FR Doc 2010-5147
[Federal Register: March 12, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 48)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 12003-12071]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr12mr10-10]                               

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Part II





Department of Education





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34 CFR Part Chapter II



Investing in Innovation Fund; Final Rule and Notice


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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

34 CFR Chapter II

[Docket ID ED-2009-OII-0012]
RIN 1855-AA06

 
Investing in Innovation Fund

AGENCY: Office of Innovation and Improvement, Department of Education.

ACTION: Final priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection 
criteria.

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SUMMARY: The Secretary of Education (Secretary) establishes priorities, 
requirements, definitions, and selection criteria under the Investing 
in Innovation Fund. The Secretary may use these priorities, 
requirements, definitions, and selection criteria in any year in which 
this program is in effect.

DATES: These priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection 
criteria are effective May 11, 2010.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Telephone: (202) 453-7122; or by e-
mail: i3@ed.gov; or by mail: (Attention: Margo Anderson, Investing in 
Innovation), U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., 
room 4W302, Washington, DC 20202.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
    Purpose of Program: The Investing in Innovation Fund, 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 purpose of this program 
is to provide competitive grants to applicants with a record of 
improving student achievement and attainment in order to expand the 
implementation of, and investment in, innovative practices that are 
demonstrated to have an impact on improving student achievement or 
student growth (as defined in this notice), closing achievement gaps, 
decreasing dropout rates, increasing high school graduation rates, or 
increasing college enrollment and completion rates.
    These grants will (1) allow eligible entities to expand and develop 
innovative practices that can serve as models of best practices, (2) 
allow eligible entities to work in partnership with the private sector 
and the philanthropic community, and (3) support eligible entities in 
identifying and documenting best practices that can be shared and taken 
to scale based on demonstrated success.
    Background: One of the overall goals of the ARRA is to improve 
student achievement and attainment through school improvement and 
reform. Within the context of the ARRA, the Investing in Innovation 
Fund focuses on four education reform areas that will help achieve this 
goal: (1) Improving teacher and principal effectiveness and ensuring 
that all schools have effective teachers and principals, (2) gathering 
information to improve student learning, teacher performance, and 
college and career readiness through enhanced data systems, (3) 
implementing college-and career-ready standards and rigorous 
assessments aligned with those standards, and (4) improving achievement 
in low-performing schools through intensive support and effective 
interventions. The Department is using the Investing in Innovation Fund 
to support the overarching ARRA goal of improving student achievement 
and attainment by establishing four absolute priorities that are 
directly aligned with the four education reform areas under the ARRA. 
We are also establishing in this notice four competitive preference 
priorities that are aligned with Department reform goals in the 
following areas: (1) Early learning, (2) college access and success, 
(3) serving students with disabilities and limited English proficient 
students, and (4) serving students in rural LEAs. Finally, we are 
requiring that all projects funded under this program be designed to 
serve high-need students (as defined in this notice).
    Under this program, the Department is awarding three types of 
grants: ``Scale-up'' grants, ``Validation'' grants, and ``Development'' 
grants. Among the three grant types, there are differences in terms of 
the evidence that an applicant is required to submit in support of its 
proposed project; the expectations for ``scaling up'' successful 
projects during or after the grant period, either directly or through 
partners; and the funding that a successful applicant is eligible to 
receive. The following is an overview of the three types of grants:
    (1) Scale-up grants provide funding to ``scale up'' practices, 
strategies, or programs for which there is strong evidence (as defined 
in this notice) that the proposed practice, strategy, or program will 
have a statistically significant effect on improving student 
achievement or student growth, closing achievement gaps, decreasing 
dropout rates, increasing high school graduation rates, or increasing 
college enrollment and completion rates, and that the effect of 
implementing the proposed practice, strategy, or program will be 
substantial and important. An applicant for a Scale-up grant may also 
demonstrate success through an intermediate variable strongly 
correlated with these outcomes, such as teacher or principal 
effectiveness.
    An applicant for a Scale-up grant must estimate the number of 
students to be reached by the proposed project and provide evidence of 
its capacity to reach the proposed number of students during the course 
of the grant. In addition, an applicant for a Scale-up grant must 
provide evidence of its capacity (e.g., in terms of qualified 
personnel, financial resources, or management capacity) to scale up to 
a State, regional, or national level, working directly or through 
partners either during or following the grant period. We recognize that 
LEAs are not typically responsible for taking to scale their practices, 
strategies, or programs in other LEAs and States. However, all 
applicants, including LEAs, can and should partner with others (e.g., 
State educational agencies) to disseminate and take to scale their 
effective practices, strategies, and programs.
    Peer reviewers will review all eligible Scale-up grant 
applications. However, if an application does not meet the definition 
of strong evidence in this notice, the Department will not consider the 
application for funding.
    Successful applicants for Scale-up grants will receive more funding 
than successful applicants for Validation or Development grants.
    (2) Validation grants provide funding to support practices, 
strategies, or programs that show promise, but for which there is 
currently only moderate evidence (as defined in this notice) that the 
proposed practice, strategy, or program will have a statistically 
significant effect on improving student achievement or student growth, 
closing achievement gaps, decreasing dropout rates, increasing high 
school graduation rates, or increasing college enrollment and 
completion rates and that, with further study, the effect of 
implementing the proposed practice, strategy, or program may prove to 
be substantial and important. Thus, applications for Validation grants 
do not need to have the same level of research evidence to support the 
proposed project as is required for Scale-up grants. An applicant may 
also demonstrate success through an intermediate variable strongly 
correlated with these outcomes, such as teacher or principal 
effectiveness.
    An applicant for a Validation grant must estimate the number of 
students to be reached by the proposed project and provide evidence of 
its capacity to reach the proposed number of students during the course 
of the grant. In addition, an applicant for a Validation grant must

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provide evidence of its capacity (e.g., in terms of qualified 
personnel, financial resources, or management capacity) to scale up to 
a State or regional level, working directly or through partners either 
during or following the grant period. As noted earlier, we recognize 
that LEAs are not typically responsible for taking to scale their 
practices, strategies, or programs in other LEAs and States. However, 
all applicants, including LEAs, can and should partner with others to 
disseminate and take to scale their effective practices, strategies, 
and programs.
    Peer reviewers will review all eligible Validation grant 
applications. However, if an application does not meet the definition 
of moderate evidence in this notice, the Department will not consider 
the application for funding.
    Successful applicants for Validation grants will receive more 
funding than successful applicants for Development grants.
    (3) Development grants provide funding to support high-potential 
and relatively untested practices, strategies, or programs whose 
efficacy should be systematically studied. An applicant must provide 
evidence that the proposed practice, strategy, or program, or one 
similar to it, has been attempted previously, albeit on a limited scale 
or in a limited setting, and yielded promising results that suggest 
that more formal and systematic study is warranted. An applicant must 
provide a rationale for the proposed practice, strategy, or program 
that is based on research findings or reasonable hypotheses, including 
related research or theories in education and other sectors. Thus, 
applications for Development grants do not need to provide the same 
level of evidence to support the proposed project as is required for 
Validation or Scale-up grants.
    An applicant for a Development grant must estimate the number of 
students to be served by the project, and provide evidence of the 
applicant's ability to implement and appropriately evaluate the 
proposed project and, if positive results are obtained, its capacity 
(e.g., in terms of qualified personnel, financial resources, or 
management capacity) to further develop and bring the project to a 
larger scale directly or through partners either during or following 
the grant period. As noted earlier, we recognize that LEAs are not 
typically responsible for taking to scale their practices, strategies, 
or programs. Again, however, all applicants can and should partner with 
others to disseminate and take to scale their effective practices, 
strategies, and programs.
    Peer reviewers will review all eligible Development grant 
applications. However, if an application is not supported by a 
reasonable hypothesis for the proposed project, the Department will not 
consider the application for funding.
    To summarize, in terms of the evidence required to support the 
proposed practice, strategy, or program, the major differences between 
Scale-up, Validation, and Development grants are (see Table 1): (1) The 
strength of the research; (2) the significance of the effect; and (3) 
the magnitude of the effect.

  Table 1--Differences Between the Three Types of Investing in Innovation Fund Grants in Terms of the Evidence
                         Required To Support the Proposed Practice, Strategy, or Program
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                                        Scale-up grants           Validation grants        Development grants
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Strength of Research.............  Strong evidence..........  Moderate evidence.......  Reasonable hypotheses.
Internal Validity (Strength of     High internal validity     (1) High internal         Theory and reported
 Causal Conclusions) and External   and high external          validity and moderate     practice suggest the
 Validity (Generalizability).       validity.                  external validity; or     potential for efficacy
                                                               (2) moderate internal     for at least some
                                                               validity and high         participants and
                                                               external validity.        settings.
Prior Research Studies Supporting  (1) More than one well-    (1) At least one well-    (1) Evidence that the
 Effectiveness or Efficacy of the   designed and well-         designed and well-        proposed practice,
 Proposed Practice, Strategy, or    implemented experimental   implemented               strategy, or program,
 Program.                           study or well-designed     experimental or quasi-    or one similar to it,
                                    and well-implemented       experimental study,       has been attempted
                                    quasi-experimental         with small sample sizes   previously, albeit on a
                                    study; or (2) one large,   or other conditions of    limited scale or in a
                                    well-designed and well-    implementation or         limited setting, and
                                    implemented randomized     analysis that limit       yielded promising
                                    controlled, multisite      generalizability; (2)     results that suggest
                                    trial.                     at least one well-        that more formal and
                                                               designed and well-        systematic study is
                                                               implemented               warranted; and (2) a
                                                               experimental or quasi-    rationale for the
                                                               experimental study that   proposed practice,
                                                               does not demonstrate      strategy, or program
                                                               equivalence between the   that is based on
                                                               intervention and          research findings or
                                                               comparison groups at      reasonable hypotheses,
                                                               program entry but that    including related
                                                               has no other major        research or theories in
                                                               flaws related to          education and other
                                                               internal validity; or     sectors.
                                                               (3) correlational
                                                               research with strong
                                                               statistical controls
                                                               for selection bias and
                                                               for discerning the
                                                               influence of internal
                                                               factors.
Practice, Strategy, or Program in  The same as that proposed  The same as, or very      The same as, or similar
 Prior Research.                    for support under the      similar to, that          to, that proposed for
                                    Scale-up grant.            proposed for support      support under the
                                                               under the Validation      Development grant.
                                                               grant.
Participants and Settings in       Participants and settings  Participants or settings  Participants or settings
 Prior Research.                    included the kinds of      may have been more        may have been more
                                    participants and           limited than those        limited than those
                                    settings proposed to       proposed to receive the   proposed to receive the
                                    receive the treatment      treatment under the       treatment under the
                                    under the Scale-up grant.  Validation grant.         Development grant.

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Significance of Effect...........  Effect in prior research   Effect in prior research  Practice, strategy, or
                                    was statistically          would be likely to be     program warrants
                                    significant, and would     statistically             further study to
                                    be likely to be            significant in a sample   investigate efficacy.
                                    statistically              of the size proposed
                                    significant in a sample    for the Validation
                                    of the size proposed for   grant.
                                    the Scale-up grant.
Magnitude of Effect..............  Based on prior research,   Based on prior research,  Based on prior
                                    substantial and            substantial and           implementation,
                                    important for the target   important, with the       promising for the
                                    population for the Scale-  potential of the same     target population for
                                    up project.                for the target            the Development
                                                               population for the        project.
                                                               Validation project.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In addition, the three types of grants differ in terms of the 
expectations to scale up successful projects during or following the 
grant period, either directly or through partners, and the level of 
funding that would be available. (See Table 2.)

 Table 2--Differences Between the Three Types of Investing in Innovation Fund Grants in Terms of Expectations to
                                     Scale Up and the Funding To Be Provided
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                                        Scale-up grants           Validation grants        Development grants
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Scale up.........................  National, Regional, or     Regional or State.......  Further develop and
                                    State.                                               scale.
Funding to be provided...........  Highest..................  Moderate................  Modest.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Major Changes in the Final Priorities, Requirements, Definitions, and 
Selection Criteria

    The Department published a notice of proposed priorities, 
requirements, definitions, and selection criteria (NPP) for this 
program in the Federal Register on October 9, 2009 (74 FR 52214-52228). 
We received comments on the NPP from 346 commenters, including from 
LEAs, nonprofit organizations, professional associations, parents, and 
private citizens. We used these comments to revise, improve, and 
clarify the priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection 
criteria. In addition to minor technical and editorial changes, there 
are several substantive differences between the priorities, 
requirements, definitions, and selection criteria proposed in the NPP 
and the final priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection 
criteria that we establish in this notice. Those substantive changes 
are summarized in this section and discussed in greater detail in the 
Analysis of Comments and Changes that follows. We do not discuss minor 
technical or editorial changes, nor do we address comments that 
suggested changes that we are not authorized to make under the law.

Priorities

    We are making the following changes to the priorities for this 
program:
     We are revising Absolute Priority 1--Innovations that 
Support Effective Teachers and School Leaders by substituting the term 
``principal'' for the term ``school leader'' and clarifying that, to 
meet this priority, projects must increase the number or percentages of 
highly effective teachers or principals or reduce the number or 
percentages of ineffective teachers or principals; projects need not 
serve both teachers and principals to meet the priority. We are also 
revising the discussion of the teacher and principal evaluation systems 
that should be used in projects under this priority by stating that the 
measures used to determine effectiveness should be designed with 
teacher and principal involvement.
     We are revising Absolute Priority 3--Innovations that 
Complement the Implementation of High Standards and High-Quality 
Assessments to clarify that an eligible applicant must propose a 
project that is based on standards that are at least as rigorous as its 
State's standards. Further, we are revising the priority to clarify 
that 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 
eligible applicant's State's standards as well as how the standards 
differ.
     We are revising Absolute Priority 4--Innovations That Turn 
Around Persistently Low-Performing Schools to specify the schools for 
which reform projects may be implemented under this priority; as noted 
later in this section, we are removing the definition of persistently 
low-performing schools. In addition, we are revising the priority to 
include in paragraph (a) additional examples of the comprehensive 
intervention approaches to whole-school reform and to clarify in 
paragraph (b)(3) the examples for creating multiple pathways for 
students to earn regular high school diplomas.
     We are revising Competitive Preference Priority 7--
Innovations to Address the Unique Learning Needs of Students with 
Disabilities and Limited English Proficient Students by specifying 
that, to meet this priority, projects must focus on particular 
practices, strategies, or programs that are designed to improve 
academic outcomes, close achievement gaps, and increase college- and 
career-readiness, including increasing high school graduation rates (as 
defined in this notice), for these students.

Requirements

    We are making the following changes to the requirements for this 
program:
     We are making clarifying changes to the requirements in 
order to better differentiate between eligible applicants (i.e., LEAs, 
under section 14007(a)(1)(A) of the ARRA; and partnerships between 
nonprofit organizations and (1) one or more LEAs or (2) a consortium of 
schools, under section 14007(a)(1)(B) of the ARRA) and the applicant 
(i.e., the single entity that applies to the Department on behalf of 
the eligible

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applicant, which could be itself or a section 14007(a)(1)(B) 
partnership).
     As discussed in the NPP, proposed paragraphs (1) through 
(4) of the eligibility requirements of this program repeated 
requirements prescribed by section 14007 of the ARRA. Section 307 of 
Division D of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010 (P.L. 111-117), 
which was signed into law on December 16, 2009, makes several 
amendments to these statutory requirements, which we are incorporating 
in the final eligibility requirements. The major substantive changes 
include the following:
     Consistent with the amendments to section 14007(b) of the 
ARRA, we are revising proposed paragraph (1) of the eligibility 
requirements to require that, to be eligible for an award under this 
program, an eligible applicant must (A) have significantly closed the 
achievement gaps between groups of students described in section 
1111(b)(2) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as 
amended (ESEA), or (B) have demonstrated success in significantly 
increasing student academic achievement for all groups of students 
described in such section. We are also eliminating proposed paragraph 
(2) of the eligibility requirements, which would have required that an 
eligible applicant have exceeded the State's annual measurable 
objectives consistent with section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA for two or 
more consecutive years or have demonstrated success in significantly 
increasing student achievement for all groups of students described in 
that section through another measure, such as measures described in 
section 1111(c)(2) of the ESEA (i.e., the National Assessment of 
Educational Progress).
     Consistent with the amendments to section 14007(c) of the 
ARRA, we are revising the Note about Eligibility for an Eligible 
Applicant that Includes a Nonprofit Organization to specify that an 
eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit organization is considered 
to have met paragraph (1) and paragraph (2) (proposed paragraph (3)) of 
the eligibility requirements for this program if the nonprofit 
organization has a record of significantly improving student 
achievement, attainment, or retention. In addition, we are revising the 
Note to specify that an eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit 
organization is considered to have met paragraph (3) (proposed 
paragraph (4)) of the eligibility requirements if it demonstrates that 
it will meet the requirement relating to private-sector matching.
     We are establishing a requirement that, to be eligible for 
an award, an application for a Scale-up grant must be supported by 
strong evidence (as defined in this notice), an application for a 
Validation grant must be supported by moderate evidence (as defined in 
this notice), and an application for a Development grant must be 
supported by a reasonable hypothesis.
     We are revising the Cost Sharing or Matching requirement 
with respect to the timing of submission of evidence of the private-
sector match. Selected eligible applicants are now required to submit 
evidence of the full 20 percent private-sector matching funds to 
support the proposed project following the peer review of applications. 
An award will not be made unless the eligible applicant provides 
adequate evidence that the full 20 percent private-sector match has 
been committed or the Secretary approves the eligible applicant's 
request to reduce the matching-level requirement.
     Section 307 of Division D of the Consolidated 
Appropriations Act, 2010, amended the ARRA with respect to a grantee's 
ability to make subgrants under this program. Under new section 
14007(d) of the ARRA, in the case of an eligible entity 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 fiscal agent 
(i.e., the applicant applying on behalf of the eligible applicant) may 
make subgrants to one or more of the other entities in the partnership 
(referred to in this notice as official partners). We are revising the 
requirements for this program to reflect this statutory change.
     We are establishing limits on grant awards. No grantee may 
receive more than two grant awards under this program. In addition, no 
grantee may receive more than $55 million in grant awards under this 
program in a single year's competition.
     We are revising the Evaluation requirement to establish 
that, in addition to making the results of any evaluation broadly 
available, Scale-up and Validation grantees must also ensure the data 
from their evaluations are made available to third-party researchers 
consistent with applicable privacy requirements.

Definitions

    We are making the following changes to the definitions for this 
program. In addition to providing further clarity on the meaning of 
terms, these changes are intended to ensure consistency in the use and 
definition of terms in this program and other programs supported with 
ARRA funds where appropriate.
     We are removing the term persistently low-performing 
schools.
     We are replacing the term highly effective school leader 
with highly effective principal and revising the definition of this 
term.
     We are revising the definitions of the following terms: 
Formative assessment, highly effective teacher, high-need student, 
regional level, and student achievement.
     We are adding definitions of the following terms: 
Applicant, official partner, other partner, high school graduation 
rate, regular high school diploma, and well-designed and well-
implemented (with respect to an experimental or quasi-experimental 
study).

Selection Criteria

    We are making the following changes to the selection criteria for 
this program:
     Consistent with the Eligible Applicants requirement and 
the definitions of applicant, official partner, and other partner, we 
are revising the selection criteria for this program, where 
appropriate, to clarify the entities for which the criteria apply.
     We no longer intend to use a two-tier process to review 
applications for Development grants. Thus, we are removing, from the 
selection criteria for Development grants the discussion of a two-tier 
application process (including pre-applications) for those grants.
     We are revising Selection Criterion A (Need for the 
Project and Quality of the Project Design) for Validation grants to 
include, among the factors for which the Secretary will consider the 
quality of the proposed project design, the extent to which the 
proposed project is consistent with the research evidence supporting 
the proposed project, taking into consideration any differences in 
context.
     We are revising Selection Criterion B (Strength of 
Research, Significance of Effect, and Magnitude of Effect) for all 
three types of grants to include college enrollment and completion 
rates among the student achievement and attainment outcomes for which 
the Secretary will consider the effect of a proposed project. In 
addition, we are revising the criterion for Scale-up and Validation 
grants to clarify that the strength of the existing research evidence 
includes the internal validity (strength of causal conclusions) and 
external validity (generalizability) of the effects reported in prior 
research. We are also revising the criterion for Development grants to 
clarify that the strength of the existing research evidence includes 
reported practice,

[[Page 12008]]

theoretical considerations, and the significance and magnitude of any 
effects reported in prior research.
     We are revising Selection Criterion C (Experience of the 
Eligible Applicant) for all three types of grants to reflect the 
amendments to the authorizing statute discussed earlier in this notice. 
Under Selection Criterion C (2) (proposed Selection Criterion C 
(2)(b)), the Secretary now considers, in the case of an eligible 
applicant that is an LEA, the extent to which the eligible applicant 
provides information and data demonstrating that it has (A) 
significantly closed the achievement gaps between groups of students 
described in section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA or significantly increased 
student achievement for all groups of students described in such 
section; and (B) made significant improvements in other areas, such as 
graduation rates or increased recruitment and placement of high-quality 
teachers and principals, as demonstrated with meaningful data. In the 
case of an eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit organization, 
the Secretary now considers the extent to which the eligible applicant 
provides information and data demonstrating that the nonprofit 
organization has significantly improved student achievement, 
attainment, or retention through its record of work with an LEA or 
schools. These changes are consistent with the changes to the 
eligibility requirements for this program discussed earlier in this 
notice.

Analysis of Comments and Changes

    An analysis of the comments received on, and any changes to, the 
priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria since 
publication of the NPP for this program follows.

    Note about general comments: We received many comments 
expressing general support or making general recommendations for 
this program. In most cases, these comments were effectively 
duplicated by other comments expressing support or making specific 
recommendations for the program's proposed priorities, requirements, 
definitions, or approval criteria, which we discuss in the sections 
that follow. We accordingly do not discuss those general comments 
here. In other cases, we interpreted a general comment as applying 
specifically to the priorities, requirements, definitions, or 
selection criteria and address the comment.


    Note about comments on program issues not covered in NPP: We 
received a number of comments relating to program issues that may 
have been discussed in communications from the Department but were 
not proposed for public comment in the NPP for this program. These 
issues include: Specific funding ranges or award amounts for the 
grant categories, the number of grant awards, uses of funds, length 
of grant periods, and technical assistance for applicants. We do not 
address comments on these issues here. We note, however, that 
information on these issues will be made available through other 
Department documents including the notice inviting applications for 
this program.

Types of Grants

    Comment: A number of commenters expressed support for this 
program's three-tiered grant structure. Several commenters supported 
the Department's attempt to balance the need to cultivate new programs 
with support for existing programs proven to be effective. However, a 
number of commenters recommended revising the grant categories or 
structure of the program. Many commenters recommended that the 
Department structure the program to include only two types of grants--
Scale-up grants and Development grants--and to eliminate Validation 
grants. Similarly, one commenter recommended that the Validation and 
Scale-up grants be merged into a single category so that reviewers 
could consider the size of the target population, the complexity of the 
project, and other factors without restrictions on scaling targets. A 
number of other commenters recommended that the Department change the 
structure of this program to focus on funding a large number of small 
projects rather than larger projects that would be supported under the 
Scale-up grant category.
    Discussion: The Department believes that the structure of this 
program and the use of three categories of grants present an 
appropriate balance between support for the development of promising 
yet relatively untested ideas and the growth and scaling of practices 
that have made demonstrable improvements in student achievement and 
attainment outcomes. In addition, we believe that the scaling targets 
provided for the three grant types are needed by applicants in 
developing their proposed projects. Consequently, we do not believe 
changes such as those recommended by the commenters are warranted.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter asked how the scale of implementation 
(State, regional, or national) differs between Validation and 
Development grants.
    Discussion: Validation grants will be implemented on a broader 
scale than Development grants because of both the corresponding level 
of evidence and the funding provided for the practice, strategy, or 
program. The level of implementation for Validation grants is State or 
regional, but the level of implementation for Development grants would 
typically not extend to a statewide level.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter requested that the Department remove the 
term ``new'' from the description of the Development grants, noting 
that practices that are promising and untested (consistent with this 
category of grant) may not necessarily be new.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenter that the practices proposed 
in projects for a Development grant need not necessarily be new. We are 
removing the term ``new'' from the description of the Development 
grants.
    Changes: We are removing the term ``new'' from the description of 
the Development grants.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department allow, under 
the Development grant category, funding for small-scale projects that 
focus on the needs of relatively small populations of high-need 
students.
    Discussion: An applicant would not be prohibited from proposing 
under the Development grant category a project that focuses on small 
populations of high-need students, provided that the project addresses 
one of the absolute priorities of the program.
    Changes: None.

Priorities

Priorities--General

    Comment: One commenter suggested that the Department draw explicit 
connections between the final priorities in the Investing in Innovation 
Fund and the final priorities in the Race to the Top Fund program so 
that projects can be successfully scaled at the State level. Another 
commenter recommended adding a competitive preference priority for 
projects that are aligned with activities supported by other programs 
administered by the Department (e.g., School Improvement Grants, 
Education Technology Grants, Teacher Quality Enhancement Grants) or by 
other Federal agencies (e.g., Community Development Block Grants).
    Discussion: The absolute priorities under the Investing in 
Innovation Fund are aligned with the four education reform areas under 
the ARRA and complement the absolute priority of the Race to the Top 
Fund program, which requires States to submit applications that 
comprehensively address these same four reform areas. As noted 
elsewhere in this notice, we are revising the priorities, requirements, 
definitions, and selection criteria for this program, as appropriate, 
to ensure consistency between this program and other

[[Page 12009]]

programs supported with ARRA funds, including the Race to the Top Fund 
program.
    We encourage eligible applicants to align and coordinate activities 
under this program with activities supported with other ARRA funding, 
as well as activities funded through other Department and Federal 
programs. Because this program is designed to align with the ARRA's 
four education reform areas and complement activities in other programs 
supported with ARRA funds, we do not believe it is necessary to add a 
competitive preference priority for eligible applicants that align and 
coordinate activities and funding from multiple sources.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A number of commenters expressed support for the four 
absolute priorities as reflecting key areas where reform is needed in 
education. One commenter, however, expressed concern that requiring 
applicants to submit an application under one absolute priority 
contributes to a ``silo effect'' whereby individual projects are 
narrowly focused and implemented in isolation or in a manner that is 
disconnected from other key reform areas.
    A few commenters requested clarification as to whether applicants 
could or should address more than one absolute priority. Some 
commenters recommended adding an absolute priority for projects that 
are based on comprehensive and multi-dimensional reform strategies that 
cut across the education reform areas. Other commenters recommended 
adding a competitive preference priority for projects that address more 
than one absolute priority or that address one absolute priority and 
demonstrate capacity and expertise in other absolute priority areas. 
Commenters also recommended that the Department require applicants to 
describe their work in each of the education reform areas, or how their 
proposed project would contribute to improvements across the spectrum 
of education reform. Some of these commenters asserted that lasting 
reform requires action in multiple or all of the ARRA reform areas.
    Discussion: An applicant must identify one absolute priority under 
which it is submitting its application. Given the diversity of 
applications that we are likely to receive, we are requiring eligible 
applicants to write to one absolute priority to ensure that we can 
assess the quality of the applications within a given reform area. 
Although it must identify the absolute priority under which it is 
submitting its application, an eligible applicant is not prohibited 
from submitting an application that addresses multiple absolute 
priorities if that is necessary to describing the effort for which the 
applicant is seeking funds. However, such applications will not receive 
additional ``credit'' for doing so. All points will be assigned based 
on how well the eligible applicant addresses the selection criteria.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A number of commenters recommended that the Department add 
a competitive preference priority for applications that serve high-need 
students. Several of these commenters stated that including a priority 
for projects that focus on high-need students would promote innovation 
and direct attention toward meeting the needs of these typically 
underserved students. Two of these commenters also recommended 
including a competitive preference priority for innovative programs in 
literacy instruction for students in secondary schools. Several 
commenters recommended adding a competitive preference priority for 
projects that propose to serve disconnected youth, particularly youth 
in secondary schools and youth who have dropped out of school. Other 
commenters recommended focusing on projects that propose to create or 
improve pathways to postsecondary education for high-need and 
disconnected students. One commenter suggested focusing priorities on 
projects that serve economically disadvantaged students, Native 
American students, and students from diverse ethnic and racial 
backgrounds.
    Discussion: Under the requirements for this program, all projects 
funded under this program must focus on high-need students (as defined 
in this notice). It would, therefore, serve no purpose also to award 
competitive preference points for projects that propose to serve high-
need students. We note that we define high-need student as a student at 
risk of educational failure or otherwise in need of special assistance 
and support. While we provide examples of students at risk of 
educational failure or otherwise in need of special assistance and 
support in the definition of high-need student, those examples are not 
intended to be an exhaustive or exclusive list. An eligible applicant 
has flexibility in determining the types of students that meet the 
definition.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department clarify 
whether an applicant may propose to serve only certain student 
subgroups or students only in specific settings. The commenter 
requested that the Department clarify the relationship between the 
competitive preference priorities, which target specific groups of 
students (e.g., students with disabilities and limited English 
proficient students), and the absolute priorities, which do not appear 
to be so targeted. Another commenter suggested clarifying whether 
applications targeting multiple student subgroups would receive 
competitive preference points.
    Discussion: An eligible applicant may propose a project that 
targets or serves only certain student subgroups or only students 
served in particular settings, provided that the project serves high-
need students consistent with the definition of high-need student. 
However, an eligible applicant would not receive competitive preference 
points under this program simply for proposing a project to serve 
multiple student subgroups.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: We received numerous comments recommending that we add 
absolute priorities to address a wide array of other issues and 
concerns. Many commenters recommended that absolute priorities be added 
to focus on particular subject areas. For example, commenters suggested 
adding a priority for projects that improve vocabulary and increase the 
use of vocabulary assessments. One commenter recommended adding a 
priority for innovations in science education. Another commenter 
recommended adding a priority for eligible applicants that propose 
innovative ways to instruct students in the subjects of science, 
technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). A number of other 
commenters suggested adding a priority for projects that propose to 
improve, reform, or increase access to art and music education. A few 
commenters recommended adding a priority for innovations in career and 
technical education and focusing on career-readiness outcomes, such as 
technical skill attainment and performance on work-readiness 
assessments.
    A few commenters recommended adding an absolute priority for 
innovations that offer customized educational experiences for students 
based on individual learning needs and preferences. Two of these 
commenters asserted that such innovations provide a more flexible, 
student-centered approach to education and produce schools that are 
``student-based.''
    Several commenters suggested adding an absolute priority for 
projects that propose to increase high school graduation rates, such as 
dropout recovery programs. Other commenters recommended adding an 
absolute

[[Page 12010]]

priority for projects that focus on college readiness and transition to 
college. One commenter recommended that the absolute priorities 
explicitly reference middle schools because, according to the 
commenter, middle schools provide the foundation for high school 
graduation and college- and career-readiness.
    In addition to recommendations to add absolute priorities, we 
received a number of comments recommending that we re-designate 
competitive preference priorities as absolute priorities. For example, 
a few commenters recommended changing the competitive preference 
priority on serving schools in rural LEAs to an absolute priority. 
Likewise, one commenter recommended that the competitive preference 
priority on supporting college access and success be changed to an 
absolute priority and several commenters recommended that the 
competitive preference priority on improving early learning outcomes be 
changed to an absolute priority.
    Discussion: While we recognize the importance of the issues and 
topics mentioned by the commenters, we decline to include additional 
absolute priorities for this program. As stated elsewhere in this 
notice, the Department is using the Investing in Innovation Fund to 
support the overarching ARRA goal of improving student achievement and 
attainment by establishing four absolute priorities that are directly 
aligned with the four education reform areas under the ARRA. We believe 
that adding other absolute priorities would detract from this goal.
    We note, in addition, that all applications for Investing in 
Innovation Fund grants will be assessed in part on the extent to which 
the proposed projects will have an impact on student achievement and 
attainment outcomes including the following: improving student 
achievement or growth, closing achievement gaps, decreasing dropout 
rates, increasing high school graduation rates, and increasing college 
enrollment and completion rates (see Selection Criterion B (Strength of 
Research, Significance of Effect, and Magnitude of Effect) for each 
type of grant).
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended eliminating all the competitive 
preference priorities stating that they complicate the application 
process and constrain innovation.
    Discussion: The Department routinely utilizes competitive 
preference priorities in grant competitions without any undue 
difficulty for either the agency or applicants. As noted elsewhere in 
this notice, we are including competitive preference priorities that 
are aligned with the Department's reform goals. We believe that these 
competitive preference priorities complement, rather than detract from, 
the four ARRA reform areas. Furthermore, we do not believe that 
including competitive preference priorities constrains innovation. We 
have written the competitive preference priorities around broad general 
topics, within which eligible applicants are free to propose a range of 
innovative projects. We note that eligible applicants are not required 
to address the competitive preference priorities. For these reasons, we 
have concluded that no changes to the competitive preference priorities 
should be made in response to this comment.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department change the 
absolute priorities to competitive preference priorities because, 
according to the commenter, the competitive preference priorities 
deserve equal status with the absolute priorities. One commenter 
recommended combining some of the absolute priorities with the 
competitive preference priorities.
    Discussion: Changing the absolute priorities to competitive 
preference priorities or combining absolute priorities with competitive 
priorities would, in effect, diminish the focus of this program on the 
four ARRA education reform areas because it would allow projects that 
do not address any of the four reform areas to be funded. Therefore, we 
decline to make the changes recommended by commenters.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department permit 
applicants to address more than one competitive preference priority. 
Several commenters recommended that the Department clarify whether 
applications receive additional points for addressing more than one 
competitive preference priority.
    Discussion: The notice inviting applications for this program 
(NIA), published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register, 
states that competitive preference points will be awarded on an ``all 
or nothing'' basis (i.e., one point or zero points) for Competitive 
Preference Priorities 5, 6, and 7, depending on how well an application 
addresses the priority. For Competitive Preference Priority 8, we will 
award up to two points, depending on how well an application addresses 
this priority. Applications may address more than one competitive 
preference priority; however, the Department will not award additional 
points simply for addressing more than one competitive preference 
priority.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A number of commenters recommended that the Department add 
a competitive preference priority for applicants that partner with 
specific entities. For example, some commenters recommended adding a 
competitive preference priority for applicants that partner with 
nonprofit organizations in order to help ensure that projects are 
innovative and can be scaled up successfully. One commenter stated that 
competitive preference points should be awarded to LEA applicants who 
propose projects that involve collaboration with other LEAs and charter 
schools. Another commenter recommended adding a competitive preference 
priority for applicants that partner with a State educational agency to 
ensure that funded activities can be implemented statewide. One 
commenter suggested that applicants who partner with institutions of 
higher education should be given competitive preference points in light 
of the focus of the ARRA on improving college- and career-readiness. 
One commenter recommended adding a competitive preference priority for 
applicants that partner with a community-based organization in order to 
be consistent with the Department's general support for community-
oriented schools and partnerships between communities and schools. A 
few commenters recommended adding a competitive preference priority for 
applicants that propose innovative partnerships to support program 
effectiveness and sustainability including interdisciplinary 
partnerships.
    Discussion: We believe that eligible applicants should form 
partnerships with those entities that they believe will yield the best 
possible application and produce the best possible results. We do not 
believe it would be appropriate for the Department to judge who the 
best partners would be for a particular project and therefore decline 
to add a competitive preference priority for eligible applicants that 
partner with a specific entity.
    We note that there appears to be some confusion about the roles and 
responsibilities of ``eligible applicants,'' ``applicants,'' ``fiscal 
agents,'' and ``partners'' under this program. Therefore, and as 
discussed in greater detail in the Requirements section of this 
preamble, we are adding definitions for the terms applicant, official 
partner, and other partner and using these terms, as appropriate, 
throughout this notice.

[[Page 12011]]

    Changes: As discussed elsewhere in this notice, we are adding 
definitions for the terms applicant, official partner, and other 
partner. We use these terms, as appropriate, throughout this notice.
    Comment: One commenter recommended adding a competitive preference 
priority for eligible applicants that include charter schools in their 
proposed projects.
    Discussion: As discussed elsewhere in this notice, depending on its 
legal status under State law, a charter school may be eligible to apply 
under this program in the following ways: As an LEA on its own if it is 
considered an LEA under State law; As a nonprofit organization, in a 
partnership with one or more LEAs or a consortium of schools (provided 
the charter school meets the definition of nonprofit organization under 
this program); or in a partnership with a nonprofit organization as an 
LEA or as part of a consortium of schools. Adding a competitive 
preference priority for charter schools would provide an unfair 
advantage to eligible applicants that include these schools. Therefore, 
we decline to make the change recommended by the commenter.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended adding a competitive preference 
priority for eligible applicants that propose projects that encourage 
and support effective teacher professional development and 
collaboration. Another commenter recommended adding a competitive 
preference priority for projects that propose innovative approaches to 
attracting and developing school leaders.
    Discussion: Absolute Priority 1 focuses on projects that increase 
the number or percentages of highly effective teachers or principals 
(or reduce the number or percentages of ineffective teachers or 
principals) by identifying, recruiting, developing, placing, rewarding, 
and retaining highly effective teachers or principals (or removing 
ineffective teachers or principals). It is unnecessary to include both 
an absolute priority and a competitive preference priority focused on 
improving teacher or principal effectiveness. Therefore, we decline to 
follow the commenters' recommendations.
    As explained in our responses to comments regarding Absolute 
Priority 1, we are changing the term, ``school leader'' to 
``principal'' in order to clarify our intent to focus this priority on 
increasing the number and percentages of highly effective principals.
    Changes: We are changing the term ``school leader'' to 
``principal'' in the priorities, requirements, definitions, and 
selection criteria for this program and using the latter term in our 
response to comments. However, we are retaining references to ``school 
leader'' that commenters made in their statements.
    Comment: A number of commenters recommended that the Department add 
a priority for projects that focus on improving outcomes related to 
school support services, school climate, school diversity, school 
safety, or parent or community involvement. Some commenters recommended 
adding a competitive preference priority for eligible applicants that 
propose initiatives to promote caring and culturally-responsive 
teachers as well as classrooms and schools that support positive social 
climates. One commenter recommended adding a competitive preference 
priority for projects that propose innovative approaches to reducing 
the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other addictive drugs. Another 
commenter recommended adding a competitive preference priority for 
projects proposing innovative approaches to reducing the incidence of 
crime, violence, and ``uncivil behavior'' (including bullying) in 
schools. One commenter recommended that the Department modify the 
proposed priorities to address student engagement, character education, 
and life skills; the commenter asserted that the proposed priorities 
ignore factors not directly associated with instruction that impact a 
student's ability to achieve academically.
    Some commenters recommended adding a priority for innovations that 
improve the social and other nonacademic supports that schools provide 
to students and families, such as assistance with child care, housing, 
transportation, and making college-related decisions. A number of 
commenters recommended adding a new priority or revising the proposed 
priorities to support innovative approaches to increase parental 
involvement. One commenter recommended focusing specifically on parent 
and community involvement in education in rural LEAs because, according 
to the commenter, rural LEAs face barriers such as limited 
transportation options, limited extracurricular programming, and 
limited community-based educational resources in promoting parent and 
community involvement in education.
    One commenter recommended adding an absolute priority that would 
require all projects to promote diverse student populations in schools 
with respect to demographic factors such as race, ethnicity, and parent 
socioeconomic status and educational attainment. A few commenters 
recommended adding an absolute priority for innovative reforms to 
reduce racial and economic segregation and isolation and to assess the 
potential effects of a proposed project on the racial and economic 
segregation and isolation of students. One commenter suggested that the 
Department emphasize increasing the economic and racial diversity of 
institutions of higher education.
    A number of commenters recommended that the Department add an 
absolute or competitive preference priority for innovative projects 
that engage communities in education reform, including increasing the 
representation of community stakeholders in reform-oriented policy- and 
decision-making.
    Discussion: While we recognize the importance of the issues and 
topics mentioned by the commenters, we decline to include additional 
priorities or revise the proposed priorities for this program as the 
commenters recommend. As stated elsewhere in this notice, the 
Department is using the Investing in Innovation Fund to support the 
overarching ARRA goal of improving student achievement and attainment. 
All applications for Investing in Innovation Fund grants will be 
assessed in part on the extent to which the proposed projects will have 
an impact on student achievement and attainment outcomes including the 
following: Improving student achievement or growth, closing achievement 
gaps, decreasing dropout rates, increasing high school graduation 
rates, and increasing college enrollment and completion rates. However, 
in providing evidence of the effects of their proposed projects, 
eligible applicants may also utilize intermediate variables that are 
strongly correlated with improving those outcomes (see Selection 
Criteria). These intermediate variables may include variables on the 
issues and topics mentioned by the commenters.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters recommended that the Department include a 
competitive preference priority related to data collection and 
evaluation of project outcomes. One commenter recommended adding a 
competitive preference priority for eligible applicants that use 
systems for collecting project data that produce high-quality, 
reliable, and comparable data in order to ensure that funded projects 
can be properly evaluated. Another commenter recommended requiring 
systems for collecting project data to be created or utilized to 
support the innovation pursued under the

[[Page 12012]]

priority. One commenter recommended adding a competitive preference 
priority for consortia applicants that demonstrate the capacity to 
collect and analyze consortium-level project data (as opposed to State-
level data). Another commenter recommended that the Department add a 
competitive preference priority for applicants that propose innovative 
designs for evaluating project implementation and for disseminating 
project results and best practices.
    Discussion: Under the requirements for this program, any eligible 
applicant receiving funds must conduct an independent evaluation of its 
proposed project and comply with the requirements of any evaluation of 
the program conducted by the Department (see Evaluation requirement). 
Further, all applications will be judged in part on the quality of the 
eligible applicant's plan to evaluate its proposed project (see 
Selection Criterion D (Quality of the Project Evaluation)). Therefore, 
it is unnecessary to include a competitive preference priority focused 
on data collection and project evaluation as suggested by the 
commenters.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department add a 
competitive preference priority for an applicant that provides 
confirmation in its application that it has secured matching funds from 
the private sector or philanthropic community.
    Discussion: To be eligible for an award under this program, an 
eligible applicant must demonstrate that it has established one or more 
partnerships with an entity or organization in the private sector, 
which may include philanthropic organizations, and that the entity or 
organization in the private sector will provide matching funds in order 
to help bring project results to scale. Further, the Cost Sharing or 
Matching requirement for this program specifies that an eligible 
applicant must obtain matching funds or in-kind donations from the 
private sector equal to at least 20 percent of its grant award. Because 
these requirements apply to all applicants, it would serve no purpose 
to give competitive preference to eligible applicants that confirm 
receipt of matching funds in their applications. Therefore, we decline 
to make the change requested by the commenter.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters recommended that the Department add a 
competitive preference priority for eligible applicants that propose 
projects that are based on well-conducted experimental studies or that 
have demonstrated records of success in implementing or scaling up 
research-based projects. Another commenter recommended that the 
Department investigate whether society believes it is morally 
imperative that educational practices be based on rigorous research.
    Discussion: All applications will be judged in part on the strength 
of the research in support of the proposed project and on the 
experience of the applicant (see Selection Criterion B (Strength of 
Research, Significance of Effect, and Magnitude of Effect) and 
Selection Criterion C (Experience of the Eligible Applicant)). 
Therefore, we do not believe it is necessary to add the competitive 
preference priority recommended by the commenter.
    With regard to the recommendation that the Department investigate 
whether society believes it is morally imperative that educational 
practices be based on rigorous research, this is not the purpose of the 
Investing in Innovation Fund. Therefore, we decline to follow the 
commenter's recommendation.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department add a 
competitive preference priority for projects that would be implemented 
throughout a city or urban area.
    Discussion: We decline to add the competitive preference priority 
suggested by the commenter because all applications will be evaluated 
in part based on the eligible applicant's strategy and capacity to 
bring the proposed project to scale (see Selection Criterion E 
(Strategy and Capacity To Bring to Scale) (in the case of Scale-up and 
Validation grants); Strategy and Capacity to Further Develop and Bring 
to Scale (in the case of Development grants)). As noted elsewhere in 
this notice, the extent to which an eligible applicant will bring its 
proposed project to scale will vary with the type of grant for which 
the eligible applicant applies (i.e., Development, Validation, or 
Scale-up grant).
    Changes: None.
    Comment: We received the following other recommendations for 
additional competitive priorities. A few commenters recommended that 
the Department add a competitive preference priority for projects that 
are designed to reduce resource inequities between LEAs. Other 
commenters recommended adding a competitive preference priority for 
technology-based projects or projects that increase the integration of 
technology into the classroom. Another commenter recommended that the 
Department add a competitive preference priority for projects that 
focus on performance-based systems that use competency-based 
instruction.
    One commenter recommended adding a competitive preference priority 
for projects that propose to utilize effective education models from 
other countries including countries that excel on international 
assessments of educational achievement, such as the Program for 
International Student Assessment (PISA). Another commenter recommended 
revising the proposed priorities to emphasize the creation of 
``vertically integrated systemic innovation zones.'' One commenter 
recommended that the Department add an invitational priority for 
innovations in the development, use, and dissemination of open 
educational resources; the commenter asserted that using these 
resources is a cost-effective and sustainable strategy to scale up 
successful innovations.
    Discussion: Similar to the approach we have taken with the absolute 
priorities, we decline to add more competitive preference priorities in 
order to maintain focus on the other major priorities of the Department 
that are reflected in the competitive preference priorities. 
Accordingly, we decline to include additional absolute or competitive 
preference priorities or an invitational priority, as recommended by 
the commenters.
    Changes: None.

