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  1. NewNote Additional FAQs #41-46 below
  2. FAQs Introduction for Innovative Approaches to Literacy
  3. Program Overview: A-1. What is the authorizing statute for the IAL program?
  4. Program Overview: A-2. What is the purpose of the IAL program?
  5. Eligibility Requirements: B-1 Who is eligible to apply for an IAL grant?
  6. Eligibility Requirements: B-2. Can an individual school receive an IAL grant?
  7. Eligibility Requirements: B-3. If an eligible consortium applies for an IAL grant, who is the applicant and what are the responsibilities of members of the consortium?
  8. Eligibility Requirements: B-4. Are private schools eligible to apply for an IAL grant?
  9. Eligibility Requirements: B-5. How is eligibility for the IAL program determined for LEAs that are not included in SAIPE for school districts?
  10. IAL PROGRAM DEFINITIONS: C-1. What is the definition of an eligible national not-for-profit organization?
  11. IAL PROGRAM DEFINITIONS: C-2. What is the definition of "persistently lowest-achieving schools?
  12. IAL PROGRAMS AND LITERACY EDUCATION: D-1. Must IAL projects specifically address English and language arts as opposed to other academic content-areas?
  13. IAL PROGRAMS AND LITERACY EDUCATION: D-2. What is universal design for learning?
  14. IAL PROGRAMS AND LITERACY EDUCATION: D-3. What are some elements of a high-quality plan for use of technology that can be used by school libraries?
  15. FISCAL RESPONSIBILITIES FOR IAL PROJECTS: E-1. What are allowable costs under the IAL program?
  16. FISCAL RESPONSIBILITIES FOR IAL PROJECTS: E-2. Must an applicant selected for an IAL grant have an approved indirect cost rate to charge indirect costs to programs?
  17. FISCAL RESPONSIBILITIES FOR IAL PROJECTS: E-3. May IAL funds be used to pay stipends, bonuses, scholarships, and direct teacher support such as salaries for specialists or new teachers?
  18. FISCAL RESPONSIBILITIES FOR IAL PROJECTS: E-4. May IAL funds be used for paying rent?
  19. FISCAL RESPONSIBILITIES FOR IAL PROJECTS: E-5. May IAL funds be used for construction?
  20. FISCAL RESPONSIBILITIES FOR IAL PROJECTS: E-6. Is there a cost share requirement for the IAL program?
  21. FISCAL RESPONSIBILITIES FOR IAL PROJECTS: E-7. May applicants include the cost of food in their budgets?
  22. PROGRAM REPORTING: F-1. Are grantees required to submit an annual performance report
  23. PROGRAM REPORTING: F-2. Must an applicant use an outside evaluator?
  24. APPLICATION SUBMISSION: G-1. Is IAL subject to Executive Order 12372?
  25. APPLICATION SUBMISSION: G-2. Must submission of charts and tables be double-spaced in an IAL grant application?
  26. APPLICATION SUBMISSION: G-3. Is there a page limit for the application?
  27. APPLICATION SUBMISSION: G-4. What is the required font for this application submission?
  28. ABSOLUTE AND COMPETITIVE PRIORITIES: H-1. What is an absolute priority? What is a competitive preference priority?
  29. ABSOLUTE AND COMPETITIVE PRIORITIES: H-2. How many absolute and competitive preference priorities are in the IAL NIA?
  30. ABSOLUTE AND COMPETITIVE PRIORITIES: H-3. How many points will be awarded under the competitive priorities?
  31. ABSOLUTE AND COMPETITIVE PREFERENCEPRIORITIES: H-4. How does an applicant meet the absolute priority?
  32. ABSOLUTE AND COMPETITIVE PREFERENCE PRIORITIES: H-5. What is a logic model?
  33. ABSOLUTE AND COMPETITIVE PRIORITIES: H-6. How would an LEA qualify for additional points under the rural competitive preference?
  34. SELECTION CRITERIA: I-1. On what authority are the selection criteria based?
  35. SELECTION CRITERIA: I-2. How will applications be reviewed?
  36. SELECTION CRITERIA: I-3. How will the quality of the project evaluation be reviewed?
  37. SELECTION CRITERIA: I-4. In terms of the evaluation design, what is meant by evidence of promise?
  38. SELECTION CRITERIA: I-5. Will an applicant receive its scores and reviewer comments after the competitions are completed?
  39. SELECTION CRITERIA: I-6. Will the reviewers be asked to read every part of each application?
  40. SELECTION CRITERIA: I-7 Does a grantee’s past performance count as part of the overall selection process?
  41. APPLICABLE REGULATIONS: J-1. What are the applicable regulations that apply to the IAL program?
  42. ADDITIONAL: A-1. Will an applicant meet the rural LEA priority by proposing to serve at least one rural LEA in an application that proposes to serve multiple LEAs, or must all of the LEAs the applicant proposes to serve be rural LEAs?
  43. ADDITIONAL Q&A: A-2. What agency is the certifying agency for LEAs that are not governed by one of the 50 States, and are not included in the SAIPE list (such as: BIE schools, tribal schools, schools in Puerto Rico, Guam, and outlying islands)?
  44. ADDITIONAL Q&A: A-3. FAQ #6 indicates that the members of a consortium may establish a separate legal entity to apply for the grant. Is this recommended?
  45. ADDITIONAL Q&A: A-4. Does the double space/font style/12pt size apply to the logic model?
  46. ADDITIONAL Q&A: A-5. Are the estimates provided in the NIA for a single year, or for 24 months?
  47. ADDITIONAL Q&A: A-6.Can applicants propose projects that award subgrants?

