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Notice

Applications for New Awards; Investing in Innovation Fund-Validation Grants

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Office of Innovation and Improvement, Department of Education.

ACTION:

Notice.

Overview Information

Investing in Innovation Fund—Validation Grants

Notice inviting applications for new awards for fiscal year (FY) 2016.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 84.411B (Validation Grants).

Dates:

Applications Available: May 18, 2016. Deadline for Notice of Intent to Apply: June 6, 2016. Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: July 15, 2016. Deadline for Intergovernmental Review: September 13, 2016.

Full Text of Announcement

I. Funding Opportunity Description

Purpose of Program: The Investing in Innovation Fund (i3), established under section 14007 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), provides funding to support (1) local educational agencies (LEAs), and (2) nonprofit organizations in partnership with (a) one or more LEAs or (b) a consortium of schools. The i3 program is designed to generate and validate solutions to persistent educational challenges and to support the expansion of effective solutions to serve substantially larger numbers of students. The central design element of the i3 program is its multi-tier structure that links the amount of funding that an applicant may receive to the quality of the evidence supporting the efficacy of the proposed project. Applicants proposing practices supported by limited evidence can receive relatively small grants that support the development and initial evaluation of promising practices and help to identify new solutions to pressing challenges; applicants proposing practices supported by evidence from rigorous evaluations, such as large randomized controlled trials, can receive sizable grants to support expansion across the country. This structure provides incentives for applicants to build evidence of effectiveness of their proposed projects and to address the barriers to serving more students across schools, districts, and States.

As importantly, all i3 projects are required to generate additional evidence of effectiveness. All i3 grantees must use part of their budgets to conduct independent evaluations (as defined in this notice) of their projects. This requirement ensures that projects funded under the i3 program contribute significantly to improving the information available to practitioners and policymakers about which practices work, for which types of students, and in what contexts.

The Department awards three types of grants under this program: “Development” grants, “Validation” grants, and “Scale-up” grants. These grants differ in terms of the level of prior evidence of effectiveness required for consideration of funding, the level of scale the funded project should reach, and, consequently, the amount of funding available to support the project.

This notice invites applications for Validation grants only. The notice inviting applications for Scale-up grants is published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register. The notice inviting applications for Development grants Start Printed Page 30280was published in the Federal Register on April 25, 2016 (81 FR 24070) and is available at https://www.gpo.gov/​fdsys/​pkg/​FR-2016-04-25/​pdf/​2016-09436.pdf.

Validation grants provide funding to support expansion of projects supported by moderate evidence of effectiveness (as defined in this notice) to the regional level (as defined in this notice) or to the national level (as defined in this notice). In addition, as Validation projects seek to improve outcomes for students in high need schools, they also generate important information about an intervention's effectiveness and the contexts for which a practice is most effective. We expect that Validation grants will increase practitioners' and policymakers' understanding of the implementation of proven practices, and help identify effective approaches to expanding such practices while also maintaining or increasing their effectiveness across contexts.

All Validation grantees must evaluate the effectiveness of the i3-supported practice that the project implements and expands. The evaluation of a Validation project must identify the core elements of, and codify, the i3-supported practice that the project implements in order to support adoption or replication by other entities. We also expect that evaluations of Validation grants will be conducted and disaggregated in a variety of contexts and for a variety of students in order to determine the context(s) and population(s) for which the i3-supported practice is most effective.

We remind LEAs of the continuing applicability of the provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for students who may be served under i3 grants. Any grants in which LEAs participate must be consistent with the rights, protections, and processes established under IDEA for students who are receiving special education and related services or who are in the process of being evaluated to determine their eligibility for such services.

As described later in this notice, an applicant is required, as a condition of receiving assistance under this program, to make civil rights assurances, including an assurance that its program or activity will comply with section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, and the Department's section 504 implementing regulations, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability. Regardless of whether a student with disabilities is specifically targeted as a “high-need student” (as defined in this notice) in a particular grant application, recipients are required to comply with all legal nondiscrimination requirements, including, but not limited to the obligation to ensure that students with disabilities are not denied access to the benefits of the recipient's program because of their disability. The Department also enforces title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as the regulations implementing title II of the ADA, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability by public entities.

Furthermore, title VI and title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin, and sex, respectively. On December 2, 2011, the Departments of Education and Justice jointly issued guidance that explains how educational institutions can promote student diversity or avoid racial isolation within the framework of title VI (e.g., through consideration of the racial demographics of neighborhoods when drawing assignment zones for schools or through targeted recruiting efforts). The “Guidance on the Voluntary Use of Race to Achieve Diversity and Avoid Racial Isolation in Elementary and Secondary Schools” is available on the Department's Web site at http://www2.ed.gov/​about/​offices/​list/​ocr/​docs/​guidance-ese-201111.pdf.[1]

Background

Through its competitions, the i3 program seeks to improve the academic achievement of students in high-need schools by identifying and scaling promising solutions to pressing challenges in kindergarten through grade 12 (K-12). Now in its seventh year, the i3 program has invested over $1.3 billion—matched by over $200 million in private sector resources—in a portfolio of solutions and rigorous evaluations of several approaches that address critical challenges in education. When selecting the priorities for a given competition, the Department considers several factors including policy priorities, the need for new solutions in a particular priority area, the extent of the existing evidence supporting effective practices in a particular priority area, whether other available funding exists for a particular priority area, and the results and lessons learned from funded projects from prior i3 competitions. This year's competition does not include specific priorities for students with disabilities and English learners, as the program has successfully funded a range of projects serving these high-need populations under i3's broader priorities in previous competitions. Additionally, all applicants continue to be required to serve high-need student populations, and we continue to encourage applicants to consider how their proposed projects could serve students with disabilities or English learners. Applicants are encouraged to design an evaluation that will report findings on English learners, students with disabilities, and other subgroups.

All i3 grantees are expected to improve academic outcomes for high-need students (as defined in this notice). The FY 2016 Validation competition includes four absolute priorities. These absolute priorities are intended to address persistent challenges in public education for which there are solutions that are supported by rigorous evidence. We are particularly interested in supporting such efforts in rural areas. As such, and consistent with the past three competitions, applicants applying under the Serving Rural Communities priority (Absolute Priority 4) must also address one of the other three absolute priorities established for the FY 2016 i3 Validation competition. This structure has resulted in a strong set of grantees that are addressing the unique challenges in rural communities. We also include one competitive preference priority for novice i3 applicants.

First, we include an absolute priority for projects designed to implement, and support the transition to, internationally benchmarked, college- and career-ready academic content standards and associated assessments. Many States have raised the expectations for what schools should teach and their students should learn and do across the K-12 grade span by adopting new, more rigorous standards and assessments aligned to the demands of college and careers. Emerging research confirms that these exams are aligned to more rigorous standards.[2] Educators are now faced with the important task of effectively implementing these higher standards and ensuring their students are adequately prepared for the associated assessments in order to ensure that all students are ready for Start Printed Page 30281post-secondary opportunities and their careers. Furthermore, throughout this continuing transition to higher standards and new assessments, schools and school districts need to continue to develop evidence-based approaches to increase the rigor of teaching and learning across various academic settings. For example, efforts are underway in districts across the country to provide teachers and school leaders with rich, student-specific information based on formative and summative assessments to help educators understand why students might be struggling—thereby enabling them to better align their subsequent instruction. Through this priority, the Department seeks to invest in strategies that leverage data and results from internationally benchmarked, college- and career-ready assessments to inform instruction and, ultimately, to support and improve student achievement.

Second, we include an absolute priority for projects promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Ensuring that all students can access and excel in STEM fields—which includes coding and computer science—is essential to meeting the needs of our Nation's economy and to our future prosperity.[3] For example, the President highlights computer science specifically in his Computer Science for All Initiative.[4] Careers in STEM fields are growing, as are the knowledge and skills required to compete for and succeed in these specialized jobs.[5] Recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that, between 2010 and 2020, employment in STEM occupations is expected to expand faster than employment in non-STEM occupations (by 17 versus 14 percent).[6] Also, by 2018, 51 percent of STEM jobs are projected to be in computer science-related fields.[7] Moreover, STEM-related skills, such as data analysis and computational and technical literacy, are relevant to a wide array of postsecondary educational and professional pursuits. The Department seeks to provide students with increased access to rigorous and engaging STEM programs and instruction grounded in authentic STEM experiences (as defined in this notice), in both formal and informal learning settings, and resulting in improved STEM-related academic outcomes.

