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Notice

Applications for New Awards; Education Innovation and Research (EIR) Program-Early-Phase Grants

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AGENCY:

Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Department of Education.

ACTION:

Notice.

SUMMARY:

The Department of Education (Department) is issuing a notice inviting applications for fiscal year (FY) 2019 for the EIR program—Early-phase Grants, Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number 84.411C (Early-phase Grants).

DATES:

Applications Available: February 4, 2019.

Deadline for Notice of Intent to Apply: February 21, 2019.

Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: April 2, 2019.

Deadline for Intergovernmental Review: June 3, 2019.

Pre-Application Information: The Department will post additional competition information for prospective applicants on the EIR program website: https://innovation.ed.gov/​what-we-do/​innovation/​education-innovation-and-research-eir/​.

ADDRESSES:

For the addresses for obtaining and submitting an application, please refer to our Common Instructions for Applicants to Department of Education Discretionary Grant Programs, published in the Federal Register on February 12, 2018 (83 FR 6003) and available at www.govinfo.gov/​content/​pkg/​FR-2018-02-12/​pdf/​2018-02558.pdf.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Irene Montanti, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Room 3E323, Washington, DC 20202-5900. Telephone: (202) 453-7122. Email: eir@ed.gov.

If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) or a text telephone (TTY), call the Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll-free, at 1-800-877-8339.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:Start Printed Page 1094

Full Text of Announcement

I. Funding Opportunity Description

Purpose of Program: The EIR program, established under section 4611 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended (ESEA), provides funding to create, develop, implement, replicate, or take to scale entrepreneurial, evidence-based, field-initiated innovations to improve student achievement and attainment for high-need students; and rigorously evaluate such innovations. The EIR program is designed to generate and validate solutions to persistent education challenges and to support the expansion of those solutions to serve substantially larger numbers of students.

The central design element of the EIR program is its multi-tier structure that links the amount of funding an applicant may receive to the quality of the evidence supporting the efficacy of the proposed project, with the expectation that projects that build this evidence will advance through EIR's grant tiers: “Early-phase,” “Mid-phase,” and “Expansion.” Applicants proposing innovative projects that are supported by limited evidence can receive relatively small grants to support the development, implementation, and initial evaluation of the practices; applicants proposing projects supported by evidence from rigorous evaluations, such as an experimental study (as defined in this notice), can receive larger grant awards to support expansion across the country. This structure provides incentives for applicants to: (1) Explore new ways of addressing persistent challenges that other educators can build on and learn from; (2) build evidence of effectiveness of their practices; and (3) replicate and scale successful practices in new schools, districts, and States while addressing the barriers to scale, such as cost structures and implementation fidelity.

All EIR projects are expected to generate information regarding their effectiveness in order to inform EIR grantees' efforts to learn about and improve upon their efforts, and to help similar, non-EIR efforts across the country benefit from EIR grantees' knowledge. By requiring that all grantees conduct independent evaluations of their EIR projects, EIR ensures that its funded projects make a significant contribution to improving the quality and quantity of information available to practitioners and policymakers about which practices improve student achievement and attainment, for which types of students, and in what contexts.

The Department awards three types of grants under this program: “Early-phase” grants, “Mid-phase” grants, and “Expansion” grants. These grants differ in terms of the level of prior evidence of effectiveness required for consideration for funding, the expectations regarding the kind of evidence and information funded projects should produce, the level of scale funded projects should reach, and, consequently, the amount of funding available to support each type of project.

Early-phase grants provide funding to support the development, implementation, and feasibility testing of a program, which prior research suggests has promise, for the purpose of determining whether the program can successfully improve student achievement and attainment for high-need students. Early-phase grants must demonstrate a rationale. These Early-phase grants are not intended simply to implement established practices in additional locations or address needs that are unique to one particular context. The goal is to determine whether and in what ways relatively newer practices can improve student achievement and attainment for high-need students.

This notice invites applications for Early-phase grants only. The notices inviting applications for Mid-phase and Expansion grants are published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register.

Background: While this notice is for the Early-phase grants only, the premise of the EIR program is that new and innovative programs and practices can help to solve the persistent problems in education that prevent students, particularly high-need students, from succeeding. These innovations need to be evaluated, and if sufficient evidence of effectiveness can be demonstrated, the intent is for these innovations to be replicated and tested in new populations and settings. EIR is not intended to provide support for any practices which are already commonly implemented by educators, unless significant adaptations for such practices warrant testing to determine if they can accelerate achievement, or greatly increase the efficiency and likelihood that they can be widely implemented in a variety of new populations and settings effectively.

