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Lawmakers Praise TN Winning ‘Race To Top’

Press Release from Reps. Jimmy Matlock, R-Lenoir and Dennis Ferguson, D-Midtown, Sens. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, and Ken Yager, R-Harriman; April 1, 2010:

(March 30, 2010, NASHVILLE) – Tennessee was one of two states chosen yesterday as winners for federal “Race for the Top” funds. Tennessee will receive approximately $500 million and Delaware $100 million to implement their comprehensive school reform plans over the next four years. Representatives Jimmy Matlock and Dennis Ferguson joined Senator Randy McNally and Senator Ken Yager today in announcing the news and adding that Tennessee has a bold plan that will improve public education in the state of Tennessee.

Tennessee and Delaware beat out 14 other finalists who qualified to win the first round in the competition, after applicants were initially received from 40 states and the District of Columbia.

“This is great news for Tennessee,” said Rep. Matlock. “I am very proud Tennessee was able to put forth a plan that was bold and innovative, and one that will have a direct, positive effect on Tennessee students. These reforms will ensure Tennessee students are prepared for success in an increasingly global marketplace.”

Rep. Ferguson stated, “Tennessee competed against 40 other states and the District of Columbia, coming out on top. We worked very hard to ensure the legislation’s success, and the team that put the application together did an outstanding job. Tennessee students scored a big victory yesterday.”

“We had a comprehensive plan to reform our school system, and we built on the Tennessee Value Added Assessment System (TVAAS) to make sure our schools are accountable. We have also secured a better future for Tennessee, which will reap the benefits of having a well-educated and skilled workforce,” added Senator McNally.

“The news that Tennessee has won a half billion dollar Race to the Top grant is big news for Tennessee. An infusion of these funds into the state and local programs will make a tremendous difference in what we can offer our students. The Department of Education and all the local school systems are to be congratulated for an outstanding track record and effort which secured this grant,” said Sen. Ken Yager.

The premise of the Race to the Top Competition is to reward states that show the greatest willingness to push innovative ideas to improve student achievement through greater testing standards, improved data collection and better teacher training. Tennessee met all that criteria, especially in the area of data collection as the state has the oldest and most robust student achievement data system in the nation.

The U.S. Department of Education will have about $3.4 billion available for the second phase of the Race to the Top competition.