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Congress established the Transition to Teaching (TTT) program to serve high-need schools in high-need districts (local education agencies or LEAs).1 The program is authorized under Title II, Part C, Subpart 1, Chapter B of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) (Pub. L. No. 107-110). The purposes of TTT are “(a) to recruit and retain highly qualified mid-career professionals (including highly qualified paraprofessionals), and recent graduates of an institution of higher education, as teachers in high-need schools, including recruiting teachers through alternative routes to certification; and (b) to encourage the development and expansion of alternative routes to certification under State-approved programs that enable individuals to be eligible for teacher certification within a reduced period of time, relying on the experience, expertise, and academic qualifications of an individual, or other factors in lieu of traditional course work in the field of education.”
This report presents the findings of the TTT interim evaluation–an effort to gather data to describe to Congress the progress at the three-year interim point of five-year grants awarded in FY 2002.
Four primary data sources were used as the basis for the report:
- An online Annual Performance Report (APR) to document project-level characteristics and outcomes was developed and administered in 2004–2005, covering the third year of project activities;
- Eight case studies of FY 2002 projects were conducted in 2004–2005;
- A survey of participants from the first three project years who were hired as teachers of record during that time period was conducted in 2005–2006; and
- Interim reports submitted by grantees in the FY 2002 cohort in 2005 were the basis for a review of objectives, progress made, and challenges in the first three years. Data from the 2003–2004 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) were also used to compare the characteristics, teaching assignments, perceptions and future plans of TTT teachers and teachers in the workforce with less than three years of experience.
The resulting report brings together data from all of these sources to describe the overall implementation picture of the FY 2002 grantees, describing each component of the TTT projects: recruitment and selection, preparation, certification, placement, support while teaching, and retention.
TTT grantees are a microcosm of the alternate routes implemented in approximately 600 program sites in 48 states and the District of Columbia (Feistritzer, 2006). Of the 92 FY 2002 TTT grantees whose progress at the third year of project activity were analyzed in this evaluation, fully half were institutions of higher education (IHEs), 25 percent were LEAs, 17 percent were state departments of education (SEAs), and 7 percent were nonprofit organizations.2 Nearly two-thirds of FY 2002 grantees (60 percent) had a local (rather than statewide or regional or national) focus. 3 All TTT grantees focus on serving the needs of high-need schools in high-need LEAs, as defined in the legislation (see footnote 1). A relatively small proportion of all LEAs working with FY 2002 TTT grantees were urban (26 percent); 69 percent were described as rural by the TTT projects.
TTT projects recruit from one or more target groups, as spelled out in the authorizing legislation, addressing the needs of school districts and schools that have met the “high-need” designation. In most TTT projects, participants become teachers simultaneously with their “enrollment” in the project; however, some projects require course completion and even a lengthy internship prior to becoming a teacher of record.
TTT projects offer flexibility to participants as they complete state teacher certification requirements. The approaches used by various projects are structured to meet the NCLB standards for approved alternate route projects; thus, TTT teachers are considered highly qualified teachers, according to NCLB guidelines. Projects seek applicants who meet the content knowledge provisions outlined for all teachers in NCLB. In the FY 2002 projects that focus on paraprofessionals, some individuals are matriculating to earn their first bachelor’s degree, but nearly all other participants already have an earned bachelor’s.
Preparation for teaching is a primary concern, once participants are selected. Some participants enroll in academic courses through local IHEs; others participate in seminars and professional development activities where they demonstrate competencies. Online courses and online mentoring components are incorporated in a number of TTT projects. While much of the content is similar to what a typical teacher studies in preparation for her role, in some TTT projects, the emphasis at the beginning of preparation is on the craft of teaching and on classroom management. Many TTT projects require a student teaching experience during the summer prior to teaching or for an entire year. About 40 percent of teachers participating in TTT projects (FY 2002) reported they had a student teaching experience.
Once hired and teaching, participants in TTT projects find an array of supports available to them. Some TTT projects create and implement mentoring and other induction programs; in others, participants gain access to induction programs currently in place and supported by the state or district.
Interim Report Findings
The findings from this interim report underscore the ways in which the TTT grantees (and the program) have addressed three key NCLB policy issues related to this federal grant program. Based on one project year’s performance report and interim evaluations of varying depth and detail, this report stops short of a comprehensive program evaluation, because grantees continue to make improvements and changes to their projects and many expected to have a no-cost extension year.
