Durbin: Illinois Among Finalists in Phase One of Innovative Race to the Top Education Reform Competition

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced today that the Department of Education has named Illinois among 16 finalists for Phase One of its Race to the Top competition. The Race to the Top Fund provides competitive grants to encourage and reward states like Illinois that are creating the conditions for education innovation and reform.

“Illinois is to be congratulated for the strong Race to the Top application they submitted. Illinois’ selection today is a testament to the strength of that application and I believe we will be successful in the next phase of this competition as well,” said Durbin. “Maintaining the status quo in our schools is simply not acceptable. We need to elevate the quality of our schools, improve instruction and boost college graduation rates. We owe it to our children to give them stronger skills to compete in the global economy.”

The Department of Education received applications for Phase One of the competition from 40 states and the District of Columbia. As part of the application process, Illinois was asked to document past education reform successes as well as outline plans to extend reforms, build a workforce of highly effective educators, create systems to support student achievement and turn around low-performance schools. The state submitted plans that were supported by 364 school districts, representing 74% of the state’s students.

Illinois will now present its application to the panel that reviewed their applications in depth during the initial stage, and engage in Q&A discussions with the reviewers. The panel will then recommend one or more finalists to be selected as competition winners by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Winners will be awarded up to $2 billion to help execute their outlines and drive education reform.