Absolute Priority 1--Innovations That Support Effective Teachers and 
Principals (Proposed Absolute Priority 1--Innovations That Support 
Effective Teachers and School Leaders)

    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department revise this 
absolute priority to include support for related services 
professionals, including school psychologists, school social workers, 
counselors, and speech-language pathologists, in order to reflect the 
contributions of these professionals to student learning.
    Discussion: We decline to expand Absolute Priority 1 in this 
manner. While we appreciate the important role that such professionals 
play in supporting student achievement and attainment, we believe that 
the focus of the priority should be on increasing the number and 
percentages of highly effective teachers and principals (and reducing 
the number and percentages of ineffective teachers and principals) as 
teachers and principals are the individuals directly responsible for 
academic instruction. To clarify our intent, we are changing the term 
``school leader'' to ``principal'' in this priority and elsewhere in 
the priorities,

[[Page 12013]]

requirements, definitions, and selection criteria for this program.
    We note that an applicant would not be prohibited from proposing 
under this priority an innovative strategy, practice, or program that 
includes support for related services professionals to the extent that 
this support is intended to increase the number or percentages of 
highly effective teachers and principals (or reduce the number or 
percentages of ineffective teachers and principals).
    Changes: As noted earlier, we are changing the term ``school 
leader'' to ``principal'' in the final priorities, requirements, 
definitions, and selection criteria for this program and using the 
latter term in our response to comments. However, we are retaining 
references to ``school leader'' that commenters made in their 
statements.
    Comment: A number of commenters recommended that the Department 
clarify whether projects under this priority must increase the number 
of both highly effective teachers and highly effective school leaders.
    Discussion: It was not our intent to require projects under this 
priority to increase the number or percentages of highly effective 
teachers and highly effective principals (or reduce the number or 
percentages of ineffective teachers and ineffective principals). 
Therefore, we are changing the priority to make this clear.
    Changes: We are changing Absolute Priority 1 to clarify that, under 
this priority, the Department provides funding to support practices, 
strategies, or programs that increase the number or percentages of 
highly effective teachers or principals (or reduce the number or 
percentages of ineffective teachers or principals) by identifying, 
recruiting, developing, placing, rewarding, and retaining highly 
effective teachers or principals (or removing ineffective teachers or 
principals).
    Comment: A number of commenters expressed support for this absolute 
priority. One commenter, however, expressed concern that the priority 
does not address the need to ensure that low-income and minority 
children are not taught at higher rates than other children by 
inexperienced, unqualified, or out-of-field teachers, as provided in 
the ARRA. Another commenter stated that the Department's citations to 
research on teacher effectiveness ignore a body of research that shows 
that some teacher ``inputs'' (such as teacher qualifications) have an 
impact on student achievement.
    Discussion: Absolute Priority 1 focuses on practices, strategies, 
or programs that increase the number or percentages of highly effective 
teachers or principals (or reduce the number or percentages of 
ineffective teachers or principals), especially for high-need students. 
We chose to focus this priority on teacher and principal effectiveness 
rather than on teacher qualifications. Historically, in assessing the 
quality of our nation's teachers, the Department has focused, through 
``highly qualified teacher'' measures, on teacher qualifications (e.g., 
years of experience, types and numbers of certifications) to the 
exclusion of other factors. By including considerations of teacher 
effectiveness in the ARRA assurance in this reform area, we believe the 
Congress has signaled that this focus is unnecessarily narrow and that 
other measures of teacher quality are needed--and, in particular, 
measures that are associated more closely with the outcomes of teaching 
and learning than with ``inputs'' such as qualifications. We intend to 
promote those measures with this priority and believe that focusing the 
priority on increasing the number or percentages of highly effective 
teachers or principals (or reducing the number or percentages of 
ineffective teachers or principals) is consistent with the ARRA in this 
regard. Furthermore, we believe that this focus will help ensure that 
there is an equitable distribution of highly effective teachers and 
principals across LEAs and schools.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department revise the 
priority to state that teacher and school leader evaluation systems 
should be objective, transparent, and fair, rather than rigorous, 
transparent, and fair.
    Discussion: We believe that evaluation systems that are rigorous 
would necessarily be objective. Further, we believe that it is 
important that such systems be held to high standards of design, which 
is best captured by the term ``rigorous.'' In addition, we use 
``rigorous, transparent, and fair'' to ensure consistency in the use of 
terms across programs supported with ARRA funds. Therefore, we decline 
to make the change suggested by the commenter.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters recommended that the Department 
eliminate the requirement for teacher and school leader evaluation 
systems to include student growth as a significant factor. One of these 
commenters stated that there is nothing in the ARRA that refers to or 
encourages the use of student growth data in teacher and school leader 
evaluation systems. Several commenters also stated that there are 
limitations and methodological difficulties in accurately and fairly 
isolating individual teacher effects on student achievement. Another 
commenter stated that impacts on student performance or growth should 
be estimated only at the school level because schools are professional 
communities in which teachers and school leaders contribute 
collectively to student achievement.
    Discussion: Under this priority, we encourage projects that propose 
methods of determining teacher and principal effectiveness that use an 
evaluation system that is rigorous, transparent, and fair; that 
differentiate performance using multiple rating categories of 
effectiveness and multiple measures of effectiveness, with data on 
student growth as a significant factor; and that are designed and 
developed with teacher and principal involvement. Although there is 
nothing in the ARRA that refers to using student growth data in teacher 
and principal evaluation systems, we believe this priority is 
consistent with the ARRA assurance in this reform area.
    With regard to the commenters' concerns about estimating individual 
teacher impact on student achievement, we recognize that the methods 
for providing these estimates may need further study or development. 
While this priority supports projects that determine teacher 
effectiveness using student growth as a significant factor, nothing in 
this priority requires that projects use estimates of individual 
teacher impact on student achievement to meet the priority or that 
impacts on student performance or growth be estimated only at the 
school level. We believe that such decisions are best left to 
applicants given the specific settings in which they plan to conduct 
their proposed projects. For these reasons, we have concluded that the 
changes suggested by the commenters should not be adopted.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A number of commenters recommended that the teacher and 
school leader evaluation systems used by grantees under this priority 
incorporate multiple measures of effectiveness including measures 
related to the following: teacher practice; student outcomes such as 
results of written work, portfolios, and group and individual 
performances and presentations; other student factors such as 
engagement, socioeconomic status, and mobility; factors such as school 
safety, climate, and resources; and parent engagement in student 
learning. Some of these commenters stated that data on student growth 
should not be the sole criterion used to evaluate teacher and school 
leader performance.

[[Page 12014]]

    Discussion: We did not intend for student growth to be the sole 
factor in determining teacher or principal effectiveness; rather, the 
intent was for student growth to be a significant, but not the only, 
factor. As reflected in the statement of the priority, an eligible 
applicant should use multiple measures in evaluating teacher and school 
leader performance, and may use measures such as those recommended by 
the commenters, provided that student growth data are used as a 
significant factor.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters agreed that the measures for determining 
effectiveness in teacher and school leader evaluation systems should be 
designed and developed with teacher involvement. One commenter, 
however, recommended revising the priority to require measures used in 
these systems to be designed and developed with the involvement of 
school leaders and unions, in addition to teachers. Several other 
commenters recommended that we revise the priority to require that 
parents and other members of the community be involved in the design 
and development of these measures.
    Discussion: We agree that teachers and principals should be 
involved in designing and developing measures of teacher and principal 
effectiveness and are revising the priority accordingly. With regard to 
the involvement of other stakeholders mentioned by the commenters, we 
believe that this is a decision that is best left to local officials.
    Changes: We are revising this priority to include a statement that, 
in addition to teachers, measures of effectiveness should be designed 
and developed with principal involvement.
    Comment: One commenter recommended revising the priority to 
directly support projects that improve the systems used to evaluate the 
performance of teachers and school leaders.
    Discussion: The Department intends for Absolute Priority 1 to focus 
on innovative practices, strategies, or programs that increase the 
number or percentages of highly effective teachers or principals (or 
reduce the number or percentages of ineffective teachers or 
principals), especially for high-need students and that will have an 
impact on improving student achievement and attainment. While the 
priority addresses aspects of the teacher and principal evaluation 
systems that projects should use in furtherance of these goals, the 
Department does not intend for this priority to support the development 
or improvement of these systems exclusive of those goals. Therefore, we 
decline to change the priority in the manner suggested by the 
commenter.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department eliminate, 
as a goal under this priority, reductions in the number and percentage 
of ineffective teachers and school leaders. The commenter stated that 
the only goal that is necessary under this priority is increasing the 
number and percentage of effective teachers and school leaders.
    Discussion: We believe that it is important to remove ineffective 
teachers from classrooms in addition to increasing the number of 
effective teachers in classrooms. We also have concluded that the same 
is true for principals. Therefore, we decline to make the change 
recommended by the commenter.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department revise the 
priority to include support for innovations that improve conditions for 
teaching and learning, such as physical working conditions, 
administrative supports provided, and availability of resources, 
because these conditions influence a teacher's ability to be effective. 
Two commenters suggested revising the priority to include support for 
programs that enable school leaders to provide more effective 
assistance to teachers by improving school organizational structures.
    Discussion: Nothing would preclude an applicant from proposing the 
initiatives mentioned by the commenters under this priority so long as 
the proposed project increases the number or percentages of highly 
effective teachers or principals (or reduces the number or percentages 
of ineffective teachers or principals), especially for high-need 
students, by identifying, recruiting, developing, placing, rewarding, 
and retaining highly effective teachers or principals (or removing 
ineffective teachers or principals). However, we do not believe it is 
necessary or advisable to change the priority to refer specifically to 
innovations that improve conditions for teaching and learning. We 
cannot include in the priority all the possible practices, strategies, 
or programs that could potentially support effective teachers and 
principals, nor do we want to restrict or constrain the innovative 
practices, strategies, and programs that this priority would support. 
Therefore, we decline to change the priority in the manner suggested by 
the commenters.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: We received a number of comments recommending that the 
Department revise this absolute priority to focus on improving the 
effectiveness of specific groups of teachers and school leaders in 
specific settings. One commenter recommended changing the priority to 
focus on improving the effectiveness of teachers who teach high-need 
students in low-performing schools. Another commenter recommended that 
the priority focus on improving the effectiveness of teachers in 
schools serving Native American students. One commenter stated that the 
priority should be revised to increase the ability of teachers to 
effectively teach students in racially and economically diverse 
schools. Several commenters recommended focusing the priority on 
projects that improve the effectiveness of teachers and leaders in 
early childhood and pre-kindergarten programs and one commenter 
recommended revising the priority to include programs that assist 
school leaders in integrating pre-kindergarten programs into their 
schools and LEAs.
    Discussion: Under the requirements for this program, projects must 
serve high-need students (as defined in this notice). Further, this 
priority supports projects that increase the number or percentages of 
highly effective teachers or principals (or reduce the number or 
percentages of ineffective teachers or principals), especially for 
teachers of high-need students. Provided that proposed projects serve 
high-need students, there is flexibility in determining the groups of 
teachers and principals to be served in projects under this priority. 
Accordingly, we do not believe it is necessary to change the priority 
to focus on specific groups of teachers and principals in specific 
settings.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters stated that the Department should revise 
the priority to focus on instructional effectiveness rather than 
educator effectiveness and include alternative instructional programs 
such as online learning and personalized digital content. The 
commenters asserted that alternative instructional programs are needed 
to improve instruction in certain subjects, such as STEM subjects.
    Discussion: Teachers and principals play a critical role in 
improving student achievement and attainment outcomes. As stated in the 
NPP, research indicates that teacher quality is a critical contributor 
to student learning. Further, studies show that school leadership is a 
major contributing factor to what students learn at school and that 
strong teachers are more likely to teach in

[[Page 12015]]

schools with strong principals. In light of these findings, we do not 
believe that this absolute priority should be expanded to include a 
focus on improving instructional effectiveness exclusive of increasing 
the number or percentages of highly effective teachers or principals 
(or reducing the number or percentages of ineffective teachers or 
principals). Therefore, we decline to change the priority in the manner 
recommended by the commenters.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: We received a number of comments recommending that we 
revise this absolute priority to focus on teacher preparation and 
professional development programs. One commenter recommended that the 
Department revise the priority to include support for efforts by States 
to expand teacher preparation programs that produce effective teachers 
and to provide financial incentives such as loan forgiveness to recruit 
and retain effective teachers. Several commenters recommended that the 
priority support teacher residency programs, instructional coaching, 
and ``communities of practice'' for planning and sharing resources, 
practices, and expertise with other educators. One commenter 
recommended including a focus on initiatives that support teachers' 
efforts to help students make connections between academic work and 
college and career goals. Another commenter recommended supporting 
projects to train school leaders on evaluating teacher effectiveness.
    Discussion: The purpose of the Investing in Innovation Fund is not 
to support States to expand teacher preparation programs or to support 
specific types of teacher or principal training (e.g., teacher 
residency programs, instructional coaching). Rather, the purpose is to 
support projects at the local level that propose to expand the 
implementation of, and investment in, innovative practices, strategies, 
or programs that increase the number or percentages of highly effective 
teachers or principals (or reduce the number or percentages of 
ineffective teachers or principals) and that will have an impact on 
improving student achievement or student growth, closing achievement 
gaps, decreasing dropout rates, increasing high school graduation 
rates, or increasing college enrollment or completion rates for high-
need students. We believe the absolute priority reflects this purpose 
and, therefore, decline to change the priority in the manner 
recommended by the commenters.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department revise the 
priority to include support for research on teacher effectiveness and 
for disseminating the results of that research to LEAs and schools.
    Discussion: One of the purposes of the Investing in Innovation Fund 
is to identify and document best practices that can be shared and taken 
to scale based on demonstrated success. Research unrelated to this 
purpose would not be supported under this priority.
    We note that under this priority, projects that increase the number 
or percentages of highly effective teachers or principals (or reduce 
the number or percentages of ineffective teachers or principals) will 
be evaluated based on the strength of the existing research evidence 
and the significance of effect in support of the proposed project, as 
well as the magnitude of the effect on improving student achievement or 
student growth, closing achievement gaps, decreasing dropout rates, 
increasing high school graduation rates, or increasing college 
enrollment and completion rates (see Selection Criterion B). In 
addition, proposed Scale-up and Validation projects will be evaluated 
based on the quality of their evaluation plan and the extent to which 
methods of evaluation include a well-designed experimental or quasi-
experimental study (see Selection Criterion D). With regard to the 
recommendation that the priority include support for disseminating the 
results of research findings, we note that eligible applicants must 
conduct an independent evaluation of their project and make broadly 
available the results of such evaluations (see Evaluation requirement).
    Changes: None.

Highly Effective School Leader

    Comment: A few commenters recommended that the Department clarify 
the types of individuals who would be considered a school leader under 
the definition of the term highly effective school leader used in 
Absolute Priority 1. Four commenters recommended that the term ``school 
leader'' include parents and students in addition to principals. One 
commenter recommended that the term include professional staff, such as 
media and information specialists, instructional coaches, school 
counselors, school psychologists, school social workers, and others who 
may not be directly involved in classroom instruction but nonetheless 
are crucial to student academic success.
    Another commenter expressed concern that the terms highly effective 
school leader and highly effective teacher imply that the two 
categories are mutually exclusive. The commenter recommended revising 
the definitions to clarify that these two terms are not mutually 
exclusive.
    Discussion: As discussed earlier, the Department appreciates the 
important role that individuals other than principals play in providing 
leadership in our Nation's schools. However, for purposes of this 
program, we intend to focus on the effectiveness of principals, in 
particular, because they have the ultimate responsibility for the 
academic achievement of the students in their schools. For this reason 
and to ensure consistency in the use of terms across programs supported 
with ARRA funds, we are changing the defined term highly effective 
school leader to highly effective principal and removing references to 
the term ``school leader'' from the definition.
    With this change, the terms highly effective principal and highly 
effective teacher are mutually exclusive and we intend them to be so.
    Changes: We are changing the defined term highly effective school 
leader to highly effective principal and removing the references to the 
term ``school leader'' from the definition of this term.
    Comment: We received a number of comments on the proposed 
definition of the term highly effective school leader with respect to 
the measures used to determine whether a school leader is effective. 
Several commenters expressed concern that the proposed definition of 
highly effective school leader requires that, to be considered highly 
effective, a school leader must demonstrate that his or her students 
have achieved high rates of student growth (e.g., more than one grade 
level in an academic year). Two commenters expressed concern that this 
proposed definition appears to be based solely on the ability to 
demonstrate high annual rates of student growth and is thus too narrow 
and restrictive to properly identify effective school leaders. These 
commenters recommended that student growth should not be the sole 
criterion for determining school leader effectiveness, and that the 
definition of highly effective school leader should factor in other 
aspects of the teaching and learning environment, including broader 
measures such as the use of instructional methodologies and adaptive 
technologies.
    One commenter expressed appreciation that the proposed definition 
permits the use of additional measures of school leader effectiveness, 
but was concerned that the definition

[[Page 12016]]

fails to require the use of other measures of effectiveness not based 
on student assessments. This commenter asserted that there are 
limitations in measuring school leader effectiveness using current 
student assessment instruments and recommended that the Department 
revise the definition to include school leaders who have demonstrated 
superior ability to improve student learning (including but not limited 
to student growth based on assessment results) and who have excelled at 
all other essential aspects of their profession. Another commenter 
recommended that several additional measures be included in the 
definition of highly effective school leader, including measures 
related to leadership, vision, management, learners and learning, 
instruction, ethics, equity, and advocacy. Another commenter 
recommended changing the measures of effectiveness in the definition to 
include high rates of student growth, evidence of teacher improvement 
in knowledge and practice, and the use of research-supported ongoing 
long-term professional development; the commenter argued that this 
change is needed to ensure that the definition does not benefit 
wealthier LEAs to the detriment of poorer LEAs, which often have more 
difficulty in showing student growth.
    Discussion: The Department believes that student growth must be a 
significant factor in identifying highly effective principals. (As 
noted in the previous discussion, the Department is changing the 
defined term highly effective school leader to highly effective 
principal.) We agree with the commenters that data on student growth 
should not be used as the sole means of identifying highly effective 
principals and that eligible applicants should supplement student 
growth data with other effectiveness measures. While we cannot include 
in the definition of highly effective principals all of the measures 
recommended by the commenters, we believe it is important to include 
several examples for illustrative purposes and are adding as examples 
the following measures: High school graduation rates and college 
enrollment rates, evidence of providing supportive teaching and 
learning conditions, support for ensuring effective instruction across 
subject areas for a well-rounded education, strong instructional 
leadership, and positive family and community engagement; or evidence 
of attracting, developing, and retaining high numbers of effective 
teachers. However, we do not believe it is necessary to require the use 
of supplemental measures in identifying highly effective principals in 
projects funded in this program.
    We note that the definition of highly effective principal in this 
program is similar to the definition of this term in the Department's 
Race to the Top Fund program. However, because in this program the 
definition does not require the use of multiple measures to identify 
highly effective principals, the definitions are not identical. We 
believe that the difference between these definitions is warranted 
because the eligible applicants for these programs differ. Given the 
diverse pool of eligible applicants and the variety of projects that 
may be supported under this program, we believe that an eligible 
applicant should have the flexibility necessary to present a model for 
identifying highly effective principals that is appropriate for its 
proposed project and not be required to use multiple measures that may 
not be related to its project. Although eligible applicants may use 
multiple measures and we encourage them to do so if appropriate for 
their proposed projects, under this program an eligible applicant is 
only required to use student growth data.
    Changes: As noted in the previous discussion, we are changing the 
defined term highly effective school leader to highly effective 
principal. We are revising the definition to read as follows: Highly 
effective principal means a principal whose students, overall and for 
each subgroup as described in section 1111(b)(3)(C)(xiii) of the ESEA 
(i.e., economically disadvantaged students, students from major racial 
and ethnic groups, migrant students, students with disabilities, 
students with limited English proficiency, student gender), achieve 
high rates (e.g., one and one-half grade levels in an academic year) of 
student growth. Eligible applicants may include multiple measures, 
provided that principal effectiveness is evaluated, in significant 
part, by student growth. Supplemental measures may include, for 
example, high school graduation rates; college enrollment rates; 
evidence of providing supportive teaching and learning conditions, 
support for ensuring effective instruction across subject areas for a 
well-rounded education, strong instructional leadership, and positive 
family and community engagement; or evidence of attracting, developing, 
and retaining high numbers of effective teachers.
    Comment: One commenter expressed concern that the definition of 
highly effective school leader applies only to leaders of elementary 
schools and may be problematic for the secondary school level. One 
commenter recommended that the Department allow eligible applicants to 
use an increase in graduation rates as a measure of student growth for 
high schools in tandem with student growth on required State 
assessments. This commenter also recommended that the Department 
require eligible applicants to propose how they would measure student 
growth for untested grades and subjects, particularly in high schools.
    Discussion: As noted in the previous discussion, we are revising 
the definition of highly effective principal (proposed as highly 
effective school leader) to clarify that eligible applicants may 
include multiple measures, provided that principal effectiveness is 
evaluated, in significant part, by student growth. Specifically, we 
believe the addition of high school graduation rates and college 
enrollment rates as examples of supplemental measures makes clear that 
this definition covers principals in high schools.
    Regarding the recommendation that eligible applicants be required 
to propose how they would measure student growth for untested grades 
and subjects, we believe that eligible applicants should have the 
flexibility to determine the measure(s) of student achievement (on 
which determinations of student growth are based, consistent with the 
definition of student growth used in this program) that are most 
appropriate for their proposed projects. We do not believe it is 
necessary to require eligible applicants to propose the measures they 
would use for untested grades and subjects for review and approval by 
the Department.
    Changes: In the list of examples of supplemental measures for 
determining principal effectiveness that we are adding to the 
definition of highly effective principal, we are including high school 
graduation rates and college enrollment rates.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department clarify 
whether, to meet the definition of highly effective school leader, each 
of the school leader's students must individually demonstrate a high 
rate of student growth.
    Discussion: The definition of highly effective principal (proposed 
as highly effective school leader) requires that, to be considered 
highly effective, the principal's students must demonstrate high rates 
of student growth overall and for each subgroup described in section 
1111(b)(3)(c)(xiii) of the ESEA. Thus, under this definition, 
effectiveness is determined (in significant part) using aggregate rates 
of student growth. There

[[Page 12017]]

is no requirement that each student in the principal's school 
demonstrate a high rate of student growth individually.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department change the 
definition of highly effective school leader so that a school leader is 
considered to be highly effective if his or her students achieve high 
rates of student growth overall and for one or more of the subgroups 
described in section 1111(b)(3)(C)(xiii) of the ESEA (i.e., 
economically disadvantaged students, students from major racial and 
ethnic groups, migrant students, students with disabilities, students 
with limited English proficiency, and student gender), rather than for 
each of these subgroups. The commenter argued that this change is 
needed to ensure that the definition does not favor principals in 
schools in wealthier LEAs to the detriment of those in poorer LEAs, 
which typically have higher concentrations of students in these 
subgroups and often have more difficulty in showing student growth.
    Discussion: We believe that in order for a principal to be 
considered highly effective, that principal's students should achieve 
high rates of student growth for each student subgroup represented in 
the school. As this program is designed to support, in general, 
projects that improve student academic achievement and attainment and, 
under Absolute Priority 1 in particular, projects that increase the 
number or percentage of highly effective principals or reduce the 
number or percentage of ineffective principals, we believe that 
projects supported under this program will help address the issue 
raised by the commenter regarding student performance in poorer LEAs.
    Changes: None.

Highly Effective Teacher

    Comment: Two commenters suggested that, in Absolute Priority 1, the 
Department change the defined term highly effective teacher to ``highly 
qualified teacher.''
    Discussion: The term ``highly qualified teacher'' has a specific 
meaning under the ESEA and is focused primarily on the qualifications 
of teachers. In this program (as in other programs supported with ARRA 
funds), we intend to focus instead on outcomes of teaching and the 
impact of teachers on the academic achievement and growth of their 
students. The definition of highly effective teacher is consistent with 
that focus and, for that reason, we do not believe the change 
recommended by the commenter is warranted.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: We received a number of comments on the proposed 
definition of the term highly effective teacher with respect to the 
measures used to determine whether a teacher is highly effective. A 
number of commenters expressed concern about using student growth as 
the measure to determine whether a teacher is highly effective under 
this definition. Specifically, several commenters expressed concern 
about the definition's reliance on student assessment results and 
recommended that growth in student achievement on assessments be only 
one factor in determining whether a teacher is highly effective. Other 
commenters recommended that the provision on students achieving high 
rates of growth be removed from the definition because it places too 
much emphasis on State assessments. These commenters recommended 
revising the definition to encourage or require eligible applicants to 
use multiple effectiveness measures. The measures mentioned by 
commenters include the following: Student-based measures such as local 
assessments, classroom assessments, portfolio assessments, progress 
monitoring, and nonacademic forms of evaluation (such as evaluations of 
student engagement); and teacher-based measures such as assessments of 
teacher subject knowledge and skills (including standards-based teacher 
evaluations), assessments of teaching practice and performance 
(including assessments of teacher planning and preparation), 
assessments of teacher reflectiveness, participation in learning 
communities, and training in helping students make connections between 
their performance in school and their goals for college and careers.
    Discussion: The Department believes that student growth must be a 
significant factor in identifying highly effective teachers. As noted 
in our discussion of commenters' concerns that student growth data 
should not be used as the sole means to identify highly effective 
principals, we agree with the commenters that data on student growth 
should not be used as the sole means of identifying highly effective 
teachers and that eligible applicants should supplement student growth 
data with other effectiveness measures. While we cannot include in the 
definition of highly effective teacher all of the measures recommended 
by the commenters, we believe it is important to include several 
examples for illustrative purposes and are adding as examples the 
following measures: Multiple observation-based assessments of teacher 
performance or evidence of leadership roles (which may include 
mentoring or leading professional learning communities) that increase 
the effectiveness of other teachers in the school or LEA. However, we 
do not believe it is necessary to require the use of supplemental 
measures in identifying highly effective teachers in projects funded 
under this program.
    We note that the definition of highly effective teacher in this 
program is similar to the definition of this term in the Department's 
Race to the Top Fund program. However, because in this program the 
definition does not require the use of multiple measures to identify 
highly effective teachers, the definitions are not identical. We 
believe that the difference between these definitions is warranted 
because the eligible applicants for these programs differ. Given the 
diverse pool of eligible applicants and the variety of projects that 
may be supported under this program, we believe that an eligible 
applicant should have the flexibility necessary to present a model for 
identifying highly effective teachers that is appropriate for its 
proposed project and not be required to use multiple measures that may 
not be related to its project. Although eligible applicants may use 
multiple measures and we encourage them to do so if appropriate for 
their proposed projects, under this program an eligible applicant is 
only required to use student growth data.
    Changes: We are revising the definition of highly effective teacher 
to read as follows: Highly effective teacher means a teacher whose 
students achieve high rates (e.g., one and one-half grade levels in an 
academic year) of student growth. Eligible applicants may include 
multiple measures, provided that teacher effectiveness is evaluated, in 
significant part, by student growth. Supplemental measures may include, 
for example, multiple observation-based assessments of teacher 
performance or evidence of leadership roles (which may include 
mentoring or leading professional learning communities) that increase 
the effectiveness of other teachers in the school or LEA.
    Comment: Two commenters expressed concern that the measures used to 
identify highly effective teachers may be problematic for teachers at 
the secondary school level. The commenters recommended that the 
Department require eligible applicants to propose how they would 
measure student growth for untested grades and subjects, particularly 
in high schools.
    Discussion: As noted in the previous discussion, we are revising 
the definition of highly effective teacher to clarify that eligible 
applicants may

[[Page 12018]]

include multiple measures for determining teacher effectiveness, 
provided that teacher effectiveness is evaluated, in significant part, 
by student growth. Under this definition, an eligible applicant would 
be free to use supplemental measures that it determines to be 
appropriate for assessing effectiveness of teachers at the secondary 
school level. These supplemental measures may include measures such as 
high school graduation rates or college enrollment rates.
    As noted in our discussion of the commenter's recommendation that 
the Department require eligible applicants to propose how they would 
measure student growth for untested grades and subjects with respect to 
the definition of highly effective principal, we believe that eligible 
applicants should have the flexibility to determine the measure(s) of 
student achievement (on which determinations of student growth are 
based, consistent with the definition of student growth used in this 
program) that are most appropriate for their proposed projects. We do 
not believe it is necessary to require eligible applicants to propose 
the measures they would use for untested grades and subjects for review 
and approval by the Department.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter asked the Department to clarify whether, to 
meet the definition of highly effective teacher, each of a teacher's 
students must individually demonstrate a high rate of student growth.
    Discussion: To meet the definition of highly effective teacher, a 
teacher's students must achieve a high rate of student growth in the 
aggregate; a teacher's students need not achieve high rates of growth 
individually.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed concern that teachers of students 
with disabilities will face disproportionate difficulty in meeting the 
definition of highly effective teacher because students with 
disabilities are less likely to achieve high rates (e.g., more than one 
grade level in an academic year) of student growth.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenter's concern. We believe that 
evaluation systems should support the equitable evaluation of teachers 
who are providing instruction to students with disabilities in regular 
education settings consistent with the requirements of the Individuals 
with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to educate students with 
disabilities in the least restrictive environment. However, while the 
definition of highly effective teacher provides an example of a high 
rate of student growth (e.g., one and one-half grade levels in an 
academic year), the definition does not specify the rate of student 
growth that eligible applicants must use. Further, the definition does 
not require that the same rate of growth must be used for all types of 
teachers. Thus, an eligible applicant would not be prohibited from 
using a rate of student growth that differs from the example provided 
and may determine that different rates of student growth are 
appropriate for teachers of different types of students included in its 
proposed project. However, we urge eligible applicants to ensure that 
any rate used enables the eligible applicant to distinguish teachers 
who are highly effective from those who are not.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Three commenters sought clarification of the term 
``teacher'' and requested that the Department add a definition of this 
term. In particular, two commenters sought clarification on whether 
``teacher'' referred only to teachers in tested grades and subjects or 
to any teacher who meets the definition of ``teacher'' used in the 
State.
    Discussion: We do not believe that a definition of ``teacher'' is 
necessary under this program. In determining which teachers meet the 
definition of highly effective teacher an eligible applicant may 
consider any educational personnel that meet the definition of 
``teacher'' used in a State in which the project is being implemented, 
provided that data on student growth are available for those personnel. 
The term highly effective teacher is not restricted to teachers in the 
tested grades and subjects.
    Changes: None.

Absolute Priority 2--Innovations That Improve the Use of Data

    Comment: Several commenters expressed support for this proposed 
absolute priority. One commenter expressed appreciation for the 
priority's support for local use of data, as opposed to an exclusive 
focus on the development and use of data systems at the State level. 
One commenter, however, expressed concern that the priority did not 
reflect the ARRA assurance in this reform area. The commenter asserted 
that the ARRA assurance pertaining to data relates to the development 
and implementation of statewide longitudinal data systems and not the 
use of data to inform local decision making as described in the 
priority.
    Discussion: As noted earlier, we have designed the absolute 
priorities for this program to be consistent with the four education 
reform areas under the ARRA. Given that data from statewide 
longitudinal data systems could be used to inform decisions at the LEA 
and school levels, we believe that the proposed priority's support for 
improvements in the local use of data is reasonable and consistent with 
the education reform area in the ARRA.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the Department clarify 
whether the data to be used under this priority are data from a 
statewide longitudinal data system or data that is separately 
maintained at the local level.
    Discussion: We do not intend to limit the source of data only to a 
statewide longitudinal data system or to local data systems. An 
eligible applicant may propose projects under this priority that 
utilize data from either or both of these sources, or any other 
available data sources.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter objected to the Department's inclusion, 
under this priority, of estimates of individual teacher impact on 
student achievement as an example of the kinds of data on student 
achievement or growth that can drive education reform. The commenter 
cited research pertaining to limitations and difficulties in producing 
teacher ``value-added'' estimates. The commenter also asserted that 
estimates of individual teacher impact on student achievement are not 
sufficiently stable to determine teacher effectiveness and should not 
be used in decisions to recruit, retain or remove teachers.
    Discussion: We recognize that currently available data-driven 
methods of evaluating teacher or principal impact on student 
achievement and student growth data may need further study or 
development. However, student achievement or growth data is one of many 
measures that can drive education reform in general, and facilitate 
improvement in the classroom, in particular. For this reason, we 
believe that student data can drive instructional improvement decisions 
at both the individual teacher level and the district level. That is 
why we have included innovations under this priority that encourage 
projects that increase the availability of data for teachers, 
principals, families, and other stakeholders, and projects that develop 
strategies to use data effectively to improve school and classroom 
instructional practices. With respect to the commenter's concern about 
student achievement data being an ``unstable'' measure to evaluating 
teacher and principal effectiveness, we note that as previously 
discussed under absolute

[[Page 12019]]

priority 1, we believe student achievement or growth data should be 
used as a significant factor, but need not serve as a single measure of 
effectiveness. Further, we believe this measure should be a component 
of teacher or principal evaluation systems that are rigorous, 
transparent, and fair; differentiate performance using multiple rating 
categories of effectiveness and multiple measures of effectiveness; and 
are designed and developed with teacher and principal involvement. For 
these reasons, we have concluded that the changes suggested by the 
commenters should not be adopted.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department revise the 
priority to state that, where applicable, data should be disaggregated 
for Native American students.
    Discussion: The priority requires disaggregation of data, where 
applicable, to be consistent with section 1111(b)(3)(C)(xiii) of the 
ESEA. Section 1111(b)(3)(C)(xiii) requires the disaggregation of data 
by major racial and ethnic groups which may include, among others, 
American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. Under this 
priority, an eligible applicant proposing a project would be expected 
to disaggregate data for these groups of students, where applicable.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters expressed concern about protecting the 
privacy of students whose data are used under this priority. Two of 
these commenters noted that the requirements of the Family Educational 
Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) are not discussed in the NPP and 
recommended that the Department provide guidance on how grant 
recipients can implement projects under this priority in a manner 
consistent with FERPA requirements. These commenters also expressed 
concerns about protecting the privacy of teachers and school leaders.
    Discussion: Eligible applicants must consider how to protect 
student privacy as data are shared. Educational agencies and 
institutions, including LEAs, schools, and IHEs, that receive awards 
under this program or any other Department of Education program, must 
comply with FERPA, 20 U.S.C. 1232g, and its implementing regulations in 
34 CFR Part 99, as well as any applicable State and local requirements. 
34 CFR 99.31 specifies the conditions under which an educational agency 
or institution may non-consensually disclose personally identifiable 
information from an education record of a student to a third party 
(i.e., a nonprofit organization in partnership with an educational 
institution). Consistent with 34 CFR 99.33, FERPA also applies to the 
non-consensual redisclosure of personally identifiable information from 
an education record by a third party. Because compliance with FERPA is 
a requirement that must be met by all educational agencies and 
institutions that are recipients of Department funds, we do not believe 
it is necessary to amend the priority as suggested by the commenter. In 
response to the commenter's concern about ensuring teacher and school 
leader privacy, the Department agrees that teacher and principal 
privacy also must be protected. However, teacher and principal privacy 
is governed by State law. Eligible applicants that receive awards under 
this program must comply with any applicable State and local privacy 
requirements.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters recommended that the Department revise 
the priority to support projects pertaining to specific uses of data. 
For instance, some commenters suggested that we revise the priority to 
support projects that focus on professional development, training, or 
other technical and expert assistance for teachers and school leaders 
on the analysis and use of data, as well as on the communication of 
data to parents and the community. Another commenter recommended that 
we revise the priority to include a focus on projects that use real-
time data and related rapid response supports for teachers (with 
respect to professional development) and for students (with respect to 
academic content). One commenter recommended that we revise the 
priority to include a focus on the development of data-driven 
instructional improvement systems. One commenter recommended that we 
revise the priority to include support for the collection of data in 
addition to the aggregation, analysis, and use of data. Two commenters 
recommended that we revise the priority to include support for projects 
that align local data systems with other data systems, including 
statewide longitudinal data systems, and ensure interoperability 
between these systems. Similarly, another commenter recommended that we 
revise the priority to include a focus on projects that link local data 
systems with data systems of other agencies and institutions such as 
workforce agencies and institutions of higher education. One commenter 
recommended that the Department revise the priority to include a focus 
on projects that disaggregate data through cross-referencing of 
multiple subgroups and demographic categories, rather than 
disaggregating the data only by the discrete subgroups listed in the 
priority. One commenter suggested that we revise the priority to 
include support for projects that use student achievement or student 
growth data to identify and support students who are ``off track''--
presumably in reference to students that would qualify as ``high need 
students'' (as defined in this notice). Similarly, one commenter 
recommended that we revise the priority to include a focus on projects 
that use data specifically to inform student dropout prevention and 
recovery programs. One commenter recommended that we revise the 
priority to include a focus on projects that use student achievement or 
student growth data to improve the performance of persistently low-
performing schools. One commenter recommended that the Department 
revise the priority to include a focus on projects that link the 
achievement or growth data for students of individual teachers to those 
teachers' preparation programs so that the data can be used to improve 
those programs and ensure that they produce effective teachers. Two 
commenters suggested that we revise the priority to support projects 
that include plans for communicating the results of data analyses 
effectively in the community.
    Discussion: There is nothing in this priority that precludes an 
eligible applicant from proposing any of these projects under this 
priority, provided that the proposed project (1) encourages and 
facilitates the evaluation, analysis and use of student achievement or 
student growth data by educators, families or other stakeholders to 
inform decision-making, (2) improves student achievement or student 
growth, or teacher, principal, school, or LEA performance and 
productivity, or (3) enables data aggregation, analysis, and research, 
as specified in the priority. We made this priority broad to provide 
eligible applicants with flexibility to propose a variety of projects. 
We believe we have achieved this goal, as evidenced by the array of 
projects proposed by the commenters. For this reason, we conclude that 
it is not necessary to revise the priority to include an express focus 
on such activities.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department revise the 
priority to support projects that use data to improve student 
attendance or behavior in addition to student achievement or growth. 
Another commenter recommended supporting projects that use data to 
improve school culture or climate. Another commenter

[[Page 12020]]

recommended that the Department revise the priority to include support 
for projects that use data to improve families' ability to support 
student achievement at home.
    Discussion: As noted elsewhere in this notice, the Department 
believes that, consistent with the ARRA, we must preserve improving 
student academic achievement and attainment as the primary goals of 
this program. Accordingly, we do not believe it is appropriate to 
revise this priority to include reference to improvements with respect 
to other outcome measures. We note, however, that in discussing the 
effects of a project proposed under this priority an eligible applicant 
may include discussion of the effects of the project on intermediate 
variables that are strongly correlated with improving student 
achievement and attainment outcomes. These intermediate variables could 
include variables related to the topics suggested by the commenters.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department revise the 
priority to include community members among the list of stakeholders 
receiving and using student achievement and growth data.
    Discussion: We have intentionally not provided a definition of the 
term ``other stakeholders'' to provide eligible applicants with 
flexibility to determine which stakeholders should be targeted under 
this priority. Accordingly, it is at the eligible applicant's 
discretion to determine what other stakeholders should have a role in 
their proposed projects. Further, we believe that community members are 
reasonably included amongst the other stakeholders to whom projects 
would provide data under this priority. Therefore, we decline to make 
the changes requested by the commenters.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that States be required to 
create an ``Opportunity to Learn Index,'' to track data about the 
quality of State and local education systems.
    Discussion: The commenter appears to misunderstand the purpose of 
the program, which 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. 
Because State educational agencies cannot apply for funding under this 
program, it would not be appropriate to establish such requirements for 
States.
    Changes: None.

Absolute Priority 3--Innovations That Complement the Implementation of 
High Standards and High Quality Assessments

    Comment: Several commenters expressed support for focusing this 
priority on high standards. One of these commenters expressed support 
for implementing common high standards across LEAs and States. One 
commenter expressed support for the priority with respect to the 
promotion of contextual learning opportunities. One commenter 
recommended that we specify which entity should be responsible for 
implementing initiatives that are responsive to the priority, because, 
according to the commenter, the priority appears to refer to State 
activities rather than matters for eligible applicants. Similarly, two 
commenters implied that States are the only entities that could be 
assisted under this priority. One commenter requested that the 
Department clarify whether the priority requires an LEA to work with 
its State to improve the State's systems of standards and assessments 
or develop and implement new systems. Another commenter requested that 
the Department clarify how the initiatives included under this priority 
will support States' efforts to transition to college- and career-ready 
standards and assessments; the commenter asserted that the initiatives 
do not seem related to the adoption of college- and career-ready 
standards and assessments.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenters' support for the proposed 
priority. This priority is designed to support local efforts that 
complement States' development and implementation of college- and 
career-ready standards and high-quality assessments aligned with those 
standards. This priority is not intended to support States' efforts in 
this area directly or to require LEAs or other entities to provide 
direct assistance to States in the development and implementation of 
standards and assessments. Instead, this priority encourages projects 
at the LEA level that support and complement States' transition to 
college and career ready standards and assessments, such as LEA 
activities of developing, acquiring, disseminating and implementing 
high-quality curricular instructional materials and assessments, or 
delivering high-quality professional development pertaining to such 
standards or assessments. We believe this priority in the context of 
this program is sufficiently clear.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Another commenter requested that the Department clarify 
whether this priority requires LEAs to propose projects that are based 
on the college- and career-ready standards and assessments to which 
States are transitioning. The commenter also asserted that the priority 
appears to give an undue advantage to LEAs in States that have made 
more progress than other States in making this transition.
    Discussion: Under this priority, an eligible applicant must propose 
projects that support States' efforts to transition to standards and 
assessments that measure students' progress toward college- and career-
readiness. We recognize that States' progress in developing and 
transitioning to standards that measure college- and career-readiness 
varies. However, this variable will not impact the competitiveness of 
an eligible applicant's proposed project. Under this priority, eligible 
applicants may propose projects that are based on standards other than 
those of their home State, so long as the standards they select are 
aligned with and at least as rigorous as their home State's standards. 
For this reason, LEAs in States that have made less progress toward 
standards that measure college- and career-readiness are not 
disadvantaged by this priority. We note that eligible applicants who 
propose projects under this priority that are not based on the 
applicant's State standards must explain how their proposed standards 
are aligned with, and are at least as rigorous as, their home State's 
standards, as well as how these standards differ.
    Changes: We are revising the priority to clarify that an eligible 
applicant must propose a project that is based on standards that are at 
least as rigorous as its State's standards. Further, we are revising 
the priority to clarify that 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 eligible applicant's State's standards as well 
as how the standards differ.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department revise this 
priority to support initiatives that increase students' college and 
career readiness.
    Discussion: We believe that the priority's support for initiatives 
that complement States' implementation of college- and career-ready 
standards and assessments aligned with those standards supports 
initiatives that increase students' college- and career-readiness. For 
this reason, we do not

[[Page 12021]]

believe revisions to this priority are necessary.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed support for the priority with 
respect to promoting the use of formative and interim assessments. 
Another commenter recommended that the Department restrict the 
assessments under this priority to formative assessments; the commenter 
asserted that interim assessments typically are repetitions of larger-
scale summative assessments and do not provide useful diagnostic 
information to educators or students.
    Discussion: We made this priority broad to provide eligible 
applicants with flexibility to propose a variety of projects; we do not 
wish to constrain innovation by prohibiting specific activities under 
this priority such as utilizing interim assessments. We believe 
eligible applicants are in the best position to determine whether 
interim assessments are an appropriate tool under a proposed project. 
For this reason, we decline to amend the priority as suggested by the 
commenter.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters recommended that the Department revise 
the priority to support projects pertaining to specific standards- and 
assessments-based activities. For instance, some commenters suggested 
that we revise the priority to specify the types of activities that 
would translate standards and information from assessments into 
classroom practices. Another commenter recommended that we revise the 
priority to further emphasize initiatives that improve student 
engagement through real-world applications of learning to fully prepare 
students to compete and succeed in a global economy. One commenter 
suggested that we revise the priority to include initiatives that 
provide professional development to teachers regarding the use of 
results from formative assessments supported under the priority. Two 
other commenters recommended that we revise the priority to include 
initiatives that promote family understanding, and engagement in the 
implementation and monitoring, of education standards in order to 
ensure that such standards are of high quality. A few commenters 
recommended that the Department revise the priority to ensure that the 
initiatives pursued under this priority are consistent with the 
principles of universal design for learning (we presume this to be a 
reference to the principles of universal design for learning as that 
term is defined in section 103(24) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, 
as amended (HEA)). One commenter recommended that the Department revise 
the priority to encourage increased access to and use of open-content 
and web-based curricular materials. One commenter recommended that the 
Department include, among the curricular and instructional initiatives 
supported under this priority, initiatives regarding non-traditional 
instruction and relationship building in order to reengage disconnected 
students.
    Discussion: There is nothing in this priority that would preclude 
an eligible applicant from proposing any of the projects recommended by 
commenters, provided that the proposed project meets the requirements 
specified in the priority. We made this priority broad to provide 
eligible applicants with flexibility to propose a variety of projects. 
We believe we have achieved this goal, as evidenced by the array of 
projects proposed by the commenters. For this reason, we conclude that 
it is not necessary to revise the priority to include an express focus 
on such activities.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters recommended that we revise the priority to 
include support for early learning programs.
    Discussion: Although, to meet this priority, an eligible applicant 
must propose a project that is designed to benefit students in 
elementary and secondary schools (by implementing activities that 
support States' efforts to transition to college- and career-ready 
standards and assessments), an eligible applicant would not be 
prohibited from proposing a project that additionally serves students 
in early learning programs. Indeed, this notice specifically contains 
competitive preference priority 5 pertaining to Innovations for 
Improving Early Learning Outcomes. For these reasons, we do not believe 
it is appropriate to revise the priority as the commenters suggest.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters expressed support for the priority's focus 
on academically rigorous courses and programs; another commenter 
recommended that the Department maintain the list of academically 
rigorous courses and programs in the priority. Another commenter 
expressed support for including STEM courses in the priority. Two 
commenters, however, recommended that the Department provide an 
example, other than STEM subjects, of the core academic subjects for 
which curricular and instructional initiatives could be pursued under 
this priority. Another commenter recommended that we revise the 
priority to allow applicants to pursue activities in subjects that may 
not be included in common core standards initiatives, such as computer 
science; this commenter also recommended that the Department include 
references to computer science courses along with courses in STEM 
subjects.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenters' support, but do not 
believe it is necessary to include the commenters' recommended 
revisions in the priority; however, we are revising the priority to 
provide further clarity pertaining to the definition of ``core academic 
subjects.'' This priority is designed to support initiatives in any or 
all core academic subjects, consistent with section 9101(11) of the 
ESEA, including English, reading or language arts, mathematics, 
science, foreign language, civics and government, economics, arts, 
history, and geography. Consistent with the Race to the Top Fund 
program, the Department interprets the core academic subject of 
``science'' under section 9101(11) to include STEM education (science, 
technology, engineering and mathematics) which encompasses a wide-range 
of disciplines, including computer science.
    Changes: To clarify that ``core academic subjects'' refers to those 
under section 9101(11) of the ESEA, we are changing the priority to 
include the statutory reference. We are also including a footnote 
regarding the Department's interpretation with respect to ``science'' 
under section 9101(11) of the ESEA.
    Comment: Several commenters suggested that we revise the priority 
to support specific curricular and instructional initiatives. For 
instance, one commenter recommended that we revise the priority to 
support initiatives only in literacy and problem solving skills, 
arguing that these two areas are key to improving student achievement. 
A few commenters recommended that we revise the priority to 
specifically support initiatives in career and technical education. 
Another commenter recommended that we revise the priority to include 
initiatives that provide experiences in diversity in the classroom and 
school that prepare students for racially and economically diverse 
college and work settings. Two commenters recommended that we revise 
the priority to include initiatives that support student achievement at 
home and in other learning settings in order to promote family and 
community engagement in education. One commenter recommended that the

[[Page 12022]]

priority be revised to include initiatives that use technology in ways 
that encourage self-directed learning.
    Discussion: An eligible applicant would not be precluded from 
proposing under this priority a project that focuses on the subjects 
and areas recommended by the commenter so long as the project supports 
States' efforts to transition to college- and career-ready standards 
and assessments, as specified in the priority. We do not believe it is 
appropriate or consistent with the purpose of this program to revise 
the priority to limit or narrow the priority to these specified 
initiatives.
    Changes: None.

