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Race to the Top

Race to the Top (RTT) was a federally funded competitive grant program intended to spark education reform and innovation at the state level. Funding for RTT was appropriated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was signed into law on February 17, 2009. In total, the law authorized nearly $100 billion in funding for education, most reserved to fill state funding shortfalls to retain teachers and maintain existing programs. The administration carved RTT out of the $4.35 billion set aside for the “state incentive grants” program. This entry will cover the context, design, results, and criticism of RTT.

President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan expressed high hopes and expectations for the program at its launch. Historically, federal funds have been distributed through formula ...

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