Comments submitted by: 8/27/2013
The Race to the Top—Early Learning Challenge program is authorized by Sections 14005 and 14006, Division A, of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, as amended by section 1832(b) of Division B of Public Law 112-10, the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011, and the Department of Education Appropriations Act, 2012 (Title III of Division F of Public Law 112-74, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012). This program is jointly managed by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The purpose of the Race to the Top—Early Learning Challenge program is to focus on improving early learning and development programs for young children by supporting States’ efforts to: (1) Increase the number and percentage of low-income and disadvantaged children in each age group of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers who are enrolled in high-quality early learning programs; (2) design and implement an integrated system of high-quality early learning programs and services; and (3) ensure that any use of assessments conforms with the recommendations of the National Research Council’s reports on early childhood. Five key program reform areas representing the foundation of an effective early learning and development reform agenda focused on school readiness and ongoing educational success. These five key reform areas are: (A) Successful State Systems; (B) High-Quality, Accountable Programs; (C) Promoting Early Learning and Development Outcomes for Children; (D) A Great Early Childhood Education Workforce; and (E) Measuring Outcomes and Progress. The first two reform areas, (A) and (B) are “Core Areas of Focus” for this program and all applicants addressed selection criteria based on these core areas. Reform areas (C), (D), and (E) are “Focused Investment Areas” where State’s choose which specific areas to target based on their State’s early childhood reform areas and policies. Research demonstrates that high-quality early learning and development programs and services can improve young children’s health, social-emotional, and cognitive outcomes; enhance school readiness; and help close the school readiness gap that exists between children with High Needs and their more abled peers at the time they enter kindergarten.
The Annual Performance Report for this program will collect data on the performance measures and the selection criteria described in the application (note OMB approval in 2011). Program staff have reviewed this report carefully to minimize burden. The APR will be collected electronically which will enable program staff to pre-populate information on baseline data, approved performance targets, and approved annual budgets. This report will be used to provide necessary information to program staff and to the public on the implementation of these grants.
Source: Federal Register