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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 new statutory definitions in the NFP and some features of the 10 priority areas of the priorities for Building Capacity for Systemic Continuous Improvement. Earlier posts provided an overview of the 16 supplemental priorities and explored 40 priority areas under two priorities. This is the final post in the series. [Note: The cited priorities retain the sequence in the NFP.]

 

III. Building Capacity for Systemic Continuous Improvement:

The 10 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 13—Enabling More Data-Based Decision-Making:

The four priority areas for Priority 13—Enabling More Data-Based Decision-Making, which focuses on projects that are designed to collect (or obtain), analyze, and use high quality and timely data, including data on program participant outcomes, in accordance with privacy requirements, are:

  • Improving instructional practices, policies, and child outcomes in early learning settings
  • Improving instructional practices, policies, and student outcomes in elementary or secondary schools
  • Improving postsecondary student outcomes relating to enrollment, persistence, and completion and leading to career success
  • Providing reliable and comprehensive information on the implementation of Department of Education programs, and participant outcomes in these programs, by using data from State longitudinal data systems or by obtaining data from reliable third-party sources

 

In planning a proposal under Priority 13, depending on the priority area, applicants may target students ranging from early learning programs through postsecondary programs. Applicants must plan to collect and report data that are timely and of high quality. They must measure and track four specific outcomes at the postsecondary level; otherwise, their options for outcome indicators are open-ended. All projects for this priority must reflect the statutory definition of privacy requirements. The priority accommodates a wide range of types of eligible applicants.

 

Priority 14—Building Evidence of Effectiveness:

The two priority areas for Priority 14—Building Evidence of Effectiveness are projects that propose evaluation plans that are likely to produce valid and reliable evidence for:

  • Improving project design and implementation or designing more effective future projects to improve outcomes
  • Identifying and improving practices, strategies, and policies that may contribute to improving outcomes

 

Priority 14 further stipulates that, at a minimum, the outcome of interest is to be measured multiple times before and after the treatment for project participants and, where feasible, for a comparison group of non-participants.

 

In planning a proposal under Priority 14, applicants must focus on evaluation design and must comply with several statutory definitions. Although Priority 14 accommodates a wide range of types of eligible applicants, it favors those of sufficient size and organizational capacity to implement the evaluation designs and alternatives, as defined by statute.

 

Priority 15—Supporting Programs, Practices, or Strategies for which there is Strong or Moderate Evidence of Effectiveness:

The one priority area for Priority 15—Supporting Programs, Practices, or Strategies for which there is Strong or Moderate Evidence of Effectiveness is: Projects that are supported by strong or moderate evidence.

 

Priority 15 further clarifies that a project that is supported by strong evidence will score better than one that is supported by moderate evidence.

 

In planning a proposal under Priority 15, applicants must focus on research-based rationales and must comply with two statutory definitions concerning levels of evidence. Discussion of evidence is apt to be necessary in a literature review and/or in a description of evaluation tools. The priority accommodates a wide range of types of eligible applicants.

 

Priority 16—Improving Productivity:

The one priority area for Priority 16—Improving Productivity is: Projects that are designed to significantly increase efficiency in the use of time, staff, money, or other resources while improving student learning or other educational outcomes (i.e., outcome per unit of resource).

 

Priority 16 further clarifies that such projects may include innovative and sustainable uses of technology, modification of school schedules and teacher compensation systems, use of open educational resources, or other strategies.

 

In planning a proposal under Priority 16, applicants must link more efficient uses of resources to educational outcomes. Although the priority accommodates a wide range of types of eligible applicants, it favors those of sufficient size to be likely to realize significant gains in efficiency.

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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.

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 second four priorities for Advancing Key Cradle-to-Career Reforms. Earlier posts provided an overview of 21 statutory definitions and the 16 supplemental priorities and explored 14 priority areas for the first four priorities. Later posts will explore features of the remaining eight priorities and 23 priority areas. [Note: The cited priorities retain the sequence in the NFP.]

