Applications for New Awards; Education Innovation and Research (EIR) Program-Early-Phase Grants

CourtEducation Department
Citation86 FR 40510
Record Number2021-16099
Publication Date28 Jul 2021
Federal Register, Volume 86 Issue 142 (Wednesday, July 28, 2021)
[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 142 (Wednesday, July 28, 2021)]
                [Notices]
                [Pages 40510-40521]
                From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
                [FR Doc No: 2021-16099]
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                DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
                Applications for New Awards; Education Innovation and Research
                (EIR) Program--Early-Phase Grants
                AGENCY: Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Department of
                Education.
                ACTION: Notice.
                -----------------------------------------------------------------------
                SUMMARY: The Department of Education (Department) is issuing a notice
                inviting applications for fiscal year (FY) 2021 for the EIR program--
                Early-phase Grants, Assistance Listing Number 84.411C (Early-phase
                Grants). This notice relates to the approved information collection
                under OMB control number 1894-0006.
                DATES:
                 Applications Available: July 30, 2021.
                 Deadline for Notice of Intent to Apply: August 17, 2021.
                 Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: August 27, 2021.
                 Deadline for Intergovernmental Review: October 26, 2021.
                 Pre-Application Information: The Department will post additional
                competition information for prospective applicants on the EIR program
                website: https://oese.ed.gov/offices/office-of-discretionary-grants-support-services/innovation-early-learning/education-innovation-and-research-eir/fy-2021-competition/.
                ADDRESSES: For the addresses for obtaining and submitting an
                application, please refer to our Common Instructions for Applicants to
                Department of Education Discretionary Grant Programs, published in the
                Federal Register on February 13, 2019 (84 FR 3768) and available at
                www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2019-02-13/pdf/2019-02206.pdf.
                FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Yvonne Crockett, U.S. Department of
                Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Room 3E344, Washington, DC 20202-
                5900. Telephone: (202) 453-7122. Email: [email protected].
                 If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) or a text
                telephone (TTY), call the Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll-free, at 1-
                800-877-8339.
                SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
                Full Text of Announcement
                I. Funding Opportunity Description
                 Purpose of Program: The EIR program, established under section 4611
                of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended (ESEA),
                provides funding to create, develop, implement, replicate, or take to
                scale entrepreneurial, evidence-based (as defined in this notice),
                field-initiated innovations to improve student achievement and
                attainment for high-need students; and rigorously evaluate such
                innovations. The EIR program is designed to generate and validate
                solutions to persistent education challenges and to support the
                expansion of those solutions to serve substantially larger numbers of
                students.
                 The central design element of the EIR program is its multi-tier
                structure that links the amount of funding an applicant may receive to
                the quality of the evidence supporting the efficacy of the proposed
                project, with the expectation that projects that build this evidence
                will advance through EIR's grant tiers: ``Early-phase,'' ``Mid-phase,''
                and ``Expansion.''
                 The Department awards three types of grants under this program:
                ``Early-phase'' grants, ``Mid-phase'' grants, and ``Expansion'' grants.
                These grants differ in terms of the level of prior evidence of
                effectiveness required for consideration for funding, the expectations
                regarding the kind of evidence and information funded projects should
                produce, the level of scale funded projects should reach, and,
                consequently, the amount of funding available to support each type of
                project.
                 Early-phase grants must demonstrate a rationale (as defined in this
                notice). The Department expects that Early-phase grants will be used to
                fund the development, implementation, and feasibility testing of a
                program, which prior research suggests has promise, for the purpose of
                determining whether the program can successfully improve student
                achievement and attainment for high need students. These Early-phase
                grants are not intended simply to implement established practices in
                additional locations or address needs that are unique to one particular
                [[Page 40511]]
                context. The goal is to determine whether and in what ways relatively
                newer practices can improve student achievement and attainment for
                high-need students.
                 This notice invites applications for Early-phase grants only. The
                notices inviting applications for Mid-Phase and Expansion grants were
                published in the Federal Register on June 7, 2021 (86 FR 30292 and 86
                FR 30302, respectively).
                 Background:
                 While this notice is for the Early-phase tier only, the premise of
                the EIR program is that new and innovative programs and practices can
                help to solve the persistent problems in education that prevent
                students, particularly high-need students, from succeeding. These
                innovations need to be evaluated, and, if sufficient evidence of
                effectiveness can be demonstrated, the intent is for these innovations
                to be replicated and tested in new populations and settings. EIR is not
                intended to provide support for practices that are already commonly
                implemented by educators, unless significant adaptations of such
                practices warrant testing to determine if they can accelerate
                achievement, or greatly increase the efficiency and likelihood that
                they can be widely implemented in a variety of new populations and
                settings effectively.
                 As an EIR project is implemented, grantees are encouraged to learn
                more about how the practices improve student achievement and
                attainment; and to develop increasingly rigorous evidence of
                effectiveness and new strategies to efficiently and cost-effectively
                scale to new school districts, regions, and States. We encourage
                applicants to develop a logic model (as defined in this notice), theory
                of action, or another conceptual framework that includes the goals,
                objectives, outcomes, and key project components (as defined in this
                notice) of the project.
                 All EIR applicants and grantees should also consider how they need
                to develop their organizational capacity, project financing, or
                business plans to sustain their projects and continue implementation
                and adaptation after Federal funding ends. The Department intends to
                provide grantees with technical assistance in their dissemination,
                scaling, and sustainability efforts.
                 EIR is designed to offer opportunities for States, districts,
                schools, and educators to develop innovations and scale effective
                practices that address their most pressing challenges.