As an EIR project is implemented, grantees are encouraged to learn more about how the practices improve student achievement and attainment; and to develop increasingly rigorous evidence of effectiveness and new strategies to efficiently and cost-effectively scale to new school districts, regions, and States. In connection with selection criterion B.2., we encourage applicants to develop a logic model (as defined in this notice), theory of action, or another conceptual framework that includes the goals, objectives, outcomes and key project components (as defined in this notice) of the project.

Disseminating evaluation findings is a critical element of every project, even if a rigorous evaluation does not demonstrate positive results. Such results can influence the next stage of education practice and promote follow up studies that build upon the results. The EIR program considers all high-quality evaluations to be a valuable contribution to the field of education research and encourages the documentation and sharing of lessons learned.

For those innovations that have positive results and have the potential for continued development and implementation, the Department is interested in learning more about continued efforts regarding cost-effectiveness and feasibility when scaled to additional populations and settings. EIR projects at the Mid-phase and Expansion levels are encouraged to test new strategies for recruiting and supporting new project adoption, seek efficiencies where project implementation has been too costly or cumbersome to operate at scale, and test new ways of overcoming any other barriers in practice or policy that might inhibit project growth. Early-phase grantees that are not yet ready to scale are still encouraged to think about how their innovations might translate to other populations or settings in the long term and to select their partners and implementation sites accordingly.

Finally, all EIR applicants and grantees should consider how they need to develop their organizational capacity, project financing, or business plans to sustain their projects and continue implementation and adaptation after Federal funding ends. EIR encourages all grantees to engage in sustainability planning as part of a funded project. The Department intends to provide grantees with technical assistance in their dissemination, scaling, and sustainability efforts.

EIR is designed to offer opportunities for States, districts, schools, and educators to develop innovations and scale effective practices that address their most pressing challenges. Early-phase grantees are encouraged to make continuous improvements in project design and implementation before conducting a full-scale evaluation of effectiveness. Grantees should consider how easily others could implement the Start Printed Page 1095proposed practice, and how its implementation could potentially be improved. Additionally, grantees should consider using data from early indicators to gauge initial impact and to consider possible changes in implementation that could increase student achievement and attainment.

By focusing on continuous improvement and iterative development, Early-phase grantees can make adaptations that are necessary to increase their practice's potential to be effective and ensure that the EIR-funded evaluation assesses the impact of a thoroughly conceived practice.

Early-phase applicants should develop, implement, and test the feasibility of their projects. In connection with selection criterion D.1., the evaluation of an Early-phase project should be an experimental or quasi-experimental design study (as defined in this notice) that can determine whether the program can successfully improve student achievement and attainment for high-need students. Early-phase grantees' evaluation designs are encouraged to have the potential to demonstrate a statistically significant effect on improving student outcomes or other relevant outcomes based on moderate evidence (as defined in this notice) from at least one well-designed and well-implemented experimental study. The Department intends to provide grantees and their independent evaluators with evaluation technical assistance. This evaluation technical assistance could include grantees and their independent evaluators providing to the Department or its contractor updated comprehensive evaluation plans in a format as requested by the technical assistance provider and using such tools as the Department may request. Grantees will be encouraged to update this evaluation plan at least annually to reflect any changes to the evaluation, with updates consistent with the scope and objectives of the approved application.

The FY 2019 Early-phase competition includes three absolute priorities and one competitive preference priority. All Early-phase applicants must address Absolute Priority 1. Early-phase applicants are also required to address one of the other two absolute priorities. Applicants addressing Absolute Priority 3 also have the option to address the competitive preference priority. The absolute priorities and competitive preference priority align with the purpose of the program and the Administration's priorities.

Absolute Priority 1—Demonstrates a Rationale, establishes the evidence requirement for this tier of grants. All Early-phase applicants must submit prior evidence of effectiveness that demonstrates a rationale (as defined in this notice).

Absolute Priority 2—Field-Initiated Innovations—General, allows applicants to propose projects that align with the intent of the EIR program statute: To create and take to scale entrepreneurial, evidence-based, field-initiated innovations to improve student achievement and attainment.

Absolute Priority 3—Field-Initiated Innovations—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), invites applicants to invest in STEM education. This priority is intended to highlight the Administration's efforts to ensure our Nation's economic competitiveness by improving and expanding STEM learning and engagement, including computer science.

