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Looking For a Few Good Panelists…

Peer reviewers to be exact. And, hey, it’s not me that’s looking, but it’s the USDOE.

That’s right the USDOE is looking for peer reviewers for it’s Race to the Top Fund.

So, if you have “experience
providing thoughtful, objective, constructive, and timely oral and
written feedback to applicants and/or organizations on successes and
opportunities for improvement,” or a “deep understanding of teaching and learning, specifically K-12; or an “understanding
of and experience with implementing student-achievement-focused reform
plans at scale in order to know what approaches have the greatest
likelihood of success at the school, district, and state levels,” or a whole host of other possible qualifications that you can read below, see the instructions at the bottom and good luck!

August 31, 2009

Dear Colleagues:

The U.S. Department of Education is seeking recommendations for reviewers for the $4.35 billion Race to the Top Fund
competitive grant program.  This program presents an unprecedented
opportunity to support far-reaching improvement in schools across the
country.  Therefore, we hope to assemble panels of our nation’s most
distinguished educators, policymakers, and scholars to participate in
the review process for this ambitious reform initiative.  I am writing
to ask for your help in identifying candidates for consideration. 

Advancing school reform is the key to America’s long-term
prosperity, and this is an important moment because we have the
resources in the Race to the Top Fund to dramatically improve our
nation’s schools.  This historic investment in school reform will
reward and provide incentives for states that have created the
conditions for transformational change, set ambitious goals around
improving student outcomes, and developed clear and comprehensive plans
to reach those goals.  The Race to the Top Fund focuses on four key
areas of education reform:

  • Adopting standards and assessments that prepare students for success in college and careers;
  • Recruiting, developing, retaining, and rewarding effective teachers and principals;
  • Building
    data systems that measure student success and inform teachers and
    principals on how they can improve their practices; and
  • Turning around our lowest-performing schools.

Please let us know as soon as possible and no later than September
30, 2009, if you and/or qualified individuals you recommend would be
interested in serving on a panel to review Race to the Top Fund
applications.  I encourage you to share this letter with anyone you
feel is qualified.  For more information about the review process or
about applying to be on a panel, please read on.

Thank you so much.

  Sincerely,
  /s/
  Arne Duncan

Qualifications of Reviewers

The Race to the Top team is seeking 50 to 80 individuals that
represent wide ranges of experience to serve on peer review panels. 
The U.S. Department of Education (Department) is seeking individuals
with expertise in some, if not all, of the following areas to serve as
reviewers of applications for the Race to the Top Fund:

  • Education Policy
    • Policy implementation experience and/or legal expertise
  • Education Reform
    • Deep understanding of teaching and learning, specifically K-12
    • Broad
      understanding of each of the four education reform areas (standards and
      assessments, teachers and school leaders, data systems, school
      turnaround), and specific expertise in at least one of these areas
    • Demonstrated experience in implementing or supporting reforms that led to improved student outcomes
    • Deep understanding of using data to inform continuous improvement at the classroom, school, district, and/or state levels
    • Understanding
      of and experience with implementing student-achievement-focused reform
      plans at scale in order to know what approaches have the greatest
      likelihood of success at the school, district, and state levels
  • Capacity and Scale
    • Knowledge
      of effective operational and organizational/management infrastructures
      at state and district levels (e.g., people, processes, accountability
      structures, technology systems, program and grant management)
    • Ability to assess the effectiveness of leadership teams and key contributors
    • Knowledge
      of or experience with relationships between states and districts, as
      well as successful engagement of diverse stakeholders at each level
  • Application Review and Evaluation
    • Experience
      participating in (as an evaluator) or managing state, federal, and/or
      philanthropic grant reviews (preferably with experience in applying
      scoring rubrics and specific criteria to this process)
    • Experience
      providing thoughtful, objective, constructive, and timely oral and
      written feedback to applicants and/or organizations on successes and
      opportunities for improvement

Reviewers will work individually and on a panel with other reviewers
to evaluate and score applications.  Panels will be unbiased and
balanced according to areas of reviewers’ expertise.  The Race to the
Top competition will have two phases, and reviewers may participate in
one or both phases.  Reviews are anticipated to take place between
January 2010 and March 2010 for Phase 1, and between June 2010 and
September 2010 for Phase 2.  Reviewers will participate in a total of
approximately 6-12 days of review, some of which may be in Washington,
DC, and some of which will be done remotely.  Reviewers will receive an
honorarium for their time.

Application Process

We encourage you to forward this letter to those you feel are
qualified. You may send us a list of people you recommend, and of
course you may submit your own application.  To apply, please submit a
cover letter and curriculum vitae to racetothetopreview@ed.gov
For those you recommend, please include their name, e-mail address,
phone number, organization, and title, and we will contact them.  We
strongly encourage you to submit your applications and recommendations
as soon as possible; all applications must be submitted by September
30, 2009.

Conflict of Interest

Please be aware that any applicant’s selection as a peer reviewer
for the Race to the Top Fund competition will include a review for
possible, apparent, and/or actual conflicts of interest.  All
applicants will be required to complete a conflict of interest
questionnaire.  The questionnaire generally seeks to obtain information
about the applicant’s professional experience(s), including any
financial interest that the applicant may have in any state’s Race to
the Top Fund application.  If a potential conflict of interest is
identified, the Department will consider whether the applicant can
participate as a peer reviewer in full compliance with all applicable
Department policies and procedures.  In this way, the Department is
able to ensure the objective and efficient management and
administration of the Race to the Top Fund program, which ultimately
ensures the integrity of the Department’s functions and the public’s
confidence in that integrity.



Direct link to Duncan letter

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