                 Early-phase grantees are encouraged to make continuous and
                iterative improvements in project design and implementation before
                conducting a full-scale evaluation of effectiveness. Grantees should
                consider how easily others could implement the proposed practice, and
                how its implementation could potentially be improved. Additionally,
                grantees should consider using data from early indicators to gauge
                initial impact and to consider possible changes in implementation that
                could increase student achievement and attainment.
                 Early-phase applicants should develop, implement, and test the
                feasibility of their projects. The evaluation of an Early-phase project
                should be an experimental or quasi-experimental design study (as
                defined in this notice) that can determine whether the program can
                successfully improve student achievement and attainment for high-need
                students. Early-phase grantees' evaluation designs are encouraged to
                have the potential to demonstrate a statistically significant effect on
                improving student outcomes or other relevant outcomes based on moderate
                evidence (as defined in this notice) from at least one well-designed
                and well-implemented experimental or quasi-experimental design study.
                The Department intends to provide grantees and their independent
                evaluators with evaluation technical assistance. This evaluation
                technical assistance could include grantees and their independent
                evaluators providing to the Department or its contractor updated
                comprehensive evaluation plans in a format as requested by the
                technical assistance provider and using such tools as the Department
                may request. Grantees will be encouraged to update this evaluation plan
                at least annually to reflect any changes to the evaluation, with
                updates consistent with the scope and objectives of the approved
                application.
                 The FY 2021 Early-phase competition includes four absolute
                priorities and three competitive preference priorities. All Early-phase
                applicants must address Absolute Priority 1. Early-phase applicants are
                also required to address one of the other three absolute priorities.
                Applicants addressing Absolute Priority 3 also have the option to
                address Competitive Preference Priority 1. Applicants have the option
                of addressing Competitive Preference Priority 2 and Competitive
                Preference Priority 3 and may opt to do so regardless of the absolute
                priority they select. Applicants may choose to address multiple
                competitive preference priorities.
                 ``Absolute Priority 1--Demonstrates a Rationale'' establishes the
                evidence requirement for this tier of grants. All Early-phase
                applicants must submit prior evidence of effectiveness that meets the
                demonstrates a rationale evidence standard.
                 ``Absolute Priority 2--Field-Initiated Innovations--General''
                allows applicants to propose projects that align with the intent of the
                EIR program statute: To create and take to scale entrepreneurial,
                evidence-based, field-initiated innovations to improve student
                achievement and attainment.
                 ``Absolute Priority 3--Field-Initiated Innovations--Science,
                Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM)'' is intended to support
                innovations to improve student achievement and attainment in the STEM
                field, consistent with efforts to ensure our Nation's economic
                competitiveness by improving and expanding STEM learning and
                engagement, including computer science (as defined in this notice).
                 In Absolute Priority 3, the Department recognizes the importance of
                funding Pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K) through grade 12 STEM education and
                anticipates that projects would expand opportunities for high-need
                students. Within this absolute priority, the Department includes
                Competitive Preference Priority 1 that focuses on expanding
                opportunities in computer science for underserved populations such as
                minorities, girls, and youth from rural communities and low-income
                families, to help reduce achievement and attainment gaps in a manner
                consistent with nondiscrimination requirements contained in the U.S.
                Constitution and Federal civil rights laws.
                 ``Absolute Priority 4--Field-Initiated Innovations--Fostering
                Knowledge and Promoting the Development of Skills That Prepare Students
                To Be Informed, Thoughtful, and Productive Individuals and Citizens''
                is intended to advance innovation, build evidence, and address the
                learning and achievement of high-need students beginning in Pre-K
                through grade 12. The priority promotes social and emotional learning
                (SEL) skills that prepare students to be informed, thoughtful, and
                productive individuals.
                 Competitive Preference Priorities 2 and 3 highlight the
                Administration's acknowledgment of the timely and urgent needs in Pre-
                K-12 education related to addressing the impact of the novel
                coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) and promoting equity.
                 ``Competitive Preference Priority 2--Innovative Approaches to
                Addressing the Impact of COVID-19 on Underserved Students and
                Educators'' is intended to encourage applicants to propose projects
                that focus on the needs of underserved students (as defined in this
                notice) most impacted by COVID-
                [[Page 40512]]
                19. The EIR program statute refers to ``high-needs students.'' In
                addressing the needs of underserved students, the statutory requirement
                for serving ``high-needs students'' can also be addressed.
                 The Department seeks innovative strategies under this priority that
                support students' success in the classroom; are delivered by qualified
                individuals (based on requirements established by the applicant) who
                receive adequate training and support; and are aligned with students'
                learning experiences in their classrooms. This includes incorporating
                any innovations and technology practices from the last year that have
                improved student's learning experiences to supplementally support and
                enhance the return to in-person learning.
                 ``Competitive Preference Priority 3--Promoting Equity and Adequacy
                in Student Access to Educational Resources and Opportunities'' is
                intended to offer applicants the option of proposing projects that
                promote equity. Improving educational equity and adequacy is a priority
                for the Nation's education system, with particular emphasis on
                supporting underserved students.
                 The Department seeks projects that develop and evaluate evidence-
                based, field-initiated innovations to remedy the inequities in our
                country's education system. This type of innovation will better enable
                students the access to the educational opportunities they need to
                succeed in school and reach their future goals.
                 Through these priorities, the Department intends to advance
                innovation, build evidence, and address the learning and achievement of
                high-need students beginning in Pre-K through grade 12.
