The Department of Education, in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services, has released criteria for the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC). With the goal of ensuring every child is Kindergarten ready, this incentive fund is structured to improve quality early learning programs in the states. In lieu of rulemaking, comments are welcome in a moderated blog format through July 11. Application requirements, as informed by those comments, should be released on the Federal Register in the middle of August with an October submission deadline.
All grants will be awarded by the end of December 2011. Grants will range from $50 to $100 million depending on a state’s share of low-income children younger than age 5. Preliminary criteria include absolute priorities in using standards and assessments to promote school readiness and tiered quality rating and improvement systems. Including all early learning and development programs in the quality rating and improvement systems is a competitive preference priority. Sustaining program effects into early elementary grades and encouraging private sector support is an invitational priority.