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Race to the Top -- Early Learning Challenge

The Race to the Top -- Early Learning Challenge focuses on improving California early learning and development programs and increases access to high-quality programs for high-needs children.

The Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) initiative was announced on May 25, 2011, by the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The $500 million state-level grant competition rewards states that created comprehensive plans to transform early learning systems for children, birth to age five, with better coordination and assessment mechanisms, clearer learning standards, and meaningful workforce development and family engagement initiatives. This grant requires other state agencies that administer specific programs to participate by signing a Memorandum of Understanding.

The RTT-ELC grant competition focuses on improving early learning and development programs for young children by supporting states' efforts to:

  1. 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;
  2. design and implement an integrated system of high-quality early learning programs and services; and
  3. ensure that any use of assessments conforms with the recommendations of the National Research Council's reports on early childhood.

RTT-ELC Implementation
The RTT-ELC provides California with an opportunity to build upon the extensive early learning efforts that state and local communities have undertaken to date. The RTT-ELC Implementation Web page has information regarding next steps in the enactment of the RTT-ELC grant award process.

RTT-ELC Fact Sheet External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
The RTT-ELC Fact Sheet gives a brief, three-page overview of California's approach to building upon the state’s local and statewide successes through the highly competitive RTT-ELC federal grant, and its efforts to improve the quality of early learning programs and to continue to close the achievement gap for high-need children throughout the State.

California's RTT-ELC Legislative Reports
The RTT-ELC Legislative Reports for California provide an update on federal RTT-ELC grant activities, the progress that has been made to date, and the work going forward.

California's 2012 RTT-ELC Annual Performance Report External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
On February 15, 2013, the RTT-ELC Phase I Grantee Annual Performance Reports (APRs) were due to the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services. California’s 2012 APR provides an update on the federal RTT-ELC 2012 grant activities and the progress made.

California's 2013 RTT-ELC Annual Performance Report (PDF; 2MB)

California's 2014 RTT-ELC Annual Performance Report (PDF; 1MB)

RTT-ELC 2015 Progress Update External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
A brief summary of data across RTT-ELC states.

Independent Evaluation of California’s Race to the Top–Early Learning Challenge Quality Rating and Improvement System - Half-Term Report (PDF; 3MB)
This half-term report, submitted by American Institutes for Research, presents findings which focus on the Validity and Reliability Study of California’s RTT-ELC quality rating and improvement system (QRIS). The final report, available January 2016, will include findings on outcomes associated with QRIS participation.

California's RTT-ELC Grantee Contact List
A list of RTT-ELC Regional Leadership Consortia and mentee counties.

Questions:   Kim Ramos | | 916-319-0781
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, August 16, 2016
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