Delaware and Tennessee were the only two states to be awarded funding from the $4.35 billion education reform program.

The U.S. Department of Education announced March 29 that Delaware will receive approximately $100 million in federal Race to the Top funding over the next four years.

Along with Tennessee, the state was selected in the first round of awards from the $4.35 billion program, a reform initiative designed to improve public education.

Forty states and Washington, D.C., applied for the funding and 16 finalists were selected earlier this month.

Each applicant presented a plan focusing on four key areas:

Adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace; Building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals how to improve instruction; Recruiting, developing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most; and Turning around their lowest-performing schools.

Delaware's plan provides drastic reorganization plans for underperforming schools and new rules for judging teacher quality based on student performance.

The plan received positive endorsements from the state teachers' union as well as all 19 of the state's school districts — factors that won high marks with the DOE officials who judged the applications.

"What's really important today is where we go from here; whether we have the will to put our children first and move forward with reforms to improve our schools so that Delaware children can successfully compete for the best jobs in an increasingly competitive global economy,” Gov. Jack Markell said in a news release following the announcement.  “That won't be easy, but we have proven in these past few months that it can be done.  I would like to thank all those who worked with us in support of our application and look forward to moving ahead to improve our schools."

Tennessee was awarded approximately $500 million in funding over the next four years. Those states not selected to receive money in the first round are eligible to resubmit their applications later this year.