Hoping to sidestep a growing disagreement over California's use of student test scores, Los Angeles school district officials want to apply directly for federal education funding.

The district "is committed to the use of data to guide instructional decision-making and to evaluate the delivery of instruction," Supt. Ramon C. Cortines wrote in a letter sent to President Obama's top education advisor this week.

Federal officials have said that states, including California, that do not allow the use of student data to evaluate teachers risk not qualifying for $4.35 billion in competitive grants known as "Race to the Top" funding.

Only states can apply for initial "Race to the Top" funds, but Cortines noted that the district's 688,000 students would make it the 25th largest state.

-- Jason Song

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