The "Race to the Top" competition rewards ambitious reforms aimed at improving struggling schools and closing the achievement gap.
The finalists named in the second round of the competition are: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Carolina.
Mississippi enacted a charter school law this year that some officials had hoped would give the state an edge in the grant competition.
Charter school legislation was defeated in the Alabama House and Senate this year.
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