A December 16 Maryland State Department of Education press release announces Maryland is one of nine states to be awarded a grant under the federal Race to the Top (RTTT) Early Learning Challenge. The grant, potentially up to $50 million over 4 years, will be used to improve early learning and development programs. Other states to receive a grant include: California, Delaware, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Washington. Previously, Maryland received a 4-year $250 million RTTT grant for teacher and school performance reform.
Maryland developed an ambitious slate of projects in its RTTT-ELC application. They range from strengthening the Maryland EXCELS child care rating system to revising the early learning standards to align with the Common Core to refining the State’s assessment system for pre-school children. …
Over the past 10 years, Maryland has demonstrated that children starting their formal school career have improved their school readiness skills over time. In 2001, 49 percent of all children entering kindergarten were assessed as being ready for school, while 81 percent were kindergarten ready in 2010.
A December 16 US Department of Education press release provides further information on the competition:
Through the competition, 35 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico have created plans to increase access to high-quality programs for children from low-income families, providing more children from birth to age 5 with a strong foundation they need for success in school and beyond. The number and list of winners was determined both by the quality of the applications and the funds available.
The Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge will support the work of the nine state grantees to develop new approaches to raising the bar across early learning centers and to close the school readiness gap. Awards will invest in grantees’ work to build statewide systems of high-quality early learning and development programs. These investments will impact all early learning programs, including Head Start, public pre-K, childcare, and private preschools. Key reforms will include: aligning and raising standards for existing early learning and development programs; improving training and support for the early learning workforce through evidence-based practices; and building robust evaluation systems that promote effective practices and programs to help parents make informed decisions.