Third, we include an absolute priority focused on improving low-performing schools. The Department looks to support whole-school models and strategies that lead to significant and sustained improvement in individual student performance and overall school performance and culture. Thousands of schools do not adequately prepare students to achieve at grade level and struggle to overcome the gaps in student performance across socioeconomic and racial groups.[8] Research shows that the greatest portion of the gap in performance between Black and White students comes from the differences within a school as opposed to differences across school settings.[9] Furthermore, while graduation rates have been steadily improving nationwide, in 17 States, less than 70 percent of students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds graduate from high school.[10] While considerable attention has been paid to these schools in recent years, the pace of progress continues to be slow and school turnaround successes tend to be isolated rather than systematic. Whole-school models that successfully transform school culture and student outcomes can be comprised of a range of strategies, such as harnessing teacher leadership,[11] creating small learning communities, academic interventions, and school redesign. Overall, we seek to support projects that work across schools and districts in multiple regions to transform the learning environment by instituting a range of evidence-based practices.

Finally, we include an absolute priority for serving rural communities. Students living in rural communities face unique challenges, such as lack of access to specialized courses or college advising. Applicants applying under this priority must also address one of the other three absolute priorities established for the FY 2016 i3 Validation competition, while serving students enrolled in rural local educational agencies (as defined in this notice).

We also include one competitive preference priority in the FY 2016 Validation competition. To expand the reach of the i3 program and encourage entities that have not previously received an i3 grant to apply, the Department includes a competitive preference priority for novice i3 applicants. A novice i3 applicant is an applicant that has never received a grant under the i3 program. An applicant must identify whether it is a novice applicant when completing the applicant information sheet. Instructions on how to complete the applicant information sheet are included in the application package.

Applicants should carefully review all of the requirements in the Eligibility Information section of this notice for instructions on how to demonstrate moderate evidence of effectiveness and for information on the other eligibility, program, and application requirements. In summary, applications must address one of the first three absolute priorities for this competition and propose projects designed to implement practices that serve students who are in grades K-12 at some point during the funding period. If an applicant chooses to also address the absolute priority regarding students in rural LEAs, that applicant must also address one of the other three absolute priorities established for the FY 2016 i3 Validation competition, while serving students enrolled in rural LEAs (as defined in this notice). Additionally, Start Printed Page 30282applicants must be able to show moderate evidence of effectiveness for the proposed process, product, strategy, or practice included in their applications. To meet the eligibility requirement regarding the applicant's record of improvement, an applicant must provide, in its application, sufficient supporting data or other information to allow the Department to determine whether the applicant has met the eligibility requirements. Note that, to address the statutory eligibility requirements in paragraphs (a)(1) or (2), and (b) of the statutory eligibility requirements (provided in the Eligibility Information section), applicants must provide data that demonstrate a change due to the work of the applicant with an LEA or schools. In other words, applicants must provide data for at least two definitive points in time when addressing this requirement in Appendix C of their applications. Additional information for this requirement can be found under the Eligibility Information section of this notice.

The i3 program includes a statutory requirement for a private-sector match for all i3 grantees. For Validation grants, an applicant must obtain matching funds or in-kind donations from the private sector equal to at least 10 percent of its grant award. Each highest-rated application, as identified by the Department following peer review of the applications, must submit evidence of at least 50 percent of the required private-sector match prior to the awarding of an i3 grant. An applicant must provide evidence of the remaining 50 percent of the required private-sector match no later than three months after the project start date (i.e., for the FY 2016 competition, three months after January 1, 2017, or by April 1, 2017). The grant will be terminated if the grantee does not secure its private-sector match by the established deadline.

This notice includes selection criteria for the FY 2016 Validation competition that are designed to ensure that applications selected for funding have the potential to generate substantial improvements in student achievement (and other key outcomes) and include well-articulated plans for the implementation and evaluation of the proposed projects. Applicants should review the selection criteria and submission instructions carefully to ensure their applications address this year's criteria.

An entity that submits an application for a Validation grant should include the following information in its application: An estimate of the number of students to be served by the project; evidence of the applicant's ability to implement and appropriately evaluate the proposed project; and information about its capacity (e.g., management capacity, financial resources, and qualified personnel) to implement the project at a national or regional level, working directly or through partners. We recognize that LEAs are not typically responsible for taking their practices, strategies, or programs to scale; however, all applicants can and should partner with others to disseminate their effective practices, strategies and programs and take them to scale.

The Department will screen applications that are submitted for Validation grants in accordance with the requirements in this notice and determine which applications meet the eligibility and other requirements. Peer reviewers will review all applications for Validation grants that are submitted by the established deadline.

Applicants should note, however, that we may screen for eligibility at multiple points during the competition process, including before and after peer review; applicants that are determined to be ineligible will not receive a grant award regardless of peer reviewer scores or comments. If we determine that a Validation grant application is not supported by moderate evidence of effectiveness, or that the applicant does not demonstrate the required prior record of improvement, or does not meet any other i3 requirement, the application will not be considered for funding.

Please note that on December 10, 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, was signed into law. ESSA establishes the Education Innovation and Research Program (EIR), a new program that builds on the work led by the i3 program and its grantees. Accordingly, this FY 2016 i3 competition will be the final i3 competition under current statute and regulations. Pending congressional appropriations, the Department will launch the first EIR competition in FY 2017.

Priorities: This competition includes four absolute priorities and one competitive preference priority. Absolute Priorities 1 and 2 are from the Department's notice of final supplemental priorities and definitions for discretionary grant programs, published in the Federal Register on December 10, 2014 (79 FR 73425) (Supplemental Priorities). Absolute Priorities 3 and 4 and the competitive preference priority are from the notice of final priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria for this program, published in the Federal Register on March 27, 2013 (78 FR 18681) (2013 i3 NFP).

Absolute Priorities: For FY 2016 and any subsequent year in which we make awards from the list of unfunded applications from this competition, these priorities are absolute priorities. Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(3) we consider only applications that meet one of these priorities.

Applicants must address one of the first four absolute priorities. An applicant that addresses Absolute Priority 4, Serving Rural Communities, must also address one of the first three absolute priorities. Because applications will be rank ordered by absolute priority, applicants must clearly identify the specific absolute priority that the proposed project addresses. Applications submitted under Absolute Priority 4 will be ranked with other applications under Absolute Priority 4 and not included in the ranking for the additional priority that the applicant identified. This design helps us ensure that applications under Absolute Priority 4 receive an “apples to apples” comparison with other applicants addressing the Serving Rural Communities priority.

These priorities are:

Absolute Priority 1—Implementing Internationally Benchmarked College- and Career-Ready Standards and Assessments.

Under this priority, we provide funding to projects that are designed to support the implementation of, and transition to, internationally benchmarked college- and career-ready standards and assessments, including developing and implementing strategies that use the standards and information from assessments to inform classroom practices that meet the needs of all students.

Absolute Priority 2—Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education.

Under this priority, we provide funding to projects that are designed to improve Student Achievement or other related outcomes by providing students with increased access to rigorous and engaging STEM coursework and Authentic STEM Experiences (as defined in this notice) that may be integrated across multiple settings.

Absolute Priority 3—Improving Low-Performing Schools.

Under this priority, we provide funding to projects that address designing whole-school models and implementing processes that lead to significant and sustained improvement Start Printed Page 30283in individual student performance and overall school performance and culture. These models may incorporate such strategies as providing strong school leadership; strengthening the instructional program; embedding professional development that provides teachers with frequent feedback to increase the rigor and effectiveness of their instructional practice; redesigning the school day, week, or year; using data to inform instruction and improvement; establishing a school environment that promotes a culture of high expectations; addressing non-academic factors that affect student achievement; and providing ongoing mechanisms for parent and family engagement.

