Report | Education

Let’s do the numbers: Department of Education’s “Race to the Top” Program Offers Only a Muddled Path to the Finish Line

Briefing Paper #263

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The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the “stimulus” bill) provided $4.35 billion to the Department of Education for “Race to the Top” (RTT), a program in which states could apply for funds to implement education reform. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan established a competition to determine which states would receive the funds, and 40 states (plus the District of Columbia) entered. Of these, 16 were named as finalists, and in late March
2010, two states, Delaware and Tennessee, were announced as winners of the first round. The awards were substantial: Delaware got $100 million (or about $800 per pupil), and Tennessee got $500 million (or about $500 per pupil). In each case, the award represents about 7% of the total expenditures in these states for elementary and secondary education.