The U.S. Department of Education announced last week that Kentucky will receive a Race to the Top grant of $17 million to advance targeted K-12 reforms aimed at improving student achievement.

Kentucky and six other states — Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey and Pennsylvania — will each receive a share of the $200 million in Race to the Top Round 3 (RTT3) fund.

“While the grant amount is significantly less than the original $175 million request, we are very excited about being able to gain funds to implement Senate Bill 1 initiatives and expand AdvanceKentucky sites,” said Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday. “Within the budget of $17 million, we will use state and district allocations to implement professional development and resources for Senate Bill 1.”

Senate Bill 1, passed in the 2009 session of the General Assembly, calls for a new assessment and accountability system for the state’s public schools, along with more rigorous academic standards, intensive teacher and administrator training, and strengthened collaboration among higher education, teacher/administrator certification and P-12 education sectors.

AdvanceKentucky is a statewide math-science initiative and partnership between Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation (KSTC) and the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI). AdvanceKentucky expands access to, preparation for and participation in academically rigorous coursework, specifically the Advanced Placement (AP) Program.

 As runners-up in the last year’s Race to the Top competitions, Kentucky and eight other states were eligible for Round Three awards to invest in a portion of their Round Two plans. However, South Carolina opted out, and California submitted an incomplete application.

RTT3 focuses on supporting efforts to leverage comprehensive statewide reform, while also improving science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.