Other requirements related to Priority 3:

To meet this priority, a project must serve schools among (1) the lowest-performing schools in the State on academic performance measures; (2) schools in the State with the largest within-school performance gaps between student subgroups described in section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA; or (3) secondary schools in the State with the lowest graduation rate over a number of years or the largest within-school gaps in graduation rates between student subgroups described in section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA. Additionally, projects funded under this priority must complement the broader turnaround efforts of the school(s), LEA(s), or State(s) where the projects will be implemented.

Absolute Priority 4—Serving Rural Communities.

Under this priority, we provide funding to projects that address one of the absolute priorities established for the FY 2016 Validation i3 competition and under which the majority of students to be served are enrolled in rural local educational agencies (as defined in this notice).

Competitive Preference Priorities: For FY 2016 and any subsequent year in which we make awards from the list of unfunded applications from this competition, this priority is a competitive preference priority. Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(i) we award three additional points to applications that meet the competitive preference priority.

The priority is:

Competitive Preference Priority—Supporting Novice i3 Applicants (0 or 3 points).

Eligible applicants that have never directly received a grant under this program.

Definitions:

The definition of “authentic STEM experiences” is from the Supplemental Priorities. The definitions of “large sample,” “logic model,” “moderate evidence of effectiveness,” “multi-site sample,” “national level,” “quasi-experimental design study,” “randomized controlled trial,” “regional level,” “relevant outcome,” and “What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) Evidence Standards” are from 34 CFR 77.1. All other definitions are from the 2013 i3 NFP. We may apply these definitions in any year in which this program is in effect.

Authentic STEM experiences means laboratory, research-based, or experiential learning opportunities in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subject in informal or formal settings.

Consortium of schools means two or more public elementary or secondary schools acting collaboratively for the purpose of applying for and implementing an i3 grant jointly with an eligible nonprofit organization.

High-minority school is defined by a school's LEA in a manner consistent with the corresponding State's Teacher Equity Plan, as required by section 1111(b)(8)(C) of the ESEA. The applicant must provide, in its i3 application, the definition(s) used.

High-need student means a student at risk of educational failure or otherwise in need of special assistance and support, such as students who are living in poverty, who attend high-minority schools (as defined in this notice), who are far below grade level, who have left school before receiving a regular high school diploma, who are at risk of not graduating with a diploma on time, who are homeless, who are in foster care, who have been incarcerated, who have disabilities, or who are English learners.

High school graduation rate means a four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate consistent with 34 CFR 200.19(b)(1) and may also include an extended-year adjusted cohort graduation rate consistent with 34 CFR 200.19(b)(1)(v) if the State in which the proposed project is implemented has been approved by the Secretary to use such a rate under title I of the ESEA.

Independent evaluation means that the evaluation is designed and carried out independent of, but in coordination with, any employees of the entities who develop a process, product, strategy, or practice and are implementing it.

Innovation means a process, product, strategy, or practice that improves (or is expected to improve) significantly upon the outcomes reached with status quo options and that can ultimately reach widespread effective usage.

Large sample means an analytic sample of 350 or more students (or other single analysis units), or 50 or more groups (such as classrooms or schools) that contain 10 or more students (or other single analysis units).

Logic model (also referred to as theory of action) means a well-specified conceptual framework that identifies key components of the proposed process, product, strategy, or practice (i.e., the active “ingredients” that are hypothesized to be critical to achieving the relevant outcomes) and describes the relationships among the key components and outcomes, theoretically and operationally.

Moderate evidence of effectiveness means that (i) There is at least one study of the effectiveness of the process, product, strategy, or practice being proposed that meets the What Works Clearinghouse Evidence Standards without reservations, found a statistically significant favorable impact on a relevant outcome (as defined in this notice) (with no statistically significant and overriding unfavorable impacts on that outcome for relevant populations in the study or in other studies of the intervention reviewed by and reported on by the What Works Clearinghouse), and includes a sample that overlaps with the populations or settings proposed to receive the process, product, strategy, or practice. (ii) There is at least one study of the effectiveness of the process, product, strategy, or practice being proposed that meets the What Works Clearinghouse Evidence Standards with reservations, found a statistically significant favorable impact on a relevant outcome (as defined in this notice) (with no statistically significant and overriding unfavorable impacts on that outcome for relevant populations in the study or in other studies of the intervention reviewed by and reported on by the What Works Clearinghouse), includes a sample that overlaps with the populations or settings proposed to receive the process, product, strategy, or practice, and includes a large sample (as defined in this notice) and a multi-site sample (as defined in this notice). (Note: Multiple studies can cumulatively meet the large and multisite sample requirements as long as each study meets the other requirements in this paragraph).

Multi-site sample means more than one site, where site can be defined as an LEA, locality, or State.

National level describes the level of scope or effectiveness of a process, product, strategy, or practice that is able to be effective in a wide variety of communities, including rural and urban areas, as well as with different groups (e.g., economically disadvantaged, racial and ethnic groups, migrant populations, Start Printed Page 30284individuals with disabilities, English learners, and individuals of each gender).

Nonprofit organization means an entity that meets the definition of “nonprofit” under 34 CFR 77.1(c), or an institution of higher education as defined by section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended.

Quasi-experimental design study means a study using a design that attempts to approximate an experimental design by identifying a comparison group that is similar to the treatment group in important respects. These studies, depending on design and implementation, can meet What Works Clearinghouse Evidence Standards with reservations (but not What Works Clearinghouse Evidence Standards without reservations).

Randomized controlled trial means a study that employs random assignment of, for example, students, teachers, classrooms, schools, or districts to receive the intervention being evaluated (the treatment group) or not to receive the intervention (the control group). The estimated effectiveness of the intervention is the difference between the average outcomes for the treatment group and for the control group. These studies, depending on design and implementation, can meet What Works Clearinghouse Evidence Standards without reservations.

Regional level describes the level of scope or effectiveness of a process, product, strategy, or practice that is able to serve a variety of communities within a State or multiple States, including rural and urban areas, as well as with different groups (e.g., economically disadvantaged, racial and ethnic groups, migrant populations, individuals with disabilities, English learners, and individuals of each gender). For an LEA-based project to be considered a regional-level project, a process, product, strategy, or practice must serve students in more than one LEA, unless the process, product, strategy, or practice is implemented in a State in which the State educational agency is the sole educational agency for all schools.

Relevant outcome means the student outcome(s) (or the ultimate outcome if not related to students) the proposed process, product, strategy or practice is designed to improve; consistent with the specific goals of a program.

Rural local educational agency means a local educational agency (LEA) that is eligible under the Small Rural School Achievement (SRSA) program or the Rural and Low-Income School (RLIS) program authorized under title VI, part B of the ESEA. Eligible applicants may determine whether a particular LEA is eligible for these programs by referring to information on the Department's Web site at http://www2.ed.gov/​nclb/​freedom/​local/​reap.html.

Student achievement means—

(a) For grades and subjects in which assessments are required under ESEA section 1111(b)(3): (1) A student's score on such assessments and may include (2) other measures of student learning, such as those described in paragraph (b), provided they are rigorous and comparable across schools within an LEA.

(b) For grades and subjects in which assessments are not required under ESEA section 1111(b)(3): Alternative measures of student learning and performance such as student results on pre-tests, end-of-course tests, and objective performance-based assessments; student learning objectives; student performance on English language proficiency assessments; and other measures of student achievement that are rigorous and comparable across schools within an LEA.

Student growth means the change in student achievement (as defined in this notice) for an individual student between two or more points in time. An applicant may also include other measures that are rigorous and comparable across classrooms.

What Works Clearinghouse Evidence Standards means the standards set forth in the What Works Clearinghouse Procedures and Standards Handbook (Version 3.0, March 2014), which can be found at the following link: http://ies.ed.gov/​ncee/​wwc/​DocumentSum.aspx?​sid=​19.

Program Authority: ARRA, Division A, Section 14007, Public Law 111-5.

