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PA lands $51.7M federal Race to the Top education grant

Written by The Associated Press | Dec 19, 2013 9:15 AM
teacher and girl

(Harrisburg) --Pennsylvania is receiving a $51.7 million education grant from the federal government.

The money is through the U.S. Education Department's Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant program. Five other states are receiving funding as well as part of a combined $280 million pot.

“High-quality early learning programs are known to improve student achievement and prepare students to enter kindergarten,” Governor Corbett said in a statement.  “Pennsylvania offers early education opportunities to our youngest citizens and this investment will help us to further improve and expand our existing quality programs.”

Over a four year span, the money will be used for early childhood education for initiatives, including closing the school readiness gap that exists between children with high needs and their peers as well as increasing the number of children who are able to read and do math at grade level by the end of third grade.

Under the grant the state will work to establish 50 local Early Childhood Education Community Innovation Zones to serve the lowest-performing elementary schools in the state.  Each one will complete a comprehensive needs assessment to develop strategies focused on increasing family supports and engagement as well as stronger relationships between early childhood education programs and school districts and strengthen the network of community organizations that serve families with young children.

Other initiatives will aim to improve access for children with high needs to high-quality early learning and development programs, increase access and delivery of high-quality professional development for early learning educators, develop a no-cost universal Kindergarten Entry Inventory for voluntary use by schools to better understand the needs of students entering kindergarten and operate four Governor’s Institutes for nearly 3,000 pre-kindergarten to third-grade educators and practitioners to experience and share strategies and best practices.

 “These initiatives further solidify my administration’s strong commitment to early childhood education and the need to ensure that students are provided with quality learning opportunities,” Corbett says.  

 

This story was updated on 12/19/13 at 11:03 a.m.

(Washington) -- The Obama administration has announced that six states, including Pennsylvania, have won a combined $280 million in grants to improve early learning programs for babies, toddlers and preschoolers.

Joining the commonwealth is Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey and Vermont in the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge.

The winners were announced by the Education and Health and Human Services departments. The two agencies jointly administer the program.

This is the third time these early learning grants have been issued. Fourteen other states were previous winners. The winning states must show a willingness to carry out comprehensive improvements to programs focused on children from birth to age five.

Details were expected to be released later today about what the winning states proposed to do with the money.

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