Increasing the pool of highly qualified teachers by recruiting nontraditional candidates into teaching
Each TTT grantee specifies the target population it plans to recruit and sets recruitment targets for the grant overall and for each project year: most projects target more than one applicant group. Recruitment strategies and information dissemination about the project are key, because the populations being targeted may be uncertain about how to become a teacher and may not be aware that there are (within their state) many alternative routes to meeting state teacher certification requirements. Also, with its focus on high-need schools in high-need LEAs, TTT projects face more of a challenge to identify unfilled positions and recruit and place individuals with the appropriate credentials for these positions.
TTT grantees reported they learned that the most powerful way to reach people is by “word of mouth,’ that is, informal and formal presentations by project administrators and presentations by TTT participants in schools and IHEs. TTT teachers, in turn, agreed that the approach through which they gained the most information was by “word of mouth.” Targeted recruitment efforts for specific populations were highly recommended by TTT grantees; however, more costly measures, such as TV advertising, were not as productive because, while the level of interest received was high, many of those expressing interest were not qualified. Web site content was found to be very valuable to prospective participants. Disseminating full information about the project and the expected commitment proved effective, according to participants, as was establishing a reputation as a strong project.
As a cohort, the TTT FY 2002 grantees were highly successful in attracting a large number of applicants for targeted positions in the third project year: TTT grantees set targets to hire nearly 4,000 teachers and they reported receiving applications from 14,000 prospective candidates. One unique aspect of a TTT project is that it may have more than one recruiting period in a calendar year and be serving two or more cohorts of participants in one year.
TTT projects also report generally succeeding in finding placements in high-need schools in high-need districts for eligible participants, however, they reported many challenges associated with this process, including budget shifts that reduced positions, changing state requirements, competition from other routes to teaching, some negative views toward alternate routes, and a lack of LEAs in their areas that meet the program standard for high-need. As a result, in their three-year interim evaluations, many grantees recalled that the challenge of meeting recruiting and placement goals for those specific districts was felt each year.
Overall, in the first three years of the grant, the FY 2002 grantees have facilitated the hiring of an estimated 7,000 new teachers. Projects gradually ramped up in terms of the number hired, with a fairly large jump from year 1 to year 2.
The following tables describe the level of recruitment for the grantee cohort of FY 2002 as a whole, highlighting three findings: TTT grantees tend to recruit more than one type of participant; midcareer professionals make up the largest portion of teachers recruited and hired through the TTT grantee projects; and TTT recruitment efforts yield many more applicants than are eligible to become highly qualified teachers (see Exhibits 1 and 2).
|Target Group of Grantees||Percentage of Grantees
Targeting This Group
|Percentage of Total
Year 3 Participants
From Each Target Group
|Recent college graduates||79||27|
Exhibit reads: Eighty-seven percent of FY 2002 grantees targeted midcareer professionals, and fifty-nine percent of participants were midcareer professionals. Not shown in this exhibit is the small percentage that target one of the three groups alone; 4 percent of TTT FY 2002 projects target paraprofessionals exclusively.
Source: Transition to Teaching Annual Performance Report, 2004–05.
|Target Group of Grantees|
|Goal (Number of Participants to Recruit)||2,022||781||893|
|Number of Applications Received||8,513||1,642||4,075|
|Number of Applicants Determined as Eligible||5,467||1,068||3,062|
|Percentage of Applicants Determined as Eligible||64||65||75|
|Ratio of Eligible Applications per Slot||2.7 to 1||1.4 to 1||3.4 to 1|
Exhibit reads: Across all FY 2002 grantees, the total number of individuals from the midcareer target group sought was 2,022; 8,513 applications were received; 5,467 applicants (64 percent of the total applications received) were determined to be eligible through the selection and screening process. The
ratio of eligible applications per slot was 2.7 to 1 in the third project year.
Source: Transition to Teaching Annual Performance Report, 2004–05.
