MTA President Paul Toner on Race to the Top approval

I am extremely proud of the collaboration that took place during the planning stages for Massachusetts’ second-round Race to the Top application. This winning application was carefully crafted based on the ideas and feedback offered by key stakeholders in our public schools. Our proposal is the result of a true partnership that includes the MTA and other major education groups and takes into account the insights, expertise and experience of our public school teachers.

Unlike education officials in some other states, the leaders of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education worked in concert with other stakeholders and proposed a system that doesn’t measure the value of a teacher’s work only by an arbitrary test score. Instead, we proposed an evaluation program that measures effectiveness based on student growth scores and a broad range of additional indicators of teacher performance and student learning outcomes.

Massachusetts students are first in the nation in terms of academic achievement. That’s a wonderful accomplishment that we hope to maintain. But we must also ensure that we close the achievement gaps that exist between students within our schools. The resources and funding provided by the Race to the Top program will allow us to expand on the great work our public school educators are already doing in Massachusetts. But we must continue to strive for increased education funding because while RTTT helps, it does not fix the problem of inadequate resources for struggling students.

I am hopeful that the established partnership and spirit of collaboration that existed during the planning stages will continue through the implementation of the grant. If the process moves forward with care and consideration for the best interests of our students and respect for the professional expertise of the teachers and administrators who serve them, the funds received from the U.S. Department of Education have great potential to help Massachusetts lead the nation in reducing pernicious achievement gaps and moving our schools forward in the years ahead.