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Stimulus Competitive Grants: State Winners and Losers

On this two-year anniversary of the signing of the economic-stimulus package, it's important to take stock of not just how the nearly $100 billion in education aid has been spent, but how well states and their districts fared in $5.3 billion worth of grant competitions.

There were clear winners and losers, an EdWeek analysis of U.S. Department of Education data found.

In fact, 10 states didn't win a dime from the competitions, while the District of Columbia racked up the equivalent of $1,532.50 per student. You can see the state-by-state breakdown in these infographics.

All in all, states and their districts (plus nonprofits and universities in some cases), competed in six grant competitions—the high-profile Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation, plus data systems, Teacher Quality Partnerships, Teacher Incentive Fund, and a small Impact Aid emergency construction grant program. (This doesn't count the $330 million assessment competition from Race to the Top, which was awarded to groups of states.)

Some of the 10 states that came away with nothing from those competitive grants may surprise you: Alabama, Indiana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming. An important caveat: It could be that these states didn't apply for any of the grants. Regardless, the result is the same.

There's been a lot of debate about the merits of shifting more federal funding away from formulas toward competition, and that's sparked a lot of criticism especially from rural advocates who fear rural states and districts don't have the same resources to compete. So it's worth pointing out that many states with large pockets of rural areas did, indeed, win some competitive awards, though none of them came away with any large windfall. Alaska won a TIF award. Iowa won a Teacher Quality Partnership award. Maine won a data systems grant. North Carolina, which has both rural and urban areas, won Race to the Top, Teacher Quality Partnership, TIF and i3 awards. And several states won small Impact AId construction awards, although these grants are, admittedly, more targeted at rural states.

It's to be expected that the large states, especially those that also won Race to the Top, came away big winners. Florida, New York, Tennessee, and Ohio gobbled up the most competitive stimulus cash. But if you try to control for student population, then on a per-student basis, the big winners were a different group: D.C., Delaware, Tennessee (again!), Rhode Island, Hawaii, and Maryland. (All Race to the Top states.)

Clearly, Race to the Top was the big competition to be won, or lost. But there was more at stake than just that pot of $4 billion, which only went to 12 winners. In the end, most states did win at least a little extra from Congress' multi-billion-dollar infusion into schools.

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