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ED Releases Year 3 Race to the Top Progress Reports

The United States Department of Education has released progress reports for the 12 recipients of Race to the Top (RTTT) funding's first two rounds.

"Ultimately, in the third year, a number of Race to the Top states posted encouraging signs of progress with improved scores on national benchmarks and access to more rigorous course work and resources like AP classes," according to an ED news release.

"Over the last few years, we have seen Race to the Top states build on the systems and framework that they have been developing to lay the foundation for long-term, sustainable progress," said ED Secretary Arne Duncan, in a prepared statement. "In the third year of the program, states were able to shift to developing more tools, resources and supports for school districts and educators to strengthen their skills and build their capacity to tackle some of the toughest work in education. We know this work isn't easy, but what has been most encouraging is that state and district leaders have had the courage to put these plans into action, and teachers and principals have shown up day after day with the same goal that we all share: making sure every single student is prepared to be successful in college and in their careers."

The reports don't compare the recipients to each other. Rather they measure their progress against the benchmarks recipients set for themselves in their original plans.

The Department of Education pointed out progress made in a number of areas, including:

  • Investments in tools and resources for students, educators and parents;
  • New state-level support networks;
  • New science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) schools and programs;
  • Teacher and principal evaluations;
  • "Pipelines for teachers and leaders;" and
  • Efforts to improve low-performing schools.

Challenges in RTTT implementations mentioned in the reports include:

  • "Significant turnover" of education department personnel in Delaware and the District of Columbia;
  • Rejected contractor deliverables in Florida;
  • Georgia abandoned plans to deploy a performance-based compensation system, which resulted in the withholding of RTTT associated with the plan in July of 2013;
  • An inability in Hawaii to identify a mathematics curriculum of high enough quality to introduce for the current school year;
  • Continuing struggle in Maryland "with finding highly qualified staff to conduct project activities related to the State's technology and Internet information services projects;"
  • "Limited progress" in development of a professional development system in Massachusetts;
  • Problems "building capacity and addressing issues related to the scale of projects and engaging stakeholders" in New York;
  • Delays to North Carolina's Cloud and Home Base technology initiatives;
  • A year delay on the use and reporting of educator effectiveness data in Ohio;
  • A "rocky" rollout of the Rhode Island instructional management system; and
  • Delays to data system improvements in Tennessee.

To see state-specific reports for years one, two and three of the original RTTT recipients, visit

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at

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