1. NewNote Additional FAQs #41-46 below

Note Additional FAQs #41-46 below

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2. FAQs Introduction for Innovative Approaches to Literacy

The U.S. Department of Education (Department) developed the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program to assist potential applicants in developing high-quality proposals. The FAQs are intended to provide applicants with guidance on the requirements governing the fiscal year (FY) 2014 IAL program competition. The FAQs do not create any rights for, or confer any rights on, any person or institutions.
The Department will provide additional or updated program guidance, as necessary, on its IAL Web site, http://www2.ed.gov/programs/innovapproaches-literacy/index.html. If you have further questions that are not answered here, please e-mail David.Miller@ed.gov, Melvin.Graham@ed.gov, or Peter.Eldridge@ed.gov.

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3. Program Overview: A-1. What is the authorizing statute for the IAL program?

The IAL program is carried out under the legislative authority of the Fund for Improvement of Education (FIE), Title V, part D, subpart 1, sections 5411 through 5413 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA) (20 U.S.C. 7243–7243b).

FIE supports nationally significant programs to improve the quality of elementary and secondary education at the State and local levels and to help all children meet challenging State academic content and student academic achievement standards.

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4. Program Overview: A-2. What is the purpose of the IAL program?

The IAL program supports high-quality programs designed to develop and improve literacy skills for children and students from birth through 12th grade in high-need local educational agencies (high-need LEAs, as defined in the Notice Inviting Applications (NIA)) and schools. The Department intends to support innovative programs that promote early literacy for young children, motivate older children to read, and increase student achievement by using school libraries as partners to improve literacy, distributing free books to children and their families, and offering high-quality literacy activities.

Many schools and districts across the Nation do not have school libraries that deliver high-quality literacy programming to children and their families. Additionally, many schools do not have qualified library media specialists and library facilities. Where facilities do exist, they often lack adequate books and other materials and resources. In many communities, high-need children have limited access to appropriate age- and grade-level reading material in their homes.

The IAL program supports the implementation of high-quality plans for childhood literacy activities and book distribution efforts that are supported by evidence of strong theory (as defined in the NIA).

Proposed projects under the IAL program, based on those plans, may include, among other things, activities that—

a. Increase access to a wide range of literacy resources (either print or electronic) that prepare young children to read, and provide learning opportunities to all participating students;
b. Provide high-quality childhood literacy activities with meaningful opportunities for parental engagement, including encouraging parents to read books often with their children in their early years of life and school, and teaching parents how to use literacy resources effectively;
c. Strengthen literacy development across academic content areas by providing a wide range of literacy resources spanning a range of both complexity and content (including both literature and informational text) to effectively support reading and writing;
d. Offer appropriate educational interventions for all readers with support from school libraries or national not-for-profit organizations;
e. Foster collaboration and joint professional development opportunities for teachers, school leaders, and school library personnel with a focus on using literacy resources effectively to support reading and writing and academic achievement. For example, an approach to professional development within the IAL program might be collaboration between library and school personnel to plan subject-specific pedagogy that is differentiated based on each student’s developmental level and is supported by universal design for learning (as defined in the NIA), technology, and other educational strategies; and
f. Provide resources to support literacy-rich academic and enrichment activities and services aligned with State college- and career-ready standards (as defined in the NIA) and the comprehensive statewide literacy plan (as defined in the NIA).

In accordance with the Senate report that accompanied the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 (S. Rep. no. 113-71, at 173 (2013)), and subject to the submission of sufficient applications that meet the requirements of this notice, the Department will award no less than 50 percent of FY 2014 funds to applications from LEAs (on behalf of school libraries) for high-quality school library projects that increase access to a wide range of literacy resources (either print or electronic) and provide learning opportunities to all students.

