Criteria for Funding

State applications for funding were scored on selection criteria worth a total of 500 points. In order of weight, the selection criteria were:

Great Teachers and Leaders (138 total points)
Improving teacher and principal effectiveness based on performance (58 points)
Ensuring equitable distribution of effective teachers and principals (25 points)
Providing high-quality pathways for aspiring teachers and principals (21 points)
Providing effective support to teachers and principals (20 points)
Improving the effectiveness of teacher and principal preparation programs (14 points)

State Success Factors (125 total points)
Articulating State's education reform agenda and LEAs' participation in it (65 points)
Building strong statewide capacity to implement, scale up, and sustain proposed plans (30 points)
Demonstrating significant progress in raising achievement and closing gaps (30 points)

Standards and Assessments (70 total points)
Developing and adopting common standards (40 points)
Supporting the transition to enhanced standards and high-quality assessments (20 points)
Developing and implementing common, high-quality assessments (10 points)

General Selection Criteria (55 total points)
Ensuring successful conditions for high-performing charters and other innovative schools (40 points)
Making education funding a priority (10 points)
Demonstrating other significant reform conditions (5 points)

Turning Around the Lowest-Achieving Schools (50 total points)
Turning around the lowest-achieving schools (40 points)
Intervening in the lowest-achieving schools and LEAs (10 points)

Data Systems to Support Instruction (47 total points)
Fully implementing a statewide longitudinal data system (24 points)
Using data to improve instruction (18 points)
Accessing and using State data (5 points)

In addition to the 485 possible points from the selection criteria above, applicants were assessed based on six priorities, including the prioritization of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education which is worth another fifteen points for a possible total of 500.
- Priority 1, Absolute Priority: Comprehensive Approach to Education Reform
- Priority 2, Competitive Preference Priority: Emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) (This priority was worth 15 points, bringing the "selection criteria" total to 500 points)
- Priority 3, Invitational Priority: Innovations for Improving Early Learning Outcomes
- Priority 4, Invitational Priority: Expansion and Adaptation of Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems
- Priority 5, Invitational Priority: P-20 Coordination, Vertical and Horizontal Alignment
- Priority 6, Invitational Priority: School-Level Conditions for Reform, Innovation, and Learning

The applications for Race to the Top were bolstered by local involvement: states were incentivized to get buy-in from school district superintendents and teacher unions; applications required signatures from the states' education chiefs, governors, and attorneys general in order to qualify.