little research 
supporting the replacement of leadership and staff in school turnaround 
efforts. One commenter cited a 2008 Institute of Education Sciences 
(IES) report, ``Turning Around Chronically Low-Performing Schools,'' 
that, according to the commenter, recommends that decisions to remove 
staff should be made on an individual basis. Several others also 
asserted that the proposed requirement to replace at least 50 percent 
of staff was arbitrary, with two commenters recommending instead that 
the Department ``empower the turnaround principal with the autonomy to 
hire, based on merit, for every position in the school.''
    Discussion: We are not claiming that merely replacing a principal 
and 50 percent of a school's staff is sufficient to turn around a low-
achieving school. Although principal and staff replacement are key 
features of the turnaround model proposed in the SIG NPR, they are not 
the only features. The strength of the turnaround model lies in its 
comprehensive combination of significant staffing and governance 
changes, an improved instructional program, ongoing high-quality 
professional development, the use of data to drive continuous 
improvement, increased time for learning and for staff collaboration, 
and appropriate supports for students. The staffing and governance 
changes are intended primarily to create the conditions within a 
school, including school climate and culture, that will permit 
effective implementation of the other elements of the turnaround model. 
Dramatic changes in leadership, staff, and governance structure help 
lay the groundwork to create the conditions for autonomy and 
flexibility that are associated with successful turnaround efforts. 
Accordingly, we decline to remove the requirement for replacing staff 
in a turnaround model.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Many commenters claimed that teacher tenure, State 
collective bargaining laws, and union contracts prevent school 
administrators from replacing staff as required by the turnaround 
model. Several commenters stated that union contracts would force 
school administrators to reassign dismissed teaching staff to other 
schools, and the turnaround model would not solve the problem of 
removing ineffective teachers from the classroom. One commenter asked 
if an LEA would have to negotiate staff replacement with the union or 
if the Federal grant requirements supersede State due process laws. One 
commenter noted that the Department would have to provide ``involuntary 
transfer authority'' to LEAs in order for them to implement the 
turnaround model in collective bargaining States.
    Several commenters called for the Department to foster 
collaboration with teacher unions as well as the larger community. One 
of these commenters claimed that collaboration ``increases leadership 
and builds professionalism'' and recommended that evidence of 
collaboration be documented. Another asserted the involvement of 
school-based personnel in decision-making is key to the successful 
implementation of school interventions. Another recommended that an LEA 
seek ``feedback'' from all stakeholders, including students, parents, 
and unions, as to whether an intervention is ``feasible or warranted.''
    Discussion: We recognize that collective bargaining agreements and 
union contracts may present barriers to implementation of the 
turnaround model; however, we do not believe these barriers are 
insurmountable. In particular, drawing upon pockets of success in 
cities and States across the country, the Secretary believes LEAs and 
unions can work together to bring about dramatic, positive changes in 
our persistently lowest-achieving schools. Accordingly, the Department 
encourages collaborations and partnerships between LEAs and teacher 
unions and teacher membership associations to resolve issues created by 
school intervention models in the context of existing collective 
bargaining agreements. We also encourage LEAs to collaborate with 
stakeholders in schools and in the larger community as they implement 
school interventions.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Many commenters stated that the term ``staff'' was not 
clearly defined. One commenter presumed it excluded maintenance, food 
services, and other support staff. Another stated that the Department 
should allow LEAs

[[Page 59777]]

to develop their own definition of ``staff,'' and permit LEAs to 
determine whether non-instructional staff should be included in the 
replacement calculus. Two commenters also requested greater clarity 
regarding the meaning of ``new governance.''
    Discussion: We believe that, in high-achieving schools facing the 
most challenging of circumstances, every adult in the school 
contributes to the school's success, including the principal, teachers, 
non-certificated staff, custodians, security guards, food service 
staff, and others working in the school. Conversely, in a persistently 
lowest-achieving school, we believe that no single group of adults in 
the school is responsible for a culture of persistent failure. For this 
reason, our general guidance is that an LEA should define ``staff'' 
broadly in developing and implementing a turnaround model. The 
Department declines to define the term ``staff'' in this notice, but 
plans to issue guidance that will clarify this and other issues related 
to the turnaround model. As for the term ``governance,'' the language 
in paragraph (a)(1)(v) suggests a number of possible governance 
alternatives that may be adopted in the context of a turnaround model. 
The Department declines to provide a more specific definition in order 
to permit LEAs the flexibility needed to adopt a turnaround governance 
structure that meets their local needs and circumstances.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters asked that the Department consider the 
possible negative consequences of replacing staff on a school and 
community, with one commenter suggesting that replacing half of the 
staff could result in more damage ``to a fragile school than no change 
at all.'' Another commenter stated that maintaining a consistent staff 
is a key to school success.
    Discussion: The Secretary disagrees that implementing a turnaround 
model would be worse than ``no change at all.'' The schools that would 
implement a turnaround model have, by definition, persistently failed 
our children for years, and dramatic and fundamental change is 
warranted. In addition, as stated elsewhere in this notice, the 
commenters overlook the fact that the other options--the 
transformation, school closure, and restart models--do not require 
replacement of 50 percent of a school's staff. If an LEA believes that 
it cannot successfully meet the requirements of the turnaround model, 
we recommend that it consider one of the other three options.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Numerous commenters stated that decisions regarding school 
restructuring are best decided on the local, rather than the Federal, 
level. One commenter opposed the requirements for the turnaround model 
as being too prescriptive, and another recommended that the local 
school board be provided with the discretion to determine how best to 
implement the turnaround model. One commenter agreed that ``ineffective 
staff and leadership should be replaced in order for school improvement 
to work,'' but stated that the turnaround model's ``one-size-fits-all 
formula may not be the best approach for all schools.'' Two commenters 
specifically stated that the decision to remove a principal and staff 
should be determined by a local school board. Similarly, another 
commenter noted that decisions to replace a principal and staff should 
be based upon ``local data'' rather than Federal requirements that are 
not tailored to an individual school's needs. One of these commenters 
stated that local decision-making is particularly important if a school 
has been underperforming for a period longer than the ``principal's 
tenure or if the principal has begun a transformative process that 
could be harmed by a leadership change.''
    Discussion: An LEA is free to exercise local control and use local 
data and leadership to determine which of the four school intervention 
models to follow in turning around a persistently lowest-achieving 
school. However, after nearly a decade of broad State and local 
discretion in implementing, with little success, the school improvement 
provisions of the ESEA, the Department believes, for the purpose of 
this program, it is appropriate and necessary to limit that discretion 
and require the use of a carefully developed set of school intervention 
models in the Nation's lowest-achieving schools. In particular, the 
turnaround and transformation models include a combination of staffing, 
governance, and structural changes with specific comprehensive 
instructional reforms that the Department believes hold great promise 
for effective investment of the $3 billion provided for the SIG program 
by the ARRA.
    Changes: None.
Relationship Between Turnaround and Transformation Models
    Comment: Several commenters believed the turnaround model lacked 
sufficient detail and did not provide adequate direction to LEAs 
attempting to implement the model. In contrast, several commenters 
appreciated the level of detail contained in the transformation model 
and suggested that the turnaround model provide a similar level of 
detail. Some of these commenters recommended that the turnaround model 
incorporate some of the specific provisions contained in the 
transformation model. For example, one commenter suggested that the 
turnaround model include the transformation model's provisions 
regarding implementation of instructional changes. Another commenter 
specifically recommended that the turnaround model incorporate the 
transformation model's criteria for teacher effectiveness.
    Discussion: We agree that the turnaround model in the SIG NPR 
lacked clarity and potentially created confusion about whether 
applicants could draw upon permissible activities described in the 
transformation model. The Department did not intend to limit LEA 
discretion in adapting elements of the transformation model to the 
turnaround model. Accordingly, we are adding new language in paragraph 
(a)(2)(i) to clarify that an LEA implementing the turnaround model may 
implement any of the required and permissible activities under the 
transformation model.
    Changes: We have clarified in paragraph (a)(2)(i) that an LEA 
implementing a turnaround model may also implement other strategies 
such as ``[a]ny of the required and permissible activities under the 
transformation model.'' In addition, we have made changes in the 
turnaround model that correspond to changes we made in response to 
comments on the transformation model. The specific changes are noted 
subsequently in this notice in our discussion of comments on the 
transformation model.
Restart Model
    Comment: Many commenters opposed the restart model described in the 
SIG NPR because, they claimed, charter schools generally do not perform 
better than regular public schools. In particular, these commenters 
cited recent research from the Center for Research on Education 
Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University showing that fewer than one-
fifth of charter schools demonstrated gains in student achievement that 
exceeded those of traditional public schools. One commenter also 
mentioned a RAND study highlighting the low performance of charter 
schools in Texas and a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University 
showing that most EMO-operated schools were outperformed by traditional 
public schools. Most of these commenters proposed broadening or

[[Page 59778]]

strengthening the restart option, but one commenter recommended 
removing it from the list of permitted school intervention models. One 
commenter claimed that, where charter schools had raised student 
achievement, in most cases it was attributable to high student 
attrition rates brought about by demanding school schedules and 
behavioral rules that did not work for all students. A few commenters 
noted either that some States do not allow charter schools or that the 
restart model would be unlikely to work in rural areas. Several 
commenters also opposed the restart model because it might displace 
students and disrupt existing efforts to build community schools; 
another commenter recommended that any planning and reorganization for 
a restart model take place during the school year, while students 
remain in the school, so that there would be no disruption in services 
if the school were closed and then reopened as a restart school.
    Discussion: We acknowledge that the available research on the 
effectiveness of charter schools in raising student achievement is 
mixed, that some State laws significantly limit the creation or 
expansion of charter schools, and that smaller communities, 
particularly in rural areas, may not have sufficient access to 
providers or teachers to support the creation of charter schools. 
However, there are many examples of high-quality charter schools, and 
the Secretary believes very strongly that high-achieving charter 
schools can be a significant educational resource in communities with 
chronically low-achieving regular public schools that have failed to 
improve after years of conventional turnaround efforts. Although they 
are not a ``silver bullet'' for failing schools or communities, a more 
balanced view of the results produced by charter schools suggests that 
they offer promising and proven options for breaking the cycle of 
educational failure and fully merit inclusion in the restart model.
    The Department also recognizes the concerns expressed by commenters 
about the potential disruption to students, parents, and communities 
that may be connected with a restart plan that involves closing and 
then reopening a school. To help address this concern, we are adding 
language to this notice allowing a school conversion--and not just 
closing and reopening a school--to qualify as an acceptable restart 
model.
    At the same time, the Department emphasizes that just as the 
restart model is one of four school intervention models supported by 
this notice, charter schools are just one option under the restart 
model. Contracting with an EMO is another restart option that may 
provide sufficient flexibility in States without charter school laws or 
in rural areas where few charter schools operate. An EMO also may be 
able to develop and implement a plan that permits students to stay in 
their school while undergoing a restart. For example, some EMOs hired 
to turn around a low-achieving school may begin planning for the 
turnaround in late winter or early spring, hire and train staff in late 
spring and early summer, reconfigure and re-equip the school--including 
the acquisition of curricular materials and technology--during the 
summer, and then reopen promptly in the fall, resulting in minimal, if 
any, disruption to students and parents.
    Changes: We have changed the language in paragraph (b) to define a 
restart model as one in which an LEA converts a school or closes and 
reopens a school under a charter school operator, a charter management 
organization (CMO), or an EMO that has been selected through a rigorous 
review process.
Defining Rigorous Review
    Comment: Several commenters supported the requirement in the SIG 
NPR that LEAs select a charter school operator, a CMO, or an EMO 
through a ``rigorous review process.'' In general, these commenters 
viewed this requirement as essential to ensuring the quality of a 
restart model. Commenters also asked for clarification of how such a 
review would be conducted, including guidance for SEAs and LEAs and 
opportunities for parent and community involvement in reviewing and 
selecting a restart school operator. One commenter raised a concern 
about how it would be possible to review rigorously a new charter 
school operator, CMO, or EMO.
    Discussion: We believe that SEAs and LEAs should have flexibility 
to develop their own review processes for charter school operators, 
CMOs, and EMOs, based both on local circumstances and on their 
experiences in authorizing charter schools. We will provide guidance 
and technical assistance in this area, but will leave final decisions 
on review requirements to SEAs and LEAs. We believe flexibility in 
defining ``rigorous review'' is warranted because of the wide variation 
in local need and community context as well as in the size, structure, 
and experience of charter school operators, CMOs, and EMOs.
    Changes: None.
Clarifying Restart Operator Definitions
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department provide a 
definition of CMO and EMO, while other commenters suggested changes or 
requested clarification of the definitions of CMO and EMO provided in 
the SIG NPR. One commenter recommended defining a CMO as an 
organization that ``operates or manages a school or schools'' rather 
than, as in the SIG NPR, ``operates charter schools.'' This commenter 
also urged the Department to define ``whole school operations'' as 
applied to the definition of EMO. Another commenter recommended that 
the Department include charter schools operated or managed by an LEA in 
the definition of CMO. One commenter also urged the Department to 
establish reporting requirements for CMOs and EMOs, including data on 
student achievement, the impact of reforms on student achievement, 
information on how CMOs and EMOs serve students with disabilities, and 
other accountability data. Finally, two commenters also suggested that 
the Department award funding directly to CMOs and EMOs to pay for 
planning, outreach, and training staff for a restart effort.
    Discussion: We included definitions of CMO and EMO in the preamble 
of the SIG NPR and are adding these definitions in the definition of 
restart model for clarification purposes. We agree that the definition 
of CMO should include organizations that operate or manage charter 
schools and have made this change to the CMO definition in this notice 
accordingly. Although a charter school may exist as part of an LEA, it 
is unlikely that the LEA would be responsible for operating or managing 
the charter school. Therefore, we have not expressly included LEAs in 
the definition of CMO. We are retaining the EMO definition from the SIG 
NPR, and believe the emphasis on ``whole-school operation'' is 
sufficient to distinguish EMOs from other providers that may help with 
certain specific aspects of school operation and management, but that 
do not assume full responsibility for the entire school, as is required 
by the restart model.
    The Department does not believe it is necessary to add new or 
additional reporting requirements for EMOs and CMOs, as their 
performance will be captured by the reporting metrics established in 
the final SIG notice. More specifically, SEAs and LEAs already must 
report on the intervention model used for each persistently lowest-
achieving school, as well as outcome data for those schools, including

[[Page 59779]]

outcome data disaggregated by student subgroups. As for providing SIG 
funding directly to CMOs and EMOs, the SIG program is a State formula 
grant program, and the Department must allocate funds to States in 
accordance with the requirements of section 1003(g) of the ESEA. 
Moreover, the only eligible SIG subgrantees are LEAs.
    Changes: We have included the definitions of CMO and EMO in the 
definition of restart model. We have also modified the definition of 
CMO slightly to reflect the fact that a CMO may either operate or 
manage charter schools.
Flexibility Under the Restart Model
    Comment: Several commenters recommended greater flexibility for 
LEAs implementing the restart model, including options to create magnet 
schools or ``themed'' schools. Another commenter, claiming that few 
charter school operators, CMOs, or EMOs have experience in ``whole 
school takeover,'' recommended permitting a phase-in approach to 
charter schools that would allow a charter school operator to start 
with two or three early grades and gradually ``take over'' an entire 
school.
    Discussion: We believe that considerable flexibility regarding the 
type of school program offered is inherent in the restart model, which 
focuses on management and not on academic or curricular requirements. 
For example, restart operators would be free to create ``themed'' 
schools, so long as those schools permit enrollment, within the grades 
they serve, of any former student who wishes to attend. Additionally, 
LEAs have the flexibility to work with providers to develop the 
appropriate sequence and timetable for a restart partnership. Whether 
through ``phase-in'' models or complete conversions, the Department 
encourages SEAs and LEAs to take into account local context and need in 
making these decisions.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Many commenters asked for clarification regarding various 
aspects of the restart model, including whether it includes conversion 
of existing schools, who would have authority over the operator of 
restart schools (e.g., LEA, SEA, independent governing board, or a 
State or local authorizer), and whether a group of individuals (e.g., 
teachers) could manage a restart school.
    Discussion: We have changed the definition of restart model to 
clarify that it includes conversion of an existing school and not just 
strategies involving closing and reopening a school. In particular, we 
believe that conversion approaches may permit implementation of a 
restart model with minimal disruption for students, parents, and 
communities. In general, an LEA would be responsible for authorizing or 
contracting with charter school operators, CMOs, or EMOs for 
implementation of a restart model. The precise form of this contract or 
agreement would be up to State or local authorities and could include 
each of the alternatives mentioned by the commenters. However, 
regardless of the lines of authority, autonomy and freedom to operate 
independently from the State or LEA are essential elements of the 
restart model. A group of individuals, including teachers, would be 
eligible to manage a restart school so long as they met the local 
requirements of the rigorous review process included in the restart 
model.
    Changes: We have revised the first sentence of the definition of 
restart model to read as follows: ``A restart model is one in which an 
LEA converts a school or closes and reopens a school under a charter 
school operator, a charter management organization (CMO), or an 
education management organization (EMO) that has been selected through 
a rigorous review process.''
    Comment: Several commenters recommended that the Department include 
specific elements of the turnaround and transformation models in the 
restart model, including improved curricula and instruction, student 
supports, extended learning time, community involvement, and partnering 
with community-based organizations. Similarly, one commenter noted that 
a restart model might permit a school to reopen as a charter school 
while changing little inside the school and urged the Department to 
require restart schools to use a model of reform that has been proven 
effective or that includes evidence-based strategies. Another commenter 
urged the Department to encourage use of the restart model to better 
serve high-risk students and help dropouts reconnect to school.
    Discussion: We note that restart models could include nearly all of 
the specific reform elements identified under the turnaround and 
transformation models, but decline to require the use of any particular 
element or strategy. The restart model is specifically intended to give 
operators flexibility and freedom to implement their own reform plans 
and strategies. The required rigorous review process permits an LEA to 
examine those plans and strategies--and helps prevent an operator from 
assuming control of a school without a meaningful plan for turning it 
around--but should not involve mandating or otherwise requiring 
specific reform activities. However, the review process may require 
operators to demonstrate that their strategies are informed by research 
and other evidence of past success.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended requiring the review process for 
CMOs and EMOs to include curriculum and staffing plans for meeting the 
needs of subgroups of students, including students with disabilities 
and limited English proficient students. Another commenter suggested 
that the review process include examining the extent to which a restart 
operator sought to ensure that restart schools would serve all former 
students by requiring States to collect data on the number of students 
from low-income families, students with disabilities, and limited 
English proficient students served by a restart school compared with 
the number of those students served by the school it replaced.
    Discussion: Restart operators, by definition, have almost complete 
freedom to develop and implement their own curricula and staffing 
plans, and the Department declines to place limits in this area in 
recognition of the core emphasis of the restart model on outcomes 
rather than inputs. The requirement to enroll any former student who 
wishes to attend the school will help to ensure that charter school 
operators, CMOs, and EMOs include serving all existing groups of 
students in their restart plans. Moreover, the effectiveness of these 
curricula and staff changes in meeting the needs of subgroups of 
students, including students with disabilities and limited English 
proficient students, will be measured by the metrics in the final SIG 
notice, which will include disaggregated achievement data by student 
subgroup. We encourage SEAs and LEAs to analyze these data to ensure 
that subgroups of students are properly included in restart schools and 
that their needs are addressed.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters expressed concern that charter schools 
are not subject to the same oversight, regulation, or accountability as 
are regular public schools. Other commenters emphasized the importance, 
particularly in the case of charter school conversions, of ensuring 
autonomy, flexibility, and freedom from district rules and collective 
bargaining agreements, so that charter schools can

[[Page 59780]]

implement their own cultures and practices.
    Discussion: The restart model is specifically intended to give 
providers freedom from the rules and regulations governing regular 
public schools, in recognition of the fact that, while such rules and 
regulations may be effective in requiring certain kinds of inputs, such 
as teacher qualification requirements or a uniform length of the school 
day or year, they have not been demonstrated to have a significant 
impact on educational outcomes. Moreover, many successful charter 
schools have achieved outstanding results by changing these inputs, 
such as by hiring non-traditional but skilled teachers and by extending 
the length of the school day. The Department believes that the outcome 
metrics established in the final SIG notice will ensure accountability 
for the performance of restart schools.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed concern that LEAs could use the 
restart model to close an existing charter school that, while 
successful in raising student achievement, remained in school 
improvement status under section 1116 of the ESEA.
    Discussion: An existing charter school that is raising student 
achievement would be unlikely, under the requirements for identifying a 
State's persistently lowest-achieving schools, to be identified for 
school intervention, because those requirements include not only low 
levels of achievement, but also making little or no progress on 
improving those low levels of achievement in recent years. Moreover, 
this notice, as did the SIG NPR, provides flexibility for a school, 
such as a recently converted charter school that meets the requirements 
of the restart model, to use SIG funds to continue or complete reforms 
it began within the prior two years. On the other hand, it is possible, 
and in some cases appropriate, for an LEA to close a charter school 
that is not serving its students well and implement a new intervention 
model in the school.
    Changes: None.
School Closure
    Comment: A number of commenters expressed their general views 
regarding whether closing schools is an appropriate intervention for 
raising student achievement. Although no commenter advocated extensive 
use of this intervention, several acknowledged that school closure is 
sometimes necessary, particularly for schools with a long history of 
very low achievement, and noted that some States and LEAs have used 
this strategy successfully. Other commenters, however, expressed a 
number of logistical concerns with this intervention. Some noted that 
closing schools is often not feasible in rural areas in which the 
distance between schools is too great to make practical enrolling 
students from a closed school in higher-achieving schools. Others noted 
that many LEAs do not have multiple schools at the same grade level in 
which to enroll students from a closed school. Still others noted 
capacity issues that would prevent schools from accommodating 
additional students or the lack of high-achieving schools in which to 
enroll students from a closed school. One commenter noted that this 
intervention would not be feasible on a large scale in large, urban 
LEAs with limited resources and substantial numbers of low-achieving 
students. Another commenter recommended that this intervention be 
limited to those LEAs with the capacity to enroll affected students in 
other, higher-achieving schools.
    Discussion: School closure is just one of four school intervention 
models from which an LEA may choose to turn around or close its 
persistently lowest-achieving schools, and the Department recognizes 
that it may not be appropriate or workable in all circumstances. To 
clarify this, we have revised the definition of school closure in this 
notice to clarify that this option is viable when there are re-
enrollment options in higher-achieving schools in the LEA that are 
within reasonable proximity to the closed school that can accommodate 
the students from the closed school. To make this option more viable, 
we have changed ``high-achieving schools'' to ``higher-achieving 
schools.''
    Changes: We have included the following clarifying language in the 
definition of school closure: ``School closure occurs when an LEA 
closes a school and enrolls the students who attended that school in 
other schools in the LEA that are higher achieving. These other schools 
should be within reasonable proximity to the closed school and may 
include, but are not limited to, charter schools or new schools for 
which achievement data are not yet available.''
    Comment: A number of commenters expressed the opinion that a school 
should never be closed if that option displaces students and disrupts 
communities. The commenters noted the importance of having a 
neighborhood school that serves as the cornerstone of a community. One 
commenter noted that, when students are moved to a school in a new 
neighborhood, parents often find it more difficult to feel a sense of 
belonging at the school or ownership of their child's education. 
Another commenter noted that school closings often anger parents, 
exacerbate overcrowding, increase safety and security concerns in 
neighboring schools, and place students who need specific supports in 
schools that may not be able to provide those supports. One commenter 
expressed concern that closing a school may not address the educational 
needs of specific students, which may be masked within a higher-
achieving school. Another commenter suggested the need for an 
``educational impact statement'' before a school is closed, and one 
suggested that an LEA have a detailed plan demonstrating how support 
would be provided to students and their families transitioning to 
different schools. Several commenters suggested that the final 
requirements provide for parent and community input before a school is 
closed.
    Discussion: The Department recognizes and understands that school 
closures, by definition, displace students and disrupt communities and 
are among the most difficult decisions faced by local authorities. 
However, each of the four school intervention models is predicated on 
the potentially positive impact of ``disruptive change'' on student 
educational opportunities, achievement, and other related outcomes. 
Schools targeted for closure under this notice will likely have served 
their communities poorly for many years, if not decades, as measured by 
such factors as student achievement, graduation rates, and college 
enrollment rates. Moreover, such schools also will likely have proven 
impervious to positive change despite years of identification for 
improvement, corrective action, or restructuring under the ESEA as well 
as other previous reform efforts. The Department believes that, when 
such schools prove unwilling or unable to change, closure must be 
considered. Many communities have experience in closing, consolidating, 
or otherwise changing the structure of their existing schools and have 
their own processes and procedures for obtaining public input and 
approval for such changes, including assessment of the impact on 
students, families, neighborhoods, other schools, and transportation 
requirements, as well as for developing plans to facilitate smooth 
transitions for everyone involved. Although the Department encourages 
LEAs and SEAs to involve students, parents, educators, the community, 
and other stakeholders

