Race To The Top: By The Numbers


August 24, 2010

Of the record $100 billion in federal education funds appropriated under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in 2009, Congress and President Obama set aside $5 billion to be awarded at the discretion of the Secretary of Education to states, districts, and consortia that develop robust education reform plans. The $5 billon is broken down as follows:
             • $4 billion – Race to the Top State Incentive Fund (individual states)
             • $650 million – Investing in Innovation or i3 Grants (local, regional collaborators)
             • $350 million – Race to the Top Assessment Grants (multi-state consortia)
In total, these funds represent less than 1% of the $600 billion (federal, state, and local funds) spent on U.S. public elementary and secondary schools.
This unprecedented infusion of federal education reform funds, coupled with unprecedented latitude afforded to a U.S. Secretary of Education, catapulted the Obama Administration to the role of top U.S. venture philanthropist in the education policy world.
 State Participation
            • 41 states applied in Round 1.  36 states applied in Round 2.
            • Only 4 states sat out both rounds: Alaska, North Dakota, Texas, and Vermont.
            • Two states – Delaware ($100 million) and Tennessee  ($500 million) – received grants
in  Round 1.
States from coast to coast made significant – and unprecedented – policy changes as part of the Race To The Top competition.

Standards and Assessments

          •  48 states are participating in the Common Core Initiative, to develop “college and
career ready” standards.
          • 37 states have adopted the Common Core Standards.[2]
2 large consortia of states are competing for the $350 million in Race to the Top Assessment Grants  to develop broad, new, high-quality tests tied to college and career ready standards that move beyond the crude “fill-in-the-bubble” approach most states use now.
          • 38 states are participating in one or both consortia.
          • The 26 states in the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and
Careers (PARCC) consortium  alone educate over 60 percent of the K-12 students in
the United States.
Map: State Consortia to Develop Better College and Career Ready Assessments


Public Charter Schools
At least 13 states – Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Utah – altered laws or policies to create or expand the number of public charter schools.
Teacher Quality
        • 5 of the 6 states with “firewalls” that previously barred student achievement data from
being used in teacher evaluations repealed those laws: California, Wisconsin, Nevada,
Maine, and Indiana.  (New York simply let its law expire.)
        • 17 states reformed their teacher evaluation programs.
        • At least 11 states – Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Louisiana,
Maryland, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Tennessee – enacted legislation that
requires student achievement data to be used in teacher evaluation or tenure decisions.
        • Zero states are using a single test result to evaluate teachers, despite some of the
rhetoric that is used by opponents of these policies. The highest weighting any state has
given student tests in teachers evaluations is 50%.
Organizational Support
Round 1 awardees DE and TN had 100% and 93% union support respectively.
But union support varied much more widely than that in both rounds.
Round 2 finalists had support from local unions ranging from:
                • low: 0% (DC) and 2% (NJ);
                • middle: 30% (RI), 33% (CA), 49% (IL), 50% (AZ);
                • high: 100% (HI, NC, PA, KY)
Nationwide, of the Round 2 finalists: 1,859 total local unions signed on as did:
                • More than 4,000 LEA’s;
                • 3,853 local school boards;

Hundreds of local and statewide civil rights, child advocacy, education reform, and business groups, including chapters of these nationally known groups:


In addition:

  • The state NAACP chapter in 7 states (CA, NY, CO, LA, MD, MA, and OH)
          • The Urban League in 4 states (CA, LA, OH, SC )
        •  The PTA in 7 states: (FL, GA KY, MA, NC, OH, RI)

        • Teach for America in 6 states: (AZ, CA, CO, GA, HI, NC)

[1] These are 2009 figures. RttT total $5 billion was halved to reflect two rounds of grant awards. The “Big Three” numbers represent grants awarded by the Broad, Gates, and Walton Foundations, provided exclusively to Democrats For Education Reform on the condition that dollar amounts would not be broken out separately.
[2] For up-to-date info on the states that have adopted the Common Core Standards, go to the Curriculum Matters blog by Catherine Gerwertz at Education Week.
Quotes on Race to the Top
“The President and Secretary are absolutely right on that the current state of American education is “morally inexcusable” and ‘economically indefensible’ –and that the time is now for our nation to stop talking about doing things differently, and actually do it.”
             – Marian Wright Edelman, Children’s Defense Fund, The Huffington Post
“The Obama-Duncan education agenda is the ‘most muscular federal education policy I’ve ever seen’…We’ve got your back.'”
            – Hugh B. Price, former president of the National Urban League, Education Week
“In just one year, we’ve already seen more reforms proposed and enacted around the country than in the preceding decade.”
          – Joel Klein, Chancellor, New York City, Michael Lomax, President and CEO,
United Negro College Fund, Janet Murguía, President and CEO, National Council of
La Raza, Wall Street Journal
“At a time when our schools are squeezed for money in this difficult economy, this is a remarkable opportunity to help students and teachers by bringing innovative and proven approaches into classrooms,”
          – Matthew Cregor, Attorney, Southern Poverty Law Center attorney and member of the
campaign, SPLC’s website
“The ideas have gained currency at the national level,” said Kurt L. Schmoke , who is and was a mediator between the union and the District. “What was seen as bold is now reform, not revolution.”
Kurt L. Schmoke, Dean, Howard University Law School, The Washington Post
“We should have done this stuff 20 years ago.  We’re overdue. This stuff is common sense.”
        – Timothy Daly, President, The New Teacher Project, Chicago Tribune