In Absolute Priority 3, the Department recognizes the importance of funding Pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K) through grade 12 STEM education that addresses the enrollment and achievement gap for underrepresented students in a manner consistent with nondiscrimination requirements contained in the U.S. Constitution and Federal civil rights laws. The Department also encourages expanding access to STEM education in rural areas, especially through partnerships with rural school districts to utilize virtual and remote access to makerspace technologies, such as 3-D printers, to expand opportunities for students in rural areas where such tools are often cost prohibitive. Within Absolute Priority 3, the Department includes a competitive preference priority that specifically focuses on computer science, especially for underserved populations.

Through these priorities, the Department intends to advance innovation, build evidence, and address the learning and achievement of high-need students beginning in Pre-K through grade 12.

Priorities: This notice includes three absolute priorities and one competitive preference priority. In accordance with 34 CFR 75.105(b)(2)(iv), Absolute Priority 1 is from sections 4611(a)(1) and 8101(21)(a)(ii)(I) of the ESEA. Absolute Priority 2 is from section 4611(a)(1)(A) of the ESEA. Absolute Priority 3 is from section 4611(a)(1)(A) of the ESEA and the Secretary's Final Supplemental Priorities and Definitions for Discretionary Grant Programs, published in the Federal Register on March 2, 2018 (83 FR 9096) (Supplemental Priorities). The competitive preference priority is from the Secretary's Final Supplemental Priorities.

Under the Early-phase grant competition, Absolute Priorities 2 and 3 constitute their own funding categories. The Secretary intends to award grants under each of these absolute priorities for which applications of sufficient quality are submitted. Applications will be rank ordered separately for Absolute Priorities 2 and 3, therefore applicants must clearly identify the specific absolute priority that the proposed project addresses.

Absolute Priorities: For FY 2019 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 Absolute Priority 1—Demonstrates a Rationale, and one additional absolute priority.

These priorities are:

Absolute Priority 1—Demonstrates a Rationale.

Under this priority, we provide funding to projects that demonstrate a rationale based on high-quality research findings or positive evaluation that such activity, strategy, or intervention is likely to improve student outcomes or other relevant outcomes; and includes ongoing efforts to examine the effects of such activity, strategy, or intervention (i.e., complying with the requirement described in this notice to carry out an independent evaluation of the effectiveness of the project).

Absolute Priority 2—Field-Initiated Innovations—General.

Under the priority, we provide funding to projects that are designed to create, develop, implement, replicate, or take to scale entrepreneurial, evidence-based, field-initiated innovations to improve student achievement and attainment for high-need students.

Absolute Priority 3—Field-Initiated Innovations—Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math (STEM) Education, With a Particular Focus on Computer Science.

Under the priority, we provide funding to projects that are designed to:

(1) Create, develop, implement, replicate, or take to scale entrepreneurial, evidence-based, field-initiated innovations to improve student achievement and attainment for high-need students, and;

(2) Improve student achievement or other educational outcomes in one or more of the following areas: Science, technology, engineering, math, or computer science (as defined in this notice).

Competitive Preference Priority: Within Absolute Priority 3, we give competitive preference to applications that address the following priority. For Start Printed Page 1096FY 2019 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 up to an additional five points to an application, depending on how well the application addresses this priority.

This priority is:

Competitive Preference Priority (up to 5 Points).

Projects designed to improve student achievement or other educational outcomes in computer science (as defined in this notice). These projects must address the following priority area:

Expanding access to and participation in rigorous computer science (as defined in this notice) coursework for traditionally underrepresented students such as racial or ethnic minorities, women, students in communities served by rural local educational agencies (as defined in this notice), children or students with disabilities (as defined in this notice), or low-income individuals (as defined under section 312(g) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended).

Note:

Projects addressing this priority must be administered in a manner consistent with nondiscrimination requirements contained in the U.S. Constitution and Federal civil rights laws.

Definitions: The definitions of “baseline,” “experimental study,” “logic model,” “moderate evidence,” “nonprofit,” “performance measure,” “performance target,” “project component,” “quasi-experimental design study,” “relevant outcome,” and “What Works Clearinghouse Handbook (WWC Handbook)” are from 34 CFR 77.1. The definitions of “children or students with disabilities,” “computer science,” and “rural local educational agency” are from the Supplemental Priorities. The definitions of “demonstrates a rationale,” “local educational agency” and “State educational agency” are from section 8101 of the ESEA.

Baseline means the starting point from which performance is measured and targets are set.

Children or students with disabilities means children with disabilities as defined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or individuals defined as having a disability under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) (or children or students who are eligible under both laws).

