On March 4, the U.S. Department of Education announced fifteen states and the District of Columbia as finalists in the first phase of the Race to the Top 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.
“These states are an example for the country of what is possible when adults come together to do the right thing for children,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “Everyone that applied for Race to the Top is charting a path for education reform in America. I salute all of the applicants for their hard work. And I encourage nonfinalists to reapply for phase two.”
Phase one finalists are Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Finalists were chosen from an application pool that included forty states and the District of Columbia.
Finalists have been invited to come to Washington, DC in mid-March to present their proposals to the panel that reviewed their applications during the initial stage, and to engage in question-and-answer discussions. This interaction will allow reviewers to ensure that the state has the understanding, knowledge, capacity, and will to deliver on what it proposed. After the presentations, the reviewers will meet again to discuss each application, finalize scores and comments, and submit them to the department. Secretary Duncan will make the final selections.
“We are setting a high bar and we anticipate very few winners in phase one,” Duncan said. “But this isn’t just about the money. It’s about collaboration among all stakeholders, building a shared agenda, and challenging ourselves to improve the way our students learn. I feel that every state that has applied is a winner—and the biggest winners of all are the students.”
Winners will be announced in April. Applications for phase two are due on June 1. More information on the selection process is available athttp://www2.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2010/03/03042010.html.