Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Genesis of Race to the Top: A Case Study of Policy Change
by Dinkes, Rachel, Ph.D., The George Washington University, 2016, 183; 10043141
Abstract (Summary)

This study examined the factors that led to the rise and eventual adoption of the state incentive grants program, later known as Race to the Top (RTT), in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act in 2009. Until the Recovery Act in 2009, reauthorizations of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) had been the primary law, and mandate the primary mechanism that federal policy makers used to influence state and local education policy. However, the Obama administration used the Recovery Act and a competition mechanism to advance their education agenda. Based on analyses of relevant documents and interviews with highly knowledgeable policy actors, this study sought to establish a narrative of the factors that led to the genesis of RTT.

Consistent with established theories that seek to explain policy change, this study found that policy windows, elections, policy entrepreneurs, the decline of previously powerful interest groups, new interest groups, and venue change were all important factors in the genesis of RTT. In addition to traditional factors that explain policy change, this study found that speed, minimal verbiage, and a small, tight-limited group of actors were key factors in the genesis of RTT.

This study has important implications for policy makers seeking to advance federal education reforms. Given the structural limitations of ESEA and the lack of constitutional authority for the federal government to make state education policy reforms, future Presidents and administrations will continue to seek alternate pathways for their education reform agendas like RTT. Understanding the factors and conditions that led to the genesis of an alternate pathway to federal education reform in 2009 may be a useful case study for future policy makers.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Balla, Steven J.
Commitee: Cookson, Peter, Infeld, Donna, Nakib, Yas, Newcomer, Kathryn
School: The George Washington University
Department: Public Policy and Public Administration
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 77/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Education Policy, Political science, Public policy
Keywords: Agenda setting, American reinvestment and recovery act, Baumgartner and jones, Interviews, Kingdon, Race to the top
Publication Number: 10043141
ISBN: 9781339553771
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