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Ed. Dept. Awards $15M in Grants for Kindergarten Entry Assessments

Faced with three high-quality applicants for a grant to create assessments aimed at students entering kindergarten, the Department of Education decided to say yes to all of them.

A seven-state consortium led by Maryland will receive $4.9 million, and a nine-state group led by North Carolina was awarded $6.1 million. Interestingly, Texas—known for rebuffing federal education initiatives under the leadership of Republican Gov. Rick Perry—applied for and will receive $3.9 million.

The money will be used to create or improve tests that children will take soon after starting kindergarten. These assessments are supposed to gauge a child's preacademic skills, emotional health, and physical well-being, and provide early guidance to teachers on getting children on track to meet high academic standards.

Maryland's consortium (Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada and Ohio) says it will use the money to enhance a kindergarten entry assessment and formative assessments to go with it.

North Carolina and its partner states (Arizona, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Maine, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, and South Carolina) plan to use funds to improve a K-3 testing program.

Texas plans to use the funds to create a kindergarten entry assessment system for the more than 400,000 kindergarten students who start school in the state each year.

In May, the education department said in the Federal Register that this grant program would be for about $9 million. But an Education Department official explained that the applications were so worthy that it wanted to fund all of them, and used money from fiscal years 2012 and 2013 to do so.

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