This week I look at interesting takeaways from the state ELC applications and scoring.
States competing for the Early Learning Challenge grant earned points for how well their application addressed the grant’s selection criteria, as well as how they addressed two “competitive [reference priorities.” But in addition to the selection criteria and competitive priorities, ELC also included an “absolute priority"--a priority that states have to address in order to be considered for the grant.
Three states that applied for the Early Learning Challenge--Iowa, Kansas, and West Virginia--were judged by reviewers not to meet the absolute priority (as was Puerto Rico). It doesn’t really matter, since none of these states scored well enough on the other criteria to qualify for funding. But it’s still striking that these states went to all the work of completing the grant application but failed to address the absolute priority. None of 5 reviewers thought that Iowa met the absolute priority, only one reviewer though Kansas did, and two reviewers thought West Virginia did (other states had at least one reviewer that did not think they met the absolute priority, but a majority of reviewers thought they did). How did these three states fail to meet the absolute priority?
Reviewers thought that Iowa did not provide enough information to show that its plan would result in improvements in early learning and development outcomes for high-need children. Reviewers of Kansas’ application were concerned that the state did not clearly define or identify its population of high-needs children or how its plans would address the needs of this population, and that many implementation activities were not planned before 2014. Reviewers of West Virginia’s application also felt the state did not adequately define or identify its population of children with high needs to show how activities would specifically benefit this population.
The opinions expressed in Sara Mead’s Policy Notebook are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.