OKLAHOMA CITY -- The state of Oklahoma has failed to be named a finalist in the second round of the federal "Race to the Top" school reform grant competition.
Back in June, Oklahoma sent in a second "Race to the Top" application after it didn't make the cut in the first round earlier this year.
U.S. Department of Education officials say 18 states and the District of Columbia were named finalists Tuesday.
The competition rewards ambitious reforms aimed at improving struggling schools and closing the achievement gap.
"I'm extremely disappointed we weren't selected as a finalist for Race to the Top funds, especially after the hard work of Oklahoma school districts and legislators to transform public education," said Dr. Keith Ballard, Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent.
Governor Brad Henry says despite not getting the federal grant, the state is moving forward with education reform.
"With or without federal 'Race to the Top' funding, Oklahoma is moving ahead with its efforts to improve classroom outcomes and boost student success," said Governor Brad Henry.
Oklahoma is one of 35 states that applied for the second round of funding.
Statement from Gov. Brad Henry:
"We felt we put forth a strong proposal backed up with real reforms, but we knew this process was going to be very challenging and it would be difficult to make the finalist list.
"The latest news certainly doesn't diminish the promise of the reforms and innovations we are now implementing in our public school system. With or without federal Race to the Top funding, Oklahoma is moving ahead with its efforts to improve classroom outcomes and boost student success. Even though we didn't secure a federal grant, Oklahoma's public education system will be better because of our competition in Race to the Top.
"I want to commend Kathy Taylor and Superintendent Sandy Garrett for all of their good work. I also want to thank the coalition of lawmakers, business leaders, education advocates and other stakeholders who worked hard and contributed to this effort. The reforms and innovations they conceived and pushed through the Legislature will provide benefits for years to come."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.