Washington today was awarded a Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant, which will bring up to $60 million to our state over the next four years to help ensure all children start school ready to succeed.
The U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services announced the nine successful states today. Thirty-five states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico applied for the grant, which is designed to help states improve early learning and development programs for young children.
"This is very welcome news and helps us further give our children every possible tool that they need to excel in today's world," said Gov. Chris Gregoire. "Washington's application shone because it was a truly collaborative effort. We brought together public and private partners in early learning and K-12 to improve school readiness for all children in Washington and the Washington way proved successful. The early years of a child's life are the most important. It is our responsibility to embrace, support, and nurture that understanding."
"This incredible opportunity means that the more than 73,000 children who start kindergarten in Washington each year will hit the ground running," said Department of Early Learning Director Bette Hyde. "We were bold and ambitious in writing our application, and we will be equally ambitious as we use these funds to build the early learning system our children deserve."
"If kids get the high-quality early learning opportunities they need, that sets them up for greater success when they reach the K-12 system," said Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn. "Moving WaKIDS to scale will give our teachers the data they need, and make parents true partners in their child's education from day one."
Washington will use the support from the RTT-ELC funding over four years for several key purposes:
* Expanding the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS), our state's kindergarten readiness assessment, to include all incoming kindergarteners by school year 2014-15.
* Taking to scale our state's quality rating and improvement system (QRIS), which helps early learning programs improve the quality of care and education they provide to young children and provides information on quality to families.
* Enhancing the state professional development system by offering awards and incentives to those who work with and care for young children.
"Washington is a leader in the nation and the federal administration gets that," said Gregoire. "Educating our young children is a passion for me and it's gratifying to see it pay off. With the incredible research happening at the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington, our nonprofit partner Thrive by Five Washington, and the new Frontiers of Innovation partnership with Harvard University, we are making historic progress on helping every child get the start in life they need and deserve."
The state's full application for RTT-ELC is online at: www.del.wa.gov/government/racetotop