Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge is …

Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge is …

Raising Quality by ensuring a highly qualified and skilled workforce to best support children’s optimal developmentand implementing FOCUS, a rating system that supports early learning providers to improve quality and allows parents to identify high quality early learning programs.

Raising the Quality of Early Learning Programs
The next generation of New Mexico’s quality rating system – FOCUS on Young Child’s Learning – will provide families with the information needed to choose quality early learning programs. Known as the FOCUS TQRIS (Tiered Quality Rating System), the 5-star rating includes a stronger emphasis on the full participation of every child, effective teaching, and promoting early learning and development outcomes for each child across the early learning system. For more information, visit

Raising Quality Through Professional Development
Quality programs begin with an educated workforce. RTT-ELC is:

–Creating opportunities for early childhood staff to earn an Associate, Bachelor, Master or Ph.D. degree in Early Childhood Education or Early Childhood Special Education;

–Ensuring early childhood teachers, educational assistants and providers who are taking college coursework have the knowledge and skills needed through higher education enhancements;

–Providing training in best practices; and

–Developing a consistent set of competencies.

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Investing in Communities by identifying where children are at the greatest risk and prioritizing services to meet needs in those areas.

Early Childhood Investment Zones have been identified using data that compares levels of risk and resiliency across New Mexico. The levels of risk were then geographically ranked to identify where New Mexico children are at the most risks and where investments in programs, services and greater access to high quality early learning programs are needed.

The communities identified touch every region of New Mexico ranging from frontier to urban population centers and are located within 11 counties and 35 school districts. For more information, visit

 Promoting Accountability by developing a single 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.

This Early Childhood Integrated Data System (ECIDS) will pull together data from across all early learning programs, allowing for informed decision-making about programs and policies. The ECIDS will also enable us to measure child outcomes over time.

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Supporting Schools in Meeting Each Child’s Needs by developing a tool to assess school readiness to understand individual child needs at the beginning of kindergarten and provide early interventions for positive learning outcomes.

As part of our comprehensive plan to ensure that all New Mexico students have the opportunity to succeed in school, the Kindergarten Observation Tool (KOT) was developed to help teachers better understand a child’s strength in learning, well-being, social development, and conceptual understanding at the beginning of school.

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