                 Priorities: This notice includes four absolute priorities and three
                competitive preference priorities. In accordance with 34 CFR
                75.105(b)(2)(ii), Absolute Priority 1 is from the notice of final
                priorities published in the Federal Register on March 9, 2020 (85 FR
                13640) (Administrative Priorities). In accordance with 34 CFR
                75.105(b)(2)(iv), Absolute Priority 2 is from section 4611(a)(1)(A) of
                the ESEA. In accordance with 34 CFR 75.105(b)(2)(iv), Absolute
                Priorities 3 and 4 are from section 4611(a)(1)(A) of the ESEA and the
                Supplemental Priorities and Definitions for Discretionary Grant
                Programs, published in the Federal Register on March 2, 2018 (83 FR
                9096) (Supplemental Priorities). Competitive Preference Priority 1 is
                from the Supplemental Priorities. Competitive Preference Priorities 2
                and 3 are from the Department's notice of final priorities and
                definitions published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register
                (NFP).
                 In the Early-phase grant competition, Absolute Priorities 2, 3, and
                4 constitute their own funding categories. The Secretary intends to
                award grants under each of these absolute priorities provided that
                applications of sufficient quality are submitted. To ensure that
                applicants are considered for the correct type of grant, applicants
                must clearly identify the specific absolute priority that the proposed
                project addresses. If an entity is interested in proposing separate
                projects (e.g., one that addresses Absolute Priority 2 and another that
                addresses Absolute Priority 3), separate applications must be
                submitted.
                 Absolute Priorities: For FY 2021 and any subsequent year in which
                we make awards from the list of unfunded applications from this
                competition, these priorities are absolute priorities. Under 34 CFR
                75.105(c)(3), we consider only applications that meet Absolute Priority
                1 and one additional absolute priority (Absolute Priority 2, Absolute
                Priority 3, or Absolute Priority 4).
                 These priorities are:
                 Absolute Priority 1--Applications that Demonstrate a Rationale.
                 Under this priority, an applicant proposes a project that
                demonstrates a rationale.
                 Absolute Priority 2--Field-Initiated Innovations--General.
                 Projects that are designed to create, develop, implement,
                replicate, or take to scale entrepreneurial, evidence-based, field-
                initiated innovations to improve student achievement and attainment for
                high-need students.
                 Absolute Priority 3--Field-Initiated Innovations--Promoting STEM
                Education, With a Particular Focus on Computer Science.
                 Projects that are designed to--
                 (1) Create, develop, implement, replicate, or take to scale
                entrepreneurial, evidence-based, field-initiated innovations to improve
                student achievement and attainment for high-need students; and
                 (2) Improve student achievement or other educational outcomes in
                one or more of the following areas: Science, technology, engineering,
                math, or computer science.
                 Absolute Priority 4--Field-Initiated Innovations--Fostering
                Knowledge and Promoting the Development of Skills That Prepare Students
                To Be Informed, Thoughtful, and Productive Individuals and Citizens.
                 Projects that are designed to--
                 (1) Create, develop, implement, replicate, or take to scale
                entrepreneurial, evidence-based, field-initiated innovations to improve
                student achievement and attainment for high-need students; and
                 (2) Improve student academic performance and better prepare
                students for employment, responsible citizenship, and fulfilling lives,
                including by preparing children or students to do one or more of the
                following:
                 (a) Develop positive personal relationships with others.
                 (b) Develop determination, perseverance, and the ability to
                overcome obstacles.
                 (c) Develop self-esteem through perseverance and earned success.
                 (d) Develop problem-solving skills.
                 (e) Develop self-regulation in order to work toward long-term
                goals.
                 Competitive Preference Priorities: For FY 2021 and any subsequent
                year in which we make awards from the list of unfunded applications
                from this competition, these priorities are competitive preference
                priorities. Within Absolute Priority 3, we give competitive preference
                to applications that address Competitive Preference Priority 1. Within
                Absolute Priorities 2, 3, and 4, we give competitive preference to
                applications that address Competitive Preference Priorities 2 or 3.
                 These priorities are:
                 Competitive Preference Priority 1--Computer Science (up to 5
                points).
                 Projects designed to improve student achievement or other
                educational outcomes in computer science. These projects must address
                expanding access to and participation in rigorous computer science
                coursework for traditionally underrepresented students such as racial
                or ethnic minorities, women, students in communities served by rural
                local educational agencies (LEAs) (as defined in this notice), children
                or students with disabilities (as defined in this notice), or low-
                income individuals (as defined under section 312(g) of the Higher
                Education Act of 1965, as amended).
                 Competitive Preference Priority 2--Innovative Approaches to
                Addressing the Impact of COVID-19 on Underserved Students and Educators
                (up to 5 points).
                 Projects designed to address the needs of underserved students and
                educators most impacted by COVID-19 through--
                 (a) Engaging in two-way, mutually respectful collaboration with key
                stakeholders, such as families, caretakers, students, educators
                (including teachers, school leaders and other school staff), and
                community
                [[Page 40513]]
                leaders (including individuals from diverse cultural, linguistic, and
                socioeconomic backgrounds), to assess and understand students' social,
                emotional, physical and mental health, and academic needs, in light of
                historical educational inequities and the impact of the COVID-19
                pandemic; and
                 (b) Developing and implementing strategies to address those needs
                through one or more of the following:
                 (1) Re-engaging students (and their families) and strengthening
                relationships between educators, students, and families.
                 (2) Supporting district- and school-wide use of personalized
                learning (as defined in this notice).
                 (3) Utilizing multi-tier system of supports (as defined in this
                notice) and universal design for learning (as defined in this notice).
                 (4) Providing educators with professional development (as defined
                in this notice) and resources to use trauma-informed practices.
                 (5) Creating or supporting equitable and inclusive learning
                environments in schools.
                 (6) Ensuring students have access to additional specialized
                instructional support personnel (as defined in this notice) during
                their school day, at their school site.
