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Ohio's Race to the Top: The Basics


U.S. Department of Education

President Obama, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and a student at a July 2009 press conference in Washington, D.C., announcing the Race to the Top grant program.

Race to the Top is a $4.35 billion competitive grant program established by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).  The program was designed to encourage and reward states for enacting education policies that the Obama administration believes will improve students’ results, build school and school systems’ capacities and increase school systems’ productivity and effectiveness.

In January 2011, Ohio was awarded a $400 million grant to be spent over four years. Ohio’s plan calls for the state by 2014 to:

  • Increase the high school graduation rate by 2 percentage points to 88 percent,
  • Reduce by half the gaps between white and non-white students’ graduation rates,
  • Reduce by half performance gaps between white and non-white students on state and national assessments,
  • Reduce by half the gaps between Ohio and top-performing states on national reading and math assessments, and
  • Double the projected increase in college enrollment for students age 19 and younger.

More than half of the grant ($206 million) is being funneled to 437 participating districts and charter schools for efforts tied to the state goals.

The Ohio Department of Education is spending the remaining $194 million to:

  • Build capacity to run the program,
  • Create new standards and assessments for students,
  • Use data to improve instruction (including linking students’ performance to their teachers),
  • Ensure great teachers and principals are in every school,
  • Turn around the lowest-achieving schools, and
  • Strengthen science, technology, engineering and math programs.

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