Indiana’s New Evaluation System Shows Race To The Top Is Paying Off

Our guest blogger is Robin Chait, Associate Director for Teacher Quality at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

The Indiana Department of Education recently introduced a new evaluation system for principals that raises expectations for effective leaders in the state and will soon introduce a teacher evaluation system that raises standards for teachers as well. Even though Indiana is not a recipient of Race to the Top funding, it is still implementing one its core provisions.

This development is one of many that demonstrates that Race to the Top is having an effect that extends beyond the states that are receiving funds. Other examples include the fact that Colorado continues to implement the teacher and principal evaluation system that it proposed as part of its Race to the Top application, despite not receiving an award. Similarly, Louisiana continues to implement its new teacher evaluation system, despite not receiving an award.

Yet members of Congress and some practitioners are criticizing the value of the program:

[House Education Committee Chairman John] Kline (R-MN) repeated his concerns over reauthorizing the federal Race to the Top funding and his plans as chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee. “I’m supportive of reducing the federal presence from the federal government and fixing No Child Left Behind,” Kline said.

This is unfortunate since the program has gotten tremendous bang for its buck. RTTT only provided $4.35 billion in funding, yet many states have adopted reforms that would have been unimaginable two years ago. For example, 43 states so far have adopted a set of rigorous, common state standards in language arts and mathematics.

Congress should authorize another round of the Race to the Top when they consider the President’s budget this sprint. It’s hard to imagine a more productive use of federal education funds.