Absolute Priority 4--Innovations That Turn Around Persistently Low-
Performing Schools

    Comment: A number of commenters expressed general support for this 
absolute priority. However, several commenters recommended that the 
Department clarify the initiatives the priority would support. One of 
these commenters requested clarification as to whether projects under 
this priority may serve certain groups of students within schools 
rather than engage in whole-school reform.
    Discussion: The Department appreciates the commenters' support for 
this proposed absolute priority. Under the priority, an eligible 
applicant may propose a project that serves only certain groups of 
students (provided those students meet the definition of high-need 
student used in this program) as a targeted approach to reform.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter requested that we define the term 
``comprehensive intervention'' as used with respect to whole-school 
reform supported under this priority.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenter that further specificity 
regarding the comprehensive intervention approaches to whole-school 
reform under this priority is warranted and are revising the priority 
to include additional examples of those approaches. In addition to 
providing further specificity, the revisions we are making are intended 
to ensure that projects supported under this priority can be consistent 
with efforts to reform low-performing schools under other programs 
supported with ARRA funds.
    As discussed later in this section, we are removing the definition 
of persistently low-performing schools and revising the priority to 
specify the schools for which the priority supports reform projects. 
Consistent with those changes, we refer to these schools as Investing 
in Innovation Fund Absolute Priority 4 Schools in the discussion of 
comments that follows.
    Changes: We are revising paragraph (a) of this priority as follows: 
(a) Whole-school reform, including, but not limited to, comprehensive 
interventions to assist, augment, or replace Investing in Innovation 
Fund Absolute Priority 4 schools, including the school turnaround, 
restart, closure, and transformation models of intervention supported 
under the Department's School Improvement Grants program.
    Comment: Several commenters expressed support for the priority's 
encouragement of expanded learning time as a targeted approach to 
reform (paragraph (b)(1) of the priority). However, a number of 
commenters recommended that the Department clarify whether out-of-
school programs are included as targeted approaches under paragraph 
(b)(1). The commenters also recommended that out-of-school programs be 
required to include collaboration with community-based partners, 
institutions of higher education, and museums, and that these programs 
include project-based learning.
    Discussion: To the extent that an ``out-of-school'' program 
includes programs to provide extended learning time either after 
school, over the weekend, or during the summer, these activities would 
be permissible under this priority as targeted approaches to reform, so 
long as the proposed project also meets the requirements specified in 
this priority. We made this priority broad to provide eligible 
applicants with flexibility to propose a variety of projects, and to 
collaborate with a wide range of entities that can support their 
specific projects, which could include those mentioned by the 
commenters. For these reasons, we conclude that it is not necessary to 
revise the priority to include an express focus on specific activities 
or entities.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter requested that the Department provide a 
definition of ``core academic subjects'' under this priority.
    Discussion: As noted previously, for purposes of this program, we 
are using the definition of ``core academic subject'' as set forth in 
section 9101(11) of the ESEA, and are including a reference to the 
statutory definition in paragraph (b) of the priority.
    Changes: We are revising the priority to reference section 9101(11) 
of the ESEA.
    Comment: Two commenters requested that the Department clarify the 
non-academic barriers to student achievement that an applicant may 
propose to address under a targeted approach to reform under this 
priority.
    Discussion: Although we do not intend to unduly restrict the 
projects this priority would support by identifying specific barriers 
in the priority, we note that such barriers may relate to issues such 
as the following: truancy, unsafe school environment, poor school 
climate, lack of student engagement, and lack of parent and community 
involvement.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters recommended that the Department clarify 
the term ``transfer school'' that is used in the priority as an example 
of a pathway for students to earn a regular high school diploma.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenters that the term ``transfer 
schools'' may not be commonly understood. Therefore, we are replacing 
the term ``transfer schools'' in the priority with ``schools that serve 
the needs of over-aged, under-credited, or other students with an 
exceptional need for flexibility pertaining to when they attend school 
and what additional supports they require.''
    Changes: We are revising paragraph (b)(3) in this priority as 
follows: (3) Creating multiple pathways for students to earn regular 
high school diplomas (e.g., using schools that serve the needs of over-
aged, under-credited, or other students with an exceptional need for 
flexibility pertaining to when they attend school and what additional 
supports they require; awarding credit based on demonstrated evidence 
of student competency; and offering dual enrollment options).
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department revise the 
priority to ensure consistency with the priorities and requirements for 
turning around persistently low-performing schools under the 
Department's Race to the Top Fund and School Improvement Grants 
programs.
    Discussion: As discussed previously, we are revising the priority 
to include, as examples of whole-school reform, school turnaround, 
restart, closure, and transformation models of intervention supported 
under the Department's School Improvement Grants program. We believe 
this will help ensure that projects supported under this priority are 
consistent with efforts to reform low-performing schools under other 
programs supported with ARRA funds.
    Changes: As discussed previously, we are revising paragraph (a) of 
this priority as follows: (a) Whole-school reform, including, but not 
limited to, comprehensive interventions to assist, augment, or replace 
Investing in

[[Page 12023]]

Innovation Fund Absolute Priority 4 schools, including the school 
turnaround, restart, closure, and transformation models of intervention 
supported under the Department's School Improvement Grants program.
    Comment: Many commenters recommended that the Department revise the 
priority to provide greater flexibility in the initiatives the priority 
would support. Several of these commenters cautioned, in particular, 
that the priority places an excessive focus on extended learning time 
and, without increased flexibility, may undercut the competency-based 
programs supported under the Department's Race to the Top Fund program. 
Another commenter requested that the Department revise the priority to 
allow applicants to propose projects along a continuum of interventions 
ranging from targeted to comprehensive, rather than proposing projects 
using either whole-school or targeted approaches to reform. The 
commenter asserted that whole-school reform approaches typically 
involve multiple targeted interventions; thus, the commenter claimed, 
the distinction between these two approaches in the priority is 
artificial.
    Discussion: We believe that maintaining a distinction between 
whole-school and targeted approaches to reform is useful to eligible 
applicants for the purposes of preparing applications to turn around 
Investing in Innovation Fund Absolute Priority 4 schools. We note that 
the priority provides a significant amount of flexibility and does not 
specify the types of activities that would fall under either reform 
approach. As such, we do not believe the priority undercuts priorities 
articulated in other Department programs.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters recommended that the Department revise 
the priority to support projects pertaining to specific activities. For 
instance, many commenters encouraged the Department to revise the 
priority to include the creation and replication of high quality new 
schools, including charter and magnet schools, as an acceptable 
approach to reform. Another commenter suggested that the Department 
revise the priority to support projects that increase school choice 
options for parents and students. One commenter recommended that the 
Department revise the priority to include the development of 
``community schools,'' in reference to schools that implement 
comprehensive, integrated strategies for providing academic 
instruction, offer student services and supports, and engage families 
and the community in the education of their children. Two commenters 
suggested that the Department revise the priority to include, in 
addition to initiatives that would expand learning time as a targeted 
approach to reform, initiatives for restructuring the current school 
day to make better use of existing in-class time.
    One of these commenters suggested that the priority support 
restructuring the current school day with a greater use of technology 
and other means of differentiated instruction. Several commenters 
recommended revising the priority to include support for new or 
alternative instructional practices in persistently low-performing 
schools. Several commenters recommended that the Department revise the 
priority to include initiatives that incorporate data-driven 
instruction and supports. Two other commenters recommended that the 
Department revise the priority to include support for alternative 
curricular approaches and instructional tools (e.g., curricular 
approaches that are based in research in cognitive science and 
neuroscience, curricular approaches that integrate the use of 
technological tools) as acceptable reform approaches. Another commenter 
suggested that the Department revise the priority to include 
initiatives that incorporate instructional improvement systems as an 
acceptable reform approach; this commenter referred to the inclusion of 
these systems in the Department's Race to the Top Fund program. One 
commenter recommended that the Department revise the priority to 
include individual and small group instruction as a targeted approach 
to reform.
    Several commenters recommended that the Department revise the 
priority to include afterschool programs that provide older students 
with academic supports as an example of a targeted reform approach and, 
more specifically, as a graduation pathway for students. Two commenters 
recommended that the Department revise the priority to include as 
acceptable reform approaches initiatives that reduce racial and 
economic isolation such as reduction of resource gaps between schools 
and opportunities for intra- or inter-LEA transfers for students and 
educators.
    Several commenters recommended that the Department revise the 
priority to support initiatives that include strategies for improving 
teacher professional development and other support such as high-quality 
job-embedded professional development, common planning time, additional 
compensation, and peer involvement in staffing selections and resource 
allocation. One commenter requested that the Department revise the 
priority to include instruction in subjects beyond the core academic 
subjects in extended learning time initiatives implemented as targeted 
reform approaches. Two commenters suggested that the Department revise 
the priority to include, as a targeted approach to reform, strategies 
for increasing student engagement in order to address truancy, 
discipline, and social acceptance issues. A number of commenters 
recommended that the Department revise the priority to include building 
community and family links and increasing community and family 
engagement as acceptable school reform strategies, including ongoing 
parental involvement, wraparound services, increased parent-teacher 
interaction, and parent education programs regarding instructional 
programs and supports. Several commenters recommended that the 
Department revise the priority to include additional outcome measures, 
including measures regarding improvements in school climate, long-term 
student outcomes, and engagement in learning tied to real-world 
applications; and elimination of bullying and student harassment.
    Discussion: There is nothing in this priority that precludes any of 
the projects recommended by the commenters, provided that the proposed 
project addresses the whole-school or targeted approaches to reform, as 
specified in this priority. This priority is intentionally broad to 
provide eligible applicants with flexibility to propose a variety of 
projects that best reflect the variety of resources applicants bring to 
bear and the students they intend to serve. For this reason, we 
conclude that it is not necessary to revise the priority to include a 
specific list of permissible activities.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed concern about projects under this 
priority that would expand learning time by adding hours to the school 
day or extending the school year because these projects would be costly 
and constrained by teacher contracts; the commenter recommended that 
the Department focus on projects that would reform the existing school 
day using existing resources and that are not constrained by teacher 
contracts.
    Discussion: We agree that applicants should be mindful of cost and 
contractual obligations as they develop their proposed projects. 
However, organizations and LEAs operate in a range of environments and 
therefore are best positioned to determine which

[[Page 12024]]

approaches to extending learning time are most effective for their 
projects.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A number of commenters recommended that the Department 
include early learning programs as an acceptable strategy for turning 
around low-performing schools under this priority in light of the 
impact of these programs on student achievement in later years. One of 
these commenters suggested that the priority include initiatives that 
integrate high quality pre-kindergarten programs with early language 
and literacy instruction in the elementary grades.
    Discussion: We believe that any approach to reform under this 
priority (whether whole-school or targeted) must be designed expressly 
for the purpose of turning around Investing in Innovation Fund Absolute 
Priority 4 schools, which may only be public elementary and secondary 
schools. Accordingly, an initiative focused solely on improving early 
learning programs would not, by itself, meet this absolute priority. 
However, nothing would prevent an eligible applicant from proposing a 
project that includes such an initiative alongside efforts to directly 
reform Investing in Innovation Fund Absolute Priority 4 schools in 
accordance with the requirements of this priority.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A number of commenters expressed support for the provision 
in this priority that included multiple pathways for students to obtain 
a regular high school diploma as a targeted approach to reform. Several 
commenters recommended, however, that the Department revise the 
priority to also support programs that provide alternative diplomas as 
viable graduation pathways. One of these commenters recommended that 
the Department recognize, in particular, General Education Development 
(GED) programs that connect GED students to postsecondary education.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenters' support for the priority. 
However, we do not believe it is appropriate to include support for 
programs that provide alternative graduation credentials (such as GED 
programs) because such credentials, unlike regular high school 
diplomas, are not necessarily aligned with State academic content and 
achievement standards.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department ensure that 
there is continued funding for schools that have successfully 
implemented reform approaches under this priority so that these schools 
do not hit a funding cliff that jeopardizes their performance gains.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenter's concern and believe that 
Selection Criterion F (Sustainability) will help ensure that projects 
that receive funding under this priority will not be subject to sudden 
losses of or decreases in funds at the end of the grant period.
    Changes: None.

Persistently Low-Performing Schools

    Comment: One commenter noted differences between the proposed 
definition of persistently low-performing schools used in this priority 
and the definition of similar terms used in other programs supported 
with ARRA funds. The commenter recommended that the Department use 
consistent terminology and definitions of terms across programs.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenter's concern. As the commenter 
notes, other programs supported with ARRA funds (including the School 
Improvement Grants, State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, and Race to the 
Top Fund programs) use and define the term ``persistently lowest-
achieving schools''.\1\ Under this priority, we intend to support 
reform projects for schools that include, but are not limited to, the 
schools that meet the definition of ``persistently lowest-achieving 
schools'' used in those programs because we believe that focusing only 
on schools that meet the definition of ``persistently lowest-achieving 
schools'' would create a pool of schools for this priority that is 
overly narrow. However, we recognize that defining the term 
persistently low-performing schools as including, but not limited to, 
the schools that meet the definition of the similar term ``persistently 
lowest-achieving schools'' may be confusing to stakeholders (including 
prospective applicants for the different ARRA programs). Therefore, we 
are removing the definition of persistently low-performing schools and 
revising the priority to specify the schools for which the priority 
supports reform projects. To further prevent confusion with terms used 
in other programs supported with ARRA funds, we refer to these schools 
as Investing in Innovation Fund Absolute Priority 4 schools.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ Under the final requirements for the School Improvement 
Grants program, ``persistently lowest-achieving schools'' means, as 
determined by the State, (a)(1) any Title I school in improvement, 
corrective action, or restructuring that (i) is among the lowest-
achieving five percent of Title I schools in improvement, corrective 
action, or restructuring or the lowest-achieving five Title I 
schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring in the 
State, whichever number of schools is greater; or (ii) is a high 
school that has had a graduation rate as defined in 34 CFR 200.19(b) 
that is less than 60 percent over a number of years; and (2) any 
secondary school that is eligible for, but does not receive, Title I 
funds that (i) is among the lowest-achieving five percent of 
secondary schools or the lowest-achieving five secondary schools in 
the State that are eligible for, but do not receive, Title I funds, 
whichever number of schools is greater; or (ii) is a high school 
that has had a graduation rate as defined in 34 CFR 200.19(b) that 
is less than 60 percent over a number of years. See 
http://www2.ed.gov/programs/sif/faq.html. The definition of this term is 
used also by the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund and Race to the Top 
Fund programs.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Changes: We are removing the definition of persistently low-
performing schools and are revising the priority to specify that 
Investing in Innovation Fund Absolute Priority 4 schools are schools in 
any of the following categories: (a) Persistently lowest-achieving 
schools (as defined in the final requirements for the School 
Improvement Grants program); (b) Title I schools that are in corrective 
action or restructuring under section 1116 of the ESEA (a); or (c) 
secondary schools (both middle and high schools) eligible for but not 
receiving Title I funds that, if receiving Title I funds, would be in 
corrective action or restructuring under section 1116 of the ESEA. 
These schools are referred to as Investing in Innovation Fund Absolute 
Priority 4 schools.
    Comment: A number of commenters recommended that the Department 
revise the definition of persistently low-performing schools used in 
this priority to include additional types of schools. Two commenters 
recommended that the Department expand the definition of persistently 
low-performing schools to include low-performing non-Title I elementary 
schools and schools that without support would be at risk of becoming 
low-performing because they serve high-poverty communities. One 
commenter recommended that the Department revise the definition to 
include high schools, regardless of their AYP status, that are eligible 
for Title I and are ``drop-out factories'' (where a typical freshman 
class shrinks by 40 percent or more by the time the students reach 
their senior year) and middle schools, regardless of AYP status, that 
are feeder schools for these high schools. Two commenters recommended 
expanding the definition to include high schools with graduation rates 
below 60 percent. Another commenter recommended including schools in 
feeder patterns of high schools with low high school graduation rates 
compared to national or statewide averages, whether or not these 
schools are in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring. 
Another commenter recommended that the Department expand the definition 
to include

[[Page 12025]]

schools, regardless of their AYP status, that are eligible for Title I 
funds and where persistent low performance has led to a decline in 
enrollment of 30 percent or greater over the last three years. One 
commenter recommended that the Department expand the definition of 
persistently low-performing schools used in this priority to include 
alternative schools and school programs serving incarcerated students 
and students held in juvenile detention facilities. Another commenter 
recommended including tribal and BIE schools in this definition.
    Discussion: In general, the schools cited by commenters may be 
Investing in Innovation Fund Absolute Priority 4 schools if they are 
included in one of the three categories of schools listed in the 
priority. We do not believe it is appropriate to identify every type of 
school that may be included in these categories since there is 
variation in performance within common school types. For example, not 
all schools that serve incarcerated youth may necessarily be included 
in these categories.
    With respect to low-performing non-Title I elementary schools, we 
do not believe it is necessary to revise the priority to include these 
schools because elementary schools are much more likely to receive 
Title I funds than secondary schools. If an elementary school is low-
performing, it will thus in all likelihood be included in category (a) 
or (b) identified in the priority.
    With respect to schools that without support would be at risk of 
becoming low-performing because they serve high-poverty communities, we 
believe that this priority should be used to focus attention on 
improving schools that have a record of low performance and do not 
believe it is appropriate to revise the priority to include support for 
reform efforts for schools that may become but are not currently low-
performing.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department require 
applicants to use data to assess the level of need in persistently low-
performing schools. The commenter recommended this option to avoid what 
the commenter referred to as the ``one size fits all challenge'' under 
the ESEA whereby, according to the commenter, some schools fail to meet 
AYP because they miss their targets in one student subgroup, whereas 
other schools perform poorly across all subgroups and fail to meet AYP.
    Discussion: An eligible applicant would not be prohibited from 
identifying, from among the Investing in Innovation Fund Absolute 
Priority 4 schools, specific schools that the eligible applicant 
intends to serve based on level of need or other factors. We do not 
believe that it is necessary to require eligible applicants to consider 
such factors, and that the priority, as written, will focus resources 
on schools with critical needs.
    Changes: None.

Competitive Preference Priority 5--Innovations for Improving Early 
Learning Outcomes

    Comment: A number of commenters expressed support for the inclusion 
of this proposed competitive preference priority and emphasized the 
importance of early learning for success later in life. Another 
commenter noted that this priority presents an opportunity to build on 
early learning's research base. Several commenters recommended that the 
Department designate this priority as a fifth absolute priority in 
light of evidence that high-quality early learning programs can 
significantly close achievement gaps.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenters' support for this 
priority. However, as stated elsewhere, we believe it is important to 
limit the absolute priorities under this program to the four education 
reform areas of the ARRA. Therefore, we decline to add innovations for 
improving early learning outcomes as an absolute priority.
    Change: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department revise the 
priority to allow applicants to serve children from birth through fifth 
grade, rather than through third grade, in order to maintain students' 
initial academic gains.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenter's concern for sustaining 
early learning gains of students into later grades. While the 
Department is committed to ensuring that supports for all children are 
emphasized throughout our programs, we recognize that there are 
specific needs of early learners that can be addressed through targeted 
reforms. Further, inclusion of children birth to 3rd grade is a widely-
accepted range amongst the education community. For these reasons, we 
decline to make the changes suggested by the commenter.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters asserted that pre-kindergarten or early 
childhood programs are often privately managed. These commenters 
suggested that the Department clarify whether projects under this 
priority can serve children enrolled in privately-managed programs.
    Discussion: The primary goal of programs supported with ARRA funds 
is to improve the academic achievement and attainment of students in 
public elementary and secondary schools. However, to the extent that 
private early learning programs support students' future achievement 
and growth in elementary and secondary education, an eligible applicant 
would not be prohibited under this priority from serving children 
enrolled in private early learning programs, provided the applicant's 
proposed project met all requirements of the priority. An early 
learning provider would be eligible to apply for funding under this 
program if it is (1) an LEA or (2) a nonprofit organization applying in 
partnership with one or more LEAs or a consortium of schools.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters recommended that the Department revise 
the priority to support projects pertaining to specific innovations for 
improved early learning outcomes. For instance, one commenter 
recommended that the Department revise the priority to include support 
for practices, strategies, or programs that improve, within an LEA's 
geographic area, the collaboration among community-based early 
childhood providers and schools. Two commenters recommended that the 
Department revise the priority to include support for partnerships with 
community-based organizations and families in order to improve 
alignment between early learning programs and instruction in the early 
elementary grades. One commenter recommended that we revise the 
priority to include support for practices, strategies, or programs that 
serve children with disabilities in early learning environments. One 
commenter recommended that the Department revise the priority to 
emphasize the importance of socio-economically and racially diverse 
educational settings during students' formative years because attitudes 
about race are still forming at this time. One commenter recommended 
that we revise the priority to support projects to improve and align 
early learning curricula with developmentally, culturally, and 
linguistically appropriate standards and assessments. A few commenters 
recommended that the Department revise the priority to support 
practices, strategies, or programs that emphasize teaching strategies 
that illustrate real-world applications of early learning subjects; we 
presume the commenter is referring to contextual learning 
opportunities. A few commenters recommended that we revise the

[[Page 12026]]

priority to support practices, strategies, or programs that improve the 
skills of teachers in early learning programs.
    One commenter suggested that we revise the priority to include 
support for projects that provide safe and enriching early learning 
physical settings and linkages to related health and human services. 
Several commenters recommended that the Department revise the priority 
to include support for parent engagement or assistance in the early 
learning of children. Another commenter recommended that the Department 
revise the priority to include strategies for conducting local outreach 
about early learning opportunities that target parents of high-need 
students in non-academic settings.
    Discussion: There is nothing in this priority that precludes an 
eligible applicant from proposing any of the projects mentioned by the 
commenter, provided that the projects address paragraphs (a), (b), and 
(c) of the priority and also meet the eligibility and other 
requirements specified in this notice. We made this priority broad to 
provide eligible applicants with flexibility to propose a variety of 
projects. For this reason, we conclude that it is not necessary to 
revise the priority to include an express focus on the activities 
identified by the commenters.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department revise the 
priority to allow applicants to address only one, rather than all three 
of the areas of focus, in order to meet the competitive preference 
priority. Specifically, the commenter recommended that the areas of 
focus be separated by ``or'' rather than ``and.''
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenter's concern for applicant 
flexibility under this priority; however, we note that this is a 
competitive preference priority and applicants are under no obligation 
to address the priority in their applications. Moreover, we believe 
that, in order to meaningfully improve early learning outcomes for 
children, projects under this priority should address each of the focus 
areas and that these components are equally essential to early learning 
outcomes. For these reasons, we decline to make the changes recommended 
by the commenter.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the Department ensure that 
the priority is aligned with the President's Zero to Five Plan.
    Discussion: This priority is consistent with the President's Zero 
to Five Plan. For example, the Zero to Five Plan supports strategies 
that, among others, align early learning and development standards that 
lead to school readiness and are integrated with program quality to 
guide curriculum and program development. The Zero to Five Plan also 
encourages the development of evidence-based quality rating systems 
structured with progressive levels of quality--which may be used across 
early learning settings and programs. Accordingly, we believe that this 
priority is consistent with the President's Zero to Five Plan and 
supports early learning initiatives under that program. For more 
information about this plan (as well as the Department's Early Learning 
Challenge Fund), please see 
http://www.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/earlylearning/elcf-factsheet.html.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: None.
    Discussion: This priority includes a reference to ``core academic 
subjects.'' Consistent with the revisions we are making to the other 
priorities that use this term, we are revising the priority to add a 
reference to section 9101(11) of the ESEA, which includes the 
definition of ``core academic subjects''.
    Changes: We are revising this priority to include the statutory 
reference to the definition of ``core academic subjects'' in section 
9101(11) of the ESEA.

Competitive Preference Priority 6--Innovations That Support College 
Access and Success

    Comment: Two commenters recommended that the Department revise the 
priority to include career and technical education systems that prepare 
students simultaneously for postsecondary education and careers. 
Similarly, two commenters recommended expanding the priority to 
include, in addition to programs that promote success in two- and four-
year colleges, programs that promote success in career certificate 
programs and entry into the workforce.
    Discussion: This priority supports projects that enable students to 
successfully prepare for, enter, and graduate from a two- or four-year 
college. As noted in the NPP, this priority is designed to help meet 
the national goal of restoring the United States to first in the world 
in the percentage of citizens holding college degrees. We believe we 
must maintain this focus and, therefore, decline to expand this 
priority to include applications that focus on practices, strategies, 
and programs that do not lead to success in two- and four-year 
colleges. A project that focuses on a career certificate program or a 
career-readiness program that is part of a career and technical 
education system would be eligible for competitive preference points 
under this priority only to the extent the project promotes success in 
two- and four-year colleges.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter stated that the priority focuses too heavily 
on non-academic issues such as helping students obtain financial aid 
and complete college applications. The commenter recommended that the 
Department revise the priority to support applications addressing both 
academic and non-academic issues associated with college access and 
success.
    Discussion: In order to meet this competitive preference priority, 
applications must include practices, strategies, or programs for K-12 
students that address students' preparedness related to college, which 
may include ensuring that students are academically prepared for 
college. Therefore, it is unnecessary to revise the priority in the 
manner recommended by the commenter.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters recommended that the Department revise the 
priority to support approaches that focus on decreasing dropout rates 
or increasing high school graduation rates.
    Discussion: As stated elsewhere in this notice, the Department is 
using the Investing in Innovation Fund to support the overarching ARRA 
goal of improving student achievement and attainment. All applications 
for Investing in Innovation Fund grants will be assessed in part on the 
extent to which the proposed projects will have an impact on student 
achievement and attainment outcomes including the following: Improving 
student achievement or growth, closing achievement gaps, decreasing 
dropout rates, increasing high school graduation rates, or increasing 
college enrollment and completion rates. Accordingly, peer reviewers 
will consider the magnitude of the effect of proposed projects on 
attaining these student outcomes (see, in particular, Selection 
Criterion B (Strength of Research, Significance of Effect, and 
Magnitude of Effect)). Therefore, it is unnecessary to revise the 
priority in the manner suggested by the commenters.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters recommended that the Department revise 
the priority to recognize GED programs as a viable graduation pathway 
for students and support projects that focus on the development of 
college-ready GED programs.

[[Page 12027]]

    Discussion: As noted elsewhere in this notice, we do not believe it 
is appropriate to support projects that provide alternative graduation 
credentials (such as GED programs) because such credentials, unlike 
regular high school diplomas, are not necessarily aligned with State 
academic content and achievement standards.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department revise the 
priority to include programs that provide services to and monitoring of 
students after enrolling in college.
    Discussion: The Investing in Innovation Fund program does not 
provide funding for projects that are designed to serve students who 
are enrolled in college. Therefore, we decline to revise this priority 
in the manner suggested by the commenter.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters recommended that the Department revise 
the priority to include support for middle school students as well as 
high school students. Other commenters recommended that the priority be 
revised to include a focus on supporting students in the early high 
school grades, including strategies that aim to assess the college 
readiness of students and close skill gaps before students graduate.
    Discussion: This priority specifically states that competitive 
preference will be given to applications for practices, strategies, or 
programs that enable K-12 students to successfully prepare for, enter, 
and graduate from a two- or four-year college. Thus, this priority 
would include support for middle school students and students in the 
early high school grades.
    Changes: None.

Competitive Preference Priority 7--Innovations To Address the Unique 
Learning Needs of Students With Disabilities and Limited English 
Proficient Students

    Comment: A number of commenters expressed support for this priority 
and the Department's efforts to support programs focused on improving 
outcomes for students with disabilities and limited English proficient 
students. Several commenters recommended that the Department clarify 
whether applications must address the needs of both students with 
disabilities and limited English proficient students in order to meet 
this competitive priority. Two commenters recommended that the 
Department separate the priority into two competitive preference 
priorities given the different needs of these students.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenters' support for this priority 
and believe that the priority is clear that an applicant may propose a 
project under the priority that addresses the needs of either students 
with disabilities or limited English proficient students. Therefore, we 
do not believe it is necessary to provide separate competitive 
preference priorities for projects that propose to serve these student 
subgroups individually.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the Department clarify 
whether projects under this priority may focus on improving academic 
outcomes or increasing high school graduation rates of the students 
served, rather than addressing both of these measures.
    Discussion: Our intent under this priority is to give a competitive 
preference to projects that propose practices, strategies, and programs 
for students with disabilities or limited English proficient students 
that both increase academic outcomes and increase college- and career-
readiness (including increasing high school graduation rates) for these 
groups of students. However, in light of the achievement gaps for these 
students, we are revising the priority to state that, to meet the 
priority, projects must also be designed to close achievement gaps for 
these students.
    Changes: We are changing this competitive preference priority to 
state that, in order to meet the priority, applications must provide 
for the implementation of particular practices, strategies, or programs 
that are designed to improve academic outcomes, close achievement gaps, 
and increase college- and career-readiness, including increasing high 
school graduation rates (as defined in this notice), for students with 
disabilities or limited English proficient students.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that, in this priority, the 
Department use ``English language learners'' in place of ``students 
with limited English proficiency'' because the former term helps 
educators focus on a student's capacity as a learner.
    Discussion: The Department recognizes that stakeholders often use 
terms such as ``English language learners'' rather than ``limited 
English proficient students'' when referring to students who are 
acquiring basic English proficiency and developing academic English 
skills. However, because the ESEA defines the term ``limited English 
proficient,'' and both the statute and the implementing regulations use 
this term, as well as the phrase ``students with limited English 
proficiency,'' we will continue to use the latter terms in this 
program.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: We received a number of recommendations to revise the 
priority to focus on specific groups of limited English proficient 
students including students from linguistically isolated homes and 
underrepresented limited English proficient subpopulations, and high-
school students who are recent arrivals to the United States. Another 
commenter recommended that the Department revise the priority to 
include a focus on ``standard English learners'' (i.e., students who 
were born in the United States and whose native language is English but 
who speak a nonstandard English dialect).
    Discussion: Section 9101(25) of the ESEA specifies that a limited 
English proficient student is a student who (1) was not born in the 
United States or whose native language is a language other than 
English; (2) who is a Native American, Alaska Native, or resident of 
the outlying areas who comes from an environment where a language other 
than English has had a significant impact on the student's level of 
English language proficiency; or (3) is migratory, whose native 
language is a language other than English, and who comes from an 
environment where a language other than English is dominant. Under this 
competitive preference priority, there is nothing that would prevent an 
eligible applicant from proposing an innovative practice, strategy, or 
program that addresses the needs of specific subpopulations of limited 
English proficient students or limited English proficient students from 
specific backgrounds, provided these students meet the requirements of 
the ESEA definition. We do not believe it is necessary to refer to 
specific groups of limited English proficient students in this 
priority.
    Regarding ``standard English learners,'' these students do not meet 
the ESEA definition referenced above because they speak English as 
their native language. Because we are maintaining the focus of this 
priority on students who meet the definition of limited English 
proficiency under the ESEA, projects that focus only on these students 
would not meet this priority.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters recommended including examples of the 
practices, strategies, and programs that would be supported under this 
priority. One of these commenters recommended providing examples of 
instructional models that have proven to be effective for limited 
English proficient students. The other

[[Page 12028]]

commenter recommended revising the priority to include innovations 
referenced in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, as 
amended (IDEA), such as response-to-intervention models and the use of 
assistive technologies.
    Discussion: In order to meet this competitive preference priority, 
eligible applicants must propose innovative practices, strategies, or 
programs that address the unique learning needs of students with 
disabilities or limited English proficient students and that are 
designed to improve academic outcomes, close achievement gaps, and 
increase college- and career-readiness, including increasing graduation 
rates, for these students. It is up to eligible applicants to identify 
those practices, strategies, or programs that they believe, based on 
available evidence, should be included in their proposed projects. We 
do not want to restrict or constrain the projects that this priority 
would support by identifying specific initiatives in the priority 
statement. Therefore, we decline to make the changes recommended by the 
commenters.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters recommended that the Department revise the 
priority to ensure that projects funded under the priority are 
consistent with the principles of universal design for learning.
    Discussion: An applicant would not be precluded from proposing 
under this priority projects that are consistent with the principles of 
universal design for learning, as defined in the Higher Education Act 
of 1965, as amended (HEA), provided that the proposed project meets the 
requirements in the priority. We decline to include this level of 
specificity in this competitive preference priority, as we do not want 
to restrict or constrain the innovative practices, strategies, and 
programs that this priority would support.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters recommended that the Department include 
gifted and talented students among the students with unique learning 
needs to be served under this priority. A few of these commenters 
stated that the needs of gifted and talented students are typically 
underserved. Another commenter recommended including students with low 
literacy levels among the students with unique learning needs to be 
served under this priority.
    Discussion: We recognize that gifted and talented students have 
unique learning needs and may be underserved in some areas of the 
country. In addition, we recognize that students with low literacy 
levels who are not students with disabilities or limited English 
proficient students may also have unique learning needs. However, we 
believe that it is important to maintain this competitive preference 
for projects that serve students with disabilities and limited English 
proficient students in light of the achievement gaps between these 
students and their peers. Therefore, we are not changing the priority 
in the manner suggested by the commenter.
    Changes: None.

Proposed Competitive Preference Priority 8--Innovations That Serve 
Schools in Rural LEAs

    Comment: Several commenters expressed support for this priority. 
However, other commenters recommended that the Department eliminate 
this competitive preference priority; these commenters asserted that 
the priority is unnecessary, and gives an unfair advantage to rural 
areas over urban LEAs that are equally in need of financial support. 
Other commenters stated that rural grant recipients may reach only 
small numbers of students and could not easily be brought to scale at 
the State or regional level. One commenter recommended that the 
Department revise the priority to support applications that include a 
focus on students in rural LEAs, rather than applications that serve 
students in rural LEAs exclusively. Another commenter recommended that 
the Department revise the priority to include projects that are 
proposed by non-rural LEAs that would serve or benefit students in 
rural LEAs.
    Discussion: This competitive preference priority acknowledges that 
solutions to educational challenges may be different in rural areas 
than in urban and suburban communities and that there is a need for 
solutions to unique rural challenges. To meet this priority, an 
eligible applicant need not be a rural LEA. Any eligible applicant may 
propose a project to serve students in rural LEAs under this priority. 
With regard to the concern that projects meeting this competitive 
preference priority will reach small numbers of students or could not 
easily be brought to scale at State or regional levels, we note that 
all applications for Investing in Innovation Fund grants will be 
assessed in part on the number of students to be reached by the 
proposed project and the eligible applicant's capacity to reach the 
proposed number of students during the course of the grant period (see 
Selection Criteria E (Strategy and Capacity to Bring to Scale (in the 
case of Scale-up and Validation grants); Strategy and Capacity to 
Further Develop and Bring to Scale (in the case of Development 
grants)). For these reasons, we decline to remove this priority or to 
change this priority in the manner recommended by commenters.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: We received a number of comments recommending that we 
revise this competitive preference priority to focus on specific types 
of projects in rural areas such as projects that improve college- and 
career-readiness of students in rural LEAs, projects that serve 
students across county and State lines, early learning projects, 
projects that increase the use of educational technology in rural LEAs, 
and projects that promote innovative strategies for educator 
recruitment in rural LEAs.
    Discussion: An applicant would not be precluded from proposing 
under this priority any of the projects mentioned by the commenters 
provided that the proposed project meets the requirements in this 
priority (i.e., the proposed project focuses on the unique challenges 
of high-need students in schools within a rural LEA and addresses the 
particular challenges faced by students in these schools; and improves 
student achievement or student growth, closes achievement gaps, 
decreases dropout rates, increases high school graduation rates, or 
improves teacher and principal effectiveness in one or more rural 
LEAs). We cannot include in the priority all the possible programs that 
could address this competitive priority, nor do we want to restrict or 
constrain the innovative practices, strategies, and programs that this 
priority would support. Therefore, we decline to follow the commenters' 
recommendations.
    Changes: None.

Rural LEA

    Comment: Several commenters recommended that the Department expand 
the definition of rural LEA used in this priority. One commenter 
recommended expanding the definition beyond the Small Rural School 
Achievement and Rural Low-Income School programs under Title IV, Part B 
of the ESEA to include small and medium-sized, low-performing, high-
need LEAs in rural areas. One commenter recommended revising the 
definition to include LEAs designated as rural by the Locale Code in 
the National Center for Education Statistics Common Core of Data. 
Another commenter recommended revising the definition to be more 
expansive and inclusive of rural LEAs that used to be urban LEAs. 
Finally, several commenters recommended that the Department

[[Page 12029]]

revise the priority to include practices, strategies, or programs that 
would serve students in one or more rural schools (irrespective of the 
designation of the LEA of those schools) rather than only students in 
LEAs that meet the definition of rural LEA.
    Discussion: This competitive preference priority is intended to 
encourage applications that focus on the particular challenges faced by 
students in rural LEAs. In determining the definition of rural LEA for 
use in this program, we chose to use a definition that is used in many 
Department grant programs. In addition, we note that the definition of 
rural LEA for use in this program includes schools served by LEAs that 
are designated with a school locale code of 6, 7, or 8. Therefore, we 
do not believe the definition of rural LEA should be expanded in the 
ways suggested by commenters.
    With regard to the recommendation that we include support under 
this priority for practices, strategies, or programs that serve 
students in one or more rural schools (irrespective of the designation 
of the LEA of those schools), we believe that most LEAs that have 
schools in rural areas would qualify as a rural LEA under the 
definition of rural LEA, and that accordingly no change to the priority 
is necessary.
    Changes: None.

Requirements

Providing Innovations That Improve Achievement for High-Need Students

    Comment: A number of commenters expressed support for the 
Department's requirement that applicants implement practices, 
strategies, or programs for high-need students. Two commenters, 
however, argued that eligible applicants should not be required to 
serve only high-need students.
    Discussion: In this program, we define high-need student as a 
student at risk of educational failure or otherwise in need of special 
assistance and support. While eligible applicants are required to 
implement practices, strategies, or programs for high-need students, 
eligible applicants have discretion in determining which types of 
students meet this definition. Moreover, nothing in the authorizing 
statute or the priorities, requirements, definitions, or selection 
criteria for this program prohibits eligible applicants from using 
program funds to help other students as well. Indeed, the Department 
expects that robust proposed projects would benefit all students, but 
with disproportionate benefit to high-need students. We believe that 
this program's focus on funding projects that serve high-need 
students--students at risk of educational failure or otherwise in need 
of special assistance and support--is consistent with the goal of this 
program, which is to improve student academic achievement and 
attainment.
    Consistent with other clarifying changes we are making with respect 
to the use of the term ``applicant'' and ``eligible applicant'' 
throughout this notice, we are making a minor technical change to the 
Providing Innovations that Improve Achievement for High-Need Students 
requirement.
    Changes: We are replacing the word ``applicant'' in this 
requirement with the words ``eligible applicant'' to clarify that it is 
the eligible applicant (i.e., the LEA or the partnership) that must 
implement practices, strategies, or programs for high-need students (as 
defined in this notice).

