The second phase of the Obama administration's Race to the Top competition drew applications from 35 states and the District of Columbia seeking to win a share of $3.4 billion provided by Congress to drive education reform. Between the current phase and the first phase, which drew 41 applications, 47 states have applied to this program.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan commended all of the states that applied saying, "This took a lot of hard work and political courage. It required administrators, elected officials, union leaders, teachers, and advocates to work together and embrace a common reform agenda. Every state that applied now has a blueprint for raising educational quality across America."
Designed to incentivize excellence, drive reform, and promote the adoption and use of effective policies and practices, the Race to the Top program is backed by $4.35 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. Of that money, the Department set aside $350 million for a separate competition to improve the quality of assessments and awarded approximately $600 million to Phase 1 winners Delaware and Tennessee, leaving $3.4 billion for Phase 2.
The Department will select the Phase 2 winners over the summer using the same process as Phase 1. In the panel review stage, five expert reviewers will read and discuss each application. They will then score and comment on each application independently, and the applicant will be given a score based on the average of the five scores.
The Department will look for a natural break in the scores to identify finalists and invite them to D.C. to make in-person presentations to their review panels. Each reviewer will then submit final scores, and the Secretary will select awardees. Depending on the size of the winning states, 10-15 states could win Race to the Top grants. The administration will announce the winners before the end of September when the money must be legally obligated.
The Department of Education received the following applications prior to today's 4:30 deadline:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
For more information about Race to the Top, please visit the program website.