                 (7) Finding and supporting students experiencing homelessness,
                including those not attending school during the pandemic.
                 (8) Providing additional supports to educators to address their
                mental health and well-being and instructional practice needs.
                 (9) Providing evidence-based supports and educational opportunities
                to accelerate grade-level student learning (especially for underserved
                students) through in-class learning and additional instructional
                practice, including those supported by technology in ways that do not
                contribute to tracking or remediation, which may include one or both of
                the following:
                 (i) High-quality tutoring (as defined in this notice), summer
                learning and enrichment, or opportunities for high-quality expanded
                learning time (as defined in this notice) as well as implementation of
                embedded, high-quality formative assessment to support personalization.
                 (ii) Providing targeted supports for high school students to
                prepare for post-secondary education transition and success.
                 Competitive Preference Priority 3--Promoting Equity and Adequacy in
                Student Access to Educational Resources and Opportunities (up to 5
                points).
                 Projects designed to promote equity in access to critical resources
                for underserved students in prekindergarten through grade 12 through
                one or more of the following:
                 (a) Addressing inequities in access to fully certified,
                experienced, and effective teachers through one or more of the
                following activities:
                 (1) Improving the preparation, recruitment, early career support,
                and development of teachers in high-need or hard-to-staff schools,
                including strategies that improve teacher diversity.
                 (2) Reforming hiring, compensation, and advancement systems.
                 (3) Improving the retention of fully certified (including teachers
                certified in the area they are assigned to teach), experienced, and
                effective teachers in districts, schools, and classrooms serving high
                concentrations of underserved students through one or more of the
                following activities:
                 (i) Providing comprehensive, high-retention pathways into the
                profession.
                 (ii) Creating or enhancing opportunities for teachers' professional
                growth and leadership opportunities.
                 (iii) Delivering collaborative, job-embedded, and sustained
                professional development.
                 (iv) Improving workplace conditions to create opportunities for
                successful teaching and learning, including through inclusive and
                culturally affirming working environments.
                 (b) Addressing inequities in access to and success in rigorous,
                engaging, and culturally and linguistically responsive teaching and
                learning environments that prepare students for college and career
                through one or both of the following activities:
                 (1) Increasing access to and success in middle school courses that
                are foundational to advanced coursework in high school; advanced
                courses and programs, including Advanced Placement, International
                Baccalaureate, high-quality dual or concurrent enrollment (as defined
                in this notice), and high-quality early college high school (as defined
                in this notice), programs; high-quality STEM programs; or high-quality
                career and technical education pathways that are integrated into the
                curriculum.
                 (2) Developing, and expanding access to, programs designed to
                provide a well-rounded education (as defined in this notice).
                 (c) Addressing bias (e.g., implicit and explicit) and creating
                inclusive, supportive learning environments.
                 (d) Involving diverse stakeholders to include students, families,
                caretakers, educators (including teachers, school leaders, and other
                staff), and community leaders in State and local education decisions.
                 (e) Identifying and addressing, in collaboration with students,
                families, and educators, policies that result in the disproportionate
                use of exclusionary discipline through data collection and analysis
                (including school climate surveys) disaggregated by race, sex, English
                learner, disability status, gender-identity, and sexual orientation, in
                compliance with 20 U.S.C. 1232h and 34 CFR part 98, and other important
                variables.
                 (f) Identifying and addressing issues of equity in access to and
                the use of innovative tools, rigorous content, and effective teaching
                and learning practices, including by providing job-embedded
                professional development to educators on strategies for equitably
                integrating educational technology in ways that elevate student
                engagement beyond passive use and over-reliance on drill-and-practice
                to a more robust, creative, and playful medium.
                 (g) Addressing policies, practices, and procedures that contribute
                to significant disproportionality in special education or programs for
                English learners based on race or ethnicity.
                 (h) Improving the quality of educational programs in juvenile
                justice facilities (such as detention facilities and secure and non-
                secure placements) or supporting re-entry after release, by linking
                youth to education or job training programs.
                 Definitions: The definitions of ``baseline,'' ``demonstrates a
                rationale,'' ``experimental study,'' ``logic model,'' ``moderate
                evidence,'' ``nonprofit,'' ``performance measure,'' ``performance
                target,'' ``project component,'' ``quasi-experimental design study,''
                ``relevant outcome,'' and ``What Works Clearinghouse Handbooks (WWC
                Handbooks)'' are from 34 CFR 77.1. The definitions of ``children or
                students with disabilities,'' ``computer science,'' and ``rural local
                educational agency'' are from the Supplemental Priorities. The
                definitions of ``dual or concurrent enrollment,'' ``early college high
                school,'' ``evidence-based,'' ``expanded learning time,'' ``local
                educational agency,'' ``multi-tier system of supports,'' ``professional
                development,'' ``specialized instructional support personnel,'' ``State
                educational agency,'' ``universal design for learning,'' and ``well-
                rounded education'' are from section 8101 of the ESEA. The definitions
                of ``high-quality tutoring,'' ``personalized learning,'' and
                ``underserved students'' are from the NFP.
                [[Page 40514]]
                 Baseline means the starting point from which performance is
                measured and targets are set.
                 Children or students with disabilities means children with
                disabilities as defined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education
                Act (IDEA) or individuals defined as having a disability under Section
                504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) (or children or
                students who are eligible under both laws).
                 Computer science means the study of computers and algorithmic
                processes and includes the study of computing principles and theories,
                computational thinking, computer hardware, software design, coding,
                analytics, and computer applications.
                 Computer science often includes computer programming or coding as a
                tool to create software, including applications, games, websites, and
                tools to manage or manipulate data; or development and management of
                computer hardware and the other electronics related to sharing,
                securing, and using digital information.
