Policy Resource

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

Aug 3, 2018

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. At the end of the fourth year of the RTT-ELC Grant, New Mexico continues to make significant progress in grant implementation across all six of its ELC projects: grant management, quality rating and improvement system (QRIS), Early Childhood Investment Zones, workforce development, early childhood data systems, and a kindergarten entry assessment.

New Mexico has made significant progress on the RTT-ELC grant since it began in 2013. Much of the first two years were spent on gearing up to implement the grant, including hiring staff, establishing contracts and establishing governance and communications processes. The 2016 Annual Performance Report provides an overview of New Mexico’s RTT-ELC activities for year four of the grant, highlighting several areas of progress and accomplishments, including:

  1. Raising the Quality of Early Learning Programs: New Mexico’s progress towards an aligned quality rating and improvement system includes agreed upon essential elements that support: family engagement; inclusive practices for children with developmental delays or disabilities; culture and language; dual language learners; promoting social relationships; professional qualifications; intentional teaching and early intervention practices; intentional leadership; and continuous quality improvement.
  2. Investing in Communities: The Early Childhood Investment Zones touch every region and every border of New Mexico, and range from rural to urban population centers, covering 11 priority counties based on child risk index and 35 priority school districts based on academic risk index.
  3. Professional Development: New Mexico developed the Early Childhood Higher Education Task Force to establish a professional development system in the state’s early childhood workforce. The task force examined the competencies that guide the professional development system and accompany the early childhood licensure. The state is also offering T.E.A.C.H. scholarships, which are helping early childhood programs hire and retain more qualified staff.
  4. Promoting Accountability: Throughout 2016, New Mexico made substantial progress with promoting accountability by developing a data system that integrates data from across early learning programs serving young children to measure child outcomes over time and to enable planning for early learning investments.

Learn more about New Mexico and how other states are using RTT-ELC funds to strengthen their early childhood systems in ZERO TO THREE’s paper: The Early Learning Challenge Grant Is Helping States Better Serve Infants and Toddlers.

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