Early Ed Watch

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Surprises in 9 Winners of the Early Learning Challenge

Published:  December 16, 2011

Pennsylvania, long regarded as a leader in coordinating its early learning services, didn’t win. Neither did Oklahoma, famous for its state-funded pre-K program.  Instead, the winners included North Carolina, a state suffering big cuts in early childhood funding this year, as well as California, which doesn’t yet have a fully functional quality rating system for child care and pre-kindergarten programs.

These were among the surprises this morning as two federal departments – the Departments of Education and of Health and Human Services – announced nine states as winners of the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge, a $500-million competition for four-year grants to improve coordination of early learning programs and promote school readiness for disadvantaged children.

The winners are:

RTT-ELC Winner

Max Amount States Could Win

Amount Won

California

$100 million

$52,572,935

Delaware

$50 million

$49,878,774

Maryland

$50 million

$49,999,143

Massachusetts

$50 million

$50,000,000

Minnesota

$50 million

$44,858,313

North Carolina

$70 million

$69,991,121

Ohio

$70 million

$69,993,362

Rhode Island

$50 million

$50,000,000

Washington

$60 million

$60,000,000

Source: U.S. Dept of Ed and HHS

 

Several of these states are now Race to the Top winners twice over, since they also won Race to the Top grants in the K-12 rounds announced last year.

And two states – Delaware and Rhode Island — have won both RTT grants as well as one of the federal government’s competitive grant awards for home visiting programs for pregnant mothers, infants and toddlers. The home visiting program was authorized by Congress in the 2010 health care reform legislation.

Comparing Three Recent Grant Competitions

RTT-ELC Winner

Also Won  K-12 Version of Race to the Top?

Also Won Competitive  Home Visiting Grant?

California

 

Yes

Delaware

Yes

Yes

Maryland

Yes

 

Massachusetts

Yes

Yes

Minnesota

 

 

North Carolina

Yes

 

Ohio

Yes

 

Rhode Island

Yes

Yes

Washington

 

 

Source: U.S. Dept. of Ed and HHS.

NOTE: Home visiting grants now include both expansion and development grants for 2011. An earlier chart showed only development grants.

 

Also worth noting is that several of the winners described in their applications how they would use the funds to promote alignment with elementary grades and other initiatives that cross the PreK-3rd spectrum, even though that information was not worth any points in the application review process.

 

Did Winners Have PreK-3rd Plans?

RTT-ELC Winner

PreK-3rd Work Noted in Application?

California

 

Delaware

 Yes

 

Maryland

Yes

 

Massachusetts

 Yes

 

Minnesota

 

North Carolina

 Yes

 

Ohio

 Yes

 

Rhode Island

 Yes

 

Washington

 Yes

 

Source: State Applications

 

Back in August, based on available national data on state’s track records, we handicapped 11 states as top contenders. Two of the promising states chose not to apply. Three of the finalists were among the nine that did. Thirty five states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico applied for the grants.

In the coming days and months, we and many other analysts at different organizations will be poring over the applications from the winners and perusing the scores from reviewers (not yet public), looking for hints of what put these nine states in the winner’s circle. Was it the strength of their plans to improve or develop their Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS)? Did they come up with impressive ways to implement kindergarten-entry assessments? Are they creating innovative ways to prepare the teacher workforce to focus on children’s readiness for school?

Watch for more analysis from us after the holidays and don’t miss our comprehensive coverage of the competition – dating back to President Obama’s first mention of the idea for the Early Learning Challenge in March 2009 – as well our recommendations to the administration on how to make it better.

UPDATED 12/16 at 2:05 p.m.: The Department of Education has now released the amounts won by the winners and those numbers have been incorporated into the table above.  

UPDATED 12/16 at 4:45 p.m.: More information is now available on the awards page, including the final scores for all 37 applicants and biographies of the peer reviewers.

CLARIFICATION 5/10/12: An earlier version of the table comparing three recent grant competitions included only the winners of winners of Home Visiting development grants and not expansion grants. Using information on the HHS Web site, the table now reflects states that won either type of grant, leading to the inclusion of California and Massachusetts as states that won both an RTT-ELC grant and a federal home visiting grant in 2011.

 

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