Florida has won a $700 million chunk of $4.35 billion set aside in the 2009 federal stimulus to spark new ideas in education.
Known as Race To The Top, the competitive grant program asked states to pitch their best ideas for improving public education for a shot at hundreds of millions in one-time money. Florida missed out in the first round of awards — they went to Tennessee and Delaware — before being named as one of ten winners in a second round of grants.
Florida will spend its share of the grant over four years in three areas:
- A new system to evaluate teacher and principal performance beginning next year. Hillsborough County is currently developing a similar teacher evaluation with a $100 million Gates Foundation grant.
- Create a new program in every school district to use data to improve classroom instruction and school and district performance.
- Implement new Common Core standards developed by the National Governors Association and adopted by 43 states. The goal is to establish national standards and benchmarks for students and teachers.
The Florida Department of Education had awarded $346.3 million in Race To The Top grants through April, including $73 million to Dade County, $37.4 million to Broward County, $26.5 million to Hillsborough County, $23.7 million to Orange County, $23.0 million to Duval County and $15.9 million to Pinellas County.