Eligible Applicants

    Comment: As discussed in more detail in the following paragraphs, a 
number of commenters asked about the roles and responsibilities of 
``eligible applicants,'' ``applicants,'' ``fiscal agents,'' and 
``partners'' under this program.
    Discussion: In analyzing this group of comments, the Department 
determined that there appears to be some confusion about how these 
important terms are used in the context of this program. For this 
reason, we are adding definitions for the terms applicant, official 
partner, and other partner.
    Section 14007(a)(1) of the ARRA describes the types of entities 
that are eligible to apply for funding under this program. These 
eligible entities, referred to in this notice as ``eligible 
applicants,'' must be either (a) an LEA, or (b) a partnership between a 
nonprofit organization and (1) one or more LEAs or (2) a consortium of 
schools. An ``eligible applicant,'' therefore, is either an LEA or a 
partnership.
    For applications that are submitted on behalf of partnerships, 
consortia, or groups--as is necessarily the case under section 
14007(a)(1)(B) of the ARRA, the Department makes an award to a single 
entity only. The entity designated by the partnership, consortia or 
group to apply on behalf of it to the Department in accordance with 34 
CFR 75.127 to 75.129 (the Department's regulations governing group 
applications) is referred to as the applicant. If the group application 
is awarded a grant, the applicant then becomes the ``grantee.'' Under 
this program, an applicant (or grantee) may, therefore, be--
    (a) An LEA \2\ under section 14007(a)(1)(A) of the ARRA; or
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ A single LEA could submit a group application on behalf of 
itself and other eligible LEAs under section 14007(a)(1)(A) of the 
ARRA. In that case, each of the other eligible LEAs included in the 
group application must meet the eligibility requirements of this 
program. Because an LEA that submits an application on its own has 
flexibility to work with other LEAs as other partners (as defined in 
this notice), the Department sees no advantage to an LEA submitting 
a group application in this manner. For this reason, we do not 
address the applicability of requirements to group applications 
submitted by LEAs under section 14007(a)(1)(A) of the ARRA in this 
notice.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (b) A nonprofit organization, an LEA, or a school in a consortium 
of schools applying on behalf of a partnership provided that the 
partnership is between a nonprofit organization and (1) one or more 
LEAs or (2) a consortium of schools (pursuant to section 14007(a)(1)(B) 
of the ARRA).
    For applications submitted under section 14007(a)(1)(B) of the 
ARRA, a single applicant, which could be the nonprofit organization, an 
LEA, or a school in the consortium of schools that is part of the 
partnership, must submit a group application on behalf of the eligible 
applicant (i.e., the partnership). This partnership must include the 
partners referenced in section 14007(a)(1)(B) of the ARRA. For the sake 
of clarity, we refer to each of the partners referenced in section 
14007(a)(1)(B) of the ARRA as an official partner (i.e., the nonprofit 
organization and, depending on the make-up of the partnership, each LEA 
or consortium of schools in the partnership).
    The Department anticipates that LEAs and section 14007(a)(1)(B) 
partnerships may wish to propose projects that involve working with 
additional entities as well. For purposes of this program, we define 
any of these other entities as an other partner. Therefore, an LEA 
applying under section 14007(a)(1)(A) of the ARRA may apply with a 
proposed project that involves working with other partners. Likewise, 
an applicant applying on behalf of a partnership in accordance with 
section 14007(a)(1)(B) of the ARRA may propose a project that involves 
working with additional official partners, other partners, or both, 
provided that the partnership includes the minimally required official 
partners.
    We believe that the distinction between official partners and other 
partners is necessary, especially in light of the addition of the 
subgrant authority to section 14007 of the ARRA as a result of section 
307 of Division D of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010 (Pub. L. 
111-117). New section 14007(d) of the ARRA provides that, in the case 
of an eligible applicant that is awarded

[[Page 12030]]

a grant and is in a partnership described in section 14007(a)(1)(B) of 
the ARRA, the partner serving as the fiscal agent \3\ may make 
subgrants to one or more of the other entities in the partnership. We 
interpret this subgrant authority to permit the grantee to make 
subgrants to only those partners identified in the statute (i.e., 
official partners), but not to other entities that are proposed to be 
involved in a project (i.e., other partners). A grantee can make 
subgrants to any official partner, including those that are in addition 
to the minimally required official partners.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \3\ Because the Department makes a grant award to the grantee, 
we interpret the term ``fiscal agent'' as used in section 14007(d) 
of the ARRA as referring to the applicant receiving an award, namely 
the grantee. We recognize that the grantee may rely on another 
entity to manage its grant funds, and that the grantee or others may 
consider that entity as the fiscal agent of the grant. For the 
Department's purposes, under this program, we do not consider such 
entities as fiscal agents; because the Department's funding 
relationship is with the grantee, who is responsible for ensuring 
the grant is administered in accordance with program regulations.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Changes: In the Definitions section, we define the term applicant 
to mean the entity that applies for a grant under this program on 
behalf of an eligible applicant (i.e., an LEA or partnership in 
accordance with section 14007(a)(1)(B) of the ARRA). We also define the 
term official partner as any of the entities required to be part of a 
partnership under section 14007(a)(1)(B) of the ARRA. Finally, we 
define the term other partner to mean any entity, other than the 
applicant and any official partner that may be involved in a proposed 
project. We use these terms, as appropriate, throughout this notice. We 
also have revised other sections of the notice to use these terms, 
where appropriate.
    Comment: A number of commenters recommended that the Department 
broaden the Eligible Applicants requirement to include additional types 
of applicants. The entities suggested by the commenters to be made 
eligible include the following: State educational agencies, 
municipalities and other units of local government, and other public 
agencies and institutions; Native American Tribes and the Bureau of 
Indian Education; institutions of higher education, including community 
colleges and accredited four-year baccalaureate degree-granting 
institutions; local and regional early intervention and preschool 
programs under part B or C of the IDEA; private schools including 
religious schools; community-based organizations; youth councils; 
teacher unions in partnership with LEAs; workforce investment boards; 
for-profit charter management organizations; nonprofit organizations 
applying independently of an LEA or consortium partnership; and 
nonprofit organizations partnering with individual schools rather than 
with consortia of schools or LEAs.
    Discussion: Section 14007(a)(1) of the ARRA describes the types of 
entities that are eligible to apply for funding under this program. The 
Department has no authority to expand this statutorily-prescribed 
requirement.\4\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \4\ Note that this requirement pertains to the entities that are 
eligible to apply for funding under this program. In order to 
receive funding, entities that meet the Eligible Applicants 
requirement must also meet the eligibility requirements discussed 
elsewhere in this notice.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    With respect to most of the entities mentioned by the commenters, 
the critical questions for determining whether the entity is an 
eligible applicant are (1) whether it includes an entity that qualifies 
as a nonprofit organization (as defined in this notice) and (2) whether 
the nonprofit organization has partnered with one or more LEAs or a 
consortium of schools. In this program, we define nonprofit 
organization as an entity that meets the definition of ``nonprofit'' 
under 34 CFR 77.1(c) or is an institution of higher education under 
section 101(a) of the HEA. Section 77.1(c) defines the term 
``nonprofit'', as applied to an agency, organization, or institution, 
as meaning 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. The definition of 
``institution of higher education'' in section 101(a) of the HEA 
includes both public and private two- and four-year institutions of 
higher education. Partnerships that include an entity that meets this 
definition of nonprofit organization and that partner with one or more 
LEAs or a consortium of schools are eligible to apply for funding under 
this program; those that do not include an entity that meets the 
definition or that do not partner with one or more LEAs or a consortium 
of schools are not eligible.
    However, nothing in the authorizing statute or the priorities, 
requirements, definitions, and selection criteria for this program 
prevents an eligible nonprofit organization that partners with one or 
more LEAs or a consortium of schools in accordance with section 
14007(a)(1)(B) of the ARRA from applying with a proposed project that 
involves the eligible applicant working with other entities, including 
those mentioned by the commenters. These other entities would be 
considered other partners, as that term is defined in this notice.
    Further, as noted in the preceding discussion, the Congress amended 
the authorizing statute for this program with respect to a grantee's 
ability to make subgrants. Under new section 14007(d) of the ARRA, in 
the case of an eligible entity that is a partnership under section 
14007(a)(1)(B) of the ARRA, the partner serving as the fiscal agent may 
make subgrants to one or more of the other entities in the partnership. 
We are revising the requirements for this program to incorporate this 
statutory change. In doing so, we interpret the fiscal agent's (i.e., 
the applicant's) ability to make subgrants as extending only to the 
official partners.\5\ Thus, while an eligible applicant can include 
other partners in its section 14007(a)(1)(B) partnerships, the 
applicant may not make subgrants to those other partners.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \5\ For example, in a partnership between a nonprofit 
organization and one or more LEAs for which the nonprofit 
organization is the fiscal agent, the nonprofit organization may 
make subgrants only to the LEAs in the partnership.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Changes: As discussed elsewhere in this notice, we are revising the 
requirements for this program, consistent with the amendments to 
section 14007 of the ARRA, to specify that, 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 may make subgrants to one or more official 
partners.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department clarify the 
circumstances under which an applicant may submit multiple applications 
for different projects.
    Discussion: Under this program, an eligible applicant may apply 
alone, if it is an LEA, or on behalf of a partnership pursuant to 
section 14007(a)(1)(B) of the ARRA. Applications submitted on behalf of 
partnerships, consortia, or groups are subject to the Department's 
regulations in 34 CFR 75.127 and 75.129. Any applicant, whether it is 
an LEA or the entity within the partnership designated as the 
applicant, may submit multiple applications for substantially different 
projects.
    However, to ensure that this program provides funding for the 
widest possible array of innovative projects, we are adding to the 
requirements for this program limits on the awards made to any 
individual grantee (see Limits on Grant Awards). Under this 
requirement, the Department will not award more than two grants to any 
grantee. Additionally, no grantee may receive

[[Page 12031]]

more than $55 million in grant awards under this program. Because we 
estimate that the maximum awards will be $50 million, $30 million, and 
$5 million for Scale-up, Validation, and Development grants, 
respectively, this requirement effectively means that a grantee awarded 
a Scale-up grant may also receive a Development grant, but may not 
receive a Validation grant or a second Scale-up grant.
    We note, in addition, that the Funding Categories requirement for 
this program prohibits an applicant from submitting an application for 
the same proposed project under more than one type of grant.
    Changes: We are adding to the requirements limits on the awards 
made to an individual grantee under this program. Under this 
requirement, the Department will not award more than two grants to any 
grantee under this program. Additionally, no grantee may receive more 
than $55 million in grant awards under this program.
    Comment: Several commenters asked that the Department include 
definitions of the terms ``LEA'' and ``educational service agency'' 
from the ESEA in order to clarify that educational service agencies are 
eligible applicants under this program.
    Discussion: Consistent with section 14013(6) of the ARRA, any term 
used in this program that is not defined in the ARRA but is defined in 
section 9101 of the ESEA shall have the meaning given the term in that 
section. The term ``local educational agency'' is defined in section 
9101(26) of the ESEA. Accordingly, we are using the definition of 
``local educational agency'' in section 9101(26) of the ESEA for this 
program. This definition specifically includes educational service 
agencies (defined in section 9101(17) of the ESEA) and consortia of 
those agencies; thus, an educational service agency may be an eligible 
applicant under this program. We believe it is unnecessary to include 
these definitions in this notice as they are readily available to 
interested parties.
    While we do not include these definitions in this notice, we do 
include a note about eligibility for LEAs under this program. The note 
clarifies that, to be eligible for this program, an LEA (whether it is 
the applicant or an official partner) must be within one of the 50 
States, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
    Changes: Consistent with other minor changes related to the use of 
the terms ``applicant'' and ``eligible applicant,'' we are making a 
minor change to the Note about LEA Eligibility.
    Comment: Two commenters recommended that the Department clarify 
whether a partnership of multiple LEAs may apply for funding under this 
program (as opposed to a single LEA applying on its own).
    Discussion: The Department only makes grant awards to single 
entities; the single entity can apply on behalf of itself or on behalf 
of a group, consortium, or partnership in accordance with the 
Department's group application regulations in 34 CFR 75.127 through 
75.129.
    Under this program, a single LEA may apply for a grant pursuant to 
section 14007(a)(1)(A) of the ARRA. However, as a single applicant, it 
could propose a project that involves working with other partners (as 
that term is defined in this notice); these other partners could 
include other LEAs that do not meet the eligibility requirements for 
this program.\6\ Finally, a single LEA may serve as the applicant for a 
partnership applying under section 14007(a)(1)(B) of the ARRA. This 
partnership must include the official partners, which could include one 
or more LEAs, and may also include other LEAs as other partners.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \6\ Pursuant to the Department's grants regulations, multiple 
eligible LEAs could also apply as a group. However there is no 
advantage for multiple LEAs to apply as a group.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Changes: We are adding language to the Eligible Applicants section 
of the requirements to clarify that an eligible applicant that is a 
partnership applying under section 14007(a)(1)(B) of the ARRA must 
designate one of its official partners (as defined in this notice) to 
serve as the applicant in accordance with the Department's regulations 
governing group applications in 34 CFR 75.127 through 75.129.
    Comment: Several commenters recommended that the Department clarify 
whether an eligible applicant that is a partnership may include 
multiple nonprofit organizations.
    Discussion: An eligible partnership must include at least one 
nonprofit organization as an official partner. An eligible partnership 
may include additional nonprofit organizations as additional official 
partners (as defined in this notice) or as other partners. If a 
nonprofit organization is an other partner (i.e., not an official 
partner), that nonprofit organization would not be eligible to receive 
a subgrant from the applicant.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters recommended that the Department clarify 
whether charter schools are eligible applicants. Specifically, one 
commenter recommended clarifying whether charter schools that are not 
identified in State law as having LEA status, but are otherwise 
eligible applicants, may apply without the review or approval of an 
LEA.
    Discussion: As discussed earlier in this notice, depending on its 
legal status under State law, a charter school may be eligible to apply 
under this program in the following ways: As an LEA on its own (if it 
is considered an LEA under State law); as a nonprofit organization, in 
partnership with one or more LEAs or a consortium of schools (if it 
meets the definition of nonprofit organization under this program); or 
in partnership with a nonprofit organization as an LEA (if it is 
considered an LEA under State law) or as part of a consortium of 
schools (if it not considered an LEA under State law). Because charter 
school laws vary from State to State, we encourage any charter school 
interested in applying for funds under this program to verify its 
status and authority to receive funds before applying.
    A charter school that does not qualify as an LEA, a nonprofit 
organization, or a school in a consortium of schools may still be able 
to be involved with a project funded under this program. It could do so 
as an other partner (as defined in this notice) provided that the 
eligible applicant for the project met all of the eligibility 
requirements.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed concern that the legal framework 
of the commenter's State would prevent entities from that State from 
being eligible to apply for funding under this program.
    Discussion: In general, the requirements for eligible applicants 
under this program do not relate to State statutes or regulations. 
Applicants are required to certify, as part of their application, that 
they have the legal authority to receive program funds.
    Changes: None.

Nonprofit Organization

    Comment: Several commenters requested that the Department 
explicitly state in the notice that nonprofit organizations may be the 
fiscal agent in an application. Some of these commenters expressed 
concern that if only LEAs or consortia of schools can be the fiscal 
agent for a grant, this might lead them to minimize the roles and 
responsibilities of their nonprofit partners.
    Discussion: A nonprofit organization may serve as the fiscal agent 
(i.e., the applicant) applying on behalf of a

[[Page 12032]]

partnership under section 14007(a)(1)(B) of the ARRA.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters recommended that the Department clarify 
whether nonprofit organizations that do not directly work in schools or 
with LEAs may still partner with LEAs or consortia of schools as 
eligible applicants.
    Discussion: There is no requirement that a nonprofit organization 
applying in partnership with one or more LEAs or a consortium of 
schools under section 14007(a)(1)(B) of the ARRA have a history of 
working directly in schools or with LEAs. However, consistent with the 
amendments to the eligibility requirements for this program made by the 
Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010 (as discussed elsewhere in this 
notice), for partnerships that include a nonprofit organization and one 
or more LEAs or a consortium of schools, the nonprofit organization 
must have a record of significantly improving student achievement, 
attainment, or retention in order to be eligible for an award under 
this program. In accordance with the requirements established in this 
notice, an eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit organization 
must demonstrate that the nonprofit organization has such a record 
through its record of work with an LEA or schools in the past.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters recommended that the Department clarify 
whether nonprofit organizations may submit applications that include 
multi-city or multi-State partners (i.e., LEAs or schools in different 
cities or States).
    Discussion: Nothing in the authorizing statute or the priorities, 
requirements, definitions, or selection criteria for this program 
prohibits nonprofit organizations from partnering with LEAs or schools 
in different geographic locations.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed concern that the proposed 
definition of nonprofit organization includes institutions of higher 
education. The commenter asserted that the Congress did not intend to 
include these institutions as eligible nonprofit organizations in 
section 14007(a)(1)(B) partnerships.
    Discussion: Nothing in the authorizing statute for this program 
prohibits the inclusion of institutions of higher education in 
partnerships eligible to apply under section 14007(a)(1)(B) of the 
ARRA. Further, we believe that institutions of higher education possess 
unique expertise--particularly regarding methods of evaluation--that 
will positively benefit the types of projects that the Department seeks 
to fund under this program. We have concluded, based on our review of 
sections 14007 and 14013 of the ARRA and section 101(a) of the HEA, 
that all entities that meet the definition of institution of higher 
education under section 101(a) of the HEA--whether they are public or 
private--may be considered nonprofit organizations for purposes of this 
program.
    Changes: None.

Consortium of Schools

    Comment: Several commenters expressed concern that the definition 
of the term consortium of schools limits the schools that may be 
included in a consortium only to public schools. These commenters 
requested that the Department expand the definition of consortium of 
schools to include private schools, as well.
    Discussion: We believe that it is consistent with the goals of the 
ARRA, which include improving the academic achievement and attainment 
of students in public elementary and secondary schools, to define 
consortium of schools to include only public schools. However, as 
discussed earlier in this notice, a private school may be a partner 
within an eligible applicant if it qualifies as a nonprofit 
organization and if it partners with one or more LEAs or a consortium 
of public schools. In addition, we note that private schools may be 
included as other partners and students in those schools could be 
served by projects that receive funding under this program.\7\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \7\ Note, however, that, under section 14011 of the ARRA, no 
recipient of ARRA funding, including a grantee under this program, 
may provide financial assistance to students to attend private 
elementary or secondary schools, unless funds are used to provide 
special education and related services to children with 
disabilities, as authorized by the Individuals with Disabilities 
Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department expand the 
definition of consortium of schools to include Bureau of Indian 
Education (BIE) schools.
    Discussion: The definition of consortium of schools includes BIE 
schools because BIE schools are public schools. We note also that a BIE 
school may be eligible to apply as an LEA on its own, or in partnership 
with a nonprofit organization, as an LEA, because the definition of 
local educational agency in section 9101(26) of the ESEA (which we are 
using in this program) includes a provision under which a BIE school 
may be considered an LEA. If a BIE school is considered an LEA, the BIE 
school would be able to apply as an eligible LEA on its own, or in 
partnership with a nonprofit organization, consistent with the 
requirements for eligible applicants under this program. In addition, a 
BIE school could also be involved with a project as an other partner.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the Department broaden the 
definition of consortium of schools to include university schools of 
education.
    Discussion: The proposed definition of consortium of schools is 
limited to public elementary and secondary schools. As discussed 
earlier in this notice, we regard this definition as consistent with 
the authorizing statute's goal of improving the academic achievement 
and attainment of students in public elementary and secondary schools. 
However, as discussed elsewhere in this notice, an institution of 
higher education (as defined in section 101(a) of the HEA) may apply 
for funding under this program as a nonprofit organization in 
partnership with one or more LEAs or a consortium of schools. In 
addition, an institution of higher education could also be involved 
with a project as an other partner.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department expand the 
definition of consortium of schools to include public or private early 
learning providers.
    Discussion: In the NPP, we proposed to define consortium of schools 
as two or more public elementary or secondary schools. As discussed 
earlier in this notice, we determined that including only public 
elementary and secondary schools in this definition is consistent with 
the ARRA's goal of improving the academic achievement and attainment of 
students in public elementary and secondary schools. Thus, we decline 
to include early learning providers in the definition of consortium of 
schools, unless they are considered to be part of a public elementary 
school under State law. However, any early learning provider (whether 
public or private) would be eligible to apply for funding under this 
program if it is (1) an LEA or (2) a nonprofit organization applying in 
partnership with one or more LEAs or a consortium of schools. In 
addition, an eligible applicant (whether an LEA or partnership 
applicant) would not be prohibited from including early learning 
providers as other partners to the proposed project provided that the 
eligible applicant otherwise met the eligibility requirements. We 
believe that

[[Page 12033]]

these provisions are sufficient to allow for the participation of early 
learning providers in projects under this program.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed concern that many public schools 
may be unaware that it is illegal for them under State law to accept 
Federal funding that is not distributed through their LEA. The 
commenter recommended including a note in the requirements providing 
that any applicant that applies on behalf of a partnership that 
includes a consortium of schools must include as part of the 
application a signed authorization from the legal authority for each of 
the schools in the consortium (generally the LEA).
    Discussion: Eligible applicants should act consistent with State 
law when applying for, receiving, or using funds under this program. 
Applicants are required to certify, as part of their application, that 
they have the legal authority to receive program funds. We do not 
believe it is necessary also to require that an applicant include as 
part of its application a signed authorization from the legal authority 
for each of the schools in the consortium.
    Changes: None.

Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility Requirements in General

    Note: As noted in the NPP, proposed paragraphs (1) through (4) 
of the eligibility requirements for this program repeated 
requirements prescribed by section 14007 of the ARRA. We included 
these requirements in the NPP for clarity. As we do not have 
authority to alter or eliminate statutorily-prescribed requirements, 
we do not discuss comments recommending changes to, or deletions of, 
these requirements. However, we also received a number of comments 
requesting further clarification of the proposed requirements or 
recommending inclusion of additional eligibility requirements. We 
discuss those comments in the paragraphs that follow.

    In addition, we note that, since publication of the NPP, the 
Congress amended the ARRA with respect to the eligibility requirements 
for this program. We are revising the eligibility requirements for this 
program to incorporate those statutory changes. We discuss these 
revisions in the immediately following paragraphs and elsewhere in this 
section, as appropriate.
    Comment: None.
    Discussion: As stated in the NPP, paragraphs (1) through (4) of the 
proposed eligibility requirements for this program repeated 
requirements prescribed by section 14007 of the ARRA. Section 307 of 
Division D of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010 (Pub. L. 111-
117), which was signed into law on December 16, 2009, made several 
amendments to these statutory requirements. The major substantive 
changes to section 14007 are discussed in the following paragraphs.
    Section 14007(b)(1) has been amended to require that, to be 
eligible for an award under this program, an eligible applicant must 
(A) have significantly closed the achievement gaps between groups of 
students described in section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA, or (B) have 
demonstrated success in significantly increasing student academic 
achievement for all groups of students described in such section. In 
addition, section 14007(b)(2) of the ARRA has been eliminated; this 
section would have required that an eligible applicant have exceeded 
the State's annual measurable objectives consistent with section 
1111(b)(2) of the ESEA for two or more consecutive years or have 
demonstrated success in significantly increasing student achievement 
for all groups of students described in that section through another 
measure, such as measures described in section 1111(c)(2) of the ESEA 
(i.e., the National Assessment of Educational Progress). As a result of 
this amendment, to be eligible for an award, eligible applicants are no 
longer required to have exceeded the State's annual measurable 
objectives consistent with section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA for two or 
more consecutive years. In addition, the statutory changes make clear 
that eligible applicants do not have to show that they have both 
significantly closed achievement gaps and significantly increased 
student achievement for all groups described in section 1111(b)(2) of 
the ESEA. Rather, eligible applicants must show either (A) that they 
have significantly closed the achievement gaps between groups of 
students described in section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA or (B) that they 
have demonstrated success in significantly increasing student academic 
achievement for all groups described in such section.
    Section 14007(c) of the ARRA has been amended to specify that an 
eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit organization is considered 
to have met the requirements of new paragraphs (1) and (2) of section 
14007(b) if the nonprofit organization has a record of significantly 
improving student achievement, attainment, or retention. Under the 
amendments to section 14007(c), an eligible applicant that includes a 
nonprofit organization is thus no longer required to demonstrate that 
the nonprofit organization has a record of each of the following: (1) 
Having significantly closed the achievement gaps between groups of 
students described in section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA; (2) having 
exceeded the State's annual measurable objectives consistent with 
section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA for two or more consecutive years or 
having demonstrated success in significantly increasing student 
achievement for all groups of students described in that section 
through another measure, such as measures described in section 
1111(c)(2) of the ESEA (i.e., the National Assessment of Educational 
Progress); and (3) having made significant improvement in other areas, 
such as graduation rates or increased recruitment and placement of 
high-quality teachers and school leaders, as demonstrated with 
meaningful data. Instead, an eligible applicant is required to 
demonstrate that the nonprofit organization in the partnership has a 
record of significantly improving student achievement, attainment, or 
retention.
    In addition, section 14007(c) of the ARRA has been amended to 
specify that an eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit 
organization is considered to have met the requirements of new 
paragraph (3) of section 14007(b) if it demonstrates that it will meet 
the requirement relating to private-sector matching. This statutory 
change makes clear that the requirement in section 14007(b)(3) of the 
ARRA relating to establishing partnerships with the private sector does 
not apply to such an eligible applicant, as the eligible applicant by 
its very nature consists of such a partnership, and thus does not 
require an eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit organization to 
establish additional partnerships with the private sector.
    Changes: We are making several changes to the eligibility 
requirements for this program to reflect these statutory changes. 
Consistent with the amendments to section 14007(b) of the ARRA, we are 
revising proposed paragraph (1) of the eligibility requirements to 
require that, to be eligible for an award under this program, an 
eligible applicant must--except as specifically set forth in the 
requirements: (A) Have significantly closed the achievement gaps 
between groups of students described in section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA, 
or (B) have demonstrated success in significantly increasing student 
academic achievement for all groups of students described in such 
section. We are also removing proposed paragraph (2) of the eligibility 
requirements, which would have required that an eligible applicant

[[Page 12034]]

have exceeded the State's annual measurable objectives consistent with 
section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA for two or more consecutive years or 
have demonstrated success in significantly increasing student 
achievement for all groups of students described in that section 
through another measure, such as measures described in section 
1111(c)(2) of the ESEA (i.e., the National Assessment of Educational 
Progress). We are redesignating the subsequent paragraphs of the 
eligibility requirements accordingly.
    Consistent with the amendments to section 14007(c) of the ARRA, we 
are revising the Note about Eligibility for an Eligible Applicant that 
Includes a Nonprofit Organization to specify that an eligible applicant 
that includes a nonprofit organization is considered to have met 
paragraph (1) and paragraph (2) (proposed paragraph (3)) of the 
eligibility requirements for this program if the nonprofit organization 
has a record of significantly improving student achievement, 
attainment, or retention. In addition, we are revising the Note to 
specify that an eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit 
organization is considered to have met paragraph (3) (proposed 
paragraph (4)) of the eligibility requirements for this program if it 
demonstrates that it will meet the requirement relating to private-
sector matching.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department clarify 
whether low-performing LEAs may partner with high-performing LEAs that 
meet all the eligibility requirements. This commenter argued that this 
approach would allow low-performing LEAs that do not meet the 
requirements to still benefit from funds under this program. The same 
commenter also suggested that if the lead LEA meets all the 
requirements, it should not have to select LEA partners that also meet 
those requirements.
    Discussion: High-performing LEAs are permitted to partner with low-
performing LEAs in projects under this program.
    While an LEA that applies for funds under section 14007(a)(1)(A) of 
the ARRA must meet the requirements in new section 14007(b)(1) through 
(3) of the ARRA (which are now reflected in paragraphs (1) through (3) 
of the eligibility requirements, as discussed elsewhere in this 
notice), nothing in the statute or the priorities, requirements, 
definitions, or selection criteria for this program prohibits such an 
eligible LEA from proposing a project that involves the LEA partnering 
with other partners, including other LEAs.
    In addition, a section 14007(a)(1)(B) partnership could include one 
or more LEAs, either as an official partner or as an other partner that 
does not meet the eligibility requirements. This is because the 
partnership is deemed to have met the eligibility requirements in new 
section 14007(b)(1) through (3) of the ARRA if the nonprofit 
organization in the partnership satisfies the requirements in new 
section 14007(c) of the ARRA.
    Changes: None.

Proposed Paragraph (1) of Eligibility Requirements: Significantly 
Closed Achievement Gaps

    Comment: Several commenters recommended that the Department clarify 
what the phrase ``significantly closed the achievement gaps'' means in 
proposed paragraph (1) of the eligibility requirements. Many commenters 
were particularly interested in clarification of the term 
``significantly;'' many asked for guidance as to how to measure whether 
an achievement gap was significantly closed. For example, one commenter 
requested that the Department provide the requisite time period that 
should be used to measure whether an achievement gap has been closed.
    Another commenter suggested having flexible indicators for judging 
whether or not eligible applicants have significantly closed the 
achievement gaps, such as increases in grade point average, gains in 
standardized test scores, as well as qualitative measures. One 
commenter argued that the Department should not interpret the phrase 
``significantly closed'' to mean full achievement gap closure across 
all grade levels and subject areas, while another commenter argued that 
eligible applicants who can show success in raising achievement system-
wide and moving all students toward proficiency should satisfy this 
requirement. One commenter recommended that the Department allow an 
eligible applicant to meet this eligibility requirement through an 
intermediate variable directly correlated with significantly closing 
the achievement gaps. The commenter expressed concern that without 
including such language, the program might exclude eligible applicants 
with innovative programs for which it has been difficult to directly 
measure progress in student achievement.
    Discussion: Proposed paragraph (1) of the eligibility requirements, 
which repeats the eligibility requirement in old section 14007(b)(1) of 
the ARRA (new section 14007(b)(1)(A) of the ARRA), states that to be 
eligible for an award, an eligible applicant must have significantly 
closed the achievement gaps between groups of students described in 
section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA. The Department declines to define the 
term ``significantly'' for purposes of this eligibility requirement.
    Given the diversity of potential eligible applicants under this 
program, the Department wishes to encourage eligible applicants to 
present their arguments for how they have significantly closed the 
achievement gaps. Similarly, the Department understands that eligible 
applicants will bring to bear different areas of expertise and that 
they likely will focus on improving various aspects of student 
achievement. Eligible applicants are best suited to present information 
on how they have significantly closed those achievement gaps and to 
determine the metrics by which they measure those achievements. Because 
the Department is not identifying the specific measures or variables 
that an eligible applicant may use to meet this requirement, eligible 
applicants would not be prohibited from using an intermediate variable 
strongly correlated with significantly closing the achievement gaps.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A number of commenters recommended that the Department 
clarify whether, to meet this eligibility requirement, an eligible 
applicant must have significantly closed achievement gaps between all 
groups described in section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA, or whether eligible 
applicants that have significantly closed the achievement gaps between 
some groups, but not all, would be eligible for an award. One commenter 
pointed to success in narrowing the achievement gaps between African 
American and white students, but not across all groups.
    Discussion: The Department interprets the eligibility requirement 
reflected in old section 14007(b)(1) of the ARRA (new section 
14007(b)(1)(A) of the ARRA) as concerning the achievement of students 
in the groups of students in section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA (i.e., 
economically disadvantaged students, students from major racial and 
ethnic groups, students with limited English proficiency, students with 
disabilities) relative to the achievement of the ``all students'' 
category under section 1111(b)(2)(C)(v)(I) of the ESEA. To meet this 
requirement, therefore, an eligible applicant must have significantly 
closed the gap in achievement between at least one of those groups and 
the ``all students'' category. An eligible applicant is not required to 
have significantly closed achievement gaps between all of those student 
groups and the ``all

[[Page 12035]]

students'' category, or to have significantly closed achievement gaps 
between each of the student groups themselves.
    Changes: None.

Proposed Paragraph (2) of Eligibility Requirements: Exceeded the 
State's Annual Measurable Objectives for Two Years in a Row, or 
Demonstrated Success in Significantly Increasing Student Achievement 
for All Groups of Students

    Comment: One commenter requested clarification as to how the 
Department interprets proposed paragraph (2) of the eligibility 
requirements. The commenter asked the Department to confirm that an 
eligible applicant would meet this requirement if it satisfied either 
the ``AMO'' clause of this requirement (i.e., have exceeded the State's 
annual measurable objectives consistent with section 1111(b)(2) of the 
ESEA for two or more consecutive years) or the ``another measure'' 
clause (i.e., have demonstrated success in significantly increasing 
student achievement for all groups of students described in section 
1111(b)(2) of the ESEA through another measure, such as measures 
described in section 1111(c)(2) of the ESEA (i.e., the National 
Assessment of Educational Progress)).
    Discussion: Proposed paragraph (2) of the eligibility requirements, 
which repeated the eligibility requirement in old section 14007(b)(2) 
of the ARRA, stated that an eligible applicant must have exceeded the 
State's annual measurable objectives consistent with section 1111(b)(2) 
of the ESEA for two or more consecutive years (the ``AMO'' clause) or 
have demonstrated success in significantly increasing student 
achievement for all groups of students described in such section 
through another measure, such as measures described in section 
1111(c)(2) of the ESEA (i.e., the National Assessment of Educational 
Progress) (the ``another measure'' clause). As discussed earlier in 
this notice, section 307 of Division D of the Consolidated 
Appropriations Act, 2010 amended the ARRA by removing this requirement. 
As amended, the ARRA now requires that an eligible applicant either (A) 
have significantly closed the achievement gaps between groups of 
students described in section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA (20 U.S.C. 
6311(b)(2)), or (B) have demonstrated success in significantly 
increasing student academic achievement for all groups of students 
described in such section. We are revising the eligibility requirements 
to incorporate these statutory changes. Therefore, an eligible 
applicant can meet this eligibility requirement by showing either (A) 
or (B) above; it is not required to show that it has done both.
    Changes: Consistent with the amendments to section 14007(b) of the 
ARRA, we are revising proposed paragraph (1) of the eligibility 
requirements to require that, to be eligible for an award under this 
program, an eligible applicant must--except as specifically set forth 
in the Note about Eligibility for an Eligible Applicant that Includes a 
Nonprofit Organization: (A) Have significantly closed the achievement 
gaps between groups of students described in section 1111(b)(2) of 
ESEA, or (B) have demonstrated success in significantly increasing 
student academic achievement for all groups of students described in 
such section. We are also removing proposed paragraph (2) of the 
eligibility requirements, which would have required that an eligible 
applicant have exceeded the State's annual measurable objectives 
consistent with section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA for two or more 
consecutive years or have demonstrated success in significantly 
increasing student achievement for all groups of students described in 
that section through another measure, such as measures described in 
section 1111(c)(2) of the ESEA (i.e., the National Assessment of 
Educational Progress).
    Comment: A number of commenters recommended that the Department 
clarify the meaning of the phrase ``success in significantly increasing 
student achievement'' in the ``another measure'' clause of proposed 
paragraph (2) of the eligibility requirements. Commenters asked what 
standard the Department will use to determine whether eligible 
applicants have met this requirement.
    Discussion: As discussed earlier in this notice, the Department 
declines to define the term ``significantly'' as it is used in 
paragraph (1)(A) of the eligibility requirements. Similarly here, the 
Department declines to define the term ``significantly'' as it is used 
in the requirement mentioned by the commenters (which is now 
incorporated, consistent with the amendments to section 14007(b) of the 
ARRA, in paragraph (1)(B) of the eligibility requirements). Given the 
diversity of potential eligible applicants, the Department wishes to 
encourage eligible applicants to present their arguments for how they 
have significantly increased student academic achievement. The 
Department also understands that eligible applicants will bring to bear 
different areas of expertise and will focus on improving various 
aspects of student achievement. Eligible applicants are best suited to 
present information on how they have significantly increased student 
achievement and to determine the metrics by which they measure those 
achievements.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters argued that although the ``another 
measure'' clause of proposed paragraph (2) of the eligibility 
requirements mentions NAEP as an example of an appropriate alternative 
measure for demonstrating success in significantly increasing student 
achievement, NAEP does not provide information at the LEA level. These 
commenters requested that the Department provide other examples of 
acceptable achievement measures that eligible applicants can use under 
the ``another measure'' clause to demonstrate success in significantly 
increasing student achievement, such as graduation rates, Advanced 
Placement and International Baccalaureate course completion, SAT or 
PSAT scores, and college enrollment rates.
    Two other commenters argued that although NAEP is referenced in 
section 1111(c)(2) of the ESEA, that section refers to ``Other 
Provisions to Support Teaching and Learning,'' not student achievement, 
which is addressed in section 1111(b) of the ESEA. Those commenters 
argued that it is, therefore, not appropriate to cite section 
1111(c)(2) of the ESEA (i.e., NAEP) as an appropriate measure of 
student achievement.
    Discussion: As discussed earlier in this notice, section 307 of 
Division D of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010, amended the 
ARRA by eliminating the requirement set forth in proposed paragraph (2) 
of the eligibility requirements. As amended, the ARRA now requires that 
an eligible entity either (A) have significantly closed the achievement 
gaps between groups of students described in section 1111(b)(2) of the 
ESEA (20 U.S.C. 6311(b)(2)), or (B) have demonstrated success in 
significantly increasing student academic achievement for all groups of 
students described in such section. Under the amendments, the 
eligibility requirements thus no longer mention NAEP as an example of 
an appropriate alternative measure for demonstrating significant 
student achievement. We believe that these statutory changes respond to 
the commenters' concerns regarding NAEP.
    With respect to the comments requesting other examples of 
acceptable achievement measures, we decline to incorporate these 
examples in the eligibility requirements. As discussed earlier in this 
notice, we believe that

[[Page 12036]]

eligible applicants are best suited to identify and present information 
on how they have significantly increased student achievement and do not 
wish to limit the metrics by which they measure those achievements.
    Changes: Consistent with the amendments to section 14007(b) of the 
ARRA, we are revising proposed paragraph (1) of the eligibility 
requirements to require that, to be eligible for an award under this 
program, an eligible applicant must--except as specifically set forth 
in the Note about Eligibility for an Eligible Applicant that Includes a 
Nonprofit Organization: (A) have significantly closed the achievement 
gaps between groups of students described in section 1111(b)(2) of the 
ESEA, or (B) have demonstrated success in significantly increasing 
student academic achievement for all groups of students described in 
such section. We are also removing proposed paragraph (2) of the 
eligibility requirements and renumbering the remaining requirements 
accordingly.

Proposed Paragraph (3) (Newly Redesignated Paragraph (2)) of 
Eligibility Requirements: Made Significant Improvements in Other Areas

    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department clarify the 
term ``significant improvement'' in proposed paragraph (3) of the 
eligibility requirements.
    Discussion: Proposed paragraph (3) (newly redesignated paragraph 
(2)) of the eligibility requirements, which repeated the eligibility 
requirement in old section 14007(b)(3) of the ARRA (new section 
14007(b)(2)), states that an eligible applicant must have made 
significant improvement in other areas, such as graduation rates or 
increased recruitment and placement of high-quality teachers and school 
leaders, as demonstrated with meaningful data. The Department declines 
to provide a definition of the term ``significant improvement'' as that 
term is used in this requirement. The Department wishes to encourage a 
diverse set of eligible applicants, and believes that eligible 
applicants are best suited to provide arguments for whether or not 
their improvements are significant. Eligible applicants are encouraged 
to present their arguments for how they have made significant 
improvements in other areas and are not limited in the metrics by which 
they measure those improvements.
    Changes: None.

Proposed Paragraph (4) (Newly Redesignated Paragraph (3)) of 
Eligibility Requirements: Established Private-sector Partnerships

    Comment: Several commenters suggested that the Department clarify 
proposed paragraph (4) of the eligibility requirements with respect to 
how many and what types of partnerships are permitted. Specifically, 
these commenters suggested that the Department clarify whether one or 
more private-sector partners could provide matching funds or in-kind 
donations. One commenter suggested that the Department also clarify 
whether eligible applicants may include private-sector partners that do 
not provide matching funds or in-kind donations. Another commenter 
suggested that the Department clarify whether private-sector partners 
may provide products or services that are used as core components in a 
project.
    Discussion: Proposed paragraph (4) of the eligibility requirements, 
which repeated the eligibility requirement in old section 14007(b)(4) 
of the ARRA, stated that eligible applicants must demonstrate they that 
have established partnerships with the private sector, which may 
include philanthropic organizations, and that the private sector will 
provide matching funds in order to help bring results to scale. Section 
307 of Division D of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010, amended 
section 14007(b)(4) of the ARRA to clarify that, to be eligible for an 
award, an eligible applicant must demonstrate that it has established 
one or more partnerships with the private sector. We are revising 
proposed paragraph (4) (newly redesignated paragraph (3)) to 
incorporate this statutory change. Thus, the revised eligibility 
requirement makes clear that there are no limits on the number of 
private-sector partnerships that an eligible applicant may establish.
    The statutory requirement likewise does not set any limits on the 
types of private-sector partnerships that an eligible applicant may 
establish, except that they must be non-governmental and that, through 
one or more of these partnerships, the eligible applicant must obtain 
matching funds from the private sector in order to help bring results 
to scale. An eligible applicant would not be prohibited under this 
requirement from establishing partnerships with the private sector for 
additional purposes.
    Changes: Consistent with the amendments to section 14007(b) of the 
ARRA, we are revising proposed paragraph (4) (newly redesignated 
paragraph (3)) to clarify that, to be eligible for an award, an 
eligible applicant must demonstrate that it has established one or more 
partnerships with the private sector.
    Comment: Several commenters asked the Department to clarify the 
phrase ``established partnerships'' in proposed paragraph (4) of the 
eligibility requirements with respect to whether partnerships with the 
private sector must have previously existed or be ongoing.
    Discussion: Proposed paragraph (4) (newly redesignated paragraph 
(3)) of the eligibility requirements does not require that an eligible 
applicant utilize preexisting or ongoing partnerships with the private 
sector. To meet this requirement, an eligible applicant may establish 
new partnerships or use existing ones.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Secretary establish 
authority to waive the requirement that eligible applicants have 
established partnerships with the private sector if it can be 
determined that the lack of such partnerships will not adversely affect 
the implementation of a project under this program. Other commenters 
recommended that the Secretary waive this requirement for eligible 
applicants from rural areas because it will be difficult for these 
eligible applicants to find private-sector partners to provide matching 
funds.
    Discussion: As noted earlier in this notice, proposed paragraph (4) 
(newly redesignated paragraph (3)) of the eligibility requirements 
repeats statutory requirements from the ARRA. The Secretary does not 
intend to waive these requirements and believes strongly that 
innovative projects to improve student achievement and attainment 
should include partnerships with the private sector. However, as 
discussed in the Cost Sharing or Matching requirement of this program, 
the Secretary may consider decreasing, in the most exceptional 
circumstances, on a case by case basis, the amount of matching funds 
that an eligible applicant must obtain from the private sector to less 
than the required amount (i.e., 20 percent of its grant award). An 
eligible applicant that anticipates being unable to meet the 20 percent 
matching requirement may request that the Secretary reduce the matching 
level requirement. The request, along with a statement of the basis for 
the request, must be included in the application.
    Changes: None.

[[Page 12037]]

Proposed Paragraph (5) (Newly Redesignated Paragraph (4)) of 
Eligibility Requirements: Providing LEA and School Names

    Comment: One commenter offered strong support for proposed 
paragraph (5) of the eligibility requirements regarding the LEA and 
school information that a nonprofit organization applicant must include 
in its application. The commenter asserted that providing nonprofit 
organizations the option to describe the demographics of the additional 
LEAs or schools with which they will partner will give eligible 
applicants that include nonprofit organizations useful flexibility 
before and after applying for funds under this program. Another 
commenter suggested that the Department allow an eligible applicant 
that includes a nonprofit organization not to name any LEA or school 
partners in its application, but rather only describe the demographics 
and other characteristics of the LEAs or schools with which the 
nonprofit organization intends to partner. The commenter argued that 
this will improve project outcomes by providing eligible applicants 
that include nonprofit organizations with greater flexibility in the 
timeline for forging partnerships.
    Discussion: Under section 14007(a)(1)(B) of the ARRA, an eligible 
applicant must be a partnership of the nonprofit organization with (1) 
one or more LEAs or (2) a consortium of schools. To meet this 
requirement, an eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit 
organization must submit an application that identifies each of the 
official partners in the partnership (i.e., the nonprofit organization 
and at least one LEA or a consortium of schools). We will not consider 
an application submitted on behalf of an eligible applicant that 
includes a nonprofit organization that does not do so. If the eligible 
applicant intends to involve additional LEAs or schools as additional 
official partners at a later date or as other partners, it is not 
required to identify those LEAs or schools in the application.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department clarify the 
point at which an eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit 
organization must name any additional LEAs or schools as partners that 
were not identified in its application. The commenter asked 
specifically whether or not additional LEAs or schools must be named 
before a grant award is made. Another commenter recommended that the 
Department not allow eligible applicants that include a nonprofit 
organization to identify additional LEAs or schools as partners after a 
grant has been awarded. The commenter argued that all partners in a 
grant should be involved from the outset of the grant, and that LEA 
eligible applicants are being held to a different standard than 
eligible applicants that include a nonprofit and are applying under 
section 14007(a)(1)(B) of the ARRA because they are not afforded this 
same flexibility with respect to naming partners.
    Discussion: Under proposed paragraph (5) (newly designated 
paragraph (4)), we proposed to permit an eligible applicant that 
includes a nonprofit organization to describe the demographics and 
other characteristics of any additional LEAs or schools with which it 
intends to partner (apart from the official and other partners that it 
names in its application) and the process it will use to select them 
because we recognize that this type of eligible applicant may need 
additional time to make official arrangements with all of its partners 
beyond the date by which applications must be submitted under this 
program. However, as stated in the NPP, an eligible applicant that 
includes a nonprofit organization must identify all of its partners 
(including other partners) before a grant award is made; it may not 
identify additional partners after this date. We agree with the 
commenter that all partners in a grant should be involved from the 
outset of the grant. We do not believe that allowing nonprofit 
organization applicants to name additional partners prior to receiving 
a grant award holds LEA applicants to a more stringent standard than 
eligible applicants that include nonprofit organizations. As noted in 
the preceding discussion, an eligible applicant that includes a 
nonprofit organization must still demonstrate that it has met the 
requirements for eligible applicants under this program and this 
requires that the application identify at least one LEA or a consortium 
of schools as an official partner; we will not consider an application 
on behalf of an eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit 
organization that does not do so.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the Department require 
eligible applicants that include a nonprofit organization to describe 
the demographics of all partner LEAs or schools in order to better 
determine and ensure equity among grant recipients in terms of students 
or populations served.
    Discussion: Although an eligible applicant that includes a 
nonprofit organization would not be prohibited from describing the 
demographics of the LEAs or schools with which it partners and names in 
its application, we do not believe it is necessary to require them to 
do so because we do not intend to use equity as a selection criterion 
in making grant awards under this program. We also note that 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 demographics and 
other characteristics of these LEAs and schools and the process it will 
use to select them as either official or other partners.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department require that 
eligible applicants that include a nonprofit organization specify the 
proposed conditions of the partnership agreement, including the roles 
and responsibilities that each partner will have, in the grant 
application. The commenter noted that the agreement should include 
conditions for autonomy for the nonprofit organization and specify the 
degree to which each partner will have control over the budget and 
program generally.
    Discussion: Consistent with the Department's regulations governing 
group applications in 34 CFR 75.128, a partnership applicant under this 
program must enter into an agreement that details the activities that 
each member of the partnership plans to perform. We do not believe it 
is necessary, however, to require that these agreements be included as 
part of the applications. Further, we do not believe it is appropriate 
for the Department to specify the level of autonomy or control over 
projects under this program that partners may have; rather, we believe 
that eligible applicants should have the flexibility to determine the 
conditions of their partnerships on an individual basis provided that 
those conditions comply with these requirements.
    We do note, however, that under Selection Criterion G (Quality of 
the Management Plan and Personnel), the Secretary will consider the 
adequacy of the eligible applicant's management plan, including clearly 
defined responsibilities, timelines and milestones for accomplishing 
project tasks. In responding to this selection criterion, the eligible 
applicant is encouraged to describe the roles and responsibilities of 
its partners so that the Secretary can appropriately evaluate the 
eligible applicant's management plan.

