After failing to win the first round of grants, the State of Illinois applied Wednesday for a second round of federal Race to the Top funds.
The $4 billion in Race to the Top school grants are a signature effort of Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education and the former CEO of the Chicago Public Schools. State applications for the funds are judged on how many school reforms a given state has made or plans to make.
But one reform deemed central to the Department of Education's new push -- tying teacher compensation to student performance -- has been met with mixed results in Chicago, according to a new report.
Three years ago, Chicago Public Schools launched a pilot program at ten schools to do just that, offering teachers bonuses if their students performed well on standardized testing. The Chicago Tribune has some of the results:
One of the schools taking part in the Chicago Teacher Advancement Program has been closed for poor performance. A few others have opted out of it. Perhaps most surprising, schools in the program for two years actually scored lower on assessments than schools in their first year of implementation, the study found.
While some view the study as evidence that such programs are ineffective, advocates say that with just two years of data, it's too early to judge the program, funded with a $27.5 million federal grant, and the larger concept of performance pay.
Still, state officials like Gov. Pat Quinn are pushing reforms to try to secure the coveted Race to the Top cash. And Quinn seems to think the state has a good chance this time around.
Quinn said that Duncan told him that "you had a very good application" last time around.
Phase 2 applications will be evaluated by the Department of Education over the summer.
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