Preschool Instructional Excellence RFA - Q&As

Preschool Instructional Excellence RFA


  • For budgeting anticipate a July 1, 2014 start date.
  • Approximately 40% of the grant funds should be used for mini-grants. It is up to the applicant to describe how the mini-grants will work. The applicant does not have to technically distribute mini-grants, however, the proposal must foster the ability for early childhood teachers to effectively participate in professional development to enhance their instruction.
  • Performance measure chart from the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge
Baseline (October 2012) Actual Target- end of calendar year 2013* Target- end of calendar year 2014 Target- end of calendar year 2015 Target- end of calendar year 2016
Total number of center-based programs covered 519 3,677 3,982 4,247 4,247
Number of programs in Center-Based - Licensed 0 2,329 2,152 1,877 1,624
Number of programs in Center-Based -Bronze 44 195 245 340 435
Number of programs in Center-Based -Silver 213 405 (incl. 280 PFA/HS) 582 (incl. 300 PFA/HS) 710 ( incl. 300 PFA/HS) 690 (incl 225 PFA/HS)
Number of programs in Center-Based -Gold 256 740 (incl. 425 PFA/HS) 985 (incl. 590 PFA/HS) 1,290 (incl. 590 PFA/HS) 1,445 (incl 700 PFA/HS)

* Note that not all PFA and Head Start programs were rated in 2013. By the end of 2014, all should be rated; however, some will not have reached either the Silver or Gold level yet.

Questions and Answers

Q1: Does this RFA not include support services for community based organizations?

  • Answer: Child care will fall under objective 2 in the rationale section on page 14. (To provide tools, resources, and technical assistance to build the capacity of all early childhood programs that serve preschool age children to implement effective curriculum and professional development that facilitate excellent instruction.) The goal of objective 1 is to help Preschool for All (PFA) and Head Start (HS) programs who are currently at the Silver Circle of Quality achieve a Gold Circle of Quality. The Head Start and Preschool for All programs can be community based or school based.

Q2: Are scholarships an allowable expense in the mini-grants section (page 15)?

  • Answer: The application says that the funds could be used for items such as release time or stipends for teachers, the purchase of evidence-based curriculum or resource materials, and travel to attend trainings.

Q3: Do the budgets have to have align to the percentages given on pages 14-15?

  • Answer: Demonstrate that the spirit of the breakdown is respected.

Q4: Should any services be specifically directed at PFA and HS?

  • Answer: It is expected that only PFA and HS funded programs at the Silver of Quality will receive the mini grant funding to support participation in supports that will help them to move up to the Gold Circle of Quality. It is up to the applicant to design the training and technical assistance and specify how broadly that will be available. The intent of the RFA was for the training and technical assistance to be as broad as possible. The intent was also for the content to be available for everyone.

Q5: Is there a specific plan for awardees to work with Gateways?

  • Answer: The Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development does not anticipate that the primary reason that Preschool for All and Head Start programs are not meeting Gold Circle of Quality is that staff does not have the qualifications necessary. This is because PFA and HS rules require credentials and higher education. The intent is to improve instructional content, not to get people credentials.

Q6: You estimate of 400 programs will need to move from silver to gold?

  • Answer: This is an ambitious goal. It is up to applicant to say how many they can serve. (Note-the targets included in our federal application estimated around 300 school-based PFA & HS programs being at the Silver level, plus another approximately 100 community-based programs).

Q7: Is there a description of the validation of programs at the Silver and Gold Circle of Quality including ECERS and CLASS scores? Is there data to support a logic model to show what is needed?

  • Answer: We will take your question under advisement and see what we can pull together. We do not have ECERS and CLASS scores for all programs but it is reasonable to pull together for the programs that we have scores.

Q8: Is the evaluation specifically looking at the work being done in this RFA?

  • Answer: Yes. It is separate from the validation study of the QRIS.

Q9: Can a program achieve the Gold Circle of Quality without using CLASS?

  • Answer: The QRIS allows programs to choose either the ECERs or the CLASS. Typically, HS and PFA programs in Chicago use the CLASS and PFA outside of Chicago use the ECERs, but programs have the option of having an assessment done with either instrument for the purposes of their ExceleRate rating.

Q10: Are you envisioning one award or multiple awards?

  • Answer: The application does not include any specific guidance on this issue. It was conceived as one but there is nothing to preclude applicants proposing partnerships, nor anything that would prevent us from awarding multiple awards if that seems to best serve the interests of the State.