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MOVING ON UP: Delaware and Tennessee Win First Phase of the Race to the Top Competition

“We received many strong proposals from states all across America, but two applications stood out above all others: Delaware and Tennessee.”

On March 29, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that Delaware and Tennessee won grants in the first phase of the Race to the Top (RTT) competition, a $4.35 billion competitive grant program under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) that rewards states for undertaking significant K–12 education reforms designed to boost student achievement.

“We received many strong proposals from states all across America, but two applications stood out above all others: Delaware and Tennessee,” Duncan said. “Both states have statewide buy-in for comprehensive plans to reform their schools. They have written new laws to support their policies. And they have demonstrated the courage, capacity, and commitment to turn their ideas into practices that can improve outcomes for students.”

State Score
Tennessee 443.4
Delaware 438.4
Georgia 434.4
Florida 425.0
Illinois 423.4
Ohio 423.4
South Carolina 423.2
Kentucky 416.4
Pennsylvania 412.2
New York 411.2
Rhode Island 411.0
Louisiana 410.8
Colorado 408.8
North Carolina 407.0
Massachusetts 403.8
District of Columbia 402.0

Tennessee and Delaware—with scores of 443.4 and 438.4, respectively—were selected from a group of sixteen finalists. Delaware will receive approximately $100 million while Tennessee will receive $500 million to implement their comprehensive school reform plans over the next four years.

According to its press release, the U.S. Department of Education awarded Delaware and Tennessee high marks for the “commitment to reform from key stakeholders, including elected officials, teacher’s union leaders, and business leaders.” Both states also have aggressive plans to improve teacher and principal evaluation, use data to inform instructional decisions, and turn around their lowest-performing schools.

The U.S. Department of Education has about $3.4 billion available for the second phase of the RTT competition. Applications for the second phase are due on June 1, 2010. For Phase 2, the department made one rule change that requires the state’s budget to conform to specific budget ranges depending on the size of the state. For example, states with large populations like California and Florida can submit a budget of up to $700 million while smaller states such as New Mexico and Vermont must submit budgets that range from $20–$75 million. The budget ranges for every state are available at

To help states prepare their proposals for Phase 2, all Phase 1 applications, peer reviewers’ comments, and scores are available on the department’s website at

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