Striving Readers

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Frequently Asked Questions

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  1. Is the State educational agency the only eligible applicant?
  2. Are charter schools eligible to participate in the Striving Readers program?
  3. To be eligible to participate in projects funded by this competition, must a school receive funds under Part A of Title I of the Elementary and Secondard Education Act (ESEA)?
  4. How do I determine whether a school is eligible for Title I?
  5. Is there any flexibility in how an LEA may count children from low-income families in middle and high schools in making its determination about whether these schools are eligible for Title I?
  6. Does participation in the Striving Readers project and the receipt of SR funds impact a school’s Title I accountability requirements?
  7. Does Striving Readers provide for equitable services for private school students?
  8. We currently have a Striving Readers grant, are we eligible to apply for another Striving Readers grant under this competition?
  9. Are the funding average and range estimates for the grants that will be awarded under this competition per project or per year?
  10. Since the range of funds possible for a Striving Readers grant is large ($750,000-$1.3 million) does the Department have a preference for applications that include many more schools than the minimum number required in the notice?
  11. Must all of the schools included in the application be from the same LEA?
  12. Are funds available to pay administrative costs incurred by the SEA and participating LEAs and schools in the implementation and evaluation of the project?
  13. Can grantees hire program coordinators, reading specialists/coaches, teachers, and/or purchase supplies with grant funds that will be awarded through this Striving Readers competition?
  14. Will successful applicants be reimbursed for pre-award expenses?
  15. May a grantee charge indirect costs to the grant?
  16. Should we use our restricted or unrestricted indirect cost rate?
  17. Are there set budget/project years for Striving Readers grants that will be awarded under this competition? What timeframes should we use when preparing a budget and budget narrative?
  18. Can the amount of funds requested for each budget/performance period vary from year to year?
  19. Is there a recommended percentage of funding or level of funding for the evaluations that will be conducted by each project?
  20. Can the literacy intervention for struggling readers replace the curriculum that is taught in a student’s regular English language arts class or be a replacement class for a student’s regular English/ language arts class?
  21. Does a supplemental literacy intervention need to have been published commercially in order to be eligible to be included in a proposed project?
  22. Can we include in our project a supplemental literacy intervention that has not been evaluated previously using a random assignment (experimental) design?
  23. Can we include in our project a supplemental literacy intervention that has already been evaluated by one or more large-scale random assignment (experimental) evaluations?
  24. The notice requires applicants to include in their applications a one-page logic model. Are there examples of this kind of logic model?
  25. Are applicants required to identify the assessments that will be used during the implementation of the project?
  26. Does the Department have any guidance available on designing rigorous evaluations for the interventions that will be implemented by projects that will receive funding under this competition?
  27. What is the required sample size?
  28. Is there a limit on the number of schools we can include in the application?
  29. May we assign the students who are not selected randomly to receive the supplemental literacy intervention (the control group) to receive a different supplemental literacy intervention that is provided with other funds?
  30. Will the Department provide technical assistance to evaluators?
  31. Does the evaluator selected by the applicant need previous experience in conducting experimental design studies?
  32. Can the evaluation of Striving Readers interventions randomly assign at the school level or must the project randomly assign students?
  33. Does the experimental evaluation have to be in place for the entire grant period? Is one year of a randomized trial sufficient?
  34. How should applicants deal with issues related to obtaining permission for the participation of students in the evaluation that will be carried out?
  35. How do we submit a letter of intent to apply? Can we apply if we do not submit a letter?
  36. When are applications due for the Striving Readers program?
  37. The Notice Inviting Applications indicates that Striving Readers grants will be administered as cooperative agreements. What is a cooperative agreement?

1. Is the State educational agency the only eligible applicant?

Yes. The State educational agency (SEA) applies on behalf of itself and one or more local educational agencies (LEAs) that have governing authority over the eligibile schools that the applicant proposes to include in the project.

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2. Are charter schools eligible to participate in the Striving Readers program?

