Race to the Top

Race to the Top
















Race to the Top

  1. The Race to the Top (RTTT) program, as a significant constituent of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has vowed to assist districts and states in closing gaps in educational achievement and influence more individuals to enroll in college by facilitating imperative reform strategies (Lipman, 2015). Based on its objective, the respective program has imposed considerable changes on schools. Accordingly, most schools, especially those that exuded low academic performance, managed to score impressive outcomes within a short phase. For the past years, states have reported significant progress in the implementation of reform frameworks within low-achieving schools (Battersby & Verdi, 2014). Despite this, schools have faced several challenges in relation to the RTTT scheme. For instance, increased focus on teacher evaluation structures has been met with opposition particularly from the teaching fraternity. By focusing on test scores as a measure of performance assessment, teachers have become increasingly susceptible to processes such as retrenchments and lay-offs. Because of the consequences, schools have changed considerably especially in relation to student development and learning. Curricula focuses specifically on improvement in core subjects, which are used as the main evaluation structures of test scores for teachers and principals.
  2. One of the unique attributes of the RTTT program involves the application of teacher evaluation systems. Such structures have been created to depend considerably on measures of growth and student achievement. However, the different aspect about these systems is based on their objective and intended consequences. Simply, the aim behind the teacher evaluation systems involves assessing respective educators in relation to test scores. Accordingly, the performance of the students determines the efforts of the teachers. Hence, if the overall test scores for the students are low, teachers are more likely to experience dire outcomes such as permanent lay-offs (Ballou & Springer, 2015). Consequently, prolonged dismal performance may actually cause an entire overhaul of the respective institution under scrutiny. As such, teachers have expressed concerns regarding the ways in which their worth is measured. For instance, are test scores the only basis for measuring a teacher’s worth? Moreover, do the evaluations support or impede instruction by focusing solely on test scores as an assessment measure? These questions represent some of the imperative concerns that teachers have regarding the RTTT program and its inclination towards test score-based evaluation systems.
  3. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) comprise the most imperative and considerable education reform that has ever taken place within public schools in the United States. The respective initiative provides the contents that students in Grade K-12 should be aware of in the core subjects of Mathematics and the English language at the culmination of every grade (Rothman, 2011). The CCSS is focused on establishing constant educational prerequisites across states and guaranteeing the career preparation of graduate students from high schools. Based on this, the initiative has changed education in America specifically by increasing graduation rates among high school students due to the introduction of novel English and Math curricula and the use of the Common Core test. In support of the CCSS, backers argue that the initiative will assist in reinforcing the progression of students in Math and English through involvement in real-world and practical applications as well as conceptual understanding (Rothman, 2011). Additionally, supporters of the respective program argue that teachers will gain a shared responsibility in ensuring literacy and mathematical development among students regardless of their different subject specializations. On the other hand, opponents claim that implementation of the CCSS program is complicated and incapable of undergoing successful application (Rothman, 2011).


Ballou, D., & Springer, M. G. (2015). Using student test scores to measure teacher performance: Some problems in the design and implementation of evaluation systems. Educational Researcher, 44(2), 77-86.

Battersby, S. L., & Verdi, B. (2014). The culture of professional learning communities and connections to improve teacher efficacy and support student learning. Arts Education Policy Review, 116(1), 22-29.

Lipman, P. (2015). Urban education policy under Obama. Journal of Urban Affairs, 37 (1), 57-61.

Rothman, R. (2011). Something in common: The common core standards and the next chapter in American education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.




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