Results of President Obama’s Race to the Top

From the Publisher: "This study examines the effects of Obama’s Race to the Top [funding initiative] on education policymaking around the country. The overall findings . . . indicate that Race to the Top had a meaningful impact on the production of education policy across the United States. In its aftermath, all states experienced a marked surge in the adoption of education policies. Legislators from all states reported that Race to the Top affected policy deliberations within their states. In the main, the evidence suggests that by strategically deploying funds to cash-strapped states and massively increasing the public profile of a controversial set of education policies, the president managed to stimulate reforms that had stalled in state legislatures, stood no chance of enactment in Congress, and could not be accomplished via unilateral action." 

Content Comments 

The author of this report explicitly states his purpose, applies reasonable methodology to investigate his central question, and presents a fair and reasonable discussion supporting his findings. The study is one of the few to examine education policy and focuses on a key education policy: President Obama's Race to the Top initiative. Communications quality is excellent. Both length and wording are appropriate for key audiences, especially education policymakers and practitioners. The study supports the theory that sizeable financial incentives provide strong motivation to implement education policies that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to legislate. Consequently utility should be high, especially for future policymakers. While the author does not analyze the impact of Race to the Top on student achievement, a reasonable case can be made that the study may have a future impact on learning.