“If we want America to lead in the 21st century, nothing is more important than giving everyone the best education possible — from the day they start preschool to the day they start their career.”

—President Barack Obama


Knowledge and Skills for the Jobs of the Future

Race to the Top

Race to the Top marks a historic moment in American education. This initiative offers bold incentives to states willing to spur systemic reform to improve teaching and learning in America’s schools. Race to the Top has ushered in significant change in our education system, particularly in raising standards and aligning policies and structures to the goal of college and career readiness. Race to the Top has helped drive states nationwide to pursue higher standards, improve teacher effectiveness, use data effectively in the classroom, and adopt new strategies to help struggling schools. 

To date, President Obama’s Race to the Top initiative has dedicated over $4 billion to 19 states that have created robust plans that address the four key areas of K-12 education reform as described below. These states serve 22 million students and employ 1.5 million teachers in 42,000 schools, representing 45 percent of all K-12 students and 42 percent of all low-income students nationwide. The four key areas of reform include:

  • Development of rigorous standards and better assessments
  • Adoption of better data systems to provide schools, teachers, and parents with information about student progress
  • Support for teachers and school leaders to become more effective
  • Increased emphasis and resources for the rigorous interventions needed to turn around the lowest-performing schools

Forty-six states and the District of Columbia submitted comprehensive reform plans to compete in the Race to the Top competition. While 19 states have received funding so far, 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.

Race to the Top – District competition

In 2012, the Obama Administration launched a Race to the Top competition at the school district level. Known as Race to the Top – District, this program will invest nearly $400 million in 2012 in schools to create new models to personalize learning for students, so that they can engage their interests and take responsibility for their success.

Inspired by the education reform taking place in state K-12 systems nationwide, this next phase of RTT will build on the four core principles of reform at the classroom level, supplying teachers with the strategies and tools they need to help every student learn and succeed. The Race to the Top – District competition will encourage transformative change within schools, targeted toward leveraging, enhancing, and improving classroom practices and resources.