March 30, 2010

Race to the Top winners and losers

So officially, Delaware and Tennessee won (note, Andy Smarick: I spelled both states and your name correctly). But in the side competition (including brackets and sidebar bets), who won and lost?

Those who predicted political decision-making were wrong. I know Mike Petrilli has wondered if politics has intervened in the reviewing process (and thought the secrecy of reviewer identity was political suicide). When New York, Ohio, and Illinois are frozen out, it's hard to spin the choice of Delaware and Tennessee as political (though Petrilli takes a half-hearted stab at it). Addendum: Rick Hess takes a firmer stab at it, though I think you could take any possible RttT awardee list and fabricate a post hoc "this was all politics" explanation.

Those who predicted a "low bar" in getting money were wrong. In the end, when Arne Duncan said USDOE would give the money to a small number of states, he meant it.

Those who predicted "reforminess" as the secret criterion were wrong. All the cool kids were assuming Florida and Louisiana would win because, well, they're the fair-haired boys this year. Wrong! While stakeholder buy-in (or the lack thereof by Florida's unions) was part of the reason for Florida's four-place finish, there were other ways Florida's application lost points, and Michelle Rhee's application for DC fell at the bottom of the Tweet 16.

Here's who won in the side competition: the reviewers. At least at first reading, the reviewers' comments on Florida's application were serious in comparing the application to the scoring guidelines. I'm sure you can quibble with scores here and there, but I think any sane journal editor might be tempted to kill to have this quality of effort from manuscript referees.

Especially in Florida, there's a great deal of second-guessing and spinning after the announcement of results. I'm tempted to pitch in, but I'll decline, at least for today.

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Posted in Accountability Frankenstein on March 30, 2010 7:40 AM |