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City Schools Miss Out On 'Race To The Top' Federal Funds

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TWC News: City Schools Miss Out On 'Race To The Top' Federal Funds
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New York City was not among the 16 winners of the U.S. Education Department's Race to the Top competition, which provides funding to schools. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

It was 224 pages long, but New York City's application for the Race to Top competition still came up short, which means city schools won't get $40 million in prize money.

"We need to improve on our application," said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott. "Next time, we'll make sure the application is even stronger."

Race to the Top is the Obama administration's signature education initiative. At first, it was a competition between states. This year, for the first time, individual school districts could apply.

The city was widely considered a contender, but in a field of 371 competitors, New York only came in 43rd. The top 16 were winners.

"We submitted a strong application," Walcott said. "Unfortunately, in some applications, there may be points taken off."

Out of 210 potential points, New York earned 186, just 10 points shy of the winning school districts. The city lost points across many different categories for two reasons: there were no timetables on new initiatives and no word on who would be in charge. If those two things had been included, it's likely the city would have won.

One reviewer also accused the city of having low expectations, something Walcott disputes.

"New York City has been ambitious over the last 10 to 11 years in what we've been doing," he said. "We've set an ambitious agenda. We continue to set an ambitious agenda, as far as not just the achievement gap but giving all of our students high-quality schools.

The reviewer pointed to what the city wrote in its application. For example, the graduation rate for white students is 21 percent higher than black students. The city said its goal is to make that gap 19 percent within six years.

The reviewer wrote: "By all means, the goal is achievable but does not represent an ambitious attempt to close the gap...[or] remedy the current malady of low achievement and performance."

The $40 million would have been directed to high-need schools. The city is also at risk of losing $200 million from the state unless it puts a teacher evaluation deal in place by mid-January.

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