Supporting reform while maintaining a commitment to at-risk students

The President does believe there’s a role for competitive funding in education reform – and that these programs will benefit at-risk students. For too long in education, we have failed to recognize and reward success at the state, local or school level.  The Race to the Top program changed that. It spurred innovation, rewarded stakeholders working together to implement reform, and gave states incentives to raise their academic standards, invest in the teaching profession, use data to improve schools, and focus on fixing their lowest-performing schools. Through Race to the Top, 46 states developed comprehensive plans to advance these reforms. Eleven states and the District of Columbia are leading the way on them. Race to the Top created incentives for 41 states to voluntarily adopt college and career ready standards. This will raise expectations for all students and end a practice of setting a low bar that was particularly harmful to poor and minority students.

With just 1 percent of the annual education spending, Race to the Top states are blazing a path for reforms for decades to come. They are creating innovative solutions and effective practices that will benefit all students.

This powerful combination of formula funding supporting at-risk students and competitive funding for reform will position America to win the global race in education. It will ensure that all students, including our most at-risk, receive the world-class education they deserve.

Arne Duncan is the Secretary of Education.