[[Page 12038]]

    Changes: None.

Note About Eligibility for an Eligible Applicant That Includes a 
Nonprofit Organization

    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department clarify what 
is meant by the sentence in the Note about Eligibility for an Eligible 
Applicant that Includes a Nonprofit Organization stating that the 
eligible entity shall be considered to have met the requirements of 
proposed paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) of the eligibility requirements 
if the nonprofit organization has a record of meeting those 
requirements. The commenter argued that this sentence might exempt 
certain eligible applicants from complying with some of the eligibility 
requirements.
    Discussion: As discussed earlier in this notice, the eligibility 
requirements that were reflected in proposed paragraphs (1), (2), and 
(3) of the eligibility requirements tracked the statutory requirements 
from old section 14007(b)(1) through (b)(3) of the ARRA. Those 
requirements have been amended and consolidated into section 
14007(b)(1) and (b)(2) of the ARRA. In addition, section 14007(c) of 
the ARRA has been amended to specify that an eligible entity that 
includes a nonprofit organization is considered to have met the 
requirements of sections 14007(b)(1) and (b)(2) of the ARRA (as 
amended) if the nonprofit organization has a record of significantly 
improving student achievement, attainment, or retention. Under the 
amendments to section 14007(c) of the ARRA, an eligible entity that 
includes a nonprofit organization is thus no longer required to 
demonstrate that the nonprofit organization has a record of meeting 
proposed paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) of the eligibility requirements. 
Instead, the eligible applicant is required to demonstrate that the 
nonprofit organization has a record of significantly improving student 
achievement, attainment, or retention. We are revising the Note about 
Eligibility for an Eligible Applicant that Includes a Nonprofit 
Organization to incorporate these statutory changes regarding the 
eligibility of an eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit 
organization.
    Changes: As discussed earlier in this notice, consistent with the 
amendments to section 14007(c) of the ARRA, we are revising the Note 
about Eligibility for an Eligible Applicant that Includes a Nonprofit 
Organization to specify that an eligible applicant that includes a 
nonprofit organization is considered to have met paragraph (1) and 
paragraph (2) of the eligibility requirements for this program if the 
nonprofit organization has a record of significantly improving student 
achievement, attainment, or retention.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department clarify 
whether a nonprofit organization that cannot meet the eligibility 
requirements discussed in the Note about Eligibility for an Eligible 
Applicant that Includes a Nonprofit Organization may partner with an 
LEA or a consortium of schools that meets those requirements. A number 
of commenters requested that, if a nonprofit organization may partner 
with a consortium of schools that meets these requirements, the 
Department clarify whether all schools in the consortium must meet the 
requirements.
    Discussion: As discussed earlier in this notice, section 14007(c) 
of the ARRA has been amended to specify that an eligible applicant that 
includes a nonprofit organization is considered to have met the 
requirements of paragraphs (1) and (2) of section 14007(b) of the ARRA 
(as amended) if the nonprofit organization has a record of 
significantly improving student achievement, attainment, or retention. 
We are revising the Note about Eligibility for an Eligible Applicant 
that Includes a Nonprofit Organization to incorporate these statutory 
changes. Thus, any eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit 
organization must demonstrate that the nonprofit organization in the 
partnership has a record of significantly improving student 
achievement, attainment, or retention. Accordingly, an eligible 
applicant that includes a nonprofit organization that cannot 
demonstrate that the nonprofit organization in the partnership has a 
record of significantly improving student achievement, attainment, or 
retention is not eligible for an award under this program (regardless 
of whether the LEA(s) or schools with which the nonprofit organization 
partners meet the requirements of paragraph (1) and paragraph (2) 
(proposed paragraph (3)) of the eligibility requirements for this 
program). However, under this program, an LEA may apply on its own as 
an eligible applicant consistent with section 14007(a)(1)(A) of the 
ARRA, and may partner with other entities, including nonprofit 
organizations, as other partners. In that respect, an LEA applying 
under section 14007(a)(1)(A) of the ARRA that meets the requirements of 
paragraph (1) and paragraph (2) (proposed paragraph (3)) of the 
eligibility requirements for this program may involve entities 
(including nonprofit organizations) that do not meet the applicable 
eligibility requirements for this program without limitation, except as 
otherwise proscribed by law.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department consider an 
eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit organization to have met 
the requirements of proposed paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) of the 
eligibility requirements based on the nonprofit organization's record 
of work with one LEA, instead of more than one LEA.
    Discussion: We originally proposed in the Note about Eligibility 
for an Eligible Applicant that Includes a Nonprofit Organization that 
the eligible applicant must demonstrate that the nonprofit organization 
has a record of meeting the requirements of proposed paragraphs (1), 
(2), and (3) of the eligibility requirements through its work with an 
LEA. We are replacing this provision with a requirement that the 
nonprofit organization serving as an official partner have a record of 
significantly improving student achievement, attainment, or retention, 
consistent with the amendments to the authorizing statute for this 
program through its work with an LEA or schools. Thus, there is no 
requirement that an eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit 
organization demonstrate that the nonprofit organization serving as an 
official partner has a record of significantly improving student 
achievement, attainment, or retention through its work with more than 
one LEA.
    Changes: We are revising the Note to specify that, to meet this 
requirement, an eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit 
organization must demonstrate that it has a record of significantly 
improving student academic achievement, attainment, or retention 
through the assistance it has provided to an LEA or schools in the 
past; we are making conforming changes to Selection Criterion C 
(Experience of the Eligible Applicant) for all three types of grants.
    Comment: Two commenters requested that the Department amend the 
Note About Eligibility for an Eligible Applicant that Includes a 
Nonprofit Organization to provide that an eligible entity that includes 
a nonprofit organization may demonstrate that the nonprofit 
organization serving as an official partner has a record of meeting the 
requirements in proposed paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) of the 
eligibility requirements through its record of work with an LEA or a 
consortium of schools--rather than only

[[Page 12039]]

through its record of work with an LEA. The commenters argued that this 
change would ensure that nonprofit organizations that have not worked 
with an entire LEA would be eligible if they can meet the requirements 
in proposed paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) based on their previous work 
with schools.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenters that, to meet the 
requirement that it have a record of significantly improving student 
achievement, attainment, or retention (which replaces, for eligible 
applicants that include a nonprofit organization, the requirements of 
proposed paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) of the eligibility requirements), 
a nonprofit organization should not be limited only to its record of 
work with an LEA. We are revising the Note to specify that, to meet 
this requirement, an eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit 
organization must provide the nonprofit organization's record of work 
with an LEA or schools; we are making conforming changes to Selection 
Criterion C (Experience of the Applicant) for all three types of 
grants. Thus, an eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit 
organization may provide the nonprofit organization's record of work 
with schools. However, because we believe that the nature of this 
program and the scope of its goals require that nonprofit organizations 
serving as an official partner have broad experience, such a nonprofit 
organization may not provide its record of work with only a single 
school in order to meet this requirement.
    Changes: We are revising the Note to specify that, to meet this 
requirement, an eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit 
organization must demonstrate that it has a record of significantly 
improving student academic achievement, attainment, or retention 
through the assistance it has provided to an LEA or schools in the 
past; we are making conforming changes to Selection Criterion C 
(Experience of the Eligible Applicant) for all three types of grant.

Additional Eligibility Requirements

    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department add an 
eligibility requirement that would require eligible applicants to have 
significantly closed achievement gaps between genders.
    Discussion: We decline to require eligible applicants to have 
significantly closed the achievement gap between genders in order to be 
eligible for funding under this program. While gender equity in 
education is a laudable goal that the Department supports, we do not 
believe it is necessary to add such a requirement because the 
authorizing statute requires eligible applicants only to have 
significantly closed achievement gaps specifically between the groups 
of students described in section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA, which do not 
include student gender.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the Department add an 
eligibility requirement that would require eligible applicants to have 
significantly closed graduation rate gaps between the designated groups 
of students described in section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA.
    Discussion: The eligibility requirement reflected in old section 
14007(b)(3) of the ARRA (now section 14007(b)(2) of the ARRA) requires 
eligible applicants to make significant improvements in other areas, 
and specifically mentions improving graduation rates as an area of 
improvement that would meet the requirement. We believe that this 
requirement, which is now reflected in paragraph (2) of the eligibility 
requirements, provides an appropriate amount of focus on the need to 
improve high school graduation rates. We, therefore, decline to make 
the change recommended by the commenter.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the Department add an 
eligibility requirement that would require eligible applicants to 
provide documentation that relevant student achievement data will be 
readily available and accessible for progress monitoring purposes.
    Discussion: We do not believe it is appropriate to include the 
eligibility requirement suggested by the commenter because it could 
unnecessarily constrain the types of projects eligible applicants may 
submit for the different types of grants under this program. We note, 
however, that under Selection Criterion D (Quality of the Project 
Evaluation) for each type of grant, the Secretary will consider the 
extent to which the methods of project evaluation will provide high-
quality implementation data and performance feedback, and permit 
periodic assessment of progress toward achieving intended outcomes.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department add an 
eligibility requirement that would require eligible applicants to 
ensure that their project, by design or outcome, does not exacerbate 
the concentration of poverty or the racial or linguistic concentration 
of students.
    Discussion: As discussed earlier in this notice, the Department 
believes that the promotion of diverse student populations is a 
laudable goal. We do not, however, believe that an eligibility 
requirement of the type recommended by the commenter is appropriate for 
this program. Consistent with the ARRA, we seek to ensure that the 
primary focus of this program is improving student academic achievement 
and attainment. That said, in discussing the effects of its proposed 
project an eligible applicant may include discussion of the effects of 
the project on intermediate variables that are strongly correlated with 
improving student achievement and attainment outcomes. These 
intermediate variables may include variables on topics such as those 
the commenter mentions.
    We also note that the Department has for many years administered 
the Magnet Schools Assistance Program. This program provides grants to 
LEAs to fund magnet schools that--in addition to strengthening 
students' academic knowledge and their attainment of tangible and 
marketable skills--will further the elimination, reduction or 
prevention of minority group isolation in elementary and secondary 
schools. 20 U.S.C. 7231(b).
    Changes: None.

Funding Categories

    Comment: Although one commenter supported the requirement that an 
applicant be considered for an award only for the type of grant for 
which it applies, a few commenters noted that an applicant may have 
difficulty determining the grant type under which its proposed project 
falls and recommended that the Department allow applicants to submit 
the same proposed project under more than one grant category. A few 
other commenters recommended that the Department allow reviewers to 
move an application between grant categories or allow an application 
that does not meet the level of evidence for one category of grant to 
be considered in another category.
    Discussion: We decline to accept the commenters' recommendations 
because we do not believe it is appropriate for the Department or its 
reviewers to determine the grant category for a proposed project; 
rather, eligible applicants should bear the responsibility for 
determining which grant type most closely matches their capabilities 
and needs. Applicants may submit as many applications as they deem 
appropriate--bearing in mind that the grant categories are different 
and, therefore, a project proposed under one category would not meet 
the

[[Page 12040]]

requirements of another category. This is the reason the Department 
does not believe it makes sense to permit applicants to submit the same 
project under multiple categories.
    Changes: None.

Cost Sharing or Matching

    Comment: While several commenters supported the eligibility 
requirement that eligible applicants demonstrate that they have 
established one or more partnerships with an entity or organization in 
the private sector (proposed paragraph (4) of the eligibility 
requirements), many commenters disagreed with the proposed requirement 
that an eligible applicant obtain private-sector matching funds or in-
kind donations equal to at least 20 percent of its grant award. These 
commenters recommended that the 20 percent private-sector matching 
funds requirement be eliminated or reduced. Commenters cited several 
reasons for eliminating or reducing the required match, including: The 
possible lack of available resources from the private sector, due to 
current economic conditions or other reasons; the possibility that the 
size of the match will discourage many small LEAs and nonprofit 
organizations from applying; and the possible unintended consequence of 
giving unfair advantage to entities that already have access to or 
relationships with private-sector organizations. Two commenters 
suggested that the Department use a sliding scale in which the amount 
of matching funds would be higher for the Development and Validation 
grant categories and lower for Scale-up grants.
    Several other commenters encouraged the Department to allow an 
eligible applicant's current financial commitments, including existing 
philanthropic donations, to be reallocated and used to meet the Cost 
Sharing or Matching requirement and not require eligible applicants to 
raise new funds. A few commenters recommended that the Department allow 
private-sector funds that support the entirety of an eligible 
applicant's organizational efforts, not solely or specifically the 
eligible applicant's proposed project, to be counted toward the 20 
percent private-sector match. Similarly, one commenter recommended 
giving a grantee flexibility to use matching funds for more general 
programmatic costs that are not necessarily tied to its project.
    Discussion: As discussed in the context of the eligibility 
requirements for this program, old section 14007(b)(4) of the ARRA (new 
section 14007(b)(3) of the ARRA) requires an eligible applicant to 
demonstrate that it has established one or more partnerships with the 
private sector and that the private sector will provide matching funds 
in order to help bring results to scale. The purpose of the Cost 
Sharing or Matching requirement is to help ensure that the results of 
the funded projects will be brought to scale and sustained. The 
Department's decision that eligible applicants for all three grant 
types--Scale-up, Validation, and Development grants--demonstrate a 
private-sector match of at least 20 percent of the total amount of 
Federal funds requested for each proposed project is based on the 
belief that this amount of private support is a strong indicator of the 
potential for sustainability of the proposed project over time. 
However, the Department understands the concerns raised by these 
commenters and, in response, provides the following information and 
clarifications.
    First, in-kind contributions may be counted towards the 20 percent 
private sector matching requirement.
    Second, the Secretary will consider granting waivers of the 
matching requirement in the most exceptional circumstances.
    Third, the Department has reviewed data on private giving in K-12 
education over the past several years and has concluded that the 
private sector has the capacity and resources to fulfill this matching 
requirement. Data from the Foundation Center (2007, the most recent 
year for which data are available) indicate that asking the private 
sector to provide $130 million (i.e., 20 percent of the $650 million 
appropriated for this program in fiscal year 2009) over five years will 
amount to less than five percent of total K-12 giving from the private 
sector over that period of time. We believe that this reasonably 
demonstrates availability of private sector resources to fulfill the 
matching requirement.
    Fourth, eligible applicants may count existing private sector 
support towards the required match so long as these funds are 
reallocated in support of the project for which the eligible applicant 
seeks funding and the eligible applicant can provide appropriate 
evidence of this commitment.
    And lastly, as discussed later in this notice, the Department is 
changing the time by which eligible applicants must demonstrate that 
they have fulfilled their matching requirement. Specifically, rather 
than secure this match at the time of application, an eligible 
applicant is not required to demonstrate that it has secured the match 
until so requested by the Department after its application has been 
reviewed and scored at the top of the rank-order list for the 
respective types of grants. This means that not all eligible applicants 
will be required to secure a match, and that those required to do so 
will not have to secure that match until after the peer review of 
applications.
    Based upon this information and considerations, we do not believe 
it is necessary to reduce, eliminate, or further modify the 20 percent 
matching requirement.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters expressed concern about the time period 
in which eligible applicants would need to secure and provide evidence 
of the commitment of the 20 percent private-sector matching funds. 
Commenters noted the hesitancy of the private sector to commit matching 
funds for multiple applications before knowing how many applications 
will be funded. One commenter suggested allowing eligible applicants 
150 days after being approved for funding to secure the 20 percent 
private-sector match. Another commenter suggested allowing up to 10 
percent of the required match to be obtained within one year of the 
award. Another commenter suggested that the Department work with 
private foundations to include a tiered review process to minimize the 
number of requests private foundations may have to review before a 
Federal grant is awarded.
    Discussion: As noted earlier, the Department is committed to 
requiring eligible applicants to obtain a 20 percent private-sector 
match to be eligible to receive funds under this program but is making 
some modifications to this requirement that address the concerns raised 
by these commenters. We are revising the Cost Sharing or Matching 
requirement with respect to the timing of submission of the evidence of 
the private-sector match. Selected eligible applicants are now required 
to submit evidence of the full 20 percent private-sector matching funds 
following the peer review of applications--not at the time of 
application as was initially proposed by the Department. An award will 
not be made unless the applicant provides adequate evidence that the 
full 20 percent private-sector match has been committed or the 
Secretary approves the eligible applicant's request to reduce the 
matching-level requirement.
    Eligible applicants that score at the top of the rank-order list 
for the respective types of grant and thus are being most seriously 
considered for funding will be contacted and given a limited period of 
time, approximately

[[Page 12041]]

four to six weeks, to provide evidence of the private-sector match. 
Given that applications will be submitted in the spring, we expect that 
there will be adequate time between the completion of the peer review 
process and the final deadline for awarding funds under this program to 
allow for this additional step in the grant process.
    Changes: We are revising the Cost Sharing or Matching requirement 
with respect to the timing of submission of the evidence of the 
private-sector match. Selected eligible applicants are now required to 
submit evidence of the full 20 percent private-sector matching funds 
following the peer review of applications. An award will not be made 
unless the applicant provides adequate evidence that the full 20 
percent private-sector match has been committed or the Secretary 
approves the eligible applicant's request to reduce the matching-level 
requirement.
    Comment: Several commenters sought clarification of the types of 
funding sources that may be used to satisfy the Cost Sharing or 
Matching requirement, including clarification regarding in-kind 
donations. Some commenters suggested that the Department clarify 
whether in-kind donations may include discounts off products and 
services that are components of the innovation to be scaled up and that 
are provided by private-sector partners. One commenter recommended that 
resources from Federal programs be counted as part of the match. One 
commenter recommended that LEAs be allowed to reallocate their own 
funds to meet the matching requirement.
    Discussion: Section 14007(b)(3) of the ARRA specifically requires a 
private-sector match for this program. Thus, an eligible applicant may 
not use funding from other Federal programs or other public sources 
(including the LEAs' own funds) to satisfy the Cost Sharing or Matching 
requirement.
    Discounts off products and services that are components of the 
innovation to be scaled up could be considered in-kind donations that 
count toward the Cost Sharing and Matching requirement. Eligible 
applicants should review the Department's regulations on matching 
funds, including in-kind contributions, in 34 CFR 74.23 and 80.24 for 
further clarification on requirements pertaining to in-kind donations.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters sought clarification about the 
conditions that would constitute the ``most exceptional circumstances'' 
under which the Secretary might consider reducing the 20 percent 
private-sector match under the Cost Sharing or Matching requirement.
    Discussion: The Department understands that there may be 
extenuating circumstances that will create challenges for some eligible 
applicants in securing a commitment from the private sector for the 
full 20 percent private-sector match. For this reason, we included in 
the NPP and are retaining in this notice a provision in the Cost 
Sharing or Matching requirement that allows an eligible applicant that 
believes it will be unable to obtain the full 20 percent private-sector 
match to include in its application a request to the Secretary to 
decrease the private-sector match amount. The Secretary will grant 
waivers on a case-by-case basis. As the Secretary's decision to 
decrease the private-sector match amount will depend on the individual 
facts presented in an eligible applicant's request, we decline to 
describe what situations might or might not be considered ``the most 
exceptional circumstances'' warranting the grant of a waiver.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Three commenters recommended that the Department clarify 
whether the Cost Sharing or Matching requirement applies only to 
eligible applicants for Scale-up grants, and not to eligible applicants 
for Validation or Development grants. The commenters noted that the 
purpose of the Cost Sharing or Matching requirement, as stated in the 
NPP, is to help bring results to scale.
    Discussion: The Cost Sharing or Matching requirement applies to all 
eligible applicants under this program, not just to applicants for 
Scale-up grants.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed concern that the Cost Sharing or 
Matching requirement does not support the goal of sustainability 
because a matching requirement that lasts only as long as the life of 
the grant does not sustain meaningful reform. The commenter recommended 
that the Department require applicants to describe the administrative 
and other efforts and activities the eligible applicant will pursue in 
order to raise additional funds to sustain the project.
    Discussion: The Department believes that the requirement that 
matching funds be from the private sector increases the likelihood that 
projects will be able to be sustained beyond the grant period. Although 
the Department may not require eligible applicants to obtain matching 
funds from the private sector for activities after the grant period, 
peer reviewers will consider an eligible applicant's plans to sustain 
its proposed project after the grant period, consistent with the 
selection criteria related to strategy and capacity to bring to scale 
and sustainability (Selection Criteria E (Strategy and Capacity to 
Bring to Scale (in the case of Scale-up and Validation grants); 
Strategy and Capacity to Further Develop and Bring to Scale (in the 
case of Development grants)) and F (Sustainability)).
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department require 
eligible applicants to notify their State educational agency if they 
submit an application under this program. The commenter argued that 
this would provide the State educational agency with the ability to 
leverage these grants by scaling them up with State or local funds.
    Discussion: This program is subject to Executive Order 12372 and 34 
CFR part 79, which allows States that have chosen to participate in 
Intergovernmental Review the opportunity to review and comment on 
applications submitted to the Department for funding. We do not believe 
it is necessary to separately require an eligible applicant to notify 
its State educational agency that it has submitted an application for a 
grant under this program.
    However, eligible applicants should consider including State 
educational agencies as other partners and leveraging available State 
and local funds to increase the reach and sustainability of proposed 
projects. As noted in the preceding discussion, peer reviewers will 
consider, in general, the reach and sustainability of a proposed 
project under this program consistent with the selection criteria 
related to strategy and capacity to bring to scale and sustainability 
(Selection Criteria E (Strategy and Capacity to Bring to Scale (in the 
case of Scale-up and Validation grants); Strategy and Capacity to 
Further Develop and Bring to Scale (in the case of Development grants)) 
and F (Sustainability)). Applicants may not include State and local 
funds in their cost sharing and cost matching calculation.
    Changes: None.

Evaluation

    Note: For an analysis of comments and changes relating to the 
proposed evaluation requirements, please see the Evidence and 
Evaluation section elsewhere in this notice.


[[Page 12042]]



Participation in Communities of Practice

    Comment: One commenter supported the requirement that all grantees 
participate in communities of practice. Another commenter recommended 
that the Department expand the requirement to include participation in 
knowledge and innovation networks established by the Department. Under 
the commenter's expanded model, grantees would be required to 
participate not only in communities of practice but also in the 
development and implementation of new networking opportunities. 
Finally, two commenters suggested that the Department use intermediary 
organizations to organize and facilitate the communities of practice 
among grantees.
    Discussion: All grantees under this program are required to 
participate in communities of practice throughout the grant period. How 
those communities of practice will be organized, who will facilitate 
them, and the extent to which grantees will participate in networks 
such as those recommended by the commenter will be determined by the 
Department at a later date. The expectation is that grantees will have 
the opportunity to provide input on the structure and activities of the 
communities of practice and help shape them as a mechanism to serve 
grantees and inform the Department about what they have learned.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department require 
grantees to make all outputs produced through grants under this program 
freely available in order to maximize the program's reach.
    Discussion: At this time, the Department is only requiring grantees 
to make the results of their evaluations transparent to the public. We 
are not specifying how grantees must disseminate these results because 
we believe that grantees are best positioned to determine the methods 
of dissemination that are most appropriate for their organizations.
    It should be noted, however, that the Department has regulations 
related to products produced with grant funds. Specifically, under 34 
CFR 75.621, grantees may copyright intellectual property produced with 
Department grant funds. However, under 34 CFR 74.36 and 80.34, the 
Department retains a non-exclusive and irrevocable license to 
reproduce, publish, or otherwise use those project materials for 
government purposes. This gives the Department the authority needed to 
ensure that materials produced in these grants can be made available to 
the public.
    Changes: None.

Definitions

Definitions Related to Evidence

    Note: For an analysis of comments and changes regarding the 
proposed Definitions Related to Evidence, please see the Evidence 
and Evaluation section elsewhere in this notice.

Other Definitions

    Note: We provide analyses of comments and changes regarding the 
proposed definitions of highly effective school leader, highly 
effective teacher, persistently low-performing schools, and rural 
LEA in the PRIORITIES section earlier in this preamble. We discuss 
comments and changes regarding other definitions in the proposed 
Other Definitions in the paragraphs that follow.

Formative Assessment

    Comment: None.
    Discussion: As we indicated in footnote 9 of the NPP, we use for 
this program many of the same terms that are used and defined in the 
Race to the Top Fund and other programs supported with ARRA funds. We 
further stated in the NPP that we would align the definitions for those 
terms, as appropriate, with those used in the Race to the Top Fund 
program. Accordingly, we are making minor changes to the definition of 
the term formative assessment for consistency with the definition of 
this term in the Race to the Top Fund program (see 74 FR 59804).
    Changes: We are revising the definition of formative assessment to 
mean assessment questions, tools, and processes that are embedded in 
instruction and are used by teachers and students to provide timely 
feedback for purposes of adjusting instruction to improve learning.

Interim Assessment

    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department include, in 
the definition of interim assessment, student report card scores 
provided that the scores are assigned relative to specified standards.
    Discussion: We do not believe it is appropriate to include student 
report card scores in the definition of interim assessment because 
these scores are reporting tools, not assessments. Assessments that are 
used in producing such scores, however, may meet the definition of 
interim assessment to the extent they evaluate knowledge and skills 
relative to a specific set of academic standards.
    Changes: None.

High-Need Student

    Comment: While a number of commenters supported the proposed 
definition of the term high-need student, several commenters 
recommended that the Department modify the definition to include the 
following types of students: Gifted and talented students, students who 
are pregnant or parenting, students who have been held in a juvenile 
detention facility; students meeting only minimum standards; students 
who are high-achieving but live in high-risk communities; American 
Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian students; students whose 
parents have not graduated from college; students who are racially 
isolated; and students who demonstrate adverse patterns of behavior, 
attendance, discipline, or other non-academic outcomes that impede 
overall success.
    Discussion: The Department understands the interest of the 
commenters in expanding the definition of high-need student to include 
other categories of students at risk of educational failure or 
otherwise in need of special assistance and support. While the proposed 
definition provided examples of these types of students, those examples 
are not intended to be an exclusive list. Eligible applicants may 
include other types of students they consider to be high-need as 
students to be served by their proposed projects.
    As noted elsewhere in this notice, in cases where this program 
defines a term that is used and defined in other programs supported 
with ARRA funds, we intend to use the same definitions. For consistency 
with the definition of high-need student used in the Race to the Top 
Fund program, we are making a minor change in the definition of the 
term for this program by including students who attend high minority 
schools (as defined by the State in which the students attend school) 
as an additional example.
    Changes: We are revising the definition of the term high-need 
student by adding to the list of students who are at risk of 
educational failure students who attend high-minority schools (as 
defined by the student's State).

Regional Level

    Comment: Three commenters asked for greater clarity and specificity 
regarding the definition of the term regional level. Specifically, the 
commenters sought clarification on the following issues: What 
constitutes a regional level project; whether a regional level project 
must be

[[Page 12043]]

implemented in more than one LEA; and whether a project that serves 
multiple regions of a single, large, urban LEA would qualify as a 
regional level project.
    Discussion: The proposed definition of regional level, as used in 
connection with Scale-up and Validation grants, describes projects that 
are able to serve a variety of communities and student populations 
within a State or multiple States, including rural and urban areas. We 
are revising the definition of regional level to clarify that, to meet 
the definition, a project must serve students in more than one LEA, 
excluding a project implemented in a State in which the State 
educational agency is the sole educational agency for all schools and 
thus may be considered an LEA under section 9101(26) of the ESEA. Thus, 
a project that is implemented in a single LEA (if not the sole 
educational agency for all schools in a State) would not be considered 
a regional level project consistent with the definition of regional 
level used in this program.
    Changes: We are revising the definition of regional level to 
clarify that, to meet the definition, a project must serve students in 
more than one LEA, excluding a project implemented in a State in which 
the State educational agency is the sole educational agency for all 
schools and thus may be considered an LEA under section 9101(26) of the 
ESEA.

Student Achievement

    Comment: Several commenters recommended that the Department revise 
the definition of student achievement to clarify that student 
achievement can be determined using multiple measures. These commenters 
recommended that we revise the definition to include additional 
measures such as the following: Grades; end-of-course exams; rates at 
which students are on track to graduate from high school or meet 
learning objectives; Advanced Placement exams; college readiness 
measures or tests; career readiness measures such as technical skill 
attainment and work-place readiness assessments; formative assessments; 
interim assessments if aligned to end-of-course exams or LEA pacing 
guides; online reading comprehension measures; assessments of student 
writing, presentations, performances, projects, portfolios, and group 
work.
    Discussion: The Department agrees with the commenters about the 
need for multiple ways in which to measure student achievement. We did 
not intend for the proposed definition of student achievement to 
preclude the use of multiple measures including those recommended by 
the commenters provided that, for the tested grades and subjects, the 
measures include student performance on State assessments. That said, 
to ensure consistency in definitions of terms across programs supported 
with ARRA funds, we are revising the definition of student achievement 
used in this program. The revised definition retains the flexibility 
for eligible applicants to use multiple measures of student achievement 
but also requires that the measures used be rigorous and comparable 
across classrooms.
    Changes: We are revising the definition of student achievement to 
mean--
    (a) For tested grades and subjects: (1) A student's score on the 
State's assessments under section 1111(b)(3) of the ESEA; and, as 
appropriate, (2) other measures of student learning, such as those 
described in paragraph (b) of this definition, provided they are 
rigorous and comparable across classrooms; and
    (b) For non-tested grades and subjects: Alternative measures of 
student learning and performance such as student scores on pre-tests 
and end-of-course tests; student performance on English language 
proficiency assessments; and other measures of student achievement that 
are rigorous and comparable across classrooms.
    Comment: Several commenters recommended that the Department revise 
the definition of student achievement to include data on student 
achievement in non-tested grades and subjects including the arts.
    Discussion: The definition of student achievement under this 
program would not preclude the use of data on student achievement in 
non-tested grades and subjects; in fact, paragraph (b) of the 
definition requires the use of such data.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters recommended that the Department revise 
the definition of student achievement to include measures for early 
learning such as school readiness assessments. A few other commenters 
recommended that the Department include nonacademic measures such as 
measures of student attendance and engagement.
    Discussion: Within the definition of student achievement, we intend 
to include only measures relating directly to student academic 
performance in the elementary and secondary grades and subjects. We 
note, however, that, consistent with the selection criterion regarding 
Selection Criterion B (Strength of Research, Significance of Effect, 
and Magnitude of Effect), eligible applicants may also demonstrate the 
success of their proposed projects using intermediate variables that 
are strongly correlated with improving student achievement and 
attainment outcomes. These variables may include school readiness and 
nonacademic measures such as those recommended by the commenters.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters recommended that the Department expand the 
definition of student achievement to include measures regarding 
postsecondary education, namely, rates at which students enroll in an 
institution of higher education (including two- and four-year colleges 
and trade and vocational schools) and complete one year's worth of 
college credit within two years.
    Discussion: As outlined in the preceding discussion, within the 
definition of student achievement, we intend to include only measures 
relating directly to student academic performance in the elementary and 
secondary grades and subjects. However, we agree with the commenters 
that it is important to recognize and support projects under this 
program that improve college enrollment and completion rates. We are 
revising Selection Criterion B (Strength of Research, Significance of 
Effect, and Magnitude of Effect) to include college enrollment and 
completion rates among the student achievement and attainment outcomes 
for which the Secretary will consider the effect of a proposed project.
    Changes: We are revising Selection Criterion B (Strength of 
Research, Significance of Effect, and Magnitude of Effect) to include 
college enrollment and completion rates among the student achievement 
and attainment outcomes for which the Secretary will consider the 
effect of a proposed project.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department clarify that 
paragraph (b) of the definition of student achievement refers to STEM-
related academic subjects, thereby eliminating any confusion over the 
provision's application to all academic subjects.
    Discussion: The definition of student achievement does not limit 
the non-tested subjects to STEM-related subjects and includes any non-
tested academic subject. We note also that science is a tested 
subject--States are required to administer assessments in science under 
the ESEA.
    Changes: None.

Student Growth

    Comment: One commenter suggested that the Department revise the

[[Page 12044]]

definition of student growth to specify that student growth data must 
be based on criterion-referenced growth measures rather than norm-
referenced measures.
    Discussion: We do not believe it is appropriate to require that 
student growth data be based on a specific growth measure because to do 
so would effectively prevent eligible applicants in certain States from 
using data from the assessments their States administer pursuant to 
section 1111(b)(3) of the ESEA.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters recommended that the Department revise 
the definition of student growth so that the term would cover change in 
other areas, not only student achievement. Some of the other areas 
mentioned in the comments include: Student behavior, social and 
emotional skills, collaborative skills, ethical decision-making skills, 
problem solving skills, civic skills, physical skills, and technical 
skills.
    Discussion: Within the definition of student growth, we intend to 
include only measures of change in student achievement (as that term is 
defined in this program). We note, however, that, consistent with 
Selection Criterion B (Strength of Research, Significance of Effect, 
and Magnitude of Effect), eligible applicants may also demonstrate the 
success of their proposed projects using intermediate variables that 
are strongly correlated with improving student achievement and 
attainment outcomes. These variables may include measures on topics 
such as those discussed by the commenters.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters recommended that the Department revise 
the definition of student growth to include growth with respect to 
improved performance on student portfolios and other performance 
measures.
    Discussion: Under this program, an eligible applicant would be 
permitted to use student growth as measured by student portfolios and 
other performance measures to the extent these measures meet the 
requirements for measures of student achievement (in particular, the 
requirement that the measures are rigorous and comparable across 
classrooms) included in the definition of student achievement and to 
the extent that the approach used to determine growth on these measures 
is statistically rigorous.
    Changes: None.

Additional Definitions

    Comment: A few commenters suggested that the Department provide a 
definition of the term ``innovation'' as it is used in this program. 
The commenters expressed concern that, without such a definition, the 
program would not sufficiently promote innovation in the projects that 
are supported.
    Discussion: Although we appreciate the commenters' concerns, we do 
not believe that including a definition of ``innovation'' is necessary. 
Rather, we believe that the innovativeness of proposed projects should 
be determined through the review of applications using the selection 
criteria for this program. We have designed the selection criteria for 
the respective types of grants particularly Selection Criterion A (Need 
for the Project and Quality of Project Design) and Selection Criterion 
B (Strength of Research, Significance of Effect, and Magnitude of 
Effect) in a way that identifies the aspects of a proposed project that 
would make it innovative. We believe these criteria are sufficient to 
ensure that only innovative projects receive funding under this 
program.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters recommended that the Department provide a 
definition of the term ``high school graduation rate'' for purposes of 
this program. The commenters recommended that the Department require 
eligible applicants to use a uniform graduation rate and suggested 
using either the Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate or standards that 
meet or exceed those set forth in the Department's regulations.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenters that a definition of 
``high school graduation rate'' is warranted for this program. 
Therefore, we are adding a definition of the term that is consistent 
with the Department's regulations in 34 CFR 200.19. To satisfy this 
definition of high school graduation rate, an eligible applicant must 
use a four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate consistent with 34 CFR 
200.19(b)(1) and may also use 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 implement such a rate.
    Changes: We are adding a definition of high school graduation rate. 
As defined in this notice, the term 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 implement such a 
rate.
    Comment: Two commenters recommended the Department provide a 
definition of the term ``regular high school diploma'' for purposes of 
this program. The commenters recommended that the definition include 
diplomas awarded by accredited institutions operating within a State 
that enable students to progress to postsecondary education, but that 
may not be entirely aligned with State academic content standards.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenters that a definition of 
``regular high school diploma'' is warranted for this program. However, 
it is the intent of the Department to support projects under this 
program that enable students to obtain diplomas that are fully aligned 
with State academic content standards. We, therefore, are adding the 
definition of ``regular high school diploma'' established in the 
Department's Title I regulations (at 34 CFR 200.19(b)(1)(iv)) to 
accomplish this. An alternative degree that is not fully aligned with 
the State's academic content standards, such as a GED credential, is 
excluded under this definition.
    Changes: We are adding a definition of regular high school diploma. 
As defined in this notice, this term means, consistent with 34 CFR 
200.19(b)(1)(iv), the standard high school diploma that is awarded to 
students in the State and that is fully aligned with the State's 
academic content standards or a higher diploma and does not include a 
GED credential, certificate of attendance, or any alternative award.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department provide a 
definition for the term ``dropout rate'' for purposes of this program. 
In particular, the commenter requested that the Department clarify 
whether students who move from the area or transfer to another school, 
LEA, or State should be considered dropouts.
    Discussion: Unlike for high school graduation rates, there are no 
Federal requirements for determining dropout rates. We recognize that 
there are a variety of ways to calculate dropout rates, and do not wish 
to limit eligible applicants in how they calculate those rates.
    However, regarding whether students who move from the area or 
transfer to another school, LEA, or State should be considered 
dropouts, we note that the graduation rate that eligible applicants 
must use under this program (consistent with 34 CFR 200.19(b)(1)) is 
designed to adjust the cohort of students used in the rate for a given 
school to account for when a student transfers into that school or when 
a student transfers out of that school, emigrates to another

[[Page 12045]]

country, or dies during the year covered by the rate. Thus, students 
who transfer out of a given school are not considered dropouts (because 
they become part of the cohort of students for the school into which 
they transfer). In calculating a dropout rate, an eligible applicant 
should not include students who transfer out of a school.
    Changes: None.

Selection Criteria

    Note: For an analysis of comments and changes on the proposed 
selection criteria as they relate to the evidence for and evaluation 
of a proposed project (Selection Criteria B and D), please see the 
Evidence and Evaluation section below.

Selection Criteria in General

    Comment: None.
    Discussion: As discussed elsewhere in this notice, we are adding 
definitions of the terms applicant, official partner, and other partner 
in order to clarify the roles and responsibilities of entities included 
in applications and participating in projects under this program. 
Consistent with these definitions and the Eligible Applicants 
requirement, we are revising the selection criteria, where appropriate, 
to clarify the entities for which the criteria apply. We incorporate 
those changes in the responses to comments that follow.
    In addition, we are renumbering, for each selection criterion, the 
factors in the criterion in order to clarify how the factors will be 
used.
    Changes: Consistent with the Eligible Applicants requirement and 
the definitions of applicant, official partner, and other partner, we 
are revising the selection criteria for this program, where 
appropriate, to clarify the entities for which the criteria apply. In 
addition, we are renumbering, for each selection criterion, the factors 
in the criterion in order to clarify how the factors will be used.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department broaden the 
selection criteria used to assess Development grant pre-applications by 
including Selection Criterion C (Experience of the Eligible Applicant), 
Selection Criterion E (Strategy and Capacity to Further Develop and 
Bring to Scale), and Selection Criterion F (Sustainability).
    Discussion: As discussed elsewhere in this notice, we no longer 
intend to use a two-tier process to review applications for Development 
grants. Thus, we will no longer include a pre-application process for 
Development grants. Accordingly, we are removing, from the selection 
criteria for Development grants, the discussion of a two-tier 
application process (including pre-applications) for those grants.
    Changes: We are removing, from the selection criteria for 
Development grants, the discussion of a two-tier application process 
(including pre-applications) for those grants.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the Department provide a 
chart to show more clearly the differences in the selection criteria 
for the three types of grants.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenter that a chart could help 
clarify the differences in selection criteria for the three types of 
grants. We will provide a chart of the selection criteria for each type 
of grant on the Department's Web site for this program (see 
http://www.ed.gov/programs/innovation/index.html).
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters suggested that the selection criteria 
emphasize the importance of the effects of proposed projects on 
education reform and the importance of applicants' plans to scale up 
projects. The commenters suggested that these changes would communicate 
the importance of innovation, not as an end in itself, but as a means 
to effect significant education reform, raise student achievement, and 
close achievement gaps at State, regional, and national levels.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenters that innovation alone 
should not be the end result sought under this program. The purpose of 
the Investing in Innovation Fund is to support the implementation of 
and investment in innovative practices that are demonstrated to have an 
impact on improving student achievement or student growth, closing 
achievement gaps, decreasing dropout rates, increasing high school 
graduation rates, and increasing college enrollment and completion 
rates. We believe that the selection criteria--particularly Selection 
Criteria B and E--strongly emphasize the need for eligible applicants 
to provide evidence that their proposed projects will lead to these 
outcomes and can be successfully scaled.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the multiple provisions of 
the many selection criteria may stifle creativity and lead applicants 
to focus on checking off criteria rather than developing an innovative 
project.
    Discussion: The selection criteria identify areas that the 
Department has determined are important for evaluating applications 
under this program. For Department discretionary grant programs, it is 
typical to have multiple selection criteria and factors that eligible 
applicants will address in their applications. In addition to helping 
ensure that only the strongest applications are selected for funding, 
the selection criteria provide eligible applicants flexibility and room 
for creativity, and we expect that each eligible applicant will address 
the various criteria in ways appropriate to the proposed project.
    Changes: None.

Selection Criterion A--Need for the Project and Quality of the Project 
Design

    Comment: One commenter suggested that the Department add a new 
factor to Selection Criterion A that focuses on the extent to which a 
proposed project includes and effectively leverages an established 
record of collaboration across multiple LEA partners. The commenter 
stated that this record of collaboration would enable the proposed 
project to address common needs and demonstrate outcomes at the 
regional or State level during the grant period, while providing a 
solid foundation to further scale the proposed project. The commenter 
suggested that the established record should be required to include 
evidence of shared plans, practices, research, and metrics to scale 
success beyond the students in a single LEA.
    Discussion: Selection Criterion A focuses on the need for the 
project and the quality of the project design. The issues identified by 
the commenter are addressed under Selection Criteria C and E. Under 
Selection Criterion C (Experience of the Eligible Applicant), the 
Secretary considers the past performance of the eligible applicant in 
implementing large, complex, and rapidly growing projects (in the case 
of Scale-up grants); in implementing complex projects (in the case of 
Validation grants); or in implementing projects of the size and scope 
proposed by the eligible applicant (in the case of Development grants). 
In responding to this criterion, an eligible applicant could provide 
information about past collaboration across multiple LEA partners. 
Under Selection Criterion E (Strategy and Capacity to Bring to Scale 
(in the case of Scale-up and Validation grants); Strategy and Capacity 
to Further Develop and Bring to Scale (in the case of Development 
grants)), the Secretary considers the eligible applicant's capacity to 
bring the proposed project to scale (in the case of Scale-up and 
Validation grants) or to further develop and bring to scale the 
proposed project (in the case of Development grants). In light of these 
criteria, we do not believe that it is necessary to add the

[[Page 12046]]

recommended factor to Selection Criterion A.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department add a new 
factor to Selection Criterion A for the pre-application for Development 
grants that focuses on the extent to which an applicant involves other 
entities--including local school boards, LEA and school administrators, 
teachers, parents, community leaders, small businesses, faith-based 
organizations, and other non-profit organizations--in designing the 
proposed project.
    Discussion: As discussed elsewhere in this notice, we no longer 
intend to use a two-tier application process (including pre-
applications) to review applications for Development grants and are 
removing, from the selection criteria for Development grants, the 
discussion of a two-tier application process for those grants.
    Under Selection Criterion A, the Secretary considers the extent to 
which the proposed project has a clear set of goals and represents an 
exceptional approach to the priorities the eligible applicant is 
seeking to meet. In addressing this criterion, eligible applicants may 
wish to seek input from and partner with local organizations to 
determine the need that the proposed project would meet and a process 
for collaborating to implement the project. An eligible applicant may 
describe this collaborative process in addressing Selection Criterion A 
without the addition of a new factor. Thus, we do not believe it is 
necessary to adopt the commenter's suggestion to ensure that eligible 
applicants include this information where appropriate.
    Changes: As discussed elsewhere in this notice, we are removing, 
from the selection criteria for Development grants, the discussion of a 
two-tier application process (including pre-applications) for those 
grants.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department add a new 
factor to Selection Criterion A that focuses on the extent to which the 
applicant shows that its proposed project serves the needs of students, 
schools, and communities in rural areas or regions.
    Discussion: Under Selection Criterion A(1) (proposed Selection 
Criterion A(2)(a)), the Secretary considers the extent to which the 
proposed project represents an exceptional approach to the priorities 
the eligible applicant seeks to meet. We believe that this criterion 
provides sufficient opportunity for eligible applicants to address the 
needs of students and schools in rural LEAs.
    We note, in addition, that this program includes a competitive 
preference priority for projects that serve schools in rural areas 
(Competitive Preference Priority 8). Eligible applicants are eligible 
to receive additional points for addressing the competitive preference 
priorities.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters recommended that the Department clarify 
Selection Criterion A(2)(a) regarding the extent to which a proposed 
project should represent an exceptional approach that has not already 
been widely adopted. Specifically, the commenters requested that the 
Department clarify whether ``widely adopted'' refers to scale or scope.
    Discussion: In Selection Criterion A(1) (proposed Selection 
Criterion A(2)(a)), ``widely adopted'' refers to scale. If an eligible 
applicant's proposed project represents an approach that is already in 
common usage and has achieved scale, then the project would not meet 
the purposes of this program.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that, for Scale-up grants, 
Selection Criterion A give greater weight to projects that fulfill 
needs that have already been widely documented as critical or of 
national significance, such as improving student performance in math 
and science, improving student performance in multiple grades and in 
multiple subjects, or improving college readiness and success for all 
students.
    Discussion: We believe that Selection Criterion A for Scale-up 
grants provides adequate opportunity for eligible applicants to 
substantiate the critical need for the proposed project and to address 
issues of national significance. We do not want to limit the 
consideration of project need under this criterion only to critical or 
nationally significant issues because we believe Scale-up grants could 
support projects that do not necessarily rise to the level of critical 
or national significance.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that, for both Validation and 
Development grants, the Department award additional points under 
Selection Criterion A(2)(b) to an applicant that has a demonstrated 
record of implementing a system of continuous improvement, including 
the use of performance data to improve instructional practices.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenter that continuous improvement 
systems are important to the success of projects under this program. 
However, we believe that an eligible applicant would be able to address 
the issue raised by the commenter in response to Selection Criterion C 
(Experience of the Eligible Applicant) and that no additional points 
need to be added to Selection Criterion A.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: None.
    Discussion: The Department believes that the quality of the design 
of a proposed project for this program depends on the extent to which 
the proposed project is supported by existing research evidence. 
Because an eligible applicant for a Validation grant may use prior 
research on a strategy, practice, or program that is very similar to 
that of the proposed project in order to demonstrate that there is 
moderate evidence for the proposed project, we are revising Selection 
Criterion A, for Validation grants, to include consideration of whether 
the design of the proposed project is consistent with the existing 
research evidence, taking into consideration any differences in 
context.
    Changes: For Validation grants, we are revising Selection Criterion 
A to include, among the factors for which the Secretary will consider 
the quality of the proposed project design, the extent to which the 
proposed project is consistent with the research evidence supporting 
the proposed project, taking into consideration any differences in 
context.

