Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia submitted applications June 1 for the second round of the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top competition to boost student achievement and advance school reform, reports the Associated Press. The program, part of President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus law, will provide $4 billion in funding to states that are implementing innovative reforms—such as tying student performance to teacher evaluations—to turn around failing schools and close the achievement gap. Tennessee and Delaware were awarded $600 million in the first round. Another $350 million has been set aside for a separate competition to improve the quality of assessments. To improve their chances of winning a grant, many states passed significant reform laws that allowed for the development of more charter schools and tightened teacher accountability and tenure requirements—reform initiatives that are valued by the Obama administration but are controversial with teacher unions. Nine states that submitted applications last time did not reapply by the June 1 deadline. Some, including Minnesota, said they did not receive enough support from unions, while others were wary of passing reform laws and adopting common academic standards across states. Finalists for the remaining funds will be selected over the summer, and winners will be announced in September. The Education Department said 10 to 15 states could win grants…

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staff and wire services reports