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In a Notice of Final Priorities (NFP), the United States Department of Education (USDE) presented a final set of 16 Supplemental Priorities for Discretionary Grant Programs in May 2011. The set embraces a total of 50 priority areas, one or more of which the USDE may use in its discretionary grant programs.

 

This post explores several features of the 13 priority areas of the priorities for Addressing Needs of Student Subgroups. Earlier posts provided an overview of the 16 supplemental priorities and explored 27 priority areas for Advancing Key Cradle-to-Career Educational Reforms. Later posts will explore features of the remaining 10 priority areas. [Note: The cited priorities retain the sequence in the NFP.]

 

II. Addressing Needs of Student Subgroups:

The 13 priority areas within the four supplemental priorities of this focus area will shape an applicant’s planning of program designs and its framing of project objectives. In any competition for a discretionary grant, the USDE may invite projects that focus on one or more of these areas.

 

Priority 9—Improving Achievement and High School Graduation Rates:

The 6 priority areas for Priority 9—Improving Achievement and High School Graduation Rates are:

  • Accelerating learning and helping to improve high school graduation rates and college enrollment rates for students in rural local educational agencies
  • Accelerating learning and helping to improve high school graduation rates and college enrollment rates for students with disabilities
  • Accelerating learning and helping to improve high school graduation rates and college enrollment rates for English learners
  • Accelerating learning and helping to improve high school graduation rates and college enrollment rates for high-need students
  • Accelerating learning and helping to improve high school graduation rates and college enrollment rates in high-poverty schools
  • Accelerating learning and helping to improve high school graduation rates and college enrollment rates for all students in an inclusive manner that ensures that the specific needs of high-need students participating in the project are addressed

 

In planning a proposal under Priority 9, applicants may focus on one of three specific student subgroups, depending on the priority area, and a project may focus on district-level, school-level, or student-level outcomes. Every priority area requires both high school graduation rates and college enrollment rates as outcome indicators. Also, every priority area requires applicants to accelerate participants’ learning. The priority appears to favor local educational agencies as eligible applicants.

 

Priority 10—Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education:

The 5 priority areas for Priority 10—Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education are:

  • Providing students with increased access to rigorous and engaging coursework in STEM
  • Increasing the number and proportion of students prepared for postsecondary or graduate study and careers in STEM
  • Increasing the opportunities for high-quality preparation of, or professional development for, teachers or other educators of STEM subjects
  • Increasing the number of individuals from groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM, including minorities, individuals with disabilities, and women, who are provided with access to rigorous and engaging coursework in STEM, or who are prepared for postsecondary or graduate study and careers in STEM
  • Increasing the number of individuals from groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM, including minorities, individuals with disabilities, and women, who are teachers or educators of STEM subjects and have increased opportunities for high-quality preparation or professional development

 

In planning a proposal under Priority 10, depending on the priority area, applicants may focus on classroom instruction, teacher preparation, or professional development for STEM teachers. For two priority areas, applicants must target members of three specific subgroups. The priority accommodates a wide range of types of eligible applicants.

 

Priority 11—Promoting Diversity:

The one priority area for Priority 11—Promoting Diversity is: Projects that are designed to promote student diversity, including racial and ethnic diversity, or avoid racial isolation.

 

In planning a proposal under Priority 11, applicants must target student diversity. The priority’s focus appears to encompass magnet schools and similar desegregation and integration initiatives — without being limited to them. The priority accommodates a wide range of types of eligible applicants.

 

Priority 12—Support for Military Families:

The one priority area for Priority 12—Support for Military Families is: Projects that are designed to address the needs of military-connected students.

In planning a proposal under Priority 12, applicants must target one specific student subgroup. As eligible applicants, the priority appears limited to entities serving this single subgroup.

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