Duncan Wants to See Race to the Top Results

It's been a year and a half since the U.S. Department of Education issued its first grants from the Race to the Top program. Last week, the department indicated that it's expecting to see some results.

After announcing the seven states to win grants in the third and latest round of the program, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that the department will be issuing report cards in January for previous winners of the competition. "We're going to continue to hold people accountable, not for having good plans on paper but for executing those plans," Duncan said.

Duncan's words came one day after the department sent a letter to Hawaii , a second-round winner, telling the state that its $75 million grant was on "high-risk status." The state hasn't been able to reach an agreement with the Hawaii State Teachers Association that would allow it to implement a performance-pay system and new teacher evaluations. Duncan said that Hawaii will face losing the award money if it doesn't start to show improvement in early 2012.

"If a state is making progress, I'm willing to be flexible on time," he said. "Big picture, we're really not seeing progress on Hawaii." Duncan said the department doesn't intend to put any other states on at-risk status at this point.

The winners of last week's $200 million third round were Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The awards were based on their continued progress with plans unveiled in their previous Race to the Top applications, along with an emphasis on education in science, technology, engineering and math.

But the awards paled in comparison to the first and second rounds of the K-12 competition, which totaled $4 billion. Colorado, which had been considered a favorite in the last round and which some experts say has made more progress than some winning states, won $18 million last week. If it had won in the second round of the competition, it could have been awarded as much as $175 million.

The federal budget plan reached last week includes $550 million in additional funding for the Race to the Top program. The department indicated that it's considering using those funds for a district-level round of Race to the Top and another round of competition focused on early learning.

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