R.I. wins Race to the Top preschool grant

EVAN OLDS, 3, who is about to start preschool, wears a new backpack and looks at other school supplies while shopping with his father Rich at a Super Target store in Littleton, Colo.
Posted 12/16/11

PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island has been awarded an unspecified amount in federal funds to improve early learning.

Rhode Island is one of nine winners of the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant, which could bring in as much as $50 million over four years. The exact amount is expected to be announced next week.

The early learning funding aims “to help build statewide systems that improve all early learning programs, including child care, Head Start centers, and public or private preschools.”

“As we work to improve education in Rhode Island, we must focus our efforts on the education of our youngest students. Success in the early years is the foundation for all that follows,” said Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee. “The grant we have received today will improve the quality of early learning for all children in Rhode Island, with a special focus on increasing access for high-needs populations. This award will benefit our state for many years to come.”

Last year, Rhode Island was awarded a Race to the Top grant of $75 million. The Ocean State is one of six states to have been awarded two Race to the Top grants, a news release from the U.S. Department of Education said.

The state education department gave some examples of work the grant will support, including:

  • Revising and expanding the child-care program quality-rating system (Brightstars) to provide the training, guidance and incentives to raise the quality of all early learning programs.

  • Providing high-quality professional development and increased access to higher education to individuals working in early-learning programs.

  • Building upon statewide data systems to develop clear, accurate, in-depth knowledge about all of our children, their teachers, and all of our schools and programs, and to monitor students’ progress and success from birth through their college years.

  • Working with educators and assessments experts to develop a statewide “kindergarten-entry assessment” so that we better understand what instructional support our youngest children need and what strengths they bring as they arrive for their first day of school.

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