"To win the future, our children need a strong start. The Race to the Top—Early Learning Challenge encourages states to develop bold and comprehensive plans for raising the quality of early learning programs across America." –U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
On December 16, 2011, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius announced the winners—including Washington—of the $500 million Race to the Top grant to support bold and comprehensive state plans for raising the quality of early learning programs. DEL led Washington's application for the grant, which will bring $60 million for our state over four years to build an early learning system in Washington.
The Race to the Top—Early Learning Challenge grant competition focuses on improving early learning and development programs for young children by supporting states' efforts to:
- 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.
- Design and implement an integrated system of high-quality early learning programs and service.
- Ensure that any use of assessments conforms with the recommendations of the National Research Council's reports on early childhood.
Race to the Top—Early Learning Challenge grants were awarded to states that are leading the way with ambitious yet achievable plans for implementing coherent, compelling and comprehensive early learning education reform.
Washington is focused on a building a cohesive, comprehensive early learning system that supports strong outcomes for children from birth through elementary school. Components of that system include:
- Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS)
- Early Achievers, Washington’s Quality Rating and Improvement System
- Professional development for early care providers and educators
- Data and IT systems that inform the state on progress and outcomes of early learning programs