The U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced today that $133 million from the 2012 Race to the Top fund will be available for continued investments in state-level, comprehensive early education reform. The Departments intend to fund down the Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 slate and invite the next five applicants, Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wisconsin, to apply.
"The Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge has demonstrated the dedication among states and early education and child development experts to raise the bar on early learning," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "Continuing to support states with 2012 funding will help build on the momentum from the 2011 competition, and engage more states in furthering their critical work to transition effective early learning programs into systems of excellence."
In 2011, 35 States, D.C. and Puerto Rico applied to Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge, creating plans that increase access to high-quality programs for children from low-income families, and provide more children from birth to age 5 with a strong foundation needed to succeed in school and beyond. In December 2011, nine states were awarded grants-California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington.
"What happens in early childhood sets the stage for everything that follows in life," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "These new Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grants will help some of our youngest citizens thrive in school, be successful through adolescence and grow into healthy, successful adults."
The $133 million for additional Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge state grants will come from a larger $550 million fund provided by Congress through the Department of Education's fiscal year 2012 budget. Additional dollars from the 2012 appropriation will be used to run a new district-level Race to the Top competition. More details on the new competition will be available later this spring.
Eligibility for 2012 Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge funding was based on the strength of applications among states that participated but did not receive awards in the 2011 competition. New Mexico, Colorado, Oregon, Illinois and Wisconsin each earned approximately 75% or more of total points possible on a 300-point scale in the 2011 competition. The five states will each be eligible to apply for up to 50 percent of last year's potential award amount.
Following the 2011 competition, the U.S. Department of Education conducted a thorough review of applicant and reviewer feedback, as well as reviewers' scores and comments. The review found minor scoring inconsistencies for seven states: Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, and Wisconsin. These discrepancies did not have an effect on the 2011 competition. Nonetheless, the Department consulted with the original peer reviewer in each case, and as a result, scores changed slightly for five states: Hawaii-was 135.2 and has been revised to 125.2; Kentucky-was 208.4 and has been revised to 207.2; Massachusetts-was 267 and has been revised to 257; New Mexico-was 236 and has been revised to 236.2; and Wisconsin-was 234 and has been revised to 224. The overall score did not change for Nevada or New York. Revised scores and additional details have been posted to http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-earlylearningchallenge/awards.html.
The Department will publish a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register in the near future with the full details of this proposal.