Delaware education dashboard gets $1.5 million grant

 U.S. Education Sec. Arne Duncan visited with Delaware pre-school students last April. (Shana O'Malley/WHYY)

U.S. Education Sec. Arne Duncan visited with Delaware pre-school students last April. (Shana O'Malley/WHYY)

Launched as part of Delaware’s Race to the Top federal funds, the state’s early learning dashboard will get a $1.5 million boost thanks to grant funding from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation.

The K-12 Insight Dashboard launched in Delaware in 2012. The purpose of the web-based program is to provide teachers and administrators access to timely information on how students are performing in the classroom. The grant money will allow for the expansion of the dashboard into early childhood education, from birth through pre-kindergarten.

“In working on the Early Learning Challenge grant, we learned quickly that there is a need for an integrated early childhood data system, and this funding, combined with financial resources from the Office of Early Learning, will move the state forward with concrete steps,” said Harriet Dichter, director for the Office of Early Learning.

With the money, the dashboard system will soon be able to collect data from a wider variety of state agencies. Eventually, child care providers and other service agencies will be able to access the dashboard as part of an effort to improve outcomes.

“This generous grant will be critical in helping us to further our work,” said Delaware Education Secretary Mark Murphy. The money will allow the state “to provide more valuable tools to our educators who are working hard to support our students’ learning from birth through graduation.”

“Providing our early childhood educators access to data regarding their students will help them to better identify the needs of our youngest children and develop individualized approaches and learning plans for them that will ultimately lead to improved outcomes not only in their early childhood education but also as they transition between pre-kindergarten and kindergarten,” said Jennifer Ranji, secretary of the Delaware Department of Services for Children Youth and Their Families, which oversees the Office of Early Learning.

In addition to the main $119 million Race to the Top grant the state received, Delaware also won a nearly $50 million Early Learning Challenge Race to the Top grant. That money helped set up the basic infrastructure like learning standards and assessments to improve achievement and access to early learning for high need children.

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