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Understanding the Race to the Top Initiative
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 04, 2015 11:14 AM

Many parents wonder what brought the Common Core to their children's schools. One major aspect of how U.S. schools instituted this testing was the creation of the Race to the Top Initiative. Read on to learn more:

What is the Race to the Top Initiative?
According to The White House, the Obama administration created the Race to the Top Initiative to "Promote Innovation, Reform, and Excellence in America's Public Schools." This challenge was meant to bring systemic reform to the education infrastructure of the U.S. at a state level. Individual states could choose to be a part of this movement, which was set to emphasize gaining and retaining educational leaders and teachers, create high quality assessments and promote using a state-wide data system to improve educational instruction and inform decisions. Other RTTT goals included promoting collaborations between school and community members to start and maintain education reform and use innovation to improve low-performing or struggling schools.

According to Education Next, this initiative was a contest that any state could enter, and only 17 (about half) of the states who applied were given access to the grant money and extra assistance provided by RTTT. The states were chosen during a three-phase process that evaluated future goals, success factors, teachers, existing data systems that supported instruction and ability to transform low-performing schools into higher quality institutions.

An infographic from the U.S. Department of Education showed that the RTTT led to policy changes in the states that won between $17 million and $700 million in funding (Tennessee, Delaware, Florida, New York, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Maryland, Massachusetts, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky and Louisiana) as well as states that applied and did not win grant money.

How does RTTT affect your children?
This initiative, created in 2009, called for a renewed look at standardized testing and assessment. It was a major reason why many states adopted the Common Core. Turning to this method of testing offered states a way to better compare how area students and schools are performing, as well as prepare their students for post-secondary school both in and out of state. If you live in one of the states mentioned above, your children may have encountered the results of their school receiving grant money to change educational policy and work toward reform. If you're not sure how the Race to the Top affected your school, contact the administration and they can share the improvements they made because of the initiative.