Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge Application Released

“Successful early learning programs are not just about education but about the whole child – including their physical and emotional health,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on a conference call this afternoon with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to announce the Obama Administration’s release of the final application for the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC).

The two Departments have worked together over the last four months in an unprecedented effort.  Nearly 350 organizations and individuals provided comments to the draft criteria put out in early July.

RTT-ELC will provide $500 million in state-level competitive grants to improve early learning and development programs with States getting about $50 to $100 million. The goal of the Challenge is to ensure more children with high-needs from birth to age five—including those from low-income families—enter kindergarten ready to succeed.

“Brain scientists tell us that the early years are when critical cognitive development takes place. Social scientists tell us that the investments we make in early childhood programs can have a huge payoff down the road,” said Secretary Sebelius.

States chosen for the RTT-ELC will need to demonstrate a commitment to improving their early learning and development programs as well as adopt common standards within the State that will help determine what young children should know and be able to do, as well as define program quality.

States awarded funds under RTT-ELC will also implement appropriate assessments to help monitor students’ progress to inform practice and improve program quality. Secretary Duncan explained that “we are not asking three year olds to take bubble tests.” Just as good early childhood educators are doing now, we are asking that early childhood educators have the observation and documentation skills they need to evaluate a child’s progress along a set of appropriate early learning and development standards.

Read the press release of today’s announcement, and click here to learn more about the RTT-ELC and to view the application.

6 Comments

  1. I agree whole-heartedly with Connie Jensen. Whatever mandates the Gov. develops for young children should focus on the proven facts that children gain a wealth of diverse knowledge through play. As an Early Childhood Educator for 17 years I have found that young children from many backgrounds benefit from non-academic learning. Additionally, academic lessosns can be incorporated based on the progress of the children thereby addressing their specific educational needs.

  2. I’m a grandmother and think this is a good start,but I live in a state where unless you have money you can forget it. My grand children live in VA. Oh that is where the nut job Eric Cantor lives. He has know use for poor people or anyone who is beneath him

  3. THIS DOESN’T SOUND LIKE ITS REALLY GOING TO MAKE THE DIFFERENCE THAT IS NEEDED RIGHT NOW….TEACH ALL THE CHILDREN IN OUR SCHOOLS STARTING FROM THE FIRST GRADE AND INCLUDE EVERY YEAR AFTER: 1. WHATS IMPORTANT ABOUT THE FOOD WE EAT. 2. WHATS BAD ABOUT ILLEGAL DRUGS. 3. WHAT EXERCISE CAN DO FOR YOU AND INCLUDE EXERCISE. 4. RELATIONSHIPS i.e. PARENTING, SIBLING, AND WITH OURSELVES.

    THIS IS NOT REALLY COMPLICATED, ITS JUST MISSING!

  4. So, what about the children in the states that will not get access to the money? And who will be involved in designing quality care and learning? Surely, REAL experts who know what developmental needs children have? Probably not though, as they have not been asked to participate in the current harmful reforms that hammer on academics, test prep and testing without regard for the needs of children.

    Should any methods be deemed sound for preschoolers, then why are they not for kindergarten kids who are forced into academic activities at the cost of THEIR developmental needs which include play!

    Perhaps the example of Finland should be followed where kids are allowed to learn non-academically until age seven! Especially kids from poor backgrounds would benefit from learning through lots of quality play with quality toys, games and crafts. Studies have shown it; why are they ignored? Why are children’s needs ignored? They are treated as a resource for the future work force, not as the beautiful innocent human beings that they are!

    Lastly, this cycle can only be broken by preparing high school students for proper parenting. A child’s learning ability or disability starts in the womb! Please see:

    ” Prenatal care with good nutrition and absence of stress is clearly important to create a healthy and efficient brain.” http://www.buildbetterschools.com/?p=841

    “Neglect, chaos and trauma can create impulsive, aggressive, remorseless and anti-social individuals. Almost without fail, most individuals in prison today have suffered some kind of abuse or neglect as children,” Perry said. http://www.buildbetterschools.com/?p=799

    “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” ~Nelson Mandela

    http://www.uniting4kids.com

  5. The government is really making education its priority which is really nice since we really have to invest in our childrens education because they are the country’s future.

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