Perhaps the third time was a charm. New Jersey will receive $38 million in federal Race to the Top 3 (RTTT3) grant funds. The award is substantially less than the $400-500 million New Jersey could have won under RTTT1 and RTTT2. Half of the $38 million will go to participating districts, while the other half will be used to support Gov. Chris Christie’s education reform agenda.
Unlike rounds one and two, RTTT3 was not a competition. Nine states that did not win grants in Race to the Top 2 were invited to apply for a portion of $61 million in federal monies. Ultimately seven states, including New Jersey, properly submitted the necessary paperwork.
All elements in the RTTT3 applications had to have been originally proposed in the states’ RTTT2 applications. That is why the N.J. Department of Education (NJDOE) was not required to seek endorsement from NJEA or other partners.
As part of its application, New Jersey selected four objectives in line with the Christie administration’s education reform agenda:
- Development of a model curriculum – six-week units aligned to the Common Core – with formative assessments for all core content subject areas and professional development aligned to the curriculum.
- Development and rollout of an online Instructional Improvement System (IIS) that will serve as a platform for teachers to access the model curriculum and other supports like formative assessments, instructional tools, videos, and professional development aligned to the curriculum.
- Implementation of the current teacher evaluation pilot program plus support and funds for the rollout of the principal evaluation pilot program next year.
- Expansion of high-quality school options by strengthening NJDOE’s charter school authorizing practices for both new and existing charter schools.
Roughly two-thirds of the state's allocation will be spent on the development of model curriculum and IIS.
Any district in the state will have the ability to sign up to share in the Race to the Top 3 award, and $19 million will be split between those districts that choose to participate. At press time, the NJDOE had not yet provided details on the application process.
All participating districts will partner with the state to develop new Memorandums of Understanding and Scopes of Work that will describe how each district’s allocation will be invested. The amount of money each district will receive will be based on its relative share of funding under Part A of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).