WASHINGTON, D.C. — Minnesota will miss out on a $330 million federal grant to bolster the state’s education system, after the federal Department of Education announced it was not a finalist for the Race to the Top grant program.
“Those that didn’t get in in the first round, we absolutely hope and expect that you’ll come back and apply for the second round,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a video announcing the 15 states and the District of Columbia that were named finalists.
Race to the Top is the Obama administration’s signature education reform, which aims to improve education via incentives, rather than penalties as was the case with the Bush administration’s reform plan, No Child Left Behind.
Duncan said previously that states will be shown the evaluations of their grant applications so that they can revise and improve them for future rounds of funding. Applications for the second round of Race to the Top are due in June, and Duncan said today he hopes there will be a third round as well.
The state’s plan was backed by 300 school districts and 116 charter schools that combined to cover about 93 percent of students, state officials said. However, the state’s top teacher’s union, Education Minnesota, had distanced itself from the application over concerns that participating schools would have to enroll in the state’s Q-Comp program, which links teacher performance to student results.
Linking teacher performance to student achievement, and the state’s high number of charter schools were two of the factors seen as most helpful for Minnesota’s application. Apparently, it wasn’t enough.