The U.S. Department of Education has announced that Delaware and Tennessee have won grants in the first phase of the Race to the Top competition to overhaul state public school systems over the next four years.
Chosen from a pool of sixteen finalists, Delaware was awarded about $100 million while Tennessee was awarded approximately $500 million to implement their reform plans. In both states, all school districts have committed to implementing Race to the Top reforms, which have been championed by key stakeholders including elected officials, teachers' union leaders, and business leaders. Delaware and Tennessee also have outlined aggressive plans to improve teacher and principal evaluation, use data to inform instructional decisions, and turn around their lowest-performing schools while putting in place strong laws and policies to support these reforms.
As with any federal grant program, budgets will be finalized after discussions between the grantees and the department, and the funding will be distributed over time as the grantees meet established benchmarks. Another $3.4 billion is available for the second phase of the competition, while $350 million is available to support states working together to improve the quality of their assessments.
"We set a very high bar for the first phase," said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "With $3.4 billion still available, we're providing plenty of opportunity for all other states to develop plans and aggressively pursue reform."