Department of Education

Are the i3 results correct?

At least one of the 49 i3 celebrations going on around the country tonight may be premature.

Like many others, I was very interested in seeing the reviewers’ comments and scores for the highest-scoring applicants. When the information was posted this afternoon, I immediately downloaded the comments and score for the highest-scoring applicant, Saint Vrain Valley School District. With a standardized score of 116.95–well ahead of any other applicants–I was certain it must be flawless.

It was far from it. The raw score for Saint Vrain Valley School District’s Development proposal was 67.17 out of 100, which is far below the level typically funded in federal programs. If the standardized scores were right, all other Development proposals must have been below 67.17, and that seems extremely unlikely.

I checked another Development score at random. District 75 of the New York City Department of Education had a standardized score of 104.60. The district’s raw score is 93. That’s much more in line with expectations.

I checked another one with a standardized score similar to District 75. The Board of Education of the City of New York had a standardized score of 104.18 and a raw score of 93.17. Although it doesn’t seem quite right that the standardized score would be lower than District 75’s even though the raw score was higher, at least it is very close compared to the problem with Saint Vrain Valley.

I checked another. Bay State Reading Institute had a standardized score of 97.51 and a raw score of 90.33. Again, this seems reasonable in comparison to the others.

I’m sure others will do the complete numbers for all of them in time, but for now, someone needs to explain why Saint Vrain Valley doesn’t seem to merit the title “highest-scoring applicant.” I wonder which other scores are wrong? And what of the more than 1600 other applications for which we won’t be able to review the scores?

Follow-up (12:21 pm CDT, August 5, 2010): Michele McNeil over at Education Week sheds a bit of light on the Saint Vrain scoring. As she points out, it’s all about the standardization process. Unfortunately, this means the raw scores and comments are of limited value for we outside observers.


Highest-scoring i3 applicants announced

Late yesterday the Department of Education alerted everyone to its plan to release the list of highest-scoring Investing in Innovation (i3) applicants at 5:30 pm EDT today, but they jumped the gun and posted everything this morning.

Preliminary stats:

  • 49 highest-scoring applicants
  • 4 Scale-up
  • 15 Validation
  • 30 Development
  • Total requested funding $637 million
  • 20 of 49 have already secured the 20% match
  • Lowest score of 81.17 netted $45,593,170
  • Highest score of 116.95 netted $3,608,880

Additional information, including reviewers’ comments and scoring details, will be released later today.


ED’s i3 ‘highest scorers’ list to be revealed August 5th

More info here.

And don’t miss the couldn’t their understanding of the program be useful on a Validation panel?

In the end, they chose 330 unblemished panelists and provided training (no details offered) on the program. Expect to hear some noisy complaints about panelist comments in conflict with program requirements.

I’m looking forward to reading some of the winning narratives. They’ll be posted on data.ed.gov.


data.ed.gov

The Department of Education has unveiled

Unlike the portal provided through the Open Government site (used by NSF and several other federal agencies), data.ed.gov is very easy to use. It’ll be interesting to see how it evolves.


Fund for Improving Post-Secondary Education

The Department of Education published its complete announcement for FIPSE this week.

Applications are due July 29th. The Department anticipates making 37 three-year awards between $500,000 and $750,000 each.

This year’s program has eight invitational priorities:

Invitational Priority 1.
Under this priority, we are particularly interested in centers of excellence for teacher preparation as described in section 242 of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA).

Invitational Priority 2.
Under this priority, we are particularly interested in university sustainability initiatives as described in section 881 of HEA.

Invitational Priority 3.
Under this priority, we are particularly interested in rural development initiatives for rural-serving colleges and universities as described in section 861 of HEA.

Invitational Priority 4.
Under this priority, we are particularly interested in initiatives to assist highly qualified minorities and women to acquire doctoral degrees in fields where they are underrepresented as described in section 807 of HEA.

Invitational Priority 5.
Under this priority, we are particularly interested in modeling and simulation programs as described in section 891 of HEA.

Invitational Priority 6.
Under this priority, we are particularly interested in higher education consortia to design and offer interdisciplinary programs that focus on poverty and human capability as described in section 741(a)(11) of HEA.

Invitational Priority 7.
Under this priority, we are particularly interested in innovative postsecondary models to improve college matriculation and graduation rates, including activities to facilitate transfer of credits between institutions of higher education (IHEs), alignment of curricula on a State or multi-State level between high schools and colleges and between two-year and four-year postsecondary programs, dual enrollment, articulation agreements, partnerships between high schools and community colleges, and partnerships between K-12 organizations and colleges for college access and retention programs.

Invitational Priority 8.
Under this priority, we are particularly interested in activities to develop or enhance educational partnerships and cross-cultural cooperation between postsecondary educational institutions in the United States and similar institutions in Haiti.


i3 receives 1,669 proposals

The Department of Education announced it received 1,669 proposals for the new Investing in Innovation (i3) program by the May 12th deadline. Additional proposals from federal disaster areas in Tennessee can be submitted as late as May 19th, and one additional applicant received approval to submit an application by mail that has not yet been received.

The submissions represent 68% of the number of LOIs the department received in April.

If the reduction in applications was distributed proportionally across the three application types, the new odds are better for applicants (but again, the department doesn’t have enough money to fund all the awards it projects, so expect the Validation award rate to be <10% as well):

Development: ~8%
Validation: ~28%
Scale-up: ~9%

It’ll be interesting to see whether the reductions were, in fact, proportional. Of the proposals I’m aware of, ALL initially planned to do Validation, and ALL made decisions to switch to Development and then back to Validation at some point–and all the discussions centered around whether the evidence fit the vague descriptions of what is expected.

