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Stakeholders Come Together to Discuss Next Steps for RTTT

It’s expected to be over a month before Connecticut policymakers can separate fact from fiction regarding why the state was not named a finalist in the Race to the Top (RTTT) competition for large sums of federal funds.

“There’s much speculation, but we really won’t know precisely why Connecticut was not chosen in this first round of funding until the U.S. Department of Education sends written feedback to the state education commissioner in mid-April.  For now, I want to commend everyone involved in the application procedure, especially our many local associations who signed on to the application,” says CEA President Phil Apruzzese.

Shortly after the announcement came from Washington today that Connecticut was not a finalist, the co-chairs of the legislature’s education committee called stakeholders together at a news conference to announce that “education summits” would commence to ensure that Connecticut’s spring application for the second round of RTTT funding would be even better than the first.

State Education Commissioner Mark McQuillan said, “We will win the next round.  We have to go even farther.”

CEA Executive Director John Yrchik participated in the March 4 news conference, saying the round one application was “very comprehensive.”  Only 15 out of 40 states were declared finalists for the first round of funding.

Yrchik explains, “The RTTT application gave guidelines, but there was tremendous uncertainty about exactly what would drive federal decision making.  As Connecticut prepares its second application, there is much to talk about because we must use the best research-based strategies.  The beauty of the process is that in the weeks ahead, all the stakeholders can come together to develop what is best for our state.”

At the news conference, McQuillan responded to allegations that there were 120 questions left blank on Connecticut’s RTTT application.  “This is inaccurate.  It’s a misperception about our application given the directions we were given from the U.S. Department of Education,” said McQuillan.

Senator Thomas Gaffey and Representative Andrew Fleishmann, co-chairs of the Education Committee, say the following are just some of the areas that they expect stakeholders to focus on during the education summits and other meetings in the weeks and months ahead: comprehensive high school reform; the TEAM (Teacher Education and Mentoring) program; data systems linking teachers and student achievement; and alternative routes to certification for teacher leaders.

Watch the complete news conference, divided into two parts, below.

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