 

Bricks

 

I. Advancing Key Cradle-to-Career Educational Reforms:

The 13 priority areas within the second 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 5—Improving School Engagement, School Environment, and School Safety and Improving Family and Community Engagement:

The 5 priority areas for Priority 5—Improving School Engagement, School Environment, and School Safety and Improving Family and Community Engagement are:

  • Improving school engagement, which may include increasing the quality of relationships between and among administrators, teachers, families, and students and increasing participation in school-related activities
  • Improving the school environment, which may include improving the school setting related to student learning, safety, and health
  • Improving school safety, which may include decreasing the incidence of harassment, bullying, violence, and substance use
  • Improving parent and family engagement
  • Improving community engagement by supporting partnerships between local educational agencies, school staff, and one or more of: faith- or community-based organizations; institutions of higher education; minority-serving institutions or historically black colleges or universities; business or industry; or other Federal, State, or local government entities

 

Depending on which priority area(s) the USDE adopts, in planning a proposal under Priority 5, applicants may target improvements to its engagement of internal and/or external stakeholders. In doing so, they may need to consider how they will satisfy either or both of two new statutory definitions. Under Priority 5, applicants may also need to target school safety and/or school environment. Program designs are likely to need to identify specific activities, strategies, and objectives — as well as build partnerships — that focus on such priority areas. The priority also accommodates a wide range of types of eligible applicants.

 

Priority 6—Technology:

The one priority area for Priority 6—Technology is: Projects that are designed to improve student achievement or teacher effectiveness through the use of high-quality digital tools or materials, which may include preparing teachers to use the technology to improve instruction, as well as developing, implementing, or evaluating digital tools or materials

 

In planning a proposal under Priority 6, applicants may focus on improving classroom instruction and/or professional development for teachers, creating and using instructional technologies, and/or on evaluating those technologies. In their plans, applicants must bear in mind that the technologies are to be of high quality and are to be digital — rather than of lesser quality or non-digital. The priority accommodates a wide range of types of eligible applicants.

 

Priority 7—Core Reforms:

The one priority area for Priority 7—Core Reforms is: Projects conducted in States, local educational agencies, or schools where core reforms are being implemented.

 

Priority 7 also further characterizes such a project as one that is conducted:

  • In a State that has adopted K-12 State academic standards in English language arts and mathematics that build towards college- and career-readiness
  • In a State that has implemented a statewide longitudinal data system that meets all the requirements of the America Competes Act
  • In a local educational agency or school in which teachers receive student growth data on their current students and the students they taught in the previous year and these data are provided, at a minimum, to teachers of reading/language arts and mathematics in grades in which the State administers assessments in those subjects

 

In planning a proposal under Priority 7, applicants may propose a state-wide, district-wide, or school-wide project so long as they target at least two specific core subjects (reading/language arts and mathematics) and so long as their data systems satisfy certain statutory requirements. Data are to drive such reform projects. In addition, Priority 7 limits eligible applicants to serving only those places where core reforms are already underway.

 

Priority 8—Increasing Postsecondary Success:

The 6 priority areas for Priority 8—Increasing Postsecondary Success are:

  • Increasing the number and proportion of high-need students who are academically prepared for and enroll in college or other postsecondary education and training
  • Increasing the number and proportion of high-need students who persist in and complete college or other postsecondary education and training
  • Increasing the number and proportion of high-need students who enroll in and complete high-quality programs of study designed to lead to a postsecondary degree, credential, or certificate
  • Increasing the number of individuals who return to the educational system to obtain a regular high school diploma; to enroll in college or other postsecondary education or training; to obtain needed basic skills leading to success in college or other postsecondary education or the workforce; or to enter, persist in, and complete college or rigorous postsecondary career and technical training leading to a postsecondary degree, credential, or certificate
  • Increasing the number and proportion of high-need students who enroll in and complete graduate programs
  • Increasing the number and proportion of postsecondary students who complete college or other postsecondary education and training and who are demonstrably prepared for successful employment, active participation in civic life, and lifelong learning