Bringing increased flexibility to the teacher preparation system by encouraging the creation and expansion of alternative routes or pathways to teacher certification and lowering barriers of time and cost of preparation, while raising standards and program rigor
At the time of the awarding of these grants, nearly three-quarters of states had already at least one approved alternate route. The rest were expected to follow suit, stimulated by the NCLB expectation that states eliminate all emergency or provisional certificate and waiver programs (Feistritzer, personal communication, 2006). Approximately one-third of the TTT FY 2002 awards were provided to entities seeking to build on existing programs (under state-approved alternate routes) and approximately two-thirds of the awards went to entities initiating new programs. As a federal grant program, TTT has enhanced and sustained the approved alternate routes in states, and, in some states and districts, it has been the source of the first alternate route option for those entering teaching and the first program.
Participants in TTT projects report that financial incentives offered, an employment guarantee, and support while obtaining certification are the three most attractive features of TTT projects. Through the TTT grant, projects were able to offer financial incentives, which could include scholarship or tuition reimbursement of up to $5,000 for the grant period for those committing to teach in high-need schools in approved high-need school districts for at least three years. This assistance is compelling for many individuals who do not have the resources to return to school and want to remain continuously employed while preparing to be certified.
TTT teachers who became teachers of record during the first three years of the FY 2002 grant primarily reported they made the decision to become a teacher because of their desire to work with young people (64 percent). TTT teachers also reported they perceived the project to add value through its requirements for study, and more than two-thirds said they felt well prepared to teach their subject area. TTT teachers reported that their projects followed through on their commitments. Still, these teachers experienced challenges in their first few months of teaching, noting that the administrative, classroom management, and time demands of teaching were very challenging. These challenges, it should be noted, are similar to the ones experienced by many new teachers.
Like teachers in the workforce today, about half of the TTT teachers who have been teaching in the first three years of these grants reported they planned to stay in teaching for as long as they were able. These teachers also suggested that, while working conditions and administrative-related issues could be a factor in a decision to leave teaching, they were anticipating the level of these challenges would be moderate with respect to their long-term teaching plans.
Twenty percent of TTT teachers indicated they would not have entered teaching, if the TTT option were not available in their area. Among targeted groups, paraprofessionals were least likely to say they would not have taught without the TTT alternative (14 percent) compared to recent college graduates (22 percent) and midcareer professionals (24 percent). Teachers who were born in the 1980s were much more likely to say they would have simply not taught if TTT were not available. Incentives were the top-ranked influence on a participant’s decision to participate in TTT; for those who placed this as the top influence, if TTT was not available, they indicated they would have chosen a traditional program. Finally, teachers of social studies and foreign languages were least likely to have expected to find another alternate route and most likely to have simply not taught. No pattern was discernible for mathematics or science teachers (see Exhibit 3).
Exhibit 3. TTT Teachers’ Choice of Preparation Pathway Without TTT
Exhibit reads: Thirty-three percent of TTT teachers reported they would have participated in a traditional teacher education program if the TTT project had not been available.
Source: Transition to Teaching TTT teacher survey, 2005–06.
Improving the retention rate of new teachers by supporting strong mentoring programs and induction and including a three-year teaching commitment in high-need schools in high-need districts as part of the program requirements
Over the first three years of the FY 2002 grants included in this evaluation, an estimated 7,000 participants were hired to teach and were working in areas designated by school districts of greatest need: middle and high school and in the subject areas of science, mathematics and special education. TTT projects have been generally able to increase the number of participants recruited and hired in each project year (see Exhibit 4). The largest percentage of TTT teachers were hired to teach mathematics (21 percent) and special education (21 percent).
Exhibit 4. Number of TTT Participants Who Were New Teachers of Record in High-Need Schools in High-Need LEAs, by Grade Level and Year and Subject Area in 2002, 2003 and 2004
Exhibit reads: In 2004, 1,125 new teachers of record were hired in participating LEAs for
high school placements.
Source: Transition to Teaching Annual Performance Report, 2004–05.
TTT teachers have been generally assigned to teach in the field in which they are seeking certification but at least 20 percent overall reported they have also been assigned to teach subjects outside of their main teaching area. Eighty percent or more of TTT teachers in the first three years reported their certification matched their main teaching assignment.