                 In addition to coding, the expanding field of computer science
                emphasizes computational thinking and interdisciplinary problem-solving
                to equip students with the skills and abilities necessary to apply
                computation in our digital world.
                 Computer science does not include using a computer for everyday
                activities, such as browsing the internet; use of tools like word
                processing, spreadsheets, or presentation software; or using computers
                in the study and exploration of unrelated subjects.
                 Demonstrates a rationale means a key project component included in
                the project's logic model is informed by research or evaluation
                findings that suggest the project component is likely to improve
                relevant outcomes.
                 Dual or concurrent enrollment means a program offered by a
                partnership between at least one institution of higher education and at
                least one local educational agency through which a secondary school
                student who has not graduated from high school with a regular high
                school diploma is able to enroll in one or more postsecondary courses
                and earn postsecondary credit that--
                 (a) Is transferable to the institutions of higher education in the
                partnership; and
                 (b) Applies toward completion of a degree or recognized educational
                credential as described in the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C.
                1001 et seq.).
                 Early college high school means a partnership between at least one
                local educational agency and at least one institution of higher
                education that allows participants to simultaneously complete
                requirements toward earning a regular high school diploma and earn not
                less than 12 credits that are transferable to the institutions of
                higher education in the partnership as part of an organized course of
                study toward a postsecondary degree or credential at no cost to the
                participant or participant's family.
                 Evidence-based means an activity, strategy, or intervention that
                demonstrates a rationale based on high quality research findings or
                positive evaluation that such activity, strategy, or intervention is
                likely to improve student outcomes or other relevant outcomes.
                 Expanded learning time means using a longer school day, week, or
                year schedule to significantly increase the total number of school
                hours, in order to include additional time for--
                 (a) Activities and instruction for enrichment as part of a well-
                rounded education; and
                 (b) Instructional and support staff to collaborate, plan, and
                engage in professional development (including professional development
                on family and community engagement) within and across grades and
                subjects.
                 Experimental study means a study that is designed to compare
                outcomes between two groups of individuals (such as students) that are
                otherwise equivalent except for their assignment to either a treatment
                group receiving a project component or a control group that does not.
                Randomized controlled trials, regression discontinuity design studies,
                and single-case design studies are the specific types of experimental
                studies that, depending on their design and implementation (e.g.,
                sample attrition in randomized controlled trials and regression
                discontinuity design studies), can meet What Works Clearinghouse (WWC)
                standards without reservations as described in the WWC Handbooks:
                 (i) A randomized controlled trial employs random assignment of, for
                example, students, teachers, classrooms, or schools to receive the
                project component being evaluated (the treatment group) or not to
                receive the project component (the control group).
                 (ii) A regression discontinuity design study assigns the project
                component being evaluated using a measured variable (e.g., assigning
                students reading below a cutoff score to tutoring or developmental
                education classes) and controls for that variable in the analysis of
                outcomes.
                 (iii) A single-case design study uses observations of a single case
                (e.g., a student eligible for a behavioral intervention) over time in
                the absence and presence of a controlled treatment manipulation to
                determine whether the outcome is systematically related to the
                treatment.
                 High-quality tutoring means tutoring that is based on evidence-
                based strategies to support students' success in the classroom
                (provided in addition to, and not as a replacement for, classroom
                teaching); is delivered in individualized or small-group settings;
                reflects differentiated support based on student need; is aligned with
                the district's curriculum and rigorous academic standards; has
                established standards of intensity and dosage based on level of need;
                is delivered by tutors who are well-trained, who are supported with
                resources and personnel (such as a tutor coordinator), and who work
                closely with the student's teacher of record; and includes instruments
                to examine instructional quality and quantity.
                 Local educational agency (LEA) means:
                 (a) In General. A public board of education or other public
                authority legally constituted within a State for either administrative
                control or direction of, or to perform a service function for, public
                elementary schools or secondary schools in a city, county, township,
                school district, or other political subdivision of a State, or of or
                for a combination of school districts or counties that is recognized in
                a State as an administrative agency for its public elementary schools
                or secondary schools.
                 (b) Administrative Control and Direction. The term includes any
                other public institution or agency having administrative control and
                direction of a public elementary school or secondary school.
                 (c) Bureau of Indian Education Schools. The term includes an
                elementary school or secondary school funded by the Bureau of Indian
                Education but only to the extent that including the school makes the
                school eligible for programs for which specific eligibility is not
                provided to the school in another provision of law and the school does
                not have a student population that is smaller than the student
                population of the LEA receiving assistance under the ESEA with the
                smallest student population, except that the school shall not be
                subject to the jurisdiction of any State educational agency (SEA) (as
                defined in this notice) other than the Bureau of Indian Education.
                 (d) Educational Service Agencies. The term includes educational
                service agencies and consortia of those agencies.
                [[Page 40515]]
                 (e) State Educational Agency. The term includes the SEA in a State
                in which the SEA is the sole educational agency for all public schools.
                 Logic model (also referred to as a theory of action) means a
                framework that identifies key project components of the proposed
                project (i.e., the active ``ingredients'' that are hypothesized to be
                critical to achieving the relevant outcomes) and describes the
                theoretical and operational relationships among the key project
                components and relevant outcomes.