[[Page 59781]]

in the process, we decline to add any additional requirements in this 
area of appropriate local discretion.
    To address the disruptiveness school closure may cause to a 
community, we have modified the definition of school closure, as noted 
in response to the prior comment, to clarify that closure should entail 
re-enrolling students from the closed school in other schools in the 
LEA that are within reasonable proximity to the closed school. Finally, 
we note that school closure is just one of the four school intervention 
models available under the terms of this notice. LEAs and communities 
that wish to preserve a neighborhood school may do so by implementing a 
turnaround, restart, or transformation model.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters recommended that a school not be closed 
unless an LEA opens a new school in its place. One commenter 
specifically suggested closing a school in phases and reopening it as a 
new school. Under this concept, an LEA would permit both students and 
staff who choose to do so to remain in the school but the school would 
enroll no new students. At the same time, according to the commenter, 
other schools would be better prepared to absorb students who wish to 
transfer, logistical and facility issues would be minimized, and the 
new school would have adequate time to recruit and train high-quality 
staff and develop its instructional program.
    Discussion: The Department has revised the language in the 
definition of school closure to recognize the need to have available 
options for accommodating the educational needs of the students in a 
closed school, but does not believe it is necessary to require an LEA 
to open a new school in place of the closed school. Many LEAs 
participating in the SIG program have under-utilized or under-enrolled 
schools that may readily accommodate students from a closed school; 
requiring such LEAs to open new schools simply does not make sense. 
However, an LEA that chooses to reopen a new school would be free to do 
so, either on its own or as part of a turnaround or restart model.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the Department provide 
incentives for the development of successful charter schools in the 
areas in which schools are closed. Specifically, the commenter 
recommended that the Department require that an LEA that partners with 
a CMO in order to serve the area in which the LEA is closing schools 
receive a priority for SIG funds.
    Discussion: SIG funds are intended to provide support to LEAs for 
school improvement efforts targeted primarily at the persistently 
lowest-achieving schools in a State, and not at providing incentives 
for the creation of new schools, charter or otherwise, that serve the 
same general attendance area. However, the restart model (as defined in 
this notice) may be used by LEAs in situations where the goal is to 
replace a persistently lowest-achieving school with a charter school.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that, in highlighting which 
schools may be available to enroll students from a closed school, the 
Department specifically mention magnet schools along with charter 
schools.
    Discussion: Decisions about the schools to which students from 
closed schools may transfer are best left to the LEAs selecting the 
school closure option. The language in the definition of school 
closure, as in the SIG NPR, specifically mentions charter schools only 
because not all available charter schools might be operated by the LEA 
that is closing a neighborhood public school and, thus, might not be 
initially included in an LEA's plan for transferring students from the 
closed school. This is not a concern for magnet schools and, thus, the 
Department declines to make the requested change.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department require 
that, before an LEA may enroll students from a closed school in another 
school, the LEA require a prospective receiving school, including a 
charter school, to demonstrate a record of effectiveness in educating 
its existing students and the capacity to integrate and educate new 
students from closed schools. The commenter emphasized the importance 
of this latter point, noting that merely because a school is high-
achieving does not mean that it is equipped to help additional students 
from the lowest-achieving schools succeed while maintaining the quality 
of its current educational program.
    Discussion: The Department believes that the requirement to enroll 
students from a closed school in a higher-achieving school responds to 
the concerns of this commenter. The Department believes that such 
higher-achieving schools are likely in nearly all circumstances, to 
provide a better education for any new students than was available in 
the closed school.
    Changes: We have added language to the definition of school closure 
clarifying that school closure entails re-enrolling students from the 
closed school in other schools in the LEA that are higher achieving. We 
have also added clarifying language that such schools may be new 
schools for which achievement data are not available.
    Comment: Several commenters questioned how SIG funds may be used in 
closing a school. One commenter noted the importance of gaining 
community input and that the costs for closing a school may include 
costs associated with conducting parent and community meetings. Another 
commenter recommended that allowable costs include academic supports 
for struggling students who are enrolled in new schools.
    Discussion: LEAs may use SIG funds to pay reasonable and necessary 
costs related to closing a persistently lowest-achieving school, 
including the costs associated with parent and community outreach. 
However, SIG funds may not be used to serve students, struggling or 
otherwise, in the schools to which they transfer, unless those schools 
are Title I schools. The Department will include additional examples of 
permissible uses of SIG funds in closing a school in guidance 
accompanying the application package for SIG funds.
    Changes: None.
Transformation Model
General Comments
    Comment: Many commenters expressed strong support for the 
transformation model. One commenter, for example, described it as ``a 
balanced, comprehensive approach,'' and another described it as ``a 
supportive and constructive approach.'' Still another commenter stated 
that it ``provides the greatest hope for promoting genuine school 
improvement.'' Several commenters noted that the transformation model 
would be, in reality, the only choice among the four proposed 
interventions, especially for many rural school districts.
    A few commenters responded that the transformation model would 
still not enable some communities, particularly those with difficult 
demographics, to make adequate yearly progress. Other commenters 
worried that, if not monitored carefully, the transformation model 
would become like the ``other'' restructuring option under section 
1116(b)(8)(B)(v) of the ESEA, perceived as the easiest (but least 
meaningful) way to intervene in a struggling school. One of these 
commenters recommended adding strong language to make clear that the 
transformation model is not an incremental approach and that, except in 
the area of changing staff, the model is as rigorous as the turnaround 
model.

[[Page 59782]]

    Discussion: We appreciate the commenters' support. We believe the 
transformation model holds tremendous promise for reforming 
persistently lowest-achieving schools by developing and increasing 
teacher and school leader effectiveness, implementing comprehensive 
instructional reform strategies, increasing learning time and creating 
community-oriented schools, and providing operating flexibility and 
sustained support. Assuming the activities that support these 
components are implemented with fidelity, the transformation model 
represents a rigorous and wholesale approach to reforming a struggling 
school, unlike the manner in which the ``other'' restructuring option 
in section 1116 of the ESEA has often been implemented.
    Changes: To strengthen the transformation model, we have made a 
number of changes that we discuss in the following paragraphs in our 
responses to specific comments.
    Comment: One commenter recommended affording greater flexibility to 
LEAs in implementing the transformation model by allowing them to 
choose which activities are ``required'' and which are ``permissible'' 
within the four components. The commenter noted that LEAs with 
persistently lowest-achieving schools may not have the teacher or 
leader capacity or system to support, monitor, and sustain reforms 
across all of their schools. The commenter advocated for creating 
systems at the district level that enable LEAs to provide support at 
each school.
    Discussion: We decline to make the requested changes. We have 
carefully reviewed the required activities within the four components 
of the transformation model and have concluded that each is necessary 
to ensure the rigor and effectiveness of the model; therefore, we 
continue to require each one. An LEA, of course, may implement any or 
all of the permissible activities as well as other activities not 
described in this notice.
    In anticipation of receiving unprecedented amounts of SIG funds, 
SEAs and LEAs should begin now to plan for how they can use those funds 
most effectively by putting in place the systems and conditions 
necessary to support reform in their persistently lowest-achieving 
schools. Despite the best preparation, however, we know that not every 
LEA with persistently lowest-achieving schools has the capacity to 
implement one of the four interventions in this notice in each such 
school. As indicated in the SIG NPR, therefore, an LEA that lacks the 
capacity to implement an intervention in each persistently lowest-
achieving school may apply to the SEA to implement an intervention in 
just some of those schools.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended adding ``graduation rates,'' 
rated equally with test scores, to assess student achievement in 
evaluating staff, ensuring that a school's curriculum is implemented 
with fidelity, and providing operating flexibility. The commenter also 
recommended making increasing graduation rates a required activity.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenter that increasing high-school 
graduation rates is vital to improving student achievement, 
particularly in our Nation's ``dropout factories.'' We are, 
accordingly, adding increasing high school graduation rates in three 
provisions of the transformation model to make clear that it is also a 
goal of the interventions in this notice. We are also making a 
corresponding change in the turnaround model. In addition, we are 
defining ``persistently lowest-achieving schools'' to include high 
schools that have had a graduation rate below 60 percent over a number 
of years. Through these changes, we hope to identify high schools with 
low graduation rates that would implement one of the interventions in 
this notice.
    Changes: We have added increasing high school graduation rates in 
three provisions of the transformation model: Paragraphs 
(d)(1)(i)(B)(1); (d)(1)(i)(C); and (d)(4)(i)(A). We also made a 
corresponding change to the turnaround model in paragraph (a)(1)(i). In 
addition, we have included high schools that have had a graduation rate 
below 60 percent over a number of years in the definition of 
persistently lowest-achieving schools.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department require an 
LEA to set up an organizational entity within the LEA to be responsible 
and held accountable for rapid improvement in student achievement in 
schools implementing the transformation model in order to ``expedite 
the clearing of bureaucratic underbrush'' that can impede the model's 
effectiveness.
    Discussion: Although nothing in this notice would preclude an LEA 
from establishing an organizational entity responsible for ensuring 
rapid improvement in student achievement in schools implementing the 
transformation model, we decline to require the establishment of such 
an entity. Evidence of an LEA's commitment to support its schools in 
carrying out the required elements of the transformation model is a 
factor that an SEA must consider in evaluating the LEA's application 
for SIG funds.
    Changes: None.
Developing and Increasing Teacher and School Leader Effectiveness
    Comment: A number of commenters supported the emphasis in the 
transformation model on strong principals and teachers, noting that 
they are critical to transforming a low-achieving school. Commenters 
cited specific provisions that they supported, such as ongoing, high-
quality job-embedded professional development; strategies to recruit, 
place, and retain effective staff; increasing rigor through, for 
example, early-college high schools; extending learning time; 
emphasizing community-oriented schools; increased operating 
flexibility; and sustained support from the LEA and SEA.
    Discussion: The Secretary appreciates the commenters' support.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested adding the word ``ensuring'' in 
the heading of the component of the transformation model that requires 
developing teacher and school leader effectiveness. Another suggested 
changing the heading to ``providing teachers and school leaders with 
the resources and tools needed to be effective.''
    Discussion: We decline to make these changes. First, we do not 
believe that a school can ensure teacher and school leader 
effectiveness. We do believe, however, that a school can take steps to 
improve teacher and leader effectiveness. Second, we note that eligible 
schools in LEAs that receive SIG funds--all of which are among the 
lowest-achieving schools in a State--will have very large amounts of 
resources to implement the transformation model or one of the other 
school intervention models. Accordingly, we do not believe lack of 
resources will be a barrier for reforming the persistently lowest-
achieving schools in a State. Moreover, there is a significant 
requirement that an LEA provide ongoing, high-quality, job-embedded 
professional development for all staff in a school implementing the 
transformation model. Principals, teachers, and school leaders, 
therefore, should have sufficient support to do their jobs.
    Changes: We have revised the heading in paragraph (d)(1) to read: 
``Developing and improving teacher and school leader effectiveness.''
    Comment: Many commenters, many of whom were principals or 
represented principals, opposed the requirement to

[[Page 59783]]

replace the principal. A number of commenters commented that such a 
decision should be made locally, based on local data and circumstances 
in individual schools, rather than being mandated by the Federal 
Government. One commenter, although acknowledging the importance of 
effective school leadership, asserted that a school's underperformance 
should not necessarily be blamed on the principal. The commenter cited 
other salient factors, such as whether the principal has the authority 
needed to turn a school around or whether the principal is laying a 
foundation for improvements not yet reflected in test scores. One 
commenter suggested that a principal not be removed until the 
principal's performance has been reviewed. Others suggested that, 
rather than replacing the principal immediately, the requirements 
permit an LEA to offer comprehensive support and leadership training 
for school leaders and other staff to assist them in making the 
significant changes needed to transform a school. Several commenters 
suggested removing the principal unless the person commits to and is 
held accountable for a turnaround plan that requires, for example, 
working with a partner management organization or other entity skilled 
in turning around struggling schools. Another commenter suggested 
permitting flexibility with respect to removing the principal in cases 
warranted by, for example, the size and geography of a school or LEA, 
the cause of the academic failure, the specific solutions being sought, 
or other barriers to removal.
    Discussion: We refer readers to the earlier section of these 
comments and responses titled ``Principal and Staff Replacement'' in 
which we respond to similar public comments about the principal 
replacement requirement under the turnaround model.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended a three-pronged approach to 
defining principal effectiveness: evidence of improved student 
achievement; changes in the number and percentage of teachers rated as 
effective and highly effective; and assessment of a principal's highest 
priority actions and practices.
    Discussion: Generally, the Department agrees that multiple 
measures, including the use of student achievement data, should be used 
to evaluate principal effectiveness. Accordingly, we have revised 
proposed section I.A.2.d.i.A.1 in the SIG NPR (new paragraph 
(d)(1)(i)(B)(1) to allow an LEA to use, in addition to data on student 
growth, observation-based assessments and ongoing collections of 
professional practice that reflect student achievement and increased 
high-school graduation rates to evaluate principal effectiveness.
    Changes: We have modified paragraph (d)(1)(i)(B)(1) regarding 
evaluation systems for teachers and principals to require that those 
systems take into account student growth data as a significant factor 
as well as other factors ``such as multiple observation-based 
assessments of performance and ongoing collections of professional 
practice reflective of student achievement and increased high-school 
graduation rates.''
    Comment: Several commenters cited the shortage of principals, 
particularly in rural areas, as a reason to eliminate the requirement 
to remove the principal in a school using the transformation model. One 
commenter suggested hiring a ``turnaround leader'' or contracting with 
an external lead partner instead of replacing the principal.
    Discussion: We refer readers to the earlier section of these 
comments and responses titled ``Principal and Staff Replacement'' where 
we respond to public comments about the principal replacement 
requirement under the turnaround model.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A number of commenters suggested that a principal who has 
been recently hired to turn around a school should not be removed.
    Discussion: The commenters might have overlooked the fact that 
proposed section I.B.1 in the SIG NPR allowed schools that have 
``implemented, in whole or in part within the last two years, an 
intervention that meets the requirements of the turnaround, restart, or 
transformation models'' to ``continue or complete the intervention 
being implemented.'' Thus, a recently hired principal who was hired to 
implement a school intervention model that meets some or all of the 
elements of one of the interventions in this notice would not have to 
be replaced for purposes of a transformation model. We have retained 
this flexibility in this notice.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Many commenters reacted to the requirement in the SIG NPR 
to use evaluations that are based in significant measure on student 
growth to improve teachers' and school leaders' performance. A few 
commenters supported the requirement; most opposed it for a number of 
reasons. Many commenters objected specifically to assessing teacher 
effectiveness using testing instruments not designed for that purpose. 
One commenter noted that standardized assessments are designed to 
measure students' ready retrieval of knowledge and do not accurately 
attribute student learning to particular lessons, pedagogical 
strategies, or individual teachers. In addition, the commenter noted 
that such assessments do not measure qualities like student motivation, 
intellectual readiness, persistence, creativity, or the ability to 
apply knowledge and work productively with others. One commenter 
asserted that State assessments are generally of low quality and 
measure a narrow range of student learning. The commenter also noted 
that assessments do not acknowledge the contributions (or lack thereof) 
of others, such as prior teachers, towards student achievement. Two 
commenters argued that State assessments do not provide information 
about the conditions in which learning occurs and over which a teacher 
has no control, such as class size, student demographics, or 
instructional resources. One commenter asserted that State assessments 
fail to capture academic growth with respect to students with 
disabilities. A number of commenters proposed other academic and 
nonacademic measures for evaluating teachers and school leaders, such 
as standards-based evaluations of practice that include such criteria 
as observations of lesson preparation, content, and delivery; 
innovation in teaching practices; analyses of student work and other 
measures of student learning, such as writing samples, grades, goals in 
individualized education programs for students with disabilities, and 
``capstone'' projects such as end-of-course research papers; assessment 
of commitment and ability to use feedback and data to learn and improve 
practices; one-on-one teaching; staff leadership and mentoring skills; 
conflict resolution skills; crisis management experience; extra-
curricular roles and contributions to a school; and relationships with 
parents and the community.
    Discussion: We respect and agree with the commenters' concerns that 
student achievement data alone should not be used as the sole means to 
evaluate teachers and principals. We must develop and support better 
measures that take into account student achievement and more accurately 
measure teacher and principal performance. Accordingly, we have revised 
the transformation model's evaluation systems provision to require that 
these systems take into account student growth data as a significant 
factor, but also include other factors ``such as multiple observation-
based assessments of performance and

[[Page 59784]]

ongoing collections of professional practice reflective of student 
achievement and increased high-school graduation rates.'' We have also 
clarified that those systems must be rigorous, transparent, and 
equitable and that they must be designed and developed with teacher and 
principal involvement.
    Nonetheless, it is important to note that the Secretary believes 
that student achievement data must be included as a significant factor 
in evaluations of teacher and principal effectiveness. We are confident 
that the legitimate concerns of the commenters regarding use of student 
data can be addressed.
    Changes: We have modified paragraph (d)(1)(i)(B) regarding 
evaluation systems for teachers and principals in several respects. 
First, we modified paragraph (d)(1)(i)(B) to require that evaluation 
systems be rigorous, transparent, and equitable. Second, we modified 
paragraph (d)(1)(i)(B)(1) to require that those systems take into 
account student growth data as a significant factor but also include 
other factors ``such as multiple observation-based assessments of 
performance and ongoing collections of professional practice reflective 
of student achievement and increased high school graduation rates.'' 
Third, we added paragraph (d)(1)(i)(B)(2) to require that evaluation 
systems be designed and developed with teacher and principal 
involvement.
    Comment: A number of commenters raised issues related to collective 
bargaining and the transformation model. Several commenters objected to 
the perceived requirement to establish a performance pay plan based on 
student outcomes, noting that collective bargaining agreements and, in 
some cases, State laws often prohibit such a plan. Two others noted 
that, because union contracts limit a principal's control over 
staffing, principals should not be held accountable for school 
performance results. At least one commenter expressed concern that 
these collective bargaining barriers could preclude implementation of 
the transformation model.
    Discussion: In general, we refer readers to the earlier section of 
these comments and responses titled ``Principal and Staff Replacement'' 
where we respond to similar public comments regarding collective 
bargaining as it relates to the turnaround model. In addition, we note 
that the transformation model does not require that an LEA establish a 
performance pay plan for teachers or principals. Rather, an LEA must 
identify and reward school leaders, teachers, and other staff who, in 
implementing the transformation model, have increased student 
achievement and graduation rates. One way of meeting this requirement 
would be through performance pay. An LEA has the flexibility to devise 
other means that meet this requirement.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter, responding to the proposed requirement to 
remove staff who fail to contribute to raising student achievement, 
recommended that this provision be deleted. The commenter noted that 
this provision would make it very difficult to attract the most highly 
qualified teachers and principals to the persistently lowest-achieving 
schools. The commenter suggested that extensive professional 
development, rather than removal, be required for staff in schools in 
which achievement does not improve.
    Discussion: In general, we refer readers to the section of these 
comments and responses titled ``Principal and Staff Replacement'' where 
we respond to similar comments regarding removal of the staff 
replacement requirement under the turnaround model.
    Changes: We have modified paragraph (d)(1)(i)(C) regarding removing 
staff who, in implementing a transformation model, have not contributed 
to increased student achievement and high school graduation rates to 
make clear that removal should only occur after an individual has had 
multiple opportunities to improve his or her professional practice and 
has still not contributed to increased student achievement and 
increased high school graduation rates.
    Comment: Several commenters objected to the Secretary's proposal to 
require an LEA to make ``high-stakes'' tenure and compensation 
decisions through which the LEA would ``identify and reward school 
leaders, teachers, and other staff who improve student achievement 
outcomes and identify and remove those who do not.'' The commenters 
thought this standard was too imprecise. They noted that teacher 
compensation, tenure, and dismissal are, for the most part, governed by 
State laws and/or collective bargaining agreements that cannot be 
simply overturned by a Federal grant program. One of the commenters 
suggested that this provision be modified by adding, at the end, the 
phrase ``in full accordance with local and State laws, including 
collective bargaining agreements.''
    Discussion: In general, we refer readers to the section of these 
comments and responses titled ``Principal and Staff Replacement'' where 
we respond to similar comments regarding collective bargaining issues 
as they relate to the turnaround model. In addition, we note that no 
LEA is required to apply for a School Improvement Grant. Those that do 
will receive significant resources to support their efforts to reform 
their most struggling schools, but they also must have the ability to 
implement the required components of whichever intervention they 
choose. Accordingly, we decline to make the recommended changes.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A number of commenters provided additional examples of 
what professional development of staff under the transformation model 
should entail, such as: addressing the needs of students with 
disabilities and limited English proficient students; creating 
professional learning communities within a school; providing mentoring; 
involving parents in their child's education, especially parents of 
limited English proficient students and immigrant children; 
understanding and using data and assessments to improve and personalize 
classroom practice; and implementing adolescent literacy and 
mathematics initiatives.
    Discussion: We appreciate the many excellent suggestions for 
additional areas on which professional development should focus. With 
one exception, we decline to add examples. We could never list all 
relevant topics for strong professional development, which must be 
tailored to the needs of staff in particular schools, and we would not 
want to suggest that topics not listed were, thus, less worthy of 
addressing.
    Changes: We have added a permissible activity in paragraph 
(d)(2)(ii)(C) under ``comprehensive instructional reform strategies'' 
to highlight the need for additional supports and professional 
development for teachers and principals in implementing effective 
strategies to educate students with disabilities in the least 
restrictive environment and to ensure that limited English proficient 
students acquire language skills necessary to master academic content.
    Comment: One commenter noted that the requirement to provide staff 
with ongoing, high-quality, job-embedded professional development was 
silent with respect to the impact of professional development on 
instruction. The commenter pointed to an apparent inconsistency with 
the emphasis in the permissible activity that suggested that LEAs be 
required to institute a system for measuring changes in instructional 
practices resulting from professional development. Because the 
commenter values professional development designed to improve

[[Page 59785]]

instruction, the commenter recommended that the Secretary require a 
school to have a system for measuring changes in instructional 
practices resulting from professional development in order to evaluate 
its efficacy.
    Discussion: We believe that the requirement to provide ongoing, 
high-quality, job-embedded professional development to staff in a 
school is clearly tied to improving instruction in multiple ways. 
First, the requirement that professional development be ``job-
embedded'' connotes a direct connection between a teacher's work in the 
classroom and the professional development the teacher receives. 
Second, the examples of topics for professional development, such as 
subject-specific pedagogy and differentiated instruction, are directly 
related to improving the instruction a teacher provides. Third, 
professional development must be aligned with the school's 
comprehensive instructional program. Finally, the articulated purpose 
of professional development in paragraph (d)(1)(i)(D) of the 
transformation model is to ensure that a teacher is ``equipped to 
facilitate effective teaching and learning'' and has the ``capacity to 
successfully implement school reform strategies.'' Although we believe 
that instituting a system for measuring changes in instructional 
practices resulting from professional development can be valuable, we 
decline to require it as part of this program. We believe that the 
specificity in the nature of the professional development required for 
a transformation model is sufficient to ensure that it, in fact, 
results in improved instruction.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department add a 
requirement that professional development be designed to ensure that 
staff of a school using the transformation model can work effectively 
with families and community partners. The commenter reasoned that, 
given the emphasis on working with families and community partners to 
improve the academic achievement of students in a school, staff must 
know how to work with them.
    Discussion: We decline to make the suggested change. We agree with 
the commenter that family and community involvement in a school is 
critical to the school's ultimate success and have included, as both 
required and permissible activities, a variety of provisions to address 
this important need. We would expect professional development to 
include appropriate training to ensure, as the commenter suggests, that 
staff are well equipped to facilitate family and community involvement. 
We do not believe, however, that we should try to expressly highlight 
each and every appropriate topic of high-quality professional 
development in this notice.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that financial incentives are not 
necessarily the most motivating factor in retaining high-quality staff. 
Rather, the commenter stated that the culture of a school--i.e., 
quality relationships with other teachers, the school climate, the 
leadership of the principal, and the potential for professional 
growth--is often a greater motivator.
    Discussion: We agree that financial incentives are not the only 
motivating factor in attracting staff to a school or retaining them in 
the school. We hope that changes in the culture of a school that result 
from implementing the interventions established in this notice play a 
large role in attracting, placing, and retaining high-quality staff. As 
a result, in both the transformation and turnaround models, we have 
provided examples of several strategies to recruit, place, and retain 
high-quality staff.
    Changes: We have added examples of strategies designed to recruit, 
place, and retain staff, including ``financial incentives, increased 
opportunities for promotion and career growth, and more flexible work 
conditions'' in paragraphs (d)(1)(i)(E), with respect to the 
transformation model, and (a)(1)(iii), with respect to the turnaround 
model. We have also made clear that those strategies must be designed 
to recruit, place, and retain staff who have the skills necessary to 
meet the needs of the students in the schools implementing a 
transformation or turnaround model, respectively.
    Comment: Several commenters supported the concept of ``mutual 
consent''--that is, ensuring that a school is not required to accept a 
teacher without the mutual consent of the teacher and the principal, 
regardless of the teacher's seniority. One commenter recommended making 
``mutual consent'' a required component of both the turnaround model 
and the transformation model. Other commenters, however, opposed any 
mention of ``mutual consent,'' even as a permissible activity. One 
asserted that the concept conflicts with the provision in section 
1116(d) of the ESEA that precludes interventions in Title I schools 
from affecting the rights, remedies, and procedures afforded school 
employees under Federal, State, or local laws or under the terms of 
collective bargaining agreements, memoranda of understanding, or other 
agreements between employees and their employers.
    Discussion: Like several commenters, the Secretary supports and 
encourages the use of mutual consent. The Secretary considers mutual 
consent to be a positive example of LEAs partnering with unions to 
bring change to the Nation's persistently lowest-achieving schools. 
That said, we decline to require mutual consent as a part of the 
transformation model because mutual consent policies and other similar 
agreements are best resolved at the State and local levels in the 
context of existing collective bargaining agreements.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Secretary add a 
requirement that, in the event budget cuts occur, a principal be 
allowed to lay off teachers on the basis of performance rather than 
seniority. The commenter noted that this provision could be an 
important lever for obtaining positive changes to collective bargaining 
agreements that would help low-achieving schools attract and retain 
effective staff.
    Discussion: We decline to make the suggested change. Although we 
support the need to modify collective bargaining agreements if they 
impede efforts to attract and retain qualified staff in the 
persistently lowest-achieving schools, we do not believe we can or 
should prescribe the specific terms of those agreements.
    Changes: None.
Comprehensive Instructional Reform Strategies
    Comment: Several commenters suggested that the Department revise 
the comprehensive instructional reform component of the transformation 
model by modifying or expanding the provision requiring the use of 
individualized student data to inform and differentiate instruction. 
One commenter suggested clarifying that individualized student data are 
to be used to meet students' academic needs while another commenter 
suggested clarifying that the data should be used to address the needs 
of ``individual'' students. Other commenters suggested expanding this 
provision to include non-academic data such as chronic absenteeism, 
truancy, health (vision, hearing, dental, and access to primary care), 
safety, family engagement and well-being, and housing. The commenter 
suggested that these data be used, in partnership with parents and 
other community partners, to address other student needs.

