DOE SealGeorgia's Race to the Top

"Making Education Work for All Georgians"

Issue: # 5

September - October 2011 

Dear     ,

Welcome, this is the Race to the Top (RT3) E Newsletter.  In this newsletter, we highlight the latest developments regarding Georgia's RT3 efforts.  Please feel free to forward this issue to others and encourage them to subscribe.  

If you have questions about Georgia's Race to the Top efforts, then please don't hesitate to contact us.
Jon Rogers
Race to the Top - Director of Communications
Department of Education
404-463-1522 (Office)

Governor Deal Announces Winners of Innovation Fund Grants

Innovation Fund Awards Announcements

Gov. Nathan Deal announced five winners of Innovation Fund grants, a $19.4 million competitive grant program created through Georgia's Race to the Top (RT3) plan. Through the Innovation Fund, the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget awards grants to partnerships between local education authorities or charter schools, institutions of higher education, businesses and nonprofit organizations that develop or implement innovative and high-impact programs aimed at producing positive outcomes for students. 


"The Race to the Top Innovation Fund is a unique opportunity to fuel the innovative ideas of education leaders from across the state," said Deal. "The projects selected for awards during this first round represent truly innovative and collaborative approaches to educating students. We look forward to scaling the best of these practices to other schools across the state."

The five selected grant recipients are:


Drew Charter School Partners of Innovation - A partnership between Georgia State University and Georgia Institute for Technology and Drew Charter School to create one of the state's first STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) schools.

Teach for Georgia - A teacher pipeline program modeled after Teach for America that will recruit Georgia Institute for Technology STEM majors to teach in rural areas of Georgia.

21st Century STEM Collaborations: Applications of the Direct to Discovery Model - A collaboration between Barrow County Schools and the Georgia Institute for Technology to integrate the Direct to Discovery method into the requirements of the Georgia Performance Standards.


The KIPP Teacher Fellows Program - A teacher induction program that will train Georgia State University and Mercer University College of Education graduates and deploy them to metro Atlanta schools where they are most needed.


The Regional Charter STEM Academy - A partnership between White, Hall, and Lumpkin county school systems and North Georgia College & State University to create a tri-county STEM charter school.


For more information on the Innovation Fund, please click HERE.

Common Core GPS Telecast and Trainings

On September 21st, State School Superintendent, Dr. John Barge and Department of Education staff will host a State-wide telecast regarding Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS).  The broadcast, which provides an overview of the new standards, will be streamed on-line via GPB TV  (

from 3 - 4 pm


This production can be viewed at any time after the broadcast at the web address listed above.


Common Core Training Schedule
Click on Image for Common Core GPS Brochure

The above schedule lists the follow-up broadcasts, which will provide specific subject and grade level inforation.


Race to the Top's (RT3) role in CCGPS will allow the State to:

  • Provide face-to-face training to teachers about CCSS through Regional Meetings     
  • Develop formative and benchmark assessments, which provides feedback for teachers to use throughout the school year 
  • Create proficiency-based pathways for Georgia Students

**For more information about Common Core Georgia Performance Standards, visit the Dept. of Education's Common Core webpage

Performance Learning Center Celebrates First Graduate

Alex Reyes
Photo from Rome News Tribune
Through Race to the Top funds, Georgia is expanding its existing partnership with Communities in Schools in Georgia (CISGA).  These Performance Learning Centers (PLCs) mission is to reduce the number of students electing not to complete their graduation requirements when faced with such a decision. 
The PLC allows students to work at their own pace on the course work needed to complete requirements in an alternative setting that is flexible for work or family schedules.

Currently, two PLCs have opened (Richmond PLC and Floyd County PLC).  A third PLC will open in Carrollton City next Fall.  The Richmond County PLC has 100 students with a goal of 150 by next year.  The Floyd County PLC has 38 students with a goal of 75 for this year and 150 by next year. 


Floyd County had its first graduate, Alex Reyes (pictured above), on August 12, 2011.


For more information about Alex's story and the Floyd County PLC, please check out this Rome News-Tribune article.

Race to the Top Year One Progress

Georgia State Sealby Governor Nathan Deal 


Aug. 24 marks the one-year anniversary of Georgia's win in the Race to the Top grant competition. Developed by education stakeholders from across the state, Georgia's plan provided an unprecedented opportunity to invest $400 million in reshaping our education system.  I have long supported the principles set forth in Georgia's Race to the Top plan and look forward to using it as the vehicle to advance my goal of ensuring our graduates are college and career ready.


Over the last year, we have made significant progress toward this goal, particularly in the areas of measuring teacher and leader effectiveness, implementing rigorous standards for learning, and providing opportunities for educators around the state to implement innovative ideas to improve student achievement.


As we all know, an effective teacher in the classroom is the most important part of a child's education.  For too long, annual teacher evaluations have held little meaning because nearly all teachers receive a passing score, regardless of their impact on student learning.  High-quality teachers receive little or no reward, and low-performing teachers remain in the classroom without intervention.


As a result, reforming our teacher evaluation system is a core piece of our Race to the Top plan.  Representatives from the 26 Race to the Top partner school districts have led discussions on how to improve our teacher evaluation system to ensure that it holds teachers accountable in a fair, diversified way.  It will include several measures of teacher quality, including classroom observations, academic progress of students and student surveys.  The resulting system will be piloted in those 26 districts in the 2011-2012 school year.


We have also made progress toward implementing the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS) for language arts and math, our name for the Common Core State Standards.  Representatives from states across the country, including Georgia, developed these internationally benchmarked standards to ensure that a student's location does not impact what he or she is expected to learn.  We have joined 42 other states in this effort because it is critical for our students to compete in the national -and global -- marketplace, and we will fully implement the Common Core during the 2012-13 academic year.


Another bright spot in our Race to the Top efforts has been our Innovation Fund.  The $19.4 million fund was set up to support partnerships between K-12 schools, higher education, businesses and nonprofit organizations to develop innovative approaches to improve student achievement, particularly in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Several weeks ago, we awarded the first round of Innovation Fund grants to five applicants.  These proposals included plans for charter schools that emphasize the importance of STEM, hands-on learning opportunities for students using cutting edge technology, and recruitment and training programs to place effective teachers in schools across Georgia where they are most needed.  This fall, we will accept applications for a second round of grants.  I am confident that successful grants can be scaled to schools throughout the state.


Significant progress has already been made, and Georgia will continue to implement meaningful education reforms that will have long lasting and positive impacts on our students and our state.  However, I believe that significant improvement in student success cannot occur unless we broaden our focus to early childhood education.  A large amount of a child's life trajectory is determined before he or she steps into a kindergarten classroom.  As a result, my office, along with the Department of Early Care and Learning, is applying to the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge this fall.  This federal grant will enable us to leverage further support for early childhood education, particularly increasing access and quality across the state. 


Looking back over the past year, it is clear that Race to the Top has provided a unique opportunity to rethink how we educate Georgia's students.  I look forward to seeing our Race to the Top plan continue to come to fruition to ensure that all students  graduate from high school, achieve success and are competitive with their peers throughout the United States and the world.


In This Issue
Innovation Fund Winners
Common Core Standards Telecast
PLC Celebrates 1st Graduate
RT3 Year One Progress


Race to the Top: Georgia

University to help create regional technology charter school

GSU partnerships support innovative education programs

Race to the Top Funds to help Mercer Students Enter the Work Force

Atlanta charter school gets $1 million grant