                 Moderate evidence means that there is evidence of effectiveness of
                a key project component in improving a relevant outcome for a sample
                that overlaps with the populations or settings proposed to receive that
                component, based on a relevant finding from one of the following:
                 (i) A practice guide prepared by the WWC using version 2.1, 3.0,
                4.0, or 4.1 of the WWC Handbooks reporting a ``strong evidence base''
                or ``moderate evidence base'' for the corresponding practice guide
                recommendation;
                 (ii) An intervention report prepared by the WWC using version 2.1,
                3.0, 4.0, or 4.1 of the WWC Handbooks reporting a ``positive effect''
                or ``potentially positive effect'' on a relevant outcome based on a
                ``medium to large'' extent of evidence, with no reporting of a
                ``negative effect'' or ``potentially negative effect'' on a relevant
                outcome; or
                 (iii) A single experimental study or quasi-experimental design
                study reviewed and reported by the WWC using version 2.1, 3.0, 4.0, or
                4.1 of the WWC Handbooks, or otherwise assessed by the Department using
                version 4.1 of the WWC Handbook, as appropriate, and that--
                 (A) Meets WWC standards with or without reservations;
                 (B) Includes at least one statistically significant and positive
                (i.e., favorable) effect on a relevant outcome;
                 (C) Includes no overriding statistically significant and negative
                effects on relevant outcomes reported in the study or in a
                corresponding WWC intervention report prepared under version 2.1, 3.0,
                4.0, or 4.1 of the WWC Handbooks; and
                 (D) Is based on a sample from more than one site (e.g., State,
                county, city, school district, or postsecondary campus) and includes at
                least 350 students or other individuals across sites. Multiple studies
                of the same project component that each meet requirements in paragraphs
                (iii)(A), (B), and (C) of this definition may together satisfy this
                requirement.
                 Multi-tier system of supports means a comprehensive continuum of
                evidence-based, systemic practices to support a rapid response to
                students' needs, with regular observation to facilitate data-based
                instructional decision-making.
                 Nonprofit, as applied to an agency, organization, or institution,
                means that it is owned and operated by one or more corporations or
                associations whose net earnings do not benefit, and cannot lawfully
                benefit, any private shareholder or entity.
                 Performance measure means any quantitative indicator, statistic, or
                metric used to gauge program or project performance.
                 Performance target means a level of performance that an applicant
                would seek to meet during the course of a project or as a result of a
                project.
                 Personalized learning means instruction that is aligned with
                rigorous college- and career-ready standards so that the pace of
                learning and the instructional approach are tailored to the needs of
                individual learners. Learning objectives and content, as well as the
                pace, may all vary depending on a learner's needs. Personalized
                learning may also draw on a number of student-centered blended learning
                models (e.g., competency-based education, project-based learning,
                universal design for learning). In addition, learning activities are
                aligned with specific interests of each learner. Data from a variety of
                sources (including formative assessments, student feedback, and
                progress in digital learning activities), along with teacher
                recommendations, are often used to personalize learning.
                 Professional development means activities that--
                 (i) Are an integral part of school and local educational agency
                strategies for providing educators (including teachers, principals,
                other school leaders, specialized instructional support personnel,
                paraprofessionals, and, as applicable, early childhood educators) with
                the knowledge and skills necessary to enable students to succeed in a
                well-rounded education and to meet the challenging State academic
                standards; and
                 (ii) Are sustained (not stand-alone, 1-day, or short term
                workshops), intensive, collaborative, job-embedded, data-driven, and
                classroom-focused, and may include activities that--
                 (A) Improve and increase teachers' knowledge of the academic
                subjects the teachers teach; understanding of how students learn; and
                ability to analyze student work and achievement from multiple sources,
                including how to adjust instructional strategies, assessments, and
                materials based on such analysis;
                 (B) Are an integral part of broad schoolwide and districtwide
                educational improvement plans;
                 (C) Allow personalized plans for each educator to address the
                educator's specific needs identified in observation or other feedback;
                 (D) Improve classroom management skills;
                 (E) Support the recruitment, hiring, and training of effective
                teachers, including teachers who became certified through State and
                local alternative routes to certification;
                 (F) Advance teacher understanding of effective instructional
                strategies that are evidence-based; and strategies for improving
                student academic achievement or substantially increasing the knowledge
                and teaching skills of teachers;
                 (G) Are aligned with, and directly related to, academic goals of
                the school or local educational agency;
                 (H) Are developed with extensive participation of teachers,
                principals, other school leaders, parents, representatives of Indian
                tribes (as applicable), and administrators of schools to be served
                under the ESEA;
                 (I) Are designed to give teachers of English learners, and other
                teachers and instructional staff, the knowledge and skills to provide
                instruction and appropriate language and academic support services to
                those children, including the appropriate use of curricula and
                assessments;
                 (J) To the extent appropriate, provide training for teachers,
                principals, and other school leaders in the use of technology
                (including education about the harms of copyright piracy), so that
                technology and technology applications are effectively used in the
                classroom to improve teaching and learning in the curricula and
                academic subjects in which the teachers teach;
                 (K) As a whole, are regularly evaluated for their impact on
                increased teacher effectiveness and improved student academic
                achievement, with the findings of the evaluations used to improve the
                quality of professional development;
                 (L) Are designed to give teachers of children with disabilities or
                children with developmental delays, and other teachers and
                instructional staff, the knowledge and skills to provide instruction
                and academic support services, to those children, including positive
                behavioral interventions and supports, multi-tier system of supports,
                and use of accommodations;
                [[Page 40516]]
                 (M) Include instruction in the use of data and assessments to
                inform and instruct classroom practice;
                 (N) Include instruction in ways that teachers, principals, other
                school leaders, specialized instructional support personnel, and school
                administrators may work more effectively with parents and families;
                 (O) Involve the forming of partnerships with institutions of higher
                education, including, as applicable, Tribal Colleges and Universities
                as defined in section 316(b) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20
                U.S.C. 1059c(b)), to establish school-based teacher, principal, and
                other school leader training programs that provide prospective
                teachers, novice teachers, principals, and other school leaders with an
                opportunity to work under the guidance of experienced teachers,
                principals, other school leaders, and faculty of such institutions;
                 (P) Create programs to enable paraprofessionals (assisting teachers
                employed by a local educational agency receiving assistance under part
                A of title I) to obtain the education necessary for those
                paraprofessionals to become certified and licensed teachers;
                 (Q) Provide follow-up training to teachers who have participated in
                activities described in this paragraph that are designed to ensure that
                the knowledge and skills learned by the teachers are implemented in the
                classroom; and
                 (R) Where practicable, provide jointly for school staff and other
                early childhood education program providers, to address the transition
                to elementary school, including regular issues related to school
                readiness.
