NEWS RELEASES 2011-12 :: JANUARY 10, 2012


Federal officials lauded North Carolina as showing great progress in implementing programs and promises made in its $400 million Race to the Top grant in a first year evaluation report released today in Washington.

"North Carolina's Race to the Top grant has already started paying dividends," said Gov. Bev Perdue. "All children deserve a shot at a successful future, and our first-year progress on implementing Race to the Top is a great step toward serving all children."

"We're pleased to have been recognized as being among nine of the 12 states making laudable progress in implementing Race to the Top," said Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson. "North Carolina is a national leader in education. This program provides a wonderful opportunity to shine as we continue to remodel our public schools for student success."

"We know we have pockets of excellence across North Carolina," added State Board of Education Chairman Bill Harrison. "Race to the Top is going to help us take excellence to scale, and this report recognizes we are making great strides."

The transformative Race to the Top grant lends momentum and financial support to efforts to provide better opportunities for success to all North Carolina students. These efforts include stronger standards for learning and accountability, improved data systems, increased teacher and principal effectiveness, and further strengthening the state's lowest performing schools. While federal officials singled out three states for struggles with implementing terms of the grant, North Carolina was among nine states described as making tremendous progress and on target with its plan of work.

"Race to the Top states have made tremendous strides in this first year," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "These twelve states have acted with courage and commitment in taking on ambitious education reform. Their year one work has helped lay the foundation for long- term, statewide improvements centered on doing what's best for students."

North Carolina adopted national Common Core state standards for curriculum and legislation to improve teacher quality in the year leading up to the grant, which was awarded in fall 2010. In year one of the four-year grant, the evaluation report outlined several major accomplishments for the state.

North Carolina created state essential standards for subjects that are not covered by Common Core curriculum reform; launched a professional development initiative, which included a series of regional trainings on the Common Core and North Carolina Essential Standards; and began building a foundation for statewide technology through the NC K-12 Education Cloud. The state also accelerated efforts to expand its pool of qualified teachers and principals through partnerships with TEACH Charlotte and the New Teacher Project, launched three Regional Leadership Academies to provide alternative certification for principals, and established innovative anchor and affinity schools that will serve as models of good practice, professional development centers, and test beds for new practices.

"Further challenges remain, but this was a great set of accomplishments for year one," said Atkinson. "The Race to the Top work is not a sprint, but more like a marathon being run at an aggressive pace."

The Race to the Top grants are four year grants that end in 2014. North Carolina's Race to the Top plan is online at

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 160 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.