[[Page 59786]]

    Discussion: The purpose of this section of the transformation model 
is to improve instruction, and we agree that adding the word 
``academic'' is a helpful clarification. Although we also agree that 
non-academic data can play an important role in identifying other 
student needs that can affect learning, local school administrators, 
working with parents and community partners, are in the best position 
to determine how to address those needs. Therefore, we decline to add a 
requirement that a school examine non-academic data.
    Changes: We have added the word ``academic'' in paragraph 
(d)(2)(i)(B) to clarify that the continuous use of student data to 
inform and differentiate instruction must be promoted to meet the 
academic needs of individual students. We made a corresponding change 
in paragraph (a)(1)(vii) regarding the turnaround model.
    Comment: One commenter noted that requiring instructional programs 
to be ``evidence-based'' instead of ``research-based'' would enable the 
use of programs for which there is accumulated evidence that does not 
meet the current ESEA definition of ``scientifically based research.''
    Discussion: We agree with the commenter that an LEA should only 
implement instructional programs for which there is a sufficient body 
of evidence supporting improved student achievement. We do not believe 
a change is necessary, however, because we do not use the term 
``scientifically based research'' and, therefore, do not invoke the 
stringent requirements in section 9101(37) of the ESEA.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department add a 
provision that would require a school to identify ``off-track and out-
of-school youth, through analysis and segmentation of student data,'' 
and develop and implement education options to put them back on track 
to graduate. The commenter stated that, once students are off track to 
graduating on time, their likelihood of graduating is often as low as 
20 percent. Moreover, in the 2,000 high schools in the Nation with 
four-year graduation rates of 60 percent or less, up to 80 percent of 
ninth graders are significantly behind in skills or credits. Several 
other commenters suggested including stronger support for re-enrolling 
youth who have left high school as a critical part of increasing 
graduation rates.
    Discussion: We agree that programs and strategies designed to re-
engage youth who have dropped out of high school without receiving a 
diploma are necessary in increasing graduation rates. Accordingly, we 
are modifying the notice to address this need. We also hope that an 
LEA's extension or restructuring of the school day to add time for 
strategies such as advisory periods to build relationships between 
students, faculty, and other staff will help to identify students who 
are struggling and to secure for them the necessary supports 
sufficiently early to prevent their dropping out of school. Finally, as 
noted earlier, we have added references to increased high school 
graduation rates in four provisions to make clear that implementation 
of the models in high schools must focus on increasing graduation rates 
as well as improved student achievement.
    Changes: We have modified paragraph (d)(2)(ii)(E)(3) to add re-
engagement strategies as an example of a way to increase high school 
graduation rates. We have also added paragraph (d)(2)(ii)(E)(4) 
suggesting that permissible comprehensive instructional reform 
strategies may include establishing early-warning systems to identify 
students who may be at risk of failing to achieve to high standards or 
graduate.
    Comment: A number of commenters suggested that the Department 
include additional required or permissible activities for carrying out 
comprehensive instructional reform strategies. Specifically, two 
commenters recommended that the Department require schools to conduct 
periodic reviews so as to ensure that the curriculum is being 
implemented with fidelity (rather than merely permitting this activity) 
and improve school library programs. Other commenters suggested 
expanding the permissible activities in secondary schools to include 
learning opportunities that reflect the context of the community in 
which the school is located, such as service learning, place-based 
education, and civic and environmental education. The commenters also 
recommended clarifying that improving students' transition from middle 
to high schools should include family outreach and parent education. 
Another commenter suggested that the Department expand the list of 
permissible activities in elementary schools to include providing 
opportunities for students to attend foreign language immersion 
programs.
    Discussion: The Secretary agrees that there are any number of 
important activities that would be appropriate to address in a 
transformation model. As described in this notice, the transformation 
model, by necessity, focuses on several broad strategies. However, 
nothing precludes local school leaders from expanding the model as 
necessary to address other factors needed to respond to the specific 
needs of students in the school.
    Changes: We have included in this notice a definition of increased 
learning time that would permit many, if not all, of the commenters' 
suggestions. For example, that definition makes clear that a school may 
increase time to teach core academic subjects, including, for example, 
civics and foreign languages, and to provide enrichment activities such 
as service learning and experiential and work-based learning 
opportunities.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department add the 
implementation of technology-based solutions to the list of permissible 
activities, while another commenter recommended that the Department add 
online instructional services offered by a for-profit or non-profit 
entity as an example of a comprehensive, research-based instructional 
program.
    Discussion: The Secretary agrees that technology can be an 
important tool for supporting instruction, and we are adding as a 
permissible activity the suggestion to use and integrate technology-
based supports and interventions as part of a school's instructional 
program. Although online instructional programs might be part of a 
school's system of technology-based supports, we decline to mention it 
specifically. Online instructional programs, if research-based, are one 
of many ways to meet the needs of students in struggling schools, 
particularly to provide courses or programs that schools in rural or 
remote areas cannot otherwise provide. We cannot mention in this 
notice, however, each and every type of instructional program.
    Changes: We have added as a permissible activity in paragraph 
(d)(2)(ii)(D) using and integrating technology-based supports and 
interventions as part of a school's instructional program.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department add to the 
transformation model the strategy to reorganize the school with a new 
purpose and structure it as a magnet school, a thematic school, or a 
school-community partnership.
    Discussion: We decline to include this change in the transformation 
model, a model that uses the existing staff in a school and who would 
likely not have the expertise to implement an instructional program 
with a whole new purpose.
    Changes: None. However, we have clarified in paragraph (a)(2)(ii) 
that a turnaround model may include a new


[[Continued on page 59787]]


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[[pp. 59787-59834]] Race to the Top Fund

[[Continued from page 59786]]

[[Page 59787]]

school model (e.g., themed, dual language academy).
Increasing Learning Time and Creating Community-Oriented Schools
    Comment: Several commenters expressed support overall and for 
various activities of the ``Increasing learning time and creating 
community-oriented schools'' component of the transformation model, 
including the references to school climate, internships, and community 
service.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenters' support. We are including 
some of these activities in the definition of increased learning time 
that also applies to the Stabilization Phase II and Race to the Top 
programs, rather than listing them as specific elements of the 
``increasing learning time and creating community-oriented schools'' 
component. They have no less importance, however.
    Changes: We have included in the notice a definition of increased 
learning time that includes opportunities for enrichment activities for 
students, such as service learning and community service.
    Comment: Several commenters suggested that the Department highlight 
the importance of certain activities by revising the heading of this 
component. For example, one commenter suggesting revising the heading 
to emphasize family involvement while another commenter suggested 
revising it to specifically reference students' social and emotional 
needs. A third commenter suggested expanding the title to include 
``using research-based methods to deliver comprehensive services to 
students.''
    Discussion: We decline to make these changes. Although we embrace 
the need to address not just the academic needs of students but also 
how their social and emotional needs affect their learning and to 
emphasize the importance of family involvement, we believe it is 
preferable to keep the heading for this component more general. The 
headings for each of the components in the transformation model are 
deliberately broad so as to cover a number of important activities, and 
the fact that a specific activity is not in a heading is not a 
reflection of that activity's importance. We believe the list of 
permissible activities illustrates various ways in which a school can 
address students' social and emotional needs and involve families in 
their child's education.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters suggested that the Department highlight 
the importance of certain activities by making them required. For 
example, some commenters recommended expanding the required activities 
to include a comprehensive guidance curriculum delivered by a school 
counselor who is certified by the State department of education; 
partnering with parents, faith-based and community-based organizations, 
and others to provide comprehensive student services; more time for 
social and emotional learning; and improving school climate. Another 
commenter recommended requiring that the transformation model include 
the components of the Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration 
program.
    Other commenters suggested adding references to high school study-
abroad programs as an example of a student enrichment activity and 
activities designed to reduce out-of-school suspensions and expulsions 
as a strategy for addressing school climate.
    Discussion: As we noted earlier, we agree that there are any number 
of important activities that would be appropriate to address in a 
transformation model. As described in this notice, the transformation 
model, by necessity, focuses on several broad strategies. However, 
there is nothing to prevent local school leaders from expanding the 
model as necessary to address other factors needed to respond to the 
specific needs of students in the school.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the Department define 
``community-oriented schools'' as schools that partner with community-
based organizations to provide necessary services to students and 
families using research-based methods, which might include: a school-
based, on-site coordinator; comprehensive school- and student-level 
needs assessments; community-assets assessments and identification of 
potential partners; annual plans for school-level prevention and 
individual intervention strategies; delivery of an appropriate mix of 
prevention and intervention services; data collection and evaluation 
over time, with on-going modifications of services; and/or other 
research-based components. Another commenter suggested removing the 
word ``oriented'' and using the term ``community-schools,'' which the 
commenter indicated is more commonly known.
    Discussion: Although we appreciate the commenters' interest in 
ensuring greater clarity on the concept of ``community-oriented 
schools,'' we decline to make the suggested changes. The components of 
``community-oriented schools'' will vary school by school depending on 
student and community needs and resources. There is nothing in the 
notice that would prevent local school leaders from undertaking any of 
the strategies in the definition the commenters proposed if necessary 
to respond to the specific needs of students in the school.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Some commenters suggested that the Department add 
``community-based organization'' and ``workforce systems, specifically 
nonprofit and community-based organizations providing employment, 
training, and education services to youth'' to the list of entities 
with which an LEA or school may choose to partner in providing 
enrichment activities during extended learning time.
    Discussion: In the SIG NPR, we listed universities, businesses, and 
museums as examples of entities with which a school could partner in 
providing enrichment activities during extended learning time. In this 
final notice, we are instead including a definition of increased 
learning time that applies to the Stabilization Phase II, Race to the 
Top, and SIG programs. That definition no longer includes examples of 
appropriate partnership entities, because there may be any number of 
organizations or entities in a particular community that might be 
appropriate partners.
    Changes: In the definition of increased learning time, we have 
included the following: ``(b) instruction in other subjects and 
enrichment activities that contribute to a well-rounded education, 
including, for example, physical education, service learning, and 
experiential and work-based learning opportunities that are provided by 
partnering, as appropriate, with other organizations.''
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the reference to ``parents,'' 
in the list of entities with which schools might partner to create safe 
school environments that meet students' social, emotional, and health 
needs, should include ``parent organizations.''
    Discussion: We agree with this suggestion and are adding a 
reference to parent organizations.
    Changes: We have revised the permissible activity in paragraph 
(d)(3)(ii)(A) regarding creating safe school environments to include a 
reference to partnering with parents and ``parent organizations,'' 
along with faith- and community-based organizations, health clinics, 
other State and local agencies, and others.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department

[[Page 59788]]

define ``family engagement'' and requiring the use of certain family-
engagement mechanisms, including family-engagement coordinators at 
school sites, home visitation programs, family literacy programs, and 
parent leadership programs. Another commenter recommended defining 
``community engagement'' as systemic efforts to involve parents, 
community residents, members of school communities, community partners, 
and other stakeholders in exploring student and school needs and, 
working together, developing a plan to address those needs.
    Discussion: We agree that there are any number of important 
activities that could support increased family and community 
engagement. The reference to family and community engagement in this 
notice is deliberately broad so as to provide maximum flexibility in 
determining how best to address local needs. However, there is nothing 
to prevent local school leaders from incorporating any of the 
strategies mentioned or other strategies that will lead to effective 
family and community engagement.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department include 
language to make clear that extending learning time can be accomplished 
by adding a preschool program prior to school entry.
    Discussion: The Secretary agrees that preschool education is very 
important in ensuring that children enter kindergarten with the skills 
necessary to succeed in school. He also agrees that preschool education 
is an effective way to increase learning time.
    Changes: We have added, as a permissible activity in paragraph 
(d)(3)(ii)(D), expanding the school program to offer full-day 
kindergarten or pre-kindergarten.
    Comment: Several commenters suggested that the Department clarify 
that increased learning time includes summer school, after-school 
programs, and other instruction during non-school hours. Several other 
commenters suggested increasing instructional time during the school 
day and the need to make existing time more effective, including 
through the use of technology. Another commenter suggested clarifying 
that extended learning time should be beyond the current State-mandated 
instructional time.
    Discussion: We have added in this notice a definition of increased 
learning time that applies to the Stabilization Phase II, Race to the 
Top, and SIG programs. Under that definition, increased learning time 
means using a longer school day, week, or year schedule to 
significantly increase the total number of school hours to include 
additional time for instruction in core academic subjects; time for 
instruction in other subjects and enrichment activities that contribute 
to a well-rounded education; and time for teachers to collaborate, 
plan, and engage in professional development within and across grades 
and subjects.
    Changes: We have revised the notice to define increased learning 
time. The full definition is as follows:
    Increased learning time means using a longer school day, week, or 
year schedule to significantly increase the total number of school 
hours to include additional time for (a) instruction in core academic 
subjects including English; reading or language arts; mathematics; 
science; foreign languages; civics and government; economics; arts; 
history; and geography; (b) instruction in other subjects and 
enrichment activities that contribute to a well-rounded education, 
including, for example, physical education, service learning, and 
experiential and work-based learning opportunities that are provided by 
partnering, as appropriate, with other organizations; and (c) teachers 
to collaborate, plan, and engage in professional development within and 
across grades and subjects.\8\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \8\ Research supports the effectiveness of well-designed 
programs that expand learning time by a minimum of 300 hours per 
school year. (See Frazier, Julie A.; Morrison, Frederick J. ``The 
Influence of Extended-year Schooling on Growth of Achievement and 
Perceived Competence in Early Elementary School.'' Child 
Development. Vol. 69 (2), April 1998, pp. 495-497 and research done 
by Mass2020.) Extending learning into before- and after-school hours 
can be difficult to implement effectively, but is permissible under 
this definition with encouragement to closely integrate and 
coordinate academic work between in-school and out-of school. (See 
James-Burdumy, Susanne; Dynarski, Mark; Deke, John. ``When 
Elementary Schools Stay Open Late: Results from The National 
Evaluation of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program.'' 
http://www.mathematica-mpr.com/publications/redirect_
PubsDB.asp?strSite=http://epa.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/29/4/
296. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Vol. 29 (4), 
December 2007, Document No. PP07-121.)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Providing Operating Flexibility and Sustained Support
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the Department add a 
requirement that a school implementing the transformation model be 
required to present a plan for how the various elements of the model 
are aligned and coordinated to improve student achievement and other 
indicators of student growth (such as health and civic competencies).
    Discussion: We decline to make the suggested change. We are 
confident that a school implementing the transformation model would 
have a plan without the need for the Department to require it.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the list of potential 
technical assistance providers in proposed section I.A.d.iv.A.2 of the 
SIG NPR be expanded to include ``professional organizations that have a 
track record of turning around low-performing schools.''
    Discussion: This provision is intended to ensure that schools 
implementing the transformation model receive coordinated ongoing 
technical assistance and reflects the belief that an SEA, LEA, or 
external lead partner organization would be in the best position to 
integrate services at the school level. This notice does not preclude 
the involvement of entities other than those mentioned so long as they 
fulfill the role of a lead partner in integrating services and supports 
for the school.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter cautioned about the use of ``weighted per-
pupil school-based budgeting,'' noting that early research indicates 
this practice undermines cross-school cooperation by promoting 
competition among schools for students and the resources or liabilities 
they may represent.
    Discussion: We note that implementing a per-pupil school-based 
budget formula that is weighted based on student needs is listed as a 
permissible, not required, activity to give schools operational 
flexibility. We believe allocating funds based on student 
characteristics and then giving schools broad flexibility to use those 
funds to meet their respective needs is one way to provide incentives 
for schools to use their cumulative resources in innovative ways to 
meet the needs of their student population. If an LEA determines such 
budgeting is not appropriate in the context of its schools, it need not 
implement this activity.
    Changes: None.

F. General Selection Criteria

    Comment: None.
    Discussion: As part of an overall effort to reorganize and clarify 
the State Reform Conditions Criteria and State Reform Plan Criteria in 
this notice, the Department is creating a new section (F), which 
includes both new criteria and criteria that were included in the NPP 
under other sections. These changes are described in greater detail 
below.

[[Page 59789]]

    Changes: Criterion (F)(1)(i) incorporated proposed criterion (E)(2) 
on making education funding a priority. New criterion (F)(1)(ii) 
examines the extent to which a State's policies lead to equitable 
funding (a) between high-need LEAs (as defined in this notice) and 
other LEAs, and (b) within LEAs, between high-poverty schools (as 
defined in this notice) and other schools. Criterion (F)(2)(i) through 
(iv) incorporate the criteria regarding charter schools from proposed 
criterion (D)(2). Criterion (F)(2)(v) is a new criterion that will 
examine the extent to which a State enables LEAs to operate innovative, 
autonomous public schools other than charter schools. Criterion (F)(3) 
incorporates a revised version of proposed criterion (E)(1)(iii).
    Selection Criterion (F)(1): Making education funding a priority 
(Proposed Selection Criterion (E)(2)) Funding and Facilities:
    Comment: Many commenters objected to criterion (F)(1)(i) (proposed 
(E)(2)), which will measure the extent to which the percentage of total 
State revenues used to support education in FY 2009 was greater than or 
equal to the percentage in FY 2008. A number of commenters stated that 
this one-year snapshot of education financing would examine too narrow 
a period of time, thereby favoring wealthy States. Some commenters, 
therefore, recommended looking at a minimum of five years of financial 
data. Similarly, some commenters argued that criterion (F)(1)(i) should 
be consistent with the ``maintenance of effort'' (MOE) requirement in 
section 14005(d)(1)(A) of the ARRA, which requires States to assure in 
their State Fiscal Stabilization Fund applications that they will spend 
at least as much on K-12 public education in fiscal years 2009, 2010, 
and 2011 as they did in fiscal year 2006. One commenter recommended 
that the minimum proposed evidence for criterion (F)(1)(i) include the 
extent to which State-level K-12 education capital financing as a 
percentage of total State capital financing has increased, decreased, 
or remained the same in the last five fiscal years. One commenter 
sought clarification that criterion (F)(1)(i) is not intended to 
prejudice States that used State Fiscal Stabilization Funds to fill 
budget shortfalls. Other commenters stated that this criterion did not 
go far enough, because if total State revenues fell, a State could earn 
points even if it was cutting funding for education.
    Discussion: The Department believes that States that have protected 
education funding from disproportionate cuts over the past two years 
deserve recognition of this fact in their Race to the Top applications. 
We also believe that recent evidence of a State's commitment to 
adequately fund education is more important for evaluating its Race to 
the Top application than data from four or five years ago.
    Section 14005(d)(1)(A) of the ARRA sets forth a condition for 
receiving a formula award from the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund; 
this requirement does not apply to section 14006 of the ARRA, which 
authorizes the Race to the Top program. Instead, criterion (F)(1)(i) is 
consistent with the waiver for the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund MOE 
requirement, which the Secretary has already granted to a number of 
States. The two-year comparison used in criterion (F)(1)(i) reflects 
the Department's understanding of the difficult choices that many 
States have been forced to make in the recent economic recession, while 
at the same time recognizing that States that have made education 
funding a priority in such difficult budgetary times are better 
positioned to successfully implement their Race to the Top plans.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Some commenters suggested that the Department allow States 
to explain their education expenditures in the context of their overall 
economic situation. One commenter requested clarification as to what 
financial data the Department will look at when examining State support 
for education funding.
    Discussion: We believe that States' responses to criterion 
(F)(1)(i) will be judged most accurately and reliably if, per the 
language in this notice, States describe changes in education spending 
in relation to changes in revenues available to the State. This creates 
more comparability between States than would be achieved by allowing 
States to explain their economic situations.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Many commenters asserted that it was important to consider 
whether States were meeting obligations to fund education adequately 
and equitably. Two commenters emphasized the importance of funding 
equity for schools implementing a school intervention model, 
recommending that State plans include information on the extent to 
which their lowest-performing schools receive equitable funding for 
operations and facilities as compared to their highest-performing 
schools. Another commenter stated that funding adequacy and equity are 
especially critical for high-need LEAs serving concentrations of poor 
and minority students. Finally, one commenter added that States should 
provide additional resources, such as technical assistance and funding, 
to allow struggling schools to implement school intervention models.
    Discussion: We agree with the principle that all students should 
benefit from at least similar levels of education resources regardless 
of where they live or attend school. We are adding criterion 
(F)(1)(ii), which will examine the extent to which a State's policies 
lead to equitable funding (a) between high-need LEAs and other LEAs, 
and (b) within LEAs, between high-poverty schools and other schools. 
Closer attention by States to funding equity will help ensure that 
high-need LEAs and high-poverty schools, which are a particular focus 
of Race to the Top plans, are receiving sufficient State and local 
educational resources to serve their students. Also, developing and 
funding budgets that are sufficient in size and scope to successfully 
implement school intervention models in the persistently lowest-
achieving schools, including high-poverty and high-minority schools, 
will be a critical element of State Race to the top plans, in 
accordance with the statewide capacity building criteria in section 
(A)(2) of this notice. Successful State applicants and their 
participating LEAs (as defined in this notice) will be able to use 
State Fiscal Stabilization Fund Phase Two, Race to the Top, and School 
Improvement Grant funding to ensure that all targeted schools have 
sufficient resources to effectively implement selected school 
intervention models.
    Changes: We have added criterion (F)(1)(ii) to the final notice to 
consider the extent to which a State's policies lead to equitable 
funding between high-need LEAs and other LEAs and, within LEAs, between 
high-poverty schools and other schools.
    Comment: None.
    Discussion: As stated earlier, in order to reduce redundancy and 
the burden on States, we are combining proposed criteria (E)(1)(i) and 
(E)(1)(ii) into one criterion and designating it as criterion 
(A)(3)(i).
    Changes: Criterion (A)(3)(i) provides for an examination of the 
extent to which a State has made progress over the past several years 
in each of the four education reform areas, and used its ARRA and other 
Federal and State funding to pursue such reforms.
    Selection Criterion (F)(2): Ensuring successful conditions for 
high-performing charter schools and other innovative schools (Proposed 
Selection Criterion (D)(2)):
    Definitions: Comments regarding the definitions of high-performing 
charter

[[Page 59790]]

school and innovative, autonomous public schools are addressed, as 
appropriate, below.
Overall Charter School Comments
    Comment: Many commenters supported criterion (F)(2) (proposed 
criterion (D)(2)), which is intended to increase the supply of high-
performing charter schools, including provisions to remove limits on 
the numbers or enrollment of public charter schools in a State, efforts 
to strengthen the charter school authorizing process, and ensuring 
equitable funding both for the regular operations of public charter 
schools and for charter school facilities. Two commenters urged the 
Department to ensure that the definition of charter schools in (F)(2) 
include virtual charter schools. There was, however, some confusion 
about the potential impact of these criteria, with one commenter 
asserting that States that do not meet the criteria should be 
ineligible for Race to the Top grants and another urging the Department 
to clarify that removing ``caps'' on charter schools is not a pre-
requisite for Race to the Top participation. Other commenters expressed 
concern that not meeting criterion (F)(2) would penalize the students 
and schools in their States by making them ineligible for a Race to the 
Top grant. Many other commenters objected to the emphasis on charter 
schools because of extensive research suggesting that many charter 
schools perform no better than regular public schools in raising 
student achievement. Other commenters objected to charter schools 
because, they said, most charter schools ``merely serve to drain the 
most motivated parents and students from the existing district public 
schools'' and give the appearance of an effort to ``privatize'' public 
education. Several commenters argued that the emphasis on charter 
schools failed to respect State authority in this area, noting that 11 
States do not have charter school laws, citing one example where voters 
had rejected charter schools in multiple ballot initiatives, and 
suggesting that resource limitations in rural States can make the 
creation of charter schools difficult, if not impossible. One of these 
commenters also suggested that States without charter school laws 
receive credit for laws allowing similarly innovative ``charter-like'' 
schools, including virtual schools. Several commenters urged the 
Department, in examining State charter school laws under criterion 
(F)(2), to ``benchmark'' those laws against the model State charter 
school law developed by the National Alliance for Public Charter 
Schools. Two commenters asked the Department to include a definition of 
``high-quality charter schools'' in the final notice, with one stating 
that increasing the number of charter schools makes sense only if 
charter schools are held to a standard at least as high, if not higher, 
than that of traditional public schools.
    Similarly, one commenter also asserted that many regular public 
schools demonstrate the creativity, innovation, and continuous 
improvement claimed by the proponents of charter schools.
    Discussion: The Department appreciates the many comments in support 
of the goal of increasing the number of high-performing charter 
schools, both as a strategy to help turn around the persistently 
lowest-achieving schools and to increase the educational options for 
students attending such schools. It is important to clarify, however, 
that criterion (F)(2) was never intended to determine eligibility for 
Race to the Top grants; rather, this provision represented one 
criterion by which a State that had taken certain steps to increase the 
supply of high-performing charter schools could earn points in the Race 
to the Top competition. The Secretary recognizes that the available 
research on the effectiveness of charter schools in raising student 
achievement is mixed, that some State laws significantly limit the 
creation or expansion of charter schools, that charter schools compete 
with the regular public schools for resources and teaching talent, and 
that smaller communities, particularly in rural areas, may not have 
sufficient resources and talent to support the creation of charter 
schools. However, the Secretary also believes that high-performing 
charter schools can be an educational lifeline in communities with 
chronically low-achieving regular public schools. In such cases, 
charter schools, whether created through the conversion of a regular 
public school enrolling the same students or by establishing a new 
school that provides an alternative to the regular public schools, 
offer one of the most promising and proven options for breaking the 
cycle of educational failure. The provisions in criterion (F)(2), taken 
as whole, are intended to reward States that have taken steps not just 
to facilitate the opening of new charter schools (which may include 
virtual charter schools), but to set high standards for charter school 
operators, provide them with an equitable share of public funding for 
operations and facilities, and hold them accountable for their 
performance. To support this emphasis on high standards for charter 
schools and charter school operators, we are revising criterion 
(F)(2)(i) to refer to ``high-performing charter schools'' rather than 
charter schools. We also are adding a definition of high-performing 
charter school using language adapted from the Department's Public 
Charter School Program. At the same time, the Department believes that 
States should have flexibility in establishing charter school laws, and 
that, for the purposes of the Race to the Top competition, such laws 
should be judged on the extent to which they satisfy the criteria in 
this final notice, and not in relation to any particular model for such 
laws.
    Finally, we acknowledge that charter school operators do not have a 
monopoly on educational innovation (i.e., that charter schools are not 
a ``silver bullet'' for school interventions), and that many States, 
LEAs, and schools have developed alternative education reform models 
that are demonstrating success in raising student achievement and 
turning around low-achieving schools. Consequently, we are adding new 
criterion (F)(2)(v) regarding the extent to which States enable LEAs to 
operate innovative and autonomous public schools other than charter 
schools, and we are revising the title of this criterion to Ensuring 
Successful Conditions for High-Performing Charter Schools and Other 
Innovative Schools. We also are adding, as the evidence required for 
(F)(2)(v), a description of how the State has met this criterion. 
Finally, we are adding a definition of innovative, autonomous public 
schools to give greater clarity to new criterion (F)(2)(v).
    Changes: We have incorporated the criteria from proposed criterion 
(D)(2) into criterion (F)(2), which has been renamed ``Ensuring 
Successful Conditions for High-Performing Charter Schools and Other 
Innovative Schools.'' We also have revised (F)(2)(i) to refer to 
``increasing the number of high-performing charter schools'' rather 
than ``increasing the number of charter schools,'' as in proposed 
(D)(2)(i). We have added a definition of high-performing charter school 
and defined it to mean: ``a charter school that has been in operation 
for at least three consecutive years and has demonstrated overall 
success, including (a) substantial progress in improving student 
achievement (as defined in this notice); and (b) the management and 
leadership necessary to overcome initial start-up problems and 
establish a thriving, financially viable charter school.'' In addition, 
new criterion (F)(2)(v) rewards the extent to which ``[t]he State 
enables LEAs to operate innovative, autonomous public schools other 
than charter

