Mismatches in Race to the Top Limit Educational Improvement

Mismatches in Race to the Top Limit Educational Improvement

Lack of Time, Resources, and Tools to Address Opportunity Gaps Puts Lofty State Goals Out of Reach

By Elaine Weiss
September 12, 2013

This report aims to inform current policies as well as policies under debate at the federal and state levels. We hope that lessons conveyed here will encourage the adoption of the positive steps taken in a few states and districts and help states navigate challenges as they enter their final year of Race to the Top. These lessons pertain as well to the many more states that are beginning to implement requirements to attain waivers from No Child Left Behind. Finally, the lessons can help guide a stronger, more thoughtful rollout of the Common Core State Standards. President Obama would like to leave as part of his legacy substantial improvements in U.S. education. Recognizing the flaws inherent in Race to the Top, reversing the damage it has done, and enacting more comprehensive education policies in the administration’s second term could make that legacy a proud one.  —From the Executive Summary

To download the report in PDF format, click below.
To read it online with interactive charts and data, view the report at the website of Broader, Bolder Approach to Education ally the Economic Policy Institute

You can see a short synopsis of the release event, joint with AASA, here.

Download a stand-alone version of the section documenting the policy mismatch between reforms' agendas and their goals here.

Media coverage of the report:

Politico: Nirvi Shah writes that, “The Obama administration’s signature $4 billion Race to the Top initiative, designed to spur far-reaching education reforms across the country and raise student achievement, is largely a failure, an analysis released Thursday concludes. Most winning states made what the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education labeled “unrealistic and impossible” promises to boost student achievement in exchange for prizes that were ultimately paltry in comparison with their pledges.”

Huffington Post: Joy Resmovits reports that, "“President Barack Obama's signature education initiative, the Race to the Top competition, is "impossible" at best and damaging at worst, argues a new, controversial report. The 100-page report, released Thursday, argues that policies should tackle the effects of poverty while simultaneously making schools better. By not targeting out-of-school factors like nutrition and parental income, the report says, and by focusing on teacher evaluation systems that often result in harsh consequences without much useful feedback, Race to the Top goals are severely mismatched with its policies.”

BBA National Coordinator Elaine Weiss and AASA's Noelle Ellerson co-authored a Huffington Post blog, "Not Falling Behind but Pulling Apart: Race to the Top Reflects Broader U.S. Education Problems," and Elaine also discussed how Tennessee's problems mirror those of other states in some respects but are also uniquely severe.

Finally, Elaine discussed the report's main findings on a Huff Post Live segment, Race to the Flop, on September 24.

Share the BBA Principles

Children need year-round enrichment. By ninth grade, up to two thirds of the achievement gap can be attributed to disparities in summer learning opportunities. It's time for a Broader, Bolder Approach to Education!

Learning begins at birth, education should too. By kindergarten, poor children lag behind their better-off peers by as much as two years. We need a Broader, Bolder Approach to Education!

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BBA Infographic

10:1 That's Nobel economist James Heckman's estimated return to society from high-quality pre-k programs' help in boosting low-income children's cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and social readiness for school and life. View the full BBA infographic to learn more.

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