The U.S. Department of Education has named 16 finalists in the first round of its "Race to the Top" competition, which will deliver $4.35 billion in school reform grants.
Selected Thursday from a pool of 41 applicants are: Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Tennessee. The winners will be chosen in April.
The grants are designed to reward and spur states to lift student achievement by developing strong standards, getting high-quality teachers in the classroom, and turning around low-performing schools.
The money is part of President Barack Obama's economic stimulus law. A second round of applications will be accepted in June.