SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ California is among 18 states and the District of Columbia that are finalists in the second round of the federal “Race to the Top” school reform grant competition.

U.S. Department of Education officials provided The Associated Press with a list of the finalists on Tuesday ahead of a speech by Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

California will have a chance to win as much as $700 million in the national competition, which rewards ambitious reforms aimed at improving struggling schools and closing the achievement gap.

The U.S. Education Department is expected to announce the winners of the second phase in September.

Two states, Tennessee and Delaware, were awarded a total of $600 million in the first round.


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