Usage of Policies and Practices Promoted by Race to the Top and School Improvement Grants
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 injected $7 billion into two of the Obama administration's signature competitive education grant programs: Race to the Top (RTT) and School Improvement Grants (SIG). While RTT focused on state policies and SIG focused on school practices, both programs promoted related policies and practices, including an emphasis on turning around the nation's lowest-performing schools. Despite the sizable investment in both of these programs, comprehensive evidence on their implementation and impact has been limited to date.
This report focuses on two implementation questions: (1) Do states and schools that received grants actually use the policies and practices promoted by these two programs? (2) Does their usage of these policies and practices differ from states and schools that did not receive grants? Answers to these questions provide context for interpreting impact findings that will be presented in a future report.
The first volume of this report details our RTT findings, which are based on spring 2012 interviews with 49 states and the District of Columbia. Key findings include:
- Early (Round 1 and 2) RTT states reported using more policies and practices promoted by RTT than non-RTT states in five of the six major areas examined: state capacity, standards and assessments, data systems, teachers and leaders, and charter schools (school turnaround was the exception). Later (Round 3) RTT states reported using more policies and practices promoted by RTT than non-RTT states in just one area: teachers and leaders.
- Across all states, usage of policies and practices promoted by RTT was highest in the state capacity and data systems areas (66 and 68 percent of policies and practices examined) and lowest in the teachers and leaders area (24 percent or policies and practices examined).
- There were no differences between RTT and non-RTT states in usage of English Language Learner (ELL)-focused policies and practices promoted by RTT. States with higher percentages of ELLs used more ELL-focused policies and practices than states with lower percentages of ELLs, but there were no differences in usage between states with higher and lower ELL/non-ELL achievement gaps.
The second volume of this report details our SIG findings, which are based on spring 2012 surveys of approximately 470 schools in 60 districts and 22 states. Key findings include:
- Schools implementing a SIG-funded model reported using more practices promoted by SIG than schools not implementing such models in all four areas examined: comprehensive instructional reforms, teacher and principal effectiveness, learning time and community-oriented schools, and operational flexibility and support.
- Across all schools, usage of practices promoted by SIG was highest in the comprehensive instructional reforms area (90 percent of practices examined) and lowest in the operational flexibility and support area (46 percent of practices examined).
- 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. Schools with higher percentages of ELLs used more ELL-focused practices than schools with lower percentages of ELLs, but there were no differences in usage between schools with higher and lower ELL/non-ELL achievement gaps.
View, download, and print the Executive Summary as a PDF file (1.2 MB)
View, download, and print the RTT Volume as a PDF file (11.5 MB)
View, download, and print the SIG Volume as a PDF file (16.8 MB)