Computer science means the study of computers and algorithmic processes and includes the study of computing principles and theories, computational thinking, computer hardware, software design, coding, analytics, and computer applications.

Computer science often includes computer programming or coding as a tool to create software, including applications, games, websites, and tools to manage or manipulate data; or development and management of computer hardware and the other electronics related to sharing, securing, and using digital information.

In addition to coding, the expanding field of computer science emphasizes computational thinking and interdisciplinary problem-solving to equip students with the skills and abilities necessary to apply computation in our digital world.

Computer science does not include using a computer for everyday activities, such as browsing the internet; use of tools like word processing, spreadsheets, or presentation software; or using computers in the study and exploration of unrelated subjects.

Demonstrates a rationale is based on high-quality research findings or positive evaluation that such activity, strategy, or intervention is likely to improve student outcomes or other relevant outcomes.

Experimental study means a study that is designed to compare outcomes between two groups of individuals (such as students) that are otherwise equivalent except for their assignment to either a treatment group receiving a project component or a control group that does not. Randomized controlled trials, regression discontinuity design studies, and single-case design studies are the specific types of experimental studies that, depending on their design and implementation (e.g., sample attrition in randomized controlled trials and regression discontinuity design studies), can meet What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) standards without reservations as described in the WWC Handbook:

(i) A randomized controlled trial employs random assignment of, for example, students, teachers, classrooms, or schools to receive the project component being evaluated (the treatment group) or not to receive the project component (the control group).

(ii) A regression discontinuity design study assigns the project component being evaluated using a measured variable (e.g., assigning students reading below a cutoff score to tutoring or developmental education classes) and controls for that variable in the analysis of outcomes.

(iii) A single-case design study uses observations of a single case (e.g., a student eligible for a behavioral intervention) over time in the absence and presence of a controlled treatment manipulation to determine whether the outcome is systematically related to the treatment.

Local educational agency (LEA) means:

(a) In General. A public board of education or other public authority legally constituted within a State for either administrative control or direction of, or to perform a service function for, public elementary schools or secondary schools in a city, county, township, school district, or other political subdivision of a State, or of or for a combination of school districts or counties that is recognized in a State as an administrative agency for its public elementary schools or secondary schools.

(b) Administrative Control and Direction. The term includes any other public institution or agency having administrative control and direction of a public elementary school or secondary school.

(c) Bureau of Indian Education Schools. The term includes an elementary school or secondary school funded by the Bureau of Indian Education but only to the extent that including the school makes the school eligible for programs for which specific eligibility is not provided to the school in another provision of law and the school does not have a student population that is smaller than the student population of the local educational agency receiving assistance under the ESEA with the smallest student population, except that the school shall not be subject to the jurisdiction of any State educational agency (as defined in this notice) other than the Bureau of Indian Education.

(d) Educational Service Agencies. The term includes educational service agencies and consortia of those agencies.

(e) State educational agency. The term includes the State educational agency in a State in which the State educational agency is the sole educational agency for all public schools.

Logic model (also referred to as a theory of action) means a framework that identifies key project components of the proposed project (i.e., the active “ingredients” that are hypothesized to be critical to achieving the relevant outcomes) and describes the theoretical and operational relationships among the key project components and relevant outcomes.

Moderate evidence means that there is evidence of effectiveness of a key project component in improving a Start Printed Page 1097relevant outcome for a sample that overlaps with the populations or settings proposed to receive that component, based on a relevant finding from one of the following:

(i) A practice guide prepared by the WWC using version 2.1 or 3.0 of the WWC Handbook reporting a “strong evidence base” or “moderate evidence base” for the corresponding practice guide recommendation;

(ii) An intervention report prepared by the WWC using version 2.1 or 3.0 of the WWC Handbook reporting a “positive effect” or “potentially positive effect” on a relevant outcome based on a “medium to large” extent of evidence, with no reporting of a “negative effect” or “potentially negative effect” on a relevant outcome; or

(iii) A single experimental study or quasi-experimental design study reviewed and reported by the WWC using version 2.1 or 3.0 of the WWC Handbook, or otherwise assessed by the Department using version 3.0 of the WWC Handbook, as appropriate, and that—

(A) Meets WWC standards with or without reservations;

(B) Includes at least one statistically significant and positive (i.e., favorable) effect on a relevant outcome;

(C) Includes no overriding statistically significant and negative effects on relevant outcomes reported in the study or in a corresponding WWC intervention report prepared under version 2.1 or 3.0 of the WWC Handbook; and

(D) Is based on a sample from more than one site (e.g., State, county, city, school district, or postsecondary campus) and includes at least 350 students or other individuals across sites. Multiple studies of the same project component that each meet requirements in paragraphs (iii)(A), (B), and (C) of this definition may together satisfy this requirement.

