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'Race to the Top' winners announced

By Sally Holland, CNN Producer
  • Nine states plus the District of Columbia are winners
  • Each will receive a portion of $3.4 billion
  • Winners had to show they have plans for school reforms

Washington (CNN) -- The District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Rhode Island are all to receive a portion of the $3.4 billion remaining in the "Race to the Top" fund for education in those states.

"We had many more competitive applications than money to fund them in this round," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Tuesday.

"Race to the Top" is an Obama administration initiative to award money to states that show that they have a plan for school reforms in four main areas: turning around low performing schools, adopting college and career ready standards, effective teachers and principals, and using data systems to support student achievement.

Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia applied for the second round of competition, and of those, 19 were listed as finalists by the Department of Education in July. Those finalists all sent representatives to Washington in August to present their case to a group of peer reviewers.

Massachusetts received the highest score in the second round of competition followed by New York and Hawaii.

Sometimes, it's just about finishing the test. In the first phase of the competition, Hawaii turned in an incomplete application. In the second phase, not only did they turn in a completed application, but they were awarded with a grant of $75 million.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist thanked the teachers' unions for their success. In that state, 54 local teacher unions signed on to their plans.

"This level of participation far exceeds the five local teacher unions who joined our efforts during Phase 1," he said in a statement.

Tennessee and Delaware both won grants under the program in the first round which was announced earlier this year. Over the next four years, Tennessee will receive $400 million and Delaware will receive $100 million for their programs.

For the second round, the Department of Education announced that it would be limiting the amount that any given state can receive. The limits are based on the student population of that state. So, large states like New York and Florida can receive as much as $700 million while smaller states like Hawaii, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia are limited to $75 million grants.

The grants will be awarded in installments over the next four years. And state education departments need to spend the money according to the plans they submitted. In a conference call with reporters, Duncan said he would pull funding from states that he feels are not "acting in good faith."

Duncan said he hopes Tuesday's announcement is not the end of the program. "We're very hopeful there will be a Phase 3 of 'Race to the Top' and have requested $1.35 billion dollars in next year's budget," he said.