Yes. A charter school may be included in a project if it meets the definition of an “eligible school” set out in the notice (i.e., is eligible to receive funds under Part A of ESEA Title I, serves students in an any of grades 6 through 12, and enrolled at least 75 students with reading skills that were two or more years below grade level in any of grades 6 through 12 during the two most recent school years). This includes both charter schools that are considered LEAs under State law and charter schools that are not recognized as LEAs. If a charter school is not considered an LEA under State law, the superintendent of the LEA that has governing authority over the charter school must agree to the school’s participation in the project and the other requirements described in the notice.

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3. To be eligible to participate in projects funded by this competition, must a school receive funds under Part A of Title I of the Elementary and Secondard Education Act (ESEA)?

No. A school is not required to receive Title I, Part A funds in order to be included in a project, but it must be eligible for Title I, Part A funds. A number of LEAs do not receive sufficient Title I, Part A funds to serve all schools that are eligible, including, in many cases, middle, junior high, and high schools.

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4. How do I determine whether a school is eligible for Title I?

For questions about the eligibility of a specific school, consult LEA and SEA officials responsible for the administration of Title I. Generally, a school (or school attendance area) is eligible to participate in Title I if its percentage of children from low-income families is at least as high as the percentage of children from low-income families in the LEA as a whole or if it has a 35 percent poverty rate. More information on Title I eligibility can be found in section 1113 of Title I of ESEA, the Title I regulations at 34 CFR 200.77 and 200.78, and in the non-regulatory guidance the Department issued in August 2003. This latter document, Regulatory Guidance: Local Educational Agency Identification and Selection of School Attendance Areas and Schools and Allocation of Title I Funds to Those Areas and Schools, can be found on the Department’s website at the link below: www.ed.gov/programs/titleiparta/wdag.doc/

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5. Is there any flexibility in how an LEA may count children from low-income families in middle and high schools in making its determination about whether these schools are eligible for Title I?

Yes. Among other flexibilities, an LEA may use the “feeder pattern” concept which allows it to project the number of low-income children in a middle school or high school based on the average poverty rate of the elementary school attendance areas that feed into that school. Please see the response to question 10 on page 11 of the Non-Regulatory Guidance: Local Educational Agency Identification and Selection of School Attendance Areas and Schools and Allocation of Title I Funds to Those Areas and Schools.

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6. Does participation in the Striving Readers project and the receipt of SR funds impact a school’s Title I accountability requirements?

Participants in a Striving Readers grant awarded under this competition does not change how Title I requirements apply to an LEA or its schools. If a Title I-eligible school is not currently subject to Title I accountability requirements, it will not become subject to those requirements as a result of its participation in a grant funded under this competition.

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7. Does Striving Readers provide for equitable services for private school students?

No. The Striving Readers program authority does not provide the equitable participation of private school students.

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8. We currently have a Striving Readers grant, are we eligible to apply for another Striving Readers grant under this competition?

Yes; however, the eligible applicant for this competition is the SEA. In the previous competition, most applicants were LEAs. If an LEA wants to participate in a project funded under this competition, it must work with the SEA to submit an application.

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9. Are the funding average and range estimates for the grants that will be awarded under this competition per project or per year?

The $1 million funding average and the $750,000 to $1.3 million funding range stated in the Federal Register notice inviting applications are per year estimates.

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10. Since the range of funds possible for a Striving Readers grant is large ($750,000-$1.3 million) does the Department have a preference for applications that include many more schools than the minimum number required in the notice?

The large range of funds is an estimate provided by the Department. The Department is not bound by such estimates. The large range was set for the grants that will be funded under this competition, not out of a preference for projects that include many more schools than the minimum number required, but out of recognition of the likely high costs of implementing a supplemental literacy intervention for struggling readers and conducting a rigorous evaluation, including a random assignment experiment.

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11. Must all of the schools included in the application be from the same LEA?

No. The schools are not required to be in a single LEA. An applicant may include schools from multiple LEAs.

