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New York Spells Out Rules for Mini-Race to the Top

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has unveiled the rules for a grant competition among school districts, one that he's likened to a state version of the federal "Race to the Top" program.

Districts will be invited to compete for a piece of $75 million in awards over three years and will be judged on their academic success, particularly in working with disadvantaged students.

The size of the awards will depend on districts' enrollment. In addition to being judged on their academic improvements, districts will be graded on a 115-point scale on their effectiveness in helping students, and developing plans that show promise, in a number of priority areas, which include middle school, early college, and career-and-technical education.

A year ago, New York was named a $700 million winner in the $4.35 billion federal Race to the Top competition. The state's new competition is connected to Race to the Top in ways that involve more than political messaging. In order to be eligible for the awards, districts need to have completed their "scope of work" plans—basically, local blueprints detailing how they plan to execute their state's Race to the Top plan at the local level.

"For too many years, our state has spent more and more money on education, without producing the results our students deserve," Cuomo said in a statement. "This competitive award program will incentivize innovative reforms in school districts across the state that will benefit students and help educate the workforce of tomorrow."

Cuomo announced his interest in creating a Race to the Top-style competition earlier this year, in an speech to state lawmakers. At the time, he called for two separate $250 million contests that would reward districts for both academic and financial innovation.

The governor said that details of another program, focused on "management efficiency," will be announced within weeks.

So let the application-writing begin.

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