WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama announced a new round of education stimulus spending Friday, unveiling a $4.35 billion "Race to the Top" fund to be allocated based on academic performance.
The money in the fund will be distributed based on plans by states to address four basic areas: adoption of internationally benchmarked standards; recruiting and retaining quality teachers and principals; building data systems to measure student success; and informing teachers on how to improve their practices and turn around low-performing schools.
States will also be judged on how well they have managed stimulus money they have already received, according to Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
"Discretionary award applications, including for Race to the Top funds, will be available in the coming months, and will ask, among other things, to what extent has a state increased/decreased its education budget (as a percentage of revenue) and what has a state done with the dollars it has received to date," Duncan wrote in a recent letter to Gov. Ed Rendell, D-Pennsylvania.
The letter warns that a state's competitive position to receive the funds may be affected depending on how it meets standards.
The Race to the Top money will be given out in two phases: Applications sent in by later this year will be awarded in early 2010 and those in next spring will be awarded in September 2010.
Donna Cooper, an adviser to Rendell, described the fund as "the catalyst in terms of focusing local school districts in the state on the changes that are necessary to turn around the schools that teach the kids who have the greatest challenges in life."
Over $30 billion in federal education stimulus funds have already been allocated.