Early Learning Challenge

Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge: Grant Resources and Lessons Learned

We have a vision for every child in Illinois to begin kindergarten healthy, safe, eager to learn and ready to succeed. That starts with making sure children and families, especially those with the most complex needs, have access to high-quality early learning programs. With the help of time-limited funding from the Race to the Top- Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC), Illinois was able to build its legacy as a leader in early learning and lay a foundation that will allow our vision for children to flourish. We are pleased to present a series of briefs that tell the story of what's been accomplished and what's next.


QRIS Validation Study  

As a part of the State’s Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge, Illinois funded a validation study to determine how well ExceleRate Illinois, the State's Quality Rating and Improvement System, differentiates levels of quality and how well children in the highest rated programs perform compared to their peers in lower rated programs. The Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill conducted the study.

Higher Education Grants

As part of the work of the Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge Grant with the Illinois Board of Higher Education, the State awarded higher education partnership grants to two and four year institutions to work toward more aligned courses and better communication.

IERC Report

The Illinois Education Research Council (IERC) released a report, The Early Childhood Educator Preparation Innovation Grant: Lessons from Initial Implementation, which reveals the barriers to project-specific goal attainment and the catalysts that allowed partnerships to meet their objectives. This research is informative for policy development specific to articulation agreements, current and future early childhood innovation grantees, and others attempting to build stronger and more authentic partnerships between community colleges and four-year institutions.