Race to the Top is a first-of-its kind $4.35 billion competitive grant program designed to spur state-level education innovation to boost student achievement, close achievement gaps, and prepare students for college and careers. This program is significant not only because of the amount of funds made available for competitive grants to states but also because it pushes them to radically change the way they think about educational improvement. Race to the Top, or RTT, encourages states to rethink current standards and raise expectations for all students. It makes building longitudinal data systems a key component of the program, knowing that unless these systems are in place, there is no systematic way to target professional development for educators, ensure equitable distribution of teachers, or turn around low-performing schools.
Originally authorized in 2009 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, RTT encourages states to develop and implement key reform strategies around four core components:
- Adopting rigorous college- and career-ready standards and assessments
- Recruiting, evaluating, and retaining highly effective teachers and principals
- Building data systems that measure student success and inform teaching and learning
- Turning around low-performing schools
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