Blog

Your Education Road Map

Politics K-12®

ESSA. Congress. State chiefs. School spending. Elections. Education Week reporters keep watch on education policy and politics in the nation’s capital and in the states. Read more from this blog.

Federal

Race to the Top’s Impact on Student Achievement, State Policy Unclear, Report Says

By Alyson Klein — October 26, 2016 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

There’s no hard-and-fast evidence that Race to the Top, the Obama administration’s $4 billion, signature K-12 initiative had a long-term impact on student achievement or state policy, according to a report released Wednesday by the Institute for Education Sciences, the U.S. Department of Education’s research arm.

“Differences in student achievement between [Race to the Top] states and other states may be due to other factors and not to the program said Lisa Dragoset, a senior researcher at Mathematica, which performed the evaluation for IES. For example, she said, Race to the Top states differed from other states before receiving the grants in a number of ways, and “other changes that occurred at the same time as [Race to the Top] reforms may also have affected student achievement.”

What’s more, the report concluded, it is difficult to discern whether Race to the Top had a long term impact on state policy. While there were differences between states that got the grants and those that didn’t, other factors could explain those differences. For instance, some states embraced policies encouraged by Race to the Top even before the grants were allocated.

“It is not clear whether the [Race to the Top] program influenced the use of policies and practices promoted by the program in [Race to Top] states,” the report says. “Although some differences between [Race to the Top] and other states were observed, other factors could explain those differences. In particular, some differences in use of policies and practices promoted by RTT existed prior to states’ receipt of [Race to the Top] grants.”

Race to the Top rewarded states for embracing policies like rigorous standards, revamped data systems, dramatic school turnarounds, and teacher evaluation through test scores. Nearly every state applied for one of the grants and ultimately, 11 states and the District of Columbia were declared winners. The department gave smaller awards to an additional seven states that just narrowly missed winning one of the original grants. See the full list here.

Mathematica took a look at states that won the grants in the earlier round, states that won the smaller awards later, and states that didn’t win Race to the Top at all. Here’s a graphic that summarizes the report’s findings on Race to Top’s impact on policy, based on interviews with state officials in the spring of 2013.

Key takeaways:


  • The original Race to the Top states were more likely to use policies and practices promoted by the program than states that didn’t get any Race to the Top money in four areas: school turnarounds, rigorous standards and tests, creating conditions for charter school success, and improving educator effectiveness.
  • There weren’t big differences between states that got the grants and those that didn’t when it came to creating data systems to measure student achievement and build state capacity.
  • States that got the smaller grants were more likely than non-Race-to-the-Top states to adopt the program’s policies in one area: teacher effectiveness.

So what do the report’s conclusions mean for the program’s future?

Nothing. Congress has already gotten rid of the program and made it virtually impossible for any future secretary of education to resurrect it.

The Obama administration tried to get a permanent authorization for the program in an early version of legislation that eventually became the Every Student Succeeds Act. But lawmakers rejected that idea, and for good measure, stopped providing funding for Race to the Top. What’s more, ESSA even specifically bars the secretary of education from using competitive grants to influence states when it comes to teacher evaluation, school turnarounds, or standards.


Follow us on Twitter at @PoliticsK12.

Related Tags:

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal White House Launches Hispanic Education Initiative Led by Miguel Cardona
President Joe Biden said his administration intends to address the "systemic causes" of educational disparities faced by Hispanic students.
2 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona writes down and draws positive affirmations on poster board with students during his visit to P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 in New York.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits students in New York City at P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school in the Bronx last month.
Brittainy Newman/AP
Federal Feds Add Florida to List of States Under Investigation Over Restrictions on Mask Mandates
The Education Department told the state Sept. 10 it will probe whether its mask rule is violating the rights of students with disabilities.
3 min read
Surrounded by lawmakers, Florida Gov.Ron DeSantis speaks at the end of a legislative session on April 30, 2021, in Tallahassee, Fla.
Surrounded by lawmakers, Florida Gov.Ron DeSantis speaks at the end of a legislative session on April 30, 2021, in Tallahassee, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP
Federal How Biden Will Mandate Teacher Vaccines, Testing in Some States That Don't Require Them
President Joe Biden's COVID-19 plan will create new teacher vaccination and testing requirements in some states through worker safety rules.
4 min read
Nurse Sara Muela, left, administers the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to educator Rebecca Titus at a vaccination site setup for teachers and school staff at the Berks County Intermediate Unit in Reading, Pa., on March 15, 2021.
Nurse Sara Muela administers a COVID-19 vaccine to educator Rebecca Titus at a vaccination site for at the Berks County Intermediate Unit in Reading, Pa.
Matt Rourke/AP
Federal Biden Pushes Schools to Expand COVID-19 Testing, Get More Teachers Vaccinated
President Joe Biden set teacher vaccine requirements for federally operated schools as part of a new effort to drive down COVID's spread.
7 min read
President Joe Biden speaks in the State Dining Room at the White House, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, in Washington. Biden is announcing sweeping new federal vaccine requirements affecting as many as 100 million Americans in an all-out effort to increase COVID-19 vaccinations and curb the surging delta variant.
President Joe Biden in a speech from the White House announces sweeping new federal vaccine requirements and other efforts in an renewed effort to stem the COVID-19 pandemic.
Andrew Harnik/AP