Armed with new standards that link teacher tenure and retention to student performance, the state of Colorado is again applying for highly competitive federal “Race to the Top” education grant money. The Denver Post reports on what state education leaders hope to accomplish–70 percent college enrollment rates (up from the current 62.9 percent), a 90 percent high school graduation rate (up from the current 74.6 percent), and 85 percent proficiency in math (up from 54.4 percent)–should Colorado win the $175 million.

The state formally submitted its application for grant funds, competing with 34 other states and the District of Columbia, according to Forbes. In total, the stimulus-package program will provide $4.35 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to states that appear to be implementing innovative reforms.

“Recent bipartisan approval of a law to improve educator effectiveness and the announcement that Colorado will receive a major federal grant to improve its education data systems gives us reason to believe a number of key pieces are falling into place,” says Bob Schaffer, chairman of the Colorado State Board of Education.

Federal officials will announce finalists by the end of July and invite them to make presentations in August, according to The Colorado Independent. Winners will be announced in September.