Applicable Regulations: (a) The Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) in 34 CFR parts 75, 77, 79, 81, 82, 84, 86, 97, 98, and 99. (b) The Office of Management and Budget Guidelines to Agencies on Governmentwide Debarment and Suspension (Nonprocurement) in 2 CFR part 180, as adopted and amended as regulations of the Department in 2 CFR part 3485. (c) The Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards in 2 CFR part 200, as adopted and amended as regulations of the Department in 2 CFR part 3474. (d) The 2013 i3 NFP. (e) The Supplemental Priorities.

Note:

The regulations in 34 CFR part 79 apply to all applicants except federally recognized Indian tribes.

Note:

The regulations in 34 CFR part 86 apply to institutions of higher education only.

II. Award Information

Type of Award: Cooperative agreements or discretionary grants.

Estimated Available Funds: $103,100,000.

These estimated available funds are the total available for all three types of grants under the i3 program (Development, Validation, and Scale-up grants). Contingent upon the availability of funds and the quality of applications, we may make additional awards in FY 2017 or later years from the list of unfunded applications from this competition.

Estimated Range of Awards:

Development grants: Up to $3,000,000.

Validation grants: Up to $12,000,000.

Scale-up grants: Up to $20,000,000.

Note:

The upper limit of the range of awards (e.g., $12,000,000 for Validation grants) is referred to as the “maximum amount of awards” under Other in section III of this notice.

Estimated Average Size of Awards:

Development grants: $3,000,000.

Validation grants: $11,500,000.

Scale-up grants: $19,000,000.

Estimated Number of Awards:

Development grants: 9-11 awards.

Validation grants: 2-3 awards.

Scale-up grants: 0-2 awards.

Note:

The Department is not bound by any estimates in this notice.

Project Period: 36-60 months.

III. Eligibility Information

1. Innovations that Improve Achievement for High-Need Students: All grantees must implement practices that are designed to improve student achievement (as defined in this notice) or student growth (as defined in this notice), close achievement gaps, decrease dropout rates, increase high school graduation rates (as defined in this notice), or increase college enrollment and completion rates for high-need students (as defined in this notice).

2. Innovations that Serve Kindergarten-through-Grade-12 (K-12) Students: All grantees must implement practices that serve students who are in grades K-12 at some point during the funding period. To meet this requirement, projects that serve early learners (i.e., infants, toddlers, or preschoolers) must provide services or supports that extend into kindergarten or later years, and projects that serve postsecondary students must provide services or supports during the secondary grades or earlier.Start Printed Page 30285

3. Eligible Applicants: Entities eligible to apply for i3 grants include either of the following:

(a) An LEA.

(b) A partnership between a nonprofit organization and—

(1) One or more LEAs; or

(2) A consortium of schools.

Statutory Eligibility Requirements: Except as specifically set forth in the Note about Eligibility for an Eligible Applicant that Includes a Nonprofit Organization that follows, to be eligible for an award, an eligible applicant must—

(a)(1) Have significantly closed the achievement gaps between groups of students described in section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA (economically disadvantaged students, students from major racial and ethnic groups, students with limited English proficiency, students with disabilities); or

(2) Have demonstrated success in significantly increasing student academic achievement for all groups of students described in that section;

(b) Have made significant improvements in other areas, such as high school graduation rates (as defined in this notice) or increased recruitment and placement of high-quality teachers and principals, as demonstrated with meaningful data;

(c) Demonstrate that it has established one or more partnerships with the private sector, which may include philanthropic organizations, and that organizations in the private sector will provide matching funds in order to help bring results to scale; and

(d) In the case of an eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit organization, provide in the application the names of the LEAs with which the nonprofit organization will partner, or the names of the schools in the consortium with which it will partner. If an eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit organization intends to partner with additional LEAs or schools that are not named in the application, it must describe in the application the demographic and other characteristics of these LEAs and schools and the process it will use to select them.

Note:

An entity submitting an application should provide, in Appendix C, under “Other Attachments Form,” of its application, information addressing the eligibility requirements described in this section. An applicant must provide, in its application, sufficient supporting data or other information to allow the Department to determine whether the applicant has met the eligibility requirements. Note that, to address the statutory eligibility requirements in paragraphs (a)(1) or (2), and (b), applicants must provide data that demonstrate a change due to the work of the applicant with an LEA or schools. In other words, applicants must provide data for at least two definitive points in time when addressing this requirement in Appendix C of their applications. For further guidance, please refer to the definition of “student achievement” in this notice, and the question and answer Webinar for FY 2016 i3 Scale-up and Validation Applications. Additionally, information on the statutory eligibility requirements can be found on the i3 Web site at http://innovation.ed.gov/​what-we-do/​innovation/​investing-in-innovation-i3/​. If the Department determines that an applicant provided insufficient information in its application, the applicant will not have an opportunity to provide additional information.

Note about LEA Eligibility: For purposes of this program, an LEA is an LEA located within one of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Note about Eligibility for an Eligible Applicant that Includes a Nonprofit Organization:

The authorizing statute specifies that an eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit organization meets the requirements in paragraphs (a) and (b) of the eligibility requirements for this program if the nonprofit organization has a record of significantly improving student achievement, attainment, or retention. For an eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit organization, the nonprofit organization must demonstrate that it has a record of significantly improving student achievement, attainment, or retention through its record of work with an LEA or schools. Therefore, an eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit organization does not necessarily need to include as a partner for its i3 grant an LEA or a consortium of schools that meets the requirements in paragraphs (a) and (b) of the eligibility requirements in this notice.

In addition, the authorizing statute specifies that an eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit organization meets the requirements of paragraph (c) of the eligibility requirements in this notice if the eligible applicant demonstrates that it will meet the requirement for private-sector matching.

4. Cost Sharing or Matching: To be eligible for an award, an applicant must demonstrate that one or more private-sector organizations, which may include philanthropic organizations, will provide matching funds in order to help bring project results to scale. An eligible Validation applicant must obtain matching funds, or in-kind donations, equal to at least 10 percent of its Federal grant award. The highest-rated eligible applicants must submit evidence of 50 percent of the required private-sector matching funds following the peer review of applications. A Federal i3 award will not be made unless the applicant provides adequate evidence that the 50 percent of the required private-sector match has been committed or the Secretary approves the eligible applicant's request to reduce the matching-level requirement. An applicant must provide evidence of the remaining 50 percent of required private-sector match three months after the project start date.

The Secretary may consider decreasing the matching requirement on a case-by-case basis, and only in the most exceptional circumstances. An eligible applicant that anticipates being unable to meet the full amount of the private-sector matching requirement must include in its application a request that the Secretary reduce the matching-level requirement, along with a statement of the basis for the request.

Note:

An applicant that does not provide a request for a reduction of the matching-level requirement in its application may not submit that request at a later time.

5. Other: The Secretary establishes the following requirements for the i3 program. These requirements are from the 2013 i3 NFP. We may apply these requirements in any year in which this program is in effect.

  • Evidence Standards: To be eligible for an award, an application for a Validation grant must be supported by moderate evidence of effectiveness (as defined in this notice).

Note:

An applicant should identify up to two study citations to be reviewed against What Works Clearinghouse Evidence Standards for the purposes of meeting the i3 evidence standard requirement. An applicant should clearly identify these citations in Appendix D, under the “Other Attachments Form,” of its application. The Department will not review a study citation that an applicant fails to clearly identify for review. In addition to the two study citations, applicants should include a description of the intervention(s) the applicant plans to implement and the intended student outcomes that the intervention(s) attempts to impact in Appendix D.

An applicant must either ensure that all evidence is available to the Department from publicly available sources and provide links or other guidance indicating where it is available; or, in the full application, include copies of evidence in Appendix D. If the Department determines that an applicant has provided insufficient information, the applicant will not have an opportunity to provide additional information at a later time. However, if the WWC determines that a study does not provide enough information on key aspects of the study design, such as sample attrition or equivalence of intervention and comparison groups, the WWC will submit a query to the study author(s) to gather information for use in determining a study rating. Start Printed Page 30286Authors are asked to respond to queries within ten business days. Should the author query remain incomplete within 14 days of the initial contact to the study author(s), the study will be deemed ineligible under the grant competition. After the grant competition closes, the WWC will continue to include responses to author queries and will make updates to study reviews as necessary. However, the competition can only take into account information that is available at the time the competition is open.

