New York is seeking a $100 million grant from the federal government in the latest round of Race to the Top funding, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today. The state would use the Early Learning Challenge grant to increase the number of high-quality early childhood learning programs, provide teachers with tools to measure students’ strengths and weaknesses, assist parents in becoming more involved in their children’s education and improve the quality of the early education workforce, the governor said.
Every dollar spent on early education can produce $7 in returns and can help reduce poverty in disadvantaged communities, according to Cuomo. In New York, 44 percent of third-graders do not meet state reading standards. The $100 million would help close the achievement gap, he said.
“Student achievement at all grade levels often rests on the quality of early learning and this challenge proposal demonstrates New York State’s commitment to making sure our early childhood education programs are among the best in the nation,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Our state’s future prosperity depends on a top-rate education system that gives our students the tools they need to be successful and trains the workforce of tomorrow.”
Last year, New York received a Race to the Top grant of nearly $700 million. States compete for grants in the program, which is designed to drive education reform and improve quality. The Early Learning Challenge is a $500 million program for states to improve early childhood education for disadvantaged children. New York, California, Florida and Texas are each eligible to receive up to $100 million, based on the share of children 5 and under from low-income families. Award winners will be announced by the end of the year.
The state is proposing to:
— Use the QUALITYStarsNY tool to rate early learning programs based on how they meet common standards. The tool would give teachers access to feedback on improving performance and help parents choose programs for their children.
— Create a statewide Kindergarten Readiness Tool to help teachers understand students strengths and weaknesses at the start of their education, schools measure progress and parents get involved in their children’s education. The state Board of Regents has approved the use of the program, which is used in 29 other states.
— Create the New York Works for Children program to give early childhood providers access to professional-development resources and supports that are tailored to their needs and set up a workforce registry to better understand the qualifications, training and needs of early childhood educators.
Cuomo’s office developed the proposal with the state Office of Children and Family Services and the Early Childhood Advisory Council, with assistance from the state Education Department, Department of Health and Office of Mental Health.