Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien is leading the state's Race to the Top effort.

Colorado officials have released the latest summary of their plan to win the national Race to the Top, including a map of school districts signing on to participate.

The summary, in the form of a 22-slide Powerpoint, provides brief details of what would occur if the state wins some of the $4.3 billion prize in the federal grant competition.

States must submit their applications by Jan. 19. Each application must address four areas – standards and assessment, data systems, great teachers and leaders, and support for struggling schools.

Colorado’s summary bullets short descriptors under each of those areas, including:

  • Creation of the Colorado Center for Educator Excellence, a non-profit charged with researching teacher performance measured by student growth and disseminating best practices.
  • Creation of the Educator Effectiveness Office, a state-level office to provide technical assistance to school districts in developing and implementing new educator evaluation and effectiveness management systems.
  • Identify, develop and implement high-quality evaluation systems in all participating school districts without such systems by 2012-13; each district would receive two staffers to implement the system and to provide extensive training and support to teachers and principals.
  • Teach for America would expand the size of its Colorado corps to more than 800 teachers and allow access to its tools for using student growth data to evaluate teacher effectiveness. (The Atlantic wrote about this.)
  • State would identify a select group of highly effective teachers on the basis of student growth data and award $10,000 grants to each teacher and a matching grant to their schools to incentivize the use of their classrooms as models for other educators.
  • Creation of the Colorado Turnaround Center, a non-profit overseen by the state that would build the supply of school operators, share knowledge about successful strategies and mobilize supports for children in failing schools.
  • Creation of an integrated statewide data system that links information about students from preschool into college, using data from sources such as the Department of Education, Department of Higher Education, Human Services and Corrections.

As of Thursday, 118 school districts representing 90 percent of Colorado’s K-12 students have committed to participating if the state is successful in its Race to the Top effort, state officials said.

That includes districts, such as Douglas County, Aurora, Boulder and Greeley, where school boards have signed agreements to participate.

It also includes districts where leaders have verbally indicated they will sign on.  Adams Five-Star school board members are expected to vote on the R2T agreement Saturday, for example, while school boards in Denver and Cherry Creek are expected to vote Monday on their participation agreements.

Click here to see a copy of the state’s full Race to the Top plan summary. State officials have said they will not publicly release the actual application until after the Jan. 19 deadline because R2T is so competitive.

Nina Lopez, special assistant to Education Commissioner Dwight Jones, said the summary is expected to be the last released prior to the deadline. Friday, Lopez said some revisions may be made as the state’s application undergoes a final editing but substantial changes are not expected.

Click on this link to see previous Ed News stories about R2T and other stimulus funds.

Nancy Mitchell can be reached at nmitchell@pebc.org or 303-478-4573.