 

In planning a proposal under Priority 8, with one exception, an applicant must focus its efforts on high-need students. In addition, among other outcomes, an applicant must measure and track outcomes related to: college enrollment; college completion; postsecondary degrees; postsecondary credentials; postsecondary certificates; graduate program enrollment; graduate program completion; employment; civic participation; and lifelong learning. For such outcomes, with one expansive exception, applicants must monitor and report both numbers and ratios. Again with a single exception, the priority areas for Priority 8 appear to favor institutions of higher education and/or workforce development agencies as eligible applicants.

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 new statutory definitions in the NFP and some features of the 14 priority areas of the first four priorities for Advancing Key Cradle-to-Career Reforms. Earlier posts provided an overview of the 16 supplemental priorities. Later posts will explore features of the remaining 36 priority areas.

 

Vault

 

Overview of Definitions:

In planning and designing projects, applicants must be responsive to the 21 new statutory definitions included in the NFP, as appropriate to each solicitation of proposals. The 21 phrases selected for definition cluster around such primary concerns as: Evaluation Design, Outcome Indicators, Targeted Project Participants/Beneficiaries, and External Stakeholder Engagement.

 

Among the NFP definitions related to Evaluation Design are:

  • Carefully matched comparison group design
  • Experimental study
  • Interrupted time series design
  • Moderate evidence
  • Quasi-experimental study
  • Regression discontinuity design study
  • Strong evidence
  • Well-designed and well-implemented

 

Among the NFP definitions related to Outcome Indicators are:

  • Graduation rate
  • Student achievement
  • Student growth

 

Among the NFP definitions related to Targeted Project Participants/Beneficiaries are:

  • High-need children and high-need students
  • High-poverty school
  • Military-connected student
  • Persistently lowest-achieving schools
  • Rural local educational agency
  • Programs of study

 

Among the NFP definitions related to External Stakeholder Engagement are:

  • Community engagement
  • Parent and family engagement
  • Privacy requirements

 

I. Advancing Key Cradle-to-Career Educational Reforms

The 14 priority areas within the first four supplemental priorities of this focus area will shape an applicant’s planning of program designs and the 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 1—Improving Early Learning Outcomes:

The 5 priority areas for Priority 1—Improving Early Learning Outcomes are:

  • Physical wellbeing and motor development
  • Social-emotional development
  • Language and literacy development
  • Cognition and general knowledge, including early numeracy and early scientific development
  • Approaches toward learning

 

In planning a proposal under Priority 1, applicants may need to adopt a broad view of early childhood development and to propose objectives for one or more of health, motor skills, social skills, early literacy, early numeracy, and/or science. Applicants should note that the priority emphasizes outcomes. The priority accommodates a wide range of types of eligible applicants.

 

Priority 2—Implementing Internationally Benchmarked, College- and Career-Ready Elementary and Secondary Academic Standards:

The 4 priority areas for Priority 2—Implementing Internationally Benchmarked, College- and Career-Ready Elementary and Secondary Academic Standards are:

  • Development or implementation of assessments (e.g., summative, formative, interim) aligned with those standards
  • Development or implementation of curriculum or instructional materials aligned with those standards
  • Development or implementation of professional development or preparation programs aligned with those standards
  • Strategies that translate the standards into classroom practice

 

In planning a proposal under Priority 2, an applicant may need to design projects that focus on all or part of the grades K-12 spectrum, and ones that focus on assessment, curriculum development, professional development, and/or classroom instruction. Applicants must use international benchmarks and must design projects that contribute to college- and career-readiness. Applicants should note that the priority emphasizes academic standards. The priority accommodates a wide range of types of eligible applicants.

