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Louisiana Launches Preschool Pilot Program

The Louisiana Department of Education announced it is launching a pilot program that would allow school districts and other organizations to create a seamless birth-to-5 early-education system for children in the state. The request for applications says that up to five pilot networks will be chosen by April, and the programs are expected to run from July to June 30, 2015.

The state says that these pilot networks are meant to address the fact that only 54 percent of the state's 5-year-olds enter school ready to learn. The state envisions a collaboration between school districts, nonprofit agencies, Head Start, and Early Head Start grantees, and child care providers who accept state funding for low-income children. This program is a step in implementing a 2012 bill known as Act 3, which requires the state's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to create a network that will oversee publicly-funded early-childhood education services by the 2015-16 school year. The bill also creates academic standards for kindergarten readiness for 3- and 4-year-olds.

Interested groups should move fast: The deadline for submitting applications for the grant funds, which will range from $80,000 to $350,000 for each pilot, is March 22.

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