[[Page 59791]]

schools,'' and we will require, as evidence for (F)(2)(v) described in 
Appendix A to this notice, a description of how the State enables LEAs 
to operate innovative, autonomous public schools other than charter 
schools. Finally, we have added a definition of innovative, autonomous 
public schools and defined it to mean: ``open enrollment public schools 
that, in return for increased accountability for student achievement 
(as defined in this notice), have the flexibility and authority to 
define their instructional models and associated curriculum; select and 
replace staff; implement new structures and formats for the school day 
or year; and control their budgets.''
Charter School Caps
    Comment: Many commenters objected to the language in criterion 
(F)(2)(i) because they believed it would require the elimination of 
``caps'' on the number of charter schools in a State. Some commenters 
claimed that decisions related to charter school caps, like other 
charter school matters, should be left to the States and should not be 
a condition for receipt of Race to the Top funds. Other commenters 
raised substantive objections to eliminating caps, arguing that 
limiting the number of charter schools in a State was essential to 
maintaining accountability for charter schools by ensuring that States 
had the capacity to oversee charter schools, provide sufficient 
resources and technical assistance to new charter schools, and protect 
the interests of students and parents. In this context, several 
commenters noted that recent research appeared to have highlighted an 
inverse relationship between the number of charter schools in a State 
and the quality of those charter schools. Other commenters sought 
clarification of specific issues related to charter school caps, such 
as whether a State could meet criterion (F)(2)(i) if it had ``plenty of 
room'' under its existing cap, if caps might be applied to new charter 
schools while permitting expansion by proven charter school operators, 
or whether a cap that currently is not inhibiting charter school growth 
might do so later at any point during the lifetime of a Race to the Top 
grant. One commenter also recommended that the final notice should 
focus on the measurable outcomes of charter schools rather than their 
numbers. Other commenters urged that any lifting of charter school caps 
should be accompanied by stronger accountability for charter schools, 
including compliance with conflict of interest and open meeting laws, 
accountability for student achievement, increased financial oversight, 
and the implementation of effective evaluation systems. Another 
commenter recommended conditioning increases in the number of charter 
schools on leadership by a certified principal, adoption of a ``whole 
child'' instructional program, and the non-discriminatory enrollment of 
high-need student populations. One commenter called for the final 
notice to require new charter schools to use either a ``model with a 
proven record of effectiveness or a new model with an evidence-based 
strategy.''
    Discussion: Our intention with respect to criterion (F)(2)(i) was 
not to eliminate reasonable conditions established by States for the 
approval of new charter schools, but to discourage arbitrary 
limitations that impede the educational innovation that can accompany 
the creation of new charter schools or that prevent the expansion of 
successful charter school models in a State. Moreover, while removing 
such limitations would increase the number of points that a State could 
earn under the criteria in (F), retaining those limitations would not 
make a State ineligible for a Race to the Top award. The Department 
agrees that States should have the discretion to set their own 
requirements for new charter schools, and that, contrary to the 
suggestions of some commenters, prescribing the use of certain 
educational methods or models would undermine the flexibility to 
innovate that is the hallmark of high-performing charter school 
operators. On the other hand, criterion (F)(2)(ii) is intended to 
reward States for strong authorizing practices, including those related 
to the approval and re-approval, monitoring and accountability 
(including reporting measurable outcomes), and closure of ineffective 
charter schools.
    Changes: None.
Charter School Authorizers
    Comment: Many commenters emphasized the importance of charter 
school authorizers in increasing the number of charter schools and the 
effective use of the charter school model to turn around the 
persistently lowest-achieving schools. Several commenters called for 
greater accountability for charter school authorizers, including the 
collection of data on the performance of charter schools in each State 
broken down by authorizer and an explanation of the financial and 
educational obligations of charter school authorizers. However, one 
commenter warned that the NPP's focus on how many charter schools an 
authorizer has closed as an indicator of accountability may be 
misplaced, as it could simply mean that the authorizer lacked a 
rigorous approval process on the front-end. This commenter called for 
States to create a system for assessing the quality of an authorizer's 
initial review of charter school applications, as part of an overall 
charter school authorizer review and oversight process. Another 
commenter recommended that the Secretary consider the extent to which 
States evaluate authorizers in accordance with national standards for 
quality authorizing. One commenter also warned against encouraging 
States to relax approval criteria in order to demonstrate a greater 
number of approvals as evidence that they do not ``inhibit increasing 
the number of charter schools in the State.'' Finally, one commenter 
claimed that charter schools are more effective and accountable when 
authorized by the LEA in which they operate, and urged the Secretary to 
clarify in the final notice that such locally authorized charter 
schools are preferable to charter schools authorized by organizations 
``outside the K-12 system.''
    Discussion: The Secretary agrees with the commenters that charter 
school authorizers play a key role in promoting quality and 
accountability throughout the charter school movement. He has cited 
recent, disappointing research from the Center for Research on 
Education Outcomes at Stanford University on charter school 
effectiveness in raising student achievement as ``a wake-up call'' for 
the charter school community, and has called on charter school 
authorizers to set a higher bar for approval and do a better job of 
holding charter schools accountable for performance.\9\ Criterion 
(F)(2)(ii), which examines the extent to which a State has laws, 
statutes, regulations or guidelines on how charter authorizers approve, 
monitor, hold accountable, reauthorize, and close charter schools, will 
help the Department determine which authorizers are responding to the 
Secretary's call. On the other hand, given the large number of charter 
school authorizers--roughly half of all charter schools are authorized 
by individual LEAs rather than statewide chartering organizations, as 
well as the need for flexibility on the part of authorizers to continue 
to support innovation and experimentation, the Department does not 
believe it would be appropriate to use the Race to the Top program to

[[Page 59792]]

mandate any particular new standards or oversight for charter 
authorizers. Similarly, the Department declines to endorse one type of 
authorizer over another. On the other hand, in recognition of the fact 
that the financial and management performance of charter schools are 
important factors in authorizing and renewal decisions by charter 
school authorizers, the Department has revised criterion (F)(2)(ii) to 
state that the use of student achievement is ``one significant factor, 
among others,'' in decision-making by charter school authorizers. And 
in recognition of the important role charter schools should serve in 
meeting the needs of all students, especially high-need students, we 
have added to the criterion that authorizers should find ways to 
``encourage charter schools that serve student populations that are 
similar to local district student populations, especially relative to 
high-need students.''
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \9\ ``Multiple Choice: Charter School Performance in 16 
States,'' Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO), 
Stanford University, 2009, http://credo.stanford.edu/.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We also are revising the minimum evidence States should submit in 
response to this criterion. Appendix A provides that such evidence 
should include, among other items, for each of the past five years: The 
number of charter school applications made in the State; the number of 
charter school applications approved; the number of charter school 
applications denied, and the reasons for the denials. This additional 
data will support an assessment of the rigor of a State's approval 
process. We are not, however, requiring in this final notice that this 
data be disaggregated by charter school authorizer, primarily because 
the very large number of LEA charter school authorizers in many States 
would make such disaggregation overly burdensome.
    Changes: We have revised (F)(2)(ii) to ``require that student 
achievement (as defined in this notice) be one significant factor, 
among others'' that charter school authorizers should take into account 
in approving, monitoring, holding accountable, reauthorizing, and 
closing charter schools. We have referenced ``student achievement,'' 
rather than the term ``student academic achievement'' used in the NPP, 
to be consistent with the definition of student achievement included in 
this final notice. We have also specified that authorizers should 
``encourage charter schools that serve student populations that are 
similar to local district student populations, especially relative to 
high-need students.'' Finally, we have revised Appendix A to add to the 
minimum evidence required for evaluating a State's performance against 
criterion (F)(2)(ii) the number of charter school applications made in 
the State in each of the past five years, the number of charter school 
applications approved, the number of charter school applications 
denied, and reasons for the denial (academic, financial, low 
enrollment, other).
Ensuring Charter School Quality
    Comment: Several commenters recommended modifications to criterion 
(F)(2). One commenter warned that without a strong focus on quality, 
the charter school option under a restart model (referenced in 
criterion (E)(2)(ii) and described in detail in Appendix C) could 
undermine school intervention efforts by potentially creating a 
``loophole'' under which a change in governance might mask the absence 
of substantive changes within a persistently lowest-performing school. 
To avoid such outcomes, these commenters recommended that the criteria 
in (F)(2) be revised to require the use of charter school models with a 
demonstrated record of effectiveness, add the specific components of 
successful charter schools, and reward States that had increased the 
number of high-quality charter schools, in particular those that serve 
at-risk students. Another commenter recommended an emphasis on charter 
schools as laboratories for the development of best practices in such 
areas as offering rigorous college- and career-preparation options. On 
the other hand, some commenters encouraged the Department to promote 
broader and more flexible approaches to charter school authorization, 
such as encouraging statewide authorizers in States that currently 
allow only local school boards to approve charter schools.
    Discussion: The Department agrees with the overall emphasis of 
commenters on efforts to improve the quality of charter schools; indeed 
this is a key goal of criterion (F)(2). However, we believe this goal 
is best accomplished through strengthening State and local authorizing 
practices and ensuring equitable funding for charter schools, rather 
than by requiring the use of particular charter school models or 
specifying the use of certain components in newly created charter 
schools. If charter schools are to continue to be ``laboratories for 
the development of best practices,'' as proposed by one commenter, they 
need flexibility to innovate, not cookie-cutter patterns to follow. The 
Department also declines to weigh in on the debate over State versus 
local chartering agencies, as such issues are best determined by the 
authorities involved. Finally, we believe that criterion (F)(2), 
together with the minimum proposed evidence for this criterion, will 
effectively reward States that have created the conditions for 
increasing the number of high-performing charter schools.
    Changes: None.
Charter School Autonomy
    Comment: Many supporters of charter schools stressed that they must 
have autonomy to innovate while continuing to be exempt from State 
rules and regulations governing the regular public schools. Some of 
these commenters recommended adding a new criterion to (F)(2) on the 
extent to which a State ensures that its charter schools have ``a high 
degree of autonomy'' over budgets, programs, staffing, curriculum, use 
of time, and general day-to-day operations. Other commenters wrote of 
an ``accountability gap'' between charter schools and regular public 
schools, arguing that charter schools are not held to the same 
standards as regular public schools. One commenter recommended, for 
example, that criterion (F)(2)(ii) on charter school authorizers ensure 
that charter schools are held to the same accountability requirements 
as traditional public schools. Another commenter cited widespread 
allegations of financial mismanagement related to charter schools. One 
commenter also proposed collection of data on whether charter schools 
offer a similar range of activities as non-charter public schools, such 
as physical education, recess, and science courses.
    Discussion: We agree that autonomy and flexibility to innovate are 
essential characteristics of successful charter schools. On the other 
hand, it is clear that this autonomy must be accompanied by strong 
accountability for performance, and this is what the Department is 
emphasizing under criterion (F)(2)(ii), which addresses the role of 
charter school authorizers in approving, monitoring, holding 
accountable, reauthorizing, and closing charter schools. One key aspect 
of this strong accountability for charter authorizers will be the 
extent to which student achievement plays a significant role in their 
decisions to approve, re-approve, or close charter schools. Striking 
the right balance between autonomy and accountability is difficult, but 
the Department believes that recent evidence that too many charter 
schools are not fulfilling their promises to raise student achievement 
demands a tilt toward stronger accountability; consequently the 
Secretary declines to add a new criterion promoting charter school 
autonomy. However, suggestions by commenters that the Department

[[Page 59793]]

examine the extent to which charter schools look and operate like 
regular public schools appear to miss a key purpose of the charter 
school movement, which is to explore whether, by operating differently 
from the regular public schools, charter schools can achieve better 
results, particularly for those high-need students who for too long 
have been poorly served by the regular school system.
    Changes: None.
Charter School Funding
    Comment: Many commenters supported criterion (F)(2)(iii) (proposed 
criterion (D)(2)(iii)), which examines the extent to which a State's 
charter schools receive (as set forth in Appendix B) equitable funding 
compared to traditional public schools, and a commensurate share of 
local, State, and Federal revenues. Other commenters recommended that 
the Department clarify the meaning of the term ``equitable funding'' 
for charter schools. Several commenters also recommended that the 
Department require States to report on the amount of funding provided 
for charter schools and charter school facilities in comparison to 
funding provided to traditional public schools. Other commenters 
opposed providing public funds, including facilities funding, to 
charter schools. Some commenters suggested linking funding for charter 
schools to student achievement, student characteristics, and the grade 
levels being served by those particular schools, as well as parental 
involvement.
    Discussion: The Department appreciates the comments in support of 
ensuring more equitable treatment of charter schools, including the 
provision of equitable funding compared to traditional public schools. 
However, State and local funding systems, particularly as they relate 
to charter schools, are both complex and not always comparable, making 
it difficult to provide a universally applicable definition of 
``equitable funding'' for charter schools or to develop and implement 
appropriate and reliable reporting metrics. We are making minor edits 
to criterion (F)(2)(iii) for the purpose of clarification, and we 
believe that the resulting language in the criterion, the guidance to 
reviewers provided in the Scoring Rubric in Appendix B, and the related 
minimum evidence requirements are sufficient to assess a State's 
progress in providing its charter schools with a commensurate share of 
local, State, and Federal revenues. We also do not agree with 
commenters who opposed public funding for charter schools. Charter 
schools are public schools, and should be entitled to an equitable 
share of local, State, and Federal education dollars like other public 
schools. States have developed funding systems that link funding for 
charter schools to student characteristics, such as poverty or 
disability status, but the Department is not aware of any public 
education system that links funding to student achievement or parental 
involvement, so evaluating States based on such linkages would have no 
impact on differentiating States for the purposes of this competition.
    Changes: Criterion (F)(2)(iii) now reads, ``The State's charter 
schools receive (as set forth in Appendix B) equitable funding compared 
to traditional public schools, and a commensurate share of local, 
State, and Federal revenues.''
Charter School Facilities Funding
    Comment: Many commenters expressed support for charter school 
facilities funding, which is the focus of criterion (F)(2)(iv) 
(proposed criterion (D)(2)(iv)). Several commenters recommended that 
the Department add language to this criterion to clarify that credit 
enhancement funds should be included when accounting for charter school 
facilities funding. Another commenter recommended the addition of 
language to criterion (F)(2)(iv) to require States to distribute 
facilities funding in an equitable manner. Other commenters recommended 
that charter schools be required to show sustainability before 
receiving facilities funding. One commenter suggested that the public 
should retain ownership interest in facilities that it finances.
    Discussion: The Department understands that access to public 
facilities or funding for facilities is one of the major challenges 
confronting charter school operators, and is committed to helping 
charter schools secure facilities funding. However, we believe that 
criterion (F)(2)(iv) is sufficient to permit the Department to assess a 
State's commitment to and progress in supporting fair access to 
facilities and funding for facilities by public charter schools, 
including access to credit enhancement funds. As for the suggestion to 
add language on equitability to criterion (F)(2)(iv), it is not clear 
how this term would be meaningfully defined given that charter schools 
typically obtain access to facilities in markedly different ways than 
the regular public schools, which benefit from a half-century of public 
school construction, while charter schools may share public space, rent 
private space, or buy their own buildings. Determining what is 
``equitable'' in these circumstances may be all but impossible. The 
Department does not agree with the recommendation that charter schools 
demonstrate sustainability before receiving facilities funding, since 
such a policy would represent a ``catch 22'' situation for many charter 
schools, which would have to demonstrate sustainability before 
receiving facilities funding, but often do not achieve sustainability 
until they have their own facilities. Finally, the issue of 
establishing a public ownership interest in publicly financed charter 
schools is a matter for State and local agencies that finance public 
charter schools.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed concern that criterion (F)(2)(iv) 
referred to access to public facilities as an example of facilities 
supports States could provide to charter schools, claiming that opening 
up space in existing public schools to charter schools has led to 
overcrowding and larger class sizes.
    Discussion: There is nothing in criterion (F)(2)(iv) that would 
require any State to adopt charter school facility access policies that 
lead to overcrowding and larger class sizes. The intent of this 
criterion is simply to ensure that States describe in their Race to the 
Top applications whether charter schools have equitable access to 
funding for facilities and to available public facilities. Local 
authorities would have discretion to make decisions about the 
feasibility of non-charter schools and charter schools sharing the same 
building, but this option is not required to meet criterion (F)(2)(iv).
    Changes: None.
Charter School Metrics
    Comment: A number of commenters proposed the collection of 
additional data and evidence related to the evaluation of a State's 
charter school policies and practices. Several commenters recommended 
that data collected on the number of schools closed by a State's 
charter school authorizers include a list of those that were closed due 
to academic reasons, financial issues, low enrollment, or 
mismanagement. Other commenters recommended that the final notice 
require States to provide the last five years of State charter school 
funding data so that the Department can examine the actual impact of 
State plans and statutory requirements for funding charter schools. 
Several commenters proposed that States provide information on the 
number of charter school applications over the past five

[[Page 59794]]

years, the number of charter schools approved and the number of 
students attending those schools, and reasons for the denial of other 
applications. One commenter also suggested that the States provide data 
comparing charter school performance with that of traditional public 
schools with similar demographic and other characteristics. Another 
commenter recommended requiring States to post on their web sites 
aggregate data comparing the ESEA improvement status of charter schools 
and regular public schools and to ensure that charter schools are 
audited in the same manner and with the same frequency as regular 
public schools.
    Discussion: The NPP proposed the collection of the following 
minimum evidence related to criterion (F)(2) (proposed criterion 
(D)(2)): (1) A description of the State's charter school laws and a 
link or citation to the relevant statutory or regulatory sections; (2) 
the number and types of charter schools currently operating in the 
State; (3) a description of the State's approach to charter school 
accountability and authorization, and a copy of the State's applicable 
statutes, regulations, or other relevant documents; (4) the charter 
schools authorizers' historic performance on accountability, as 
evidenced by the number of charter schools closed or not renewed 
annually over the last five years, the reasons for each of these 
closures; (5) a copy of the State's applicable statutes, regulations, 
or other relevant legal documents with respect to equitable funding and 
facilities funding; (6) a description of the State's approach to 
charter school funding, the amount of funding passed through to charter 
schools per student and how these amounts compare with traditional per-
student funding allocations; and (7) a description of the statewide 
facilities supports provided to charter schools, if any. The Department 
understands the desire of commenters for more and different types of 
data on charter schools, but is concerned about striking the right 
balance between collecting the data essential for evaluating Race to 
the Top applications and avoiding additional or duplicative burdens on 
States, charter school authorizers, charter schools, and LEAs. For 
example, charter school demographic and performance data, including AYP 
and identification for ESEA school improvement, generally are available 
from States and LEAs, but are not directly relevant to assessing a 
State's record in increasing the number of high-performing charter 
schools. Collecting actual funding data would be burdensome and, once 
collected, potentially difficult to analyze, particularly since about 
half of charter schools are authorized at the LEA and not the State 
level. The Department does believe, however, that additional, more 
detailed information on the charter school application process would be 
useful in measuring a State's performance under criterion (F)(2) 
without imposing significant additional burden on States and charter 
authorizers. For this reason, the final notice retains the required 
evidence set forth in the NPP and adds to the required evidence the 
number of charter applications received in each of the past five years, 
the number of applications approved and denied, and the reasons for 
denial.
    Changes: We have revised Appendix A to add to the minimum evidence 
required for evaluating a State's performance against criterion 
(F)(2)(ii) the number of charter school applications made in the State 
in each of the past five years, the number of charter school 
applications approved, the number of charter school applications 
denied, and reasons for the denial (academic, financial, low 
enrollment, other).
Flexibility To Adopt Other Innovative Models
    Comment: Many commenters recommended that the final Race to the Top 
priorities and requirements include flexibility for States to meet the 
State Reform Conditions in proposed criterion (D)(2) (new criterion 
(F)(2)) by describing other innovative school and governance reforms 
outside the charter school model that they have implemented in recent 
years. Several commenters provided examples of such non-charter models 
of innovation and reform, including magnet schools, schools within 
schools, and academies, and one commenter suggested simply substituting 
``model innovative schools'' for ``charter schools'' in the criterion. 
One commenter recommended that the final notice permit States and LEAs 
to propose their own innovative school intervention models and 
strategies, supported by ``theoretical and research-based 
justification'' and an evaluation plan. Finally, one commenter urged a 
greater emphasis on LEAs, rather than individual schools, as the ``unit 
of change'' in turnaround efforts.
    Discussion: The Department agrees that States applying for a Race 
to the Top grant should receive credit for enabling LEAs to operate 
innovative, autonomous public schools other than charter schools. 
Accordingly, we have added new criterion (F)(2)(v) and a related 
definition of innovative, autonomous public schools. This change also 
recognizes the important role of LEAs as incubators of new approaches 
to turning around low-achieving schools. In addition, two other 
criteria in section (F) provide an opportunity for States to explain 
how they have (a) created conditions favorable to education reform or 
innovation not described under other State Reform Conditions Criteria 
that have improved student outcomes, or (b) have plans or are 
implementing plans for significant reforms not described under other 
State Reform Plan Criteria that are expected to contribute to improving 
important student outcomes.
    Changes: New criterion (F)(2)(v) gives a State credit for the 
extent to which it ``enables LEAs to operate innovative, autonomous 
public schools other than charter schools.'' Criterion (F)(3) (proposed 
criterion (E)(1)(iii), Demonstrating Other Significant Reform 
Conditions, will measure the extent to which a State, in addition to 
information provided under other State Reform Conditions Criteria, has 
created through law, regulation, or policy, other conditions favorable 
to education reform or innovation that have increased student 
achievement or graduation rates, narrowed achievement gaps, or resulted 
in other important outcomes.
Charter School Demographics
    Comment: Several commenters claimed that charter schools do not 
serve as many high-need students as traditional public schools. In 
particular, some commenters stated that charter schools enroll few 
students with disabilities or English language learners and recommended 
that charter schools be required to accept and serve all students. 
Another commenter proposed language specifically requiring charter 
school laws to ensure equitable access for poor and minority students, 
students with disabilities, and English language learners. One 
commenter asserted that charter schools in one State ``are selectively 
resegregating schools based on language, special education, and poverty 
status and thus undercutting the equity and access guaranteed by civil 
rights and school adequacy legislation.'' In response to similar 
concerns, another commenter proposed that the final notice require 
charter school applications to include specific plans for educating 
students with disabilities, while another recommended a requirement for 
charter schools to ``take affirmative constitutional steps to become 
racially and economically integrated.'' Two commenters called for a new 
criterion within (F)(2) that would

[[Page 59795]]

measure the extent to which a State collects data on the student 
populations served by its charter schools, including students with 
disabilities, English language learners, and students from low-income 
families, as well as the extent to which the student populations 
overall in charter schools are comparable to those in non-charter 
schools.
    Discussion: We agree that charter schools should be encouraged to 
serve student populations that are similar to local district student 
populations, especially relative to high-need students, and we are 
revising criterion (F)(2)(ii) to reflect this. We also note that, at 
least at the national level, the available data suggest that charter 
schools do serve as many high-need students as regular public schools. 
For example, the latest data from the Department's Schools and Staffing 
Survey show that in the 2007-2008 school year, 35.6 percent of charter 
school students received Title I services, compared to 29.1 percent of 
students in traditional public schools; the percentage of students with 
Individualized Education Programs in charter schools and traditional 
public schools was about the same at roughly 12 percent; and the 
percentage of English language learners served by charter schools 
exceeded the percentage of such students served by traditional public 
schools, 16.5 percent to 11.2 percent. Regarding the suggestion for 
further data collections, we note that the latter data, at least for 
established charter schools, are readily available through the Common 
Core of Data collected and maintained by the Department's National 
Center for Education Statistics.
    Changes: Criterion (F)(2)(ii) now specifies that authorizers should 
find ways to ``encourage charter schools that serve student populations 
that are similar to local district student populations, especially 
relative to high-need students.''
Re-Engaging High School Dropouts
    Comment: Three commenters recommended that the final notice include 
in (F)(2) a criterion focused on the extent to which a State encourages 
the development of charter schools that re-enroll high school dropouts, 
including the extent to which the State supports the provision of 
credit to such students based on performance rather than instructional 
time, efforts to promote on-time graduation, and early access to 
college coursework.
    Discussion: The Department agrees that the Race to the Top criteria 
should encourage the development and implementation of strategies to 
re-engage students at risk of dropping out of high school and to re-
enroll students who already have left school. However, we believe that 
such strategies would have the greatest impact as part of the Race to 
the Top competition if they are incorporated into school intervention 
models rather than limited to new charter schools. For example, as 
described in the responses to comments under section (E), Turning 
Around the Lowest-Achieving Schools, the transformation model adopted 
from the School Improvement Grants program includes several activities 
aimed at re-engaging high school dropouts, such as credit-recovery 
programs, re-engagement strategies, and performance-based assessments. 
In addition, the transformation model may include opportunities to 
enroll in advanced coursework, early-college high schools, and dual-
enrollment programs.
    Changes: None.
Non-LEA Charter Schools
    Comment: One commenter expressed concern that non-LEA charter 
schools could be excluded from Race to the Top activities if their LEAs 
choose not to participate in the program. This commenter recommended 
that a State's Race to the Top application should include the 
participation and endorsement of its public charter schools regardless 
of their status as LEAs, and that non-LEA charter schools should be 
eligible for participation in Race to the Top activities and funding 
even if their LEA declines to participate.
    Discussion: The Department understands the commenter's concern that 
the structural limitations of non-LEA charter schools may affect their 
ability to participate in the Race to the Top program if their LEAs 
elect not to participate in the program. To help provide a voice for 
these charter schools, criterion (A)(2)(ii)(b) adds State charter 
school membership associations to the list of stakeholders from which 
States are encouraged to obtain statements or actions of support in 
order to demonstrate statewide support for their Race to the Top plans. 
Also, States have discretion to use their share of Race to the Top 
grant funds (i.e., the 50 percent of a State's award that is not 
allocated to participating LEAs according to relative shares of ESEA 
Title I, Part A formula allocations) to support Race to the Top 
activities in non-LEA charter schools, as well as any other public 
schools in participating and non-participating LEAs.
    Changes: We have added State charter school membership 
organizations to the list of stakeholders in criterion (A)(2)(ii)(b) 
from which States can obtain statements or actions of support in order 
to demonstrate statewide support for their Race to the Top plans.
Charter Schools and Teacher Shortages
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the final notice include 
provisions designed to help traditional public schools in areas with 
persistent teacher shortages to replace staff lost to area charter 
schools.
    Discussion: The Department acknowledges that charter schools 
compete with existing regular public schools for students, teachers, 
staff, and other resources in the communities in which they operate. We 
also recognize that such resources may be in short supply in smaller 
communities and towns, particularly in isolated rural areas. However, 
dynamic charter schools can also attract new teachers and principals to 
the community or even the profession, and so we should not assume that 
any charter school gain is a loss for traditional public schools.
    Changes: None.
Collective Bargaining
    Comment: One commenter recommended the addition of language in 
criterion (F)(2) on the extent to which a State can show that it has 
not imposed barriers to the unionization of charter school employees.
    Discussion: Criterion (F)(2) was intended to help assess, for the 
purpose of determining Race to the Top awards, the extent to which a 
State has removed barriers to the creation and expansion of high-
performing charter schools. Because the Department believes that many 
high-performing charter schools have non-unionized employees, it does 
not believe that a State law or regulation that prohibits the 
unionization of charter school employees constitutes a barrier to the 
creation and expansion of high-performing charter schools. Accordingly, 
the Department declines to address this issue in this final notice.
    Changes: None.