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12. Are funds available to pay administrative costs incurred by the SEA and participating LEAs and schools in the implementation and evaluation of the project?

Grant funds are available to cover reasonable and necessary administrative expenses incurred in carrying out the project.

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13. Can grantees hire program coordinators, reading specialists/coaches, teachers, and/or purchase supplies with grant funds that will be awarded through this Striving Readers competition?

Yes. There is no prohibition on spending Striving Readers funds for such purposes to the extent such expenditures are reasonable, necessary, and integral to the proposed project.

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14. Will successful applicants be reimbursed for pre-award expenses?

Yes. The Department’s regulations authorize an applicant that is awarded a grant to reimburse itself for any allowable costs that occurred up to 90 days prior to the start of the grant’s performance period (34 CFR 75.263).

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15. May a grantee charge indirect costs to the grant?

Yes. Instructions for how to charge indirect costs are included in the application package.

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16. Should we use our restricted or unrestricted indirect cost rate?

Applicants may use their unrestricted rate in calculating indirect costs.

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17. Are there set budget/project years for Striving Readers grants that will be awarded under this competition? What timeframes should we use when preparing a budget and budget narrative?

We expect to make awards September 2009. For the purposes of the budget narrative portion of the Striving Readers applications, applicants should treat the 4 budget periods as follows:

  • Budget/Performance Period 1: October 2009-September 2010
  • Budget/Performance Period 2: October 2010-September 2011
  • Budget/Performance Period 3: October 2011-September 2012
  • Budget/Performance Period 4: October 2012-September 2013

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18. Can the amount of funds requested for each budget/performance period vary from year to year?

Yes.

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19. Is there a recommended percentage of funding or level of funding for the evaluations that will be conducted by each project?

The Department does not recommend a specific amount or percent of funds that must be reserved for evaluation. We encourage applicants to set aside an amount that is adequate for the scope and rigor of the evaluation project the Department is asking grantees to carry out. The Department expects that these costs will be significant.

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20. Can the literacy intervention for struggling readers replace the curriculum that is taught in a student’s regular English language arts class or be a replacement class for a student’s regular English/ language arts class?

No. The intervention cannot replace the curriculum of a student’s regular English/ language arts class nor can the intervention replace the regular English/ language arts class. The intervention must supplement the regular English/language arts instruction a student receives.

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21. Does a supplemental literacy intervention need to have been published commercially in order to be eligible to be included in a proposed project?

No. Applicants are not required to propose the use of an intervention that has been published commercially. We require only that the intervention meet the requirements set out in Priority 1. Many interventions, including locally or regionally developed interventions that have not been published commercially, may meet these requirements.


22. Can we include in our project a supplemental literacy intervention that has not been evaluated previously using a random assignment (experimental) design?

Yes. The notice inviting applications does not include requirements regarding prior research on the effectiveness of the intervention. However, this will be a consideration for the peer reviewers who will evaluate and score applications. If a supplemental literacy intervention has not been evaluated through a large-scale experimental evaluation, one of the selection criteria under “Significance” requires reviewers to evaluate the extent to which other empirical evidence (such as smaller-scale experimental or quasi-experimental studies of the effects of the intervention on student achievement) demonstrates that the intervention is likely to be effective in improving the reading skills of struggling readers.

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23. Can we include in our project a supplemental literacy intervention that has already been evaluated by one or more large-scale random assignment (experimental) evaluations?

Yes. Applicants may include interventions that have been evaluated previously through a large-scale experimental evaluation. However, if a supplemental literacy intervention already has been evaluated through a large-scale experimental evaluation, one of the selection criteria under “Significance” requires reviewers to evaluate the extent to which this evaluation provides evidence that demonstrates that the intervention is likely to be effective in improving the reading skills of struggling readers and that the proposed evaluation would increase substantially knowledge in the field of adolescent literacy, such as by studying the effectiveness of the intervention among a different population than studied in previous experimental evaluations or by using an improved evaluation design (such as one that has a marked increase in statistical power).

