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Education department awards grants to 7 states

(Reuters) - Seven states will share $200 million in grant money they can use to improve student achievement, the Department of Education announced on Friday.

Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania will share the money they were awarded in the third round of the funding competition.

"These seven states are now among 22 Race to the Top winners spread out across the country that are investing in key education reforms to prepare more students for college and careers," U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement.

Fifteen states and the District of Columbia were awarded grants in the first two rounds of the Race to the Top competition.

Previous winners included California, Delaware, Washington D.C., Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Washington.

Congress has passed a fiscal 2012 spending bill that includes $550 million in Race to the Top funding. (Reporting by Chip Barnett; Editing by Andrew Hay)

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