In one of the many kinds of conversations I have with fellow education-obsessed friends and acquaintances, one person or another often asks, "So what's going on with the Race to the Top money in Rhode Island?" This post is for them.
Here's a rundown from New America Foundations' Ed Money Watch blog on the states' progress (or lack thereof) toward spending Race to the Top (RttT) funds that analyzes "Race to the Top: Reform Efforts Under Way and Information Sharing Could Be Improved," (link opens to a PDF) a recently released Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the pace of RttT spending thus far, along with descriptions of the ways the states intend to use the funds to improve education.
Twelve states have received RttT grants, Delaware and Tennessee in Phase One, which awarded funds in March 2010. Rhode Island was among a group of 10 states that received Phase Two RttT award in August 2010. Of those 10 states, only four (not Rhode Island) have spent more than 10 percent of the funds thus far, well off the pace that their plans set for dispersing funds statewide to improve schools. I should note that I am not sure when the funds were actually granted to Rhode Island; on page 20, the GAO report features a chart that shows that the U.S. Department of Education approved plans for spending Year One funds of $24,812,51 on April 8, 2011.
If you want to know RttT's national ambitions and progress thus far, the GAO report is worth a perusal. While you can also dig in and find out a bit more about what's happening in Rhode Island in particular, the real value is the national context, which is across most of the states that received first and second phase RttT funding, implementation has been slow, as has the program's capacity to make a national impact on ed reform.