Blame Bush?

Per the two Race to the Top posts below (here and here) it’s hard not to see a legacy of the Reading First issue being an aversion to anything that could remotely be considered a conflict of interest in the review process.   It seems likely the result is some of the inexplicable Race to the Top scoring.   The issue isn’t who won, DE and TN have good state teams and good apps.*  And the issue isn’t NAEP scores, this wasn’t a contest about NAEP performance.

Rather, when you read the scorecards the issue is who didn’t win, and apparently why in terms of where points were given and deducted.  Betting really big on teacher effectiveness and turnarounds — two avowed priorities — didn’t seem to be a winning strategy.  And the approach to state capacity does seem to have had the outcome some worried about. The points on stakeholder buy-in, while an issue, were not a dispositive factor for many finalists.

As the Obama Administration seeks to shift to more competitive grant programs and more large ones this issue has big implications.

*Disc: I helped winners and losers and finalists and non-finalists, prepare for the competition but don’t have any stake in any particular outcome.

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