IV. Definitions

Proposed New Definitions
    Comment: Commenters recommended adding a number of definitions for 
this program, including definitions for applied learning opportunities, 
college and career ready standards, chronic absenteeism, community, 
community engagement, community partners, comprehensive learning 
supports, conditions for learning, enrichment, family engagement, open 
educational resources, response to intervention, schools as the center 
of community,

[[Page 59796]]

stakeholder, student, student mobility, teacher, and universal design, 
as well as other specific terms related to Race to the Top requirements 
and criteria.
    Discussion: As we discuss in other sections of this notice, we have 
added a number of definitions in response to comments, but we are not 
adding definitions for the terms suggested by these commenters. In some 
cases, we thought that defining some of the terms mentioned by the 
commenters could hinder the kind of innovation and fresh thinking that 
Race to the Top is intended to encourage and we did not wish to 
constrain the activities that might be promoted or supported by the 
Race to the Top program. In other cases, particularly where there is 
uncertainty or conflicting views on the meaning of terms, we were 
reluctant to make any decisions absent a more thorough consideration of 
the issues involved than has been provided through the public comment 
process on the Race to the Top program. The forthcoming reauthorization 
of the ESEA, for example, would be a more appropriate vehicle for 
defining many of the proposed terms that could have broad implications 
for a range of Federal education programs. Finally, in some cases, 
adding a definition was not essential for successful administration of 
the Race to the Top program.
    Changes: None.
Final Definitions
    Alternative routes to certification: See Section D, Great Teachers 
and Leaders, for the discussion of comments related to this definition.
    College enrollment: This is a definition that has been added in 
response to comments. See Section A, State Success Factors, for the 
discussion.
    Common set of K-12 standards: See Section B, Standards and 
Assessments, for the discussion of comments related to this definition.
    Effective principal: See Section D, Great Teachers and Leaders, for 
the discussion of comments related to this definition.
    Effective teacher: See Section D, Great Teachers and Leaders, for 
the discussion of comments related to this definition.
Formative Assessment
    Comment: Commenters recommended several changes to the proposed 
definition of formative assessment. One commenter noted that formative 
assessments use a variety of strategies to provide timely feedback to 
teachers and students, but that not all formative assessments 
necessarily provide the ``instant'' feedback that is included in the 
proposed definition. Commenters suggested revising the definition to 
avoid excluding appropriate classroom practices that function as 
formative assessments. Other commenters recommended that the definition 
be changed to require that formative assessments adhere to the 
principles of universal design to ensure accessibility for all 
students; be designed to address a specific set of academic standards; 
and be integrated in comprehensive improvement plans. Other commenters 
recommended that the definition state that formative assessments may be 
developed by a test vendor or an LEA.
    Discussion: The Department agrees with the commenter that 
``instant'' feedback is not the goal of formative assessments; rather 
the goal is to provide feedback in a timely enough fashion for the 
information to be used to adjust instruction and to improve learning. 
Accordingly, we are changing ``instant feedback'' to ``timely 
feedback.'' We also agree that the definition of formative assessment 
should be appropriately broad and flexible to accommodate a variety of 
classroom practices; we are therefore changing the definition to refer 
to ``assessment questions, tools, and processes,'' rather than just 
``processes.'' We decline to change the definition in the manner 
recommended by the other commenters because doing so would 
unnecessarily narrow the definition of a formative assessment.
    Changes: We have changed the phrase ``formative assessment means an 
assessment process'' to ``formative assessment means assessment 
questions, tools, and processes.'' We also have changed the phrase ``to 
provide instant feedback on student understanding and to adjust ongoing 
teaching and learning accordingly'' to ``provide timely feedback for 
purposes of adjusting instruction to improve learning.''
Graduation Rate
    Comment: Some commenters supported the proposed definition of 
graduation rate, noting that it is the same definition published by the 
Department in the Title I regulations the Department issued in October 
2008. However, others suggested changes to the definition. One 
commenter called for the definition to include dropouts who re-enroll 
in high school and take longer than four years to graduate. Another 
commenter asked whether students who graduate from high school in five 
or six years would be included and urged the Department to give 
incentives to LEAs that re-enroll dropouts. Another commenter said the 
definition should take into account that students with disabilities 
served under the IDEA may remain in school until age 21. Finally, one 
commenter recommended including GED recipients in the definition, as 
well as students who need more than four years to graduate from high 
school, such as English language learners and other ``high risk'' 
students.
    Discussion: The commenters are correct in noting that the 
graduation rate definition in the NPP was based on the definition in 34 
CFR 200.19(b)(1), which was published as a final rule on October 29, 
2008. In the NPP and this notice, graduation rate is defined as the 
four-year or extended-year adjusted cohort graduation rate. An 
extended-year adjusted cohort rate includes students who take more than 
four years to graduate and would include students who drop out of 
school and re-enroll, English language learners, students with 
disabilities, and other students who need more than four years to 
graduate with a regular high school diploma. We realize that the 
definition of graduation rate in the NPP could have been stated more 
clearly and we are, therefore, simplifying the definition in this 
notice to mean ``the four-year or extended-year adjusted cohort 
graduation rate as defined by 34 CFR 200.19(b)(1).'' Note, however, 
that the definition does not include GED recipients because a GED is 
not a regular high school diploma. Alternative credentials such as the 
GED are not aligned with a State's academic content standards and, if 
included in the definition of graduation rate, would provide a 
misleading account of the percentage of students who graduate with a 
diploma that reflects what a State determines all students should know 
and be able to do by the end of the 12th grade.
    Changes: We have changed the language in the definition of 
graduation rate to clarify that graduation rate means ``the four-year 
or extended-year adjusted cohort graduation rate as defined by 34 CFR 
200.19(b)(1).''
    Highly effective principal: See Section D, Great Teachers and 
Leaders, for the discussion of comments related to this definition.
    Highly effective teacher: See Section D, Great Teachers and 
Leaders, for the discussion of comments related to this definition.
    High-minority school: This is a definition that has been added in 
response to comments. See Section D, Great Teachers and Leaders, for 
the discussion.
High-Need LEA
    Comment: A few commenters noted that the definition of high-need 
LEA in

[[Page 59797]]

the NPP was inconsistent with the definition in section 14013 of the 
ARRA.
    Discussion: We acknowledge this error and are replacing the 
proposed definition of high-need LEA with the definition in section 
14013 of the ARRA.
    Changes: We have replaced the proposed definition of high-need LEA 
with the following definition from section 14013 of the ARRA: ``an LEA 
(a) that serves not fewer than 10,000 children from families with 
incomes below the poverty line; or (b) for which not less than 20 
percent of the children served by the LEA are from families with 
incomes below the poverty line.''
High-Need Students
    Comment: Several commenters requested that the final notice include 
a definition of high-need students. A few commenters recommended that 
the definition of high-need students include students who have left 
school prematurely and students who are over age and under credited for 
on-time graduation. Another commenter recommended the definition 
include students who drop out of school and later re-enroll in school. 
A few commenters focused on the needs of struggling students who are 
off-track to graduate and at risk of dropping out, including students 
that need to balance school and work.
    Discussion: We agree that we should define high-need students and 
are including in the definition references to students who are far 
below grade level, students who left school before receiving a regular 
high school diploma, and students at risk of not graduating with a 
diploma on time, among others.
    Changes: We have added the following in the Definition section of 
the final notice: ``High-need students means students at risk of 
educational failure or otherwise in need of special assistance and 
support, such as students who are living in poverty, who attend high 
minority schools (as defined in this notice), who are far below grade 
level, who have left school before receiving a regular high school 
diploma, who are at risk of not graduating with a diploma on time, who 
are homeless, who are in foster care, who have been incarcerated, who 
have disabilities, or who are English language learners.''
    High-performing charter school: This is a definition that has been 
added in response to comments. See Section F, General, for the 
discussion.
    High-poverty school: See Section D, Great Teachers and Leaders, for 
the discussion of comments related to this definition.
    High-quality assessment: See Section B, Standards and Assessments, 
for the discussion of comments related to this definition.
    Increased learning time: This is a definition that has been added 
in response to comments. See Section E, Turning Around the Lowest-
Achieving Schools, for the discussion.
    Innovative, autonomous public schools: This is a definition that 
has been added in response to comments. See Section F, General, for the 
discussion.
    Instructional improvement systems: See Section C, Data Systems to 
Support Instruction, for the discussion of comments related to this 
definition.
Interim Assessment
    Comment: A few commenters suggested that the definition of interim 
assessment be amended to include the use of universal design 
principles.
    Discussion: Because interim assessments are often created by 
teachers for their own use in the classroom, the Department believes 
that requiring that interim assessments use universal design principles 
would place too onerous a burden on teachers, who may not have the 
expertise to create assessments using universal design principles. 
However, the Department is in no way discouraging the use of universal 
design principles in interim or any other assessments.
    Changes: None.
    Involved LEAs: This is a definition that has been added in response 
to comments. See Section A, State Success Factors, for the discussion.
    Low-minority school: This is a definition that has been added in 
response to comments. See Section D, Great Teachers and Leaders, for 
the discussion.
    Low-poverty school: This is a definition that has been added in 
response to comments. See Section D, Great Teachers and Leaders, for 
the discussion.
    Participating LEAs: This is a definition that has been added in 
response to comments. See Section A, State Success Factors, for the 
discussion.
    Persistently lowest-achieving schools: See Section E, Turning 
Around the Lowest-Achieving Schools, for the discussion of comments 
related to this definition.
Rapid-Time
    Comments: Commenters recommended that we reconsider or remove the 
statement in the definition of rapid-time that assessment data should 
be returned in 72 hours, citing the fact that current statewide 
longitudinal data systems do not allow for data to be processed this 
quickly. Commenters noted that the scoring processes for different 
types of items that could be included in formative, summative, and 
interim assessments and the means by which the assessment is 
administered (e.g., online or on paper) could affect the timeline for 
returning data. One commenter suggested that States be allowed to 
create their own definitions of rapid-time and that the Department 
evaluate these definitions during its review of Race to the Top 
applications. Another commenter recommended defining rapid-time based 
on whether or not the data could be used to inform current instruction.
    Discussion: The Department agrees with commenters that specifying 
the amount of time for returning assessment data should be removed from 
the definition of rapid time. We also are clarifying the definition of 
rapid-time by including a specific reference to locally-collected 
assessment data, as rapid-time data are specifically used to inform 
classroom-level decisions and thus consist primarily of data that are 
collected locally. Removing the concept that assessment data should be 
returned within 72 hours and clarifying that rapid time refers to 
locally-collected data address commenters' concerns regarding the 
potential negative impact the proposed definition could have had on the 
types of assessments and item types used on these assessments.
    Changes: The Department has revised the definition of rapid-time to 
read as follows: ``Rapid-time, in reference to reporting and 
availability of locally-collected school- and LEA-level data, means 
that data are available quickly enough to inform current lessons, 
instruction, and related supports.''
Student Achievement
    Comment: The Department received a very large number of comments on 
the proposed definition of student achievement, which used, as a basis, 
a student's scores on State assessments in reading/language arts, 
mathematics, and science required by section 1111(b)(3) of the ESEA. A 
majority of these comments focused on the language in the NPP regarding 
the definition of student achievement for non-tested grades and 
subjects, which referred to alternative measures of student performance 
such as student performance on interim assessments and the percentage 
of students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses who take Advanced 
Placement exams. These commenters suggested that such alternative 
measures also should include statewide

[[Page 59798]]

assessments whenever possible, the use of college or career-readiness 
tests, performance-based assessments, portfolio assessments, course 
completion rates, and career and technical education measures. Also, 
many commenters opposed the use of IEP goals as an example of an 
alternative student achievement measure. Other commenters recommended 
supplementing scores on ESEA assessments with multiple, alternative 
measures of student performance for all students, including specific 
suggestions such as attendance, on-time promotion rates, college 
enrollment and completion rates, and other State-proposed indicators.
    Discussion: In reviewing these comments, it became clear that there 
were several components of the definition of student achievement that 
were unnecessarily confusing. First, the use of the phrase ``at a 
minimum,'' which we believed, for tested grades and subjects, provided 
States with the flexibility to supplement ESEA assessment results with 
a wide range of other measures of student achievement and performance, 
confused some commenters. To avoid further confusion we are revising 
the definition to remove the phrase ``at a minimum,'' and adding, for 
tested grades and subjects, the phrase, ``other measures of student 
learning, such as those described in paragraph (b) of this definition, 
provided they are rigorous and comparable across classrooms.'' As for 
alternative measures in non-tested grades, we note that the 
alternatives included in the proposed definition of student achievement 
were examples only; however, we agree with the many commenters who 
reminded us that IEPs are individualized and that IEP goals often 
include student needs that are not based on academic content. For these 
reasons, it is not appropriate to evaluate student achievement based on 
IEP goals, and we are removing IEPs from the list of possible 
alternative measures. We also are modifying the other examples of 
potential alternative measures of student performance for non-tested 
grades and subjects. Again, we note that these alternative measures are 
examples only, and States, LEAs, and schools have great latitude to use 
their own rigorous alternative measures of student achievement and 
performance in implementing their Race to the Top plans.
    Changes: The definition of student achievement has been revised to 
read as follows: Student achievement means--
    (a) For tested grades and subjects: (1) a student's score on the 
State's assessments under the ESEA; and, as appropriate, (2) other 
measures of student learning, such as those described in paragraph (b) 
of this definition, provided they are rigorous and comparable across 
classrooms.
    (b) For non-tested grades and subjects: alternative measures of 
student learning and performance such as student scores on pre-tests 
and end-of-course tests; student performance on English language 
proficiency assessments; and other measures of student achievement that 
are rigorous and comparable across classrooms.
    Student growth: See Section D, Great Teachers and Leaders, for the 
discussion of comments related to this definition.
    Total Revenues available to the State: See Section F, General, for 
the discussion of comments related to this definition.
    America COMPETES Act elements: See Section C, Data Systems to 
Support Instruction, for the discussion of comments related to this 
definition.
Final Priorities
    When inviting applications for a competition using one or more 
priorities, we designate the type of each priority as absolute, 
competitive preference, or invitational through a notice in the Federal 
Register. The Secretary establishes the following priorities for this 
competition:
    Absolute priority: Under an absolute priority, we consider only 
applications that meet the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(3)).
    Competitive preference priority: Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(i), we 
give competitive preference to an application by awarding additional 
points to applications that meet this priority or selecting an 
application that meets the priority over an application of comparable 
merit that does not meet the priority.
    Invitational priority: Under an invitational priority, we are 
particularly interested in applications that meet the priority. 
However, we do not give an application that meets the priority a 
preference over other applications (34 CFR 75.105(c)(1)).
Priorities
Priority 1: Absolute Priority--Comprehensive Approach to Education 
Reform
    To meet this priority, the State's application must comprehensively 
and coherently address all of the four education reform areas specified 
in the ARRA as well as the State Success Factors Criteria in order to 
demonstrate that the State and its participating LEAs are taking a 
systemic approach to education reform. The State must demonstrate in 
its application sufficient LEA participation and commitment to 
successfully implement and achieve the goals in its plans; and it must 
describe how the State, in collaboration with its participating LEAs, 
will use Race to the Top and other funds to increase student 
achievement, decrease the achievement gaps across student subgroups, 
and increase the rates at which students graduate from high school 
prepared for college and careers.
Priority 2: Competitive Preference Priority--Emphasis on Science, 
Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)
    To meet this priority, the State's application must have a high-
quality plan to address the need to (i) offer a rigorous course of 
study in mathematics, the sciences, technology, and engineering; (ii) 
cooperate with industry experts, museums, universities, research 
centers, or other STEM-capable community partners to prepare and assist 
teachers in integrating STEM content across grades and disciplines, in 
promoting effective and relevant instruction, and in offering applied 
learning opportunities for students; and (iii) prepare more students 
for advanced study and careers in the sciences, technology, 
engineering, and mathematics, including by addressing the needs of 
underrepresented groups and of women and girls in the areas of science, 
technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Priority 3: Invitational Priority--Innovations for Improving Early 
Learning Outcomes
    The Secretary is particularly interested in applications that 
include practices, strategies, or programs to improve educational 
outcomes for high-need students who are young children (pre-
kindergarten through third grade) by enhancing the quality of preschool 
programs. Of particular interest are proposals that support practices 
that (i) improve school readiness (including social, emotional, and 
cognitive); and (ii) improve the transition between preschool and 
kindergarten.
Priority 4: Invitational Priority--Expansion and Adaptation of 
Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems
    The Secretary is particularly interested in applications in which 
the State plans to expand statewide longitudinal data systems to 
include or integrate data from special education programs, English 
language learner

[[Page 59799]]

programs,\10\ early childhood programs, at-risk and dropout prevention 
programs, and school climate and culture programs, as well as 
information on student mobility, human resources (i.e., information on 
teachers, principals, and other staff), school finance, student health, 
postsecondary education, and other relevant areas, with the purpose of 
connecting and coordinating all parts of the system to allow important 
questions related to policy, practice, or overall effectiveness to be 
asked, answered, and incorporated into effective continuous improvement 
practices.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \10\ The term English language learner, as used in this notice, 
is synonymous with the term limited English proficient, as defined 
in section 9101 of the ESEA.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Secretary is also particularly interested in applications in 
which States propose working together to adapt one State's statewide 
longitudinal data system so that it may be used, in whole or in part, 
by one or more other States, rather than having each State build or 
continue building such systems independently.
Priority 5: Invitational Priority--P-20 Coordination, Vertical and 
Horizontal Alignment
    The Secretary is particularly interested in applications in which 
the State plans to address how early childhood programs, K-12 schools, 
postsecondary institutions, workforce development organizations, and 
other State agencies and community partners (e.g., child welfare, 
juvenile justice, and criminal justice agencies) will coordinate to 
improve all parts of the education system and create a more seamless 
preschool-through-graduate school (P-20) route for students. Vertical 
alignment across P-20 is particularly critical at each point where a 
transition occurs (e.g., between early childhood and K-12, or between 
K-12 and postsecondary/careers) to ensure that students exiting one 
level are prepared for success, without remediation, in the next. 
Horizontal alignment, that is, coordination of services across schools, 
State agencies, and community partners, is also important in ensuring 
that high-need students (as defined in this notice) have access to the 
broad array of opportunities and services they need and that are beyond 
the capacity of a school itself to provide.
Priority 6: Invitational Priority--School-Level Conditions for Reform, 
Innovation, and Learning
    The Secretary is particularly interested in applications in which 
the State's participating LEAs (as defined in this notice) seek to 
create the conditions for reform and innovation as well as the 
conditions for learning by providing schools with flexibility and 
autonomy in such areas as--
    (i) Selecting staff;
    (ii) Implementing new structures and formats for the school day or 
year that result in increased learning time (as defined in this 
notice);
    (iii) Controlling the school's budget;
    (iv) Awarding credit to students based on student performance 
instead of instructional time;
    (v) Providing comprehensive services to high-need students (as 
defined in this notice) (e.g., by mentors and other caring adults; 
through local partnerships with community-based organizations, 
nonprofit organizations, and other providers);
    (vi) Creating school climates and cultures that remove obstacles 
to, and actively support, student engagement and achievement; and
    (vii) Implementing strategies to effectively engage families and 
communities in supporting the academic success of their students.
Final Requirements
    The Secretary establishes the following requirements for this 
program.
Eligibility Requirements
    A State must meet the following requirements in order to be 
eligible to receive funds under this program.
    (a) The State's applications for funding under Phase 1 and Phase 2 
of the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund program must be approved by the 
Department prior to the State being awarded a Race to the Top grant.
    (b) At the time the State submits its application, there must not 
be any legal, statutory, or regulatory barriers at the State level to 
linking data on student achievement (as defined in this notice) or 
student growth (as defined in this notice) to teachers and principals 
for the purpose of teacher and principal evaluation.
Application Requirements
    (a) The State's application must be signed by the Governor, the 
State's chief school officer, and the president of the State board of 
education (if applicable). States will respond to this requirement in 
the application, Section III, Race to the Top Application Assurances. 
In addition, the assurances in Section IV must be signed by the 
Governor.
    (b) The State must describe the progress it has made over the past 
several years in each of the four education reform areas (as described 
in criterion (A)(3)(i)).
    (c) The State must include a budget that details how it will use 
grant funds and other resources to meet targets and perform related 
functions (as described in criterion (A)(2)(i)(d)), including how it 
will use funds awarded under this program to--
    (1) Achieve its targets for improving student achievement and 
graduation rates and for closing achievement gaps (as described in 
criterion (A)(1)(iii)); the State must also describe its track record 
of improving student progress overall and by student subgroup (as 
described in criterion (A)(3)(ii)); and
    (2) Give priority to high-need LEAs (as defined in this notice), in 
addition to providing 50 percent of the grant to participating LEAs (as 
defined in this notice) based on their relative shares of funding under 
Part A of Title I of the ESEA for the most recent year as required 
under section 14006(c) of the ARRA. (Note: Because all Race to the Top 
grants will be made in 2010, relative shares will be based on total 
funding received in FY 2009, including both the regular Title I, Part A 
appropriation and the amount made available by the ARRA).
    (d) The State must provide, for each State Reform Conditions 
Criterion (listed in this notice) that it chooses to address, a 
description of the State's current status in meeting that criterion 
and, at a minimum, the information requested as supporting evidence for 
the criterion and the performance measures, if any (see Appendix A).
    (e) The State must provide, for each Reform Plan Criterion (listed 
in this notice) that it chooses to address, a detailed plan for use of 
grant funds that includes, but need not be limited to--
    (1) The key goals;
    (2) The key activities to be undertaken and rationale for the 
activities, which should include why the specific activities are 
thought to bring about the change envisioned and how these activities 
are linked to the key goals;
    (3) The timeline for implementing the activities;
    (4) The party or parties responsible for implementing the 
activities;
    (5) The information requested in the performance measures, where 
applicable (see Appendix A), and where the State proposes plans for 
reform efforts not covered by a specified performance measure, the 
State is encouraged to propose performance measures and annual targets 
for those efforts; and
    (6) The information requested as supporting evidence, if any, for 
the criterion, together with any additional information the State 
believes will be

