Tag: investing in innovation

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.


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.


Whew! i3 is over…now what?

The last week has been a real bear finishing up the i3, but it’s over, and the submission receipt is in hand.

The Department of Education granted an extension for folks affected by the flooding in Tennessee–they have till May 19th to get everything done. Except for the folks who truly were affected by the floods, I’m not sure this type of mercy is kind. I know I couldn’t have survived another week.

In other i3 news, the Department is still looking for peer reviewers. Even though the site still says the deadline for applying was April 1st, I queried yesterday and confirmed they’re still desperately seeking help. If you want to apply, do so here.

Now the waiting game begins, but the wait won’t be long. After all, the funds must be committed by September 30th. That’s only 20 weeks away. But the notification date for most folks will come at least 4-6 weeks earlier when groups receive news they’ve scored high and need to confirm (or find and confirm) the 20% match. If some groups can’t get the match, the next groups on the list will possibly get the green light, but they’ll have even less time to meet the match requirement.

So some groups will probably hear somewhere between August 1st and 15th. That’s just 2 1/2 months away…

By the way, next time around I hope they put a page limit on the budget narrative…


i3 gets $500 million boost from private foundations

The Department of Education announced today that 12 private foundations are contributing $500 million to supplement the $650 million in the Investing in Innovation award program. This brings the total amount available to $1.15 billion–or about half the amount needed to fund awards at the levels the Department has projected.

Although the details are sketchy (i.e., almost none are provided), it appears that about $233 million will be used to support proposals under Absolute Priorities 1-3, and about $178 million will be used to support Absolute Priority 4. Another $95 million will be devoted to sustainability–specifically research and evaluation of the i3 programs and building support for successful programs after the award period. It’s not clear whether these funds will be used to offset the evaluation expenses on proposals or develop stand-alone evaluation and promotion activities with Departmental oversight.

Interestingly, part of the $178 million for low-performing schools is allocated specifically to provide “support for high-quality school choices including charters and alternative school designs.” I must say that I didn’t see that coming (though in hindsight I should have), but it does provide very important insight into what the Department is hoping to see from Applicants under Absolute Priority 4–I’m glad I’m writing under a different priority!

Perhaps the most interesting part of the announcement was the unveiling of the Foundation Registry, a site where i3 applicants can post their proposals and foundations will review the proposals to identify programs they want to support. It’s being touted as a way to simplify obtaining the match. It’ll be interesting to see 1) how many applicants post their proposals (assuming that information is released), 2) whether foundations wait to see who is funded before contacting applicants, and 3) whether foundations opt to partially or fully fund any projects that don’t receive an i3 award.

These 12 foundations (no surprises) provided the $500 million boost to the i3 and are participating in the Foundation Registry:

www.aecf.org
www.gatesfoundation.org
www.carnegie.org
www.mott.org
www.fordfound.org
www.macfound.org
www.luminafoundation.org
www.robertsonfoundation.org
www.wallacefoundation.org
www.waltonfamilyfoundation.org
www.hewlett.org
www.wkkf.org


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.


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