New Analysis: 11 States Have Head Starts in the Early Learning Race to the Top


Many states are working on applications for Race to the Top Early Learning grants this summer, and the New America Foundation has released an analysis that says 11 are top contenders in the competition.

After weighing the requirements and priorities spelled out by the Education and Health and Human Services departments in the RTTT application, New America identified 11 states with strong track records in the two core areas – successful state systems and high-quality accountable programs. The strong records give the states – California, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Vermont – head starts, according to the analysis.

Washington is among a larger group of states ranked as possible contenders. Among the state’s strong points is that it scored among the top states in the category of strong state systems. There is a third category of unlikely contenders.

“Washington has just as good a chance as any other state, especially if they put a strong plan together. Most of my data are from 2009 and 2010. A lot happened in 2011 legislative sessions which could move states we ranked as top contenders down or vice versa. This analysis is a snapshot of states’ past records,” Laura Bornfreund, author of the report and a policy analyst a New America’s Early Education Initiative, wrote in an email interview.

The New America Foundation is not judging the race, so its analysis is a prediction, or handicapping, by a well-informed outside group. The work is important because it gives state officials an idea of where they stand and could help them tailor applications to boost their chances of winning a grant. It’s also important to understand the caveats.

(The analysis is): Based on current and historical data only. These predictions do not include forward projections or hypotheses on states’ plans to improve the quality and coordination of early childhood programs. In the actual competition, HHS and ED reviewers will be factoring states’ forthcoming plans into their scoring. – “Already Ahead: Top Contenders in the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge.” 8/26/11. (Check out the analysis for its caveats and context.)

It is an excellent and high-tech presentation and only takes five to ten minutes to view.