[[Page 59800]]

helpful to peer reviewers in judging the credibility of the State's 
plan.
    (f) The State must submit a certification from the State Attorney 
General that--
    (1) The State's description of, and statements and conclusions 
concerning State law, statute, and regulation in its application are 
complete, accurate, and constitute a reasonable interpretation of State 
law, statute, and regulation; and
    (2) At the time the State submits its application, the State does 
not have any legal, statutory, or regulatory barriers at the State 
level to linking data on student achievement or student growth to 
teachers and principals for the purpose of teacher and principal 
evaluation.
    (g) When addressing issues relating to assessments required under 
the ESEA or subgroups in the selection criteria, the State must meet 
the following requirements:
    (1) For student subgroups with respect to the NAEP, the State must 
provide data for the NAEP subgroups described in section 303(b)(2)(G) 
of the National Assessment of Educational Progress Authorization Act 
(20 U.S.C. 9622) (i.e., race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, 
disability, and limited English proficiency). The State must also 
include the NAEP exclusion rate for students with disabilities and the 
exclusion rate for English language learners, along with clear 
documentation of the State's policies and practices for determining 
whether a student with a disability or an English language learner 
should participate in the NAEP and whether the student needs 
accommodations;
    (2) For student subgroups with respect to high school graduation 
rates, college enrollment and credit accumulation rates, and the 
assessments required under the ESEA, the State must provide data for 
the subgroups described in section 1111(b)(2)(C)(v)(II) of the ESEA 
(i.e., economically disadvantaged students, students from major racial 
and ethnic groups, students with disabilities, and students with 
limited English proficiency); and
    (3) When asked to provide information regarding the assessments 
required under the ESEA, States should refer to section 1111(b)(3) of 
the ESEA; in addition, when describing this assessment data in the 
State's application, the State should note any factors (e.g., changes 
in cut scores) that would impact the comparability of data from one 
year to the next.
Reporting Requirements
    A State receiving Race to the Top funds must submit to the 
Department an annual report which must include, in addition to the 
standard elements, a description of the State's and its LEAs' progress 
to date on their goals, timelines, and budgets, as well as actual 
performance compared to the annual targets the State established in its 
application with respect to each performance measure. Further, a State 
receiving funds under this program and its participating LEAs are 
accountable for meeting the goals, timelines, budget, and annual 
targets established in the application; adhering to an annual fund 
drawdown schedule that is tied to meeting these goals, timelines, 
budget, and annual targets; and fulfilling and maintaining all other 
conditions for the conduct of the project. The Department will monitor 
a State's and its participating LEAs' progress in meeting the State's 
goals, timelines, budget, and annual targets and in fulfilling other 
applicable requirements. In addition, the Department may collect 
additional data as part of a State's annual reporting requirements.
    To support a collaborative process between the State and the 
Department, the Department may require that applicants who are selected 
to receive an award enter into a written performance or cooperative 
agreement with the Department. If the Department determines that a 
State is not meeting its goals, timelines, budget, or annual targets or 
is not fulfilling other applicable requirements, the Department will 
take appropriate action, which could include a collaborative process 
between the Department and the State, or enforcement measures with 
respect to this grant, such as placing the State in high-risk status, 
putting the State on reimbursement payment status, or delaying or 
withholding funds.
    A State that receives Race to the Top funds must also meet the 
reporting requirements that apply to all ARRA-funded programs. 
Specifically, the State must submit reports, within 10 days after the 
end of each calendar quarter, that contain the information required 
under section 1512(c) of the ARRA in accordance with any guidance 
issued by the Office of Management and Budget or the Department (ARRA 
Division A, Section 1512(c)).
    In addition, for each year of the program, the State will submit a 
report to the Secretary, at such time and in such manner as the 
Secretary may require, that describes:
    [cir] The uses of funds within the State;
    [cir] how the State distributed the funds it received;
    [cir] the number of jobs that the Governor estimates were saved or 
created with the funds;
    [cir] the State's progress in reducing inequities in the 
distribution of highly qualified teachers, implementing a State 
longitudinal data system, and developing and implementing valid and 
reliable assessments for English language learners and students with 
disabilities; and
    [cir] if applicable, a description of each modernization, 
renovation, or repair project approved in the State application and 
funded, including the amounts awarded and project costs (ARRA Division 
A, Section 14008).
Program Requirements
    Evaluation: The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) will conduct 
a series of national evaluations of Race to the Top's State grantees as 
part of its evaluation of programs funded under the ARRA. The 
Department's goal for these evaluations is to ensure that its studies 
not only assess program impacts, but also provide valuable information 
to State and local educators to help inform and improve their 
practices.
    The Department anticipates that the national evaluations will 
involve such components as--
     Surveys of States, LEAs, and/or schools, which will help 
identify how program funding is spent and the specific efforts and 
activities that are underway within each of the four education reform 
areas and across selected ARRA-funded programs;
     Case studies of promising practices in States, LEAs, and/
or schools through surveys and other mechanisms; and
     Evaluations of outcomes, focusing on student achievement 
and other performance measures, to determine the impact of the reforms 
implemented under Race to the Top.
    Race to the Top grantee States are not required to conduct 
independent evaluations, but may propose, within their applications, to 
use funds from Race to the Top to support such evaluations. Grantees 
must make available, through formal (e.g., peer-reviewed journals) or 
informal (e.g., newsletters, Web sites) mechanisms, the results of any 
evaluations they conduct of their funded activities. In addition, as 
described elsewhere in this notice and regardless of the final 
components of the national evaluation, Race to the Top States, LEAs, 
and schools are expected to identify and share promising practices, 
make work available within and across States, and make data available 
in appropriate ways to stakeholders and researchers so as to help all 
States focus on continuous improvement in service of student outcomes.

[[Page 59801]]

    Participating LEA Scope of Work: The agreements signed by 
participating LEAs (as defined in this notice) must include a scope-of-
work section. The scope of work submitted by LEAs and States as part of 
their Race to the Top applications will be preliminary. Preliminary 
scopes of work should include the portions of the State's proposed 
reform plans that the LEA is agreeing to implement. If a State is 
awarded a Race to the Top grant, its participating LEAs (as defined in 
this notice) will have up to 90 days to complete final scopes of work, 
which must contain detailed work plans that are consistent with their 
preliminary scopes of work and with the State's grant application, and 
should include the participating LEAs' specific goals, activities, 
timelines, budgets, key personnel, and annual targets for key 
performance measures.
    Making Work Available: Unless otherwise protected by law or 
agreement as proprietary information, the State and its subgrantees 
must make any work (e.g., materials, tools, processes, systems) 
developed under its grant freely available to others, including but not 
limited to by posting the work on a Web site identified or sponsored by 
the Department.
    Technical Assistance: The State must participate in applicable 
technical assistance activities that may be conducted by the Department 
or its designees.
    State Summative Assessments: No funds awarded under this 
competition may be used to pay for costs related to statewide summative 
assessments.
Final Selection Criteria
    The Secretary establishes the following criteria for reviewing 
applications submitted under this program. In the Scoring Rubric, in 
Appendix B, the Secretary establishes the maximum number of points 
assigned to each criterion.

A. State Success Factors

    (A)(1) Articulating State's education reform agenda and LEAs' 
participation in it: The extent to which--
    (i) The State has set forth a comprehensive and coherent reform 
agenda that clearly articulates its goals for implementing reforms in 
the four education areas described in the ARRA and improving student 
outcomes statewide, establishes a clear and credible path to achieving 
these goals, and is consistent with the specific reform plans that the 
State has proposed throughout its application;
    (ii) The participating LEAs (as defined in this notice) are 
strongly committed to the State's plans and to effective implementation 
of reform in the four education areas, as evidenced by Memoranda of 
Understanding (MOUs) (as set forth in Appendix D) \11\ or other binding 
agreements between the State and its participating LEAs (as defined in 
this notice) that include--
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \11\ See Appendix D for more on participating LEA MOUs and for a 
model MOU.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (a) Terms and conditions that reflect strong commitment by the 
participating LEAs (as defined in this notice) to the State's plans;
    (b) Scope-of-work descriptions that require participating LEAs (as 
defined in this notice) to implement all or significant portions of the 
State's Race to the Top plans; and
    (c) Signatures from as many as possible of the LEA superintendent 
(or equivalent), the president of the local school board (or 
equivalent, if applicable), and the local teachers' union leader (if 
applicable) (one signature of which must be from an authorized LEA 
representative) demonstrating the extent of leadership support within 
participating LEAs (as defined in this notice); and
    (iii) The LEAs that are participating in the State's Race to the 
Top plans (including considerations of the numbers and percentages of 
participating LEAs, schools, K-12 students, and students in poverty) 
will translate into broad statewide impact, allowing the State to reach 
its ambitious yet achievable goals, overall and by student subgroup, 
for--
    (a) Increasing student achievement in (at a minimum) reading/
language arts and mathematics, as reported by the NAEP and the 
assessments required under the ESEA;
    (b) Decreasing achievement gaps between subgroups in reading/
language arts and mathematics, as reported by the NAEP and the 
assessments required under the ESEA;
    (c) Increasing high school graduation rates (as defined in this 
notice); and
    (d) Increasing college enrollment (as defined in this notice) and 
increasing the number of students who complete at least a year's worth 
of college credit that is applicable to a degree within two years of 
enrollment in an institution of higher education.
    (A)(2) Building strong statewide capacity to implement, scale up, 
and sustain proposed plans: The extent to which the State has a high-
quality overall plan to--
    (i) Ensure that it has the capacity required to implement its 
proposed plans by--
    (a) Providing strong leadership and dedicated teams to implement 
the statewide education reform plans the State has proposed;
    (b) Supporting participating LEAs (as defined in this notice) in 
successfully implementing the education reform plans the State has 
proposed, through such activities as identifying promising practices, 
evaluating these practices' effectiveness, ceasing ineffective 
practices, widely disseminating and replicating the effective practices 
statewide, holding participating LEAs (as defined in this notice) 
accountable for progress and performance, and intervening where 
necessary;
    (c) Providing effective and efficient operations and processes for 
implementing its Race to the Top grant in such areas as grant 
administration and oversight, budget reporting and monitoring, 
performance measure tracking and reporting, and fund disbursement;
    (d) Using the funds for this grant, as described in the State's 
budget and accompanying budget narrative, to accomplish the State's 
plans and meet its targets, including, where feasible, by coordinating, 
reallocating, or repurposing education funds from other Federal, State, 
and local sources so that they align with the State's Race to the Top 
goals; and
    (e) Using the fiscal, political, and human capital resources of the 
State to continue, after the period of funding has ended, those reforms 

funded under the grant for which there is evidence of success; and
    (ii) Use support from a broad group of stakeholders to better 
implement its plans, as evidenced by the strength of statements or 
actions of support from--
    (a) The State's teachers and principals, which include the State's 
teachers' unions or statewide teacher associations; and
    (b) Other critical stakeholders, such as the State's legislative 
leadership; charter school authorizers and State charter school 
membership associations (if applicable); other State and local leaders 
(e.g., business, community, civil rights, and education association 
leaders); Tribal schools; parent, student, and community organizations 
(e.g., parent-teacher associations, nonprofit organizations, local 
education foundations, and community-based organizations); and 
institutions of higher education.
    (A)(3) Demonstrating significant progress in raising achievement 
and closing gaps: The extent to which the State has demonstrated its 
ability to--
    (i) Make progress over the past several years in each of the four 
education reform areas, and used its ARRA and

[[Page 59802]]

other Federal and State funding to pursue such reforms;
    (ii) Improve student outcomes overall and by student subgroup since 
at least 2003, and explain the connections between the data and the 
actions that have contributed to--
    (a) Increasing student achievement in reading/language arts and 
mathematics, both on the NAEP and on the assessments required under the 
ESEA;
    (b) Decreasing achievement gaps between subgroups in reading/
language arts and mathematics, both on the NAEP and on the assessments 
required under the ESEA; and
    (c) Increasing high school graduation rates.

B. Standards and Assessments

State Reform Conditions Criteria
    (B)(1) Developing and adopting common standards: The extent to 
which the State has demonstrated its commitment to adopting a common 
set of high-quality standards, evidenced by (as set forth in Appendix 
B)--
    (i) The State's participation in a consortium of States that--
    (a) Is working toward jointly developing and adopting a common set 
of K-12 standards (as defined in this notice) that are supported by 
evidence that they are internationally benchmarked and build toward 
college and career readiness by the time of high school graduation; and
    (b) Includes a significant number of States; and
    (ii)(a) For Phase 1 applications, the State's high-quality plan 
demonstrating its commitment to and progress toward adopting a common 
set of K-12 standards (as defined in this notice) by August 2, 2010, 
or, at a minimum, by a later date in 2010 specified by the State, and 
to implementing the standards thereafter in a well-planned way; or
    (b) For Phase 2 applications, the State's adoption of a common set 
of K-12 standards (as defined in this notice) by August 2, 2010, or, at 
a minimum, by a later date in 2010 specified by the State in a high-
quality plan toward which the State has made significant progress, and 
its commitment to implementing the standards thereafter in a well-
planned way.\12\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \12\ Phase 2 applicants addressing selection criterion 
(B)(1)(ii) may amend their June 1, 2010 application submission 
through August 2, 2010 by submitting evidence of adopting common 
standards after June 1, 2010.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (B)(2) Developing and implementing common, high-quality 
assessments: The extent to which the State has demonstrated its 
commitment to improving the quality of its assessments, evidenced by 
(as set forth in Appendix B) the State's participation in a consortium 
of States that--
    (i) Is working toward jointly developing and implementing common, 
high-quality assessments (as defined in this notice) aligned with the 
consortium's common set of K-12 standards (as defined in this notice); 
and
    (ii) Includes a significant number of States.
Reform Plan Criteria
    (B)(3) Supporting the transition to enhanced standards and high-
quality assessments: The extent to which the State, in collaboration 
with its participating LEAs (as defined in this notice), has a high-
quality plan for supporting a statewide transition to and 
implementation of internationally benchmarked K-12 standards that build 
toward college and career readiness by the time of high school 
graduation, and high-quality assessments (as defined in this notice) 
tied to these standards. State or LEA activities might, for example, 
include: developing a rollout plan for the standards together with all 
of their supporting components; in cooperation with the State's 
institutions of higher education, aligning high school exit criteria 
and college entrance requirements with the new standards and 
assessments; developing or acquiring, disseminating, and implementing 
high-quality instructional materials and assessments (including, for 
example, formative and interim assessments (both as defined in this 
notice)); developing or acquiring and delivering high-quality 
professional development to support the transition to new standards and 
assessments; and engaging in other strategies that translate the 
standards and information from assessments into classroom practice for 
all students, including high-need students (as defined in this notice).

C. Data Systems To Support Instruction

State Reform Conditions Criteria
    (C)(1) Fully implementing a statewide longitudinal data system: The 
extent to which the State has a statewide longitudinal data system that 
includes all of the America COMPETES Act elements (as defined in this 
notice).
Reform Plan Criteria
    (C)(2) Accessing and using State data: The extent to which the 
State has a high-quality plan to ensure that data from the State's 
statewide longitudinal data system are accessible to, and used to 
inform and engage, as appropriate, key stakeholders (e.g., parents, 
students, teachers, principals, LEA leaders, community members, unions, 
researchers, and policymakers); and that the data support decision-
makers in the continuous improvement of efforts in such areas as 
policy, instruction, operations, management, resource allocation, and 
overall effectiveness.\13\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \13\ Successful applicants that receive Race to the Top grant 
awards will need to comply with the Family Educational Rights and 
Privacy Act (FERPA), including 34 CFR Part 99, as well as State and 
local requirements regarding privacy.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (C)(3) Using data to improve instruction: The extent to which the 
State, in collaboration with its participating LEAs (as defined in this 
notice), has a high-quality plan to--
    (i) Increase the acquisition, adoption, and use of local 
instructional improvement systems (as defined in this notice) that 
provide teachers, principals, and administrators with the information 
and resources they need to inform and improve their instructional 
practices, decision-making, and overall effectiveness;
    (ii) Support participating LEAs (as defined in this notice) and 
schools that are using instructional improvement systems (as defined in 
this notice) in providing effective professional development to 
teachers, principals, and administrators on how to use these systems 
and the resulting data to support continuous instructional improvement; 
and
    (iii) Make the data from instructional improvement systems (as 
defined in this notice), together with statewide longitudinal data 
system data, available and accessible to researchers so that they have 
detailed information with which to evaluate the effectiveness of 
instructional materials, strategies, and approaches for educating 
different types of students (e.g., students with disabilities, English 
language learners, students whose achievement is well below or above 
grade level).

D. Great Teachers and Leaders

State Reform Conditions Criteria
    (D)(1) Providing high-quality pathways for aspiring teachers and 
principals: The extent to which the State has--
    (i) Legal, statutory, or regulatory provisions that allow 
alternative routes to certification (as defined in this notice) for 
teachers and principals, particularly routes that allow for providers 
in addition to institutions of higher education;
    (ii) Alternative routes to certification (as defined in this 
notice) that are in use; and
    (iii) A process for monitoring, evaluating, and identifying areas 
of

[[Page 59803]]

teacher and principal shortage and for preparing teachers and 
principals to fill these areas of shortage.
Reform Plan Criteria
    (D)(2) Improving teacher and principal effectiveness based on 
performance: The extent to which the State, in collaboration with its 
participating LEAs (as defined in this notice), has a high-quality plan 
and ambitious yet achievable annual targets to ensure that 
participating LEAs (as defined in this notice)--
    (i) Establish clear approaches to measuring student growth (as 
defined in this notice) and measure it for each individual student;
    (ii) Design and implement rigorous, transparent, and fair 
evaluation systems for teachers and principals that (a) differentiate 
effectiveness using multiple rating categories that take into account 
data on student growth (as defined in this notice) as a significant 
factor, and (b) are designed and developed with teacher and principal 
involvement;
    (iii) Conduct annual evaluations of teachers and principals that 
include timely and constructive feedback; as part of such evaluations, 
provide teachers and principals with data on student growth for their 
students, classes, and schools; and
    (iv) Use these evaluations, at a minimum, to inform decisions 
regarding--
    (a) Developing teachers and principals, including by providing 
relevant coaching, induction support, and/or professional development;
    (b) Compensating, promoting, and retaining teachers and principals, 
including by providing opportunities for highly effective teachers and 
principals (both as defined in this notice) to obtain additional 
compensation and be given additional responsibilities;
    (c) Whether to grant tenure and/or full certification (where 
applicable) to teachers and principals using rigorous standards and 
streamlined, transparent, and fair procedures; and
    (d) Removing ineffective tenured and untenured teachers and 
principals after they have had ample opportunities to improve, and 
ensuring that such decisions are made using rigorous standards and 
streamlined, transparent, and fair procedures.
    (D)(3) Ensuring equitable distribution of effective teachers and 
principals: The extent to which the State, in collaboration with its 
participating LEAs (as defined in this notice), has a high-quality plan 
and ambitious yet achievable annual targets to--
    (i) Ensure the equitable distribution of teachers and principals by 
developing a plan, informed by reviews of prior actions and data, to 
ensure that students in high-poverty and/or high-minority schools (both 
as defined in this notice) have equitable access to highly effective 
teachers and principals (both as defined in this notice) and are not 
served by ineffective teachers and principals at higher rates than 
other students; and
    (ii) Increase the number and percentage of effective teachers (as 
defined in this notice) teaching hard-to-staff subjects and specialty 
areas including mathematics, science, and special education; teaching 
in language instruction educational programs (as defined under Title 
III of the ESEA); and teaching in other areas as identified by the 
State or LEA.
    Plans for (i) and (ii) may include, but are not limited to, the 
implementation of incentives and strategies in such areas as 
recruitment, compensation, teaching and learning environments, 
professional development, and human resources practices and processes.
    (D)(4) Improving the effectiveness of teacher and principal 
preparation programs: The extent to which the State has a high-quality 
plan and ambitious yet achievable annual targets to--
    (i) Link student achievement and student growth (both as defined in 
this notice) data to the students' teachers and principals, to link 
this information to the in-State programs where those teachers and 
principals were prepared for credentialing, and to publicly report the 
data for each credentialing program in the State; and
    (ii) Expand preparation and credentialing options and programs that 
are successful at producing effective teachers and principals (both as 
defined in this notice).
    (D)(5) Providing effective support to teachers and principals: The 
extent to which the State, in collaboration with its participating LEAs 
(as defined in this notice), has a high-quality plan for its 
participating LEAs (as defined in this notice) to--
    (i) Provide effective, data-informed professional development, 
coaching, induction, and common planning and collaboration time to 
teachers and principals that are, where appropriate, ongoing and job-
embedded. Such support might focus on, for example, gathering, 
analyzing, and using data; designing instructional strategies for 
improvement; differentiating instruction; creating school environments 
supportive of data-informed decisions; designing instruction to meet 
the specific needs of high-need students (as defined in this notice); 
and aligning systems and removing barriers to effective implementation 
of practices designed to improve student learning outcomes; and
    (ii) Measure, evaluate, and continuously improve the effectiveness 
of those supports in order to improve student achievement (as defined 
in this notice).

E. Turning Around the Lowest-Achieving Schools

State Reform Conditions Criteria
    (E)(1) Intervening in the lowest-achieving schools and LEAs: The 
extent to which the State has the legal, statutory, or regulatory 
authority to intervene directly in the State's persistently lowest-
achieving schools (as defined in this notice) and in LEAs that are in 
improvement or corrective action status.
Reform Plan Criteria
    (E)(2) Turning around the lowest-achieving schools: The extent to 
which the State has a high-quality plan and ambitious yet achievable 
annual targets to--
    (i) Identify the persistently lowest-achieving schools (as defined 
in this notice) and, at its discretion, any non-Title I eligible 
secondary schools that would be considered persistently lowest-
achieving schools (as defined in this notice) if they were eligible to 
receive Title I funds; and
    (ii) Support its LEAs in turning around these schools by 
implementing one of the four school intervention models (as described 
in Appendix C): Turnaround model, restart model, school closure, or 
transformation model (provided that an LEA with more than nine 
persistently lowest-achieving schools may not use the transformation 
model for more than 50 percent of its schools).

F. General

State Reform Conditions Criteria
    (F)(1) Making education funding a priority: The extent to which--
    (i) The percentage of the total revenues available to the State (as 
defined in this notice) that were used to support elementary, 
secondary, and public higher education for FY 2009 was greater than or 
equal to the percentage of the total revenues available to the State 
(as defined in this notice) that were used to support elementary, 
secondary, and public higher education for FY 2008; and
    (ii) The State's policies lead to equitable funding (a) between 
high-need LEAs (as defined in this notice) and other LEAs, and (b) 
within LEAs,

[[Page 59804]]

between high-poverty schools (as defined in this notice) and other 
schools.
    (F)(2) Ensuring successful conditions for high-performing charter 
schools and other innovative schools: The extent to which--
    (i) The State has a charter school law that does not prohibit or 
effectively inhibit increasing the number of high-performing charter 
schools (as defined in this notice) in the State, measured (as set 
forth in Appendix B) by the percentage of total schools in the State 
that are allowed to be charter schools or otherwise restrict student 
enrollment in charter schools;
    (ii) The State has laws, statutes, regulations, or guidelines 
regarding how charter school authorizers approve, monitor, hold 
accountable, reauthorize, and close charter schools; in particular, 
whether authorizers require that student achievement (as defined in 
this notice) be one significant factor, among others, in authorization 
or renewal; encourage charter schools that serve student populations 
that are similar to local district student populations, especially 
relative to high-need students (as defined in this notice); and have 
closed or not renewed ineffective charter schools;
    (iii) The State's charter schools receive (as set forth in Appendix 
B) equitable funding compared to traditional public schools, and a 
commensurate share of local, State, and Federal revenues;
    (iv) The State provides charter schools with funding for facilities 
(for leasing facilities, purchasing facilities, or making tenant 
improvements), assistance with facilities acquisition, access to public 
facilities, the ability to share in bonds and mill levies, or other 
supports; and the extent to which the State does not impose any 
facility-related requirements on charter schools that are stricter than 
those applied to traditional public schools; and
    (v) The State enables LEAs to operate innovative, autonomous public 
schools (as defined in this notice) other than charter schools.
    (F)(3) Demonstrating other significant reform conditions: The 
extent to which the State, in addition to information provided under 
other State Reform Conditions Criteria, has created, through law, 
regulation, or policy, other conditions favorable to education reform 
or innovation that have increased student achievement or graduation 
rates, narrowed achievement gaps, or resulted in other important 
outcomes.
    Final Definitions: The Secretary establishes the following 
definitions for Race to the Top program terms that are not defined in 
the ARRA (or, by reference, in the ESEA).
    Alternative routes to certification means pathways to certification 
that are authorized under the State's laws or regulations, that allow 
the establishment and operation of teacher and administrator 
preparation programs in the State, and that have the following 
characteristics (in addition to standard features such as demonstration 
of subject-matter mastery, and high-quality instruction in pedagogy and 
in addressing the needs of all students in the classroom including 
English language learners and student with disabilities): (a) Can be 
provided by various types of qualified providers, including both 
institutions of higher education and other providers operating 
independently from institutions of higher education; (b) are selective 
in accepting candidates; (c) provide supervised, school-based 
experiences and ongoing support such as effective mentoring and 
coaching; (d) significantly limit the amount of coursework required or 
have options to test out of courses; and (e) upon completion, award the 
same level of certification that traditional preparation programs award 
upon completion.
    College enrollment refers to the enrollment of students who 
graduate from high school consistent with 34 CFR 200.19(b)(1) and who 
enroll in an institution of higher education (as defined in section 101 
of the Higher Education Act, Public Law 105-244, 20 U.S.C. 1001) within 
16 months of graduation.
    Common set of K-12 standards means a set of content standards that 
define what students must know and be able to do and that are 
substantially identical across all States in a consortium. A State may 
supplement the common standards with additional standards, provided 
that the additional standards do not exceed 15 percent of the State's 
total standards for that content area.
    Effective principal means a principal whose students, overall and 
for each subgroup, achieve acceptable rates (e.g., at least one grade 
level in an academic year) of student growth (as defined in this 
notice). States, LEAs, or schools must include multiple measures, 
provided that principal effectiveness is evaluated, in significant 
part, by student growth (as defined in this notice). Supplemental 
measures may include, for example, high school graduation rates and 
college enrollment rates, as well as evidence of providing supportive 
teaching and learning conditions, strong instructional leadership, and 
positive family and community engagement.
    Effective teacher means a teacher whose students achieve acceptable 
rates (e.g., at least one grade level in an academic year) of student 
growth (as defined in this notice). States, LEAs, or schools must 
include multiple measures, provided that teacher effectiveness is 
evaluated, in significant part, by student growth (as defined in this 
notice). Supplemental measures may include, for example, multiple 
observation-based assessments of teacher performance.
    Formative assessment means assessment questions, tools, and 
processes that are embedded in instruction and are used by teachers and 
students to provide timely feedback for purposes of adjusting 
instruction to improve learning.
    Graduation rate means the four-year or extended-year adjusted 
cohort graduation rate as defined by 34 CFR 200.19(b)(1).
    Highly effective principal means a principal whose students, 
overall and for each subgroup, achieve high rates (e.g., one and one-
half grade levels in an academic year) of student growth (as defined in 
this notice). States, LEAs, or schools must include multiple measures, 
provided that principal effectiveness is evaluated, in significant 
part, by student growth (as defined in this notice). Supplemental 
measures may include, for example, high school graduation rates; 
college enrollment rates; evidence of providing supportive teaching and 
learning conditions, strong instructional leadership, and positive 
family and community engagement; or evidence of attracting, developing, 
and retaining high numbers of effective teachers.
    Highly effective teacher means a teacher whose students achieve 
high rates (e.g., one and one-half grade levels in an academic year) of 
student growth (as defined in this notice). States, LEAs, or schools 
must include multiple measures, provided that teacher effectiveness is 
evaluated, in significant part, by student growth (as defined in this 
notice). Supplemental measures may include, for example, multiple 
observation-based assessments of teacher performance or evidence of 
leadership roles (which may include mentoring or leading professional 
learning communities) that increase the effectiveness of other teachers 
in the school or LEA.
    High-minority school is defined by the State in a manner consistent 
with its Teacher Equity Plan. The State should provide, in its Race to 
the Top application, the definition used.

