Deadline Looming for Input on RTTT Early Learning Grants

The U.S. Department of Education has set a deadline of 5 p.m. EDT Monday, July 11 to comment on guidelines for the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge. Those wishing to provide input, including data and relevant research, on the draft criteria should visit http://www.ed.gov/early-learning/elc-draft-summary.

In May, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced a $500 million state-level grant competition, the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge.

The Department plans to award grants ranging from $50 to $100 million by the end of the year. The funding will support statewide plans to coordinate and strengthen early learning and development programs. The amount of each grant will be determined by state population. The Department of Education’s Website states the administration may exercise discretion in choosing the winners to ensure that states with "bold comprehensive reform plans" that also serve large rural populations are well represented.

States will be encouraged to develop early learning programs focused on producing successful outcomes for all children. Successful applicants must provide a strategy to "increase access to quality programs for high-need children, as well as engage families and invest in improving, supporting and developing their early childhood education workforce." Under the proposed requirements, grantees will be expected to track children's development and publicly document effective practices and successful programs to help parents make informed decisions.

The proposal outlines draft requirements, priorities, selection criteria, and definitions in accordance with the program's purpose—to improve the quality of early childhood programs and close the kindergarten readiness gap for high-need children. Proposed criteria ask applicants to build successful state systems, promote early learning and development outcomes, implement high quality, accountability programs, and support a great early childhood education workforce.

For additional information, refer to the U.S. Department of Education Website at http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/obama-administration-announces-proposed-requirements-race-top-early-learning-graor http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/obama-administration-announces-500-million-race-top-early-learning-challenge.