Race to the Top's impact on instruction

Posted on Thursday, 4/04/2013 2:00 pm

When President Barack Obama assumed office in January 2009, many of the nation's schools were in need of improvements. To help these institutions enhance the quality of instruction they provide to their students, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) launched its Race to the Top contest on July 24, 2009, with funding coming from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

A chance to excel
When Race to the Top began, the DOE had a $4.35 billion fund to disperse among states with education systems in need of improvements. According to the DOE's blog, states with a desire to "win the race" had to prove they were taking steps to raise students' achievement levels, such as adopting and implementing the Common Core State Standards. In addition, the DOE wanted to see school districts do a better job of tracking growth in their classrooms - something that can be achieved through the use of student data systems.

"Today, more than ever, better schooling provides a down payment on the nation's future," Arne Duncan, the U.S. secretary of education, said during July 24, 2009 remarks. "As President Obama puts it, 'education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity and success - it's a prerequisite for success.' Yet I think we all know that far too many schools fail to prepare their students today for success in college or a career."

Opportunities for improvement
Since Race to the Top's inception, formerly struggling school districts across the country have had a chance to improve conditions and deliver students a higher quality of education.

According to the White House's website, 46 states and the District of Columbia competed in the contest by submitting comprehensive reform plans. Although only 19 states have been awarded funding, positive changes have extended to other competitors. For example, 34 of the 46 states made alterations to their education laws or policies so that reform could be possible.

"Race to the Top sparked as much reform in some states that didn't receive funds as in those that did," Duncan said during December 11, 2012 remarks.

States that received funding through Race to the Top have been able to distribute it among schools most deserving of a helping hand. Using the money, educators have had an opportunity to invest in new technology, such as faculty and student software, classroom resources and other materials that can help pupils achieve higher levels of learning.

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