Calculating a three-year retention rate for TTT teachers was not possible for this interim evaluation, because the data were not available at the time of the grantee reports. However, data for the first two groups of teachers hired in 2002 and 2003 were available and show that the retention rate is relatively high, even with some attrition in a single year or over two years. Seventy-four percent of those who entered the project in 2002 were still teaching in 2004 (see Exhibit 5). As a comparison to this retention rate, the most recent national estimates (from SASS data in 1999–2000) indicate 29 percent of first-time teachers either changed schools at the end of the year (15 percent) or left teaching (14 percent) (Smith and Ingersoll, 2004). These analyses also found that beginning teachers comparable to the TTT teachers in high-poverty schools were ‘less likely than their counterparts in medium-poverty schools to move after a year but were more likely to leave teaching (16 percent as opposed to 9 percent)’ (Smith and Ingersoll, 2004). Additional research on mobility was recently released which complements these findings (Marvel et al., 2006).
The importance of TTT support and mentoring to new teachers was explored, especially in light of research that shows a combination of supports can be significant in reducing teacher turnover (Smith and Ingersoll, 2004). Retention rates were not found to be associated with the number of years over which TTT projects provided mentoring assistance. The percentage of TTT teachers reporting they had a mentor (63 percent in the surveyed year) was slightly lower than that reported by other new teachers in the workforce (approximately 70 percent) (SASS, 2003–04). This was likely due to two factors. First, all TTT projects did not provide the same kind of support to new teachers, thus mentoring was not a universal component. Second, in many TTT projects mentoring support was the responsibility of the district and was not provided for all years. Thus in any given year, some TTT teachers were participating in a mentoring program, while others were not. This variability may have affected the perception of some TTT teachers who reported some dissatisfaction with the quality and quantity of mentoring and this feeling was reinforced by the reports of project directors who found it difficult to ensure a high quality of this and other supports when they were depending upon existing induction programs administered by districts in their states.
Exhibit 5. Percentage of Participants Who Became Teachers of Record in 2002 and 2003 and Their Retention Status, by Year Entering the TTT Project (2002 and 2003)
Note: TTT projects may enroll more than one cohort of participants in a given project year.
Exhibit reads: Ninety-four percent of participants who entered the TTT project in 2002 and became teachers of record in 2002 were reported to still be teaching in 2003.
Source: Transition to Teaching Annual Performance Report, 2004–05.
Challenges and Lessons Learned
In their approaches to facilitating recruitment, selection, preparation, hiring, placement, certification, and support while teaching, TTT grantees have developed approaches that might differ with respect to recruitment strategies, involvement of school principals and district administrators, number and background of participants, and the nature and extent of support. Still, TTT grantees report that they share certain challenges in starting up and sustaining these components in alternate routes to certification.
Recruitment. The most critical challenge identified by grantees was that of recruitment, which was cited by almost one-third of the grantees. This category encompasses attracting qualified participants to teaching and to committing to a placement in high-need LEAs for three years. Recruitment was complicated by external factors, such as changes in state or district certification policies that affected alternate route participants, isolation of rural school districts, labor market conditions in some cities, competitive programs in the region, and the expense of living and working in urban districts. TTT projects attract many applicants with their focused recruitment efforts, but applicants are not all eligible and there is some attrition over time.
Selection. Some grantees reported receiving applications from individuals who were not adequately qualified and found it necessary to refine the participant selection process. A few projects instituted candidate screeners. Others established extensive selection and placement processes through which district administrators and IHE faculty were involved. By taking steps to be more selective and setting higher standards for entry, the grantees were also establishing a reputation as a selective program, which, it was believed, would eventually facilitate both recruitment and hiring.
Retention. A number of participants were unhappy with the working conditions in high-need schools, and still others who were eligible, would not commit to the project because they wanted to select the location where they would work and did not find the needs of specific types of LEAs compelling. Still others signed up originally, but then left because of difficulty in maintaining their performance, balancing work and course commitments, and financial considerations. Projects reported that participants felt LEAs in rural locations were simply harder to access, and they were not able to recruit as well for these districts or attract mentors, so instead focused on preparing training components that could be conveniently delivered.
Definition of High-Need LEAs Provided in the Authorizing Legislation. One quarter of the grantees cited problems with meeting the TTT program constraints regarding the definition of high-need LEA and high-need schools in terms of the level of poverty and the highly qualified teacher requirement. In their applications, TTT projects identified the districts that would meet the requirements and then worked with the program office if any changes were requested (e.g., adding an LEA to the list). Besides finding the districts and schools within the definition, some TTT projects found that their participants wanted to teach in other schools and districts that did not meet the definition, resulting in some attrition. Other projects reported that some high-need LEAs dropped out of their arrangement or had fewer openings than anticipated. As a result, projects maintained an ongoing discourse with the TTT program office about the LEA definition.
