EDISON - State Education Department officials say a clerical error alone doesn't explain why New Jersey finished just out of the money on a $400 million federal education grant.

Assemblyman Herb Conaway Jr. (D - N.J.) said, "We're off by three points, this is a question that is answerable by anyone with a high school education."Officials say the state also lost points on its failed application for not having teacher support for merit pay and tenure reforms and for having antiquated data systems.

The Assembly Appropriations Committee is examining the mistakes that cost New Jersey a share of the federal Race to the Top school reform grant funds.

New Jersey lost five points for giving budget data for the wrong years. The state finished three points behind Ohio, which received the federal funding.

The committee hoped to hear yesterday from members of Christie's staff. But no Christie staffers, including fired education commissioner Bret Schundler, attended the hearing.

Lawmakers hold hearing on 'Race to the Top' errorAP wire services contributed to this report.