The Race to the Top fund is a $4 billion grant opportunity provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) to support new approaches to school improvement. The funds are made available in the form of competitive grants to encourage and reward states that are creating conditions for education innovation and reform, specifically implementing ambitious plans in four education reform areas:
- Recruiting, preparing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most; and
- Adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy;
- Building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction;
- Turning around our lowest–achieving schools.
Georgia’s vision as set forth in the application:
“To equip all Georgia students, through effective teachers and leaders and through creating the right conditions in Georgia’s schools and classrooms, with the knowledge and skills to empower them to 1) graduate from high school, 2) be successful in college and/or professional careers, and 3) be competitive with their peers throughout the United States and the world.”
Georgia’s application was prepared through a partnership between the Governor’s Office, the Georgia Department of Education, the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement and education stakeholders. Four working groups and a fifth critical feedback team consisting of teachers, principals, superintendents, higher education faculty, non–profit and informal education organizations, state policy makers, and members of the business and philanthropic communities developed the ideas for inclusion in the state’s winning application. Georgia was awarded $400 million to implement its Race to the Top plan and the State Board of Education has direct accountability for the grant.
Georgia is partnering with 26 school systems around the state. Half of the awarded funds will remain at the state level and half will go directly to partnering local education authorities (LEAs)/school districts via their Title I formula. All funds are to be used to implement Georgia’s RT3 plan. An MOU was signed by each district superintendent and board chair. These districts, which make up 40 percent of public school students, 46 percent of Georgia's students in poverty, 53 percent of Georgia’s African American students, 48 percent of Hispanics and 68 percent of the state's lowest achieving schools, are: Atlanta, Ben Hill, Bibb, Burke, Carrollton, Cherokee, Clayton, Dade, DeKalb, Dougherty, Gainesville, Gwinnett, Hall, Henry, Meriwether, Muscogee, Peach, Pulaski, Rabun, Richmond, Rockdale, Savannah-Chatham, Spalding, Treutlen, Valdosta and White.
US Department of Education's Annual Reports: