Maine invites Race to the Top input

Maine wants your ideas as it prepares to enter the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge, a $500 million grant competition sponsored by the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services.

The state is eligible for up to $50 million in award funds to use for improvements to early childhood education. Visit Maine’s Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge web page for more information on the competition and the state’s efforts.

Maine’s Race to the Top team wants ideas from educators and the public as it assembles an application for the award funds. Information and ideas in response to the 10 prompts below would be particularly helpful.

Leave your feedback as a comment at the bottom of this entry. Read the Maine DOE Newsroom’s Comments Policy before you respond.

If you’d prefer to submit your feedback privately, click here.


  1. Are you aware of Maine’s current Quality Rating and Improvement System offered through the Department of Health and Human Services?
  2. If your early childhood education program is not currently participating in Maine’s Quality Rating and Improvement System, why not?
  3. What would encourage your program to participate in the Rating and Improvement System?
  4. How can early childhood programs in the community and public schools strengthen their relationships with each other and families?
  5. While parents are at work or in school, many children are cared for by other family members, friends and neighbors. Are there activities or information that can support them in providing care?
  6. If you are serving children who bring high needs to your program, what additional supports or technical assistance could you use?
  7. If you run or work in an early childhood education program, are you seeking further professional development, credentials or degrees?
  8. Are you able to find the trainings or coursework you need?
  9. What barriers do you encounter when seeking training?
  10. Do you have suggestions for components of a comprehensive assessment that would help us understand: (1) the growth and needs of each child; (2) useful ways to measure and improve how effective we, adults, are in interacting with young children (birth to age 5); and (3) ways to measure and improve the impact of the experiences we are offering young children?

21 thoughts on “Maine invites Race to the Top input

  1. Matthew, Thanks for your ideas. The use of data and technology were a big part of our RTT-ELC application. Janine Blatt

  2. I believe that teachers should be graded. Not graded in threat of loosing their job. But prof romance. I run a computer repair shop and i use a program that keeps me on track and i key in as i go. I recently seen a news cast on a local news channel that was showing a program that was similar. It showed teachers emailing parents their child’s status, ie home work and updates on their child’s progress. I feel that using such computer age tools to keep track of performance on both ends (Child & teacher) will increase performance of its students.

    I remember playing games when i was a kid and the game had a “ladder: tournament. Basically challenging you to work up the ladder. Maybe after the installment of noted programs above. A ladder system could be implemented. Weather the Child, parent or teacher chooses to opt in/out of the challenge system.

    but it also needs to be fun, after all they are kinds who want to play rather than learn.

  3. What great ideas people are sharing here! Such a wealth of expertise here in the great State of Maine. Since I now work with family doctors (and in training the next generation of family docs) I would like to see some attention to the role of family doctors (and other primary care providers, esp. pediatricians) in this new proposed system. Often the docs are new parents’ first entry into the world of parenthood and could provide them access to the wealth of resources this system will offer. I’d be happy to talk more if folks areinterested (I am just across the river at MaineGeneral).

    This is a terrific document with some very good ideas about “smoothing” systems to make them more friendly and responsive to families and children. I want to thank the writers of the RTT/EC and to encourage them to visit this article and incorporate some of these well-constructed ideas in our proposal. Thanks for all that you are doing for this grant initiative.

  5. Thanks for all your work on the RTT.

    I am wondering about coordination of resources for parents. This is for parents of young children, related to positive development and school readiness…You mention in the prompts about access and coordination for professional development. What about access and coordination for parenting support and classes? There is currently no statewide or system coordination for supporting parents-this looks different for different parents, some of whom may need to take general parenting classes, some of whom may be interested in topical information, some who may desire in-person opportunities, others who would access webinars or online content. Parenting classes, information about self-care, balancing life’s events…there would be great value to some coordination and updating of what is offered to parents through agencies, early care and education centers, home visiting, schools, dhhs, doe, etc- Something that makes these offerings easier to find, perhaps assists in offering more coordination statewide to ensure coverage in all counties, and offers record keeping for parents who may need proof of having attended a class.

    Best of luck!

  6. Born to Read, a program of the Maine Humanities Council, could offer quality services to address many of the needs suggested by the prompts above. Since 1997, Born to Read has existed to address the statewide needs of early childhood educators and home visitors for information and inspiration to implement evidence-based, best practice in promoting early literacy development that includes healthy social and emotional development. As a program of the statewide Humanities Council , it is well positioned to maintain statewide partnerships and deliver a variety of statewide programming relevant to the promotion of reading. Born to Read has demonstrated through its 14-year history a commitment to partnerships and statewide committee membership that ensures efficient, cost-effective and quality delivery of early literacy programs and trainings.

    Born to Read is the only statewide early literacy training, approved by MRTQ, that consistently provides a collection of books with a resource and activity guide designed specifically to encourage long term use of the books and related training information. Trainings focus on books as accessible, appealing tools to promote early literacy and to foster healthy social and emotional development. More specifically, BTR trainings are based on the conviction that the conversation and activities generated through sharing books develop children’s capacity for empathy, help them become creative problem-solvers, foster the development of a rich vocabulary, and nurture prosocial behaviors, all of which lead to the readiness to enter school eager to learn.

  7. Peter..thanks for these comments. Family Lieteracy is a piece of the cross agency work we are aiming to build. Janine Blatt is helpful to hear of these efforts as we work to create a system that bridges these important community efforts. Janine Blatt

  8. The Maine Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) Collaborative training team is about to start our third Advanced Clinical Training. The Team consists of Eileen Fair, LCSW, Judy Muller, LCSW and Anne Williams, PMH-CS, MEd. We were trained by the creators of CPP, Alicia Lieberman and Patricia Van Horn, both from the University of San Francisco. CPP is an evidenced based, trauma-attachment focused therapy for children 0-6 and their families. This therapy model addresses four clusters of behavioral responses to trauma, the use of directed play to explore, express and regulate feelings, how to work with the child-parent relationship and build trust and emotional safety for the family, how to help families redefine the meaning of events and behaviors and systems of documentation to maintain fidelity to the CPP model. After this training we will have 60+/- clinicians in Maine trained in this evidenced based model. submitted by Anne Williams, PMH-CS, MEd.

  9. In response to promprts 4 and 6, it seems Family Literacy needs to be included as a strategy in Maine’s Race to the Top application. Inproving Maine’s early childhood interventions will necessarily entail reaching and serving most-in-need families. Included below is a definition/description of Family Literacy and its key components which was developed for the Invest Early in Maine initiaitve.

    Invest Early in Maine Indicator 1.4 Work-Group – Family Literacy Defined and Described

    Family Literacy is an educational model designed to address the literacy and learning needs of an entire family through partnerships among community providers. Family Literacy is a family-centered educational approach that improves the basic reading, mathematics, writing, English language proficiency, and life skills of both parents and their children birth through age 8.

    Family Literacy is a programmatic model that structures the work of partners into a comprehensive, integrated whole. It requires seamless integration and the full commitment of partners to work together in an undertaking that transcends their respective roles. Family Literacy employs an evidence-based, systematic approach that integrates the positive effects of the following four components:

    Adult Literacy partners provide: basic skills development in reading, writing, math, and English Language; High School Diploma courses; GED preparation courses and testing; Workplace Literacy programs; and College Transitions services and course-work;
    Early Childhood Literacy partners provide:
    • brain-based, gross motor, and early language development programming for infants and toddlers; and
    • language development, pre-literacy, and early reading/reading development programming for children between 3 and 8 years of age;
    Parenting Education partners provide: support aimed at helping parents to head literacy-rich households, to become their children’s first and most significant teachers, to promote their children’s speech, reading, and educational development, and to form partnerships with their children’s teachers and schools; and
    Interactive Literacy partners provide: activities designed to build healthy, literacy-focused, nurturing relationships between parents and children by helping families to recognize and capitalize on varied opportunities to learn and grow together.

    Family Literacy configures these four components in different arrangements based on need, resource, and/or geography, including:

    1. Site-based services for both children and adults;
    2. Services provided primarily through home visits;
    3. A combination of regularly scheduled site-based classes and periodic home visits.

    Regardless of the configuration, Family Literacy aims to address two significant societal challenges at once:

    1. The literacy development of young children in the earliest years of life and school; and
    2. The persistent problem of low level literacy among adults.

