Race to the Top

Iowa has joined the chase for federal funds.

The Iowa Department of Education notes that Iowa will be competing to receive $60 million to $175 million over four years.

This amounts to $15 million to $43.75 million per year or 0.3% to 0.95% of the $4.5 billion budgeted for K-12 spending for the 2009-2010 school year.*

To compete for this money, Iowa has to commit to adopting common K-12 standards by August 2, 2010 (see F-1).

The Common Core Standards Initiative standards have not been completed, yet the Iowa Department of Education has already committed Iowa to adopting the standards in order to apply for the Race to the Top funds (see Race to the Top State Plan Highlights).

As soon as it is available to states, Iowa will undertake a process of adopting and integrating the Common Core with the Iowa Core. We will re-convene the work groups that developed the Iowa Core to ensure alignment and integration between the Common Core and the Iowa Core.

The Common Core Standards Initiative (CCSI) has stirred up debate about the quality of the standards being drafted.  See Joanne Jacobs, Jay P. Greene (here and here) and kitchen table math, the sequel for discussion of common standards and CCSI, in particular.

Does the opportunity to compete for a four year award of funding that amounts to less than 1% of current K-12 spending justify a rush to adopt any and all reforms that Arne Duncan favors?  Or should Iowa be looking to states like Massachusetts, that consistently outperforms Iowa on the NAEP assessments and taking a more thoughtful approach to school reform.

*See Table 164 on page 265 of the 2009 COE Report.