The U.S. Department of Education has awarded a total of $54.8 million in competitive grants to help three states—Massachusetts, Minnesota and New Jersey—create high-quality charter schools.

"High-quality charter schools have an important role to play in the overall strategy of successful school reform," says Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Minnesota will receive a five-year grant, and New Jersey and Massachusetts will each receive three-year grants.

The grants are part of the Charter Schools Program, which has a goal of boosting financial support for and creating a better national understanding of charters, and increasing the number of high-quality charters. The administration plans to invest $255 million in fiscal 2012 through several grant programs administered by the Charter Schools Program.