Maryland has been awarded a multi-million dollar federal grant that will allow the State to further strengthen its acclaimed early childhood programs.
The Maryland State Department of Education, on behalf of the Governor and his Advisory Council of Early Care and Education, today received a federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Fund Grant (RTTT-ELC). The program, co-managed by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is designed to narrow the school readiness gap for children in poverty, English language learners, and those with disabilities.
Maryland is one of nine states awarded the grant. The others are California, Delaware, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Washington.
The final tally on the funds the State will receive is not yet available, but Maryland was eligible for $50 million over four years. The grant program builds on the success of the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top program. Maryland in August 2010 was one of a handful of states to be awarded a RTTT grant, which carried with it $250 million over four years to boost the State’s third phase of education reform.
Interim Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Bernard Sadusky said the newest Race to the Top grant meshes with State’s ongoing efforts to improve student performance.
“Providing high quality programs to our youngest learners offers us our best chance at eliminating the achievement gaps that plague every education system,” Dr. Sadusky said. “The new project builds for our children a better academic foundation. When students enter kindergarten with strong learning habits, the stage is set for future success.”
Maryland developed an ambitious slate of projects in its RTTT-ELC application. They range from strengthening the Maryland EXCELS child care rating system to revising the early learning standards to align with the Common Core to refining the State’s assessment system for pre-school children.
Those efforts combine with other work already taking place in the State. Maryland has a nationally recognized early childhood development program, providing unique early learning opportunities, strong oversight of childcare, and other programs designed to give the State’s youngest learners a leg up in school.
MSDE’s development of its RTTT Early Learning Challenge proposal was the result of the Division of Early Childhood Development’s collaboration with partners.
“Scores of early childhood and K-12 education stakeholders collaborated on this successful grant proposal,” said Dr. Rolf Grafwallner, Assistant State Superintendent for the Division of Early Childhood Development. “Maryland is very fortunate to have had so much support from so many state and local agencies, associations, and others interested in early childhood education.”
Over the past 10 years, Maryland has demonstrated that children starting their formal school career have improved their school readiness skills over time. In 2001, 49 percent of all children entering kindergarten were assessed as being ready for school, while 81 percent were kindergarten ready in 2010.
“Our goal is to provide every child with the best start possible, and the data we have gathered over the past decade tells us that we are making significant progress,” added Grafwallner. “This grant allows us to take the next step.”
Maryland's winning application can be found by clicking here.
The Executive Summary of Maryland’s Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge Grant application can be found here.