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5. Eligibility Requirements: B-1 Who is eligible to apply for an IAL grant?

To be considered for an award under this competition, an applicant must coordinate with school libraries in developing project proposals.

In addition, to be considered for an award under this competition, an applicant must be one of the following:

  • a high-need LEA (as defined in the NIA);
  • an National not-for-profit (NNP) (as defined in the NIA) that serves children and students within the attendance boundaries of one or more high-need LEAs;
  • a consortium of NNPs that serves children and students within the attendance boundaries of one or more high-need LEAs;
  • a consortium of high-need LEAs; or
  • a consortium of one or more high-need LEAs and one or more NNPs that serve children and students within the attendance boundaries of one or more high-need LEAs.

A national not-for-profit organization that applies for an IAL grant, either as a single entity applicant or as part of a consortium, is required to submit documentation of its nonprofit 501(c)(3) status with the grant application.

To determine the eligibility of an LEA, we use the U.S. Census Bureau’s Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) for school districts for the most recent income year. A list of LEAs by State with family poverty rates (based on the SAIPE data) is posted on the Department’s Web site at the address below.

Some LEAs such as some charter school LEAs, State-administered schools, and regional education service agencies are not included in the SAIPE data for school districts. In such cases, LEA eligibility is based on a determination by the State educational agency (SEA), consistent with the manner in which the SEA determines the LEA’s eligibility for the Title I allocations, that 25 percent of the students aged 5-17 in the LEA are from families with incomes below the poverty line. Applicants must submit documentation from the State certifying official verifying that the SEA has determined this eligibility requirement is met for each LEA not listed in the SAIPE data. The IAL eligibility form is available in the IAL instructions package and on our Web site at http://www2.ed.gov/programs/ial/eligibility.html.

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6. Eligibility Requirements: B-2. Can an individual school receive an IAL grant?

No. Individual schools are not eligible to apply for a grant. However, applicants are required to coordinate with school libraries in developing project proposals. See question B-1 for a definition of eligible entities.

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7. Eligibility Requirements: B-3. If an eligible consortium applies for an IAL grant, who is the applicant and what are the responsibilities of members of the consortium?

The members of an eligible consortium are one or more NNPs that serve children and students within the attendance boundaries of one or more high-need LEAs; one or more high-need LEAs; or a combination of these NNPs and LEAs. The members of each consortium shall either 1) designate one member of the group to apply for the grant; or 2) establish a separate, eligible legal entity to apply for the grant. If the consortium decides to designate one member of the group to apply for the grant, the applicant for the group is the grantee and is legally responsible for: (a) the use of all grant funds; (b) ensuring that the project is carried out by the group in accordance with Federal requirements; and (c) ensuring that indirect cost funds are determined as required under Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) at 34 CFR § 75.564(e). Members of the consortium shall also enter into an agreement that details the activities each member plans to perform and that binds each member to every statement and assurance made by the applicant in the application. The applicant shall submit the agreement with its application (See EDGAR at 34 CFR §§ 75.127-129 found at http://www.ed.gov/policy/fund/reg/edgarReg/edgar.html).

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8. Eligibility Requirements: B-4. Are private schools eligible to apply for an IAL grant?

No, private schools are not eligible to apply for this grant nor are they eligible to receive services through an eligible LEA for this program.

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9. Eligibility Requirements: B-5. How is eligibility for the IAL program determined for LEAs that are not included in SAIPE for school districts?

An LEA that is not included on the SAIPE list, such as a charter school LEA, is considered a high-need LEA if the SEA determines, consistent with the manner in which the SEA determines that LEA’s eligibility for the Title I allocations, that 25 percent of the students aged 5-17 in the LEA are from families with incomes below the poverty line.

States may use one of two methods of estimating poverty data that involve equating another source of poverty data, such as free and reduced price lunch (FRPL) student eligibility data, to census poverty data and thereby deriving census poverty data for these “special” LEAs. These methods are consistent with the Department's guidance for calculating Title I and Class-Size Reduction program allocations for special LEAs. The first method, using FRPL data as an example, is as follows:

  1. Determine the number of children eligible for the FRPL program in each special LEA.
  2. Divide the total census poverty number for the State by the total FRPL number for the State (the result is a "State equating factor").
  3. For each special LEA, multiply the number of FRPL children in the special LEA by the State equating factor. The result is the census poverty estimate for that special LEA.
  4. The State now has census poverty figures for all LEAs.