Selection Criterion C--Experience of the Eligible Applicant

    Comment: One commenter suggested that the Department revise 
Selection Criterion C and Selection Criterion F (Sustainability) to 
include consideration of the extent to which an applicant has a record 
of support from mayors and other local government leaders.
    Discussion: We agree that a record of support from mayors and other 
local government leaders can be one meaningful way for an eligible 
applicant to demonstrate both the strength of its past experience and 
the potential for sustainability of its proposed project. We believe 
that Selection Criteria C and F adequately allow for eligible 
applicants to provide evidence of that support.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that, under this criterion, the 
Department give full weight to applications from applicants that are 
successful at increasing achievement for all groups of students 
described in section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA at any scale, and not 
consider whether applicants have exceeded the State's annual measurable 
objectives consistent

[[Page 12047]]

with section 1111(b)(2) for two or more consecutive years.
    Discussion: As discussed elsewhere in this notice, section 
14007(b)(1) has been amended to require that, to be eligible for an 
award under this program, an eligible applicant must (A) have 
significantly closed the achievement gaps between groups of students 
described in section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA, or (B) have demonstrated 
success in significantly increasing student academic achievement for 
all groups of students described in that section. In addition, section 
14007(b)(2) has been eliminated; this section would have required that 
an eligible applicant have exceeded the State's annual measurable 
objectives consistent with section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA for two or 
more consecutive years or have demonstrated success in significantly 
increasing student achievement for all groups of students described in 
that section through another measure, such as measures described in 
section 1111(c)(2) of the ESEA (i.e., the National Assessment of 
Educational Progress). Thus, to be eligible for an award, eligible 
applicants are no longer required by the statute to have exceeded the 
State's annual measurable objectives consistent with section 1111(b)(2) 
of the ESEA for two or more consecutive years.
    In addition, the statutory changes make clear that eligible 
applicants do not have to show that they have both significantly closed 
achievement gaps and significantly increased student achievement for 
all groups described in section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA. Rather, 
eligible applicants must show either (A) that they have significantly 
closed the achievement gaps between groups of students described in 
section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA or (B) that they have demonstrated 
success in significantly increasing student academic achievement for 
all groups described in that section.
    Further, section 14007(c) has been amended to specify that an 
eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit organization is considered 
to have met the requirements of new paragraphs (1) and (2) of section 
14007(b) if the nonprofit organization has a record of significantly 
improving student achievement, attainment, or retention. Under the 
amendments to section 14007(c), an eligible applicant that includes a 
nonprofit organization is thus no longer required to demonstrate that 
the nonprofit organization has a record of each of the following: (1) 
Having significantly closed the achievement gaps between groups of 
students described in section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA; (2) having 
exceeded the State's annual measurable objectives consistent with 
section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA for two or more consecutive years or 
having demonstrated success in significantly increasing student 
achievement for all groups of students described in that section 
through another measure, such as measures described in section 
1111(c)(2) of the ESEA (i.e., the National Assessment of Educational 
Progress); and (3) having made significant improvement in other areas, 
such as graduation rates or increased recruitment and placement of 
high-quality teachers and school leaders, as demonstrated with 
meaningful data.
    We are revising Selection Criterion C to reflect these statutory 
changes. Under Selection Criterion C(2) (proposed Selection Criterion 
C(2)(b)), the Secretary now considers, in the case of an eligible 
applicant that is an LEA, the extent to which the eligible applicant 
provides information and data demonstrating that it has (A) 
significantly closed the achievement gaps between groups of students 
described in section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA, or significantly increased 
student achievement for all groups of students described in such 
section; and (B) made significant improvements in other areas, such as 
graduation rates or increased recruitment and placement of high-quality 
teachers and principals, as demonstrated with meaningful data. In the 
case of an eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit organization, 
the Secretary now considers the extent to which the eligible applicant 
provides information and data demonstrating that the nonprofit 
organization has significantly improved student achievement, 
attainment, or retention through its record of work with an LEA or 
schools.
    Changes: We are revising Selection Criterion C(2) (proposed 
Selection Criterion C(2)(b)) for all three types of grants to reflect 
the statutory changes. Under Selection Criterion C(2) (proposed 
Selection Criterion C(2)(b)), the Secretary now considers:
    (2) The extent to which an eligible applicant provides information 
and data demonstrating that--
    (a) In the case of an eligible applicant that is an LEA, the LEA 
has--
    (i) Significantly closed the achievement gaps between groups of 
students described in section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA, or significantly 
increased student achievement for all groups of students described in 
such section; and
    (ii) Made significant improvements in other areas, such as 
graduation rates or increased recruitment and placement of high-quality 
teachers and principals, as demonstrated with meaningful data; or
    (b) In the case of an eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit 
organization, the nonprofit organization has significantly improved 
student achievement, attainment, or retention through its record of 
work with an LEA or schools.
    Comment: A few commenters recommended that the Department revise 
Selection Criterion C to consider evidence of applicants' past 
successes. One commenter recommended that the Department consider the 
extent to which applicants have a record of handling operations and 
multi-year funding from private sources. Two other commenters 
recommended that the Department consider the extent to which applicants 
have had past success with scaling up projects. One commenter 
recommended that the Department consider applicants' past success with 
implementing projects on a national level or in various geographic 
locations and academic environments.
    Discussion: Under Selection Criterion C(1) (proposed Selection 
Criterion C(2)(a)), the Secretary considers the past performance of the 
eligible applicant in implementing large, complex, and rapidly growing 
projects (in the case of Scale-up grants); in implementing complex 
projects (in the case of Validation grants); or in implementing 
projects of the size and scope proposed by the eligible applicant (in 
the case of Development grants). Although this criterion does not 
specifically reference the types of past successes mentioned by the 
commenters, an eligible applicant could provide information on such 
successes in response to the criterion, as appropriate for the type of 
grant for which the eligible applicant is applying. Accordingly, we 
believe that the criterion is sufficient to address the commenters' 
recommendations.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department modify this 
criterion to include consideration of the experience of key partners 
who plan to work with the applicant.
    Discussion: As noted in the preceding discussion, the Secretary 
considers under Selection Criterion C(1) (proposed Selection Criterion 
C(2)(a)) the past performance of the eligible applicant in implementing 
large, complex, and rapidly growing projects (in the case of Scale-up 
grants); in implementing complex projects (in the case of Validation 
grants); or in implementing projects of the size and scope proposed by 
the eligible applicant (in the case of Development grants). In response 
to Selection Criterion C(1) (proposed Selection Criterion C(2)(a)),

[[Page 12048]]

an eligible applicant may discuss the experience of the applicant and 
official partners (as those terms are defined in this notice) in 
project implementation, as appropriate for the type of grant for which 
the applicant is applying. Because the purpose of this criterion is to 
assess the experience of the eligible applicant, we will not consider 
the experience of any other partners (as defined in this notice) that 
are proposed to be involved in a project.
    In addition, consistent with the changes to Selection Criterion 
C(2)(proposed Selection Criterion C(2)(b)) discussed earlier, the 
eligible applicant may provide data and information in response to 
C(2)(b) only for the eligible applicant itself (if the eligible 
applicant is an LEA) or for the nonprofit organization (if the eligible 
applicant includes a nonprofit organization).
    Changes: None.

Selection Criterion E--Strategy and Capacity To Bring to Scale (in the 
Case of Scale-up and Validation Grants); Strategy and Capacity To 
Further Develop and Bring to Scale (in the Case of Development Grants)

    Comment: A number of commenters recommended that the Department 
remove the geographic limitation to scale a Validation grant to a State 
or regional level and instead allow scaling on a limited national level 
in noncontiguous areas. Another commenter recommended that the 
Department broaden the geographic areas for scaling under Validation 
grants to include two or more targeted urban locales in order to allow 
applicants the opportunity to reach several large cities and 
metropolitan areas. Another commenter sought clarification about 
whether scaling for Validation grants could occur within a single urban 
LEA or a large metropolitan area.
    Discussion: Under Selection Criterion E, the Secretary considers, 
for Validation grants, an eligible applicant's capacity to bring its 
proposed project to scale on a State or regional level. Through this 
criterion, the Department does not limit the geographic reach of 
proposed projects for Validation grants. If eligible applicants wish to 
propose a project for a Validation grant the scale of which extends 
beyond a State or regional level, they may do so.
    As discussed earlier, we are revising the definition of regional 
level to clarify that, to meet this definition, a project must serve 
students in more than one LEA, excluding a project implemented in a 
State in which the State educational agency is the sole educational 
agency for all schools and thus may be considered an LEA under section 
9101(26) of the ESEA. Thus, a project that is implemented in a single 
LEA (if not the sole educational agency for all schools in a State) 
would not be considered a regional level project consistent with the 
definition of regional level used in this program. Further, a project 
that is implemented in a single area would be considered a regional 
level project only if the area includes more than one LEA.
    In addition, the definition of regional level does not require that 
regional level projects be implemented in contiguous areas.
    Changes: As discussed earlier, we are revising the definition of 
regional level to clarify that, to meet this definition, a project must 
serve students in more than one LEA, excluding a project implemented in 
a State in which the State educational agency is the sole educational 
agency for all schools and thus may be considered an LEA under section 
9101(26) of the ESEA.
    Comment: A number of commenters noted that the process of scaling a 
project may be hampered by internal capacity issues and recommended 
that the Department revise Selection Criterion E to provide for 
consideration of the following issues: Stability of administrative 
leadership, teacher and staff capacity, consistency of LEA policy, 
external monitoring, data management, communications systems, and 
alignment of K-12 curricula.
    Discussion: Under Selection Criterion E(2) (proposed Selection 
Criterion E(2)(b)), the Secretary considers an eligible applicant's 
capacity, in the case of Scale-up and Validation grants, to bring its 
proposed project to scale, and in the case of Development grants, to 
develop and further scale the proposed project. The criterion provides 
examples of the types of capacity an eligible applicant may address: 
Qualified personnel, financial resources, and management capacity. 
These examples are not intended to be an exhaustive or exclusive list. 
An eligible applicant may address other types of capacity not covered 
by the examples, including those mentioned by the commenters.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter asked the Department to clarify whether an 
applicant for a grant can meet Selection Criterion E if it has not 
identified in its application all of the partners with which it intends 
to work.
    Discussion: So long as the eligible applicant meets the eligibility 
requirements for this program (which include, for eligible applicants 
that include a nonprofit organization, that the eligible applicant 
describe the demographics and other characteristics of any LEAs or 
schools with which it intends to partner that are not named in its 
application), an eligible applicant will be considered for funding. It 
will be up to reviewers to determine whether an eligible applicant that 
has not identified all of its partners has provided sufficient 
documentation demonstrating the quality of the eligible applicant's 
strategy and capacity to bring its proposed project to scale consistent 
with this criterion.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department require an 
applicant to describe its methodology for scaling up its proposed 
project, including how the methodology will minimize risks and how the 
applicant will use benchmarks.
    Discussion: We believe that Selection Criterion E adequately 
addresses the commenter's recommendation that an eligible applicant 
describe its scaling up methodology. We do not believe it is necessary 
therefore to include an additional requirement that eligible applicants 
provide the descriptions recommended by the commenter. In addition, we 
note that an eligible applicant could potentially discuss the specific 
methodological elements mentioned by the commenter in response to other 
selection criteria, including Selection Criteria F (Sustainability) and 
G (Quality of the Management Plan and Personnel).
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department emphasize 
the creation of platforms (i.e., systemic frameworks) for innovation 
rather than emphasizing project replication, which suggests a one-size-
fits-all approach. The commenter recommended that Selection Criterion 
E(2)(c), under which the Secretary considers the feasibility of the 
proposed project to be replicated successfully, should instead provide 
for consideration of innovative platforms or frameworks that can be 
readily adapted and tailored to individual school settings.
    Discussion: The Department recognizes that the ways in which 
organizations replicate and bring to scale their work may vary. We do 
not intend to suggest that a one-size-fits-all approach is preferred 
under this program. Selection Criterion E(3) (proposed Selection 
Criterion E(2)(c)) clearly states that the Secretary considers the 
feasibility of the proposed project to be replicated successfully in a 
variety of settings and with a variety of student populations. However, 
we believe that an eligible applicant is best

[[Page 12049]]

positioned to determine the scaling strategy that is most appropriate 
for its proposed project. We do not believe that it is necessary to 
establish parameters for these strategies and therefore decline to 
modify this criterion as the commenter recommends.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters recommended that the Department revise 
Selection Criterion E to include project outcomes, in addition to the 
geographic reach of projects and the number of students to be served, 
as indicators of applicants' capacity to scale up projects effectively. 
One of these commenters suggested that the Department define the 
expected outcomes and determine the specific skills that projects 
should help students acquire.
    Discussion: The Department agrees that geographic reach and numbers 
of students to be served are not by themselves sufficient to determine 
whether the scaling up of an eligible applicant's project will be 
effective with respect to outcomes. However, an eligible applicant may 
address project effectiveness in response to other selection criteria. 
Under Selection Criterion B (Strength of Research, Significance of 
Effect, and Magnitude of Effect), the Secretary considers the strength 
of the evidence for the potential effects of proposed projects on 
student achievement and attainment outcomes, including: improving 
student achievement or student growth, closing achievement gaps, 
decreasing dropout rates, increasing high school graduation rates, or 
increasing college enrollment and completion rates. In response to this 
criterion, eligible applicants may also address the effects of proposed 
projects on intermediate variables that are strongly correlated with 
improving these outcomes, such as (but not limited to) teacher or 
principal effectiveness. We believe that this criterion provides 
sufficient opportunity for eligible applicants to discuss the expected 
outcomes of proposed projects and for reviewers to assess an 
applicants' capacity to scale up proposed projects in relation to those 
outcomes, and thus sufficiently addresses the recommendations of the 
commenters.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A number of commenters requested that the Department 
clarify whether Selection Criterion E(2)(d) establishes specific 
numeric expectations for the scale of proposed projects. Some 
commenters recommended that the Department not require grantees to 
reach the numeric student targets proposed for each type of grant 
during the grant period. Many of these commenters were particularly 
concerned that applicants with limited resources or from rural areas 
would not be able to meet these scaling expectations; they requested 
that the requirements be reduced or that applicants have an opportunity 
to request a waiver from meeting Selection Criteria E(2)(d) and 
E(2)(b). Some commenters expressed concern that the numeric student 
targets were unrealistic and suggested that the Department allow 
alternatives for determining the size of the student targets (such as 
the size of the applying LEA) or allow other ways of demonstrating 
capacity to scale (such as evidence of collaborative partnerships).
    Discussion: Selection Criterion E(4) (proposed Selection Criterion 
E(2)(d)) does not establish requirements for scaling proposed projects 
to specific numbers of students. Rather, the intent of the criterion is 
to gather information that can help judge project cost-effectiveness. 
Under Selection Criterion E(4) (proposed Selection Criterion E(2)(d)), 
the Secretary considers cost estimates both (a) for the total number of 
students to be served by the proposed project, which is determined by 
the eligible applicant, and (b) for the eligible applicant or others 
(including other partners) to reach the scaling targets for the 
respective grant types (i.e., 100,000, 250,000, and 500,000 students 
for Development and Validation grants; and 100,000, 500,000, and 
1,000,000 students for Scale-up grants). The total number of students 
that the eligible applicant proposes to serve is expected to be reached 
by the end of the grant period. The scaling targets, in contrast, are 
theoretical and allow peer reviewers to assess the cost-effectiveness 
generally of proposed projects, whether implemented by the eligible 
applicant or any other entity; grantees are not required to reach these 
numbers during the grant period.
    An eligible applicant is free to propose how many students it will 
serve under its project, consistent with its project goals, capacity, 
and resources. Because there is no minimum threshold established for 
the number of students to be served, an eligible applicant would under 
no circumstance need a waiver of Selection Criterion E(4) (proposed 
Selection Criterion E(2)(d)) or Selection Criterion E(2) (proposed 
Selection Criterion E(2)(b)) (the latter of which considers an eligible 
applicant's capacity, in the case of Scale-up and Validation grants, to 
bring its proposed project to scale, and in the case of Development 
grants, to develop and further scale the proposed project). Neither is 
it necessary for the Department to consider alternative means of 
determining numerical student targets or to consider alternative means 
of showing capacity to scale in lieu of meeting student targets.
    The Department recognizes, however, that the two types of estimates 
considered in Selection Criterion E(4) (proposed Selection Criterion 
E(2)(d)) could benefit from further distinction. Therefore, we are 
revising the criterion to explicitly distinguish between the eligible 
applicant's estimate of the per-student cost of the proposed project, 
which includes the start-up and operating costs per student per year 
(including indirect costs) for reaching the total number of students 
proposed to be served by the project, and the cost estimates for the 
eligible applicant or others (including other partners) to reach the 
scaling targets for the respective grant types (i.e., 100,000, 250,000, 
and 500,000 students for Development and Validation grants; and 
100,000, 500,000, and 1,000,000 students for Scale-up grants).
    We note, in addition, that this program establishes the expectation 
under Selection Criterion E that eligible applicants for Scale-up 
grants bring a project to scale on a national, regional, or State level 
and that eligible applicants for Validation Grants bring a project to 
scale on a State or regional level. Both regional level and national 
level are defined under this program. Neither of these definitions, 
however, references specific targets for the numbers of students to be 
served.
    Changes: We are revising Selection Criterion E(4) (proposed 
Selection Criterion E(2)(d)) for each type of grant to clarify that the 
Secretary will consider the following cost estimates: the eligible 
applicant's estimate of the cost of the proposed project, which 
includes the start-up and operating costs per student per year 
(including indirect costs) for reaching the total number of students 
proposed to be served by the project; and an estimate of the costs for 
the eligible applicant or others (including other partners) to reach 
the scaling targets for the respective grant types (i.e., 100,000, 
250,000, and 500,000 students for Development and Validation grants; 
and 100,000, 500,000, and 1,000,000 students for Scale-up grants).
    Comment: Several commenters recommended that the Department revise 
Selection Criterion E(2)(d) regarding the manner in which project cost 
estimates are provided. A few commenters recommended that the 
Department consider total costs per student and total costs per student 
per year. One commenter recommended

[[Page 12050]]

that the Department consider project costs along a timeline (i.e., at 
one year, five years, and ten years) and require grantees to evaluate 
project cost estimates in self-evaluations. Another commenter 
recommended that the Department consider costs per student per hour of 
programming to ensure a more accurate and fair measure of project cost.
    Discussion: We agree that clarifying Selection Criterion E(4) 
(proposed Selection Criterion E(2)(d)) regarding the manner in which 
eligible applicants should provide project cost estimates is warranted. 
We are therefore revising Selection Criterion E(4) (proposed Selection 
Criterion E(2)(d)) to specify that the Secretary will consider the 
eligible applicant's estimate of the cost of the proposed project, 
which includes start-up and operating costs per student per year 
(including indirect costs) for reaching the total number of students 
proposed to be served by the project. Thus, the Secretary will consider 
estimates of total project cost per student per year. We believe that 
all eligible applicants will be able to provide these estimates and 
that this measure will enable useful analysis of project costs. We 
believe that this change sufficiently addresses the commenters' 
recommendations that we consider costs over time. We decline to accept 
the commenter's recommendation that we consider costs per student per 
hour of programming because we do not believe this measure will enable 
a similarly useful analysis of project costs.
    Consistent with the Evaluation requirement for this program, 
eligible applicants that receive funding must comply with the 
requirements of any program evaluation conducted by the Department, are 
required to conduct an independent evaluation of their proposed 
projects, and must agree to cooperate with technical assistance 
provided by the Department to ensure that these evaluations are of the 
highest quality. We believe that these provisions are adequate to 
address concerns regarding evaluation of cost estimates.
    Changes: As discussed earlier in this notice, we are revising 
Selection Criterion E(4) (proposed Selection Criterion E(2)(d)) for 
each type of grant to clarify that the Secretary will consider the 
eligible applicant's estimate of the cost of the proposed project, 
which includes start-up and operating costs per student per year 
(including indirect costs) for reaching the total number of students 
proposed to be served by the project.
    Comment: Some commenters recommended that the Department clarify 
the specific types of costs that applicants should include when 
estimating costs in response to Selection Criterion E(2)(d). One 
commenter recommended that the Department require applicants to 
distinguish the costs associated with research and evaluation from the 
costs for project infrastructure, development, and operation. Two 
commenters recommended that the Department provide guidance on how 
applicants should calculate indirect start-up costs to ensure that only 
costs specific to the proposed project itself are included in cost 
estimates. Another commenter recommended that the Department consider 
estimated direct and indirect cost savings during the grant period.
    Discussion: Cost estimates should include all costs for 
implementing the project, including but not limited to start-up costs, 
operating costs, indirect costs, evaluation costs, materials, and 
personnel training. The cost estimates may only include costs for 
activities designed to serve students directly through the project. The 
eligible applicant should discuss how it arrived at its cost estimates 
and what specific items and activities were included in the 
calculations used to arrive at those estimates. These calculations 
should show fixed and variable costs, incremental costs, and savings 
over time. The eligible applicant should provide the calculations used 
to arrive at the estimates for the cost of the proposed project (in 
terms of the number of students to be served) as well as the costs for 
the eligible applicant or others (including other partners) to reach 
the scaling targets for the respective grant types (i.e., 100,000, 
250,000, and 500,000 students for Development and Validation grants; 
and 100,000, 500,000, and 1,000,000 students for Scale-up grants). We 
believe that this guidance provides sufficient clarification on the 
types of costs an eligible applicant should include and adequately 
addresses the commenters' concerns.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters recommended that the Department give 
greater consideration to the infrastructure costs associated with 
different types of projects. The commenters cautioned the Department 
not to rely heavily on estimates of costs for the initial stages of a 
proposed project, as these estimates may not accurately reflect 
infrastructure costs as projects are expanded to serve more students. 
Two commenters stated that applicants should describe the resources 
required to implement a project and indicate whether or not the project 
is a replication of existing activities. Two commenters noted that the 
Department should acknowledge that start-up and operating costs in 
sites that replicate a project may decrease significantly over time 
through economies of scale.
    Discussion: Although we agree with the commenters that 
infrastructure costs may inflate start-up costs, we believe that 
estimates of the start-up and operational costs per student per year 
(as under revised Selection Criterion E(4) (proposed Selection 
Criterion E(2)(d))) will provide reviewers a sufficiently informative 
measure of costs. To the extent that eligible applicants can provide 
context for their estimates of start-up and operating costs (including 
for variable costs relating to project infrastructure), the Department 
encourages eligible applicants to provide this information.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A number of commenters recommended that the Department 
consider cost estimates, including estimates of cost savings over time, 
in relation to the impact of proposed projects on student outcomes. 
Some commenters expressed concern that estimates of costs per student 
are not, by themselves, an adequate measure of cost-effectiveness and 
suggested that the Department consider measures of the benefits of 
proposed projects as well. One commenter expressed concern that 
Selection Criterion E might place applicants that propose technology-
based projects at a competitive disadvantage relative to other 
applicants because of the potential high costs of developing and 
implementing such projects; the commenter stated that cost estimates 
would not address the benefits of these projects and similarly 
recommended that the Department consider costs relative to outcome 
gains. Two commenters suggested that the Department compare cost-
effectiveness across projects that address the same outcome.
    Discussion: The Department agrees that estimates of costs per 
student per year, which may include cost savings over time, are not, by 
themselves, an adequate measure of project cost-effectiveness. However, 
as discussed earlier, an eligible applicant may address project 
effectiveness with respect to outcomes in response to other selection 
criteria. Under Selection Criterion B (Strength of Research, 
Significance of Effect, and Magnitude of Effect), the Secretary 
considers the evidence for the potential effects of proposed projects 
on outcomes including the following: Improving student achievement or 
student growth, closing achievement gaps, decreasing

[[Page 12051]]

dropout rates, increasing high school graduation rates, or increasing 
college enrollment and completion rates. In response to this criterion, 
eligible applicants may also address the effects of proposed projects 
on intermediate variables that are strongly correlated with improving 
these outcomes, such as (but not limited to) teacher or principal 
effectiveness. We believe that this criterion provides sufficient 
opportunity for eligible applicants to discuss the expected outcomes of 
proposed projects and for reviewers to assess project costs in relation 
to those outcomes. We note that peer reviewers evaluate applications 
against the selection criteria; reviewers do not evaluate applications 
by comparing them with each other.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters expressed concern that providing the cost 
estimates in response to Selection Criterion E will be burdensome to 
applicants and that this burden may outweigh the value of the 
estimates. One of these commenters suggested that the Department 
instead consider other, less burdensome cost measures such as initial 
and targeted investments. One commenter recommended that the Department 
allow reviewers to assess cost through consideration of the budget for 
each year of a proposed project. Another commenter recommended that the 
Department rely on reviewers to make sensible judgments of project 
cost-effectiveness and not require applicants to provide the estimates 
discussed in the criterion.
    Discussion: Under Selection Criterion E(4) (proposed Selection 
Criterion E(2)(d)), the Secretary considers an eligible applicant's 
estimates both of the cost for reaching the total number of students to 
be served by the proposed project and for the eligible applicant or 
others (including other partners) to reach the scaling targets for the 
respective grant types (i.e., 100,000, 250,000, and 500,000 students 
for Development and Validation grants; and 100,000, 500,000, and 
1,000,000 students for Scale-up grants). We appreciate the commenters' 
concerns that providing these estimates may be burdensome to eligible 
applicants. However, as discussed earlier, we believe that these 
estimates will provide reviewers a useful and informative measure of 
costs of the projects that may be proposed under this program; and as a 
result, we believe that the benefits of these estimates outweigh the 
burden on eligible applicants in providing them. In addition, it is not 
clear to us that the alternative measures recommended by the commenters 
would be less burdensome to eligible applicants or more useful to 
reviewers. Therefore, we decline to add to this criterion an 
alternative or additional cost measure.
    Changes: None.

Selection Criterion F--Sustainability

    Comment: One commenter suggested that the Department revise 
Selection Criterion F to consider the extent to which the proposed 
project can be integrated into the fabric of LEAs, schools, and 
nonprofit partners. The commenter suggested that a promise of money to 
operate the project beyond the length of the grant does not reflect the 
spirit of innovation. The commenter also suggested that the Department 
foster a ``doing more with less'' approach rather than an approach that 
would ``add on'' projects, which the commenter stated would not foster 
investments in true innovation.
    Discussion: We believe that the criterion sufficiently addresses 
the commenter's concerns. Under Selection Criterion F(2) (proposed 
Selection Criterion F(2)(b)), the Secretary considers the potential and 
planning for the incorporation of project purposes, activities, or 
benefits into the ongoing work of the eligible applicant and any other 
partners at the end of the grant. Under Selection Criterion F, the 
Secretary will also consider the adequacy of resources to continue the 
proposed project after the grant period ends, which would include the 
expenses associated with the continued management of projects.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters recommended that the Department revise 
Selection Criterion F(2)(a) to include additional stakeholders such as 
parents, students, local government, community-based organizations, 
faith-based organizations, institutions of higher education, research 
institutes, and entities that may not typically be considered education 
stakeholders. The commenters stated that support from these 
stakeholders may help demonstrate the sustainability of the proposed 
project.
    Discussion: The list of potential stakeholders in Selection 
Criterion F(1) (proposed Selection Criterion F(2)(a)) is not intended 
to be exhaustive. We cannot include all potential stakeholders in the 
criterion and so decline to make the additions recommended. In 
addressing this criterion, eligible applicants may provide evidence of 
support from other stakeholders including those mentioned by the 
commenters.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed concern that it would be difficult 
for States and LEAs that currently have budget problems to sustain 
funded projects in the future.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenter that budget problems may 
create challenges for some States and LEAs to sustain projects. These 
budgetary concerns, however, emphasize the importance of LEAs and 
States learning from each other and sharing those practices that have 
improved project outcomes in a cost-effective manner. This program aims 
both to promote this kind of sharing and to better leverage public and 
private sector investments in education. The Cost Sharing or Matching 
requirement is intended to help address the challenges faced by 
grantees and increase the sustainability of projects by securing 
matching funds from the private sector.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters recommended that the Department award 
additional points to applicants with previous experience in obtaining 
or leveraging funding from private sources.
    Discussion: Eligible applicants that have a record of securing 
funding from private sources or that have new funding already secured 
can demonstrate those qualities in response to this criterion and other 
selection criteria, including Selection Criterion C (Experience of the 
Eligible Applicant) and Selection Criterion E (Strategy and Capacity to 
Bring to Scale (in the case of Scale-up and Validation grants); 
Strategy and Capacity to Further Develop and Bring to Scale (in the 
case of Development grants)). As a result, we do not believe it is 
necessary to add a criterion (with additional points) to account for 
the consideration of this information.
    Changes: None.

Selection Criterion G--Quality of the Management Plan and Personnel

    Comment: Several commenters recommended that the Department modify 
Selection Criterion G(2)(b)) to include consideration of the 
qualifications of key partner personnel in addition to the 
qualifications of the project directors and key project personnel. 
Another commenter recommended that the Department modify Selection 
Criterion G to include consideration of partnerships that are strategic 
for management and personnel purposes.
    Discussion: In response to Selection Criterion G, an eligible 
applicant may include personnel from those partners (official partners 
or other partners) who

[[Page 12052]]

are important to achieving the proposed project's objectives and may 
discuss the responsibilities of those personnel. Accordingly, we 
believe that the selection criterion addresses these commenters' 
concerns.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the Department revise 
Selection Criterion G to include consideration of whether the proposed 
project includes one or more key personnel who can demonstrate 
understanding of and experience with programs and practices in rural 
schools or LEAs.
    Discussion: The Department believes that the commenter's concern is 
addressed in the general consideration of the qualifications of key 
personnel under Selection Criterion G. Because of the variety of 
applications that are likely to be submitted under this program, we do 
not believe it is appropriate to specifically consider whether eligible 
applicants include staff with experience working with specific types of 
schools or LEAs, such as rural schools or LEAs.
    Changes: None.

Evidence and Evaluation

    Comment: The Department received a large number of comments on the 
standards of evidence for this program. Some commenters supported the 
Department's emphasis on the proposed use and generation of evidence 
for the Development, Validation, and Scale-up grants.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenters' support. To ensure that 
applications for Scale-up grants are supported by strong evidence (as 
defined in this notice), that applications for Validation grants are 
supported by moderate evidence (as defined in this notice), and that 
applications for Development grants are supported by reasonable 
hypotheses, we are revising the requirements for this program to 
explicitly address these evidence standards.
    Changes: We are adding a requirement that to be eligible for an 
award, an application for a Scale-up grant must be supported by strong 
evidence (as defined in this notice), an application for a Validation 
grant must be supported by moderate evidence (as defined in this 
notice), and an application for a Development grant must be supported 
by a reasonable hypothesis.
    Comment: None.
    Discussion: To provide further clarity, we are adding a definition 
of the term well-implemented and well-designed, with respect to an 
experimental or quasi-experimental study.
    Changes: We are adding that, for this program, well-designed and 
well-implemented means, with respect to an experimental or quasi-
experimental study (as defined in this notice), that the study meets 
the What Works Clearinghouse evidence standards, with or without 
reservations (see 
http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/references/idocviewer/doc.aspx?docid=19&tocid=1 
and in particular the description of 
``Reasons for Not Meeting Standards'' at 
http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/references/idocviewer/Doc.aspx?docId=19&tocId=4#reasons).
    Comment: None.
    Discussion: To provide further clarity on what we will consider 
under Selection Criterion B (Strength of Research, Significance of 
Effect, and Magnitude of Effect) with respect to the strength of the 
existing research, we are revising the criterion for all three types of 
grants.
    Changes: We are revising Selection Criterion B (Strength of 
Research, Significance of Effect, and Magnitude of Effect) for Scale-up 
and Validation grants to clarify that the strength of the existing 
research evidence includes the internal validity (strength of causal 
conclusions) and external validity (generalizability) of the effects 
reported in prior research. We are also revising the criterion for 
Development grants to clarify that the strength of the existing 
research evidence includes reported practice, theoretical 
considerations, and the significance and magnitude of any effects 
reported in prior research.
    Comment: Some commenters argued that well-conducted experimental 
studies--including delayed-treatment studies or studies that use 
lotteries to allocate slots for oversubscribed programs--provide 
definitive evidence of the effectiveness of innovations and should 
receive a competitive preference over quasi-experimental or non-
experimental studies. Other commenters recommended that evidence from 
one well-designed and well-implemented experimental study, when 
feasible, be a prerequisite for receiving a Scale-up grant. One 
commenter recommended that similar criteria be applied to applications 
for Validation grants.
    Discussion: This notice defines strong evidence in a way that gives 
more weight to a large, well-designed and well-implemented (as defined 
in this notice), multisite experimental study (as defined in this 
notice) than to a corresponding quasi-experimental study (as defined in 
this notice). This emphasis is justified, because a large-scale 
experimental study is likely to yield evidence with greater confidence 
and a stronger claim to internal validity than a similarly sized quasi-
experiment. Nonetheless, we do not favor giving a further preference to 
applicants relying on experimental evidence, for example by making a 
well-designed and well-implemented (as defined in this notice) 
experiment (where feasible) a prerequisite for receiving a Scale-Up 
grant. Such preferences would risk discounting valid evidence from 
quasi-experimental studies and could exclude from funding and further 
study promising innovations for which experimental evaluations are less 
feasible.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Many commenters argued that the proposed definitions of 
moderate evidence and strong evidence are too narrow and restrictive 
given the focus of the grants on supporting innovation. Commenters 
criticized what they perceived to be an unduly exclusive, inflexible, 
and expensive focus on experimental and quasi-experimental designs to 
the exclusion of other research designs, such as correlational and 
longitudinal outcomes analyses utilizing available public data. These 
commenters also expressed concern that many organizations with 
experience developing education interventions to help struggling 
students may be relatively small and may lack experience with the 
costly data infrastructure required for experimental or quasi-
experimental studies. The commenters expressed concern that excluding 
such organizations from Scale-up and Validation grants would be 
counterproductive to the goals of the Investing in Innovation program.
    Discussion: The Department does not believe that the definitions of 
moderate evidence and strong evidence are too narrow and restrictive. A 
program's evidence of effectiveness should be commensurate with the 
scale on which the program will be implemented: thus, we are requiring 
strong evidence for implementation at the State, regional, or national 
level (Scale-up grants), and moderate evidence for implementation at 
the State or regional level (Validation grants). Where strong or 
moderate evidence is lacking, study of a promising program through a 
Development grant may be appropriate.
    While strong evidence focuses on findings from well-designed and 
well-implemented (as defined in this notice) experimental and quasi-
experimental studies, moderate evidence includes not only evidence from 
experimental and quasi-experimental studies, but also correlational 
research with strong statistical controls for selection bias and for 
discerning the influence of internal factors. Analysis of the outcomes 
over

[[Page 12053]]

time reported in public data can occur in the context of quasi-
experimental studies, such as the interrupted time series studies 
described in this notice.
    For the purpose of submitting applications to the Department, 
eligible applicants who lack experience with the data collection 
required for experimental or quasi-experimental evaluations can form 
official or other partnerships with entities offering such experience. 
In many instances, much of the data required for the evaluation will 
already be collected by the agencies implementing the innovation, for 
example by districts as part of their school accountability and student 
progress monitoring systems. Because experimental studies require 
smaller sample sizes than do other studies to detect the same magnitude 
of effects, data collection costs for experiments may be less than data 
collection costs for quasi-experiments and correlational studies.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter proposed that ``robust, quantifiable'' 
findings be viewed as a source of strong evidence on the effectiveness 
of a defined practice, strategy, or program when competing explanations 
for changes in outcomes have been ruled out. The commenter also 
proposed that qualitative data on the relationship between a defined 
practice, strategy, or program, and proven and promising interventions, 
be viewed as a source of moderate evidence that the practice, strategy, 
or program is effective.
    Discussion: The Department believes that, regardless of whether 
prior research studies include a qualitative component, ruling out 
competing explanations for differences in outcomes is necessary for 
either strong or moderate evidence of effectiveness to be present. 
Accounting for any differences between program participants and non-
participants can be accomplished by random assignment to treatment and 
control groups, or through a variety of quasi-experimental or 
statistical methods. Studies utilizing these designs and methods can 
provide strong or moderate evidence for the purposes of this program. 
The identification of any significant associations between qualitative 
measures of program implementation and outcomes can only provide 
moderate evidence of effectiveness if this research includes strong 
statistical controls for selection bias and for discerning the 
influence of internal factors that could be responsible for differences 
in outcomes.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Some commenters supported the use of quasi-experimental 
and mixed method evaluation strategies, stating that even well-
implemented experimental designs can suffer weaknesses and limitations 
in their external validity.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenters that all evaluations can 
suffer weaknesses and limitations in their external validity, 
regardless of whether they are experimental or quasi-experimental in 
nature. A large, well-designed, well-implemented, randomized, 
controlled, multisite trial is likely to have strong external validity 
as well as internal validity. Concerns about external validity also can 
be addressed with evidence from more than one well-designed and well-
implemented (as defined in this notice) experimental study (as defined 
in this notice) or quasi-experimental study (as defined in this notice) 
supporting the effectiveness of the practice, strategy, or program for 
different populations. The evaluation requirements in this notice allow 
for mixed method strategies, for example to provide implementation 
data, performance feedback, progress assessment, and information 
relevant for replication in other settings. A well-designed evaluation 
of a Scale-up or Validation project would take into consideration both 
external validity and internal validity when specifying either an 
experimental or quasi-experimental design.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters expressed concern that experimental and 
quasi-experimental research designs may be inappropriate for evaluating 
complex innovations, including innovations with multiple components 
adapted to a local context. Many commenters expressed concern that the 
evidence definitions would favor, at most, small, narrowly targeted, 
short-term interventions as opposed to bold, comprehensive, multiple-
component, long-term school- or LEA-wide innovations. As examples of 
comprehensive innovations unsuited to analysis through random 
assignment, commenters pointed to turnaround programs implemented in 
particular schools, LEA-wide initiatives in curriculum and instruction, 
and family and neighborhood engagement strategies.
    Discussion: The Department appreciates the importance of the 
commenters' concern, but disagrees that experimental and quasi-
experimental methods are ill-suited to study complex innovations. Over 
the past thirty years, numerous multiple-component social programs, 
including those involving education reforms, have been evaluated 
rigorously using experimental and quasi-experimental methods, and some 
have been found to be effective. We believe that a range of 
experimental and quasi-experimental methods can be considered to 
identify potentially effective, comprehensive programs and to evaluate 
those programs when implemented on a larger scale, for example at a 
State or regional level.
    The evidence standards established in this notice permit the 
consideration of systemic LEA and whole-school initiatives, as well as 
interventions targeted for specific groups of children within schools. 
For example, school-wide innovations can be studied through the random 
assignment of entire schools to implement specified practices or 
combinations of practices. Other LEA-wide or school-wide innovations 
can be studied through quasi-experimental methods, such as interrupted 
time series comparisons of outcomes before and after a program begins. 
Substantively significant findings can arise when even a small number 
of LEAs and schools are included in a study. However, studies involving 
larger numbers of LEAs and schools have stronger external validity and 
greater likelihood of detecting effects at a given level of statistical 
significance.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters recommended that the Department fund the 
scaling up and validation of comprehensive strategies (or combinations 
of strategies) that are associated with ``extraordinary'' student 
learning gains and that the applicant plans to evaluate rigorously. One 
commenter suggested that the Department define an ``escape clause'' 
that would permit a Scale-up grant to be awarded to support an 
innovation that was exceptionally promising on theoretical grounds but 
that lacked support from a randomized study.
    Discussion: The Department believes that, given the magnitude of 
public investment being planned for Scale-up grants and the number of 
students who would be affected, we need to require strong empirical 
evidence of significant learning gains before awarding a Scale-up 
grant. Likewise, moderate empirical evidence of significant learning 
gains should be required before a Validation grant is awarded; this 
evidence could be experimental or quasi-experimental. Learning gains 
that appear extraordinary, but that lack strong or moderate evidence of 
being caused by the innovation in question, therefore, would not 
justify funding for State or regional implementation through a Scale-up 
or Validation grant, but could