Grantees responded to the challenges they faced in meeting their objectives in many different ways; three key methods were mentioned in 60 percent of grantee responses: (a) networking and collaborating with LEAs, agencies, projects and schools; (b) providing more or improving professional development and support; and (c) increasing recruitment efforts, including more targeted efforts to reach individuals who were eligible.
Conclusion and Recommendations
The Transition to Teaching grant program supports a wide variety of alternate route approaches which exist within the broader population of state-, district- and university-provided options for those wishing to become teachers. As the data on the third project year activities were being collected through the APRs, the case studies, and the interim reports, it became clear that changes were being made to improve on the approaches. In conjunction with project monitors and through participation in grantee meetings, project management received support, particularly in the areas of recruitment and evaluation. Still, some lessons learned and challenges faced in the first three years of operations indicate the potential for some changes and new directions for the TTT program as a whole. Some of these are more appropriately addressed to the Congress as it plans for reauthorization of NCLB and considers options to strengthen the TTT program within the Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII).
- In deliberations leading to reauthorization, consider giving the program office (OII) the authority to award shorter planning grants to prospective entities. Awarding one-year planning grants to entities planning to create new alternate routes would allow them the time to develop a business plan, pilot effective recruitment approaches, and obtain formal commitments from participating LEAs. Many FY 2002 projects indicated that the first year was a start-up and planning year, in terms of operations. Recruitment takes time and substantial resources and the yield is small each year considering the effort made. During this planning year, TTT projects could be asked to establish more of a “business plan” and finalize the targeted number of participants based on numbers of teachers needed. This planning year could also include project mentoring by program staff to establish the groundwork for evidence-based evaluations. There is some precedent for this option. For example, in the PT3 grant program, initial catalyst grants were awarded. Many of the IHE programs awarded these used the period to build strong models planning the integration of technology in teacher preparation programs and courses.
- Use discretionary funds now available to OII and TTT to invest in the documentation and dissemination of effective practices for alternate route projects. Just as the FY 2002 grants were awarded, ED also produced a book of promising practices for alternate routes and established a national clearinghouse to gather annual data and provide access to policy and research reports. These information dissemination activities have proved valuable to many in this field. Four years later, and with the accumulated experience of the more than 100 grantees being documented, it makes sense to consider establishing a clearinghouse function within the program’s Web site or within the ED’s labs and centers that focuses on effective components of alternate routes. Through such a resource, alternate route project directors and evaluators would be able to find, for example, research studies on induction (including the latest data from the Institute of Education Sciences [IES] study on induction programs) and descriptions of effective induction activities in TTT projects, along with evidence about their success.
- Encourage OII and TTT grantees to collaborate at the state and district level about policies regarding alternate routes. In their interim evaluations and in narrative APR responses about promising practices and challenges, project directors indicated the importance of working through policy differences that could affect their program options, their targeted recruitment, and their success in producing certified teachers. For example, a number of projects raised the concern that they might not be able to continue special education options due to changes in certification requirements in their states. In addition, a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on Troops-to-Teachers indicated that additional collaboration among alternate routes that share recruiting populations might enhance recruitment success. Finally, in the case studies conducted for this interim report, we learned that such collaboration might ameliorate the confusing situation that sometimes faces applicants to teaching when there are competing routes, for example, regarding requirements to become highly qualified, costs, and mentoring. Project directors indicated that when they try to take advantage of existing mentoring and induction components in their states and districts, they face challenges in providing a high-quality program that is most closely related to the needs of their own project participants and does not include duplicative components.
- Use discretionary funds now available to OII to conduct a small-scale investigation of the importance of the level of incentives to project participation. While the incentives provided by TTT are helpful, they do not ameliorate the high and rising cost of tuition at public and private colleges where most participants complete their academic requirements. The program could be enhanced by more information on what level of incentive is most appealing to participants and what makes sense given the cost of recruiting and supporting participants through to certification. Through this study, ED could explore some options, for example, removing the cap of $5,000 to allow flexibility to projects recruiting from different populations with varying financial needs; investigating the relationship between different levels of funding and participation; and exploring whether professional development-type online programs are less expensive to operate and to participate in.