We believe this is a straightforward approach that involves minimal burden for States. However, some States may wish to use a second method, which tracks children who attend special LEAs back to the sending LEA in order to determine the appropriate census poverty figure for the special LEA. This second method uses the proportion of FRPL children from a regular district or districts who are attending a special LEA or LEAs and applies that proportion to the census poverty data figure for the regular LEAs, to determine: 1) an estimated census poverty data figure for the special LEAs; and 2) an adjusted census poverty data figure(s) for the regular LEAs. In order to use this method, the State must be able to identify the resident LEA of each student attending a special LEA.

Applicants are required to submit documentation from the State certifying official verifying that the SEA has determined this eligibility requirement is met for each LEA not included on the SAIPE list. The IAL eligibility form is available in the IAL instructions package and on our Web site at www.ed.gov/programs/ial/eligibility.html.

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10. IAL PROGRAM DEFINITIONS: C-1. What is the definition of an eligible national not-for-profit organization?

The NIA defines National not-for-profit (NNP) organization as an agency, organization, or institution 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. In addition, it means, for the purposes of this program, an organization of national scope that is supported by staff or affiliates at the State and local levels, who may include volunteers, and that has a demonstrated history of effectively developing and implementing literacy activities.

To demonstrate that an organization is a national not-for-profit entity, factors include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  1. whether the organization's charter, articles of incorporation, or other documents establishing the organization describe its mission as being national in scope;
  2. proof that the organization has staff or affiliates at the State and local levels, who may include volunteers, as evidenced by the geographic scope of its activities;
  3. legal evidence of a current 501(c) (3) (not-for-profit) designation by the Internal
    Revenue Service;
  4. a certified copy of the applicant's certificate of incorporation or similar document if
    it clearly establishes the not-for-profit status of the applicant; or
  5. a statement from a State taxing body or the State Attorney General certifying that:
    (i) The organization is a not-for-profit organization operating within the State, and
    (ii) No part of its net earnings may lawfully benefit any private shareholder or individual.

Note: A local affiliate of an NNP does not meet the definition of NPP. Only a national agency, organization, or institution is eligible to apply as an NPP.

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11. IAL PROGRAM DEFINITIONS: C-2. What is the definition of "persistently lowest-achieving schools?

The NIA defines persistently lowest-achieving schools as, as determined by the State:

  • any Title I school in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring that (a) 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 (b) 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
  • any secondary school that is eligible for, but does not receive, Title I funds that: (a) 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 (b) 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.

To identify the persistently lowest achieving schools, a State must take into account both the academic achievement of the “all students” group in a school in terms of proficiency on the State’s assessments under section 1111(b)(3) of the ESEA in reading/language arts and mathematics combined and the school’s lack of progress on those assessments over a number of years in the “all students” group. (76 FR 27640).

Note: For the purposes of this program, the Department considers a school to be a “persistently lowest-achieving school” if it: (1) meets the definition of a Tier I or Tier II school under the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program (see 75 FR 66363), or (2) for SEAs that have received approval of their ESEA Flexibility requests, is a priority school identified in the SEA’s most recent State SIG application for a new awards competition. The State SIG applications and a list of these schools can be found on the Department's Web site at http://www2.ed.gov/programs/sif/index.html.

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12. IAL PROGRAMS AND LITERACY EDUCATION: D-1. Must IAL projects specifically address English and language arts as opposed to other academic content-areas?

We recognize the need to strengthen literacy development across academic content areas to effectively support reading and writing. Applicants may therefore propose projects that include many strategies to improve and enhance literacy development from birth to 12th grade across academic content areas. The NIA provides an overview of what types of projects the IAL program will support to strengthen literacy development in children.

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13. IAL PROGRAMS AND LITERACY EDUCATION: D-2. What is universal design for learning?

The NIA defines universal design for learning (UDL) as a scientifically valid framework for guiding educational practice that (i) provides flexibility in the ways information is presented, in the ways students respond or demonstrate knowledge and skills, and in the ways students are engaged; and (ii) reduces barriers in instruction, provides appropriate accommodations, supports, and challenges, and maintains high achievement expectations for all students, including students with disabilities and students who are English learners. 

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14. IAL PROGRAMS AND LITERACY EDUCATION: D-3. What are some elements of a high-quality plan for use of technology that can be used by school libraries?

A high-quality plan for use of technology might include a description of an applicant's specific goals for using technology to improve student achievement or teacher effectiveness. Such a plan would have a strong rationale and clear goals for using technology that are aligned with the IAL program’s purpose.

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15. FISCAL RESPONSIBILITIES FOR IAL PROJECTS: E-1. What are allowable costs under the IAL program?