[[Page 12054]]

justify funding at the level of a Development grant.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Some commenters criticized the Department's proposed 
definition of strong evidence because under the definition a single, 
well-designed study could provide sufficient evidence when the same 
study would be insufficient for the Department's What Works 
Clearinghouse.
    Discussion: For the purposes of this program, the Department 
considers a single, large, well-implemented, multisite, randomized, 
controlled trial with evidence of effectiveness as equivalent to two 
separate quasi-experimental studies or two smaller experimental 
studies. Scale-up funding will permit researchers to test whether an 
innovation that has already been validated with strong evidence of 
effectiveness for diverse populations maintains its effectiveness when 
implemented on a State, regional, or national scale. The evidence 
standards of the What Works Clearinghouse were not developed for the 
purpose of evaluating effectiveness under conditions of scale-up 
implementation, but rather for the purpose of synthesizing research 
evidence, often from multiple, small-scale efficacy studies, rather 
than large, multisite evaluations.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Some commenters recommended reducing the number of 
evidence levels, and the corresponding number of grant categories, from 
three to two. These commenters proposed combining the strong and 
moderate evidence criteria under Scale-up grants, and supporting a 
wider range of projects under Validation or Development grants.
    Discussion: The Department believes that the distinction between 
strong evidence of effectiveness and moderate evidence of effectiveness 
is a meaningful distinction with respect to both the funding of 
innovations and the purpose of the funding; namely, scaling up 
effective practices, strategies, and programs (Scale-up grants), as 
opposed to validating claims of effectiveness (Validation grants). The 
multiple tiers of evidence corresponding with the three categories of 
grants under this program will permit the Department to support a wide 
range of projects. Development grants will permit promising innovations 
to be tested, while the larger Validation and Scale-up grants will 
support the implementation and evaluation of innovations at levels 
commensurate with the corresponding evidence of effectiveness.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter proposed that the principles of scientific 
research in education identified by the National Research Council in 
2002 be applied to all three types of grants.
    Discussion: Many eminent organizations have proposed definitions of 
scientific evidence in education. The six principles identified by the 
National Research Council in 2002 provide a general foundation and 
framework for understanding scientific research in education, but do 
not focus specifically on criteria for identifying effective education 
practices, strategies, and programs. The evidence criteria and the 
definitions for this program were developed to be reasonable and 
specific given the purposes of this grant program to support the 
development, validation, and scaling up of effective innovations.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters asked the Department to clarify how the 
evidence of effectiveness will be defined and the quality of a research 
design determined. One commenter asked whether applicants will be 
required to meet the evidence criterion in the January 25, 2005, notice 
on ``Scientifically Based Evaluation Methods'' (70 FR 3585).
    Discussion: Evidence of effectiveness will be assessed relative to 
the internal validity and external validity of such claims utilizing a 
peer review process that will include experts with strong backgrounds 
in research and evaluation. We are establishing the evidence standards 
and evaluation requirements for this program in this notice; the 2005 
notice regarding scientifically based evaluation methods is not being 
used for this program.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter asked the Department to provide descriptions 
of what constitutes high internal and external validity for Scale-up 
grants. The same commenter also requested an explanation of how the 
strong evidence required for Scale-up grants will be distinguished from 
the moderate evidence required for Validation grants and from the 
evidence required for Development grants.
    Discussion: The Department has revised Table 1 (``Differences 
Between the Three Types of Investing in Innovation Grants in Terms of 
the Evidence Required to Support the Proposed Practice, Strategy, or 
Program'') to provide more detailed summary information contrasting the 
evidence criteria for each type of grant. Internal validity refers to 
confidence regarding causal inferences and external validity refers to 
confidence regarding generalizability of findings. Scale-up grants will 
support practices, strategies, and programs for which there are few 
threats to either internal or external validity of claims of 
effectiveness. Validation grants will support practices, strategies, 
and programs with evidence of effectiveness, even if some threats to 
internal or external validity arise from the limitations of previous 
studies, such as small sample sizes or lack of baseline equivalence 
between treatment and comparison groups. Development grants will 
support further study of promising practices, strategies, and programs 
for which evidence of effectiveness is lacking.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Many commenters requested that the Department provide 
applicants with clear guidance on the evidence standards that will be 
used to evaluate applications, including (1) examples of case studies 
or actual research in the absolute priority areas that meet the 
moderate and strong evidence requirements and (2) specifications of 
desired outcome measures and appropriate program performance metrics, 
including how the program goals should vary by grade level across 
projects.
    Discussion: Because of the diversity of practices, strategies, and 
programs that may be supported through the different categories of 
grants, the Department does not wish to over-emphasize any particular 
area in the competition by citing to specific examples or case studies, 
or by defining specific outcome measures beyond those mentioned in this 
notice.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Some commenters asked the Department to clarify whether 
(1) evidence from an experimental or quasi-experimental study of a 
similar solution in a similar setting could be used as evidence to 
support a Scale-up grant application, (2) evidence from a large, 
multisite, experimental evaluation of a component of the program and 
peer-reviewed publications on other components could be used as 
evidence to support a Validation grant application, and (3) a Scale-up 
grant applicant may have been, or should have been, a subject of the 
prior study. One commenter proposed that the Department permit a 
consortium of organizations to submit and receive credit for research 
evidence from individual organizations within the consortium. Another 
commenter requested guidance on whether adding a new dimension to an 
existing program would preclude the project from meeting the criteria 
for a Scale-up grant. In reference to Validation grants, several 
commenters urged the Department to

[[Page 12055]]

accept applications that adapt validated practices to new contexts. 
Other commenters asked whether modifications to well-tested models 
would receive points in both the Validation and the Scale-up grant 
categories.
    Discussion: Evidence of the effectiveness of a proposed practice, 
strategy, or program will be stronger in terms of internal validity if 
the prior research applies to the same innovation the eligible 
applicant is proposing, rather than to a similar innovation or to a 
component of the proposed strategy or program. Evidence of 
effectiveness will be stronger in terms of external validity if the 
previous studies included at least some schools associated with the 
eligible applicant, and if these schools were similar to the schools in 
which the proposed innovation would be implemented. Eligible applicants 
(including consortium partners) that were involved in the actual 
implementation of the previously studied innovation would have a more 
credible application to bring to scale that innovation, than would 
applicants replicating an innovation previously implemented by others. 
Modification and adaptation of existing, well-tested practices for new 
contexts may mean that strong evidence of effectiveness in the original 
context is only moderate evidence of effectiveness in the new context. 
Eligible applicants must determine whether the weight of evidence for 
the internal and external validity of claims of effectiveness is 
sufficient to apply for a Scale-up grant as opposed to a Validation 
grant. In general, innovations that are similar to, but not the same 
as, those that have been evaluated previously with strong evidence of 
effectiveness will not be eligible for a Scale-up grant, but may be 
eligible for a Validation grant.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter proposed that a third category, procedural 
validity, be used in addition to internal validity and external 
validity. The commenter proposed defining procedural validity as the 
extent to which the developer followed scientifically approved 
methodology in the development, piloting, and implementation of the 
innovation.
    Discussion: While we appreciate the commenter's suggestion, the 
Department believes that applications for Scale-up and Validation 
grants should be based on how the innovations have been implemented in 
the past, rather than on how they could have been implemented. Issues 
of procedural validity in the implementation of similar practices, 
strategies, or programs could be considered as part of the 
justification for a Development project.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that program success be measured 
by statistically significant improvements in social and behavioral 
outcomes in addition to academic achievement.
    Discussion: Social and behavioral measures could be intermediate 
outcomes that contribute to student educational achievement and 
attainment and, thus, already are targeted under this program. 
Applications should include citations of relevant research that 
establishes a direct correlation between intermediate outcomes and the 
outcomes described in this notice. This research should include 
research designs or statistical controls for selection bias and for 
discerning the relationship between intermediate outcomes and the 
outcomes described in this notice.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter argued that a single, high-quality, quasi-
experimental study should be sufficient to provide ``strong evidence'' 
of effectiveness, because any study of this quality is likely to be 
expensive and because requiring more than one study would rule out 
otherwise qualified applicants. Other commenters argued in favor of 
using multiple sites and multiple studies to generate evidence, and 
criticized the Department's proposal to require only one acceptable 
experimental study. According to these commenters, the Department's 
proposed approach would decrease the evidentiary standard for Scale-up 
grants.
    Discussion: In general, the Department supports the principle that 
strong evidence of effectiveness should be established through multiple 
studies in multiple sites. Scale-up implementation at the State, 
regional, or national level may be justified if an innovation has 
evidence of effectiveness in multiple settings and for different 
populations. The evidence standard for this grant program, summarized 
in Table 1, makes an exception in the case of a large, well-designed 
and well-implemented (as defined in this notice) randomized controlled, 
trial in multiple sites. Threats to the internal validity of claims of 
effectiveness are greater for quasi-experimental evaluations than for 
experimental evaluations. In particular, compared with more 
straightforward findings from large-scale experiments, findings from 
large-scale quasi-experimental studies may be sensitive to decisions 
concerning analysis methods such as statistical matching and regression 
modeling, and therefore need to be confirmed through multiple studies.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Some commenters suggested that multiple method studies be 
defined and encouraged in the standards of evidence for Scale-up, 
Validation, and Development grants.
    Discussion: The Department agrees that multiple method studies can 
help researchers understand the context and implementation of a 
program. These studies may be especially useful for the evaluations of 
Scale-up, Validation, and Development projects. The Department does not 
believe it is necessary or efficient to incorporate a potentially 
costly multiple method requirement into the standards of evidence for 
Scale-up and Validation grants, because the qualitative data collection 
needs of an evaluation are likely to depend on the type of innovation 
being studied.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that, under the definitions, the 
discussion of ``randomized control trials'' include an emphasis on 
minimizing overall and differential attrition, and that the discussion 
of matched comparison group designs include a discussion of 
establishing baseline equivalence.
    Discussion: Studies with high levels of overall or differential 
attrition, or without baseline equivalence between treatment and 
comparison groups, would not meet the standard of strong evidence, as 
defined in this notice. A well-designed and otherwise well-implemented 
study with a flaw in one of these areas would likely be considered 
moderate evidence of effectiveness. The issues of differential 
attrition and baseline equivalence are discussed in the Department's 
What Works Clearinghouse Procedures and Standards Handbook (see 
http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/references/idocviewer/doc.aspx?docid=19&tocid=1, 
and also the IES/NCEE Technical Methods papers at 
http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/tech_methods/).
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department define 
``multisite'' as including multiple schools, LEAs, or cities.
    Discussion: The definition of multisite depends on the level at 
which the innovative practice, strategy, or program will be implemented 
and on the units that will be assigned to the treatment. For example, 
in the case of a school-level intervention, multisite would include 
separate schools; in the case of an LEA-level intervention, multisite 
would include separate LEAs. For this

[[Page 12056]]

reason, a definition of multisite that is limited to a specific level 
of implementation would be inaccurate.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter noted the difficulty of defining how 
projects can be ``innovative and comprehensive in scope'' and ``show a 
cumulative effect over time'' as specified in the NPP (74 FR 52216). 
The commenter stated that larger grants should not invest in 
innovations that are ineffective or that cannot be evaluated within the 
grant period. The commenter recommended that the Department consult 
with stakeholders to define what cumulative effects would mean in each 
area of a student's growth. Another commenter noted that while narrowly 
focused programs may result in short-term gains, the relative efficacy 
of larger, macro-level efforts to engage stakeholders may require more 
time before the full impact is revealed. The commenter recommended that 
language be added to the notice to reflect this concern.
    Discussion: The Department is interested in supporting projects 
with great potential to make meaningful improvements in students' lives 
on a long-term basis. For purposes of this grant program, however, 
project evaluations will only be able to detect impacts on outcomes 
measured during the grant period, and not on the longer-term outcomes 
on which programs may be focused. For this reason, eligible applicants 
for Scale-up and Validation grants will need to identify, in 
consultation with researchers and key stakeholders, intermediate 
outcomes directly correlated with the long-term outcomes of importance, 
on which their innovations are likely to have statistically significant 
effects before the grant period ends. Because of the variety of 
practices, strategies, and programs that we anticipate will be proposed 
by eligible applicants under the priorities identified by the 
Department, the definition of specific effects will need to be proposed 
separately by each eligible applicant, rather than specified in this 
notice.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters proposed broadening the range of 
outcomes measures for which evidence of effectiveness would be 
documented. Several commenters highlighted the importance of 
technological and other skills needed for college attainment and 
success in the 21st Century workplace, recommended that improved career 
readiness be added to the list of desired program outcomes in the 
selection criteria, and expressed concerns about limiting measures of 
performance to mathematics and to reading and language arts. One 
commenter recommended that student achievement in subjects such as 
science, civics, the arts, and the impact of school climate, school 
attendance, attendance rates, and student engagement on school 
achievement and graduation rates should also be measured.
    Discussion: By placing such importance on student achievement, 
student growth, closing achievement gaps, decreasing dropout rates, 
increasing high school graduation rates, and increasing college 
enrollment and completion rates, the Department is emphasizing the 
attainment of those skills and skill levels, and the conditions that 
contribute to attaining those skills, that are critical for student 
success in school and in careers. Eligible applicants can propose other 
outcomes if they contribute to the outcomes identified in this notice.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters suggested that applicants adhering 
explicitly to research-based principles and findings should be 
considered for funding under this program. One commenter specifically 
suggested that applicants relying on the Department's own research 
compendia (the What Works Clearinghouse, the Doing What Works Web site, 
and the Institute of Education Sciences reports) should be considered 
``pre-qualified'' to meet the research evidence requirements in the 
notice.
    Discussion: Research studies or reports released by the Department 
can be included as evidence of effectiveness for the practices, 
strategies, or programs proposed for funding under this program. 
However, whether such studies constitute strong or moderate evidence of 
effectiveness depends not only on the internal and external validity of 
the studies, but also on the correspondence between the practices, 
strategies, or programs proposed by the eligible applicant and the 
practices, strategies, and programs included in the reports released by 
the Department. The evidence of effectiveness documented in reports 
released by the Department varies in strength. Measured according to 
the criteria summarized in Table 1, this evidence would not necessarily 
qualify as strong or even moderate evidence of effectiveness for those 
innovations that an applicant would propose to implement in particular 
settings. Therefore, it would not be appropriate to pre-qualify 
eligible applicants, as recommended by the commenter.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters expressed concern about the quality of 
child assessments that would be included in projects supported under 
this program. One commenter argued that the Department should support 
applicants that use multiple measures of developmental and academic 
outcomes for children. Other commenters criticized the emphasis the 
Department placed in the NPP on State-developed formative and interim 
assessments. These commenters argued instead for curriculum-embedded 
formative and summative assessments aligned with college-ready 
standards. Other commenters argued that reliance on the existing State 
and local formative and summative assessments would be more relevant to 
practice, less time-consuming, less disruptive of student learning 
time, and less expensive than relying on formal, in-depth standardized 
assessments for research purposes. One commenter noted that, for 
projects previously implemented and evaluated in multiple States, it 
would be reasonable to expect a nationally-normed standardized 
assessment to be used instead of State tests. The commenter recommended 
that, in a ``large, well-designed and well-implemented randomized 

controlled, multisite trial, that effectiveness of the practice, 
strategy, or program'' include a ``randomized controlled, multi-state 
trial that uses a nationally-normed standardized assessment that is 
valid and reliable'' for purposes of the Scale-up grants and the 
demonstration of improved student achievement. Another commenter 
questioned the validity of State achievement measures and recommended 
the priority consider assessments that are not tied to AYP 
determinations.
    Discussion: This notice requires using State assessments for those 
grades and subjects assessed under section 1111(b)(3) of the ESEA to 
measure student achievement, and also permits alternative measures of 
student learning and performance to be used, especially for non-tested 
grades and subjects. Examples of these alternative measures include 
interim assessments or formative, classroom-based assessments. In 
projects spanning multiple States, commonality of measures of student 
learning and performance across all relevant grades and subjects is 
desirable, so a nationally-normed standardized assessment that is valid 
and reliable would be a reasonable measure of project performance. The 
Department's intent is to contribute to improvements both in the 
reliability and validity of student assessments and in how these data 
are used to improve instruction for

[[Page 12057]]

each student, not to add to the burden of schools in assessing 
students.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter argued that the Department should require 
projects proposed for Scale-up and Validation grants to study, for at 
least one year in at least 10 schools, the effects of the proposed 
project on student outcomes using measures other than those inherent to 
the treatments.
    Discussion: The Department appreciates this suggestion to promote 
the external validity of findings from Scale-up and Validation 
projects. Because of the range of projects that could be supported by 
this program, the Department believes that decisions regarding the 
minimum sample size, the length of the study, or the choice of 
assessment measures should be made by the grantee according to the type 
of project being proposed.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed concern about how to define 
treatment conditions and to aggregate data across schools or over time 
when different schools implement different innovations that also change 
over time. The commenter recommended that researchers with expertise in 
small-scale statistics provide guidance to support claims of 
effectiveness. The commenter also recommended that the Department 
provide incentives for LEAs to release student performance data (with 
appropriate privacy protections) that could be utilized in quasi-
experimental analyses that would compare school outcomes.
    Discussion: Elsewhere in this notice, we provide references to 
information and guidance that eligible applicants can use to support 
claims of effectiveness. An individual project's evaluations should 
include the information needed to replicate or test the project in 
other settings. This information can include data on corresponding 
student outcomes, if appropriate privacy protections are in place.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Some commenters argued that a sufficiently large effect 
size should be required by the Department, especially for the Scale-up 
and Validation grants. A few commenters argued that the Department 
should specify a 0.20 minimum effect size as a threshold for 
identifying educationally significant effects on student achievement. 
Many other commenters argued against using a single minimum effect 
size, and recommended instead that the Department evaluate the effect 
size, as reported by applicants in the context of the type of 
intervention, target population, outcomes being measured, and the 
existing research on anticipated effects. Some commenters argued that 
the expected effect size should differ by grant year and should be 
valued according to its long-term benefit to students.
    Discussion: The Department appreciates the comments we received in 
response to our request for input on whether we should set a minimum 
effect size for this program. We are compelled by the arguments from 
commenters that a one-size-fits-all effect size would not be 
appropriate for this program given that the target effect size for a 
given practice, strategy, or program can vary because of factors such 
as the age and grade of the children receiving services, the nature of 
the outcome variable, and the cost of the innovation. Accordingly, 
eligible applicants should justify their claims regarding which 
magnitude of effect is reasonable and substantively important for their 
proposed project. Because the Department has decided to not specify a 
single effect size, eligible applicants are free to specify an 
anticipated effect size that differs by year for each year that would 
be included in the project evaluation. The specification of the 
anticipated effect sizes should be informed by the evidence of 
effectiveness for the innovation. Any differences from previously 
documented effect sizes should be discussed, particularly in the case 
of Scale-up grants for which evidence of effectiveness should be 
strong.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters stated that any effect size standards 
adopted by the Department should take into account both the program 
costs and the anticipated effect size per unit cost in order to promote 
cost-effective innovations.
    Discussion: Although cost is an important consideration when 
interpreting the importance of an effect size, the Department believes 
that the cost information will be more useful to reviewers of 
applications--and ultimately to researchers, practitioners, 
policymakers, and the public--if it is reported separately from the 
effect sizes, especially for innovations targeting multiple outcomes.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters disagreed on the usefulness of 
intermediate outcome variables such as school attendance, parental 
engagement, teacher satisfaction, or school climate. Some commenters 
expressed concern that focusing on intermediate variables would detract 
from student achievement or attainment. In contrast, other commenters 
argued that removing or ``downgrading'' intermediate outcome would 
ignore research on the relationship between these outcomes and student 
achievement and attainment.
    Discussion: Because of the limited time period of the Department's 
innovation grants, the Department believes that it may be necessary for 
eligible applicants to identify and target key intermediate outcomes in 
order to understand the impact of projects in the short term. The 
Department believes that eligible applicants should carefully select 
intermediate outcomes that have a strong theoretical basis and 
empirical evidence of their direct connection with long-term student 
outcomes. Eligible applicants should collect data on intermediate 
outcomes only when data collection on longer-term outcomes is not 
feasible.
    Changes: We are revising the selection criterion to clarify that an 
applicant choosing to demonstrate success through an intermediate 
variable must use an intermediate variable that is strongly correlated 
with the proposed project's long-term student outcomes.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that Validation grants support 
proposed practices, strategies, or programs for which there is a 
statistically significant association between the innovation and an 
intermediate variable that is highly correlated with the outcomes of 
interest. Another commenter stated that intermediate outcomes were 
needed because of validity and reliability issues with assessing the 
learning of children between birth and the third grade. One commenter 
argued that gathering data on ``secondary effects'' is also useful in 
understanding a project's impact. A few commenters emphasized the need 
for evidence that the intermediate variables targeted by projects truly 
impact, and are not merely correlated with, student outcomes of 
importance, and that such a causal connection should have both 
theoretical and empirical support. Another commenter argued that it was 
important that any intermediate measures be reliable predictors of 
student learning outcomes, and that the learning outcomes be aligned 
with State standards and the range of skills and engagement predictive 
of student success. The commenter expressed concern that the Department 
support projects that provide clear presentations of the context and 
populations for which the effectiveness of supported innovations is 
being measured.
    Discussion: The Department believes that defining intermediate 
outcome variables is necessary because of the

[[Page 12058]]

limited duration of the grants provided under this program and because 
not all long-term outcomes targeted by projects will be measurable 
during the grant period. On the basis of the research evidence, 
eligible applicants should specify intermediate outcomes that are 
likely to be affected by the proposed practices, strategies, and 
programs, and that contribute to, or at least predict, improvements in 
the longer-term outcomes identified by the Department. ``Secondary 
effects'' estimates should be held to the same standards of evidence as 
effectiveness on long-term outcomes. However, strong evidence of 
effects on secondary, intermediate outcomes does not, in itself, 
constitute evidence of effects on long-term outcomes with which the 
secondary outcomes are correlated.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters requested that the Department: (1) 
Provide clarification of the meaning of ``school climate'' and its 
relationship to personal safety, gang presence, or drug presence; (2) 
list ``family engagement'' as an intermediate outcome alongside school 
climate; and (3) specify that the list of variables is not exhaustive.
    Discussion: By listing examples of intermediate outcomes directly 
correlated with longer-term student outcomes, the Department left open 
the possibility of eligible applicants proposing other intermediate 
outcomes, including family engagement. The types of intermediate 
outcomes proposed by an eligible applicant, and the specific measures 
used for a variable, would depend on the type of practice, strategy, or 
program being proposed, the long-term student outcomes being targeted, 
and the settings in which the innovation would be implemented.
    The Department does not wish to privilege some types of innovations 
over others by specifying a detailed list of intermediate outcome 
measures. Therefore, we are removing ``improvements in school climate'' 
as an example of an intermediate variable because we find it is not 
necessary to the effective use of the selection criterion.
    Changes: We are removing ``improvements in school climate'' as an 
example of an intermediate variable in the selection criterion.
    Comment: One commenter asked for clarification of the meaning of an 
effect that has a magnitude that is ``substantial and important.''
    Discussion: The meaning of ``substantial and important'' will vary 
depending on the context, such as the age and grade level of the 
students being served, and the cost of the innovation. Eligible 
applicants should describe why the expected effects are substantial and 
important for attaining the goals of this program.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the reference to the 
``significance'' of an effect for Development grants be changed to read 
``statistical significance.'' Another commenter recommended changing 
``statistically significant'' to ``significant'' when discussing the 
strength of research evidence regarding innovation effectiveness.
    Discussion: Development grants may not always support innovations 
implemented on a scale that would produce statistically significant 
effects, so the omission of the adjective ``statistical'' is 
intentional. The NPP and this notice refer to ``statistically 
significant'' with regard to the significance of the effect that a 
practice, strategy, or program is expected to have if supported through 
a Scale-up or Validation grant. The magnitude of effect reported in 
prior studies--whether statistically significant or not--should support 
an eligible applicant's claim that the effect of the practice, 
strategy, or program is likely to be detected as statistically 
significant in the sample included in the proposed Scale-up or 
Validation project. Small sample sizes in prior studies make the 
detection of statistically significant effects less likely and also 
weaken the external validity of findings, reducing the likelihood of 
the findings qualifying as the strong evidence required for a Scale-up 
grant. (Applicants should refer to Table 1 and its detailed summary of 
evidence criteria for the three types of grants.)
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Some commenters asked that ``promising results'' be 
changed to ``positive results'' in this final notice.
    Discussion: ``Promising results'' refers, in the context of 
Development grants, to outcomes from practices, strategies, or programs 
for which there is not yet even moderate evidence of effectiveness. 
``Positive results'' refers more generally to outcomes or goals 
consistent with the goal of the project, and encompasses both promising 
results suggesting that more formal and systematic study of efficacy 
may be warranted, and results qualifying as moderate or strong evidence 
of effectiveness. ``Promising results'' therefore is the more 
appropriate term for the Department to use in describing Development 
grants.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters asked whether an applicant must name an 
independent evaluator in its application. Commenters asked whether it 
would be sufficient for an applicant to budget for an independent 
evaluator for only Scale-up and Validation grants. One commenter 
expressed concern that there is no capacity to have independent 
evaluators in place prior to a grant award.
    Discussion: The quality of the evaluation proposed for each 
project, including the methods of evaluation planned and the resources 
proposed for evaluation, will be considered by the Department when 
awarding grants under this program. Whether an independent evaluator 
has been selected at the time of application will not, in itself, 
disadvantage an applicant. Applications should include the name of 
qualified independent evaluators of projects, if these have already 
been selected, and should in all cases demonstrate the applicant's 
commitment to ensure a high-quality and independent evaluation of the 
proposed project.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department offer 
technical assistance to grantees and their evaluators to ensure that 
high-quality independent evaluations are conducted of projects funded 
under all three types of grants. A few commenters asked the Department 
to explore how the required evaluations of funded projects can occur in 
an independent and statistically valid manner and the results 
collected, analyzed, and disseminated in a coordinated way that builds 
both stakeholder knowledge and the capacity of State and LEA 
evaluators. Several commenters emphasized the need for the Department 
to ensure rigorous, independent evaluations, scientific reporting, and 
the sharing of data on the effectiveness of grantee interventions. The 
commenters suggested that the Department require applications to 
include information about how project participants will support and 
cooperate with the independent evaluator, and use experimental or 
quasi-experimental methods where feasible. A few commenters expressed 
concern that the independent evaluation of a grantee's project not be 
duplicative of the evaluation work submitted in the application.
    Discussion: The Department's Institute of Education Sciences (IES) 
will be involved in evaluating the Investing in Innovation program, in 
providing technical assistance to evaluators of individual funded 
projects, and in synthesizing evidence from multiple supported 
projects. The IES role will be defined in a way that

[[Page 12059]]

will not duplicate the individual project evaluations under this 
program and that also encourages the independent evaluators to add to 
existing knowledge on the efficacy and effectiveness of the innovations 
being studied. Data will be collected and maintained by grantees. 
However, we agree with commenters that it is valuable to share the data 
from these evaluations. Thus, the data from the evaluations of Scale-up 
and Validation projects must be made available to third-party 
researchers. To support the sharing of data with third parties, the 
Department will work with grantees to set up procedures to make data 
available to other researchers while safeguarding privacy.
    Changes: We are revising the Evaluation requirement under this 
program to specify that, in addition to making the results of any 
evaluation broadly available, Scale-up and Validation grantees must 
also ensure that the data from their evaluations are made available to 
third-party researchers consistent with applicable privacy 
requirements.
    Comment: Commenters disagreed on the prioritization for 
experimental designs for the evaluations of grantee projects. One 
commenter argued that the evaluation requirements, not only for Scale-
up grants, but also for Validation grants, should, wherever feasible, 
be experimental studies led by independent evaluators experienced with 
such studies. One commenter agreed with our proposal in the NPP 
specifying that Scale-up grants be evaluated by experimental or quasi-
experimental means. Another commenter argued that evaluating Scale-up 
grants experimentally may not be feasible because of the lack of a 
control group and may not be necessary if the evidence for the 
innovation is sufficiently strong to scale it up.
    Discussion: The evaluation requirements for Scale-up and Validation 
grants specify the use of independent evaluators and well-designed 
experimental or quasi-experimental studies. Because Validation grants 
would need to be supported by only moderate evidence, a large, well-
implemented quasi-experimental evaluation may be sufficient to expand 
knowledge of the program's effectiveness. Because Scale-up grants would 
already be supported by strong evidence, an experimental evaluation is 
preferable, when feasible, to assess how and under what conditions the 
program is effective when it is implemented in a fuller range of 
settings than prior to the awarding of the grant. Control or comparison 
groups can be identified for Scale-up projects from sites that have not 
yet implemented the innovation.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Some commenters expressed concerns that the costs of 
evaluation could leave too few funds available to support 
implementation of the innovation, not only in the case of Development 
grants, but also in the case of Validation and Scale-up grants.
    Discussion: Applicants should budget appropriate amounts for the 
evaluation of their project. The use of available data and measures 
that LEAs and schools already collect can help minimize new data 
collection costs and ensure that the innovations themselves are funded 
adequately. Evaluation dollars are well spent if they inform future 
decisions about whether to implement particular innovations more 
broadly.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters emphasized the importance of measuring 
the extent and the quality of the implementation of grantee 
innovations, as well as on providing sufficient information to 
facilitate replication or testing of the innovation in other settings.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenters' emphasis on the 
importance of evaluating grantee innovations. The measurement of 
program implementation and provision of information to facilitate 
replication or testing in other settings are required under the 
evaluations that will be conducted of each project funded under this 
program. This information will be especially important for 
understanding whether and under what circumstances innovations are 
implemented with fidelity.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter argued that program developers and 
implementers should be involved in evaluating the project, but should 
not be the sole evaluators. Another commenter argued that neither 
developers nor implementers should evaluate the impact of the project.
    Discussion: The impact evaluation of Validation and Scale-up 
projects must be conducted by a qualified evaluator distinct from the 
program developer and project implementer. An autonomous research or 
evaluation office within a large organization could qualify as an 
independent evaluator if its reporting of findings and conclusions is 
not subject to approval by the office responsible for developing or 
implementing the program. In this way, impact evaluations of these 
projects would be independent, objective, and of greater use to all 
stakeholders. The Department encourages independent evaluators to 
consult with developers and implementers about knowledge that would 
inform evaluation design and reporting. For Development projects, 
developers and implementers can participate in the evaluation if they 
are qualified to do so because such participation may be necessary for 
the innovations to be implemented with fidelity as part of a small-
scale study of efficacy.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department pay LEAs for 
the cost of staff time that would be associated with the implementation 
of the evaluation.
    Discussion: The cost of LEA staff time associated with the 
implementation of project evaluations can be included in each 
applicant's evaluation budget.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department provide 
funding for robust research studies and for a clearinghouse to describe 
the funded innovations.
    Discussion: Under the requirements for this program, any eligible 
applicant receiving funds must conduct an independent evaluation of its 
proposed project and comply with the requirements of any evaluation of 
the program conducted by the Department (see Evaluation requirement). 
Therefore, the cost of the evaluation may be included in the 
applicant's budget for its proposed project. The existing What Works 
Clearinghouse at IES is funded to review and synthesize evidence of 
effectiveness from education practices, strategies, or programs, 
including those that may be supported with Investing in Innovation 
grants.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department treat data 
systems as measurement infrastructure for evaluating the effectiveness 
of other interventions, rather than as a separate intervention that is 
subject to the evidentiary standards for Scale-up grants.
    Discussion: While data systems can be part of the measurement 
infrastructure for other interventions, the Department does not want to 
preclude the possibility of an applicant proposing a data system as a 
separate intervention.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that Development grants only be 
funded if there is a clear theory of action and if the associated 
research literature suggests that the hypothesized action on the 
intended outcome is likely to occur.

[[Page 12060]]

    Discussion: This notice already specifies that applicants for 
Development grants provide a rationale for the proposed practice, 
strategy, or program that is based on research findings or reasonable 
hypotheses, including related research or theories in education or 
other sectors. Therefore, it is not necessary to add the requirement 
recommended by the commenter.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A number of commenters expressed concerns about the 
application of evidence standards to small LEAs and rural LEAs. A few 
commenters expressed concern about the difficulty of small LEAs 
qualifying for Scale-up or Validation grants under the proposed 
priorities given the evidence requirements for applicants and the time 
that would be required to serve 100,000 or 250,000 students. One 
commenter recommended that the Department provide a competitive 
preference priority to applications where regional partnerships have 
been identified to scale up practices across schools and LEAs. Another 
commenter recommended that applicants be required to address ``the 
limited human, fiscal, and technology capacity of rural LEAs and 
schools to collect data on the innovation and for independent 
evaluation.''
    Discussion: The Department recognizes the particular challenges 
faced by small LEAs and rural LEAs in implementing and evaluating 
innovations. According to the evidence criteria described in Table 1, 
it may be possible, under the category of Validation grant funding, for 
rural LEAs to apply for funding to implement innovations with evidence 
of effectiveness in non-rural settings, since this evidence could have 
high internal validity but only moderate external validity. Challenges 
faced by rural LEAs in the areas of data collection and evaluation may 
be addressed by applicants applying under Competitive Preference 
Priority 8.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended removing the reference to the 
What Works Clearinghouse procedures, standards, and technical methods 
papers because the commenter thought this reference was too limited.
    Discussion: Knowledge of the What Works Clearinghouse procedures, 
standards, and technical methods papers may be useful to applicants in 
developing their project evaluation plans, but these resources are 
meant to be informative, not prescriptive, of evaluation decisions. 
Accordingly, we decline to remove that reference.
    Changes: None.

Final Priorities

Types of Priorities

    When inviting applications for a competition using one or more 
priorities, we designate the type of each priority as absolute, 
competitive preference, or invitational. Under an absolute priority, as 
specified by 34 CFR 75.105(c)(3), we consider only applications that 
meet the priority. Under a competitive preference priority, we give 
competitive preference to an application by (1) awarding additional 
points, depending on the extent to which the application meets the 
priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(i)); or (2) selecting an application that 
meets the priority over an application of comparable merit that does 
not meet the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(ii)). With an invitational 
priority, we signal our interest in receiving applications that meet 
the priority; however, consistent with 34 CFR 75.105(c)(1), we do not 
give an application that meets an invitational priority preference over 
other applications.

Final Priorities

    The Secretary establishes the following priorities for the 
Investing in Innovation Fund. We may apply these priorities in any year 
in which this program is in effect.

Absolute Priorities

Absolute Priority 1--Innovations That Support Effective Teachers and 
Principals

    Under this priority, the Department provides funding to support 
practices, strategies, or programs that are designed to increase the 
number or percentages of teachers or principals who are highly 
effective teachers or principals or reduce the number or percentages of 
teachers or principals who are ineffective, especially for teachers of 
high-need students, by identifying, recruiting, developing, placing, 
rewarding, and retaining highly effective teachers or principals (or 
removing ineffective teachers or principals). In such initiatives, 
teacher or principal effectiveness should be determined through an 
evaluation system that is rigorous, transparent, and fair; performance 
should be differentiated using multiple rating categories of 
effectiveness; multiple measures of effectiveness should be taken into 
account, with data on student growth as a significant factor; and the 
measures should be designed and developed with teacher and principal 
involvement.

Absolute Priority 2--Innovations That Improve the Use of Data

    Under this priority, the Department provides funding to support 
strategies, practices, or programs that are designed to (a) encourage 
and facilitate the evaluation, analysis, and use of student achievement 
or student growth data by educators, families, and other stakeholders 
in order to inform decision-making and improve student achievement, 
student growth, or teacher, principal, school, or LEA performance and 
productivity; or (b) enable data aggregation, analysis, and research. 
Where LEAs and schools are required to do so under the Elementary and 
Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA), these data must be 
disaggregated using the student subgroups described in section 
1111(b)(3)(C)(xiii) of the ESEA (i.e., economically disadvantaged 
students, students from major racial and ethnic groups, migrant 
students, students with limited English proficiency, students with 
disabilities, and student gender).

Absolute Priority 3--Innovations That Complement the Implementation of 
High Standards and High-Quality Assessments

    Under this priority, the Department provides funding for practices, 
strategies, or programs that are designed to support States' efforts to 
transition to standards and assessments that measure students' progress 
toward college- and career-readiness, including curricular and 
instructional practices, strategies, or programs in core academic 
subjects (as defined in section 9101(11) of the ESEA) that are aligned 
with high academic content and achievement standards and with high-
quality assessments based on those standards.\8\ Proposed projects may 
include, but are not limited to, practices, strategies, or programs 
that are designed to: (a) Increase the success of under-represented 
student populations in academically rigorous courses and programs (such 
as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses; dual-
enrollment programs; ``early college high schools;'' and science, 
technology, engineering, and mathematics courses, especially those that 
incorporate rigorous and relevant project-, inquiry-, or design-based 
contextual learning opportunities); (b) increase the development and 
use of formative

[[Page 12061]]

assessments or interim assessments, or other performance-based tools 
and ``metrics'' that are aligned with high student content and academic 
achievement standards; or (c) translate the standards and information 
from assessments into classroom practices that meet the needs of all 
students, including high-need students.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \8\ Consistent with the Race to the Top Fund, the Department 
interprets the core academic subject of ``science'' under section 
9101(11) to include STEM education (science, technology, 
engineering, and mathematics) which encompasses a wide-range of 
disciplines, including science.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    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 eligible applicant's State's standards as well as how the standards 
differ.

Absolute Priority 4--Innovations That Turn Around Persistently Low-
Performing Schools

    Under this priority, the Department provides funding to support 
strategies, practices, or programs that are designed to turn around 
schools that are in any of the following categories: (a) Persistently 
lowest-achieving schools (as defined in the final requirements for the 
School Improvement Grants program); \9\ (b) Title I schools that are in 
corrective action or restructuring under section 1116 of the ESEA; or 
(c) secondary schools (both middle and high schools) eligible for but 
not receiving Title I funds that, if receiving Title I funds, would be 
in corrective action or restructuring under section 1116 of the ESEA. 
These schools are referred to as Investing in Innovation Fund Absolute 
Priority 4 schools.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \9\ Under the final requirements for the School Improvement 
Grants program, ``persistently lowest-achieving schools'' means, as 
determined by the State, (a)(1) any Title I school in improvement, 
corrective action, or restructuring that (i) is among the lowest-
achieving five percent of Title I schools in improvement, corrective 
action, or restructuring or the lowest-achieving five Title I 
schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring in the 
State, whichever number of schools is greater; or (ii) is a high 
school that has had a graduation rate as defined in 34 CFR 200.19(b) 
that is less than 60 percent over a number of years; and (2) any 
secondary school that is eligible for, but does not receive, Title I 
funds that (i) is among the lowest-achieving five percent of 
secondary schools or the lowest-achieving five secondary schools in 
the State that are eligible for, but do not receive, Title I funds, 
whichever number of schools is greater; or (ii) is a high school 
that has had a graduation rate as defined in 34 CFR 200.19(b) that 
is less than 60 percent over a number of years. See 
http://www2.ed.gov/programs/sif/faq.html.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Proposed projects must include strategies, practices, or programs 
that are designed to turn around Investing in Innovation Fund Absolute 
Priority 4 schools through either whole-school reform or targeted 
approaches to reform. Applicants addressing this priority must focus on 
either:
    (a) Whole-school reform, including, but not limited to, 
comprehensive interventions to assist, augment, or replace Investing in 
Innovation Fund Absolute Priority 4 schools, including the school 
turnaround, restart, closure, and transformation models of intervention 
supported under the Department's School Improvement Grants program (see 
Final Requirements for School Improvement Grants as Amended in January 
2010 (January 28, 2010) at http://www2.ed.gov/programs/sif/faq.html); 
or
    (b) Targeted approaches to reform, including, but not limited to: 
(1) Providing more time for students to learn core academic content by 
expanding or augmenting the school day, school week, or school year, or 
by increasing instructional time for core academic subjects (as defined 
in section 9101(11) of the ESEA); (2) integrating ``student supports'' 
into the school model to address non-academic barriers to student 
achievement; or (3) creating multiple pathways for students to earn 
regular high school diplomas (e.g., by operating schools that serve the 
needs of over-aged, under-credited, or other students with an 
exceptional need for support and flexibility pertaining to when they 
attend school; awarding credit based on demonstrated evidence of 
student competency; and offering dual-enrollment options).

Competitive Preference Priorities

Competitive Preference Priority 5--Innovations for Improving Early 
Learning Outcomes

    We give competitive preference to applications for projects that 
would implement innovative practices, strategies, or programs that are 
designed to improve educational outcomes for high-need students who are 
young children (birth through 3rd grade) by enhancing the quality of 
early learning programs. To meet this priority, applications must focus 
on (a) improving young children's school readiness (including social, 
emotional, and cognitive readiness) so that children are prepared for 
success in core academic subjects (as defined in section 9101(11) of 
the ESEA); (b) improving developmental milestones and standards and 
aligning them with appropriate outcome measures; and (c) improving 
alignment, collaboration, and transitions between early learning 
programs that serve children from birth to age three, in preschools, 
and in kindergarten through third grade.

Competitive Preference Priority 6--Innovations That Support College 
Access and Success

    We give competitive preference to applications for projects that 
would implement innovative practices, strategies, or programs that are 
designed to enable kindergarten through grade 12 (K-12) students, 
particularly high school students, to successfully prepare for, enter, 
and graduate from a two- or four-year college. To meet this priority, 
applications must include practices, strategies, or programs for K-12 
students that (a) address students' preparedness and expectations 
related to college; (b) help students understand issues of college 
affordability and the financial aid and college application processes; 
and (c) provide support to students from peers and knowledgeable 
adults.

Competitive Preference Priority 7--Innovations To Address the Unique 
Learning Needs of Students With Disabilities and Limited English 
Proficient Students

    We give competitive preference to applications for projects that 
would implement innovative practices, strategies, or programs that are 
designed to address the unique learning needs of students with 
disabilities, including those who are assessed based on alternate 
academic achievement standards, or the linguistic and academic needs of 
limited English proficient students. To meet this priority, 
applications must provide for the implementation of particular 
practices, strategies, or programs that are designed to improve 
academic outcomes, close achievement gaps, and increase college- and 
career-readiness, including increasing high school graduation rates (as 
defined in this notice), for students with disabilities or limited 
English proficient students.

Competitive Preference Priority 8--Innovations That Serve Schools in 
Rural LEAs

    We give competitive preference to applications for projects that 
would implement innovative practices, strategies, or programs that are 
designed to focus on the unique challenges of high-need students in 
schools within a rural LEA (as defined in this notice) and address the 
particular challenges faced by students in these schools. To meet this 
priority, applications must include practices, strategies, or programs 
that are designed to improve student achievement or student growth, 
close achievement gaps, decrease dropout rates, increase high school 
graduation

[[Page 12062]]

rates, or improve teacher and principal effectiveness in one or more 
rural LEAs.

Final Requirements

    The Secretary establishes the following requirements for the 
Investing in Innovation Fund. We may apply these requirements in any 
year in which this program is in effect.
    Providing Innovations that Improve Achievement for High-Need 
Students: All eligible applicants must implement practices, strategies, 
or programs for high-need students (as defined in this notice).
    Eligible Applicants: Entities eligible to apply for Investing in 
Innovation Fund grants include: (a) An LEA or (b) a partnership between 
a nonprofit organization and (1) one or more LEAs or (2) a consortium 
of schools. An eligible applicant that is a partnership applying under 
section 14007(a)(1)(B) of the ARRA must designate one of its official 
partners (as defined in this notice) to serve as the applicant in 
accordance with the Department's regulations governing group 
applications in 34 CFR 75.127 through 75.129.
    Eligibility Requirements: To be eligible for an award, an eligible 
applicant must--except as specifically set forth in the Note about 
Eligibility for an Eligible Applicant that Includes a Nonprofit 
Organization that follows:
    (1)(A) 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
    (B) Have demonstrated success in significantly increasing student 
academic achievement for all groups of students described in that 
section;
    (2) Have made significant improvements in other areas, such as 
graduation rates or increased recruitment and placement of high-quality 
teachers and principals, as demonstrated with meaningful data;
    (3) Demonstrate that it has established one or more partnerships 
with the private sector, which may include philanthropic organizations, 
and that the private sector will provide matching funds in order to 
help bring results to scale; and
    (4) 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 as either official or other partners. An applicant must 
identify its specific partners before a grant award will be made.
    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 (as amended) specifies 
that an eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit organization is 
considered to have met the requirements in paragraphs (1) and (2) 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 Investing in Innovation Fund grant an LEA or a 
consortium of schools that meets the requirements in paragraphs (1) and 
(2).
    In addition, the authorizing statute (as amended) specifies that an 
eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit organization is considered 
to have met the requirements of paragraph (3) of the eligibility 
requirements for this program if the eligible applicant demonstrates 
that it will meet the requirement relating to private-sector matching.
    Evidence Standards: To be eligible for an award, an application for 
a Scale-up grant must be supported by strong evidence (as defined in 
this notice), an application for a Validation grant must be supported 
by moderate evidence (as defined in this notice), and an application 
for a Development grant must be supported by a reasonable hypothesis.
    Funding Categories: An applicant must state in its application 
whether it is applying for a Scale-up, Validation, or Development 
grant. An applicant may not submit an application for the same proposed 
project under more than one type of grant. An applicant will be 
considered for an award only for the type of grant for which it 
applies.
    Cost Sharing or Matching: To be eligible for an award, an eligible 
applicant must demonstrate that it has established one or more 
partnerships with an entity or organization in the private sector, 
which may include philanthropic organizations, and that the entity or 

organization in the private sector will provide matching funds in order 
to help bring project results to scale. An eligible applicant must 
obtain matching funds or in-kind donations equal to at least 20 percent 
of its grant award. Selected eligible applicants must submit evidence 
of the full 20 percent private-sector matching funds following the peer 
review of applications. An award will not be made unless the applicant 
provides adequate evidence that the full 20 percent private-sector 
match has been committed or the Secretary approves the eligible 
applicant's request to reduce the matching-level requirement.
    The Secretary may consider decreasing the 20 percent matching 
requirement in the most exceptional circumstances, on a case-by-case 
basis. An eligible applicant that anticipates being unable to meet the 
20 percent matching requirement must include in the application a 
request to the Secretary to reduce the matching-level requirement, 
along with a statement of the basis for the request.
    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 
may make subgrants to one or more official partners (as defined in this 
notice).
    Limits on Grant Awards: No grantee may receive more than two grant 
awards under this program. In addition, no grantee may receive more 
than $55 million in grant awards under this program in a single year's 
competition.
    Evaluation: A grantee must comply with the requirements of any 
evaluation of the program conducted by the Department. In addition, the 
grantee is required to conduct an independent evaluation (as defined in 
this notice) of its project and must agree, along with its independent 
evaluator, to cooperate with any technical assistance provided by the 
Department or its contractor. The purpose of this technical assistance 
will be to ensure that the evaluations are of the highest quality and 
to encourage commonality in evaluation approaches across funded 
projects where such commonality is feasible and useful. Finally, the 
grantee must make broadly available through formal (e.g., peer-

[[Page 12063]]

reviewed journals) or informal (e.g., newsletters) mechanisms, and in 
print or electronically, the results of any evaluations it conducts of 
its funded activities. For Scale-up and Validation grants, the grantee 
must also ensure the data from their evaluations are made available to 
third-party researchers consistent with applicable privacy 
requirements.
    Participation in ``Communities of Practice'': Grantees are required 
to participate in, organize, or facilitate, as appropriate, communities 
of practice for the Investing in Innovation Fund. 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. Establishment of communities of practice under the 
Investing in Innovation Fund will enable grantees to meet, discuss, and 
collaborate with each other regarding grantee projects.

