Illinois has earned a $43 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Race to the Top program.
About half of the grant -- $21 million -- will go directly to the state's local districts that agree to accelerate education reform.
The remaining grant dollars will be used in state initiatives helping to improve education, concentrating in the areas of math, science, technology and engineering.
"As Illinois continues to pursue a strong education reform agenda, this grant allows us to continue to reach for improved scores, higher graduation rates and a system that produces graduates who are well prepared for the 21st century job market," said Gov. Pat Quinn in a newsletter.
Illinois is among the seven states in the nation to be awarded a portion of the $200 million in federal funds, which will be distributed through the 2013-14 school year to benefit K-12 students.