The Education Department handed out its latest Race to the Top grants totaling almost $200 million dollars to seven states, all of which failed to receive grants last year, with Illinois claiming the largest portion at nearly $43 million.
Other states receiving funds during the latest round of grants include: Pennsylvania at $41.3 million, New Jersey at $37.9 million, Arizona at $25.1 million, Colorado at $17.9 million, Louisiana at $17.5 million, and Kentucky at $17 million.
The seven states receiving grants were among only nine states eligible for this latest round of funding. California failed to submit a complete application, thus deeming the state ineligible, and South Carolina withdrew from consideration.
“These seven states are now among 22 Race to the Top winners spread out across the country that are investing in key education reforms to prepare more students for college and careers,” according to Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education.
“Race to the Top has been a pivotal program that has generated more progress in improving our nation’s education system over the last three years than we’ve seen over the last decade. We look forward to partnering with these states to continue this important work,” he said.
This round’s winners of Race to the Top Grants have all made commitments to reforming the school districts within their states by increasing academic standards, intervening and working to bring underperforming schools up to standard, and overhauling teacher evaluations.
Race to the Top grant recipients must meet the goals they have set forth in their applications to maintain their funding. Those not able to keep their commitment may be given a high risk status which, in the worst case scenario, can mean a loss of funding.
Hawaii, after receiving a $75 million grant last year, now finds itself labeled high risk, which means funding could be pulled if the state continues to fail to meet the requirements of the Race to the Top award. Education Department officials will visit Hawaii, the first state to receive high risk status, this year for an onsite review of the state’s progress toward meeting the grant requirements.