Race to the Top Semifinalists Announced, Analysis

March 4, 2010 | Blog

Today the U.S. Department of Education announced that 16 states have been selected as semifinalists in Phase One of the Race to the Top (RttT) competition. Forty-one states (including DC) applied in Phase One.

States selected as semifinalists are:

COLORADO
DELAWARE
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
FLORIDA
GEORGIA
ILLINOIS
KENTUCKY
LOUISIANA
MASSACHUSETTS
NEW YORK
NORTH CAROLINA
OHIO
PENNSYLVANIA
RHODE ISLAND
SOUTH CAROLINA
TENNESSEE

These states will be invited to bring a team to Washington, D.C. this month for formal presentations before RttT reviewers. From those presentations, Phase One finalists will be selected. Non-selected states as well as those that did not apply during Phase One will be eligible to apply for funding in Phase Two, applications due on June 1, 2010.

I am somewhat surprised by the inclusion of New York, Pennsylvania and South Carolina, but that surprise is tempered significantly by the fact that 16 states(!) were selected as semifinalists. If there’s any state that I’m surprised not to see on this list, it’s Indiana and perhaps California, given what I thought was a strong application.

Sixteen states seems like a lot, given the Department’s earlier suggestion that only a small number of states would be selected in Phase One and that there would be plenty of money left over for the Phase Two competition. We’ll have to see if more states than expected are selected in Phase One, or if most go away disappointed in April and prepare to reapply in Phase Two. It certainly seems like the toughest decisions were not made at this stage of the selection process.

By and large, my assessment last week of the likely candidates was accurate. If I’m brave, and despite Rick Hess’s protests, I may offer up my likely Phase One favorites before finalists are announced in April.

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