19 Finalists Announced in the Second Round of Race to the Top
July 27, 2010 08:27 pm
In a speech at the National Press Club this afternoon, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that nineteen finalists remain to compete for the $3.4 billion available in the second round of the Race to the Top program. A total of thirty-five states and the District of Columbia applied for the second round of the competition and the winners are expected to be announced in September.
The finalists include Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Carolina.
During his speech, Secretary Duncan said there is a “quiet revolution” underway to improve the state of education and it is driven by the collective efforts of parents, educators, administrators, elected officials, foundations, entrepreneurs, and other stakeholders. He called teachers and principals the “heroes of the quiet revolution” and challenged reformers to stop pointing fingers, saying, “That’s the old frame. In the new frame, people are working together.”
Race to the Top is a federal incentive program designed to reward states that show the greatest willingness to push innovation through rigorous testing standards, data collection, teacher improvement, and plans to turnaround failing schools. The program is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and was announced in July 2009.
During the first round of the competition, forty states plus the District of Columbia applied and only Tennessee and Delaware emerged as the winners. While the Department has made it clear that not all of the finalists will receive a piece of the pie, ten to fifteen winners are expected to be selected this time around. In two weeks, the second round finalists will travel to Washington to present their strategy to the same peer-reviewers that scored their applications. After the state presentations and a question and answer period, the peer reviewers will announce their final decision. Collectively, forty six states and the District of Columbia applied for either the first round or the second round of Race to the Top, or both.
“Peer reviewers identified these 19 finalists as having the boldest plans, but every state that applied will benefit from this process of collaboratively creating a comprehensive education reform agenda,” said Secretary Duncan. “Much of the federal dollars we distribute though other channels can support their plan to raise standards, improve teaching, use data more effectively to support student learning, and turn around underperforming schools.”
The competition has also spurred a number of states to pass legislation that furthers education reform including thirteen states that have altered their laws to support the growth of charter schools and seventeen states that have approved legislation to change teacher evaluations, in some states that means linking them to student outcomes. In his comments today, Secretary Duncan recognized that, “Nothing moves people as quickly as the opportunity for more funding — especially in tough budget times”.