The nation's top education official praised Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday for signing a bill that will make California eligible for competitive federal education funding.
Schwarzenegger signed the bill, SB 19 by Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), on Sunday, striking a clause in a 2006 law Simitian wrote that bars state use of testing data to determine educator pay or promotion.
"This is a victory for children," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a telephone interview Tuesday.
Obama administration officials have said that states applying for $4.35 billion in education funding can have no "firewalls" between student achievement data and teachers.
Schwarzenegger and others emphasized that the bill does not guarantee the state any federal funding and urged legislators to approve other legislation, including repealing the state's charter school cap, to give California a better chance to get education dollars.
Federal officials have emphasized that the funding program, known as Race to the Top, is competitive and that only a few states will get funding.
Race to the Top funding will be awarded in two stages and it is unclear if California legislators will finish their work in time to meet the first deadline.
Federal officials have not finalized the deadline but expect that it will be sometime this winter.
States that apply but do not receive funding during the first round will get a detailed response from the federal government and can try again.