The Education Action Network

Taking Back America By Taking Back Our Schools

ATLANTA — Eighteen states and the District of Columbia were named finalists Tuesday in the second round of the federal "Race to the Top" school reform grant competition, giving them a chance to receive a share of $3 billion.

Education Department officials provided The Associated Press with a list of the finalists ahead of a speech by Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

The states are: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Carolina.

Duncan was expected to officially announce the finalists at a speech at the National Press Club.

The competition rewards ambitious reforms aimed at improving struggling schools and closing the achievement gap. Applications were screened by a panel of peer reviewers, and finalists will travel to Washington in coming weeks to present their proposals.

In all, 35 states and the District of Columbia applied for the second round of the application. The 19 finalists have asked for $6.2 billion, though only $3.4 billion is available.

Dozens of states passed new education policies to make themselves more attractive to the judges.

New York, which was a finalist in the first round but did not win money, lifted its cap on the number of charter schools that can open annually from 200 to 460. Colorado passed laws that would pay teachers based on student performance and can strip tenure from low performing instructors.

Two states, Tennessee and Delaware, were awarded a total of $600 million in the first round.

Their applications were praised for merit pay policies that link teacher pay to student performance and for garnering the support of teachers' unions. Tennessee and Delaware also have laws that are welcoming to charter schools.

In the first round of the race, some stakeholders were reluctant to support applications tying teacher evaluations to student test scores.

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Replies to This Discussion

I find it interesting that states are competing for federal funds as this is certainly not within the authority of the feds and is a direct contradiction and violation of the US Constitution and the general welfare clause. Furthermore, I find it very distasteful and a direct contradiction to the sovereignty of individual states that they would pass legislation in order to obtain these funds. Of course, this practice has been going on for quite some time. While in this case it appears as though states are being encouraged to "loosen up" on regulations regarding education, I remain highly skeptical.

Indeed, I would agree that the concept of tenure for teachers does nothing at all to support quality of education and is not in the best interests of the students. I further agree with the article that efforts to tie merit increases for teachers to student performance is a move in the right direction. We must do a better job of monitoring and managing the "outputs" of education rather than the inputs which is the current focus.

I welcome any ideas anyone might have on how to do this in a fair and equitable way.
Shane, you are absolutely right.

Huppenthal is for the Race to the Top funding. That is why I am voting for Margaret Dugan.
i know that a lot of people are looking to Florida's model for education reform. Apparently they have managed to improve test scores significantly in a fiscally responsible manner. The Goldwater Institute has done some research on this.
Arizona has recently passed legislation that removes some of the "old establishment" problems that have plagued our education system for quite some time. Recent changes now require school districts to adopt a metrics based system of evaluation of teachers and education staff based on student performance. The Gilbert School Board began to address this issue in its initial stages (as though by way of an introduction). We can expect to see much more involvement in this area and I welcome the changes. Of course, this doesn't apply to just Gilbert School District, but all school districts across the state. It will be interesting to see how the different interpretations from the state level, to the county level, then to the individual districts as to what is required and how to implement this direction might differ.



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