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24. The notice requires applicants to include in their applications a one-page logic model. Are there examples of this kind of logic model?

Yes. Sample logic models exist within the “Implementation Studies” that were created by current Striving Readers grantees. The studies are on the Striving Readers Web site: http://www.ed.gov/programs/strivingreaders/index.html. To access the studies and the logic models, go to the “What’s New” box on the home page and follow the “Implementation Studies” link. Please note that these are only examples and that applicants are not required to model their one-page logic model on these examples. Applicants are free to craft a one-page logic model in any way they deem appropriate.

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25. Are applicants required to identify the assessments that will be used during the implementation of the project?

Yes. The applicant must identify the screening, diagnostic, and outcome assessments that will be used in the implementation and evaluation of the supplemental literacy intervention.

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26. Does the Department have any guidance available on designing rigorous evaluations for the interventions that will be implemented by projects that will receive funding under this competition?

For more information on scientific research designs, please see User-Friendly Guide Mobilizing for Evidence-Based Character Education (Published by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools) http://www.ed.gov/programs/charactered/mobilizing.pdf.
In addition, please see the Resources for Researchers section of the What Works Clearinghouse document library at http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/references/library/. Resources in the WWC library include:

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27. What is the required sample size?

In order to effectively evaluate the project, eligible schools must have at least 75 struggling readers per year in all grades that will be served by the supplemental literacy intervention. Eligible schools must have a combined total of at least 75 struggling readers per year in all grades served by the supplemental literacy intervention, not 75 students per year in each of those grades. For example, a high school that provided the targeted intervention to struggling readers in grades 9-12 would need 75 struggling readers per year who were enrolled in grades 9-12. A high school that provided the targeted intervention only to 9th graders, however, would need 75 struggling readers who are enrolled in 9th grade. These 75 struggling readers include both students who will receive the supplemental literacy intervention (the “treatment” group) and students who will not receive the intervention (the control group).

Eligible applicants must have, at a minimum, a total of 750 struggling readers per year in all the schools and grades served by the supplemental literacy intervention. Eligible applicants must include at least 5 schools in the project. To meet the eligibility requirements, an applicant with 5 schools would need an average of 150 struggling readers in all grades served by the intervention per school. An applicant with 10 schools would also meet the eligibility requirements if each school had 75 struggling readers in all grades served by the intervention. In addition, the study should be designed to detect not less than a 0.10 standard deviation impact of the supplemental literacy intervention on student achievement, which represents approximately 3 to 5 months’ growth in reading achievement on standardized assessments for the typical student in grades 6 through 12.

    For more information on the calculation of statistical power in education evaluations with experimental designs, please see:
  • Howard Bloom. "Minimum Detectable Effects: A Simple Way to Report the Statistical Power of Experimental Designs." Evaluation Review, Vol. 19, No. 5, 547-556 (1995).
  • Peter Schochet. "Statistical Power for Random Assignment Evaluations of Education Programs." Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., 2005. http://www.mathematica-mpr.com/publications/PDFs/statisticalpower.pdf
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28. Is there a limit on the number of schools we can include in the application?

There is no limitation on the number of schools that may be included in the project.

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29. May we assign the students who are not selected randomly to receive the supplemental literacy intervention (the control group) to receive a different supplemental literacy intervention that is provided with other funds?

No. Students who are not selected to receive the supplemental literacy intervention funded by the Striving Readers grant may not receive a different supplemental literacy intervention. They may only be assigned to other activities in which they would otherwise participate, such as a study hall, electives, or another activity that does not involve supplemental literacy instruction.

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30. Will the Department provide technical assistance to evaluators?