    Family Literacy is designed to serve families headed by parents who possess neither a High School Diploma nor a GED; and/or who demonstrate Limited English Proficiency or other diminished literacy skills in reading, writing, or numeracy; and who are raising at least one child between the age of birth and 8 (emphasis on birth through age 4) who is at-risk of lacking the skills necessary to be a successful learner. Other potential indicators of a family’s need for Family Literacy services include:

    1. Family living at or below poverty level;
    2. Family relying on one or more forms of public assistance;
    3. Single parent family or family headed by teen parents;
    4. Family with four or more children.

  10. Cynthia, I have to disagree that most schools have early childhood programs. Not all schools in Hancock county have this program for obvious reasons – lack of funding. Sury elementary is currently looking at starting a 4 year old program with outside funding as budgets are very lean.

  11. Jill: Thanks for sharing your thoughts and concerns. We will be addressing the alignment of the Birth to Five system with elementary school and hope to provide leadership institutes and ongoing support on a regional basis for elementary school principals and leadership teams around early childhood and reaseach based developmental practice as part of our reform agenda in Race To The Top. Janine Blatt

    Cynthia, Workforce development is a major focus of our plan, especially reaching out to rural areas where there are not consistent opportunites. Janine Blatt

    Sue: Our reform agenda will build on effective and successful initiatives. Thanks for your input. Janine Blatt

  12. I am hopeful that the work of the MCGC Accountability Teams re: comprehensive screening for all children and expectant families, ACEs, family engagement, professional development, etc. will be incorporated into the RTT application. The Health Accountability Team had some major findings confirmed in our Screening Survey that really would benefit from interagency focus and would not be expensive or “systems-bending” improvements. We have far too many children who are entering kindergarten with a variety of needs un-identified; this is a situation that needs to be corrected if we are to truly ensure that all children enter public school prepared to be successful.

  13. I’m thinking about the geographic isolation of many Maine communities. Most schools have some sort of 4 year old program however early childhood training opportunities are not plentiful for staff and providers. How can training opportunities be made more accessible. Perhaps satellite training centers or online trainings could be considered.

  14. There is such a deep divide between the instructional, teach-to-the-test public school system and the high quality early childhood programs rated highest by the Quality Rating System. My children attend Richmond’s kindergarten program. I have spoken with the program about the use of worksheets and curriculum as well as methods of assessment, but there is a ‘this is the way we’ve always done it’ attitude. As someone who has been a member of the National association for Young Children for years and teaches early education at the college level, I find that the public schools are unwilling to progress towards research-based learning in early grades. In short, my twins have spent 5 years in developmentally appropriate, project-based and hands-on programs. They can read over 50 site words. Yet they’ve spent the past week tracing letters and cutting and gluing shapes and colors. Why do we teach to the bottom instead of scaffolding our children? I am thoroughly disappointed in the emphasis on mediocrity.

  15. Heather, we heard this voiced on our webinar today also. The RTT-ELC team will be going to Boston next week for a technical assistance session and will be posing the question as to the flexibility of fund allocation in terms of parental access to high quality programs. Thank you for sharing your situation, although my apologies that you faced this issue. Janine Blatt

    Diane, thanks for sharing these resources! Janine

  16. As a parent I would like to address a concern. My son was unable to attend the public school 4 year old program in China, Maine because there was no bus transportation provided. I may be off topic with this concern but I feel that the lack of transportation is a huge issue for working families and an unnecessary barrier that prevents many from participating. Perhaps there is flexibility within the allocation of the funds to address the need for transportation. How do we race to the top of early learning if we don’t have the wheels to do so?

  17. Jennifer..thanks for the historical perspective and language which we will be sure to include! Janine and Jaci

  18. In the early 90s we (the Maine Dept of Ed at the time) initiated a demonstration site program for public school programs for 4 year olds., which was a partnership with Head Start. We employed the High/Scope model from Ypsilanti (home of the Perry Preschool Project) and trained Head Start, preschool and public school teachers in the philosphies and practices of that approach. It seems to me (as one of the leaders of this effort) that certain precepts remain worth following, including choosing an evidence-based model and training people across the service continuum on it; ensuring that there is collaboration between providers; and, engaging parents/ families in education.

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