U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services Release Early Learning Challenge Annual Performance Reports for 20 States 


The U.S. Department of Education released a report today that shows Race to the Top—Early Learning Challenge states are rapidly improving the quality of early learning programs while enrolling more children, especially from low- and moderate income families, in the highest-quality programs.

What’s more, thousands more children are receiving health screenings to help detect medical or developmental issues earlier, the report shows. The report comes from the annual performance reviews for the 20 states that have received more than $1 billion in Early Learning Challenge grants since 2011. These reports capture the successes achieved and obstacles overcome by states in the last year.

“By investing in high-quality early learning through programs like the Early Learning Challenge, states are giving many more children a strong start in life,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “Thanks to the leadership of governors, state officials and education advocates, these states are implementing plans to develop high-quality early learning systems that improve the quality of learning and provide our youngest citizens with the strong foundation they need for success in school and beyond.”

The Early Learning Challenge is a historic federal investment that supports states in building strong systems of early learning and development to ensure that underserved children – including low-income and minority students, as well as students with disabilities and English learners – and their families have equitable access to high-quality programs.

Highlights from the reports:

  • More than 72,000 early learning and development programs are now evaluated under their states’ Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (TQRIS) – an 87 percent increase since the states applied for their grants.
  • Nearly 14,000 programs are in the highest quality tiers of their states’ rating system – a 63 percent increase since the states applied for their grants.
  • Significantly more children with high needs are enrolled in programs in the highest quality tiers of their states’ rating system.
  • More than 200,000 children with high needs are enrolled in highest rated state-funded preschool programs.
  • Nearly 230,000 children with high needs are enrolled in child care programs that receive federal child care subsidy funds and are in the highest tiers.
  • More than 150,000 children with high needs are enrolled in Head Start/Early Head Start programs in the highest tiers.

“The Early Learning Challenge, an education reform initiative announced by President Obama in 2009, has been a catalyst for advancing state-led efforts to improve education. When we invest in early education, the benefits can last a lifetime,” HHS Administration for Children and Families Acting Assistant Secretary Mark Greenberg said. “Children who attend high-quality early learning and preschool programs are more likely to do well in school. We all gain when our country has strong early childhood systems in place to support our children on the path to opportunity.”

Duncan discussed the report at the annual grantee meeting in Virginia for the thirty-two states implementing the Early Learning Challenge, as well as Preschool Development Grants. Launched in 2011 as a historic joint initiative of the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, the Early Learning Challenge now has 20 states participating: California, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington state and Wisconsin. These grantees are working to align, coordinate and improve the quality of existing early learning programs across multiple funding streams that support children from birth through age 5.

Duncan also spoke about the Preschool Development Grants, a program jointly administered by both Departments. In 2014, 35 states and Puerto Rico applied for the Preschool Development Grants, jointly administered by the Departments, to expand high-quality preschool for children from low- to moderate-income families. Due to the limited funding, awards were made only to 18 states in over 200 high-need communities that span the geographic and political spectrum. Despite the evidence showing the importance of early learning and the unmet need for preschool in America, earlier this summer, House and Senate committees authored partisan spending bills that make significant cuts to programs that provide important services such as health care, public health and safety, job training, and education. Both bills eliminate Preschool Development Grants, jeopardizing critical early education opportunities for more than 100,000 children in the last two years of the grants.

This Early Learning Challenge report provides a high level overview of the progress made by Early Learning Challenge states in key areas as they implement their state plans. For more detailed information, see the individual state annu

Source: U.S. Department of Education

Available at: http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-departments-education-and-health-and-human-services-release-guidance-including-children-disabilities-high-quality-early-childhood-programs-0

Early Learning Language and Literacy Series


Welcome to the Early Learning Language and Literacy Series! This series of professional development modules on early literacy learning, birth to kindergarten, is designed to support the work of early education initiatives across the fifty states and the territories to support the language and literacy development of young children. The two key objectives for the Early Learning Language and Literacy Series are:

  1. To provide teachers with background information/research on early language and literacy
  2. To provide evidence-based strategies to support the language and literacy development of young children

Intended Audience. These modules are designed for professionals who are working with young children, birth to five. Participants may include teachers and administrators from early learning centers, family child care, Head Start, home visiting programs, nursery or preschools, or Early Intervention programs. Students from high school or college-level early education programs can also benefit from the presenters’ rich knowledge-base and informative presentations. The modules may be used for family education topics as well.

Facilitator Role. Facilitators have a critical role in assuring the successful delivery of the literacy series. Facilitators should be early childhood content experts with some basic knowledge about emerging literacy in young children. They should be comfortable with a webinar delivery system for professional development.

Format and Suggested Delivery. The series consists of 14 webinar-based modules, which together present a comprehensive look at literacy learning for young children and provide the viewers with a strong foundation for supporting children’s literacy development in their settings.

Each module is a stand-alone session and can be presented to a group independently or in a different order than is suggested. However, it is strongly recommended that all 14 modules be delivered as a series to expose participants to the full range of language and literacy domains, skills and instructional techniques that support young children’s development. Additionally, Module One provides the framework for the remaining 13 sessions and should be delivered first as the introduction to the series.

Getting Started. In addition to the video presentations, facilitators will have access to a set of documents that will enhance the delivery of the Early Learning Language and Literacy Series. They are housed in two locations: the Facilitator Toolkit and within 14 individual Module Kits. An overview of the series and supplemental materials are included in the Facilitator Toolkit. The individual Module Kits include all of the materials needed to facilitate that particular session. The Facilitator Toolkit and individual Module Toolkits should be used in tandem.

Source: GRADS360°, Preschool Development Grants, U.S. Department of Education

Available at: https://pdg.grads360.org/#program/early-learning-language-and-literacy-series

The National Prekindergarten Evaluation Center Offers Assistance to States Applying for the Preschool Development Grant

September 8, 2014

The Preschool Development Grant program sponsored by the US Department of Education offers an exciting opportunity for states to build or enhance the quality of their early education programs and services, with an application deadline of October 14, 2014.

With increasing federal and state resources focused on early learning, now is the time to consider the need for systematic evaluation to document how well these investments are working. Evaluation research can help inform states’ efforts to build or enhance existing pre-k programs. However, many states do not have the existing infrastructure to conduct rigorous and well-designed evaluations that can provide useful information about the quality and effectiveness of these pre-k programs.

The National Pre-K and Early Learning Evaluation Center at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute FPG offers a range of services to help states design, implement, and evaluate their early learning programs. The National Pre-K Evaluation Center can help states scientifically design program components, study program effectiveness, make recommendations for program improvement, build capacity for future evaluation efforts, and assist with developing grant proposals. Our scientists have a long history of conducting research in the early education field, including long-standing statewide evaluations of public pre-k programs, evaluating QRIS frameworks, and specific expertise with special populations.

We look forward to speaking with you about how the National Pre-K Evaluation Center can create a customized plan to address the specific implementation and evaluation needs within your state.

To learn more about our Center, please email PreKEvalCenter@unc.edu.


Check out May edition of Early Childhood Development Newsletter

Learn about:

  • Developmental Screening
  • Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships: Why Do We Need Them?
  • Choctaw Nation Celebration
  • Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge
  • Preschool Development Grant Competition
  • Rebuilding after Super Storm Sandy
  • Pre-school Expulsion Research
  • Supporting Early Childhood

And more in the May Edition of the Early Childhood Development Newsletter.

Source: Administration for Children and Families

Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ecd/news/check