Note:

The evidence standards apply to the prior research that supports the effectiveness of the proposed project. The i3 program does not restrict the source of prior research providing evidence for the proposed project. As such, an applicant could cite prior research in Appendix D for studies that were conducted by another entity (i.e., an entity that is not the applicant) so long as the prior research studies cited in the application are relevant to the effectiveness of the proposed project.

  • Funding Categories: An applicant will be considered for an award only for the type of i3 grant (i.e., Development, Validation, or Scale-up grant) for which it applies. An applicant may not submit an application for the same proposed project under more than one type of grant.
  • Limit on Grant Awards: (a) No grantee may receive more than two new grant awards of any type under the i3 program in a single year; (b) in any two-year period, no grantee may receive more than one new Scale-up or Validation grant; and (c) no grantee may receive in a single year new i3 grant awards that total an amount greater than the sum of the maximum amount of funds for a Scale-up grant and the maximum amount of funds for a Development grant for that year. For example, in a year when the maximum award value for a Scale-up grant is $20 million and the maximum award value for a Development grant is $3 million, no grantee may receive in a single year new grants totaling more than $23 million.
  • Subgrants: In the case of an eligible applicant that is a partnership between a nonprofit organization and (1) one or more LEAs or (2) a consortium of schools, the partner serving as the applicant and, if funded, as the grantee, may make subgrants to one or more entities in the partnership.
  • Evaluation: The grantee must conduct an independent evaluation (as defined in this notice) of its project. This evaluation must estimate the impact of the i3-supported practice (as implemented at the proposed level of scale) on a relevant outcome (as defined in this notice). The grantee must make broadly available digitally and free of charge, through formal (e.g., peer-reviewed journals) or informal (e.g., newsletters) mechanisms, the results of any evaluations it conducts of its funded activities. For Scale-up and Validation grants, the grantee must also ensure that the data from its evaluation are made available to third-party researchers consistent with applicable privacy requirements.

In addition, the grantee and its independent evaluator must agree to cooperate with any technical assistance provided by the Department or its contractor and comply with the requirements of any evaluation of the program conducted by the Department. This includes providing to the Department, within 100 days of a grant award, an updated comprehensive evaluation plan in a format and using such tools as the Department may require. Grantees must update this evaluation plan at least annually to reflect any changes to the evaluation. All of these updates must be consistent with the scope and objectives of the approved application.

  • Communities of Practice: Grantees must participate in, organize, or facilitate, as appropriate, communities of practice for the i3 program. A community of practice is a group of grantees that agrees to interact regularly to solve a persistent problem or improve practice in an area that is important to them.
  • Management Plan: Within 100 days of a grant award, the grantee must provide an updated comprehensive management plan for the approved project in a format and using such tools as the Department may require. This management plan must include detailed information about implementation of the first year of the grant, including key milestones, staffing details, and other information that the Department may require. It must also include a complete list of performance metrics, including baseline measures and annual targets. The grantee must update this management plan at least annually to reflect implementation of subsequent years of the project.

IV. Application and Submission Information

1. Address to Request Application Package: You can obtain an application package via the Internet or from the Education Publications Center (ED Pubs). To obtain a copy via the Internet, use the following address: http://innovation.ed.gov/​what-we-do/​innovation/​investing-in-innovation-i3/​. To obtain a copy from ED Pubs, write, fax, or call: ED Pubs, U.S. Department of Education, P.O. Box 22207, Alexandria, VA 22304. Telephone, toll free: 1-877-433-7827. FAX: (703) 605-6794. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) or a text telephone (TTY), call, toll free: 1-877-576-7734.

You can contact ED Pubs at its Web site, also: www.EDPubs.gov or at its email address: edpubs@inet.ed.gov.

If you request an application package from ED Pubs, be sure to identify this competition as follows: CFDA number 84.411B.

Individuals with disabilities can obtain a copy of the application package in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, audiotape, or compact disc) by contacting the person or team listed under Accessible Format in section VIII of this notice.

2.a. Content and Form of Application Submission: Requirements concerning the content of an application, together with the forms you must submit, are in the application package for this competition.

Deadline for Notice of Intent to Submit Application: June 6, 2016.

We will be able to develop a more efficient process for reviewing grant applications if we know the approximate number of applicants that intend to apply for funding under this competition. Therefore, the Secretary strongly encourages each potential applicant to notify us of the applicant's intent to submit an application by completing a Web-based form. When completing this form, applicants will provide (1) the applicant organization's name and address and (2) the absolute priority the applicant intends to address. Applicants may access this form online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/​r/​K9ZVJDS. Applicants that do not complete this form may still submit an application.

Page Limit: The application narrative (part III of the application) is where you, the applicant, address the selection criteria that reviewers use to evaluate your application. Applicants should limit the application narrative for a Validation grant application to no more than 35 pages. Applicants are also strongly encouraged not to include lengthy appendices that contain information that they were unable to include within the page limits for the narrative. Applicants should use the following standards:

  • A “page” is 8.5″ x 11″, on one side only, with 1″ margins at the top, bottom, and both sides.
  • Double space (no more than three lines per vertical inch) all text in the application narrative, including titles, Start Printed Page 30287headings, footnotes, quotations, references, and captions.
  • Use a font that is either 12 point or larger or no smaller than 10 pitch (characters per inch).
  • Use one of the following fonts: Times New Roman, Courier, Courier New, or Arial.

The page limit for the application does not apply to part I, the cover sheet; Part II, the budget section, including the narrative budget justification; Part IV, the assurances and certifications; or the one-page abstract, the resumes, the bibliography, or the letters of support of the application. However, the page limit does apply to all of the application narrative section of the application.

b. Submission of Proprietary Information:

Given the types of projects that may be proposed in applications for the i3 program, your application may include business information that you consider proprietary. In 34 CFR 5.11 we define “business information” and describe the process we use in determining whether any of that information is proprietary and, thus, protected from disclosure under Exemption 4 of the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552, as amended).

Consistent with the process followed in the prior i3 competitions, we plan on posting the project narrative section of funded i3 applications on the Department's Web site. Accordingly, you may wish to request confidentiality of business information. Identifying proprietary information in the submitted application will help facilitate this public disclosure process.

Consistent with Executive Order 12600, please designate in your application any information that you believe is exempt from disclosure under Exemption 4. In the appropriate Appendix section of your application, under “Other Attachments Form,” please list the page number or numbers on which we can find this information. For additional information please see 34 CFR 5.11(c).

3. Submission Dates and Times:

Applications Available: May 18, 2016.

Deadline for Notice of Intent to Submit Applications: June 6, 2016.

Informational Meetings: The i3 program intends to hold Webinars designed to provide technical assistance to interested applicants for all three types of grants. Detailed information regarding these meetings will be provided on the i3 Web site at http://innovation.ed.gov/​what-we-do/​innovation/​investing-in-innovation-i3/​.

Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: July 15, 2016.

Applications for grants under this competition must be submitted electronically using the Grants.gov Apply site (Grants.gov). For information (including dates and times) about how to submit your application electronically, or in paper format by mail or hand delivery if you qualify for an exception to the electronic submission requirement, please refer to Other Submission Requirements in section IV of this notice.

We do not consider an application that does not comply with the deadline requirements.

Individuals with disabilities who need an accommodation or auxiliary aid in connection with the application process should contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT in section VII of this notice. If the Department provides an accommodation or auxiliary aid to an individual with a disability in connection with the application process, the individual's application remains subject to all other requirements and limitations in this notice.

Deadline for Intergovernmental Review: September 13, 2016.

4. Intergovernmental Review: This competition is subject to Executive Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79. Information about Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs under Executive Order 12372 is in the application package for this competition.

5. Funding Restrictions: We reference regulations outlining funding restrictions in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice.

6. Data Universal Numbering System Number, Taxpayer Identification Number, and System for Award Management: To do business with the Department of Education, you must—

a. Have a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number and a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN);

b. Register both your DUNS number and TIN with the System for Award Management (SAM) (formerly the Central Contractor Registry), the Government's primary registrant database;

c. Provide your DUNS number and TIN on your application; and

d. Maintain an active SAM registration with current information while your application is under review by the Department and, if you are awarded a grant, during the project period.

