What are states doing with their Race to the Top funding?

On February 1, 2013, the U.S. Department of Education released state-specific reports for 12 Race to the Top grantees, detailing their progress on transforming education at the local level. The reports highlight the second-year work and accomplishments of states awarded funding through the first two phases of Race to the Top: Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Tennessee.

“Race to the Top has sparked dramatic changes, and in only the second year of the program we’re seeing those results reach the classroom,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Most states have made tremendous strides and met aggressive timelines on work that has the potential to transform public education for years to come. Comprehensive education reform isn’t easy, and a few states have faced major challenges in implementing their plans. As we reach the halfway point, we need to see every state show results.”

The 12 reports provide detailed, transparent summaries of each state’s accomplishments and challenges in year two, which covered the 2011-12 school year, as well as the milestones they have ahead for year three. Each state’s work is measured against its own plan and progress in year two of its Race to the Top grant.

States reached a number of benchmarks in year two, as they implemented unique plans built around Race to the Top’s four assurance areas: implementing college- and career-ready standards and assessments, building robust data systems to improve instruction, supporting great teachers and school leaders, and turning around persistently low-performing schools. Some states made strategic investments to develop tools and resources for educators, students and parents; launch state-level support networks; or develop additional science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) schools or programs. Others launched new pipelines for teachers and leaders, supported key efforts to turn around low-performing schools, or implemented teacher and principal evaluations to better support educators and inform continuous improvement.

The Department’s Implementation and Support Unit (ISU) has partnered with states to track progress and provide feedback as they implement large-scale reform.  Where states encountered delays and challenges, the ISU worked with them on adjustments to help move the work forward, while holding states accountable to their commitments. ISU officials will continue to provide annual updates about states’ progress under Race to the Top.

In addition to the year two state reports, the Department posted Annual Performance Report (APR) data from states that received Race to the Top funding in phases one, two and three. These data helped to inform the year two reports, which were also developed with information from site visits, communications with state staff, and other performance reports. The APR helps to advance the Department’s efforts to provide transparent information and allow the public to follow grantees’ progress in implementing reform plans and meeting ambitious goals for student outcomes, including performance measures, student growth and closing achievement gaps.

The Race to the Top program, which made its first awards in 2010, has provided 24 states and D.C. with about $5 billion through three phases of the flagship competition and two rounds of the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge. Last year, the Department launched the first Race to the Top-District program, which will fund 16 applicants – representing 55 school districts across 11 states and D.C. – with close to $400 million to support locally developed plans that will prepare every student to succeed in college and their careers. The Department’s fiscal year 2013 budget requested an additional $850 million for the Race to the Top program to address the unmet demand of states and districts that have demonstrated a commitment to aggressive and comprehensive education reform.

For a report by this blog from last year about Race to the Top implementation, please click this link: https://coreeducationllc.com/blog2/georgia-still-in-hot-water-over-race-to-the-top/

For more information about the Race to the Top program, and to review the 12 state-specific year two reports and APR data, visit: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/index.html