Policy Resource

New Mexico Takes on the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge

Feb 9, 2016

In 2012, New Mexico reapplied for and was awarded the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant (January 1, 2013- December 31, 2016) and proposed activities to improve its early learning and development (ELD) systems.

The state indicated that services were disconnected and siloed, historically labeling children because of categorical funding streams and that their goal was to create a system of systems to integrate services. The state has identified 4 Investment Zone Communities hosted capacity building activities and taken administrative steps (hiring staff, contract development, data collection systems creation, professional development) to fully achieve the proposed grant activities in 2015:

  • Create five Early Learning Investment Zones in communities that have large numbers of children with high needs and lack the infrastructure for delivering high-quality services. The state would provide technical assistance and planning support to help communities develop locally-driven early learning system plans and build readiness for implementing them.
  • Implement a revised tiered quality rating and improvement system (TQRIS), FOCUS, which would use the states Early Learning Guidelines as the foundation for a new observation-documentation-curriculum planning process, will be implemented across the state.
  • Create common program standards and use common assessment tools across health, behavioral and education systems. Appropriate elements of FOCUS would be adapted into the home visiting and early intervention arenas in years 3 and 4 of the ELC grant.
  • Integrate the revised New Mexico Early Learning Guidelines (ELG): Birth through Kindergarten into FOCUS and the professional development system. A train-the-consultant model would be developed, and the state would hold a faculty retreat focused on incorporating the ELGs into all early childhood education courses at the associate and bachelor levels.
  • Build a unified early learning data system.

Learn more about New Mexico and how other states are using RTT-ELC funds to strengthen their early childhood systems in ZERO TO THREEs paper: The Early Learning Challenge Grant Is Helping States Better Serve Infants and Toddlers: http://www.zerotothree.org/policy/docs/elc-grant-update.pdf

Update February 2016.

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