Costs must be allowable, allocable, reasonable, and necessary according to the Federal cost principles found in Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-87, OMB Circular A-122, the statute, and governing regulations. A cost is allocable to a grant award if it is consistently treated like other costs incurred for the same purpose in like circumstances and is considered to be reasonable, in its nature and amount, by a prudent person under the circumstances prevailing at the time the decision is made to incur the cost. Generally, IAL grant funds can be used to support high-quality projects designed to develop and improve literacy skills for children and students from birth through 12th grade. This includes innovative programs that promote early literacy for young children and motivate older children to read and programs that increase student achievement by using school libraries, distributing free books to children and their families, and offering high-quality literacy activities. (See Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-87 (Cost Principles for State, Local, and Indian Tribal Governments) and Circular A-122 (Cost Principles for Non-Profit Organizations)).

Note: On December 26, 2013, OMB published new guidance for Federal award programs, OMB Uniform Guidance: Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (Guidance). The Guidance supersedes and streamlines requirements from OMB Circulars A-21, A-87, A-110, A-122, A-89, A-102 and A-133 and the guidance in Circular A-50 on Single Audit Act follow-up. It is a key component of a larger Federal effort to more effectively focus Federal grant resources on improving performance and outcomes while ensuring the financial integrity of taxpayer dollars.

Please note that the Guidance will not apply to grants made by the Department until adopted by the Department through a Federal Register notice. That notice, which we anticipate will be published in 2014, will indicate the date on which the Guidance applies to Department grant funds. Until that time, Department grantees must comply with the requirements in the current circulars listed above. See http://www.ed.gov/edblogs/ovae/2014/03/07/the-omb-super-circular-is-now-the-omni-circular/

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16. FISCAL RESPONSIBILITIES FOR IAL PROJECTS: E-2. Must an applicant selected for an IAL grant have an approved indirect cost rate to charge indirect costs to programs?

Yes. ED requires grantees charging indirect costs to programs to obtain a Federally-approved indirect cost rate. An applicant that does not have an approved indirect cost rate at the time it is selected for an IAL grant award may request approval from the Department for a temporary indirect cost rate of 10% of the expended amount of the entity’s direct salaries and wages. However, a grantee must submit an indirect cost rate proposal to its cognizant agency within 90 days of receiving its grant award notice. Those applicants who plan to charge indirect costs should include a copy of the indirect cost rate agreement as an attachment when submitting their application.

Note: IAL is not subject to a “supplement-not-supplant” requirement. Unless otherwise noted in a grantee’s indirect cost rate agreement, applicants are generally permitted to use the normal “indirect cost rate” rather than the “restricted indirect cost rate” when applying for IAL funds. Grantees who use a restricted rate will recover fewer indirect costs than those who use the unrestricted rate.

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17. FISCAL RESPONSIBILITIES FOR IAL PROJECTS: E-3. May IAL funds be used to pay stipends, bonuses, scholarships, and direct teacher support such as salaries for specialists or new teachers?

These expenses may be allowable in certain circumstances if necessary and reasonable to accomplish the program's and project’s objectives, consistent with applicable OMB Circulars and EDGAR.

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18. FISCAL RESPONSIBILITIES FOR IAL PROJECTS: E-4. May IAL funds be used for paying rent?

Applicants should focus their proposed activities on high-quality literacy activities. To the extent that the leasing of some additional space is necessary and reasonable for meeting the purposes and objectives of the program, rent may be an allowable cost. (See the applicable OMB Cost Circulars at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/grants_circulars.)

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19. FISCAL RESPONSIBILITIES FOR IAL PROJECTS: E-5. May IAL funds be used for construction?

No. A grantee may not use its grant for acquisition of real property or for construction unless specifically permitted by the authorizing statute or implementing regulations for the program. (See EDGAR at 34 CFR § 75.533) (Applicants can access EDGAR provisions on the Department's website at http://www.ed.gov/policy/fund/reg/edgarReg/edgar.html.)

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20. FISCAL RESPONSIBILITIES FOR IAL PROJECTS: E-6. Is there a cost share requirement for the IAL program?

No. The IAL program does not have a cost share requirement; however, applicants are encouraged to leverage grant resources by aligning other Federal, State, local, and private funds to support the project or by engaging in meaningful partnerships to increase the potential effectiveness and sustainability of the project.

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21. FISCAL RESPONSIBILITIES FOR IAL PROJECTS: E-7. May applicants include the cost of food in their budgets?

No. Costs for entertainment (including food) are not allowable costs. (See OMB Circular A-87 (Cost Principles for State, Local, and Indian Tribal Governments) and Circular A-122 (Cost Principles for Non-Profit Organizations).

