@Child_Care_Info follows many early education professionals, organizations and publications on Twitter, so you can imagine what a main topic of conversation has been (well, other than the earthquake in D.C. the other day).
@Child_Care_Info twitter feed has been all about the Race to the Top, early learning challenge. $500 million dollars is up for grabs for the states that choose to participate in the grant application process and subsequent execution of what the state proposes they can accomplish with those funds.
The draft guidelines of this initiative were published earlier this summer with a public comment on a blog for a period of 11 days in July. The public commented and/or voted on comments made on the draft guidelines and the final application was released this week. Hence the recent activity on all of our Twitter streams.
Purpose of Grant
There are five main sections that the U.S. Department of Education press release defines as its “key areas of reform.” These are:
1) Establishing Successful State Systems,
2) Defining High-Quality, Accountable Programs,
3) Promoting Early Learning and Development Outcomes for Children,
4) Supporting A Great Early Childhood Education Workforce; and
5) Measuring Outcomes and Progress.
For further explanation of these goals see the press release.
Another way to gauge the importance and priority of the states’ grant applications and proposals is to consider the application requirements and priorities themselves. Early Learning Challenge Collaborative put together a comprehensive and easy to read document that provides this exact information. The summary of the application breaks this up into parts “Absolute, Competitive and Invitational Priorities.”
-- The absolute priority is “Promoting school readiness for children with high needs”
-- The competitive preference priorities are 1) “Including all early learning and development programs in QRIS” and 2) “Understanding the status of children’ learning and development at kindergarten entry”
-- The invitational priorities are 1) "Sustaining program effects in the early elementary grades" and 2) "Encouraging private sector support"
To learn more about what these priorities mean and the details for the said priorities and criteria for selection read Early Learning Challenge Collaborative, Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge: Summary of Requirements, Priorities, and Selection Criteria
Another Fun Note
The public opinion mattered and further internal conversation changed the initial draft.. Yes, that is right. The final application is different from the draft one. Early Ed Watch Blog from New America Foundation tells us about the following four points: Added Flexibility for States, PreK-3rdStrategies are still invitational priorities, States must have applied for FY2011 federal home visiting funding in order to apply for RTT-ELC, and Comprehensive Assessment Systems take a back seat. Read the details on Early Ed Watch Blog, Four Notes on Yesterday’s Release of the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Application
Ed.Gov Press Releases: http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/obama-administration-releases-final-application-race-top-early-learning-challeng
Early Ed Watch Blog: http://earlyed.newamerica.net/blogposts/2011/four_notes_on_yesterday_s_release_of_the_race_to_the_top_early_learning_challenge_app
Early Learning Challenge Collaborative, Summary of Requirements, Priorities and Selection Criteria: http://library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1102634765558-30/RTT-ELC+Application+Summary+08.24.11.pdf
Education Week: New Race tot he Top Spurs Concerns About Testing Preschoolers http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2011/08/18/01early.h31.html