[[Page 59805]]

    High-need LEA means an LEA (a) that serves not fewer than 10,000 
children from families with incomes below the poverty line; or (b) for 
which not less than 20 percent of the children served by the LEA are 
from families with incomes below the poverty line.
    High-need students means students at risk of educational failure or 
otherwise in need of special assistance and support, such as students 
who are living in poverty, who attend high-minority schools (as defined 
in this notice), who are far below grade level, who have left school 
before receiving a regular high school diploma, who are at risk of not 
graduating with a diploma on time, who are homeless, who are in foster 
care, who have been incarcerated, who have disabilities, or who are 
English language learners.
    High-performing charter school means a charter school that has been 
in operation for at least three consecutive years and has demonstrated 
overall success, including (a) substantial progress in improving 
student achievement (as defined in this notice); and (b) the management 
and leadership necessary to overcome initial start-up problems and 
establish a thriving, financially viable charter school.
    High-poverty school means, consistent with section 
1111(h)(1)(C)(viii) of the ESEA, a school in the highest quartile of 
schools in the State with respect to poverty level, using a measure of 
poverty determined by the State.
    High-quality assessment means an assessment designed to measure a 
student's knowledge, understanding of, and ability to apply, critical 
concepts through the use of a variety of item types and formats (e.g., 
open-ended responses, performance-based tasks). Such assessments should 
enable measurement of student achievement (as defined in this notice) 
and student growth (as defined in this notice); be of high technical 
quality (e.g., be valid, reliable, fair, and aligned to standards); 
incorporate technology where appropriate; include the assessment of 
students with disabilities and English language learners; and to the 
extent feasible, use universal design principles (as defined in section 
3 of the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, as amended, 29 U.S.C. 3002) 
in development and administration.
    Increased learning time means using a longer school day, week, or 
year schedule to significantly increase the total number of school 
hours to include additional time for (a) instruction in core academic 
subjects, including English; reading or language arts; mathematics; 
science; foreign languages; civics and government; economics; arts; 
history; and geography; (b) instruction in other subjects and 
enrichment activities that contribute to a well-rounded education, 
including, for example, physical education, service learning, and 
experiential and work-based learning opportunities that are provided by 
partnering, as appropriate, with other organizations; and (c) teachers 
to collaborate, plan, and engage in professional development within and 
across grades and subjects.\14\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \14\ Research supports the effectiveness of well-designed 
programs that expand learning time by a minimum of 300 hours per 
school year. (See Frazier, Julie A.; Morrison, Frederick J. ``The 
Influence of Extended-year Schooling on Growth of Achievement and 
Perceived Competence in Early Elementary School.'' Child 
Development. Vol. 69 (2), April 1998, pp. 495-497 and research done 
by Mass2020.) Extending learning into before- and after-school hours 
can be difficult to implement effectively, but is permissible under 
this definition with encouragement to closely integrate and 
coordinate academic work between in-school and out-of school. (See 
James-Burdumy, Susanne; Dynarski, Mark; Deke, John. ``When 
Elementary Schools Stay Open Late: Results from The National 
Evaluation of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program.'' 
http://www.mathematica-mpr.com/publications/redirect_
PubsDB.asp?strSite=http://epa.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/29/4/
296 Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Vol. 29 (4), 
December 2007, Document No. PP07-121.)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Innovative, autonomous public schools means open enrollment public 
schools that, in return for increased accountability for student 
achievement (as defined in this notice), have the flexibility and 
authority to define their instructional models and associated 
curriculum; select and replace staff; implement new structures and 
formats for the school day or year; and control their budgets.
    Instructional improvement systems means technology-based tools and 
other strategies that provide teachers, principals, and administrators 
with meaningful support and actionable data to systemically manage 
continuous instructional improvement, including such activities as: 
Instructional planning; gathering information (e.g., through formative 
assessments (as defined in this notice), interim assessments (as 
defined in this notice), summative assessments, and looking at student 
work and other student data); analyzing information with the support of 
rapid-time (as defined in this notice) reporting; using this 
information to inform decisions on appropriate next instructional 
steps; and evaluating the effectiveness of the actions taken. Such 
systems promote collaborative problem-solving and action planning; they 
may also integrate instructional data with student-level data such as 
attendance, discipline, grades, credit accumulation, and student survey 
results to provide early warning indicators of a student's risk of 
educational failure.
    Interim assessment means an assessment that is given at regular and 
specified intervals throughout the school year, is designed to evaluate 
students' knowledge and skills relative to a specific set of academic 
standards, and produces results that can be aggregated (e.g., by 
course, grade level, school, or LEA) in order to inform teachers and 
administrators at the student, classroom, school, and LEA levels.
    Involved LEAs means LEAs that choose to work with the State to 
implement those specific portions of the State's plan that necessitate 
full or nearly-full statewide implementation, such as transitioning to 
a common set of K-12 standards (as defined in this notice). Involved 
LEAs do not receive a share of the 50 percent of a State's grant award 
that it must subgrant to LEAs in accordance with section 14006(c) of 
the ARRA, but States may provide other funding to involved LEAs under 
the State's Race to the Top grant in a manner that is consistent with 
the State's application.
    Low-minority school is defined by the State in a manner consistent 
with its Teacher Equity Plan. The State should provide, in its Race to 
the Top application, the definition used.
    Low-poverty school means, consistent with section 
1111(h)(1)(C)(viii) of the ESEA, a school in the lowest quartile of 
schools in the State with respect to poverty level, using a measure of 
poverty determined by the State.
    Participating LEAs means LEAs that choose to work with the State to 
implement all or significant portions of the State's Race to the Top 
plan, as specified in each LEA's agreement with the State. Each 
participating LEA that receives funding under Title I, Part A will 
receive a share of the 50 percent of a State's grant award that the 
State must subgrant to LEAs, based on the LEA's relative share of Title 
I, Part A allocations in the most recent year, in accordance with 
section 14006(c) of the ARRA. Any participating LEA that does not 
receive funding under Title I, Part A (as well as one that does) may 
receive funding from the State's other 50 percent of the grant award, 
in accordance with the State's plan.
    Persistently lowest-achieving schools means, as determined by the 
State: (i) Any Title I school in improvement, corrective action, or 
restructuring that (a) Is among the lowest-achieving five percent of 
Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring or 
the lowest-achieving five Title I schools in improvement,

[[Page 59806]]

corrective action, or restructuring in the State, whichever number of 
schools is greater; or (b) Is a high school that has had a graduation 
rate as defined in 34 CFR 200.19(b) that is less than 60 percent over a 
number of years; and (ii) Any secondary school that is eligible for, 
but does not receive, Title I funds that (a) Is among the lowest-
achieving five percent of secondary schools or the lowest-achieving 
five secondary schools in the State that are eligible for, but do not 
receive, Title I funds, whichever number of schools is greater; or (b) 
Is a high school that has had a graduation rate as defined in 34 CFR 
200.19(b) that is less than 60 percent over a number of years.
    To identify the lowest-achieving schools, a State must take into 
account both (i) The academic achievement of the ``all students'' group 
in a school in terms of proficiency on the State's assessments under 
section 1111(b)(3) of the ESEA in reading/language arts and mathematics 
combined; and (ii) The school's lack of progress on those assessments 
over a number of years in the ``all students'' group.
    Rapid-time, in reference to reporting and availability of locally-
collected school- and LEA-level data, means that data are available 
quickly enough to inform current lessons, instruction, and related 
supports.
    Student achievement means--
    (a) For tested grades and subjects: (1) A student's score on the 
State's assessments under the ESEA; and, as appropriate, (2) other 
measures of student learning, such as those described in paragraph (b) 
of this definition, provided they are rigorous and comparable across 
classrooms.
    (b) For non-tested grades and subjects: Alternative measures of 
student learning and performance such as student scores on pre-tests 
and end-of-course tests; student performance on English language 
proficiency assessments; and other measures of student achievement that 
are rigorous and comparable across classrooms.
    Student growth means the change in student achievement (as defined 
in this notice) for an individual student between two or more points in 
time. A State may also include other measures that are rigorous and 
comparable across classrooms.
    Total revenues available to the State means either (a) projected or 
actual total State revenues for education and other purposes for the 
relevant year; or (b) projected or actual total State appropriations 
for education and other purposes for the relevant year.
    America COMPETES Act elements means (as specified in section 
6401(e)(2)(D) of that Act): (1) A unique statewide student identifier 
that does not permit a student to be individually identified by users 
of the system; (2) student-level enrollment, demographic, and program 
participation information; (3) student-level information about the 
points at which students exit, transfer in, transfer out, drop out, or 
complete P-16 education programs; (4) the capacity to communicate with 
higher education data systems; (5) a State data audit system assessing 
data quality, validity, and reliability; (6) yearly test records of 
individual students with respect to assessments under section 1111(b) 
of the ESEA (20 U.S.C. 6311(b)); (7) information on students not tested 
by grade and subject; (8) a teacher identifier system with the ability 
to match teachers to students; (9) student-level transcript 
information, including information on courses completed and grades 
earned; (10) student-level college readiness test scores; (11) 
information regarding the extent to which students transition 
successfully from secondary school to postsecondary education, 
including whether students enroll in remedial coursework; and (12) 
other information determined necessary to address alignment and 
adequate preparation for success in postsecondary education.
    This notice does not preclude us from proposing additional 
priorities, requirements, definitions, or selection criteria, subject 
to meeting applicable rulemaking requirements.

    Note:  This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in 
which we choose to use these priorities, requirements, definitions, 
and selection criteria, we invite applications through a notice in 
the Federal Register.

Executive Order 12866
    Under Executive Order 12866, the Secretary must determine whether 
this regulatory action is ``significant'' and therefore subject to the 
requirements of the Executive Order and subject to review by OMB. 
Section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866 defines a ``significant 
regulatory action'' as an action likely to result in a rule that may 
(1) have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more, or 
adversely affect a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, 
jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local or 
tribal governments, or communities in a material way (also referred to 
as an ``economically significant'' rule); (2) create serious 
inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by 
another agency; (3) materially alter the budgetary impacts of 
entitlement grants, user fees, or loan programs or the rights and 
obligations of recipients thereof; or (4) raise novel legal or policy 
issues arising out of legal mandates, the President's priorities, or 
the principles set forth in the Executive Order. Pursuant to the 
Executive Order, it has been determined that this regulatory action 
will have an annual effect on the economy of more than $100 million 
because the amount of government transfers provided through the Race to 
the Top Fund will exceed that amount. Therefore, this action is 
``economically significant'' and subject to OMB review under section 
3(f)(1) of the Executive Order.
    The potential costs associated with this regulatory action are 
those resulting from statutory requirements and those we have 
determined as necessary for administering this program effectively and 
efficiently.
    In assessing the potential costs and benefits--both quantitative 
and qualitative--of this regulatory action, we have determined that the 
benefits of the final priorities, requirements, definitions, and 
criteria justify the costs.
    We have determined, also, that this regulatory action does not 
unduly interfere with State, local, and tribal governments in the 
exercise of their governmental functions.
    Response to comments on cost/benefit analysis:
Administrative Burdens and Costs
    Comment: While one commenter noted that Race to the Top would 
provide significant funding to pay for reform plans, a second commenter 
stated that Race to the Top would not provide enough money to cover 
State administrative costs, while another described the NPP's 
requirements as overly burdensome and bureaucratic. One commenter 
recommended that the Department reduce the number of criteria and the 
detail in each because of the administrative and staff burdens involved 
in completing an application. Two commenters said the NPP estimate of 
time required to complete Race to the Top applications and data 
collection was too low. Two other commenters said that the Department 
should work to ensure an ``integrated and coordinated approach'' to 
requesting data and information with this and other programs and was 
concerned that the current number of requirements might discourage 
States from applying. Three commenters recommended that States include 
LEAs in developing their Race to the Top plans to improve the 
likelihood of successful

[[Page 59807]]

implementation, control costs, and increase benefits.
    Discussion: The Department agrees that sufficient funds will be 
available through the Race to the Top program, other Federal education 
programs, and State and local education resources to successfully 
implement Race to the Top plans. The Department also agrees that 
involving LEAs in developing Race to the Top plans will result in 
stronger, more cost-effective State plans. As for claims that Race to 
the Top requirements are overly burdensome and bureaucratic, the 
Department believes that each of the criteria and other requirements 
included in this final notice are essential for successfully evaluating 
Race to the Top applications, appropriately funding winning 
applications, and ensuring accountability for the use of Race to the 
Top funds. The Department also believes that its estimate of the time 
required to complete Race to the Top applications is reasonably 
accurate across the range of circumstances experienced by different 
States and LEAs. It is possible that some States will be deterred from 
applying for a Race to the Top grant because of the comprehensive 
nature of the program's requirements, but this is true of other 
voluntary competitive grant programs. The Department is working to 
streamline definitions and data collection across all ARRA programs as 
much as possible to minimize application and administrative burdens on 
States and LEAs. Finally, winning States will have considerable 
flexibility to use the 50 percent of Race to the Top funds that are not 
allocated to participating LEAs through the Title I, Part A formula to 
cover a wide range of costs related to administering awards, including 
grant oversight, monitoring, evaluation, data collection, and other 
activities.
    Changes: None.
Using Other Federal Funding
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the Department remind States 
of the flexibility of some Federal funding sources and encourage States 
to describe any Federal barriers to implementing their State plans and 
to request waivers of those provisions.
    Discussion: The final notice encourages States, in criterion 
(A)(2)(i)(d), to coordinate, reallocate, or repurpose other Federal, 
State, and local sources ``where feasible'' to align such resources 
with Race to the Top goals. In response to the commenter, we note that 
such waivers and flexibilities are often limited by statute. However, 
the Department fully supports efforts to coordinate the use of funds in 
order to make the most efficient and effective use of limited resources 
and will continue to consider States' requests for waivers that are 
permissible under current Federal statutes and regulations.
    Changes: None.
Impact on State Pension Plans
    Comment: One commenter stated that a potential cost of this 
competition would be the reduced teacher contributions to the public 
pension plan if charter schools continue to multiply in the State.
    Discussion: The Department is not in a position to consider the 
potential impact of increasing numbers of charter schools on 
contributions to teacher pension plans. However, we note that charter 
schools are public schools, and to the extent that charter school 
teachers are eligible to contribute to such pension plans, it seems 
reasonable that they would do so.
    Changes: None.
Need for Federal Regulatory Action
    These final priorities, requirements, definitions, and criteria are 
needed to implement the Race to the Top program. The Secretary does not 
believe that the statute, by itself, provides a sufficient level of 
detail to ensure that Race to the Top truly serves as a mechanism for 
driving significant education reform in the States. The authorizing 
language is very brief, and we believe the Congress likely expected the 
Secretary to augment this language, through rulemaking, in order to 
give greater meaning to the statutory provisions. Additionally, the 
statute expressly provides the Secretary the authority to require 
States to include in their application such information as the 
Secretary may reasonably require and to determine which States receive 
grants on the basis of other criteria as the Secretary determines 
appropriate.
    In the absence of specific criteria for Race to the Top grants, the 
Department would use the general criteria in 34 CFR 75.210 of the 
Education Department General Administrative Regulations in selecting 
States to receive grants. The Secretary does not believe the use of 
those general criteria would be appropriate for the Race to the Top 
competition, because they do not focus on the educational reforms that 
States must be implementing in order to receive a Race to the Top 
grant, on the specific uses of funds under Race to the Top, or on the 
plans that the Secretary believes States should develop for their Race 
to the Top grants.
Summary of Costs and Benefits
    The Department believes that the final priorities, requirements, 
definitions, and selection criteria will not impose significant costs 
on States, or on the LEAs and other entities that will receive 
assistance through the Race to the Top Fund. As discussed elsewhere, 
this final regulatory action is intended to create a framework for the 
award of approximately $4 billion in support of State and local efforts 
to implement critical educational reforms and to making substantial 
gains in student achievement, closing achievement gaps, improving high 
school graduation rates, and ensuring student preparation for success 
in college and careers. Without promulgation of priorities, 
requirements, definitions, and criteria for the Race to the Top 
competition, the Department would not have clear and defensible 
criteria for making very large grants to States.
    The Department believes that the costs imposed on States by the 
final priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria 
will be limited to the paperwork burden discussed elsewhere in this 
notice. The benefits conveyed on a State through its receipt of a grant 
will greatly exceed those costs. In addition, even States that apply 
but are unsuccessful in the competition may derive benefits, as the 
process of working with LEAs and other stakeholders on the State 
application may help accelerate the pace of education reforms in the 
State.
Accounting Statement
    As required by OMB Circular A-4 (available at 
http://www.Whitehouse.gov/omb/Circulars/a004/a-4.pdf), in the following table, 
we have prepared an accounting statement showing the classification of 
the expenditures associated with the provisions of this regulatory 
action. This table provides our best estimate of the Federal payments 
to be made to States under this program as a result of this regulatory 
action. Expenditures are classified as transfers to States.

  Table--Accounting Statement Classification of Estimated Expenditures
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Category                      Transfers (in millions)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Annual Monetized Transfers................  $3,956.
From Whom to Whom.........................  Federal Government to
                                             States.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As previously explained, ARRA provides approximately $4.3 billion 
for the Race to the Top Fund (referred to in

[[Page 59808]]

the statute as State Incentive Grants). In this notice, we require 
additional specific priorities, requirements, definitions, and criteria 
regarding the applications that individual States submit for 
approximately $4 billion of Race to the Top funds. At a later date, we 
may announce a competition for a separate Race to the Top Assessment 
Program, for approximately $350 million, to support the development of 
assessments by consortia of States.
Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995
    The application requirements and criteria finalized in this notice 
will require the collection of information that is subject to review by 
the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction 
Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520). The Department has received 
emergency approval for the information collections described below 
under Information Collection Reference Number 200910-1810-004.
Application Requirements
    There are seven application requirements that States must meet when 
submitting their applications:
    (a) Required signatures.
    (b) Progress in the four education reform areas (as described in 
criterion (A)(3)(i)).
    (c) The State's proposed budget (as described in criterion 
(A)(2)(i)(d)), including how it will (1) Achieve its targets (as 
described in criterion (A)(1)(iii)) and (2) give priority to high-need 
LEAs.
    (d) Required information for State Reform Conditions Criteria.
    (e) Required information for Reform Plan Criteria.
    (f) Attorney General certification.
    (g) Required information for addressing issues relating to 
assessments required under the ESEA or subgroups.
    (Please see the Application Requirements section for detailed 
descriptions.)
Selection Criteria
    There are 19 criteria that States may address when submitting their 
applications. These are--
    (A)(1) Articulating State's education reform agenda and LEAs' 
participation in it;
    (A)(2) Building strong statewide capacity to implement, scale up, 
and sustain proposed plans;
    (A)(3) Demonstrating significant progress in raising achievement 
and closing gaps;
    (B)(1) Developing and adopting common standards;
    (B)(2) Developing and implementing common, high-quality 
assessments;
    (B)(3) Supporting the transition to enhanced standards and high-
quality assessments;
    (C)(1) Fully implementing a statewide longitudinal data system;
    (C)(2) Accessing and using State data;
    (C)(3) Using data to improve instruction;
    (D)(1) Providing high-quality pathways for aspiring teachers and 
principals;
    (D)(2) Improving teacher and principal effectiveness based on 
performance;
    (D)(3) Ensuring equitable distribution of effective teachers and 
principals;
    (D)(4) Improving the effectiveness of teacher and principal 
preparation programs;
    (D)(5) Providing effective support to teachers and principals;
    (E)(1) Intervening in the lowest-achieving schools and LEAs;
    (E)(2) Turning around the lowest-achieving schools;
    (F)(1) Making education funding a priority;
    (F)(2) Ensuring successful conditions for high-performing charter 
schools and other innovative schools;
    (F)(3) Demonstrating other significant reform conditions.
    (Please see the ``Selection Criteria'' section for detailed 
descriptions.)
    We estimate that each SEA would spend approximately 681 hours of 
staff time to address the application requirements and criteria, 
prepare the application, and obtain necessary clearances. This estimate 
has increased slightly from the estimate of 642 hours in the NPP due to 
changes in the criteria. The total number of hours for all 52 SEAs is 
an estimated 35,412 hours (52 SEAs (the 50 States plus the District of 
Columbia and Puerto Rico) times 681 hours equals 35,412 hours). We 
estimate the average total cost per hour of the State-level staff who 
carry out this work to be $30.00 an hour. The total estimated cost for 
all States would be $1,062,360 ($30.00 x 35,412 hours = $1,062,360).
    Regulatory Flexibility Act Certification: The Secretary certifies 
that this regulatory action will not have a significant economic impact 
on a substantial number of small entities. The Secretary makes this 
certification because the only entities eligible to apply for grants 
are States, and States are not small entities.
    Intergovernmental Review: This program is subject to Executive 
Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR Part 79. One of the 
objectives of the Executive Order is to foster an intergovernmental 
partnership and a strengthened federalism. The Executive Order relies 
on processes developed by State and local governments for coordination 
and review of proposed Federal financial assistance.
    This document provides early notification of our specific plans and 
actions for this program.
    Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this 
document in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, 
audiotape, or computer diskette) on request to the program contact 
person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.
    Electronic Access to This Document: You can view this document, as 
well as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal 
Register, in text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) on the 
Internet at the following site: http://www.ed.gov/news/fedregister. To 
use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at 
this site.

    Dated: November 10, 2009.
Arne Duncan,
Secretary of Education.

Appendix A Evidence and Performance Measures

A. State Success Factors

(A)(1) Articulating State's Education Reform Agenda and LEAs' 
Participation in it
Evidence
    Evidence for (A)(1)(ii):
     An example of the State's standard Participating LEA MOU, 
and description of variations used, if any.
     The completed summary table indicating which specific 
portions of the State's plan each LEA is committed to implementing, and 
relevant summary statistics (see Summary Table for (A)(1)(ii)(b)).
     The completed summary table indicating which LEA 
leadership signatures have been obtained (see Summary Table for 
(A)(1)(ii)(c)).
    Evidence for (A)(1)(iii):
     The completed summary table indicating the numbers and 
percentages of participating LEAs, schools, K-12 students, and students 
in poverty (see Summary Table for (A)(1)(iii)).
     Tables and graphs that show the State's goals, overall and 
by subgroup, requested in the criterion, together with the supporting 
narrative. In addition, describe what the goals would look like were 
the State not to receive an award under this program.
    Evidence for (A)(1)(ii) and (A)(1)(iii):
     The completed detailed table, by LEA, that includes the 
information requested in the criterion (see Detailed Table for (A)(1)).

