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6:30 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Georgia Wins $51 Million Education Grant

Georgia is one of six states awarded the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant. The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning will receive $51 million as a result.

Georgia will receive the largest chunk of the $208 million grant. Education Secretary Arne Duncan outlined its purpose during a conference call with reporters.

“The goal here is to improve the quality of early learning and development programs throughout each state,” Duncan said. “It’s a down-payment on building the high-quality, early-learning system that reaches all families.”

Georgia’s portion will cover four state initiatives. Gov. Nathan Deal said the first is to improve upon a new rating system for childcare centers.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Gov. Nathan Deal visited this Pre-K class at Atlanta's Boyd Elementary School in the spring.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Gov. Nathan Deal visited this Pre-K class at Atlanta's Boyd Elementary School in the spring.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

“This money will allow us to be able to expand that and to encourage more of our providers to get the five stars, and therefore, increase their capacity as well as their competency,” he said.

The money will also cover scholarships for educators who want to earn advanced degrees and will help the department work across systems. DECAL commissioner Bobby Cagle says it will also pay for a new assessment for Kindergartners when they enter school.

“That allows us to look at our system and how it’s working, but also for teachers to understand where children are so they can base their lesson-planning and their work with the child on that,” Cagle said.

The department applied for the first round of the grant last year. Georgia lost out, in part, for lacking a quality-rated daycare system like the one it has now. The money will be distributed over a four-year period.