Missouri has joined the second heat of the federal Race to the Top. The federal education department has about four billion dollars togive to states with reasonable plans to improve teaching, tie teacher pay and tenure to student advancement, and to improve the state’s worst schools.

Missouri wants 55 million dollars for each of the next four years–220-million dollars in all.

It’s application in the Race To The Top competition earlier this year was rejected with some pointed criticisms. Assistant education commisisoner Michael Muenks says the competition has forced the state to examine its plans, especially on issues that have not been seriously addressed.

One issue is a “braided” approach to improving results in the worst five percent of Missouri’s schools by coordinating services from the departments of mental health and social services plus the juvenile justice system and other support groups.

Missouri’s plan also outlines how student improvement will be a major part of evaluating teacher effectiveness.

Muenks says Missouri should hear in early September if it qualifies for grants that will accellerate some of its proposed improvements.

Bob Priddy interviews Michael Muenks 28:26 mp3