You can obtain a DUNS number from Dun and Bradstreet at the following Web site: http://fedgov.dnb.com/​webform. A DUNS number can be created within one-to-two business days.

If you are a corporate entity, agency, institution, or organization, you can obtain a TIN from the Internal Revenue Service. If you are an individual, you can obtain a TIN from the Internal Revenue Service or the Social Security Administration. If you need a new TIN, please allow two to five weeks for your TIN to become active.

The SAM registration process can take approximately seven business days, but may take upwards of several weeks, depending on the completeness and accuracy of the data you enter into the SAM database. Thus, if you think you might want to apply for Federal financial assistance under a program administered by the Department, please allow sufficient time to obtain and register your DUNS number and TIN. We strongly recommend that you register early.

Note:

Once your SAM registration is active, it may be 24 to 48 hours before you can access the information in, and submit an application through, Grants.gov.

If you are currently registered with SAM, you may not need to make any changes. However, please make certain that the TIN associated with your DUNS number is correct. Also note that you will need to update your registration annually. This may take three or more business days.

Information about SAM is available at www.SAM.gov. To further assist you with obtaining and registering your DUNS number and TIN in SAM or updating your existing SAM account, we have prepared a SAM.gov Tip Sheet, which you can find at: http://www2.ed.gov/​fund/​grant/​apply/​sam-faqs.html.

In addition, if you are submitting your application via Grants.gov, you must (1) be designated by your organization as an Authorized Organization Representative (AOR); and (2) register yourself with Grants.gov as an AOR. Details on these steps are outlined at the following Grants.gov Web page: www.grants.gov/​web/​grants/​register.html.

7. Other Submission Requirements: Applications for grants for the i3 program must be submitted electronically unless you qualify for an exception to this requirement in accordance with the instructions in this section.

a. Electronic Submission of Applications.

Applications for grants under the i3 program, CFDA number 84.411B (Validation grants), must be submitted electronically using the Governmentwide Grants.gov Apply site Start Printed Page 30288at www.Grants.gov. Through this site, you will be able to download a copy of the application package, complete it offline, and then upload and submit your application. You may not email an electronic copy of a grant application to us.

We will reject your application if you submit it in paper format unless, as described elsewhere in this section, you qualify for one of the exceptions to the electronic submission requirement and submit, no later than two weeks before the application deadline date, a written statement to the Department that you qualify for one of these exceptions. Further information regarding calculation of the date that is two weeks before the application deadline date is provided later in this section under Exception to Electronic Submission Requirement.

You may access the electronic grant application for the i3 program at www.Grants.gov. You must search for the downloadable application package for this competition by the CFDA number. Do not include the CFDA number's alpha suffix in your search (e.g., search for 84.411, not 84.411B).

Please note the following:

  • When you enter the Grants.gov site, you will find information about submitting an application electronically through the site, as well as the hours of operation.
  • Applications received by Grants.gov are date and time stamped. Your application must be fully uploaded and submitted and must be date and time stamped by the Grants.gov system no later than 4:30:00 p.m., Washington, DC time, on the application deadline date. Except as otherwise noted in this section, we will not accept your application if it is received—that is, date and time stamped by the Grants.gov system—after 4:30:00 p.m., Washington, DC time, on the application deadline date. We do not consider an application that does not comply with the deadline requirements. When we retrieve your application from Grants.gov, we will notify you if we are rejecting your application because it was date and time stamped by the Grants.gov system after 4:30:00 p.m., Washington, DC time, on the application deadline date.
  • The amount of time it can take to upload an application will vary depending on a variety of factors, including the size of the application and the speed of your Internet connection. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you do not wait until the application deadline date to begin the submission process through Grants.gov.
  • You should review and follow the Education Submission Procedures for submitting an application through Grants.gov that are included in the application package for this competition to ensure that you submit your application in a timely manner to the Grants.gov system. You can also find the Education Submission Procedures pertaining to Grants.gov under News and Events on the Department's G5 system home page at www.G5.gov. In addition, for specific guidance and procedures for submitting an application through Grants.gov, please refer to the Grants.gov Web site at: www.grants.gov/​web/​grants/​applicants/​apply-for-grants.html.
  • You will not receive additional point value because you submit your application in electronic format, nor will we penalize you if you qualify for an exception to the electronic submission requirement, as described elsewhere in this section, and submit your application in paper format.
  • You must submit all documents electronically, including all information you typically provide on the following forms: The Application for Federal Assistance (SF 424), the Department of Education Supplemental Information for SF 424, Budget Information—Non-Construction Programs (ED 524), and all necessary assurances and certifications.
  • You must upload any narrative sections and all other attachments to your application as files in a read-only, non-modifiable Portable Document Format (PDF). Do not upload an interactive or fillable PDF file. If you upload a file type other than a read-only, non-modifiable PDF (e.g., Word, Excel, WordPerfect, etc.) or submit a password-protected file, we will not review that material. Please note that this could result in your application not being considered for funding because the material in question—for example, the project narrative—is critical to a meaningful review of your proposal. For that reason it is important to allow yourself adequate time to upload all material as PDF files. The Department will not convert material from other formats to PDF.
  • Your electronic application must comply with any page-limit requirements described in this notice.
  • After you electronically submit your application, you will receive from Grants.gov an automatic notification of receipt that contains a Grants.gov tracking number. This notification indicates receipt by Grants.gov only, not receipt by the Department. Grants.gov will also notify you automatically by email if your application met all the Grants.gov validation requirements or if there were any errors (such as submission of your application by someone other than a registered Authorized Organization Representative, or inclusion of an attachment with a file name that contains special characters). You will be given an opportunity to correct any errors and resubmit, but you must still meet the deadline for submission of applications.

Once your application is successfully validated by Grants.gov, the Department will retrieve your application from Grants.gov and send you an email with a unique PR/Award number for your application.

These emails do not mean that your application is without any disqualifying errors. While your application may have been successfully validated by Grants.gov, it must also meet the Department's application requirements as specified in this notice and in the application instructions. Disqualifying errors could include, for instance, failure to upload attachments in a read-only, non-modifiable PDF; failure to submit a required part of the application; or failure to meet applicant eligibility requirements. It is your responsibility to ensure that your submitted application has met all of the Department's requirements.

  • We may request that you provide us original signatures on forms at a later date. Application Deadline Date Extension in Case of Technical Issues with the Grants.gov System: If you are experiencing problems submitting your application through Grants.gov, please contact the Grants.gov Support Desk, toll free, at 1-800-518-4726. You must obtain a Grants.gov Support Desk Case Number and must keep a record of it.

If you are prevented from electronically submitting your application on the application deadline date because of technical problems with the Grants.gov system, we will grant you an extension until 4:30:00 p.m., Washington, DC time, the following business day to enable you to transmit your application electronically or by hand delivery. You also may mail your application by following the mailing instructions described elsewhere in this notice.

If you submit an application after 4:30:00 p.m., Washington, DC time, on the application deadline date, please contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT in section VII of this notice and provide an explanation of the technical problem you experienced with Grants.gov, along with the Grants.gov Support Desk Case Number. We will accept your application if we can confirm that a Start Printed Page 30289technical problem occurred with the Grants.gov system and that the problem affected your ability to submit your application by 4:30:00 p.m., Washington, DC time, on the application deadline date. We will contact you after we determine whether your application will be accepted.

Note:

The extensions to which we refer in this section apply only to the unavailability of, or technical problems with, the Grants.gov system. We will not grant you an extension if you failed to fully register to submit your application to Grants.gov before the application deadline date and time or if the technical problem you experienced is unrelated to the Grants.gov system.

Exception to Electronic Submission Requirement: You qualify for an exception to the electronic submission requirement, and may submit your application in paper format, if you are unable to submit an application through the Grants.gov system because—

  • You do not have access to the Internet; or
  • You do not have the capacity to upload large documents to the Grants.gov system; and
  • No later than two weeks before the application deadline date (14 calendar days or, if the fourteenth calendar day before the application deadline date falls on a Federal holiday, the next business day following the Federal holiday), you mail or fax a written statement to the Department, explaining which of the two grounds for an exception prevents you from using the Internet to submit your application.

