PENNSYLVANIA has been awarded $51.7 million for early-childhood education from the 2013 Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge, federal officials announced yesterday.

In all, six states received $280 million in the third round of the program, which began in 2011 as a key initiative in President Obama's early-learning agenda.

Pennsylvania's money will be used to establish community-innovation zones at the 50 lowest-performing elementary schools and provide access to more training for early-learning educators over four years, said Carolyn Dumaresq, acting education secretary.

Officials have not determined how the money will be dispersed among the counties, Dumaresq said, but the first year likely will be spent in planning, with implementation in 2015.

- Solomon D. Leach