A progressive think tank looks at how state policy was influenced by the federal Race to the Top grant program.
The Center for American Progress recently released a report on how a federal grant program shaped state education policy. The Center writes,
Within a year of its launch, Race to the Top, or RTT—a competitive grant program to spur K-12 education improvements—drove significant education reforms across the country. RTT helped spur these states to make policy changes before one dollar of the federal program’s money was spent. 2015 marks five years since 12 states from a pool of 46 state applicants won RTT awards.
The report examines the program’s effect in the winning first- and second-round states over the course of their grants. Maryland was a second round winner of a Race to the Top grant, receiving $62 million from 2010-2013, according to the report.
The report cites Maryland as a state that passed laws to strengthen their educator evaluation systems in an effort to bolster its chances of winning grant funding.
One reform in Maryland and other Race to the Top states was investment in supports for beginning teachers and school leaders, known as induction. As described,
In Maryland, more than 900 new-teacher mentors and coordinators participated in induction academies or trainings to ensure that all new teachers were paired with a supportive mentor in their first years on the job.
The report also found that some Race to the Top grant winners increased the quality of school options by expanding access to high-quality charter schools. As described,
There is a great demand for charters in Rhode Island, where approximately 9,500 applications for 850 slots were submitted in 2014. RTT enabled the state to fund two start-up grants for new schools and two charter expansion proposals, which will result in an additional 1,500 seats for students. Meanwhile, in Maryland, state officials drafted and disseminated the Maryland Quality School Standards for Charter Schools in 2013 to help guide the improvement of the state’s charter schools.
Overall findings of the report include:
- State educational agencies, or SEAs, spent more than half of RTT funding on systems, programming, and supports for educators.
- SEAs spent only 9 percent of their RTT funding on educator evaluation systems.
- States used RTT to take bold new approaches to turning around low-performing schools.