- In deliberations preceding reauthorization, reexamine the definition of high-need LEAs and high-need schools. Project grantees reported several challenges in this regard, most notably, they were able in some cases to identify many districts and schools that needed teachers, but all of them did not meet the narrow definition. Projects reported many more applications than expected, but some participants did not want to teach in designated high-need schools, so they earned certification through the TTT route, but did not make a commitment as to the school in which they would be teaching. ED could examine the impact of the current definition on total number of participants hired and retained and work with a group of experienced project directors to recommend additional criteria to assist grantees and participants. There should be a way to develop an approach so that unfilled teaching positions do not remain so and participants who wish to become highly qualified through alternate routes are not turned away, without penalizing the neediest schools.
Organization of the Report
This report begins with an overview chapter, and each subsequent chapter addresses a key component of grantee activity.
Chapter I: Overview of TTT Grantees, Participants and Teachers. This chapter provides an overview of TTT grantees and participants as they become teachers. Drawing on the APR for the third project year and reporting on progress toward objectives and challenges from the interim reports, project-level data are provided which illustrate the variation in grantee type, scope, participating organizations, and budget.
Chapter II: Recruitment and Selection of TTT Participants. This chapter focuses on the strategies and approaches that TTT projects implemented to recruit targeted participants, review their qualifications, and the results of these efforts for the third project year, addressing the first policy goal of the program: increasing the pool of highly qualified teachers by recruiting nontraditional candidates into teaching.
Chapter III: Preparation and Certification. This chapter outlines the activities of TTT projects as they prepare and support participants who are either serving as interns or as teachers of record while attending classes and professional development seminars. This chapter addresses the second policy goal related to breaking down barriers to teaching.
Chapter IV: Hiring and Placement of New Teachers. This chapter highlights the accomplishments of TTT grantees regarding hiring and placement in high-need schools in high-need LEAs and reviews the subject area assignments of these new teachers.
Chapter V: Mentoring and Other Supports for Newly Hired Teachers. The variety of supports provided to teachers in TTT projects are described in this chapter, addressing the policy goal of improving the retention rates of new teachers. In addition, the retention rates of TTT teachers in the early years of the FY 2002 grantees are reported in this chapter.
Chapter VI: Teacher Satisfaction and Future Plans. In this chapter we report TTT teacher data regarding their perception of TTT project preparation and support, along with the challenges faced and their future plans regarding teaching.
Chapter VII: Conclusion. This chapter draws together the evaluation findings and identifies potential refinements for the TTT program as well as questions for further investigation.
1 A “high-need’ local education agency (LEA) is defined as an LEA: that serves not fewer than 10,000 children from families with incomes below the poverty line; for which not less than 20 percent of the children served by the agency are from families below the poverty line; and for which there is a high percentage of teachers not teaching in the academic subjects that the teachers were trained to teach; or for which there is a high percentage of teachers with emergency, provisional, or temporary certificates or licensing.
A “high-need” school is defined as a school which is: located in an area in which the percentage of students from families with incomes below the poverty line is 30 percent or more; or located in an area with a high percentage of out-of-field teachers; within the top quartile of elementary schools and secondary schools statewide, as rated by the number of unfilled, available teacher positions at the schools; located in an area in which there is a high teacher turnover rate; or located in an area in which there is a high percentage of teachers who are not certified. Accessed on Oct. 23, 2006 from the Web at http://www.teach-now.org/ Federal_Section/Transitions-to-Teaching/TTT_e.asp.
2 Eligible applicants for TTT awards are: a state education agency (SEA); a high-need LEA; a for-profit or nonprofit organization that has a proven record of effectively recruiting and retaining highly qualified teachers, in a partnership with a high-need LEA or an SEA; an institution of higher education (IHE) in a partnership with a high-need LEA or an SEA; a regional consortium of SEAs; or a consortium of high-need LEAs.
3 The Department uses these definitions for projects of different scope: national or regional projects that serve eligible high-need LEAs in more than one state; statewide projects that serve eligible high-need LEAs statewide or eligible high-need LEAs in more than one area of a state; and local projects that serve one eligible high-need LEA or two or more eligible high-need LEAs in a single area of a state.