After the Striving Readers grants are awarded, ED’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and its technical assistance contractor will assist the grantees and their evaluation partners to strengthen their evaluation designs and to successfully implement those designs. The technical assistance provider will provide written reviews of the evaluation plans of each Striving Readers grantee within two months of the date of award. In addition, the technical assistance provider will provide ongoing technical assistance throughout the first three years of the evaluations via telephone conversations, e-mail, and four conferences that ED will convene of the 2009 local evaluators and grantees. The technical assistance provider will review and comment on key design products such as revised evaluation plans, assessments, draft survey instruments, and local evaluation reports. As a condition of the cooperative agreement, evaluators will be required to cooperate with the technical assistance.

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31. Does the evaluator selected by the applicant need previous experience in conducting experimental design studies?

We do not require the evaluator to have previous experience in conducting experimental design studies. However, one of the selection criteria we have established asks peer reviewers to evaluate “the extent to which the independent evaluator identified in the application has experience in conducting scientifically based reading research and in designing and conducting experimental evaluations.” Applications can receive up to 8 points for this selection criterion.

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32. Can the evaluation of Striving Readers interventions randomly assign at the school level or must the project randomly assign students?

Priority 2 states that in order to be eligible for consideration, applicants must propose to support a rigorous experimental evaluation that randomly assigns at the student level to the intensive intervention or to a control condition.

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33. Does the experimental evaluation have to be in place for the entire grant period? Is one year of a randomized trial sufficient?

One year of a randomized trial is not sufficient. Absolute priority 2 requires applicants to support an evaluation of the implementation of the supplemental literacy intervention during the second, third, and fourth years of the project. We expect that evaluation activities will commence shortly after the grants are awarded. During Budget/Performance Period 1 (October 2009-September 2010), we expect that evaluators will work with IES’ technical assistance provider to refine their evaluation plans and to conduct random assignment of the first cohort of students, which will be eligible to receive the supplemental literacy intervention beginning at the start of the 2010-11 school year. During Budget/Performance Period 2 (October 2010-September 2011), we expect that evaluators will collect and analyze data on implementation and program impacts for the first cohort of randomly assigned students, and to conduct random assignment of a second cohort of students, which will be eligible to receive the supplemental literacy intervention beginning at the start of the 2011-12 school year. During Budget/Performance Period 3 (October 2011-September 2012), we expect that evaluators will collect and analyze data on the implementation and program impacts for the first and second cohorts of randomly assigned students, submit evaluation reports on the implementation and impact findings for the first cohort of students, and to conduct random assignment of a third cohort of students, which will be eligible to receive the supplemental literacy intervention beginning at the start of the 2012-13 school year. During Budget/Performance Period 4 (October 2012-September 2013), we expect that evaluators will complete their data analyses and submit evaluation reports on the implementation and impact findings for all cohorts of students.

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34. How should applicants deal with issues related to obtaining permission for the participation of students in the evaluation that will be carried out?

The Department’s Protection of Human Subjects Research Website includes information on the protection of human subjects in research and can be found at the following link: http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocfo/humansub.html

Evaluation partners will need to have procedures in place (review boards, guidelines) for conducting research involving human subjects.

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35. How do we submit a letter of intent to apply? Can we apply if we do not submit a letter?

Please submit letters of intent as an e-mail to the strivingreaders@ed.gov mailbox within 20 days of the date the notice inviting applications appears in the Federal Register. The letter of intent is not mandatory nor does it commit you to apply for the program. You are still eligible to apply if you have not sent a letter of intent.

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36. When are applications due for the Striving Readers program?

Applications are due August 10, 2009.

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37. The Notice Inviting Applications indicates that Striving Readers grants will be administered as cooperative agreements. What is a cooperative agreement?

The Secretary may award a cooperative agreement instead of a grant if the Secretary determines that substantial involvement between the Department and the recipient is necessary to carry out a collaborative project. (34.CRF 75.200 (b) (4))

In awarding a cooperative agreement, the Secretary includes conditions that state the explicit character and extent of anticipated collaboration between the Department and the recipient. (34 CFR 75.234 (b).

Several weeks after sending notification of a Striving Readers grant award, Striving Readers program staff will contact grantees in order to establish a cooperative agreement regarding implementation of the grant.

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