Today, Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced the finalists for the second round of the Race to the Top grant competition. Out of 36 applicants, 18 states and the District of Columbia were selected to present their plans in Washington the week of August 9.
The 19 finalists are: Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Carolina.
Duncan formally announced the winners this afternoon at the National Press Club in Washington, where he delivered a speech mentioning the “quiet revolution” of education reform around the country.
“There is a growing sense that a quiet revolution is underway in our homes and schools, classrooms, and communities,” Duncan said. “This quiet revolution is driven by motivated parents who want better educational options for their children. It’s being driven by great educators and administrators who are challenging the defeatism and inertia that has trapped generations of children in second-rate schools.”
While Race to the Top gives competitive preference to states with STEM initiatives, Duncan only briefly touched on America’s competitiveness in STEM today. “We’re competing with kids from around the world and the truth is we are slipping further behind. Among developed nations, our 8th grade students trail 10 other countries in science and our 15-year-olds are in the bottom quarter on math,” said Duncan.
Duncan also talked about the “game-changers” in his reform plan and in the blueprint for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization, such as measuring individual student growth rather than proficiency. Other game-changers include current federal initiatives like the Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund, the Teacher Incentive Fund, School Improvement Grants, and the federal charter school program. Between all of these programs, Duncan estimates that the Department of Education will distribute almost $10 million to support education reform.
Initially, the Race to the Top pot was $4.35 billion and out of that, $600 million was awarded to first round winners, Delaware and Tennessee, and $350 million is reserved for a separate assessment competition, leaving $3.4 billion remaining for the second round grant winners. The Department says it expects to select 10-15 winners, which will probably be announced in early September.
Duncan said, “Just as in the first round, we’re going to set a very high bar because we know that real and meaningful change will only come from doing hard work and setting high expectations.”