The U.S. Department of Education recently issued their first official assessment of the progress that twelve states have made in implementing their reform plans following their receipt of Race to the Top grants. The state-by-state reports show that most winners are struggling to implement new teacher-evaluation systems based, at least in part, on student growth. Many also have issues with their relationships with local school districts, which bear the ultimate responsibility for implementation of the plans.
A number of states, such as Florida, Massachusetts, and North Carolina have experienced delays due to an inability to identify vendors or issue contracts. Others states, like Delaware, Georgia and Ohio have had difficulties coordinating their plans with local school districts.
In particular, Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, directed criticism at New York, noting that the state had “hit a roadblock that not only impedes Race to the Top by could threaten other key reform initiatives.” The state is embroiled in legal and local district battles, particularly focused on a new teacher-evaluation system that is partially based on student growth.
While the early Race to the Top grants were awarded with considerable fanfare, in addition to $4 billion in federal grants, the actual implementation of educational reform plans remains a challenge for states and school districts.