Race to the Top Round Three Requires STEM Emphasis
Last week, the U.S. Department of Education invited nine states to apply for the third round of Race to the Top by submitting state-wide education reform plans that emphasize STEM education. The states eligible to apply for a portion of the $200 million are the nine unfunded Round 2 finalists: Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.
To apply, the state must first provide a set of assurances confirming its commitment to continue the reforms established in its Phase 2 application. Assurances will include information such as state funding for education and efforts to enhance data systems, raise academic standards, and improve evaluation systems.
If the Department deems they meet all assurances, states will then submit a detailed plan explaining how the proposed reforms will broadly impact student learning and improve STEM education, as well as include a budget and details on performance measures. The plan can either be a specific STEM activity from the Round 2 proposal or incorporate a STEM focus within one of the four core education reform areas: standards and assessments; data systems; teacher training, recruitment, and retention; and school turn-around. Whichever way the state decides to address STEM education, “sufficient funding” must be put towards activities that are both measurable and likely to produce improvement in STEM outcomes.
In a statement last week, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, “Race to the Top round three will enable these nine states to further their reform efforts already underway and help them get better faster.”
Race to the Top Phase 3 is funded by Congress through the FY2011 Appropriations Act, which provided nearly $700 million for the Race to the Top Fund this year. Approximately $500 million went to the Early Learning Challenge program, leaving $200 million to be divided between some or all of the nine unfunded Phase 2 finalists. If all nine states apply, awards would range from $12 million to $49 million, depending on state population. However, the amounts could increase if some states decide not to apply or do not meet the required assurances.
States have until November 22 to file the first part of the application showing that they meet all of the assurances. For those states that qualify, the second part of application is due December 16.
To learn more about the requirements of Race to the Top Phase Three, visit the Department of Education’s resources page.