If you mail your written statement to the Department, it must be postmarked no later than two weeks before the application deadline date. If you fax your written statement to the Department, we must receive the faxed statement no later than two weeks before the application deadline date.

Address and mail or fax your statement to: Kelly Terpak, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 4W312, Washington, DC 20202. FAX: (202) 401-4123.

Your paper application must be submitted in accordance with the mail or hand delivery instructions described in this notice.

b. Submission of Paper Applications by Mail.

If you qualify for an exception to the electronic submission requirement, you may mail (through the U.S. Postal Service or a commercial carrier) your application to the Department. You must mail the original and two copies of your application, on or before the application deadline date, to the Department at the following address: U.S. Department of Education, Application Control Center, Attention: (CFDA Number 84.411B), LBJ Basement Level 1, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20202-4260.

You must show proof of mailing consisting of one of the following:

(1) A legibly dated U.S. Postal Service postmark.

(2) A legible mail receipt with the date of mailing stamped by the U.S. Postal Service.

(3) A dated shipping label, invoice, or receipt from a commercial carrier.

(4) Any other proof of mailing acceptable to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education.

If you mail your application through the U.S. Postal Service, we do not accept either of the following as proof of mailing:

(1) A private metered postmark.

(2) A mail receipt that is not dated by the U.S. Postal Service.

Note:

The U.S. Postal Service does not uniformly provide a dated postmark. Before relying on this method, you should check with your local post office.

We will not consider applications postmarked after the application deadline date.

c. Submission of Paper Applications by Hand Delivery.

If you qualify for an exception to the electronic submission requirement, you (or a courier service) may deliver your paper application to the Department by hand. You must deliver the original and two copies of your application by hand, on or before the application deadline date, to the Department at the following address: U.S. Department of Education, Application Control Center, Attention: (CFDA Number 84.411B), 550 12th Street SW., Room 7039, Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC 20202-4260.

The Application Control Center accepts hand deliveries daily between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Washington, DC time, except Saturdays, Sundays, and Federal holidays.

Note for Mail or Hand Delivery of Paper Applications:

If you mail or hand deliver your application to the Department—

(1) You must indicate on the envelope and—if not provided by the Department—in Item 11 of the SF 424 the CFDA number, including suffix letter, if any, of the competition under which you are submitting your application; and

(2) The Application Control Center will mail to you a notification of receipt of your grant application. If you do not receive this notification within 15 business days from the application deadline date, you should call the U.S. Department of Education Application Control Center at (202) 245-6288.

V. Application Review Information

1. Selection Criteria: The selection criteria for the Validation competition are from the 2013 i3 NFP and 34 CFR 75.210, and are listed below.

The points assigned to each criterion are indicated in the parentheses next to the criterion. An applicant may earn up to a total of 100 points based on the selection criteria for the application.

A. Significance (up to 15 points).

In determining the significance of the project, the Secretary considers the following factors:

(1) The magnitude or severity of the problem to be addressed by the proposed project. (34 CFR 75.210)

(2) The extent to which the proposed project involves the development or demonstration of promising new strategies that build on, or are alternatives to, existing strategies. (34 CFR 75.210)

(3) The extent to which the proposed project represents an exceptional approach to the priority or priorities established for the competition. (34 CFR 75.210)

B. Strategy to Scale (up to 30 points).

In determining the applicant's capacity to scale the proposed project, the Secretary considers the following factors:

(1) The extent to which the applicant demonstrates there is unmet demand for the process, product, strategy or practice that will enable the applicant to reach the level of scale that is proposed in the application. (34 CFR 75.210)

(2) The extent to which the applicant will use grant funds to address a particular barrier or barriers that prevented the applicant, in the past, from reaching the level of scale proposed in the application. (2013 i3 NFP)

(3) The feasibility of successful replication of the proposed project, if favorable results are obtained, in a variety of settings and with a variety of populations. (34 CFR 75.210)

C. Quality of the Project Design and Management Plan (up to 35 points).

In determining the quality of the proposed project design, the Secretary considers the following factors:

(1) The extent to which the goals, objectives, and outcomes to be achieved by the proposed project are clearly specified and measurable. (34 CFR 75.210)

(2) The adequacy of the management plan to achieve the objectives of the proposed project on time and within budget, including clearly defined responsibilities, timelines, and milestones for accomplishing project tasks. (34 CFR 75.210)Start Printed Page 30290

(3) The clarity and coherence of the applicant's multi-year financial and operating model and accompanying plan to operate the project at a national or regional level (as defined in this notice) during the project period. (2013 i3 NFP)

(4) The adequacy of procedures for ensuring feedback and continuous improvement in the operation of the proposed project. (34 CFR 75.210)

D. Quality of the Project Evaluation (up to 20 points).

In determining the quality of the project evaluation to be conducted, the Secretary considers the following factors:

(1) The extent to which the methods of evaluation will, if well implemented, produce evidence about the project's effectiveness that would meet the What Works Clearinghouse Evidence Standards without reservations. (34 CFR 75.210)

(2) The clarity and importance of the key questions to be addressed by the project evaluation, and the appropriateness of the methods for how each question will be addressed. (2013 i3 NFP)

(3) The extent to which the evaluation will study the project at the proposed level of scale, including, where appropriate, generating information about potential differential effectiveness of the project in diverse settings and for diverse student population groups. (2013 i3 NFP)

(4) The extent to which the evaluation plan includes a clear and credible analysis plan, including a proposed sample size and minimum detectable effect size that aligns with the expected project impact, and an analytic approach for addressing the research questions. (2013 i3 NFP)

(5) The extent to which the evaluation plan clearly articulates the key components and outcomes of the project, as well as a measurable threshold for acceptable implementation. (2013 i3 NFP)

(6) The extent to which the proposed project plan includes sufficient resources to carry out the project evaluation effectively. (2013 i3 NFP)

Note:

Applicants may wish to review the following technical assistance resources on evaluation: (1) WWC Procedures and Standards Handbook: http://ies.ed.gov/​ncee/​wwc/​references/​idocviewer/​doc.aspx?​docid=​19&​tocid=​1;​ and (2) IES/NCEE Technical Methods papers: http://ies.ed.gov/​ncee/​tech_​methods/​. In addition, applicants may view two optional Webinar recordings that were hosted by the Institute of Education Sciences. The first Webinar discussed strategies for designing and executing well-designed quasi-experimental design studies and is available at: http://ies.ed.gov/​ncee/​wwc/​Multimedia.aspx?​sid=​23. The second Webinar focused on more rigorous evaluation designs and discussed strategies for designing and executing studies that meet WWC evidence standards without reservations. This Webinar is available at: http://ies.ed.gov/​ncee/​wwc/​Multimedia.aspx?​sid=​18.

2. Review and Selection Process: Before making awards, we will screen applications submitted in accordance with the requirements in this notice to determine whether applications have met eligibility and other requirements. This screening process may occur at various stages of the process; applicants that are determined to be ineligible will not receive a grant, regardless of peer reviewer scores or comments.

For the application review process, we will use independent peer reviewers with varied backgrounds and professions including pre-kindergarten-grade 12 teachers and principals, college and university educators, researchers and evaluators, social entrepreneurs, strategy consultants, grant makers and managers, and others with education expertise. All reviewers will be thoroughly screened for conflicts of interest to ensure a fair and competitive review process.

Peer reviewers will read, prepare a written evaluation of, and score the assigned applications, using the selection criteria provided in this notice. For Validation grant applications, we intend to conduct a single tier review. If an eligible applicant addresses the competitive preference priority (Supporting Novice i3 Applicants), the Department will review its list of previous i3 grantees in scoring this competitive preference priority.

We remind potential applicants that in reviewing applications in any discretionary grant competition, the Secretary may consider, under 34 CFR 75.217(d)(3), the past performance of the applicant in carrying out a previous award, such as the applicant's use of funds, achievement of project objectives, and compliance with grant conditions. The Secretary may also consider whether the applicant failed to submit a timely performance report or submitted a report of unacceptable quality.