 

Priority 3—Improving the Effectiveness and Distribution of Effective Teachers or Principals:

The 2 priority areas for Priority 3—Improving the Effectiveness and Distribution of Effective Teachers or Principals are:

  • Increasing the number or percentage of teachers or principals who are effective or reducing the number or percentage of teachers or principals who are ineffective, particularly in high-poverty schools including through such activities as (i) improving the preparation, recruitment, development, and evaluation of teachers and principals; (ii) implementing performance-based certification and retention systems; and (iii) reforming compensation and advancement systems
  • Increasing the retention, particularly in high-poverty schools, and equitable distribution of teachers or principals who are effective

 

In planning a proposal under Priority 3, an applicant may focus on its pipeline of teachers and principals as well as on its existing workforce. Applicants must be willing to reassign their effective educators in order to improve their distribution among their schools. The priority accommodates a wide range of types of eligible applicants, but it may favor larger or more urban ones where high-poverty schools, as well as teachers and principals of varied effectiveness, are more numerous.

 

Priority 3 also requires that teacher and principal effectiveness should be measured using either:

  • Teacher or principal evaluation data, in States or local educational agencies that have in place a high-quality teacher or principal evaluation system that (i) takes into account student growth in significant part and (ii) uses multiple measures, that, in the case of teachers, may include observations for determining teacher effectiveness, or
  • Data that include, in significant part, student achievement or student growth data and may include multiple measures in States or local educational agencies that do not have high-quality teacher or principal evaluation systems

 

In planning a proposal under Priority 3, an applicant must be willing to use certain specific kinds of data to measure teacher and principal effectiveness and it must also be willing to use several measures of effectiveness, rather than only one. Two of these measures are statutorily defined.

 

Priority 4—Turning Around Persistently Lowest-Achieving Schools:

The 3 priority areas for Priority 4—Turning Around Persistently Lowest-Achieving Schools are:

  • Improving student achievement in persistently lowest-achieving schools
  • Increasing graduation rates and college enrollment rates for students in persistently lowest-achieving schools
  • Providing services to students enrolled in persistently lowest-achieving schools

 

In planning a proposal under Priority 4, applicants may target only certain schools that must satisfy a statutory definition. Not only must such schools be performing at low levels; their low-level performance must also continue to occur year after year. Applicants must also plan to focus their efforts on improving three specific outcomes; two of them are statutorily defined. With its emphases on schools and on these outcomes, Priority 4 appears to favor local educational agencies as eligible applicants.

In May 2011, the United States Department of Education (USDE) adopted a final set of Supplemental Priorities for Discretionary Grant Programs. Applicants for USDE grants must consider these along with the more familiar absolute, competitive, and invitational priorities that grant seekers often encounter in USDE solicitations of proposals. The 16 supplemental priorities encompass a total of 50 specific priority areas that may be used for USDE discretionary grant programs.

 

Supplemental Priorities:

The supplemental priorities for USDE discretionary grant programs are intended to spur innovation, promote development and implementation of effective and sustainable practices, and support adoption and implementation of necessary reforms. The USDE may use one or more supplemental priorities in any of its discretionary grant competitions, as appropriate for each particular discretionary grant program.

 

Stones

 

This post offers a brief overview of the supplemental priorities in the two focus areas of Addressing the Needs of Student Subgroups and Building Capacity for Continuous Systemic Improvement. Within these two focus areas are eight supplemental priorities (four per focus area). The 21 priority areas within these eight supplemental priorities exert significant effects on an organization’s go/no-go decisions about submitting proposals and, subsequently, on creating program designs and framing project objectives.

 

An earlier post examined a third focus area encompassing eight more supplemental priorities and 29 more priority areas that also may be used for USDE discretionary grant programs. Still later posts will explore the possible implications of all 16 supplemental priorities and of all 50 priority areas for planning new competitive applications for USDE grant awards.

 

Addressing Needs of Student Subgroups:

The four priorities for Addressing the Needs of Student Subgroups are: (9) Improving Achievement and High School Graduation Rates; (10) Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education; (11) Promoting Diversity; and (12) Support for Military Families. The priorities in this focus area encompass a total of 13 priority areas. [Note the numbering of priorities preserves that of the Final Notice of Supplemental Priorities.]

