On April 19, 2011 Education Week reported in an online article that school districts are using Race to the Top (RTT) funds for experiments in education reform. According to the article, in addition to the much-publicized reforms such as legislative changes in teacher evaluation and statewide longitudinal data systems, other less known “initiatives have the potential to create lasting improvements in schools.” For example, school districts across Florida are rolling out the State’s expansion of a teaching model called “lesson study” that encourages greater collaboration among teachers to better identify how to improve student performance in the classroom. The article stated that Georgia is using some of its RTT award for a program called Innovation Fund in which school districts and charter schools will compete for awards of up to $350,000 based on developing new strategies to recruit and support teachers, build students’ problem-solving skills, and develop charter schools focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The article stated that Maryland is also using RTT funds to support teaching the STEM subjects.
The recently approved federal FY 2011 budget included $700 million for another round of RTT competition; however, according to an April 14th Education Week article, the grants will only be awarded to states and not directly to school districts, as was originally proposed by the Obama administration. An April 21st update in Education Week reported that the U.S. Department of Education has until December 31, 2011 to distribute the new RTT awards.