RACING DISTRICTS: The Department of Ed has announced 61 finalists for its Race to the Top-District competition. The RTTT-D seeks to close achievement gaps by emphasizing personalized student learning and improved educator effectiveness. The finalists, selected from 372 applicants, include strong representation from Wisconsin, Kentucky, Ohio and Washington state. The Vancouver Public Schools in Washington state, one of the contenders, is representing a consortium of several schools that are members of Digital Promise's League of Innovative Schools. They're vying for a portion of a total $400 million fund. Before the end of the year, the DOE will select between 15 to 25 applicants to receive grants to enact their four year plans. Check out the list of finalists here. Final decisions are due out by the end of the year.