 

Addressing Needs of Student Subgroups

Priority

Focus of Priority

Priority Areas

Priority 9

Improving Achievement and High School Graduation Rates

6

Priority 10

Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education

5

Priority 11

Promoting Diversity

1

Priority 12

Support for Military Families

1

 

Building Capacity for Systemic Continuous Improvement:

The four priorities for Building Capacity for Continuous Systemic Improvement are: (13) Enabling More Data-Based Decision-Making; (14) Building Evidence of Effectiveness; (15) Supporting Programs, Practices, or Strategies for which there is Strong or Moderate Evidence of Effectiveness; and (16) Improving Productivity. The priorities in this focus area encompass a total of eight priority areas. [Note the numbering of priorities preserves that of the Final Notice of Supplemental Priorities.]

 

Building Capacity for Systemic Continuous Improvement

Priority

Focus of Priority

Priority Areas

Priority 13

Improving Achievement and High School Graduation Rates

4

Priority 14

Building Evidence of Effectiveness

2

Priority 15

Supporting Programs, Practices, or Strategies for which there is Strong or Moderate Evidence of Effectiveness

1

Priority 16

Improving Productivity

1

In May 2011, the United States Department of Education (USDE) adopted a final set of Supplemental Priorities for Discretionary Grant Programs. Applicants for USDE grants must consider these along with the more familiar absolute, competitive, and invitational priorities that grant seekers often encounter in USDE solicitations of proposals. The 16 supplemental priorities encompass a total of 50 specific priority areas that may be used for USDE discretionary grant programs.

 

Supplemental Priorities:

The supplemental priorities for USDE discretionary grant programs are intended to spur innovation, promote development and implementation of effective and sustainable practices, and support adoption and implementation of necessary reforms. The USDE may use one or more supplemental priorities in any of its discretionary grant competitions, as appropriate for each particular discretionary grant program.

 

Brickwork

 

This post offers a brief overview of the supplemental priorities in the focus area of Advancing Key Cradle-to-Career Educational Reforms. Within this focus area are eight priorities. The 29 priority areas within these eight priorities exert significant effects upon an organization’s go/no-go decisions about submitting proposals and, subsequently, on creating program designs and framing project objectives.

 

A later post will examine two more focus areas and 21 more priority areas that also may be used for USDE discretionary grant programs. One or more still later posts will explore the possible implications of some of the 16 supplemental priorities and some of the 50 priority areas for planning new competitive applications for USDE grant awards.

 

Advancing Key Cradle-to-Career Educational Reforms:

The eight supplemental priorities for advancing key cradle-to-career educational reforms are: (1) Improving Early Learning Outcomes; (2) Implementing Internationally Benchmarked, College- and Career-Ready Elementary and Secondary Academic Standards; (3) Improving the Effectiveness and Distribution of Effective Teachers or Principals; (4) Turning Around Persistently Lowest-Achieving Schools; (5) Improving School Engagement, School Environment, and School Safety and Improving Family and Community Engagement; (6) Technology; (7) Core Reforms; and (8) Increasing Postsecondary Success. The priorities in this focus area encompass a total of 29 priority areas.

 

Advancing Key Cradle-to-Career Educational Reforms

Priority

Focus of Priority

Priority Areas

Priority 1

Improving Early Learning Outcomes

5

Priority 2

Implementing Internationally Benchmarked, College- and Career-Ready Elementary and Secondary Academic Standards

4

Priority 3

Improving the Effectiveness and Distribution of Effective Teachers or Principals

2

Priority 4

Turning Around Persistently Lowest-Achieving Schools

3

Priority 5

Improving School Engagement, School Environment, and School Safety and Improving Family and Community Engagement

5

Priority 6

Technology

1

Priority 7

Core Reforms

3

Priority 8

Increasing Postsecondary Success

6

 

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