Usage of Policies and Practices Promoted by Race to the Top and School Improvement Grants
In response to the Great Recession, the U.S. Congress passed, and President Barack Obama signed into law, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. At an estimated cost of $831 billion, this economic stimulus package sought to save and create jobs, provide temporary relief to those adversely affected by the recession, and invest in education, health, infrastructure, and renewable energy. Education received a total of $100 billion, including $7 billion for two of the Obama administration’s signature grant programs: Race to the Top (RTT) and School Improvement Grants (SIG).
RTT competitively awarded grants to states who agreed to implement a broad range of education policies and practices promoted by the program. SIG competitively awarded grants to the nation’s lowest-performing schools who agreed to implement a comprehensive set of improvement practices promoted by the program. While RTT focused on state policies and SIG focused on school practices, both programs promoted related policies and practices, and included a particular emphasis on turning around the nation’s lowest-performing schools.
This report, part of the first large-scale evaluation of RTT and SIG, focuses on these questions:
- Do states and schools that received grants actually use the policies and practices promoted by these two programs?
- Does the usage of these policies and practices differ from states and schools that did not receive grants?
A third question (Does receipt of these grants ultimately have an impact on student achievement?) will be addressed in a future report.
Key Findings - RTT
- In five of the six major areas examined, early (Round 1 and 2) RTT states reported using more policies and practices promoted by RTT than non-RTT states in spring 2012.
- In one of the six major areas examined (teacher and principal certification and evaluation), later (Round 3) RTT states reported using more policies and practices promoted by RTT than non-RTT states in spring 2012.
- Across all states, usage of policies and practices promoted by RTT was highest in the state capacity and data systems areas and lowest in the teacher and principal certification and evaluation area.
- There were no differences between RTT and non-RTT states in usage of English Language Learner (ELL)-focused policies and practices promoted by RTT.
Key Findings - SIGs
- In all four areas examined, schools implementing a SIG-funded model reported using more practices promoted by SIG in spring 2012 than schools not implementing such models.
- Across all schools (including those implementing a SIG-funded model and those not implementing one), usage of practices promoted by SIG was highest in the comprehensive instructional reform strategies area and lowest in the operational flexibility and support area.
- There were no differences between schools implementing a SIG-funded model and schools not implementing one in usage of ELL-focused practices promoted by SIG.