In addition, in making a competitive grant award, the Secretary requires various assurances, including those applicable to Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities receiving Federal financial assistance from the Department of Education (34 CFR 100.4, 104.5, 106.4, 108.8, and 110.23).

3. Risk Assessment and Special Conditions: Consistent with 2 CFR 200.205, before awarding grants under this program the Department conducts a review of the risks posed by applicants. Under 2 CFR 3474.10, the Secretary may impose special conditions and, in appropriate circumstances, high-risk conditions on a grant if the applicant or grantee is not financially stable; has a history of unsatisfactory performance; has a financial or other management system that does not meet the standards in 2 CFR part 200, subpart D; has not fulfilled the conditions of a prior grant; or is otherwise not responsible.

VI. Award Administration Information

1. Award Notices: If your application is successful, we notify your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators and send you a Grant Award Notification (GAN); or we may send you an email containing a link to access an electronic version of your GAN. We may notify you informally, also.

If your application is not evaluated or not selected for funding, we notify you.

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements: We identify administrative and national policy requirements in the application package and reference these and other requirements in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice.

We reference the regulations outlining the terms and conditions of an award in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice and include these and other specific conditions in the GAN. The GAN also incorporates your approved application as part of your binding commitments under the grant.

3. Reporting: (a) If you apply for a grant under this competition, you must ensure that you have in place the necessary processes and systems to comply with the reporting requirements in 2 CFR part 170 should you receive funding under the competition. This does not apply if you have an exception under 2 CFR 170.110(b).

(b) At the end of your project period, you must submit a final performance report, including financial information, as directed by the Secretary. If you receive a multiyear award, you must submit an annual performance report that provides the most current performance and financial expenditure information as directed by the Secretary under 34 CFR 75.118. The Secretary may also require more frequent performance reports under 34 CFR 75.720(c). For specific requirements on reporting, please go to www.ed.gov/​fund/​grant/​apply/​appforms/​appforms.html. Start Printed Page 30291

(c) Under 34 CFR 75.250(b), the Secretary may provide a grantee with additional funding for data collection analysis and reporting. In this case the Secretary establishes a data collection period.

4. Performance Measures: The overall purpose of the i3 program is to expand the implementation of, and investment in, innovative practices that are demonstrated to have an impact on improving student achievement or student growth for high-need students. We have established several performance measures for the i3 Validation grants.

Short-term performance measures: (1) The percentage of grantees that reach their annual target number of students as specified in the application; (2) the percentage of programs, practices, or strategies supported by a Validation grant with ongoing well-designed and independent evaluations that will provide evidence of their effectiveness at improving student outcomes at scale; (3) the percentage of programs, practices, or strategies supported by a Validation grant with ongoing evaluations that are providing high-quality implementation data and performance feedback that allow for periodic assessment of progress toward achieving intended outcomes; and (4) the cost per student actually served by the grant.

Long-term performance measures: (1) The percentage of grantees that reach the targeted number of students specified in the application; (2) the percentage of programs, practices, or strategies supported by a Validation grant that implement a completed well-designed, well-implemented and independent evaluation that provides evidence of their effectiveness at improving student outcomes at scale; (3) the percentage of programs, practices, or strategies supported by a Validation grant with a completed well-designed, well-implemented and independent evaluation that provides information about the key elements and the approach of the project so as to facilitate replication or testing in other settings; and (4) the cost per student for programs, practices, or strategies that were proven to be effective at improving educational outcomes for students.

5. Continuation Awards: In making a continuation award under 34 CFR 75.253, the Secretary considers, among other things: whether a grantee has made substantial progress in achieving the goals and objectives of the project; whether the grantee has expended funds in a manner that is consistent with its approved application and budget; and, if the Secretary has established performance measurement requirements, the performance targets in the grantee's approved application.

In making a continuation award, the Secretary also considers whether the grantee is operating in compliance with the assurances in its approved application, including those applicable to Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities receiving Federal financial assistance from the Department (34 CFR 100.4, 104.5, 106.4, 108.8, and 110.23).

VII. Agency Contact

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Kelly Terpak, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 4W312, Washington, DC 20202. Telephone: (202) 453-7122. FAX: (202) 401-4123 or by email: i3@ed.gov.

If you use a TDD or a TTY, call the Federal Relay Service, toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.

VIII. Other Information

Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this document and a copy of the application package in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, audiotape, or compact disc) on request to either program contact person listed under For Further Information Contact in section VII of this notice.

Electronic Access to This Document: The official version of this document is the document published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations is available via the Federal Digital System at: www.gpo.gov/​fdsys. At this site you can view this document, as well as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal Register, in text or PDF. To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at the site.

You may also access documents of the Department published in the Federal Register by using the article search feature at: www.federalregister.gov. Specifically, through the advanced search feature at this site, you can limit your search to documents published by the Department.

Start Signature

Dated: May 11, 2016.

Nadya Chinoy Dabby,

Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement.

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Footnotes

1.  In both 2013 and 2014, the Departments reiterated the continued viability of this 2011 guidance after two relevant Supreme Court decisions. Those guidance documents may be found at www.ed.gov/​ocr/​letters/​colleague-201309.pdf, www.ed.gov/​ocr/​docs/​dcl-qa-201309.pdf, and www.ed.gov/​ocr/​letters/​colleague-201405-schuette-guidance.pdf.

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2.  Doorey, N. and Polikoff, M. Evaluating the Content and Quality of Next Generation Assessments (2016). Washington, DC: Thomas Fordham Institute. Available at: http://edex.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/​%2802.09%20-%20Final%20Published%29%20Evaluating%20the%20Content%20and%20Quality%20of%20Next%20Generation%20Assessments.pdf.

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3.  Langdon, D., McKittrick, G., Beede, D., Khan, B., and Doms, M. U.S. Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration. STEM: Good Jobs Now and for the Future (July 2011). ESA Issue Brief #03-11. Available at: www.esa.doc.gov/​sites/​default/​files/​stemfinalyjuly14_​1.pdf.

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5.  Chairman's Staff of the Joint Economic Committee. Calculations using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment Projections: 2010-20. Table 1.7 Occupational Employment and Job Openings Data, Projected 2010-20, and Worker Characteristics, 2010. February 2012. Available at: http://iedse.org/​temp/​wp-content/​uploads/​2015/​02/​www.iedse_​.org_​documents_​STEM-Education-Preparing-for-the-Jobs-of-the-Future-.pdf. For the purposes of this calculation, STEM occupations are defined as in the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economics and Statistics Administration report, STEM: Good Jobs Now and for the Future. ESA Issue Brief #03-11. July 2011.

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6.  Chairman's Staff of the Joint Economic Committee. Calculations using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment Projections: 2010-20. Table 1.7 Occupational Employment and Job Openings Data, Projected 2010-20, and Worker Characteristics, 2010. February 2012. Available at: http://bls.gov/​emp/​. For the purposes of this calculation, STEM occupations are defined as in the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economics and Statistics Administration report, STEM: Good Jobs Now and for the Future. ESA Issue Brief #03-11. July 2011.

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7.  Carnevale, A., Smith, N., and Melton, M. Center on Education and the Workforce, Georgetown University. Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (2014). Available at: https://cew.georgetown.edu/​wp-content/​uploads/​2014/​11/​stem-complete.pdf.

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8.  PISA Results from 2012. Country Note: United States. www.oecd.org/​pisa/​keyfindings/​PISA-2012-results-US.pdf.

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9.  Bohrnstedt, G., Kitmitto, S., Ogut, B., Sherman, D., and Chan, D. (2015). School Composition and the Black-White Achievement Gap (NCES 2015-018). U.S. Department of Education, Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved September 24, 2015 from http://nces.ed.gov/​pubsearch.

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10.  U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES): https://nces.ed.gov/​ccd/​tables/​ACGR_​RE_​and_​characteristics_​2013-14.asp.

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11.  School Turnarounds: How Successful Principals Use Teacher Leadership. (March 2016). http://publicimpact.com/​school-turnarounds-how-successful-principals-use-teacher-leadership/​.

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[FR Doc. 2016-11522 Filed 5-13-16; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4000-01-P