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First to the Top

As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, President Barack Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the United States Department of Education's Race to the Top grant competition. Race to the Top is a $4.35 billion incentive program designed to make sweeping education reforms at the state level. The state's Race to the Top proposal focused on the following key areas of improvement: Standards and Assessments, Data Systems to Support Instructions, Great Teachers and Leaders, Turning Around Low-Performing Schools, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Education. Institutions of higher education and THEC will be instrumental in ensuring the success of the Race to the Top initiatives and will play significant roles in achieving the program's overall goals.

  • Communication
  • Teacher Training Programs
  • STEM Initiatives
  • Accountability & Reporting

With Tennessee's successful Race to the Top bid, higher education will have a substantial role in improving the education of Tennessee's citizens. Not only will higher education be involved in shaping the education reforms being enacted but will also be directly responsible for numerous programs. THEC will direct and manage numerous projects with a total fiscal impact of over $20 million.

Please see the STEM Initiatives tab for professional development projects funded in Round II.

Integrating Common Core Standards into Pre-Service Training

  • The Common Core Standards were adopted in Tennessee in the summer of 2010. These standards raise the level of expectation for student achievement. Teacher education faculty will be trained on these standards and curriculum will be developed to be integrated into the teacher pre-service training programs. This curriculum will focus on the level of rigor the new standards set, differentiated instruction to bring all students on level, and the new assessment system in development.

Integrating Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS) into Pre-Service Training

  • The Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System provides data on the progress that students make in a given year based on their past performance on the state's standardized tests. Higher education institutions will train pre-service teachers on TVAAS so that teachers can use data to improve instruction on day one in the classroom. This will be done through a series of modules that will be integrated into the pre-service curriculum.
  • TVAAS Training Session Materials

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) is a focal point of the First to the Top Initiatives and has garnered national attention as an area of great need in education. Through the UTeach Program and the STEM Professional Development Grant Program, both pre-service and in-service teachers are receiving high quality STEM content and pedagogy training.

UTeach Program Replication
The UTeach program began at the University of Texas, Austin with the goal of increasing the number of math and science teachers.  The program is being replicated state-wide in Tennessee and is expected to exponentially increase the number of highly effective math and science teachers in the state.   The University of Memphis is being funded through First to the Top.  The University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Middle Tennessee State University are also replicating the program through other funding mechanisms.

STEM Professional Development
Higher education institutions will offer high quality professional development to K-12 STEM teachers to increase their content knowledge and skill in teaching STEM subjects.

With Tennessee's successful Race to the Top bid, higher education will have a substantial role in improving the education of Tennessee's citizens. Not only will higher education be involved in shaping the education reforms being enacted but will also be directly responsible for numerous programs. THEC will direct and manage numerous projects with a total fiscal impact of over $20 million.

Report Card on the Effectiveness of Teacher Preparation Programs

School Leader Study

  • The study will examine the effectiveness of school leader preparation programs in the state through an annual report card.

Federal Reporting Standards

  • All recipients of American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) funds must complete quarterly 1512 reporting.
  • All First to the Top programs report monthly to the US Department of Education on progress made toward goals. Reporting for the overall FTTT program can be found here.

 

First to the Top Contact Information

Victoria Harpool
Program Coordinator
(615) 741-0745