In the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Congress required the U.S. Department of Education (Education) to make education reform grants to states. Education subsequently established the Race to the Top (RTT) grant fund and awarded almost $4 billion to 12 states related to developing effective teachers and leaders, improving the lowest-achieving schools, expanding student data systems, and enhancing standards and assessments. This report, prepared in response to a mandate in the act, addresses (1) actions states took to be competitive for RTT grants; (2) how grantees plan to use their grants and whether selected nongrantees have chosen to move forward with their reform plans; (3) what challenges, if any, have affected early implementation of states' reform efforts; and (4) Education's efforts to support and oversee states' use of RTT funds. GAO analyzed RTT applications for 20 states, interviewed state officials, visited 4 grantee states, analyzed states' planned uses of grant funds, and interviewed Education officials.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Education||1. To ensure that the lessons learned from RTT are shared with all states, and not only grantees, the Secretary of Education should facilitate grantees' sharing of promising practices on key topics of interest that the department has not yet addressed, such as the design and implementation of data systems to improve instruction.|
|Department of Education||2. To ensure that the lessons learned from RTT are shared with all states, and not only grantees, the Secretary of Education should provide nongrantee states with information from the department's existing mechanisms, including the secure grantee Web site and communities of practice.|