[[Page 59809]]

Performance Measures
     None required.
(A)(2) Building Strong Statewide Capacity to Implement, Scale up, and 
Sustain Proposed Plans
Evidence
    Evidence for (A)(2)(i)(d):
     The State's budget, as completed in Section XI of the 
application. The narrative that accompanies and explains the budget and 
how it connects to the State's plan, as completed in Section XI of the 
application.
    Evidence for (A)(2)(ii):
     A summary in the narrative of the statements or actions 
and inclusion of key statements or actions in the Appendix.
Performance Measures
     None required.
(A)(3) Demonstrating Significant Progress in Raising Achievement and 
Closing Gaps
Evidence
    Evidence for (A)(3)(ii):
    NAEP and ESEA results since at least 2003. Include in the Appendix 
all the data requested in the criterion as a resource for peer 
reviewers for each year in which a test was given or data was 
collected. Note that this data will be used for reference only and can 
be in raw format. In the narrative, provide the analysis of this data 
and any tables or graphs that best support the narrative.
Performance Measures
     None required.
(B) Standards and Assessments
(B)(1) Developing and Adopting Common Standards
Evidence
    Evidence for (B)(1)(i):
     A copy of the Memorandum of Agreement, executed by the 
State, showing that it is part of a standards consortium.
     A copy of the final standards or, if the standards are not 
yet final, a copy of the draft standards and anticipated date for 
completing the standards.
     Documentation that the standards are or will be 
internationally benchmarked and that, when well-implemented, will help 
to ensure that students are prepared for college and careers.
     The number of States participating in the standards 
consortium and the list of these States.
    Evidence for (B)(1)(ii):
    For Phase 1 applicants:
     A description of the legal process in the State for 
adopting standards, and the State's plan, current progress, and 
timeframe for adoption.
    For Phase 2 applicants:
     Evidence that the State has adopted the standards. Or, if 
the State has not yet adopted the standards, a description of the legal 
process in the State for adopting standards and the State's plan, 
current progress, and timeframe for adoption.
Performance Measures
     None required.
(B)(2) Developing and Implementing Common, High-quality Assessments
Evidence
    Evidence for (B)(2):
     A copy of the Memorandum of Agreement, executed by the 
State, showing that it is part of a consortium that intends to develop 
high-quality assessments (as defined in this notice) aligned with the 
consortium's common set of K-12 standards; or documentation that the 
State's consortium has applied, or intends to apply, for a grant 
through the separate Race to the Top Assessment Program (to be 
described in a subsequent notice); or other evidence of the State's 
plan to develop and adopt common, high-quality assessments (as defined 
in this notice).
     The number of States participating in the assessment 
consortium and the list of these States.
Performance Measures
     None required.
(B)(3) Supporting the Transition To Enhanced Standards and High-Quality 
Assessments
Evidence
     Any supporting evidence the State believes will be helpful 
to peer reviewers.
Performance Measures
     Optional.
(C) Data Systems To Support Instruction
(C)(1) Fully Implementing a Statewide Longitudinal Data System
Evidence
     Documentation for each of the America COMPETES Act 
elements (as defined in this notice) that is included in the State's 
statewide longitudinal data system.
Performance Measures
     None required.
(C)(2) Accessing and Using State Data
Evidence
     Any supporting evidence the State believes will be helpful 
to peer reviewers.
Performance Measures
     Optional.
(C)(3) Using Data To Improve Instruction
Evidence
     Any supporting evidence the State believes will be helpful 
to peer reviewers.
Performance Measures
     Optional.
(D) Great Teachers and Leaders
(D)(1) Providing High-Quality Pathways for Aspiring Teachers and 
Principals
    Evidence for (D)(1)(i):
     A description of the State's applicable laws, statutes, 
regulations, or other relevant legal documents, including information 
on the elements of the State's alternative routes (as described in the 
alternative routes to certification definition in this notice).
    Evidence for (D)(1)(ii):
     A list of the alternative certification programs operating 
in the State under the State's alternative routes to certification (as 
defined in this notice), and for each:
    [cir] The elements of the program (as described in the alternative 
routes to certification definition in this notice).
    [cir] The number of teachers and principals that successfully 
completed each program in the previous academic year.
    [cir] The total number of teachers and principals certified 
statewide in the previous academic year.
Performance Measures
     None required.
(D)(2) Improving Teacher and Principal Effectiveness Based on 
Performance
Evidence
     Any supporting evidence the State believes will be helpful 
to peer reviewers.
Performance Measures
    General goals to be provided at time of application, including 
baseline data and annual targets:
     (D)(2)(i) Percentage of participating LEAs that measure 
student growth (as defined in this notice).
     (D)(2)(ii) Percentage of participating LEAs with 
qualifying evaluation systems for teachers.

[[Page 59810]]

     (D)(2)(ii) Percentage of participating LEAs with 
qualifying evaluation systems for principals.
     (D)(2)(iv) Percentage of participating LEAs with 
qualifying evaluation systems that are used to inform:
    [cir] (D)(2)(iv)(a) Developing teachers and principals.
    [cir] (D)(2)(iv)(b) Compensating teachers and principals.
    [cir] (D)(2)(iv)(b) Promoting teachers and principals.
    [cir] (D)(2)(iv)(b) Retaining effective teachers and principals.
    [cir] (D)(2)(iv)(c) Granting tenure and/or full certification 
(where applicable) to teachers and principals.
    [cir] (D)(2)(iv)(d) Removing ineffective tenured and untenured 
teachers and principals.
    General data to be provided at time of application, including 
baseline data:
     Total number of participating LEAs.
     Total number of principals in participating LEAs.
     Total number of teachers in participating LEAs.
    Data to be requested of grantees in the future:
     (D)(2)(ii) Number of teachers and principals in 
participating LEAs with qualifying evaluation systems.
     (D)(2)(iii) Number of teachers and principals in 
participating LEAs with qualifying evaluation systems who were 
evaluated as effective or better in the prior academic year.
     (D)(2)(iii) Number of teachers and principals in 
participating LEAs with qualifying evaluation systems who were 
evaluated as ineffective in the prior academic year.
     (D)(2)(iv)(b) Number of teachers and principals in 
participating LEAs with qualifying evaluation systems whose evaluations 
were used to inform compensation decisions in the prior academic year.
     (D)(2)(iv)(b) Number of teachers and principals in 
participating LEAs with qualifying evaluation systems who were 
evaluated as effective or better and were retained in the prior 
academic year.
     (D)(2)(iv)(c) Number of teachers in participating LEAs 
with qualifying evaluation systems who were eligible for tenure in the 
prior academic year.
     (D)(2)(iv)(c) Number of teachers in participating LEAs 
with qualifying evaluation systems whose evaluations were used to 
inform tenure decisions in the prior academic year.
     (D)(2)(iv)(d) Number of teachers and principals in 
participating LEAs who were removed for being ineffective in the prior 
academic year.
(D)(3) Ensuring Equitable Distribution of Effective Teachers and 
Principals
Evidence
    Evidence for (D)(3)(i):
     Definitions of high-minority and low-minority schools as 
defined by the State for the purposes of the State's Teacher Equity 
Plan.
Performance Measures

    Note: All information below is requested for Participating LEAs.

    Performance Measures for (D)(3)(i):
    General goals to be provided at time of application, including 
baseline data and annual targets:
     Percentage of teachers in schools that are high-poverty, 
high-minority, or both (as defined in this notice) who are highly 
effective (as defined in this notice).
     Percentage of teachers in schools that are low-poverty, 
low-minority, or both (as defined in this notice) who are highly 
effective (as defined in this notice).
     Percentage of teachers in schools that are high-poverty, 
high-minority, or both (as defined in this notice) who are ineffective.
     Percentage of teachers in schools that are low-poverty, 
low-minority, or both (as defined in this notice) who are ineffective.
     Percentage of principals leading schools that are high-
poverty, high-minority, or both (as defined in this notice) who are 
highly effective (as defined in this notice).
     Percentage of principals leading schools that are low-
poverty, low-minority, or both (as defined in this notice) who are 
highly effective (as defined in this notice).
     Percentage of principals leading schools that are high-
poverty, high-minority, or both (as defined in this notice) who are 
ineffective.
     Percentage of principals leading schools that are low-
poverty, low-minority, or both (as defined in this notice) who are 
ineffective.
    General data to be provided at time of application, including 
baseline data:
     Total number of schools that are high-poverty, high-
minority, or both (as defined in this notice).
     Total number of schools that are low-poverty, low-
minority, or both (as defined in this notice).
     Total number of teachers in schools that are high-poverty, 
high-minority, or both (as defined in this notice).
     Total number of teachers in schools that are low-poverty, 
low-minority, or both (as defined in this notice).
     Total number of principals leading schools that are high-
poverty, high-minority, or both (as defined in this notice).
     Total number of principals leading schools that are low-
poverty, low-minority, or both (as defined in this notice).
    Data to be requested of grantees in the future:
     Number of teachers and principals in schools that are 
high-poverty, high-minority, or both (as defined in this notice) who 
were evaluated as highly effective (as defined in this notice) in the 
prior academic year.
     Number of teachers and principals in schools that are 
high-poverty, high-minority, or both (as defined in this notice) who 
were evaluated as ineffective in the prior academic year.
     Number of teachers and principals in schools that are low-
poverty, low-minority, or both (as defined in this notice) who were 
evaluated as highly effective (as defined in this notice) in the prior 
academic year.
     Number of teachers and principals in schools that are low-
poverty, low-minority, or both (as defined in this notice) who were 
evaluated as ineffective in the prior academic year.
    Performance Measures for (D)(3)(ii):
    General goals to be provided at time of application, including 
baseline data and annual targets:
     Percentage of mathematics teachers who were evaluated as 
effective or better.
     Percentage of science teachers who were evaluated as 
effective or better.
     Percentage of special education teachers who were 
evaluated as effective or better.
     Percentage of teachers in language instruction educational 
programs who were evaluated as effective or better.
    General data to be provided at time of application, including 
baseline data:
     Total number of mathematics teachers.
     Total number of science teachers.
     Total number of special education teachers.
     Total number of teachers in language instruction 
educational programs.
    Data to be requested of grantees in the future:
     Number of mathematics teachers in participating LEAs who 
were evaluated as effective or better in the prior academic year.
     Number of science teachers in participating LEAs who were 
evaluated as effective or better in the prior academic year.
     Number of special education teachers in participating LEAs 
who were evaluated as effective or better in the prior academic year.

[[Page 59811]]

     Number of teachers in language instruction educational 
programs in participating LEAs who were evaluated as effective or 
better in the prior academic year.
(D)(4) Improving the Effectiveness of Teacher and Principal Preparation 
Programs
Evidence
     Any supporting evidence the State believes will be helpful 
to peer reviewers.
Performance Measures
    General goals to be provided at time of application, including 
baseline data and annual targets:
     Percentage of teacher preparation programs in the State 
for which the public can access data on the achievement and growth (as 
defined in this notice) of the graduates' students.
     Percentage of principal preparation programs in the State 
for which the public can access data on the achievement and growth (as 
defined in this notice) of the graduates' students.
    General data to be provided at time of application, including 
baseline data:
     Total number of teacher credentialing programs in the 
State.
     Total number of principal credentialing programs in the 
State.
     Total number of teachers in the State.
     Total number of principals in the State.
    Data to be requested of grantees in the future:
     Number of teacher credentialing programs in the State for 
which the information (as described in the criterion) is publicly 
reported.
     Number of teachers prepared by each credentialing program 
in the State for which the information (as described in the criterion) 
is publicly reported.
     Number of principal credentialing programs in the State 
for which the information (as described in the criterion) is publicly 
reported.
     Number of principals prepared by each credentialing 
program in the State for which the information (as described in the 
criterion) is publicly reported.
     Number of teachers in the State whose data are aggregated 
to produce publicly available reports on the State's credentialing 
programs.
     Number of principals in the State whose data are 
aggregated to produce publicly available reports on the State's 
credentialing programs.
(D)(5) Providing Effective Support to Teachers and Principals
Evidence
     Any supporting evidence the State believes will be helpful 
to peer reviewers.
Performance Measures
     Optional.
(E) Turning Around the Lowest-Achieving Schools
(E)(1) Intervening in the Lowest-Achieving Schools and LEAs
Evidence
    Evidence for (E)(1):
     A description of the State's applicable laws, statutes, 
regulations, or other relevant legal documents.
Performance Measures
     None required.
(E)(2) Turning Around the Lowest-Achieving Schools
Evidence
     The State's historic performance on school turnaround, as 
evidenced by the total number of persistently lowest-achieving schools 
(as defined in this notice) that States or LEAs attempted to turn 
around in the last five years, the approach used, and the results and 
lessons learned to date.
Performance Measures
     The number of schools for which one of the four school 
intervention models (described in Appendix C) will be initiated each 
year.
(F) General
(F)(1) Making Education Funding a Priority
Evidence
    Evidence for (F)(1)(i):
     Financial data to show whether and to what extent 
expenditures, as a percentage of the total revenues available to the 
State (as defined in this notice), increased, decreased, or remained 
the same.
    Evidence for (F)(1)(ii):
     Any supporting evidence the State believes will be helpful 
to peer reviewers.
Performance Measures
     None required.
(F)(2) Ensuring Successful Conditions for High-Performing Charter 
Schools and Other Innovative Schools
Evidence
    Evidence for (F)(2)(i):
     A description of the State's applicable laws, statutes, 
regulations, or other relevant legal documents.
     The number of charter schools allowed under State law and 
the percentage this represents of the total number of schools in the 
State.
     The number and types of charter schools currently 
operating in the State.
    Evidence for (F)(2)(ii):
     A description of the State's approach to charter school 
accountability and authorization, and a description of the State's 
applicable laws, statutes, regulations, or other relevant legal 
documents.
     For each of the last five years:
    [cir] The number of charter school applications made in the State.
    [cir] The number of charter school applications approved.
    [cir] The number of charter school applications denied and reasons 
for the denials (academic, financial, low enrollment, other).
    [cir] The number of charter schools closed (including charter 
schools that were not reauthorized to operate).
    [cir] The reasons for the closures or non-renewals (academic, 
financial, low enrollment, other).
    Evidence for (F)(2)(iii):
     A description of the State's applicable statutes, 
regulations, or other relevant legal documents.
     A description of the State's approach to charter school 
funding, the amount of funding passed through to charter schools per 
student, and how those amounts compare with traditional public school 
per-student funding allocations.
    Evidence for (F)(2)(iv):
     A description of the State's applicable statutes, 
regulations, or other relevant legal documents.
     A description of the statewide facilities supports 
provided to charter schools, if any.
    Evidence for (F)(2)(v):
     A description of how the State enables LEAs to operate 
innovative, autonomous public schools (as defined in this notice) other 
than charter schools.
Performance Measures
     None required.
(F)(3) Demonstrating Other Significant Reform Conditions
Evidence
    Evidence for (F)(3):
     A description of the State's other applicable key 
education laws, statutes, regulations, or relevant legal documents.
Performance Measures
     None required.

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Appendix C School Intervention Models

    There are four school intervention models referred to in Selection 
Criterion (E)(2): Turnaround model, restart model, school closure, or 
transformation model. Each is described below.
    (a) Turnaround model. (1) A turnaround model is one in which an LEA 
must--
    (i) Replace the principal and grant the principal sufficient 
operational flexibility (including in staffing, calendars/time, and 
budgeting) to implement fully a comprehensive approach in order to 
substantially improve student achievement outcomes and increase high 
school graduation rates;
    (ii) Using locally adopted competencies to measure the 
effectiveness of staff who can work within the turnaround environment 
to meet the needs of students,
    (A) Screen all existing staff and rehire no more than 50 percent; 
and
    (B) Select new staff;
    (iii) Implement such strategies as financial incentives, increased 
opportunities for promotion and career growth, and more flexible work 
conditions that are designed to recruit, place, and retain staff with 
the skills necessary to meet the needs of the students in the 
turnaround school;
    (iv) Provide staff with ongoing, high-quality, job-embedded 
professional development that is aligned with the school's 
comprehensive instructional program and designed with school staff to 
ensure that they are equipped to facilitate effective teaching and 
learning and have the capacity to successfully implement school reform 
strategies;
    (v) Adopt a new governance structure, which may include, but is not 
limited to, requiring the school to report to a new ``turnaround 
office'' in the LEA or SEA, hire a ``turnaround leader'' who reports 
directly to the Superintendent or Chief Academic Officer, or enter into 
a multi-year contract with the LEA or SEA to obtain added flexibility 
in exchange for greater accountability;
    (vi) Use data to identify and implement an instructional program 
that is research-based and ``vertically aligned'' from one grade to the 
next as

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well as aligned with State academic standards;
    (vii) Promote the continuous use of student data (such as from 
formative, interim, and summative assessments) to inform and 
differentiate instruction in order to meet the academic needs of 
individual students;
    (viii) Establish schedules and implement strategies that provide 
increased learning time (as defined in this notice); and
    (ix) Provide appropriate social-emotional and community-oriented 
services and supports for students.
    (2) A turnaround model may also implement other strategies such 
as--
    (i) Any of the required and permissible activities under the 
transformation model; or
    (ii) A new school model (e.g., themed, dual language academy).
    (b) Restart model. A restart model is one in which an LEA converts 
a school or closes and reopens a school under a charter school 
operator, a charter management organization (CMO), or an education 
management organization (EMO) that has been selected through a rigorous 
review process. (A CMO is a non-profit organization that operates or 
manages charter schools by centralizing or sharing certain functions 
and resources among schools. An EMO is a for-profit or non-profit 
organization that provides ``whole-school operation'' services to an 
LEA.) A restart model must enroll, within the grades it serves, any 
former student who wishes to attend the school.
    (c) School closure. School closure occurs when an LEA closes a 
school and enrolls the students who attended that school in other 
schools in the LEA that are higher achieving. These other schools 
should be within reasonable proximity to the closed school and may 
include, but are not limited to, charter schools or new schools for 
which achievement data are not yet available.
    (d) Transformation model. A transformation model is one in which an 
LEA implements each of the following strategies:
    (1) Developing and increasing teacher and school leader 
effectiveness.
    (i) Required activities. The LEA must--
    (A) Replace the principal who led the school prior to commencement 
of the transformation model;
    (B) Use rigorous, transparent, and equitable evaluation systems for 
teachers and principals that--
    (1) Take into account data on student growth (as defined in this 
notice) as a significant factor as well as other factors such as 
multiple observation-based assessments of performance and ongoing 
collections of professional practice reflective of student achievement 
and increased high-school graduations rates; and
    (2) Are designed and developed with teacher and principal 
involvement;
    (C) Identify and reward school leaders, teachers, and other staff 
who, in implementing this model, have increased student achievement and 
high-school graduation rates and identify and remove those who, after 
ample opportunities have been provided for them to improve their 
professional practice, have not done so;
    (D) Provide staff with ongoing, high-quality, job-embedded 
professional development (e.g., regarding subject-specific pedagogy, 
instruction that reflects a deeper understanding of the community 
served by the school, or differentiated instruction) that is aligned 
with the school's comprehensive instructional program and designed with 
school staff to ensure they are equipped to facilitate effective 
teaching and learning and have the capacity to successfully implement 
school reform strategies; and
    (E) Implement such strategies as financial incentives, increased 
opportunities for promotion and career growth, and more flexible work 
conditions that are designed to recruit, place, and retain staff with 
the skills necessary to meet the needs of the students in a 
transformation school.
    (ii) Permissible activities. An LEA may also implement other 
strategies to develop teachers' and school leaders' effectiveness, such 
as--
    (A) Providing additional compensation to attract and retain staff 
with the skills necessary to meet the needs of the students in a 
transformation school;
    (B) Instituting a system for measuring changes in instructional 
practices resulting from professional development; or
    (C) Ensuring that the school is not required to accept a teacher 
without the mutual consent of the teacher and principal, regardless of 
the teacher's seniority.
    (2) Comprehensive instructional reform strategies.
    (i) Required activities. The LEA must--
    (A) Use data to identify and implement an instructional program 
that is research-based and ``vertically aligned'' from one grade to the 
next as well as aligned with State academic standards; and
    (B) Promote the continuous use of student data (such as from 
formative, interim, and summative assessments) to inform and 
differentiate instruction in order to meet the academic needs of 
individual students.
    (ii) Permissible activities. An LEA may also implement 
comprehensive instructional reform strategies, such as--
    (A) Conducting periodic reviews to ensure that the curriculum is 
being implemented with fidelity, is having the intended impact on 
student achievement, and is modified if ineffective;
    (B) Implementing a schoolwide ``response-to-intervention'' model;
    (C) Providing additional supports and professional development to 
teachers and principals in order to implement effective strategies to 
support students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment 
and to ensure that limited English proficient students acquire language 
skills to master academic content;
    (D) Using and integrating technology-based supports and 
interventions as part of the instructional program; and
    (E) In secondary schools--
    (1) Increasing rigor by offering opportunities for students to 
enroll in advanced coursework (such as Advanced Placement or 
International Baccalaureate; or science, technology, engineering, and 
mathematics courses, especially those that incorporate rigorous and 
relevant project-, inquiry-, or design-based contextual learning 
opportunities), early-college high schools, dual enrollment programs, 
or thematic learning academies that prepare students for college and 
careers, including by providing appropriate supports designed to ensure 
that low-achieving students can take advantage of these programs and 
coursework;
    (2) Improving student transition from middle to high school through 
summer transition programs or freshman academies;
    (3) Increasing graduation rates through, for example, credit-
recovery programs, re-engagement strategies, smaller learning 
communities, competency-based instruction and performance-based 
assessments, and acceleration of basic reading and mathematics skills; 
or
    (4) Establishing early-warning systems to identify students who may 
be at risk of failing to achieve to high standards or graduate.
    (3) Increasing learning time and creating community-oriented 
schools.
    (i) Required activities. The LEA must--
    (A) Establish schedules and implement strategies that provide 
increased learning time (as defined in this notice); and

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    (B) Provide ongoing mechanisms for family and community engagement.
    (ii) Permissible activities. An LEA may also implement other 
strategies that extend learning time and create community-oriented 
schools, such as--
    (A) Partnering with parents and parent organizations, faith- and 
community-based organizations, health clinics, other State or local 
agencies, and others to create safe school environments that meet 
students' social, emotional, and health needs;
    (B) Extending or restructuring the school day so as to add time for 
such strategies as advisory periods that build relationships between 
students, faculty, and other school staff;
    (C) Implementing approaches to improve school climate and 
discipline, such as implementing a system of positive behavioral 
supports or taking steps to eliminate bullying and student harassment; 
or
    (D) Expanding the school program to offer full-day kindergarten or 
pre-kindergarten.
    (4) Providing operational flexibility and sustained support.
    (i) Required activities. The LEA must--
    (A) Give the school sufficient operational flexibility (such as 
staffing, calendars/time, and budgeting) to implement fully a 
comprehensive approach to substantially improve student achievement 
outcomes and increase high school graduation rates; and
    (B) Ensure that the school receives ongoing, intensive technical 
assistance and related support from the LEA, the SEA, or a designated 
external lead partner organization (such as a school turnaround 
organization or an EMO).
    (ii) Permissible activities. The LEA may also implement other 
strategies for providing operational flexibility and intensive support, 
such as--
    (A) Allowing the school to be run under a new governance 
arrangement, such as a turnaround division within the LEA or SEA; or
    (B) Implementing a per-pupil school-based budget formula that is 
weighted based on student needs.
    If a school identified as a persistently lowest-achieving school 
has implemented, in whole or in part within the last two years, an 
intervention that meets the requirements of the turnaround, restart, or 
transformation models, the school may continue or complete the 
intervention being implemented.

Appendix D Participating LEA Memorandum of Understanding

Background
    Participating LEAs (as defined in this notice) in a State's Race to 
the Top plans are required to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding 
(MOU) or other binding agreement with the State that specifies the 
scope of the work being implemented by the participating LEA (as 
defined in this notice).
    To support States in working efficiently with LEAs to determine 
which LEAs will participate in the State's Race to the Top application, 
the U.S. Department of Education has produced a model MOU, which is 
attached. This model MOU may serve as a template for States; however, 
States are not required to use it. They may use a different document 
that includes the key features noted below and in the model, and they 
should consult with their State and local attorneys on what is most 
appropriate for their State that includes, at a minimum, these key 
elements.
    The purpose of the model MOU is to help to specify a relationship 
that is specific to Race to the Top and is not meant to detail all 
typical aspects of State/LEA grant management or administration. At a 
minimum, a strong MOU should include the following, each of which is 
described in detail below: (i) Terms and conditions; (ii) a scope of 
work; and, (iii) signatures.
    (i) Terms and conditions: Each participating LEA (as defined in 
this notice) should sign a standard set of terms and conditions that 
includes, at a minimum, key roles and responsibilities of the State and 
the LEA; State recourse for LEA non-performance; and assurances that 
make clear what the participating LEA (as defined in this notice) is 
agreeing to do.
    (ii) Scope of work: MOUs should include a scope of work (included 
in the model MOU as Exhibit I) that is completed by each participating 
LEA (as defined in this notice). The scope of work must be signed and 
dated by an authorized LEA and State official. In the interest of time 
and with respect for the effort it will take for LEAs to develop 
detailed work plans, the scope of work submitted by LEAs and States as 
part of their Race to the Top applications may be preliminary. 
Preliminary scopes of work should include the portions of the State's 
proposed reform plans that the LEA is agreeing to implement. (Note that 
in order to participate in a State's Race to the Top application an LEA 
must agree to implement all or significant portions of the State's 
reform plans.)
    If a State is awarded a Race to the Top grant, the participating 
LEAs (as defined in this notice) will have up to 90 days to complete 
final scopes of work (which could be attached to the model MOU as 
Exhibit II), which must contain detailed work plans that are consistent 
with the preliminary scope of work and with the State's grant 
application, and should include the participating LEA's (as defined in 
this notice) specific goals, activities, timelines, budgets, key 
personnel, and annual targets for key performance measures.
    (iii) Signatures: The signatures demonstrate (a) an acknowledgement 
of the relationship between the LEA and the State, and (b) the strength 
of the participating LEA's (as defined in this notice) commitment.
     With respect to the relationship between the LEA and the 
State, the State's counter-signature on the MOU indicates that the 
LEA's commitment is consistent with the requirement that a 
participating LEA (as defined in this notice) implement all or 
significant portions of the State's plans.
     The strength of the participating LEA's (as defined in 
this notice) commitment will be demonstrated by the signatures of the 
LEA superintendent (or an equivalent authorized signatory), the 
president of the local school board (or equivalent, if applicable) and 
the local teacher's union leader (if applicable).
    Please note the following with regard to the State's Race to the 
Top application:
     In its application, the State need only provide an example 
of the State's standard Participating LEA MOU; it does not have to 
provide copies of every MOU signed by its participating LEAs (as 
defined in this notice). If, however, States and LEAs have made any 
changes to the State's standard MOU, the State must provide description 
of the changes that were made. Please note that the Department may, at 
any time, request copies of all MOUs between the State and its 
participating LEAs.
     Please see criterion (A)(1)(ii) and (A)(1)(iii), and the 
evidence requested in the application, for more information and ways in 
which States will be asked to summarize information about the LEA MOUs.
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[FR Doc. E9-27426 Filed 11-17-09; 8:45 am]

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