Two Stimulus Programs Attempt to Push School Reform

Last Updated: January 28, 2010

This article appeared in the January 2010 Rural Policy Matters.

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All but ten states filed applications this month for federal Race to the Top (RTTT) grants. The competitive $4.35 billion program is intended to move states toward making significant changes to their education systems and requires states to fund and expand charter schools, keep extensive date on students, track and measure teacher performance according to the test scores of their students. See “Race to Top Revisions Slightly Better for Rural Schools” and “Race to the Top Criteria: The RPM Analysis”
While the RTTT program is aimed at states, the $650 million Investing in Innovation (i3) fund is designed for school districts and non-profits that work with districts. Application deadlines will be announced later this spring.
The program is intended to provide support to applicants to “scale up” programs with a track record of improving student achievement and in innovative practices with potential to promote school readiness, close achievement gaps, decrease dropout rates, increase high school graduation rates, and improve teacher and school leader effectiveness.
Applicants must apply in one of four priority areas. These are: (1) improvements in teacher effectiveness and ensuring that all schools have effective teachers, (2) gathering information to improve student learning, teacher performance, and college and career readiness through enhanced data systems, (3) progress toward college- and career-ready standards and rigorous assessments, and (4) improving achievement in low-performing schools through intensive support and effective interventions.
Competitive preference will be given to applicants with a focus on early learning, collgege access and success, students with disabilities and English Language Learners, and rural districts.
The grant requires a match of 20%.
Read more:
The federal Race to the Top website:

Actual RTT guidelines:

Executive summary of RTT:

Preamble and major changes to RTT criteria based on public comment:
i3 Overview:
Recovery website with links to i3 and other programs:
Federal registry i3 rules, etc.:

Read more from the January 2010 Rural Policy Matters.