Nonprofit, as applied to an agency, organization, or institution, means that it is owned and operated by one or more corporations or associations whose net earnings do not benefit, and cannot lawfully benefit, any private shareholder or entity.

Performance measure means any quantitative indicator, statistic, or metric used to gauge program or project performance.

Performance target means a level of performance that an applicant would seek to meet during the course of a project or as a result of a project.

Project component means an activity, strategy, intervention, process, product, practice, or policy included in a project. Evidence may pertain to an individual project component or to a combination of project components (e.g., training teachers on instructional practices for English learners and follow-on coaching for these teachers).

Quasi-experimental design study means a study using a design that attempts to approximate an experimental study by identifying a comparison group that is similar to the treatment group in important respects. This type of study, depending on design and implementation (e.g., establishment of baseline equivalence of the groups being compared), can meet WWC standards with reservations, but cannot meet WWC standards without reservations, as described in the WWC Handbook.

Rural local educational agency means a local educational agency that is eligible under the Small Rural School Achievement (SRSA) program or the Rural and Low-Income School (RLIS) program authorized under Title V, Part B of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended. Eligible applicants may determine whether a particular district is eligible for these programs by referring to information on the Department's website at www2.ed.gov/​nclb/​freedom/​local/​reap.html.

Relevant outcome means the student outcome(s) or other outcome(s) the key project component is designed to improve, consistent with the specific goals of the program.

State educational agency (SEA) means the agency primarily responsible for the State supervision of public elementary schools and secondary schools.

What Works Clearinghouse Handbook (WWC Handbook) means the standards and procedures set forth in the WWC Procedures and Standards Handbook, Version 3.0 or Version 2.1 (incorporated by reference, see 34 CFR 77.2). Study findings eligible for review under WWC standards can meet WWC standards without reservations, meet WWC standards with reservations, or not meet WWC standards. WWC practice guides and intervention reports include findings from systematic reviews of evidence as described in the Handbook documentation.

Program Authority: Section 4611 of the ESEA, 20 U.S.C. 7261.

Applicable Regulations: (a) The Education Department General Administrative Regulations 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 in 2 CFR part 3474. (d) 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: Discretionary grants.

Estimated Available Funds: $125,000,000.

These estimated available funds are the total available for all three types of grants under the EIR program (Early-phase, Mid-phase, and Expansion grants). Contingent upon the availability of funds and the quality of applications, we may make additional awards in subsequent years from the list of unfunded applications from this competition.

Estimated Average Size of Awards: Up to $4,000,000.

Maximum Award: We will not make an award exceeding $4,000,000 for a project period of 60 months.

Estimated Number of Awards: 18-28.

Note:

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

Project Period: Up to 60 months. Applicants are to propose a budget that covers the entire project period of up to 60 months. We anticipate that initial awards under this competition will be made for a three-year (36 month) period.

Contingent upon the availability of funds and each grantee's substantial progress towards accomplishing the goals and objectives of the project as described in its approved application, we may make continuation awards to grantees for the remainder of the project period.

Note:

Under section 4611(c) of the ESEA, the Department must use at least 25 percent of EIR funds for a fiscal year to make awards to applicants serving rural areas, contingent on receipt of a sufficient number of applications of sufficient quality. For purposes of this competition, we will consider an applicant as rural if the applicant meets the qualifications for rural applicants as described in the eligible applicants section and the applicant certifies that it meets those qualifications through the application.

In implementing this statutory provision and program requirement, the Department may fund high-quality applications from rural and STEM education applicants out of rank order in one or more of the EIR competitions.Start Printed Page 1098

In addition, for FY 2019 the EIR program intends to award at least $60 million in funds for STEM education projects, contingent on receipt of a sufficient number of applications of sufficient quality.

III. Eligibility Information

1. Eligible Applicants:

(a) An LEA;

(b) An SEA;

(c) The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE);

(d) A consortium of SEAs or LEAs;

(e) A nonprofit organization; and

(f) An SEA, an LEA, a consortium described in (d), or the Bureau of Indian Education, in partnership with—

(1) A nonprofit organization;

(2) A business;

(3) An educational service agency; or

(4) An IHE.

