As of March 29, 2011, seven of the 12 winners of the $4 billion Race to the Top (RTT) competition have amended their RTT education reform proposals with approval from the U.S. Department of Education (ED). According to ED’s website, amendments have been approved for Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee. The various amendments included timeline and budget adjustments among other changes. For example, on March 15th ED approved a slight delay in Delaware’s proposed development of a longitudinal data system (LDS), with the LDS warehouse component scheduled to be completed in August 2011 and the teacher dashboard component to be completed in March 2012. In its approval letters ED stated that ED can approve an amendment, provided that the change does not alter the scope or objectives of the original approved RTT proposal. Education Week reported online on March 29th that, in spite of the delays, the RTT winners have major works in progress. For example, Florida is reportedly developing a new teacher evaluation system and implementing plans to increase the number of charter schools in the State.
The RTT winning states and the District of Columbia must send at least 50% of their respective awards to participating school districts, but may keep the remaining funds for administration and state-level projects. According to the March 29th Education Week article, states are spending most of their funds to add staff and hire contractors. Florida reportedly hired 18 people to manage RTT from within its Department of Education and is contracting with an outside consultant to manage the project. The Rhode Island Department of Education is reportedly planning to hire 20 people and an outside vendor to help carry out its RTT initiatives.