Broader, Bolder Report Judges Race to the Top to Be a Failure

Only three years into Race to the Top education initiative, one of the cornerstones of President Barack Obama’s education policy, the program is judged as an abject failure by a new study. The report, published by Broader, Bolder Approach to Education, concludes that although states made extravagant promises in their RTTP grant applications, since then very few of them have addressed the problems that underlie poor student performance like poverty, class and racial student divide.

According to Politico’s Nirvi Shah, administration officials disputed the findings, saying that the states that are part of the program are showing indications that student performance is improving thanks to the programs the grants made possible. But Elaine Weiss, Broader, Bolder’s national coordinator, thinks that the results would be more dramatic if the administration shifted its focus from funding accountability programs that involved endless standardized testing to concrete anti-poverty measures.

Race to the Top was created by the 2009 federal economic stimulus program. In two rounds of competition, it awarded 11 states and the District of Columbia with tens or hundreds of million dollars over four years in exchange for dramatic changes to their education systems. States pledged to accelerate student performance even while adopting more rigorous academic standards and to rate teachers and principals in part on students’ performance. To be competitive, states also had to do away with limits or bans on charter schools, open alternative routes to certification for teachers and improve teacher preparation programs. A third, much smaller competition awarded seven states with smaller sums for projects of a smaller scope.

The Race to the Top program has also recently expanded to offer grants to school districts and even individual schools, as well as providing money to those working on exams that comply with Common Core Standards. However, according to Noelle Ellerson, the associate executive director for the American Association of School Administrators, the money would do more good allocated directly to districts and schools instead of through a competitive grant process.

Race to the Top was created by the 2009 federal economic stimulus program. In two rounds of competition, it awarded 11 states and the District of Columbia with tens or hundreds of million dollars over four years in exchange for dramatic changes to their education systems. States pledged to accelerate student performance even while adopting more rigorous academic standards and to rate teachers and principals in part on students’ performance. To be competitive, states also had to do away with limits or bans on charter schools, open alternative routes to certification for teachers and improve teacher preparation programs. A third, much smaller competition awarded seven states with smaller sums for projects of a smaller scope.