To qualify as a rural applicant under the EIR program, an applicant must meet both of the following requirements:

(a) The applicant is—

(1) An LEA with an urban-centric district locale code of 32, 33, 41, 42, or 43, as determined by the Secretary;

(2) A consortium of such LEAs;

(3) An educational service agency or a nonprofit organization in partnership with such an LEA; or

(4) A grantee described in clause (1) or (2) in partnership with an SEA; and

(b) A majority of the schools to be served by the program are designated with a locale code of 32, 33, 41, 42, or 43, or a combination of such codes, as determined by the Secretary.

Applicants are encouraged to retrieve locale codes from the National Center for Education Statistics School District search tool (https://nces.ed.gov/​ccd/​districtsearch/​), where districts can be looked up individually to retrieve locale codes, and Public School search tool (https://nces.ed.gov/​ccd/​schoolsearch/​), where individual schools can be looked up to retrieve locale codes. More information on rural applicant eligibility is in the application package.

Note:

While the competitive preference priority includes a reference and an accompanying definition for rural LEA, for the purposes of meeting the statutory rural set aside, an applicant must meet the requirements as listed above and provide the necessary locale codes in their grant application.

Note:

LEA, SEA, BIE, and nonprofits are eligible to apply and submit and receive an EIR grant. A private IHE that can document its nonprofit status, as provided for under 34 CFR 75.51(b), which includes recognition by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as having 501(c)(3) status, is eligible to apply for and receive an EIR grant as a lead applicant, applying as a nonprofit organization. In addition, any IHE is eligible to be a partner in an application where an LEA, SEA, BIE, consortium of SEAs or LEAs, or a nonprofit organization is the lead applicant that submits the application. A nonprofit organization, such as a development foundation, which is affiliated with a public IHE, can apply for a grant. A public IHE that has 501(c)(3) status would also qualify as a nonprofit organization and could be a lead applicant for an EIR grant. A public IHE without 501(c)(3) status, or that could not provide any other documentation described in 34 CFR 75.51(b), however, would not qualify as a nonprofit organization, and therefore could not apply for and receive an EIR grant but may serve as a partner on a grant awarded to an eligible applicant.

2. Cost Sharing or Matching: Under section 4611(d) of the ESEA, each grant recipient must provide, from Federal, State, local, or private sources, an amount equal to 10 percent of funds provided under the grant, which may be provided in cash or through in-kind contributions, to carry out activities supported by the grant. Grantees must include a budget showing their matching contributions to the budget amount of EIR grant funds and must provide evidence of their matching contributions for the first year of the grant in their grant applications. Section 4611(d) of the ESEA also authorizes the Secretary to waive this matching requirement on a case-by-case basis, upon a showing of exceptional circumstances, such as:

(a) The difficulty of raising matching funds for a program to serve a rural area;

(b) The difficulty of raising matching funds in areas with a concentration of LEAs or schools with a high percentage of students aged 5 through 17—

(1) Who are in poverty, as counted in the most recent census data approved by the Secretary;

(2) Who are eligible for a free or reduced-price lunch under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1751 et seq.);

(3) Whose families receive assistance under the State program funded under part A of title IV of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 601 et seq.); or

(4) Who are eligible to receive medical assistance under the Medicaid program; and

(c) The difficulty of raising funds on Tribal land.

Applicants that wish to apply for a waiver must include a request in their application that describes why the matching requirement would cause serious hardship or an inability to carry out project activities. Further information about applying for waivers can be found in the application package. However, given the importance of matching funds to the long-term success of the project, the Secretary expects eligible entities to identify appropriate matching funds.

3. Subgrantees: A grantee under this competition may not award subgrants to entities to directly carry out project activities described in its application.

4. Other: a. Funding Categories: An applicant will be considered for an award only for the type of EIR grant (i.e., Early-phase, Mid-phase, and Expansion grant) for which it applies. An applicant may not submit an application for the same proposed project under more than one type of grant.

Note:

Each application will be reviewed under the competition it was submitted under in the Grants.gov system, and only applications that are successfully submitted by the established deadline will be peer reviewed. Applicants should be careful that they download the intended EIR application package and that they submit their applications under the intended EIR competition.

b. Evaluation: The grantee must conduct an independent evaluation of the effectiveness of its project.

c. High-need students: The grantee must serve high-need students.

