SEATTLE – Although Washington state is not a finalist in the federal Race to the Top education grant competition, state officials said Tuesday they would continue down the path they have laid out for education reform.
“When we put together our application, we were committed, win or lose, to making sure we would carry out education reform our way, the Washington way,” Gov. Chris Gregoire and Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn said in a joint statement.
The U.S. education secretary announced the finalists Tuesday. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have a chance to win a share of $3.4 billion.
The states are: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Carolina.
Dorn said in a telephone interview that he believed Washington was not chosen as a finalist because its application did not include a plan for allowing charter schools in the state.
The competition was designed to reward ambitious reforms aimed at improving struggling schools and closing the achievement gap. Washington’s application included new teacher and principal evaluations; a focus on science, math and technology; and a new accountability system to force struggling schools to make dramatic reforms.
“There are some things that will still move. It just won’t move as fast with the resources not there,” Dorn said.