California loses competition for Race to the Top education funding

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For the second year in a row, California’s been left behind in a national competition for nearly three-and-a-half billion dollars in supplemental federal funding.

New York, Ohio, North Carolina and six other states led the race for Race to the Top money. The winning states proposed the most sweeping reforms to improve student learning, teacher and principal preparation, and turning around low-performing schools, federal education secretary Arne Duncan said in a conference call.

If more money were available, he said, California would have won some of it. But Duncan didn’t say what part of California’s proposal pushed it out of the winner’s circle.

Thirty-six states applied for Race to the Top grants. Duncan said he hopes there will be enough money to pay for a third round.

Judges looked for reform plans to overhaul teacher assessment and student achievement, such as using standardized test scores to measure teacher effectiveness. Judges also considered whether teachers unions supported reforms. Many of those unions oppose teacher evaluations based solely on student test scores.