The U.S. Department of Education released today state-specific reports profiling first-year progress on comprehensive education reform under Race to the Top. The reports document reform efforts underway in Delaware, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Tennessee, the 12 grantees that secured Race to the Top funding in 2010 through the competition's first two phases.
"Race to the Top states have made tremendous strides in this first year," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "These twelve states have acted with courage and commitment in taking on ambitious education reform. Their year one work has helped lay the foundation for long-term, statewide improvements centered on doing what's best for students."
The 12 state-specific reports provide summaries of accomplishments made and setbacks experienced by states in pursuing reforms around Race to the Top's four assurance areasraising academic standards, building robust data systems to improve instruction, supporting great teachers and school leaders, and turning around persistently low-performing schools.
State reports offer transparent and detailed accounts of work accomplished in year one measured against first-year plans outlined in the Race to the Top applications. Each report and progress achieved is unique to a state's plan with some grantees using year one to engage stakeholders, secure contracts or establish partnerships that will help implement large-scale reforms in years two through four, while others have put into place new systems or policies that have already reached districts or schools within their state.
Throughout year one, the Department's Implementation and Support Unit (ISU) partnered with states' Race to the Top teams to track progress and offer feedback, guidance and overall support for their reform work. As state plans encountered delays and obstacles, the Department worked with grantees to thoroughly and thoughtfully review, discuss and approve changes to timelines and budgets that help states move forward with their Race to the Top work.
"These twelve states created aggressive plans that set a high bar for reform, setting out to accomplish extraordinarily tough work that comes with its share of challenges" added Duncan. "We are supporting states to help them achieve their goals. At the same time, we will hold them accountable for those commitments."
Year one Race to the Top reports were drafted by ISU officials. Annual reports will be available again in years 2 and 3 along with a final report in year 4 to provide transparent and ongoing updates on progress.
Later this week, the Department will convene with Race to the Top teams to provide support and encourage collaborative work across state lines. Teams will be comprised of state and districts representatives together with stakeholders. The convening will focus on supporting great teachers and leaders as well as transitioning to college and career ready standards.
To date, a total of 21 states and D.C. have been awarded grants through three phases of Race to the Top, which includes the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Fund. These states serve 65 percent of the nation's children and 59 percent of the low-income students in the country.
In the final omnibus spending bill for fiscal year 2012, Congress provided an additional $550 million for Race to the Top. The bill includes language that will allow the Department to create a district-level competition and continue the Early Learning Challenge.