Policy Resource

Wisconsin Takes on the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge

Jan 22, 2018

In 2012, Wisconsin reapplied for and was awarded the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant and proposed the following targets to improve its early learning and development (ELD) systems.

The state proposed to:

  • Use RTT-ELC funds to allow Pyramid Model training coordinators to provide targeted training and coaching in high need areas. The state already completed the California Collaborative for the Social-Emotional Foundations of Early Learning (CCSEFEL) Pyramid Model Demonstration Project to increase training and improve practice in the domain of social and emotional development.
  • Broaden the validation study of YoungStar, Wisconsin’s quality rating and improvement system (QRIS), in a few ways, one of which specifically addresses children birth to three. Classrooms and programs serving infants and toddlers would be oversampled in the study to enable researchers to explore the quality of infant-toddler settings and offer objective and tangible advice for policy and practice changes targeted to the youngest children in care.
  • Enlist a Family Engagement Consultant to develop a progression of standards for family engagement that would be used to determine mandatory points in YoungStar at all levels.
  • Target scholarships to areas with high concentrations of 2-star programs and children with high needs. To meet increased demand for professional development, Wisconsin already increased its RTT-ELC budget for scholarships by $1 million in its phase two application.

Highlights of Wisconsin’s ELC work include:

  • A core component of system-building and overall governance efforts has been to create a central point of coordination among the eleven tribal nations, state staff across multiple departments, and other cross-sector professionals. To serve as this central point of coordination, in 2014 a Tribal Coordinator - Early Childhood was hired through an interagency agreement with the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council, Inc. (GLITC).
  • Starting in 2016, the YoungStar evaluation criteria includes a progression of family engagement standards developed by a cross-sector workgroup and the RTT-ELC Family Engagement Analyst.
  • In 2014, RTT-ELC funds continued to provide funding to T.E.A.C.H., so that scholarships could be given to child care providers, and a waiting list could be eliminated. In 2014, there were 922 programs with active T.E.A.C.H. recipients. Of these, 911 of them were participating in YoungStar. Of these 911 programs, 225 increased their YoungStar educational points in 2014, and 98 of those programs also increased in star level. In 2014, there were 263 T.E.A.C.H. contracts awarded with RTT-ELC funding, and all went to recipients working at 2 or 3 Star programs.

Learn more about Wisconsin 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. Read the latest ELC progress report here.