                 Project component means an activity, strategy, intervention,
                process, product, practice, or policy included in a project. Evidence
                may pertain to an individual project component or to a combination of
                project components (e.g., training teachers on instructional practices
                for English learners and follow-on coaching for these teachers).
                 Quasi-experimental design study means a study using a design that
                attempts to approximate an experimental study by identifying a
                comparison group that is similar to the treatment group in important
                respects. This type of study, depending on design and implementation
                (e.g., establishment of baseline equivalence of the groups being
                compared), can meet WWC standards with reservations, but cannot meet
                WWC standards without reservations, as described in the WWC Handbooks.
                 Relevant outcome means the student outcome(s) or other outcome(s)
                the key project component is designed to improve, consistent with the
                specific goals of the program.
                 Rural local educational agency means a local educational agency
                that is eligible under the Small Rural School Achievement (SRSA)
                program or the Rural and Low-Income School (RLIS) program authorized
                under Title V, Part B of the ESEA. Eligible applicants may determine
                whether a particular district is eligible for these programs by
                referring to information on the Department's website at https://oese.ed.gov/files/2021/05/FY2021_Master_Eligibility_Spreadsheet-public51221.xlsx.
                 Specialized instructional support personnel means--
                 (a) School counselors, school social workers, and school
                psychologists; and
                 (b) Other qualified professional personnel, such as school nurses,
                speech language pathologists, and school librarians, involved in
                providing assessment, diagnosis, counseling, educational, therapeutic,
                and other necessary services (including related services as that term
                is defined in section 602 of the Individuals with Disabilities
                Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1401)) as part of a comprehensive program to
                meet student needs.
                 State educational agency (SEA) means the agency primarily
                responsible for the State supervision of public elementary schools and
                secondary schools.
                 Underserved students means high-need students as determined by the
                applicant, which may include one or more of the following:
                 (a) Students who are living in poverty, especially those students
                who are also served by schools with high concentrations of students
                living in poverty.
                 (b) Students of color.
                 (c) Students who are members of federally recognized Indian Tribes.
                 (d) English learners.
                 (e) Students with disabilities, including students served under the
                Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Section 504 of the
                Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
                 (f) Disconnected youth, including but not limited to (1) students
                who lost significant amounts of in-person instruction as a result of
                the COVID-19 pandemic, and (2) students who did not consistently
                participate in remote instruction when offered during school building
                closures.
                 (g) Migrant students.
                 (h) Students experiencing homelessness.
                 (i) Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+)
                students.
                 (j) Students in foster care.
                 (k) Students without documentation of immigration status.
                 (l) Pregnant, parenting, or caregiving students.
                 (m) Students impacted by the justice system including formerly
                incarcerated students.
                 (n) Students who are the first in their family to attend
                postsecondary education.
                 (o) Students enrolling in or seeking to enroll in postsecondary
                education for the first time at the age of 20 or older.
                 (p) Students who are working full-time while enrolling in
                postsecondary education.
                 (q) Students who are enrolling in or seeking to enroll in
                postsecondary education who are eligible for a Pell Grant.
                 (r) Adult students with low skills, including those with limited
                English proficiency.
                 Universal design for learning means a scientifically valid
                framework for guiding educational practice that--
                 (a) 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
                 (b) 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 limited English proficient.
                 Well-rounded education means courses, activities, and programming
                in subjects such as English, reading or language arts, writing,
                science, technology, engineering, mathematics, foreign languages,
                civics and government, economics, arts, history, geography, computer
                science, music, career and technical education, health, physical
                education, and any other subject, as determined by the State or local
                educational agency, with the purpose of providing all students access
                to an enriched curriculum and educational experience.
                 What Works Clearinghouse Handbooks (WWC Handbooks) means the
                standards and procedures set forth in the WWC Standards Handbook,
                Versions 4.0 or 4.1, and WWC Procedures Handbook, Versions 4.0 or 4.1,
                or in the WWC Procedures and Standards Handbook, Version 3.0 or Version
                2.1 (all incorporated by reference, see Sec. 77.2). Study findings
                eligible for review under WWC standards can meet WWC standards without
                reservations, meet WWC standards with reservations, or not meet WWC
                standards. WWC practice guides
                [[Page 40517]]
                and intervention reports include findings from systematic reviews of
                evidence as described in the WWC Handbooks documentation.
                 Note: The What Works Clearinghouse Procedures and Standards
                Handbooks are available at https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Handbooks.
                 Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 7261.
                 Note: Projects will be awarded and must be operated in a manner
                consistent with the nondiscrimination requirements contained in
                Federal civil rights laws.
                 Applicable Regulations: (a) The Education Department General
                Administrative Regulations in 34 CFR parts 75, 77, 79, 81, 82, 84, 86,
                97, 98, and 99. (b) The Office of Management and Budget Guidelines to
                Agencies on Governmentwide Debarment and Suspension (Nonprocurement) in
                2 CFR part 180, as adopted and amended as regulations of the Department
                in 2 CFR part 3485. (c) The Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost
                Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards in 2 CFR part
                200, as adopted and amended as regulations of the Department in 2 CFR
                part 3474. (d) The Administrative Priorities. (e) The Supplemental
                Priorities. (f) The NFP.
