Tennessee and Delaware Win the First Round of Race to the Top

Today, I made a historic announcement. Delaware and Tennessee have won grants in the first phase of Race to the Top.

We received many strong proposals from states all across America, but two applications stood out above all others: Delaware and Tennessee. These states received the two highest scores in the competition.

All along, we said we would set a very high bar for success because we know that real and meaningful change in public education will only come from doing hard work and setting the highest expectations.

Both Delaware and Tennessee cleared that bar. They made commitments to raise their standards. They have strong plans to measure and support teacher effectiveness. Their schools rest on foundations rich with data, and they will be using this data to help teachers and principals accelerate student achievement. Both states have made deep commitments to turning around their struggling schools and their innovative plans reflect that commitment.

Perhaps most importantly, every one of the districts in Delaware and Tennessee is committed to implementing the reforms in Race to the Top, and they have the support of the state leaders as well as their unions. We’re confident that all students in both states will benefit from this program. We will be working with them to finalize their budgets and will closely monitor whether they’re reaching their benchmarks over the course of the four years of their grants.

Although we have two winners for Phase 1, every state that applied is a winner. Everyone who applied is helping to chart the path forward for education reform in America. And the biggest winners of all are the students.

And the Race to the Top doesn’t end today.

The good news is that about $3.4 billion remains to be awarded. Every other state in the country will have the opportunity to apply in the second phase. I want to challenge every state to put their best foot forward. Just by participating in the process, states are bringing people together to collaborate and create the policies that will accelerate student achievement.

We will make a second round of grants. Applications for Phase 2 are due on June 1. That leaves time for states to do the hard work necessary to write the comprehensive plans necessary to succeed in school reform. I want to challenge every state to put their best foot forward. Just by participating in the process, states are bringing people together to collaborate and create the policies that will accelerate student achievement.

We look forward to supporting that hard work in Phase 2 and beyond. President Obama has proposed an additional $1.35 billion for Race to the Top in fiscal 2011 so we can continue to support more states in moving reform forward.
 

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