IV. Application and Submission Information

1. Application Submission Instructions: For information on how to submit an application please refer to our Common Instructions for Applicants to Department of Education Discretionary Grant Programs, published in the Federal Register on February 12, 2018 (83 FR 6003) and available at www.govinfo.gov/​content/​pkg/​FR-2018-02-12/​pdf/​2018-02558.pdf.

2. Submission of Proprietary Information: Given the types of projects that may be proposed in applications for the Early-phase grant competition, 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).

Because we plan to make successful applications available to the public, you may wish to request confidentiality of business information.

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 Start Printed Page 1099on which we can find this information. For additional information please see 34 CFR 5.11(c).

3. 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.

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

5. Recommended 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. We recommend that you (1) limit the application narrative for an Early-phase grant application to no more than 25 pages and (2) use the following standards:

  • A “page” is 8.5″ × 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, headings, 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 recommended page limit 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. However, the recommended page limit does apply to all of the application narrative.

6. Notice of Intent to Apply: 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) which absolute priorities the applicant intends to address. Applicants may access this form online at www.surveymonkey.com/​r/​GXJTJ59. Applicants that do not complete this form may still submit an application.

V. Application Review Information

1. Selection Criteria: The selection criteria for the Early-phase competition are from 34 CFR 75.210. 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 25 points).

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

(1) The potential contribution of the proposed project to increased knowledge or understanding of educational problems, issues, or effective strategies.

(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.

B. Quality of the Project Design (up to 35 points).

The Secretary considers the quality of the design of the proposed project. In determining the quality of the design of the proposed project, 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.

(2) The extent to which there is a conceptual framework underlying the proposed research or demonstration activities and the quality of that framework.

(3) The adequacy of procedures for ensuring feedback and continuous improvement in the operation of the proposed project.

C. Adequacy of Resources and Quality of the Management Plan (up to 20 points).

The Secretary considers the adequacy of resources and the quality of the management plan for the proposed project. In determining the adequacy of resources and quality of the management plan for the proposed project, the Secretary considers the following factors:

(1) 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.

(2) The qualifications, including relevant training and experience, of key project personnel.

(3) The potential for continued support of the project after Federal funding ends, including, as appropriate, the demonstrated commitment of appropriate entities to such support.

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

The Secretary considers the quality of the evaluation to be conducted of the proposed project. In determining the quality of the evaluation, 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 standards with or without reservations as described in the What Works Clearinghouse Handbook (as defined in this notice).

(2) The extent to which the evaluation will provide guidance about effective strategies suitable for replication or testing in other settings.

(3) The extent to which the methods of evaluation will provide valid and reliable performance data on relevant outcomes.

(4) The extent to which the evaluation plan clearly articulates the key project components, mediators, and outcomes, as well as a measurable threshold for acceptable implementation.

Note:

Applicants may wish to review the following technical assistance resources on evaluation: (1) WWC Procedures and Standards Handbooks: https://ies.ed.gov/​ncee/​wwc/​Handbooks; (2) “Technical Assistance Materials for Conducting Rigorous Impact Evaluations”: http://ies.ed.gov/​ncee/​projects/​evaluationTA.asp; and (3) 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, discussing strategies for designing and executing experimental 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: 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.Start Printed Page 1100

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 (34 CFR 100.4, 104.5, 106.4, 108.8, and 110.23).

For Early-phase grant applications, the Department intends to conduct a two-tier review process to review and score all eligible applications. Reviewers will review and score all eligible Early-phase applications on the following three criteria: A. Significance, B. Quality of the Project Design, and C. Adequacy of Resources and Quality of the Management Plan. Applications that score highly on these three criteria will then have the remaining criterion, D. Quality of the Project Evaluation, reviewed and scored by a different panel of reviewers with evaluation expertise.

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.

Peer reviewers will read, prepare a written evaluation of, and score the assigned applications, using the selection criteria provided in this notice.

3. Risk Assessment and Specific Conditions: Consistent with 2 CFR 200.205, before awarding grants under this competition the Department conducts a review of the risks posed by applicants. Under 2 CFR 3474.10, the Secretary may impose specific 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.

4. Integrity and Performance System: If you are selected under this competition to receive an award that over the course of the project period may exceed the simplified acquisition threshold (currently $250,000), under 2 CFR 200.205(a)(2), we must make a judgment about your integrity, business ethics, and record of performance under Federal awards—that is, the risk posed by you as an applicant—before we make an award. In doing so, we must consider any information about you that is in the integrity and performance system (currently referred to as the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS)), accessible through the System for Award Management. You may review and comment on any information about yourself that a Federal agency previously entered and that is currently in FAPIIS.

