Florida and 11 other states have gone a long way in earning their Race to the Top money, the U.S. Department of Education said on Monday.
"Race to the Top states have made tremendous strides in the first year," U.S. education secretary Arne Duncan said in a written statement.
"These 12 states created aggressive plans that set a high bar for reform, setting out to accomplish extraordinarily tough work that comes with its share of challenges."
Specifically, the department commended Florida for including student performance data in teacher evaluations to include student performance data and expanding programs for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) career education in 22 of its lowest performing schools.
However, there were areas of concern. One centered around difficulties the state faced in implementing contracts, particularly for data systems. Because of those difficulties, Florida's progress was delayed in the first year, the federal government said.
Washington has pledged to spend $4.35 billion over four years to help districts improve in four key areas: adopting rigorous standards and assessments that prepare students for success in college and careers; recruiting and retaining quality teachers; building data systems that measure student success; and turning around the lowest-performing schools.
Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 226-3356 or firstname.lastname@example.org.