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California's Race to the Top Application Ranked 27th Out of 41, Well Down the List

By Jeff Hudson - April 1, 2010

It wasn’t even close.  California didn’t finish in the top half of applications for Phase 1 of federal Race to the Top funding, according to information released by the federal Department of Education on Monday.

California’s application was ranked 27th among the 40 states (plus the District of Columbia) that filed applications for Phase 1 funding under RTTT. Fourteen applications were approved as finalists, with Tennessee ($500 million) and Delaware ($100 million) getting the largest awards.

To see an alphabetical list showing how all of the state applications were scored, click here.  The fourteen applications that were ranked as finalists scored over 400 out of a possible 500 points, California’s score was 336.8

To see a summary by five peer reviewers of California’s application, click here.  To read a more detailed commentary by the peer reviewers, click here.

While Gov. Schwarzenegger expressed considerable enthusiasm for Race to the Top, as did State Sen. Gloria Romero (D-East Los Angeles, and a candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction), the response from many California school districts was less exuberant. Roughly half of California’s school districts did not sign a Memorandum of Understanding needed to participate in RTTT.  A number of district administrators and school boards felt that the program’s extensive paperwork requirements exceeded the potential benefit of the relatively small amount of money that their district might ultimately receive.

Applications for Phase 2 of Race to the Top, which will distribute $3.4 billion, are due on June 1, 2010. To help states as they prepare their proposals and to continue the nationwide dialogue on education reform, the Department of Education has made all Phase 1 applications, peer reviewers' comments, and scores available on its website; videos of states' presentations will be posted next week.

The Department is making one change to the rules for the Phase 2 competition. To fund as many strong applications as possible, the Department of Education is requiring states' budgets to be within the ranges that were suggested in the original notice. Details are available on the Department's Web site and will appear in the Federal Register later this week.

Editor’s Note: Jeff Hudson is the editor of EdBrief and an award-winning education reporter and writer in print, radio and television media.