From the Archives: Kicking Off Race to the Top

President Obama and Arne Duncan Introduce Race to the Top

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on Race To the Top at the Department of Education with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, left, in Washington, D.C. Friday, July 24, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Three years ago today, the Obama Administration kicked off Race to the Top, a historic initiative to invest in systemic and innovative school reforms nationwide. 

Originating with funds from the Recovery Act, Race to the Top offers funding on a competitive basis to states that develop and committ to plans that address four key areas of education reform:

  1. Rigorous standards and assessments that help prepare students for college and career
  2. Smarter data systems that help track student progress and improve instruction
  3. Ambitious support to recruit, prepare, and advance effective teachers and principals
  4. Focused attention and resources to dramatically improve out lowest performing schools.

Forty-six states and the District of Columbia submitted comprehensive reform plans to compete in the initial rounds of the Race to the Top competition. While 19 states have received funding through the K-12 competition, 34 states modified state education laws or policies to facilitate needed change, and 48 states worked together to create a voluntary set of rigorous college- and career-ready standards. The 19 states that have received funding serve 22 million students, representing 45% of all K-12 students and 42% of all low-income students nationwide.