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22. PROGRAM REPORTING: F-1. Are grantees required to submit an annual performance report

Yes. Under the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA), the Department has developed performance measures to determine the overall effectiveness of programs funded with Federal dollars, including the IAL program. The GPRA performance measures for the IAL program are:

  1. The percentage of 4-year old children participating in the project who achieve significant gains in oral language skills;
  2. The percentage of participating 3rd grade students who meet or exceed proficiency on State reading or language arts assessments under section 1111(b)(3) of the ESEA;
  3. The percentage of participating 8th grade students who meet or exceed proficiency on State reading or language arts assessments under section 1111(b)(3) of the ESEA; and
  4. The percentage of participating high school students who meet or exceed proficiency on State reading or language arts assessments under section 1111(b)(3) of the ESEA.

All grantees will be expected to submit an annual performance report that includes data addressing these performance measures, to the extent that they apply to the grantee’s project. For example, a grantee that proposes to improve the quality of school library services for high school students would only be required to report data for measure number 4, in addition to any project-specific measures identified in the application.

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23. PROGRAM REPORTING: F-2. Must an applicant use an outside evaluator?

No. However, applications submitted for the IAL program will be evaluated based on the quality of the project evaluation (See the IAL application package, Selection Criterion F). As such, applicants will be responsible for carrying out the evaluation plan/activities that are outlined in the application package.

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24. APPLICATION SUBMISSION: G-1. Is IAL subject to Executive Order 12372?

Yes. Executive Order 12372 concerns the Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs, and, among other things, gives States the opportunity to review and provide comments to Federal agencies on applications for Federal discretionary (competitive) grants. Applicants can find more details in the Appendix for the Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs in the IAL application package. However, potential applicants should not delay the timely submission of their applications in Grants.gov pending the outcome of the State’s review.

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25. APPLICATION SUBMISSION: G-2. Must submission of charts and tables be double-spaced in an IAL grant application?

Yes. Charts and tables must be prepared in double space format.

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26. APPLICATION SUBMISSION: G-3. Is there a page limit for the application?

Yes. The application narrative must be limited to no more than 25 pages. The application narrative is where the applicant addresses the selection criteria that reviewers use to evaluate the grant application. The page limit does not apply to the cover sheet; eligibility information; the budget section, including the narrative budget justification; the assurances and certifications; the one-page abstract; the resumes; the bibliography; the logic model, or the letters of support. However, the page limit does apply to all of the application narrative section. Please note reviewers will not read any pages of the narrative section that exceed the page limit.

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27. APPLICATION SUBMISSION: G-4. What is the required font for this application submission?

A submitted application must use a font size that is either 12 point or larger or no smaller than 10 pitch (characters per inch). The applicant must use one of the following fonts: Times New Roman, Courier, Courier New, or Arial. An application submitted in any other font (including Times Roman or Arial Narrow) will not be accepted.

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28. ABSOLUTE AND COMPETITIVE PRIORITIES: H-1. What is an absolute priority? What is a competitive preference priority?

Under EDGAR at 34 CFR § 75.105(c)(3), the Secretary may give absolute preference to applications that meet a priority. For the IAL FY 2014 competition, all applicants must meet the absolute priority established in the NIA. Applicants that do not meet the absolute priority will not be considered for funding.

Under EDGAR at 34 CFR § 75.105(c)(2), the Secretary may award some or all bonus points to an application depending on the extent to which the application meets each competitive preference priority. These points are in addition to any points the applicant earns under the selection criteria (see 34 CFR § 75.200(b)).

In accordance with the NIA, the maximum number of additional points the Secretary may award to an application depends upon whether the application meets each competitive preference priority. Additionally, the Secretary may select an application that meets a priority over an application of comparable merit that does not meet the priority. Competitive priorities are not requirements in that applicants do not need to address them to be considered for funding. Applications that meet one or more competitive priorities will be awarded additional points.

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29. ABSOLUTE AND COMPETITIVE PRIORITIES: H-2. How many absolute and competitive preference priorities are in the IAL NIA?

The IAL NIA contains one absolute priority and four competitive preference priorities. For FY 2014, the following absolute priority has been established:

  • Absolute Priority—High-quality plan for innovative approaches to literacy that include book distribution, childhood literacy activities, or both, and that is supported, at a minimum, by evidence of strong theory (as defined in 34 CFR 77.1 (c)).

For the FY 2014 IAL program, the following four competitive priorities have been established:

  • Competitive Preference Priority 1—Turning Around Persistently Lowest-Achieving Schools (5 points);
  • Competitive Preference Priority 2—Technology (5 points);
  • Competitive Preference Priority 3—Improving Early Learning Outcomes (5 points); and
  • Competitive Preference Priority 4—Serving Rural LEAs (5 points).

Applicants are strongly encouraged identify, in the project abstract section of their applications, any competitive preference priority they intend to meet with the application, and to include a brief description of how they are qualified to meet each priority.

