Sixty-one of the applications submitted for the $400 million Race to the Top district competition have been selected as finalists, the U.S. Department of Education announced last week.
Finalists include districts in urban centers, such as Boston, Philadelphia, Miami-Dade County, Fla., and Baltimore; charter-management organizations such as KIPP-DC; the state-run Education Achievement Authority in Michigan; and groups of smaller districts, like the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative. The awards will range from $5 million to $40 million.
The contest aims to encourage districts to personalize students’ education and provide them with the technology necessary to do so.
“These finalists are setting the curve for the rest of the country with innovative plans to drive education reform in the classroom,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a statement. “This competition was designed to support local efforts to close the achievement gap and transform the learning environment in a diverse set of districts, but no matter who wins, children across the country will benefit from the clear vision and track records of success demonstrated by these finalists.”
Applications totaling 371 were reviewed by panels of three people, each of whom read and scored the proposals. An average among the three scores was assigned to each applicant. The strongest applications were then selected as finalists.
This round of the Race to the Top competition provoked some strong reactions between unions and districts in a number of cities. Many of the districts that wound up submitting applications after particularly heated talks or without all of the requirements did not make the finalist list.
School districts in Los Angeles and Glendale, for example, submitted applications without the requisite signature from the union president and did not make the cut. School districts in Clark County, Nev., and Fresno, Calif., also failed, despite reaching dramatic, last-minute agreements with their unions.
Between 15 and 25 districts will ultimately be selected to receive four-year awards. Winners will be announced by the end of this year.
A version of this article appeared in the December 05, 2012 edition of Education Week as 61 Districts Named Finalists for Latest RTT Round