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5 States Pursue Second Round of Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge

According to the United States Department of Education, all five eligible states have stepped forward to participate in the second round of applications for the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge, which provides funding for reforms in state early learning programs. Those states include Wisconsin, Oregon, New Mexico, Illinois, and Colorado.

Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge is a relatively recent addition to the overarching Race to the Top initiative, a federal program focused on driving changes in public schooling through competitive grants to states and LEAs, with an eye toward reforming academic standards, investing in teachers and education leadership, improving achievement in schools whose students have performed poorly on standardized tests, and developing data systems that follow students from "cradle to career."

Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge was developed as a means to help states overhaul their early learning systems with "better coordination, clearer learning standards, and meaningful workforce development." Early Learning Challenge is administered jointly by the United States Department of Education (ED) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Launched last year, the program initially offered $500 million in potential funding for reforming comprehensive early learning programs at the state level. Nine states were awarded funding in the first round; in the second round, up to $133 million is being made available to applicants, whose eligibility was based on their proposals from last year's application cycle. (The next five highest-scoring states were eligible.)

"The road to good jobs and a healthy economy runs through the classroom, and we can give every child a strong start by increasing access to high-quality early learning programs," said Arne Duncan, secretary of education, in a prepared statement. "By applying for the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge, these states are continuing commitments to provide children—especially those with high needs—the tools to enter kindergarten ready to succeed in their education and ultimately their careers."

"For our nation to compete in the global economy, we need to utilize the talents of all of our people," said Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "Strong early education programs are a key part to helping every child reach their full potential."

Second-round applicants are eligible for up to 50 percent of their first-round funding requests. ED and HHS reported they will review the applications and announce the awards by the end of the year. Additional details can be found on ed.gov.

About the Author

David Nagel is the executive producer for 1105 Media's online K-12 and higher education publications and electronic newsletters. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. He can now be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/THEJournalDave (K-12) or http://twitter.com/CampusTechDave (higher education). You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10390192.

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