Delaware is making “encouraging progress” on its Race to the Top education reform, according to a US Department of Education report released today.

In 2010, Delaware won the Race to the Top competitive grant which entitled the state to more than $119 million in funding from the federal stimulus package. The DOE report examines Delaware’s progress in the second year of implementing RTTT in the 2011-2012 school year.

The report says that despite “implementation challenges and delays” during the last school year, the state is making “significant strides” to meeting its RTTT goals. Among those strides is improving student proficiency in grades 3 – 10 in both English Language Arts and Mathematics.

The state has also been successful in reducing the achievement gap between students of different racial and income backgrounds. The gap in English Language Arts between white and black students went from 26.2 percentage points to 22.7 points, while the gap between white and Hispanic students dropped from 23.3 percentage points to 20.4 points.

The gap also narrowed in math scores, with the difference between white and black s students dropping from 28.5 percentage points to 24.9 points. The math gap between white and Hispanic students dropped from 20.7 percentage points to 17.3 points.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says, “Delaware has made encouraging progress toward implementing its plan, and we want to see that growth accelerate in the second half of the grant.” Duncan added, “We will continue to work closely with Delaware to ensure they are enacting reforms that will improve student achievement and empower teachers to prepare all students for college and careers.”

The state’s progress is measured against itself, not what other states are doing under Race to the Top. The states are not ranked on how they are performing against each other.

You can read the progress report from the Department of Education below.