Please refer to the NIA under Priorities for more information on absolute and competitive priorities under the IAL program.

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30. ABSOLUTE AND COMPETITIVE PRIORITIES: H-3. How many points will be awarded under the competitive priorities?

We will award an additional 5 points to an application that meets either Competitive Preference Priority 1 or 4, listed in question H-2. We will award an additional 5 points to an application that meets Competitive Preference Priority 2 and an additional 5 points to an application that meets Competitive Preference Priority 3 listed in question H-2. The maximum number of competitive preference points an application can receive for this competition is 15. 

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31. ABSOLUTE AND COMPETITIVE PREFERENCEPRIORITIES: H-4. How does an applicant meet the absolute priority?

To meet the absolute priority, applicants must submit a plan that is supported by evidence of strong theory, as defined in the NIA, including a rationale for the proposed process, product, strategy, or practice and a corresponding logic model (as defined in 34 CFR 77.1(c)).

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32. ABSOLUTE AND COMPETITIVE PREFERENCE PRIORITIES: H-5. What is a logic model?

The NIA uses the definition of logic model (also referred to as theory of action) in 34 CFR 77.1(c), which defines logic model as a well-specified conceptual framework that identifies key components of the proposed process, product, strategy, or practice (i.e., the active “ingredients” that are hypothesized to be critical to achieving the relevant outcomes) and describes the relationships among the key components and outcomes, theoretically and operationally.

ED’s Regional Education Laboratories (RELs) offer resources on logic models, including a webinar recording and logic model maker software. These may be accessed at the following Web sites:

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33. ABSOLUTE AND COMPETITIVE PRIORITIES: H-6. How would an LEA qualify for additional points under the rural competitive preference?

An applicant qualifies for competitive preference points under the rural competitive preference if the applicant’s proposed project is designed to provide high-quality literacy programming, or distribute books, or both, to students served by a rural LEA. A rural LEA, for the purposes of the IAL program, is an LEA that is eligible under the Small Rural School Achievement program or the Rural and Low-Income School program authorized under Title VI, Part B of the ESEA. Applicants may determine whether a particular LEA is eligible for these programs by referring to information on the Department’s Web site at: http://www2.ed.gov/nclb/freedom/local/reap.html.

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34. SELECTION CRITERIA: I-1. On what authority are the selection criteria based?

The selection criteria for this program are from 34 CFR § 75.210 and are listed in the NIA. The maximum score for all criteria is 100 points. The maximum possible score for each criterion is indicated in parentheses next to each criterion listed in the selection criteria section of the NIA.

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35. SELECTION CRITERIA: I-2. How will applications be reviewed?

The Department will use peer-reviewers to review and score applications on the selection criteria. The Department has sought independent reviewers from various backgrounds and professions with relevant expertise, whom we will ask to use their professional judgment to evaluate and score each application based on the selection criteria.

Following the peer-review, Department staff will determine whether the application meets the absolute priority, and will also assign competitive preference priority points to applications meeting the competitive priorities, up to a total of 15 additional points.

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36. SELECTION CRITERIA: I-3. How will the quality of the project evaluation be reviewed?

Selection criterion f(i) asks reviewers to score and provide feedback on the extent to which the methods of evaluation will, if well-implemented, produce evidence of promise.

In order to provide opportunities for applicants to build the body of evidence of effectiveness in education, we have included this selection criterion to encourage applicants to incorporate evaluation designs that will, if well-implemented, produce evidence of promise that could be used by applicants in future projects. Therefore, this selection criterion assesses whether the evaluation of that project can confirm that the applicant’s approach meets the requirements of “evidence of promise,” – a higher level of evidence than strong theory.

Peer-reviewers with professional background in evaluation will review the selection criterion related to evaluation design.
Prospective applicants are strongly encouraged to learn about the components of an evaluation design to address the “evidence of promise” selection criterion. We invite prospective applicants to attend online technical assistance workshops the Department will host during the open period. Registration information is available at the program website and in the instructions package. The first workshop will be recorded and posted to the Department’s website when it becomes available, at the following location: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/innovapproaches-literacy/resources.html

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37. SELECTION CRITERIA: I-4. In terms of the evaluation design, what is meant by evidence of promise?

Whereas the Absolute Priority requires applicants to provide evidence of strong theory in support of the proposed project, the selection criterion related to evaluation design asks applicants to develop an evaluation that will, if the proposed project is well-implemented, produce sufficient evidence of promise for applicants to cite in support of future proposals.

