Race To The Top Round Three: 9 States Can Apply For $200 Million With STEM Education Focus

Beginning this week, nine states that were the runner-up finalists from last year's Race to the Top competition can apply for a portion of the $200 million Race to the Top round three fund.

The Department of Education announced Wednesday that Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and South Carolina can seek funding for part of their Race to the Top plan, which should include a focus to improve science, technology, engineering and math education.

"Race to the Top round three will enable these nine states to further their reform efforts already underway and help them get better faster," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Wednesday.

The grants will range from a maximum possible $12.25 million for Colorado to $49 million for California. Grant figures depend on state population and are adjusted based on assurance compliance and application proposals.

The application is a two-part process, the first of which is a "portfolio of assurances" that declares commitment to across-the-board reform in areas like raised academic standards and improved evaluation standards. The second portion is a plan and budget submission that analyzes and estimates the broad impact of the proposed reform in bettering STEM education and supporting student learning.

According to provisions released today, states must meet nine "assurances" to qualify for funding. Among them, states must comply with the Education Jobs Fund maintenance-of-effort requirements, which carry expectations of maintaining dollars and percentages of support that are no less than those of previous years.

The applying states must also comply with data system requirements under the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, a one-time allotment of $53.6 billion under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. They must also not place a barrier between linking data on student performance to educators.

Last month, 35 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico submitted applications for the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge, a separate $500 million federal grant competition that was announced in May as the third part of its RTTT challenge, which provided close to $4 billion in federal education funding last year.

The Early Learning Challenge aims to encourage improved coordination, clearer standards and better access to early learning programs for low-income, high-need infants, toddlers and preschoolers. States that submitted applications last month are competing for grants ranging from $50 million to $100 million.

Winners for both initiatives will be announced by the end of the year.

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