Evaluation of Minnesota’s Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Grant | SRI International

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Evaluation of Minnesota’s Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge

From 2012 to 2016, SRI and Child Trends evaluated two of Minnesota’s Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge initiatives: RTT-ELC Early Learning Scholarships and Title I PreK Incentives.

In 2011, Minnesota was one of nine states awarded federal Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) funds. SRI, with a subcontract to Child Trends, was funded by the Minnesota Department of Education to evaluate two components of its RTT-ELC program, which aimed to improve the school readiness of young children with high needs through increased access to high-quality early learning and development (ELD) programs:

  1. Scholarships to families enrolling children in ELD programs rated highly on the state’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS)
  2. Incentives to schools to use Title I funds for preschool programs

SRI conducted a process evaluation to understand the implementation of the two initiatives and an outcome evaluation to determine the initiatives’ effectiveness in increasing access to high-quality ELD programs, meeting the needs of families, and improving children's school readiness. The study was conducted in partnership with four culturally diverse and economically vulnerable communities where the initiatives were implemented. A mixed-methods approach was used, including interview, survey, assessment, and administrative data analysis. Evaluation reports can be found on the Minnesota Department of Education, Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge web page.