Evidence of promise, as defined in 34 CFR 77.1(c), means there is empirical evidence to support the theoretical linkage(s) between at least one critical component and at least one relevant outcome presented in the logic model for the proposed process, product, strategy, or practice. Specifically, evidence of promise means the conditions in paragraphs (i) and (ii) of this section are met:

(i) There is at least one study that is a—
(A) Correlational study with statistical controls for selection bias;
(B) Quasi-experimental study that meets the What Works Clearinghouse Evidence Standards with reservations;1 or
(C) Randomized controlled trial that meets the What Works Clearinghouse Evidence Standards with or without reservations.2
(ii) The study referenced in paragraph (a) found a statistically significant or substantively important (defined as a difference of 0.25 standard deviations or larger), favorable association between at least one critical component and one relevant outcome presented in the logic model for the proposed process, product, strategy, or practice.

Footnote: 1&2 What Works Clearinghouse Procedures and Standards Handbook (Version 3.0, March 2014), which can currently be found at the following link: http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/DocumentSum.aspx?sid=19.

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38. SELECTION CRITERIA: I-5. Will an applicant receive its scores and reviewer comments after the competitions are completed?

Applicants may request a copy of the technical review forms completed by the peer reviewers on their applications. Individual reviewer names are deleted from the forms to preserve confidentiality.

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39. SELECTION CRITERIA: I-6. Will the reviewers be asked to read every part of each application?

Yes. To facilitate the review, the Department encourages applicants to carefully follow the directions in the application package. Applicants should pay particular attention to the flow of the narrative and correctly label all attachments. Please note that our reviewers will not read any pages of the narrative section that exceed the 25 page limit.

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40. SELECTION CRITERIA: I-7 Does a grantee’s past performance count as part of the overall selection process?

The Department reminds potential applicants that in reviewing applications in any discretionary grant competition, the Secretary may consider, under EDGAR, 34 CFR § 75.217(d)(3)(ii), the applicant’s past performance and use of funds under a previous grant award. The Secretary may also consider whether the applicant failed to submit a timely performance report or submitted a report of unacceptable quality.

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41. APPLICABLE REGULATIONS: J-1. What are the applicable regulations that apply to the IAL program?
  • The following sections of EDGAR apply to the IAL program:

    Part 74 Administration of Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-Profit Organizations Part 75 Direct Grant Programs
    Part 77 Definitions
    Part 79 Intergovernmental Review
    Part 80 Uniform Requirements
    Part 81 General Education Provision Act - Enforcement
    Part 82 Lobbying
    Part 84 Debarment
    Part 97 Protection of Human Subjects
    Part 98 Student Rights in Research, Experimental Programs, and Testing
    Part 99 Family Educational Rights

  • The Education Department debarment and suspension regulations in 2 CFR part 3485.
  • The notice of final supplemental priorities and definitions for discretionary grant programs, published in the Federal Register on December 15, 2010 (75 FR 78486), and corrected on May 12, 2011 (76 FR 27637).
  • The notice of final priorities, requirement, and definitions for the IAL program published in the Federal Register on June 17, 2014.
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42. ADDITIONAL: A-1. Will an applicant meet the rural LEA priority by proposing to serve at least one rural LEA in an application that proposes to serve multiple LEAs, or must all of the LEAs the applicant proposes to serve be rural LEAs?

An application proposing to serve multiple LEAs will meet the rural LEA priority by proposing to serve at least one rural LEA.

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43. ADDITIONAL Q&A: A-2. What agency is the certifying agency for LEAs that are not governed by one of the 50 States, and are not included in the SAIPE list (such as: BIE schools, tribal schools, schools in Puerto Rico, Guam, and outlying islands)?

For LEAs not included on the SAPIE list, the SEA or its equivalent certifying agency should provide this information. The certifying agency for BIE and tribal schools is generally BIE, and for Guam and the outlying islands, it is the office of the SEA-level agency that typically certifies eligibility for Federal programs such as Title I.

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44. ADDITIONAL Q&A: A-3. FAQ #6 indicates that the members of a consortium may establish a separate legal entity to apply for the grant. Is this recommended?

While a consortium of LEAs may set up a separate legal entity to apply for the grant, typically one consortium member LEA will apply and serve as the grant’s fiscal agent

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45. ADDITIONAL Q&A: A-4. Does the double space/font style/12pt size apply to the logic model?

No. The requirement for double space applies to the narrative, charts, tables, etc., but does not apply to the logic model.

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46. ADDITIONAL Q&A: A-5. Are the estimates provided in the NIA for a single year, or for 24 months?

The estimates included in the NIA are generally for a single year of funding.

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47. ADDITIONAL Q&A: A-6.Can applicants propose projects that award subgrants?

No.

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Last Modified: 07/08/2014