The competition awards funding to school districts making strides toward closing achievement gaps, increasing teacher effectiveness and personalizing curriculum.
Among the 61 nationwide finalists are; Fulton County schools, Haralson County Schools, the Morgan County Charter School System and Rockdale County Public Schools.
The Department of Education expects to choose between 15 and 25 winning districts by Dec. 31.
Winners will receive four-year awards ranging from $5 million to $40 million.
U.S. Department of Education officials say 372 districts across the nation entered the 2012 competition.