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Tuesday Churn: State gets a do-over

What’s churning:

Colorado is eligible for apply for a $30 million share of $133 million in a second round of the federal Early Learning Challenge grant program, the U.S. Department of Education has announced (read the news release).

“We will apply for these funds because we are committed to providing the very best foundation for Colorado’s children,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a statement.

Late last year, Colorado lost out in its bid for $60 million from the original $500 million Early Learning Challenge program of Race to the Top (see story). Nine states were awarded grants out of 37 applicants.

Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon and Wisconsin also are eligible to apply for the second round. They also lost out the first time. But, like Colorado, all scored 75 percent or higher on the 300-point scoring system.

Each state can apply for up to 50 percent of the amount it requested in the first round. The second round is non-competitive, meaning states will get the money if their applications meet the requirements set by DOE.

Last December, Colorado won $17.9 million in a similar “consolation round” for a different part of the R2T program (see story). Those funds are being split with participating school districts and are being used mostly to help implement the new educator evaluation system.

The Hickenlooper has made early childhood improvements one of its education policy priorities, and the state’s loss in the first round of the Early Learning Challenge was considered a setback in those efforts.

Major elements of the administration’s plan include improvements in the rating system for early childhood programs, new readiness assessments for young children, improving the quality of the early childhood workforce and the streamlining and reorganization of state early childhood agencies. (Read the administration’s early literacy proposal here.)

What’s on tap:

The Douglas County school board has a special meeting at 4:30 p.m. at Cresthill Middle School in Highlands Ranch. The agenda includes a discussion of the 2012-13 proposed budget.

The Boulder Valley school board meets at 5 p.m. at 6500 Arapahoe St. Agenda

Good reads from elsewhere:

Tiered pricing: Different tuition rates for different classes can trigger student pushback, as recently happened at a California community college. But tiered tuition is spreading across the nation, according to this article from InsideHigherEducation.com.

Cash cows: The Hechinger Report collaborated with Time for this look at colleges and universities offering professional certificates instead of degrees, a growing trend that serves older working students and provides “a good side business” for higher ed institutions.

Mandatory online classes: Virginia’s governor has signed a bill that would require high school students to take at least one online class in order to graduate. Get details from the Washington Post.

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