I suspect most of the scale-up LOIs resulted in full proposals because those groups likely knew back in November exactly what they wanted to do and how they planned to do it. I also suspect many of the Development groups dropped out after discovering they didn’t have the resources to pull together a competitive proposal or couldn’t get internal agreement about the direction of the proposal. It’s a toss up as to whether Validation groups switched to Development or just dropped out.

But we’ll know much more at some point. This from the department’s announcement:

Being transparent: In the coming weeks, the Department will make an unprecedented amount of information available to the public about each i3 applicant and the funding process.  Specifically, the Department intends to provide detailed information on the applicants, partners, priorities, budgets and descriptions of each i3 application.  The Department will leverage a new user-friendly platform that will allow the public to run customized reports on the application pool.  We believe posting this information will improve the quality of the i3 program, spark the imaginations of the public and further our country’s collective efforts to support innovation in education.


New i3 deadline and archived i3 webinars available

The Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation (i3) application deadline has been moved by one day from May 11th to May 12th.

The department’s stealth webinars on “Eligibility & Matching” and “Evidence & Evaluation” are now available in archived form.


Upcoming changes to state standards may pose a threat to ED’s i3

Earlier this month the comment period closed on the proposed Common Core Standards for English-language arts and mathematics. After a brief period of final revisions based on comments received, the standards are scheduled to be released in time for most states to consider adoption prior to or around the start of the new school year.

Governors and education officials from 48 states (not including Texas and Alaska) and 2 territories committed to the process of developing these standards, and the assumption is that most states will adopt them to replace their current standards. Strangely, Kentucky already adopted them sight unseen.

Although the parties involved have taken great care to avoid calling these national standards, the adoption of common standards across even a few states is unprecedented, and the likely adoption of these standards by most states will push us as near to national standards as we are ever likely to achieve. Adopting states have the option of modifying or augmenting the standards, but they are being encouraged to keep changes to a minimum.

I think the adoption of common standards (followed eventually by a common assessment a la NAEP) may be the educational system’s best hope of fending off the impending (but possibly endangered) NCLB 2014 deadline, and it’s the only approach proposed so far that has any chance of not leaving whole states behind (my home state being one of them).

But the new standards may present a $643.5 million problem. The) is #3 which states that “Under this priority, an eligible applicant must propose a project that is based on standards that are at least as rigorous as its State’s standards. If the proposed project is based on standards other than those adopted by the eligible applicant’s State, the applicant must explain how the standards are aligned with and at least as rigorous as the applicant’s State’s standards as well as how the standards differ.”

So the adoption of new standards after the i3 submission date but before the award start date may present some problems for applicants if they plan to use their state’s standards. Even programs based on different standards may find it difficult to describe how their standards differ from the yet-to-be-adopted standards, particularly since the final standards won’t be released before the i3 submission date.

I think the programs that are based on standards other than the state’s standards may have an easier time of it, particularly since the i3 program also requires that Scale-up proposals use the same program for which the supporting evidence is provided and that Validation proposals use the same or a very similar program with a clear and reasonable rationale for the changes.

Most of the programs based on state standards are likely to be inextricable from those standards and may be headed for the trashcan once the Common Core Standards are adopted, and even if the framework of the program can be salvaged and retooled for the new standards, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether such a proposal will pass muster during review.


The Secretary speaks

Education Secretary Arne Duncan was the Talk of the Nation yesterday on NPR’s program of the same name. You can see a transcript of the show and kept him on the full hour. If you get a chance, you may want to listen to the audio. The anger and frustration out there was evident in every call except one.


The weekly news drop

If Representative Lipinski’s National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 2010 survives the legislative process intact, NSF will receive a 19% increase in funding over 2010 levels next year (compared to a 7% increase under the president’s proposed budget). The Act calls for a 55% increase in funding over five years to $10.7 billion in 2015. As always, writedit provides a good overview.

Jeff Mervis of AAAS’s ScienceInsider asks whether NSF is taking enough risks.

Former NSF director Guy Stever died this week. The current director comments on the passing of his friend and colleague.

Yudhijit Bhattacharjee of ScienceInsider reports on the National Science Board’s decision to leave information on the state of American’s knowledge and understanding of evolution out of the 2010 report on Science and Engineering Indicators. (Full story is here if you have access to Science.) PZ Myers over at Pharyngula stirs the pot a bit more.

NIH Director Francis Collins rebuked the American College of Pediatricians for using language from one of his books “to make a point against homosexuality.” In this letter the group’s president points school district superintendents across the country to FactsAboutYouth.com where this article uses quotes from Dr. Collins and others to “educate” school officials.

We’re in the wrong business. The real NIH money is in staffing!

Roderic Pettigrew, director of NIH’s National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, told attendees at the Design of Medical Devices conference that they’ll have to do more with less, and the key is innovation.

Meredith Wadman of Nature reports that the  WiCell Research Institute has submitted an application for NIH approval to fund research involving four Bush-era stem cell lines, including the frequently used H7 and H9 lines. Approval may come in a matter of weeks.

It’s been two weeks since the Dept. of Ed. announced Delaware and Tennessee were the only states to receive awards under the first round of Race to the Top, but you can expect it to stay in the news for a while. Some states have announced doubts about applying again, and a few have said officially they won’t pursue a piece of the remaining $3.4 billion. Others are considering extensive revisions to their applications.

At least one state is taking it’s case to the airwaves. Ed groups are making ad buys to promote New York’s application.

The VP’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden, says be on the lookout for $2 billion in funding for education and training through community colleges, including funding partnership with regional industries.


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