NC one of 16 in contention for $4.35B education grant

The Tar Heel State is one of 15 states—plus the District of Columbia—vying for $4.35 billion in grants from President Barack Obama as part of his Race to the Top program, which will provide funds for states with “ambitious yet achievable plans” for implementing educational reform, according to the U.S. Department of Education. The 16 finalists were announced Thursday.

“These states are an example for the country of what is possible when adults come together to do the right thing for children,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement Thursday.

The funds for Race to the Top come from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and the states were asked to focus their applications on the four areas emphasized in the stimulus—better preparing students for college, improving teacher quality, turning around low-performing schools and creating data systems to track academic performance.

North Carolina was chosen as a finalist over 25 other states after panels of peer reviewers examined each state’s application. The panels gave scores out of 500.

Each finalist will send a delegation to Washington, D.C. in mid-March to give a presentation on their plans for reform, and the grant winners will be announced in April. According to the Department of Education’s news release, the purpose of the finalist stage is to allow reviewers to ensure that the state has the understanding, knowledge, capacity and will to truly deliver on what is proposed.

The current round of funds is just the first phase of two, and no more than half of the total grant money is expected to be given out at this stage. States that do not win grants in April will be able to apply for the second round of grants, which will be awarded in September.


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