Posted February 26, 2014
Public Comment Section for the New Competition to Build, Develop and Expand High-Quality Preschool Programs Now Closed
Thank you to everyone who has submitted opinions, ideas, suggestions, and comments on this dedicated Web site pertaining to the new competition to build, develop and expand high-quality preschool programs.
We are no longer accepting input on our Web site for this blog post. We will be providing additional opportunities for public input in the near future.
The FY14 Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 (Public Law 113-76) makes important education investments, including $250 million in new Race to the Top to States grants for improving early childhood care and education.
On February 4, 2014, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced on a call (Read the transcript, or listen to the call ) with U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius that the Administration plans to use the $250 million for a major new competition to build, develop and expand high-quality preschool programs, working with local communities and with states across the country, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Note that this new Race to the Top competition is distinct from the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC), an initiative that currently supports 20 states as they design and implement an integrated systems of high-quality early learning programs and services to increase the number and percentage of children from low-income families that enter kindergarten ready for success, from birth through age five. This year’s Race to the Top funding will support President Obama’s call to provide high-quality preschool for all 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families through a new competition to expand and enhance preschool programs across States and communities.
Specific competition requirements, priorities, and selection criteria will be developed consistent with the language in the FY 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 (Public Law 113-76):
“Provided, That $250,000,000 shall be available through December 31, 2014 for awards to States, in accordance with the applicable requirements of section 14006 of division A of Public Law 111–5, as amended:
Provided further, That the Secretary, jointly with the Secretary of HHS, shall use all funds made available under the immediately preceding proviso to make competitive awards in accordance with such section 14006 to States for improving early childhood care and education, except that, notwithstanding sections 14006(a) and 14005(d)(6) of such division, such awards may be limited to activities that build the capacity within the State to develop, enhance, or expand high-quality preschool programs, including comprehensive services and family engagement, for preschool-aged children from families at or below 200 percent of the Federal poverty line:
Provided further, That each State may subgrant a portion of such grant funds to local educational agencies and other early learning providers (including but not limited to Head Start programs and licensed child care providers), or consortia thereof, for the implementation of high-quality preschool programs for children from families at or below 200 percent of the Federal poverty line:
Provided further, That subgrantees that are local educational agencies shall form strong partnerships with early learning providers and that subgrantees that are early learning providers shall form strong partnerships with local educational agencies, in order to carry out the requirements of the subgrant:
Provided further, That, notwithstanding the second proviso, up to 3 percent of such funds for improving early childhood care and education shall be available for technical assistance, evaluation, and other national activities related to such grants:
Provided further, That not later than 30 days prior to the announcement of a competition under such section 14006 pursuant to the requirements of this Act, the Secretary shall submit a report outlining the proposed competition and priorities to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate:
Provided further, That the Secretary shall administer State grants for improving early childhood care and education under such section jointly with the Secretary of HHS on such terms as such Secretaries set forth in an interagency agreement:”
The FY14 Appropriations Report states:
“The bill includes $250,000,000 for Race to the Top, which shall be available for obligation through December 31, 2014. Funds may be used for competitive awards to States to develop, enhance, or expand high-quality preschool programs and early childhood education programs for children from low- and moderate-income families, including children with disabilities.
If awards are made to States to build capacity related to high-quality preschool programs, the Secretary of Education shall award two types of grants to States, one to low-capacity States with small or no State-funded preschool programs and another to high-capacity States that have a larger State-funded preschool program.
Additionally, new bill language specifies that high-quality preschool programs should include comprehensive services and family engagement. As such, it is expected that funds will be used to help programs meet and sustain nationally recognized standards in those areas. Funds may also be used to help early childhood educators to attain higher credentials and degrees.
The bill does not provide authority for funding to be used for construction, renovation, modernization, or related activities. In addition, the bill permits States to determine the amount of funding distributed in subgrants to eligible entities for implementation of high-quality preschool programs from low- and moderate-income families.
A State receiving an award for this purpose shall ensure that any use of assessment conforms with the recommendations of the National Research Council’s reports on early childhood. The bill also requires that the Secretary submit a report outlining the proposed competition and priorities to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.
It is expected that the Department will consult with the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, Committee on Education and Workforce, and the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), prior to the submission of the required report, including on the criteria to be used under a competition to define a high-quality preschool infrastructure and program. In addition, the Secretary shall continue to provide, on a timely and periodic basis, the findings from evaluations, including impact evaluations and interim progress evaluations, of activities conducted using any Race to the Top funds to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.”
In addition, the FY14 Appropriations Report also provides that “Departments and agencies should be guided by the language and instructions set forth in Senate Report 113-71 accompanying the [Senate] bill, S. 1284, unless specifically addressed in this statement.”) The Senate Report 113-71 states:
“This program will award competitive grants to States to support their efforts to expand or create high-quality preschool systems for 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families, including children with disabilities. Preschool Development Grants will complement the administration’s Preschool for All proposal, which will provide matching mandatory funds to States for improving access to such high-quality preschool systems. The Department will award two types of grants, one to low-capacity States with small or no State-funded preschool programs and another to high-capacity States that have a larger State-funded preschool program. These grants will help States address fundamental needs including workforce development, quality improvement efforts, and the scale-up of proven preschool models. The bill allows States to subgrant funds to LEAs and to LEAs in partnership with other early learning providers. The Committee directs the Department to require any use of child assessments to conform to the recommendations and cautions of reports by the National Research Council on assessments of children.”
The two departments are very interested in your input. We encourage all interested parties to submit opinions, ideas, suggestions and comments pertaining to the new competition below.
This document will be posted for public input until 5:00 PM EDT on February 26, 2014, at which time the input section will be closed and we will begin considering comments received as we develop requirements, priorities, selection criteria, and definitions. Once the initial input from the field is collected and reviewed, we will draft an executive summary and post for comments that will, in turn, inform the final NIA. In order to run a rigorous competition and obligate funds to grantees before December 31, 2014, ED plans to waive rulemaking on this new program, pursuant to its authority in the General Education Provisions Act.
This is a moderated site.
That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. We intend to post all responsive submissions on a timely basis. We reserve the right not to post comments that are unrelated to this request, are inconsistent with ED’s Web site policies, are advertisements or endorsements, or are otherwise inappropriate. To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information such as Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. For more information, please be sure to read the “comments policy” tab at the top of the Web page.
The fine print
Please understand that posts must be related to the new competition and program, and should be as specific as possible, and, as appropriate, supported by data and relevant research. Posts must be limited to 1,000 words. All opinions, ideas, suggestions and comments are considered informal input. ED and HHS will not respond to individual posts, and these posts may or may not be reflected in the policies and requirements of the program. If you include a link to additional information in your post, we urge you to ensure that the linked-to information is accessible to all individuals, including individuals with disabilities. Additionally, please do not include links to advertisements or endorsements; we will delete all such links before your comment is posted.
Again, thank you for your interest in this historic opportunity to support high-quality preschool. We look forward to hearing from you.