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Race to the Top Phase 1 Winners: Delaware and Tennessee
posted by: Colin | March 29, 2010, 04:07 PM   

The Obama administration announced that Delaware and Tennessee scored the highest on their Race to the Top proposals and will be awarded $100 million and $500 million, respectively. Both applications rely heavily on tracking student performance and linking it to teacher evaluation and even bonus pay.

Other finalists, including early favorites Georgia (third) and Florida (fourth), scored well, but Secretary of Education Arne Duncan seems to have set a high threshold for awarding funds in phase 1 of the program. Some critics had predicted that funds would be spread over many states, emphasizing politics over reform, thus depleting their impact. However with only two winners selected from sixteen finalists from 41 applications, the charge doesn't seem to stick.

The decision upset at least one RTTT bracket, provided by EdWeek's State EdWatch blog, which had five states listed as winners (Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Illinois and Tennessee).

The Department of Education will not be posting the scores or reviewer comments to any of the applications (already posted) until after the winners have been formally announced (scheduled this afternoon), however some states have already started to debate why they missed out on the $4.35 billion program. Some states, such as New Jersey, are pointing the finger squarely at the unions for their lack of support. Delaware and Tennessee boasted 100% and 93% support from teacher unions, respectively.

The awards to Tennessee and Delaware (minus another $350 in non-grant funds) leaves over $3.4 billion for phase 2 winners, over five times the award in phase 1. In other words, there is plenty of money left up for grabs and Delaware and Tennessee just set the bar, to mix metaphors.

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