Ohio’s Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant: Statewide System Reforms and Initiatives for Early Learning and Development Programs

Lisa Baker, Asst. Director, Office of Early Learning and School Readiness, Ohio Department of Education

Presenters: Stephanie Siddens, Director; Lisa Baker, Asst. Director, Office of Early Learning and School Readiness, Ohio Department of Education

Summary: Last December, the federal Race to the Top initiative awarded Ohio $70 million to build a state-level infrastructure to improve access to quality early learning experiences for Ohio’s children ages birth to kindergarten entry.

The grant does not distribute money to local districts and early childhood education programs. Instead it is designed to improve Ohio’s existing network of state-funded early childhood development programs, particularly to help children who have disabilities, whose families live in poverty or who are English language learners begin kindergarten ready to learn.

The work involves three strategies:

  • Increasing access to high quality early education;
  • Improving quality early leaning program quality; and
  • Reporting results through a quality-rating system.

The grant work includes:

Developing Early Learning and Development Standards: Since receiving the grant money Ohio has updated its existing pre-Kindergarten content standards and infant and toddler guidelines to include all domains of school readiness: approaches toward learning, social and emotional development, language and literacy, physical well-being and motor development, and cognition and general knowledge.  The state will offer professional development based on the standards in 2013.

Stephanie Siddens, Director, Office of Early Learning and School Readiness, Ohio Department of Education

Preschool and Kindergarten Assessments: Ohio has partnered with Maryland to create an early childhood assessments system that includes:

  • Formative assessments  for children from the beginning of the preschool through the end of kindergarten;
  • Kindergarten readiness assessment;
  • Professional development to support use of the assessments;  and
  • Online resources and supports for educators, children and families with online resources and supports.

The assessments will align to the Common Core State Standards be implemented statewide in the 2014-2015 school year.

Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement System: Ohio will implement a common set of program standards and a quality rating and improvement system for all types of early learning and development programs, including child care and family child care settings. All programs receiving public funds will be required to participate in this system by 2020.



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