A new report released today by the Center for American Progress provides an analysis of the U.S. Department of Education’s most recent evaluation data measuring the progress of the 12 states participating in Phases 1 and 2 of Race to the Top. Race to the Top, or RTT, is a competitive grant program designed to spur state-level education innovation to boost student achievement, close achievement gaps, and prepare students for college and careers. According to CAP’s analysis, the RTT states have made progress toward achieving their goals, yet more work needs to be done.
“Race to the Top is making great strides in pushing the needle on education innovations to boost student achievement, close achievement gaps, and prepare students for college and careers,” said Tiffany D. Miller, Associate Director of School Improvement at the Center for American Progress. “This month marks four years since the initial awards were announced, and in general, states should be commended for accomplishing a lot in a short period of time. Some states are further along than others and all have faced challenges. What is important is continuing this work despite setbacks.”
The report provides an examination of the U.S. Department of Education’s latest Annual Performance Report, which demonstrates the states’ progress. Where possible, the analysis makes overarching statements about the RTT states in the aggregate and highlights states’ interesting innovations under the four core components. This brief does not benchmark states’ success against a set of key indicators, as CAP’s 2012 report did.
The analysis identifies several overarching findings that emerged in the review of the data:
* Many of the lowest-performing schools in RTT states have achieved impressive results in a short period of time. Over the past few years, states reported on the progress of implementing reform models in their lowest-performing schools. Many states described schools where educators and students had improved performance to such an extent that their schools could move out of the ranks of the “lowest performing.” RTT states also showed their willingness to take action by intervening in low-performing schools that failed to improve.
* Four RTT states are at or near full implementation of their educator evaluation systems, and all other states are in the process of implementing their systems. Implementing new, more rigorous educator evaluation systems is technical and arduous work. It is a time-consuming effort that requires significant collaboration from state and district leaders, school administrators, and teachers. It is noteworthy that six states have evaluation systems in full implementation at the four-year mark.* All RTT states have adopted college- and career-ready standards and are making progress toward implementation of assessments aligned with those standards. States provided educators with professional development opportunities and training on new, more rigorous standards. Although states have made progress, a few are struggling with implementation of the new standards.