The U.S. Department of Education has released state reports that outline the first-year progress of education reform under Race to the Top.
The reports document the reform efforts made by the 12 grantees that secured Race to the Top funding in 2010 through the competition's first two phases. The winners are Delaware, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Tennessee.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said:
"Race to the Top states have made tremendous strides in this first year.
"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 reports give detailed accounts of the accomplishments made — and setbacks experienced — by states attempting to raise academic standards, build robust data systems, support teachers and turn around persistently low-performing schools under the Race to the Top initiative.
Each report is tailored to each state's individual plans. Where some grantees used year one to engage stakeholders, secure contracts or establish partnerships that will help implement large-scale reforms from year two onwards, other grantees put into place new systems or policies that have began to work in districts or schools.
The Department of Education has worked with grantees closely in the review, as they have within the whole initiative – discussing and evaluating, approving 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.
"We are supporting states to help them achieve their goals. At the same time, we will hold them accountable for those commitments."
To date, a total of 21 states and D.C., that serve 65 percent of the nation's children and 59 percent of the low-income students in the country, have been awarded grants through three phases of Race to the Top, which includes the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Fund.
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 investment in the Early Learning Challenge," says a statement by the Department.