NASHVILLE — Governor Phil Bredesen announced today that Tennessee is one of just two states selected to receive millions of dollars for education in the federal government’s Race to the Top competition. The U.S. Department of Education announced Tennessee and Delaware as the competition’s first round winners earlier today.
Tennessee will receive approximately $500 million to implement its comprehensive school reform plans over the next four years.
“This is a landmark opportunity for Tennessee,” said Bredesen. “Our success in Race to the Top speaks to the commitment we’ve made to meaningful and significant improvement in public education, and the funds provided by the grant will carry us forward in a dramatic and positive direction.”
Tennessee requested $501 million in its application. As one of the next steps in the process, the U.S. Department of Education will complete negotiations with successful states on their Race to the Top contracts to finalize award amounts.
The $4.35 billion Race to the Top Fund is an unprecedented federal investment in reform. The program includes $4 billion for statewide reform grants and $350 million to support states working together to improve the quality of their assessments. The Race to the Top state competition is designed to reward states that are leading the way in comprehensive, coherent, statewide education reform across four key areas:
· Adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace;
· Building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals how to improve instruction;
· Recruiting, developing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most; and
· Turning around their lowest-performing schools.
Forty states and the District of Columbia submitted applications for the first phase of grants. Delaware and Tennessee were selected from among 16 finalists who presented their proposals to panels of peer reviewers earlier this month.
The peer reviewers awarded the highest scores to Delaware and Tennessee. According to the U.S. Department of Education, they awarded Delaware and Tennessee high marks for the commitment to reform from key stakeholders, including elected officials, teacher's union leaders, and business leaders. In both states, all school districts committed to implementing Race to the Top reforms.
Delaware and Tennessee also have aggressive plans to improve teacher and principal evaluation, use data to inform instructional decisions, and turn around their lowest-performing schools. In addition, both states have put in place strong laws and policies to support their reform efforts.
Bredesen expressed appreciation for widespread support for the state’s application by the Tennessee General Assembly, Tennessee Education Association, educators and education advocates, business leaders, and the parents and families across the state that want to continue to provide better opportunities in the classroom and in life for Tennessee’s children.
Tennessee’s complete Race to the Top proposal can be found on the state Department of Education Web site at www.tn.gov/education.