Delaware and Tennessee won bragging rights Monday as the nation's top education innovators, besting D.C. and 13 other finalists to claim a share of the $4 billion in President Obama's unprecedented school reform fund.
The awards are worth as much as $107M and $502M, respectively. The contest gave credit to districts with support from unions and school boards.
Georgia came in third and Florida fell just short. There is still $3B in the fund for next rounds.
Clearly Duncan isn't looking to spread the wealth with only two winners.
What is being said about this?
"It's totally remarkable," said Cynthia Brown, an analyst at the Center for American Progress. "We've never seen this major kind of policy change in so many different states, all in a constrained time frame. They're taking actions that are usually debated over an extended period, often for multiple years."
Other analysts call the impact limited.
"The truth is, a handful of states made important changes to their laws," said Andy Smarick of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. "A lot of states did nothing at all, and a good number did minor things to their laws."
Uh oh. Delaware's bid, which included support from the teachers unions, said they would send a corp of (wait for it) "data coaches" into schools to track student performance and target lessons.
Tennessee will also rely on data and teacher performance and the state is requiring at least half of a teacher evaluation to be based on student achievement data.