Final Definitions

    The Secretary establishes the following definitions for the 
Investing in Innovation Fund. We may apply these definitions in any 
year in which this program is in effect.

Definitions Related to Evidence

    Strong evidence means evidence from previous studies whose designs 
can support causal conclusions (i.e., studies with high internal 
validity), and studies that in total include enough of the range of 
participants and settings to support scaling up to the State, regional, 
or national level (i.e., studies with high external validity). The 
following are examples of strong evidence: (1) More than one well-
designed and well-implemented (as defined in this notice) experimental 
study (as defined in this notice) or well-designed and well-implemented 
(as defined in this notice) quasi-experimental study (as defined in 
this notice) that supports the effectiveness of the practice, strategy, 
or program; or (2) one large, well-designed and well-implemented (as 
defined in this notice) randomized controlled, multisite trial that 
supports the effectiveness of the practice, strategy, or program.
    Moderate evidence means evidence from previous studies whose 
designs can support causal conclusions (i.e., studies with high 
internal validity) but have limited generalizability (i.e., moderate 
external validity), or studies with high external validity but moderate 
internal validity. The following would constitute moderate evidence: 
(1) At least one well-designed and well-implemented (as defined in this 
notice) experimental or quasi-experimental study (as defined in this 
notice) supporting the effectiveness of the practice, strategy, or 
program, with small sample sizes or other conditions of implementation 
or analysis that limit generalizability; (2) at least one well-designed 
and well-implemented (as defined in this notice) experimental or quasi-
experimental study (as defined in this notice) that does not 
demonstrate equivalence between the intervention and comparison groups 
at program entry but that has no other major flaws related to internal 
validity; or (3) correlational research with strong statistical 
controls for selection bias and for discerning the influence of 
internal factors.
    Well-designed and well-implemented means, with respect to an 
experimental or quasi-experimental study (as defined in this notice), 
that the study meets the What Works Clearinghouse evidence standards, 
with or without reservations (see 
http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/references/idocviewer/doc.aspx?docid=19&tocid=1 
and in particular the description of ``Reasons for Not Meeting Standards'' at 
http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/references/idocviewer/Doc.aspx?docId=19&tocId=4#reasons).
    Experimental study means a study that employs random assignment of, 
for example, students, teachers, classrooms, schools, or districts to 
participate in a project being evaluated (treatment group) or not to 
participate in the project (control group). The effect of the project 
is the average difference in outcomes between the treatment and control 
groups.
    Quasi-experimental study means an evaluation design that attempts 
to approximate an experimental design and can support causal 
conclusions (i.e., minimizes threats to internal validity, such as 
selection bias, or allows them to be modeled). Well-designed quasi-
experimental studies include carefully matched comparison group designs 
(as defined in this notice), interrupted time series designs (as 
defined in this notice), or regression discontinuity designs (as 
defined in this notice).
    Carefully matched comparison group design means a type of quasi-
experimental study that attempts to approximate an experimental study. 
More specifically, it is a design in which project participants are 
matched with non-participants based on key characteristics that are 
thought to be related to the outcome. These characteristics include, 
but are not limited to: (1) Prior test scores and other measures of 
academic achievement (preferably, the same measures that the study will 
use to evaluate outcomes for the two groups); (2) demographic 
characteristics, such as age, disability, gender, English proficiency, 
ethnicity, poverty level, parents' educational attainment, and single- 
or two-parent family background; (3) the time period in which the two 
groups are studied (e.g., the two groups are children entering 
kindergarten in the same year as opposed to sequential years); and (4) 
methods used to collect outcome data (e.g., the same test of reading 
skills administered in the same way to both groups).
    Interrupted time series design \10\ means a type of quasi-
experimental study in which the outcome of interest is measured 
multiple times before and after the treatment for program participants 
only. If the program had an impact, the outcomes after treatment will 
have a different slope or level from those before treatment. That is, 
the series should show an ``interruption'' of the prior situation at 
the time when the program was implemented. Adding a comparison group 
time series, such as schools not participating in the program or 
schools participating in the program in a different geographic area, 
substantially increases the reliability of the findings.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \10\ A single subject or single case design is an adaptation of 
an interrupted time series design that relies on the comparison of 
treatment effects on a single subject or group of single subjects. 
There is little confidence that findings based on this design would 
be the same for other members of the population. In some single 
subject designs, treatment reversal or multiple baseline designs are 
used to increase internal validity. In a treatment reversal design, 
after a pretreatment or baseline outcome measurement is compared 
with a post-treatment measure, the treatment would then be stopped 
for a period of time, a second baseline measure of the outcome would 
be taken, followed by a second application of the treatment or a 
different treatment. A multiple baseline design addresses concerns 
about the effects of normal development, timing of the treatment, 
and amount of the treatment with treatment-reversal designs by using 
a varying time schedule for introduction of the treatment and/or 
treatments of different lengths or intensity.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Regression discontinuity design study means, in part, a quasi-
experimental study design that closely approximates an experimental 
study. In a regression discontinuity design, participants are assigned 
to a treatment or comparison group based on a numerical rating or score 
of a variable unrelated to the treatment such as the rating of an 
application for funding. Another example would be assignment of 
eligible students, teachers, classrooms, or schools above a certain 
score (``cut score'') to the treatment group and assignment of those 
below the score to the comparison group.
    Independent evaluation means that the evaluation is designed and 
carried out independent of, but in coordination

[[Page 12064]]

with, any employees of the entities who develop a practice, strategy, 
or program and are implementing it. This independence helps ensure the 
objectivity of an evaluation and prevents even the appearance of a 
conflict of interest.

Other Definitions

    Applicant means the entity that applies for a grant under this 
program on behalf of an eligible applicant (i.e., an LEA or a 
partnership in accordance with section 14007(a)(1)(B) of the ARRA).
    Official partner means any of the entities required to be part of a 
partnership under section 14007(a)(1)(B) of the ARRA.
    Other partner means any entity, other than the applicant and any 
official partner, that may be involved in a proposed project.
    Consortium of schools means two or more public elementary or 
secondary schools acting collaboratively for the purpose of applying 
for and implementing an Investing in Innovation Fund grant jointly with 
an eligible nonprofit organization.
    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.
    Formative assessment means assessment questions, tools, and 
processes that are embedded in instruction and are used by teachers and 
students to provide timely feedback for purposes of adjusting 
instruction to improve learning.
    Interim assessment means an assessment that is given at regular and 
specified intervals throughout the school year, is designed to evaluate 
students' knowledge and skills relative to a specific set of academic 
standards, and produces results that can be aggregated (e.g., by 
course, grade level, school, or LEA) in order to inform teachers and 
administrators at the student, classroom, school, and LEA levels.
    Highly effective principal means a principal whose students, 
overall and for each subgroup as described in section 
1111(b)(3)(C)(xiii) of the ESEA (i.e., economically disadvantaged 
students, students from major racial and ethnic groups, migrant 
students, students with disabilities, students with limited English 
proficiency, and students of each gender), achieve high rates (e.g., 
one and one-half grade levels in an academic year) of student growth. 
Eligible applicants may include multiple measures, provided that 
principal effectiveness is evaluated, in significant part, based on 
student growth. Supplemental measures may include, for example, high 
school graduation rates; college enrollment rates; evidence of 
providing supportive teaching and learning conditions, support for 
ensuring effective instruction across subject areas for a well-rounded 
education, strong instructional leadership, and positive family and 
community engagement; or evidence of attracting, developing, and 
retaining high numbers of effective teachers.
    Highly effective teacher means a teacher whose students achieve 
high rates (e.g., one and one-half grade levels in an academic year) of 
student growth. Eligible applicants may include multiple measures, 
provided that teacher effectiveness is evaluated, in significant part, 
based on student growth. Supplemental measures may include, for 
example, multiple observation-based assessments of teacher performance 
or evidence of leadership roles (which may include mentoring or leading 
professional learning communities) that increase the effectiveness of 
other teachers in the school or LEA.
    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, 
who are far below grade level, who are over-age and under-credited, who 
have left school before receiving a regular high school diploma, who 
are at risk of not graduating with a regular high school diploma on 
time, who are homeless, who are in foster care, who have been 
incarcerated, who have disabilities, or who are limited English 
proficient.
    National level, as used in reference to a Scale-up grant, describes 
a project that is able to be effective in a wide variety of communities 
and student populations around the country, including rural and urban 
areas, as well as with the different groups of students described in 
section 1111(b)(3)(C)(xiii) of the ESEA (i.e., economically 
disadvantaged students, students from major racial and ethnic groups, 
migrant students, students with disabilities, students with limited 
English proficiency, and students of each gender).
    Regional level, as used in reference to a Scale-up or Validation 
grant, describes a project that is able to serve a variety of 
communities and student populations within a State or multiple States, 
including rural and urban areas, as well as the different groups of 
students described in section 1111(b)(3)(C)(xiii) of the ESEA (i.e., 
economically disadvantaged students, students from major racial and 
ethnic groups, migrant students, students with disabilities, students 
with limited English proficiency, and students of each gender). To be 
considered a regional-level project, a project must serve students in 
more than one LEA. The exception to this requirement would be a project 
implemented in a State in which the State educational agency is the 
sole educational agency for all schools and thus may be considered an 
LEA under section 9101(26) of the ESEA. Such a State would meet the 
definition of regional for the purposes of this notice.
    Rural LEA means an 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 following Department Web 
sites. For the SRSA: 
http://www.ed.gov/programs/reapsrsa/eligible09/index.html. For the RLIS: 
http://www.ed.gov/programs/reaprlisp/eligibility.html.
    Student achievement means--
    (a) For tested grades and subjects: (1) A student's score on the 
State's assessments under section 1111(b)(3) of the ESEA; and, as 
appropriate, (2) other measures of student learning, such as those 
described in paragraph (b) of this definition, provided they are 
rigorous and comparable across classrooms; and
    (b) For non-tested grades and subjects: Alternative measures of 
student learning and performance such as student scores on pre-tests 
and end-of-course tests; student performance on English language 
proficiency assessments; and other measures of student achievement that 
are rigorous and comparable across classrooms.
    Student growth means the change in student achievement data for an 
individual student between two or more points in time. Growth may be 
measured by a variety of approaches, but any approach used must be 
statistically rigorous and based on student achievement data, and may 
also include other measures of student learning in order to increase 
the construct validity and generalizability of the information.
    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

[[Page 12065]]

is implemented has been approved by the Secretary to use such a rate 
under Title I of the ESEA.
    Regular high school diploma means, consistent with 34 CFR 
200.19(b)(1)(iv), the standard high school diploma that is awarded to 
students in the State and that is fully aligned with the State's 
academic content standards or a higher diploma and does not include a 
General Education Development (GED) credential, certificate of 
attendance, or any alternative award.

Selection Criteria

    The Secretary establishes the following selection criteria for 
evaluating an application under the Investing in Innovation Fund. We 
may apply these criteria in any year in which this program is in 
effect. In the notice inviting applications, we will announce the 
maximum possible points assigned to each criterion.
1. Scale-Up Grants
    A. Need for the Project and Quality of the Project Design.
    The Secretary considers the need for the project and quality of the 
design of the proposed project.
    In determining the need for the project and quality of the design 
of the proposed project, the Secretary considers the following factors:
    (1) The extent to which the proposed project represents an 
exceptional approach to the priorities the eligible applicant is 
seeking to meet (i.e., addresses a largely unmet need, particularly for 
high-need students, and is a practice, strategy, or program that has 
not already been widely adopted).
    (2) The extent to which the proposed project has a clear set of 
goals and an explicit strategy, with actions that are (a) aligned with 
the priorities the eligible applicant is seeking to meet, and (b) 
expected to result in achieving the goals, objectives, and outcomes of 
the proposed project.
    B. Strength of Research, Significance of Effect, and Magnitude of 
Effect.
    The Secretary considers the strength of the existing research 
evidence,\11\ including the internal validity (strength of causal 
conclusions) and external validity (generalizability) of the effects 
reported in prior research, on whether the proposed project will 
improve student achievement or student growth, close achievement gaps, 
decrease dropout rates, increase high school graduation rates, or 
increase college enrollment and completion rates. Eligible applicants 
may also demonstrate success through an intermediate variable that is 
strongly correlated with improving these outcomes, such as teacher or 
principal effectiveness.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \11\ For additional information on the evidence for Scale-up 
grants, see Table 3 later in this section.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In determining the strength of the existing research evidence, the 
Secretary considers the following factors:
    (1) The extent to which the eligible applicant demonstrates that 
there is strong evidence (as defined in this notice) that its 
implementation of the proposed practice, strategy, or program will have 
a statistically significant, substantial, and important effect on 
improving student achievement or student growth, closing achievement 
gaps, decreasing dropout rates, increasing high school graduation 
rates, or increasing college enrollment and completion rates.
    (2) The importance and magnitude of the effect expected to be 
obtained by the proposed project, including the extent to which the 
project will substantially and measurably improve student achievement 
or student growth, close achievement gaps, decrease dropout rates, 
increase high school graduation rates, or increase college enrollment 
and completion rates. The evidence in support of the importance and 
magnitude of the effect would be the research-based evidence provided 
by the eligible applicant to support the proposed project.
    C. Experience of the Eligible Applicant.
    The Secretary considers the experience of the eligible applicant in 
implementing the proposed project.
    In determining the experience of the eligible applicant, the 
Secretary considers the following factors:
    (1) The past performance of the eligible applicant in implementing 
large, complex, and rapidly growing projects.
    (2) The extent to which an eligible applicant provides information 
and data demonstrating that--
    (a) In the case of an eligible applicant that is an LEA, the LEA 
has--
    (i) Significantly closed the achievement gaps between groups of 
students described in section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA, or significantly 
increased student achievement for all groups of students described in 
such section; and
    (ii) Made significant improvements in other areas, such as 
graduation rates or increased recruitment and placement of high-quality 
teachers and principals, as demonstrated with meaningful data; or
    (b) In the case of an eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit 
organization, the nonprofit organization has significantly improved 
student achievement, attainment, or retention through its record of 
work with an LEA or schools.
    D. Quality of the Project Evaluation.
    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 include a 
well-designed experimental study or, if a well-designed experimental 
study of the project is not possible, the extent to which the methods 
of evaluation will include a well-designed quasi-experimental study.
    (2) The extent to which, for either an experimental study or a 
quasi-experimental study, the study will be conducted of the practice, 
strategy, or program as implemented at scale.
    (3) The extent to which the methods of evaluation will provide 
high-quality implementation data and performance feedback, and permit 
periodic assessment of progress toward achieving intended outcomes.
    (4) The extent to which the evaluation will provide sufficient 
information about the key elements and approach of the project so as to 
facilitate replication or testing in other settings.
    (5) The extent to which the proposed project plan includes 
sufficient resources to carry out the project evaluation effectively.
    (6) The extent to which the proposed evaluation is rigorous, 
independent, and neither the program developer nor the project 
implementer will evaluate the impact of the project.

    Note: We encourage eligible applicants to review the following 
technical assistance resources on evaluation: (1) What Works 
Clearinghouse 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/.

    E. Strategy and Capacity to Bring to Scale.
    The Secretary considers the quality of the eligible applicant's 
strategy and capacity to bring the proposed project to scale on a 
national, regional, or State level.
    In determining the quality of the strategy and capacity to bring 
the proposed project to scale, the Secretary considers:
    (1) The number of students proposed to be reached by the proposed 
project and the capacity of the eligible applicant and any other 
partners to reach the proposed number of students during the course of 
the grant period.
    (2) The eligible applicant's capacity (e.g., in terms of qualified 
personnel,

[[Page 12066]]

financial resources, or management capacity) to bring the proposed 
project to scale on a national, regional, or State level working 
directly, or through partners, either during or following the end of 
the grant period.
    (3) The feasibility of the proposed project to be replicated 
successfully, if positive results are obtained, in a variety of 
settings and with a variety of student populations. Evidence of this 
ability includes the proposed project's demonstrated success in 
multiple settings and with different types of students, the 
availability of resources and expertise required for implementing the 
project with fidelity, and the proposed project's evidence of relative 
ease of use or user satisfaction.
    (4) The eligible applicant's estimate of the cost of the proposed 
project, which includes the start-up and operating costs per student 
per year (including indirect costs) for reaching the total number of 
students proposed to be served by the project. The eligible applicant 
must include an estimate of the costs for the eligible applicant or 
others (including other partners) to reach 100,000, 500,000, and 
1,000,000 students.
    (5) The mechanisms the eligible applicant will use to broadly 
disseminate information on its project so as to support replication.
    F. Sustainability.
    The Secretary considers the adequacy of resources to continue the 
proposed project after the grant period ends.
    In determining the adequacy of resources for the proposed project, 
the Secretary considers the following factors:
    (1) The extent to which the eligible applicant demonstrates that it 
has the resources to operate the project beyond the length of the 
Scale-up grant, including a multi-year financial and operating model 
and accompanying plan; the demonstrated commitment of any other 
partners; and evidence of broad support from stakeholders (e.g., State 
educational agencies, teachers' unions) critical to the project's long-
term success.
    (2) The potential and planning for the incorporation of project 
purposes, activities, or benefits into the ongoing work of the eligible 
applicant and any other partners at the end of the Scale-up grant.
    G. Quality of the Management Plan and Personnel.
    The Secretary considers the quality of the management plan and 
personnel for the proposed project.
    In determining the quality of the management plan and personnel for 
the proposed project, the Secretary considers:
    (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, as well as tasks related to the sustainability and 
scalability of the proposed project.
    (2) The qualifications, including relevant training and experience, 
of the project director and key project personnel, especially in 
managing large, complex, and rapidly growing projects.
    (3) The qualifications, including relevant expertise and 
experience, of the project director and key personnel of the 
independent evaluator, especially in designing and conducting large-
scale experimental and quasi-experimental studies of educational 
initiatives.
2. Validation Grants
    A. Need for the Project and Quality of the Project Design.
    The Secretary considers the need for the project and quality of the 
design of the proposed project.
    In determining the need for the project and quality of the design 
of the proposed project, the Secretary considers the following factors:
    (1) The extent to which the proposed project represents an 
exceptional approach to the priorities the eligible applicant is 
seeking to meet (i.e., addresses a largely unmet need, particularly for 
high-need students, and is a practice, strategy, or program that has 
not already been widely adopted).
    (2) The extent to which the proposed project has a clear set of 
goals and an explicit strategy, with actions that are (a) aligned with 
the priorities the eligible applicant is seeking to meet, and (b) 
expected to result in achieving the goals, objectives, and outcomes of 
the proposed project.
    (3) The extent to which the proposed project is consistent with the 
research evidence supporting the proposed project, taking into 
consideration any differences in context.
    B. Strength of Research, Significance of Effect, and Magnitude of 
Effect.
    The Secretary considers the strength of the existing research 
evidence, including the internal validity (strength of causal 
conclusions) and external validity (generalizability) of the effects 
reported in prior research, on whether the proposed project will 
improve student achievement or student growth, close achievement gaps, 
decrease dropout rates, increase high school graduation rates, or 
increase college enrollment and completion rates. Eligible applicants 
may also demonstrate success through an intermediate variable that is 
strongly correlated with improving these outcomes, such as teacher or 
principal effectiveness.
    In determining the strength of the existing research evidence,\12\ 
the Secretary considers the following factors:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \12\ For additional information on the evidence for Validation 
grants, see Table 3 later in this section.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (1) The extent to which the eligible applicant demonstrates that 
there is moderate evidence (as defined in this notice) that the 
proposed practice, strategy, or program will have a statistically 
significant, substantial, and important effect on improving student 
achievement or student growth, closing achievement gaps, decreasing 
dropout rates, increasing high school graduation rates, or increasing 
college enrollment and completion rates.
    (2) The importance and magnitude of the effect expected to be 
obtained by the proposed project, including the likelihood that the 
project will substantially and measurably improve student achievement 
or student growth, close achievement gaps, decrease dropout rates, 
increase high school graduation rates, or increase college enrollment 
and completion rates. The evidence in support of the importance and 
magnitude of the effect would be the research-based evidence provided 
by the eligible applicant to support the proposed project.
    C. Experience of the Eligible Applicant.
    The Secretary considers the experience of the eligible applicant in 
implementing the proposed project.
    In determining the experience of the eligible applicant, the 
Secretary considers the following factors:
    (1) The past performance of the eligible applicant in implementing 
complex projects.
    (2) The extent to which an eligible applicant provides information 
and data demonstrating that--
    (a) In the case of an eligible applicant that is an LEA, the LEA 
has--
    (i) Significantly closed the achievement gaps between groups of 
students described in section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA, or significantly 
increased student achievement for all groups of students described in 
such section; and
    (ii) Made significant improvements in other areas, such as 
graduation rates or increased recruitment and placement of high-quality 
teachers and principals, as demonstrated with meaningful data; or
    (b) In the case of an eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit 
organization, the nonprofit organization has significantly improved 
student

[[Page 12067]]

achievement, attainment, or retention through its record of work with 
an LEA or schools.
    D. Quality of the Project Evaluation.
    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 include a 
well-designed experimental study or well-designed quasi-experimental 
study.
    (2) The extent to which the methods of evaluation will provide 
high-quality implementation data and performance feedback, and permit 
periodic assessment of progress toward achieving intended outcomes.
    (3) The extent to which the evaluation will provide sufficient 
information about the key elements and approach of the project so as to 
facilitate replication or testing in other settings.
    (4) The extent to which the proposed project plan includes 
sufficient resources to carry out the project evaluation effectively.
    (5) The extent to which the proposed evaluation is rigorous, 
independent, and neither the program developer nor the project 
implementer will evaluate the impact of the project.

    Note: We encourage eligible applicants to review the following 
technical assistance resources on evaluation: (1) What Works 
Clearinghouse Procedures and Standards Handbook: 
http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/references/idocviewer/doc.aspx?docid=19&tocid=1; 
and (2) IES/NCES Technical Methods papers: http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/tech_methods/.

    E. Strategy and Capacity to Bring to Scale.
    The Secretary considers the quality of the eligible applicant's 
strategy and capacity to bring the proposed project to scale on a State 
or regional level.
    In determining the quality of the strategy and capacity to bring 
the proposed project to scale, the Secretary considers:
    (1) The number of students proposed to be reached by the proposed 
project and the capacity of the eligible applicant and any other 
partners to reach the proposed number of students during the course of 
the grant period.
    (2) The eligible applicant's capacity (e.g., in terms of qualified 
personnel, financial resources, or management capacity) to bring the 
proposed project to scale on a State or regional level (as appropriate, 
based on the results of the proposed project) working directly, or 
through other partners, either during or following the end of the grant 
period.
    (3) The feasibility of the proposed project to be replicated 
successfully, if positive results are obtained, in a variety of 
settings and with a variety of student populations. Evidence of this 
ability includes the availability of resources and expertise required 
for implementing the project with fidelity, and the proposed project's 
evidence of relative ease of use or user satisfaction.
    (4) The eligible applicant's estimate of the cost of the proposed 
project, which includes the start-up and operating costs per student 
per year (including indirect costs) for reaching the total number of 
students proposed to be served by the project. The eligible applicant 
must include an estimate of the costs for the eligible applicant or 
others (including other partners) to reach 100,000, 250,000, and 
500,000 students.
    (5) The mechanisms the eligible applicant will use to broadly 
disseminate information on its project to support further development, 
expansion, or replication.
    F. Sustainability.
    The Secretary considers the adequacy of resources to continue to 
develop the proposed project.
    In determining the adequacy of resources for the proposed project, 
the Secretary considers the following factors:
    (1) The extent to which the eligible applicant demonstrates that it 
has the resources, as well as the support of stakeholders (e.g., State 
educational agencies, teachers' unions), to operate the project beyond 
the length of the Validation grant.
    (2) The potential and planning for the incorporation of project 
purposes, activities, or benefits into the ongoing work of the eligible 
applicant and any other partners at the end of the Validation grant.
    G. Quality of the Management Plan and Personnel.
    The Secretary considers the quality of the management plan and 
personnel for the proposed project.
    In determining the quality of the management plan and personnel for 
the proposed project, the Secretary considers:
    (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, as well as tasks related to the sustainability and 
scalability of the proposed project.
    (2) The qualifications, including relevant training and experience, 
of the project director and key project personnel, especially in 
managing complex projects.
    (3) The qualifications, including relevant expertise and 
experience, of the project director and key personnel of the 
independent evaluator, especially in designing and conducting 
experimental and quasi-experimental studies of educational initiatives.
3. Development Grants
    A. Need for the Project and Quality of the Project Design.
    The Secretary considers the need for the project and quality of the 
design of the proposed project.
    In determining the need for the project and quality of the design 
of the proposed project, the Secretary considers the following factors:
    (1) The extent to which the proposed project represents an 
exceptional approach to the priorities the eligible applicant is 
seeking to meet (i.e., addresses a largely unmet need, particularly for 
high-need students, and is a practice, strategy, or program that has 
not already been widely adopted).
    (2) The extent to which the proposed project has a clear set of 
goals and an explicit strategy, with the goals, objectives, and 
outcomes to be achieved by the proposed project clearly specified and 
measurable and linked to the priorities the eligible applicant is 
seeking to meet.
    B. Strength of Research, Significance of Effect, and Magnitude of 
Effect.
    The Secretary considers the strength of the existing research 
evidence,\13\ including reported practice, theoretical considerations, 
and the significance and magnitude of any effects reported in prior 
research, on whether the proposed project will improve student 
achievement or student growth, close achievement gaps, decrease dropout 
rates, increase high school graduation rates, or increase college 
enrollment and completion rates. Eligible applicants may also 
demonstrate success through an intermediate variable that is strongly 
correlated with improving these outcomes, such as teacher or principal 
effectiveness.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \13\ For additional information on the evidence for Development 
grants, see Table 3 later in this section.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In determining the strength of the existing research evidence, the 
Secretary considers the following factors:
    (1) The extent to which the eligible applicant demonstrates that 
there are research-based findings or reasonable hypotheses that support 
the proposed project, including related research in education and other 
sectors.
    (2) The extent to which the proposed project has been attempted 
previously, albeit on a limited scale or in a limited

[[Page 12068]]

setting, with promising results that suggest that more formal and 
systematic study is warranted.
    (3) The extent to which the eligible applicant demonstrates that, 
if funded, the proposed project likely will have a positive impact, as 
measured by the importance or magnitude of the effect, on improving 
student achievement or student growth, closing achievement gaps, 
decreasing dropout rates, increasing high school graduation rates, or 
increasing college enrollment and completion rates.
    C. Experience of the Eligible Applicant.
    The Secretary considers the experience of the eligible applicant in 
implementing the proposed project or a similar project.
    In determining the experience of the eligible applicant, the 
Secretary considers the following factors:
    (1) The past performance of the eligible applicant in implementing 
projects of the size and scope proposed by the eligible applicant.
    (2) The extent to which an eligible applicant provides information 
and data demonstrating that--
    (a) In the case of an eligible applicant that is an LEA, the LEA 
has--
    (i) Significantly closed the achievement gaps between groups of 
students described in section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA, or significantly 
increased student achievement for all groups of students described in 
such section; and
    (ii) Made significant improvements in other areas, such as 
graduation rates or increased recruitment and placement of high-quality 
teachers and principals, as demonstrated with meaningful data; or
    (b) In the case of an eligible applicant that includes a nonprofit 
organization, the nonprofit organization has significantly improved 
student achievement, attainment, or retention through its record of 
work with an LEA or schools.
    D. Quality of the Project Evaluation.
    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 are appropriate 
to the size and scope of the proposed project.
    (2) The extent to which the methods of evaluation will provide 
high-quality implementation data and performance feedback, and permit 
periodic assessment of progress toward achieving intended outcomes.
    (3) The extent to which the evaluation will provide sufficient 
information about the key elements and approach of the project to 
facilitate further development, replication, or testing in other 
settings.
    (4) The extent to which the proposed project plan includes 
sufficient resources to carry out the project evaluation effectively.

    Note: We encourage eligible applicants to review the following 
technical assistance resources on evaluation: (1) What Works 
Clearinghouse 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/.

    E. Strategy and Capacity to Further Develop and Bring to Scale.
    The Secretary considers the quality of the eligible applicant's 
strategy and capacity to further develop and bring to scale the 
proposed project.
    In determining the quality of the strategy and capacity to further 
develop and bring to scale the proposed project, the Secretary 
considers:
    (1) The number of students proposed to be reached by the proposed 
project and the capacity of the eligible applicant and any other 
partners to reach the proposed number of students during the course of 
the grant period.
    (2) The eligible applicant's capacity (e.g., in terms of qualified 
personnel, financial resources, or management capacity) to further 
develop and bring to scale the proposed practice, strategy, or program, 
or to work with others (including other partners) to ensure that the 
proposed practice, strategy, or program can be further developed and 
brought to scale, based on the findings of the proposed project.
    (3) The feasibility of the proposed project to be replicated 
successfully, if positive results are obtained, in a variety of 
settings and with a variety of student populations. Evidence of this 
ability includes the availability of resources and expertise required 
for implementing the project with fidelity, and the proposed project's 
evidence of relative ease of use or user satisfaction.
    (4) The eligible applicant's estimate of the cost of the proposed 
project, which includes the start-up and operating costs per student 
per year (including indirect costs) for reaching the total number of 
students proposed to be served by the project. The eligible applicant 
must include an estimate of the costs for the eligible applicant or 
others (including other partners) to reach 100,000, 250,000, and 
500,000 students.
    (5) The mechanisms the eligible applicant will use to broadly 
disseminate information on its project so as to support further 
development or replication.
    F. Sustainability.
    The Secretary considers the adequacy of resources to continue to 
develop or expand the proposed practice, strategy, or program after the 
grant period ends.
    In determining the adequacy of resources for the proposed project, 
the Secretary considers the following factors:
    (1) The extent to which the eligible applicant demonstrates that it 
has the resources, as well as the support from stakeholders (e.g., 
State educational agencies, teachers' unions) to operate the project 
beyond the length of the Development grant.
    (2) The potential and planning for the incorporation of project 
purposes, activities, or benefits into the ongoing work of the eligible 
applicant and any other partners at the end of the Development grant.
    G. Quality of the Management Plan and Personnel.
    The Secretary considers the quality of the management plan and 
personnel for the proposed project.
    In determining the quality of the management plan and personnel for 
the proposed project, the Secretary considers:
    (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 the project director and key project personnel, especially in 
managing projects of the size and scope of the proposed project.

[[Page 12069]]



    Table 3 \14\--Differences Between the Three Types of Investing in Innovation Fund Grants in Terms of the
                    Evidence Required to Support the Proposed Practice, Strategy, or Program
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                        Scale-up grants           Validation grants        Development grants
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Strength of Research.............  Strong evidence..........  Moderate evidence.......  Reasonable hypotheses.
Internal Validity (Strength of     High internal validity     (1) High internal         Theory and reported
 Causal Conclusions) and External   and high external          validity and moderate     practice suggest the
 Validity (Generalizability).       validity.                  external validity; or     potential for efficacy
                                                               (2) moderate internal     for at least some
                                                               validity and high         participants and
                                                               external validity.        settings.
Prior Research Studies Supporting  (1) More than one well-    (1) At least one well-    (1) Evidence that the
 Effectiveness or Efficacy of the   designed and well-         designed and well-        proposed practice,
 Proposed Practice, Strategy, or    implemented experimental   implemented               strategy, or program,
 Program.                           study or well-designed     experimental or quasi-    or one similar to it,
                                    and well-implemented       experimental study,       has been attempted
                                    quasi-experimental         with small sample sizes   previously, albeit on a
                                    study; or (2) one large,   or other conditions of    limited scale or in a
                                    well-designed and well-    implementation or         limited setting, and
                                    implemented randomized     analysis that limit       yielded promising
                                    controlled, multisite      generalizability; (2)     results that suggest
                                    trial.                     at least one well-        that more formal and
                                                               designed and well-        systematic study is
                                                               implemented               warranted; and (2) a
                                                               experimental or quasi-    rationale for the
                                                               experimental study that   proposed practice,
                                                               does not demonstrate      strategy, or program
                                                               equivalence between the   that is based on
                                                               intervention and          research findings or
                                                               comparison groups at      reasonable hypotheses,
                                                               program entry but that    including related
                                                               has no other major        research or theories in
                                                               flaws related to          education and other
                                                               internal validity; or     sectors.
                                                               (3) correlational
                                                               research with strong
                                                               statistical controls
                                                               for selection bias and
                                                               for discerning the
                                                               influence of internal
                                                               factors.
Practice, Strategy, or Program in  The same as that proposed  The same as, or very      The same as, or similar
 Prior Research.                    for support under the      similar to, that          to, that proposed for
                                    Scale-up grant.            proposed for support      support under the
                                                               under the Validation      Development grant.
                                                               grant.
Participants and Settings in       Participants and settings  Participants or settings  Participants or settings
 Prior Research.                    included the kinds of      may have been more        may have been more
                                    participants and           limited than those        limited than those
                                    settings proposed to       proposed to receive the   proposed to receive the
                                    receive the treatment      treatment under the       treatment under the
                                    under the Scale-up grant.  Validation grant.         Development grant.
Significance of Effect...........  Effect in prior research   Effect in prior research  Practice, strategy, or
                                    was statistically          would be likely to be     program warrants
                                    significant, and would     statistically             further study to
                                    be likely to be            significant in a sample   investigate efficacy.
                                    statistically              of the size proposed
                                    significant in a sample    for the Validation
                                    of the size proposed for   grant.
                                    the Scale-up grant.
Magnitude of Effect..............  Based on prior research,   Based on prior research,  Based on prior
                                    substantial and            substantial and           implementation,
                                    important for the target   important, with the       promising for the
                                    population for the Scale-  potential of the same     target population for
                                    up project.                for the target            the Development
                                                               population for the        project.
                                                               Validation project.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Executive Order 12866

    Under Executive Order 12866, the Secretary must determine whether 
this regulatory action is ``significant'' and, therefore, subject to 
the requirements of the Executive Order and subject to review by OMB. 
Section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866 defines a ``significant 
regulatory action'' as an action likely to result in a rule that may 
(1) have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more, or 
adversely affect a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, 
jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or 
tribal governments, or communities in a material way (also referred to 
as an ``economically significant'' rule); (2) create serious 
inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by 
another agency; (3) materially alter the budgetary impacts of 
entitlement grants, user fees, or loan programs or the rights and 
obligations of recipients thereof; or (4) raise novel legal or policy 
issues arising out of legal mandates, the president's priorities, or 
the principles set forth in the Executive Order. Pursuant to the 
Executive Order, it has been determined that this regulatory action 
will have an annual effect on the economy of more than $100 million 
because the amount of government transfers provided through the 
Investing in Innovation Fund will exceed that amount. Therefore, this 
action is ``economically significant'' and subject to OMB review under 
section 3(f)(1) of the Executive Order.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \14\ This table is identical to Table 1 earlier in this notice.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The potential costs associated with this regulatory action are 
those resulting from statutory requirements and those we have 
determined as necessary for administering this program effectively and 
efficiently.
    In assessing the potential costs and benefits--both quantitative 
and qualitative--of this regulatory action, we have determined that the 
benefits of the final priorities, requirements, definitions, and 
selection criteria justify the costs.
    We have determined, also, that this regulatory action does not 
unduly interfere with State, local, and tribal governments in the 
exercise of their governmental functions.

Need for Federal Regulatory Action

    These final priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection 
criteria are

[[Page 12070]]

needed to implement the Investing in Innovation Fund. The Secretary 
does not believe that the statute, by itself, provides a sufficient 
level of detail to ensure that the program achieves the greatest 
national impact in promoting educational innovation. The authorizing 
language is very brief and provides only broad parameters governing the 
program. The final priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection 
criteria established in this notice provide greater clarity on the 
types of activities the Department seeks to fund, and permit the 
Department to fund projects that are closely aligned with the 
Secretary's priorities.
    In the absence of specific selection criteria for the Investing in 
Innovation Fund, the Department would use the general selection 
criteria in 34 CFR 75.210 in selecting grant recipients. The Secretary 
does not believe the use of those general criteria would be appropriate 
for the Investing in Innovation Fund grant competition, because they do 
not focus on the educational reform and innovation activities most 
likely to improve student achievement and attainment outcomes and 
eliminate persistent disparities in these outcomes among different 
populations of students.

Regulatory Alternatives Considered

    The Department considered a variety of possible priorities, 
requirements, definitions, and selection criteria before deciding to 
establish those included in this notice. The final priorities, 
requirements, definitions, and selection criteria are those that the 
Secretary believes best capture the purposes of the program while 
clarifying what the Secretary expects the program to accomplish and 
ensuring that program activities are aligned with Departmental 
priorities. The final priorities, requirements, definitions, and 
selection criteria also provide eligible applicants with flexibility in 
selecting activities to apply to carry out under the program. The 
Secretary believes that the final priorities, requirements, 
definitions, and selection criteria thus appropriately balance a 
limited degree of specificity with broad flexibility in implementation.

Summary of Costs and Benefits

    The Secretary believes that the final priorities, requirements, 
definitions, and selection criteria do not impose significant costs on 
eligible applicants. The Secretary also believes that the benefits of 
the final priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria 
outweigh any associated costs.
    The Secretary believes that the final priorities, requirements, 
definitions, and selection criteria would result in the selection of 
high-quality applications to implement activities that are most likely 
to have a significant national impact on educational reform and 
improvement. The final priorities, requirements, definitions, and 
selection criteria are intended to provide clarity as to the scope of 
activities the Secretary expects to support with program funds and the 
expected burden of work involved in preparing an application and 
implementing a project under the program. The pool of possible 
applicants is very large; during school year 2007-08, 9,729 LEAs across 
the country (about 65 percent of all LEAs) made AYP. Although not every 
one of those LEAs would necessarily meet all the eligibility 
requirements, the number of LEAs that would meet them is likely to be 
in the thousands. Eligible applicants would need to consider carefully 
the effort that will be required to prepare a strong application, their 
capacity to implement a project successfully, and their chances of 
submitting a successful application.
    The Secretary believes that the costs imposed on applicants by the 
final priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria 
would be limited to paperwork burden related to preparing an 
application and that the benefits of the final priorities, 
requirements, definitions, and selection criteria outweigh any costs 
incurred by applicants. The costs of carrying out activities will be 
paid for with program funds and with matching funds provided by 
private-sector partners. Thus, the costs of implementation would not be 
a burden for any eligible applicants, including small entities. 
However, under the final selection criteria the Secretary will assess 
the extent to which an eligible applicant is able to sustain a project 
once Federal funding through the Investing in Innovation Fund is no 
longer available. Thus, eligible applicants should propose activities 
that they will be able to sustain without funding from the program and, 
thus, in essence, should include in their project plan the specific 
steps they will take for sustained implementation of the proposed 
project.
    The final priorities provide flexibility on the topics and types of 
grant activities applicants may propose. The use of three types of 
grants--Scale-up, Validation, and Development grants--will allow 
potential eligible applicants to determine which type of grant they are 
best suited to apply for, based on their own priorities, resources, and 
capacity to implement grant activities.

Accounting Statement

    As required by OMB Circular A-4 (available at 
http://www.Whitehouse.gov/omb/Circulars/a004/a-4.pdf), in the following table, 
we have prepared an accounting statement showing the classification of 
the expenditures associated with the provisions of this final 
regulatory action. This table provides our best estimate of the Federal 
payments to be made to eligible applicants under this program as a 
result of this final regulatory action. Expenditures are classified as 
transfers to LEAs and nonprofit organizations.

  Table--Accounting Statement Classification of Estimated Expenditures
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Category                     Transfers (in millions)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Annual Monetized Transfers.............  $643.
From Whom to Whom......................  Federal Government to LEAs and
                                          nonprofit organizations.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    The requirements and selection criteria established in this notice 
require the collection of information that is subject to review by the 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act 
of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520). The Department has received emergency 
approval for the information collections described below under OMB 
Control No. 1855-0021.
    Estimates for Scale-up Grants: We estimate 100 applicants for 
Scale-up grants, and that each applicant would spend approximately 120 
hours of staff time to address the application requirements and 
criteria, prepare the application, and obtain necessary clearances. The 
total number of hours for all Scale-up applicants is an estimated 
12,000 hours (100 applicants times 120 hours equals 12,000 hours).

[[Page 12071]]

    Estimates for Validation Grants: We estimate 500 applicants for 
Validation grants, and that each applicant would spend approximately 
120 hours of staff time to address the application requirements and 
criteria, prepare the application, and obtain necessary clearances. The 
total number of hours for all Validation applicants is an estimated 
60,000 hours (500 applicants times 120 hours equals 60,000 hours).
    Estimates for Development Grants: We estimate 1000 full 
applications for Development grants, and that each applicant would 
spend approximately 120 hours of staff time to address the application 
requirements and criteria, prepare the application, and obtain 
necessary clearances. The total number of hours for all Development 
applicants is an estimated 120,000 hours (1000 applicants times 120 
hours equals 120,000 hours).
    Total Estimates: Across the three grant types, we estimate the 
average total cost per hour of the LEA and nonprofit organization staff 
who carry out this work to be $25.00 an hour. The total estimated cost 
for all applicants would be $4,800,000 ($25.00 times 192,000 (12,000 + 
60,000 + 120,000) hours equals $4,800,000).

Regulatory Flexibility Act Certification

    The Secretary certifies that this final regulatory action will not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The small entities that this final regulatory action will 
affect are small LEAs or nonprofit organizations applying for and 
receiving funds under this program. The Secretary believes that the 
costs imposed on applicants by the final priorities, requirements, 
definitions, and selection criteria would be limited to paperwork 
burden related to preparing an application and that the benefits of the 
final priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria 
outweigh any costs incurred by applicants.
    Participation in this program is voluntary. For this reason, the 
final priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria 
would impose no burden on small entities in general. Eligible 
applicants would determine whether to apply for funds, and have the 
opportunity to weigh the requirements for preparing applications, and 
any associated costs, against the likelihood of receiving funding and 
the requirements for implementing projects under the program. Eligible 
applicants would most likely apply only if they determine that the 
likely benefits exceed the costs of preparing an application. The 
likely benefits include the potential receipt of a grant as well as 
other benefits that may accrue to an entity through its development of 
an application, such as the use of that application to spur educational 
reforms and improvements without additional Federal funding.
    The U.S. Small Business Administration Size Standards define as 
``small entities'' for-profit or nonprofit institutions with total 
annual revenue below $7,000,000 or, if they are institutions controlled 
by small governmental jurisdictions (that are comprised of cities, 
counties, towns, townships, villages, school districts, or special 
districts), with a population of less than 50,000. The Urban 
Institute's National Center for Charitable Statistics reported that of 
203,635 nonprofit organizations that had an educational mission and 
reported revenue to the Internal Revenue Service by July 2009, 200,342 
(or about 98 percent) had revenues of less than $5 million. In 
addition, there are 12,484 LEAs in the country that meet the definition 
of small entity. However, the Secretary believes that only a small 
number of these entities would be interested in applying for funds 
under this program, thus reducing the likelihood that the final 
priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria in this 
notice would have a significant economic impact on small entities.
    In addition, the Secretary believes that the final priorities, 
requirements, definitions, and selection criteria do not impose any 
additional burden on small entities applying for a grant than they 
would face in the absence of the proposed action. That is, the length 
of the applications those entities would submit in the absence of the 
regulatory action and the time needed to prepare an application would 
likely be the same.
    Further, this final regulatory action may help small entities 
determine whether they have the interest, need, or capacity to 
implement activities under the program and, thus, prevent small 
entities that do not have such an interest, need, and capacity from 
absorbing the burden of applying.
    This final regulatory action would not have a significant economic 
impact on small entities once they receive a grant because they would 
be able to meet the costs of compliance using the funds provided under 
this program and with any matching funds provided by private-sector 
partners.
    Intergovernmental Review: This program is subject to Executive 
Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR 79. One of the objectives of 
the Executive Order is to foster an intergovernmental partnership and a 
strengthened federalism. The Executive Order relies on processes 
developed by State and local governments for coordination and review of 
proposed Federal financial assistance.
    This document provides notification of our specific plans and 
actions for this program.
    Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this 
document in an accessible format (e.g., Braille, large print, 
audiotape, or computer diskette) on request to the program contact 
person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.
    Electronic Access to This Document: You can view this document, as 
well as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal 
Register, in text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) on the 
Internet at the following site: http://www.ed.gov/news/fedregister.
    To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available 
free at this site.

    Note: 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 on GPO Access at: 
http://www.gpoaccess.gov/nara/index.html.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Numbers: 84.396A 
(Scale-up grants), 84.396B (Validation grants), and 84.396C 
(Development grants).

    Dated: March 4, 2010.
Arne Duncan,
Secretary of Education.
[FR Doc. 2010-5147 Filed 3-8-10; 11:15 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P