Please note that, if the total value of your currently active grants, cooperative agreements, and procurement contracts from the Federal Government exceeds $10,000,000, the reporting requirements in 2 CFR part 200, Appendix XII, require you to report certain integrity information to FAPIIS semiannually. Please review the requirements in 2 CFR part 200, Appendix XII, if this grant plus all the other Federal funds you receive exceed $10,000,000.

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. Open Licensing Requirements: Unless an exception applies, if you are awarded a grant under this competition, you will be required to openly license to the public grant deliverables created in whole, or in part, with Department grant funds. When the deliverable consists of modifications to pre-existing works, the license extends only to those modifications that can be separately identified and only to the extent that open licensing is permitted under the terms of any licenses or other legal restrictions on the use of pre-existing works. Additionally, a grantee or subgrantee that is awarded competitive grant funds must have a plan to disseminate these public grant deliverables. This dissemination plan can be developed and submitted after your application has been reviewed and selected for funding. For additional information on the open licensing requirements please refer to 2 CFR 3474.20(c).

Note:

The evaluation report is a specific deliverable under an Early-phase grant that grantees must openly license to the public. Additionally, EIR grantees are encouraged to submit final studies resulting from research supported in whole or in part by EIR to the Educational Resources Information Center (http://eric.ed.gov).

4. 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.

(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.

5. Performance Measures: The overall purpose of the EIR program is to expand the implementation of, and investment in, innovative practices that are demonstrated to have an impact on improving student achievement and attainment for high-need students. We have established several performance measures (as defined in this notice) for the Early-phase grants. By reporting on these performance measures in Annual and Final Performance reports, grantees will satisfy the requirement in section 8101(21)(A)(ii)(II) of the ESEA for projects relying on the “demonstrates a rationale” evidence level to have “ongoing efforts to examine the effects” of the funded activity, strategy, or intervention.

Annual performance measures: (1) The percentage of grantees that reach their annual target number of students as specified in the application; (2) the percentage of grantees that reach their annual target number of high-need Start Printed Page 1101students as specified in the application; (3) the percentage of grantees with evaluations designed to provide performance feedback to inform project design; (4) the percentage of grantees with ongoing well-designed and independent evaluations that will provide evidence of their effectiveness at improving student outcomes; (5) the percentage of grantees that implement an evaluation that provides information about the key elements and the approach of the project so as to facilitate testing, development, or replication in other settings; and (6) the cost per student served by the grant.

Cumulative performance measures: (1) The percentage of grantees that reach the targeted number of students specified in the application; (2) the percentage of grantees that reached the target number of high-need students specified in the application; (3) the percentage of grantees that use evaluation data to make changes to their practice(s); (4) the percentage of grantees that implement a completed well-designed, well-implemented, and independent evaluation that provides evidence of their effectiveness at improving student outcomes; (5) the percentage of grantees with a completed evaluation that provides information about the key elements and the approach of the project so as to facilitate testing, development, or replication in other settings; and (6) the cost per student served by the grant.

Project-Specific Performance Measures: Applicants must propose project-specific performance measures and performance targets (as defined in this notice) consistent with the objectives of the proposed project. Applications must provide the following information as directed under 34 CFR 75.110(b) and (c):

(1) Performance measures. How each proposed performance measure would accurately measure the performance of the project and how the proposed performance measure would be consistent with the performance measures established for the program funding the competition.

(2) Baseline (as defined in this notice) data. (i) Why each proposed baseline is valid; or (ii) if the applicant has determined that there are no established baseline data for a particular performance measure, an explanation of why there is no established baseline and of how and when, during the project period, the applicant would establish a valid baseline for the performance measure.

(3) Performance targets. Why each proposed performance target is ambitious yet achievable compared to the baseline for the performance measure and when, during the project period, the applicant would meet the performance target(s).

(4) Data collection and reporting. (i) The data collection and reporting methods the applicant would use and why those methods are likely to yield reliable, valid, and meaningful performance data; and (ii) the applicant's capacity to collect and report reliable, valid, and meaningful performance data, as evidenced by high-quality data collection, analysis, and reporting in other projects or research.

All grantees must submit an annual performance report with information that is responsive to these performance measures.

6. 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. 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 the program contact person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

Electronic Access to This Document: The official version of this document is the document published in the Federal Register. You may access the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations at: www.govinfo.gov. 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 Portable Document Format (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: January 29, 2019.

Frank Brogan,

Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2019-00708 Filed 1-31-19; 8:45 am]

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