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Already Ahead: Top Contenders in the Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge

Published:  August 26, 2011
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Today the Early Education Initiative released a state-by-state analysis, identifying 11 states as top contenders in the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge.

As a reminder, the RTT-ELC is a $500 million competition launched this summer by the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The final application was released earlier this week. Grants will range from $50 million to $100 million per winning state. Using data from myriad national sources, we analyzed states’ records on adopting strategies to coordinate and improve the quality of subsidized child care programs, Head Start, state-funded pre-kindergarten and other initiatives designed for children from birth through age 5.

We have some predictions on which states are best poised to win.

States are sorted into three categories: Top Contenders, Likely Contenders, and Unlikely Contenders. We determined the Top Contenders by states’ records of action that met portions of the core criteria outlined by the federal agencies as important for winning a grant. At the top are: Tennessee, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Ohio and Vermont. To find out where other states fall, click here.

How many states will win? Who are the front-runners? These questions are high on the minds of state and local officials who administer programs. To win the grants, states are required to submit applications showing evidence of their commitments to a series of reforms, including the coordination and improvement of multiple early childhood programs designed for children from birth through age 5. The two federal agencies are recruiting experts in early childhood policy to act as peer reviewers, examining each application and scoring states on their abilities to meet specific criteria outlined in the application guidelines. Applications are due on October 19, and winners will be announced before December 31.

One important caveat: Our analysis does not make predictions of what states may plan to do to improve early childhood programs. In the competition, states will be evaluated on their current record as well as their plans for moving forward.

For more coverage of the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge, check out Early Ed Watch.


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