COLUMBUS — Ohio will launch a comprehensive campaign to break down silos and improve the quality of early childhood education programs after the White House announced recently that Ohio was one of nine states chosen to receive a federal Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Grant.
Ohio will receive up to $70 million to improve the quality of programs that serve high-needs children from birth to five years and to measure the results of programs in alignment with Gov. John Kasich’s goals of creating better metrics and coordination among agencies that serve young people.
The successful grant is the product of a cross-agency partnership led by Gov. Kasich’s office. The Ohio Department of Education is the lead agency and is working with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and the Ohio Business Roundtable.
Nearly 75 percent of disadvantaged children entering school in Ohio need some degree of additional instruction to be ready for kindergarten. Unfortunately, these problems persist into the early grades and beyond.
On the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress, just 27 percent of economically disadvantaged Ohio fourth-graders were proficient in mathematics, and only 16 percent were proficient in reading.
The majority of these children will continue to struggle throughout their academic careers, and many will not graduate from high school.
The early learning grant draws upon Gov. Kasich’s goal to close the kindergarten readiness gap between high-needs children and that of their more advantaged peers by:
• Expanding the use of a comprehensive rating system to evaluate state-funded early learning programs
• Teaming up with the State of Maryland to share the costs of developing a new tool to measure the readiness of children for kindergarten. It will include both academic measures and measures of social and emotional development and physical health
• Providing more robust training for early childhood educators
• Coordinating fragmented state early childhood databases that contain information such as program licensing and quality.
Today’s announcement marks the second time Ohio has been awarded a competitive RttT grant. In 2010, Ohio received a $400 million RttT grant for a comprehensive set of school improvement initiatives.