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Early Learning Challenge: Who's In, Who's Out

This morning, my colleague Michele McNeil at Politics K-12 blogged the list of 36 states, plus the District of Columbia, that have expressed intent to apply for Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge funds. She was intrigued by some of the states that so far appear to be sitting this round out, notably Florida, California and Tennessee. Florida and Tennessee were winners last year, so perhaps they are ready to rest on their laurels and implement their earlier plans for K-12.

California may not be well-positioned to compete for Early Learning Challenge Funds because it is just beginning to develop a statewide Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). Although developing these is a high priority in the grant application, it's not clear whether states with a QRIS already in place will be more or less competitive than states with QRIS efforts just getting under way.

I'm interested in states that have signaled intent to apply but do not have state pre-K programs in place, according to the 2010 State of Preschool yearbook, published by the National Institute for Early Education Research: Hawaii, Idaho, Mississippi, and Wyoming. Hawaii's recent creation of a state early-learning coordinator shows its intent to ramp up early-learning efforts, but so far I have yet to hear what the other three states are doing that would get them ready to take on the Early Learning Challenge. Stay tuned, or better yet, send tips!

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