Illinois is one of a handful of states competing for a second round of federal education grants. Illinois State Board of Education spokeswoman Mary Fergus says the state is competing for a share of $133 million in Race to the Top funds. The state lost out last year when nine states received a share of $500 million.
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Fergus says the money will go toward screening and testing programs at preschool and Kindergarten levels. “It’s about catching issues and making sure that children are where they need to be,” she says. “That’s important; the earlier the intervention you provide the better.” Fergus says the money spent must be for specific programs, and likely cannot be used to plug holes created by deficient state funding. Illinois is competing against Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon and Wisconsin for the money.