In the first round of the federal $4 billion Race to the Top education-reform competition, only Tennessee and Delaware have been awarded funding.
Tennessee asked for $502 million, but the exact amount of funding it will receive should be released at the official press conference at 1 p.m. today. [UPDATE: Tennessee was the big winner, with a $500 million award. Delaware will receive $100 million.]
Fifteen states were named as finalists last month, out of 41 initial applications. Both Delaware, which got the highest ranking, and Tennessee stressed data-driven reform in their applications.
Under Tennessee's plan, the state will intervene directly in persistently low-achieving schools and will require that at least half of a teacher's performance evaluation be based on student achievement data.
According to the Washington Post:
[Education secetary Arne] Duncan's decision to name only two initial winners gives the Obama administration continued leverage to upend the status quo in public education. It also squelches any suggestion that Duncan would seek to spread the money around as much and as fast as possible to help Obama win favor in key political states.
At least one blog, Education Week's Politics K-12, is suggesting that Tennessee and Delaware may have won b/c they have powerful Republican lawmakers the Obama administration is trying to court to renew the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
Second-round applications are due June 1st.