                 Note: The regulations in 34 CFR part 86 apply to institutions of
                higher education (IHEs) only.
                II. Award Information
                 Type of Award: Discretionary grants.
                 Estimated Available Funds: $180,000,000.
                 These estimated available funds are the total available for all
                three types of grants under the EIR program (Early-phase, Mid-phase,
                and Expansion grants).
                 Contingent upon the availability of funds and the quality of
                applications, we may make additional awards in subsequent years from
                the list of unfunded applications from this competition.
                 Estimated Average Size of Awards: Up to $4,000,000.
                 Maximum Award: We will not make an award exceeding $4,000,000 for a
                project period of 60 months. The Department intends to fund one or more
                projects under each of the EIR competitions, including Expansion
                (84.411A), Mid-phase (84.411B), and Early-phase (84.411C). Entities may
                submit applications for different projects for more than one
                competition (Early-phase, Mid-phase, and Expansion). The maximum award
                amount a grantee may receive under these three competitions, taken
                together, is $15,000,000. If an entity is within funding range for
                multiple applications, the Department will award the highest scoring
                applications up to $15,000,000.
                 Estimated Number of Awards: 12-23.
                 Note: The Department is not bound by any estimates in this
                notice.
                 Project Period: Up to 60 months.
                 Note: Under section 4611(c) of the ESEA, the Department must use
                at least 25 percent of EIR funds for a fiscal year to make awards to
                applicants serving rural areas, contingent on receipt of a
                sufficient number of applications of sufficient quality. For
                purposes of this competition, we will consider an applicant as rural
                if the applicant meets the qualifications for rural applicants as
                described in the Eligible Applicants section and the applicant
                certifies that it meets those qualifications through the
                application.
                 In implementing this statutory provision and program requirement,
                the Department may fund high-quality applications from rural applicants
                out of rank order in the Early-phase competition.
                 In addition, for the FY 2021 Early-phase competition, the
                Department intends to award an estimated $35 million in funds for STEM
                projects and $35 million in funds for SEL projects, contingent on
                receipt of a sufficient number of applications of sufficient quality.
                III. Eligibility Information
                 1. Eligible Applicants:
                 (a) An LEA;
                 (b) An SEA;
                 (c) The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE);
                 (d) A consortium of SEAs or LEAs;
                 (e) A nonprofit (as defined in this notice) organization; and
                 (f) An LEA, an SEA, the BIE, or a consortium described in clause
                (d), in partnership with--
                 (1) A nonprofit organization;
                 (2) A business;
                 (3) An educational service agency; or
                 (4) An IHE.
                 To qualify as a rural applicant under the EIR program, an applicant
                must meet both of the following requirements:
                 (a) The applicant is--
                 (1) An LEA with an urban-centric district locale code of 32, 33,
                41, 42, or 43, as determined by the Secretary;
                 (2) A consortium of such LEAs;
                 (3) An educational service agency or a nonprofit organization in
                partnership with such an LEA; or
                 (4) A grantee described in clause (1) or (2) in partnership with an
                SEA; and
                 (b) A majority of the schools to be served by the program are
                designated with a locale code of 32, 33, 41, 42, or 43, or a
                combination of such codes, as determined by the Secretary.
                 Applicants are encouraged to retrieve locale codes from the
                National Center for Education Statistics School District search tool
                (https://nces.ed.gov/ccd/districtsearch/), where districts can be
                looked up individually to retrieve locale codes, and Public School
                search tool (https://nces.ed.gov/ccd/schoolsearch/), where individual
                schools can be looked up to retrieve locale codes. More information on
                rural applicant eligibility is in the application package.
                 Note: If you are a nonprofit organization, under 34 CFR 75.51,
                you may demonstrate your nonprofit status by providing: (1) Proof
                that the Internal Revenue Service currently recognizes the applicant
                as an organization to which contributions are tax deductible under
                section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, (2) a statement from
                a State taxing body or the State attorney general certifying that
                the organization is a nonprofit organization operating within the
                State and that no part of its net earnings may lawfully benefit any
                private shareholder or individual, (3) a certified copy of the
                applicant's certificate of incorporation or similar document if it
                clearly establishes the nonprofit status of the applicant, or (4)
                any item described above if that item applies to a State or national
                parent organization, together with a statement by the State or
                parent organization that the applicant is a local nonprofit
                affiliate.
                 In addition, any IHE is eligible to be a partner in an application
                where an LEA, SEA, BIE, consortium of SEAs or LEAs, or a nonprofit
                organization is the lead applicant that submits the application. A
                private IHE that is a nonprofit organization can apply for an EIR
                grant. A nonprofit organization, such as a development foundation, that
                is affiliated with a public IHE can apply for a grant. A public IHE
                that has 501(c)(3) status would also qualify as a nonprofit
                organization and could be a lead applicant for an EIR grant. A public
                IHE without 501(c)(3) status (even if that entity is tax exempt under
                Section 115 of the Internal Revenue Code or any other State or Federal
                provision), or that could not provide any other documentation described
                in 34 CFR 75.51(b), however, would not qualify as a nonprofit
                organization, and therefore could not apply for and receive an EIR
                grant.
                 2. Cost Sharing or Matching: Under section 4611(d) of the ESEA,
                each grant recipient must provide, from Federal, State, local, or
                private sources, an amount equal to 10 percent of funds provided under
                the grant, which may be provided in cash or through in-kind
                contributions, to carry out activities supported by the grant. Grantees
                must include a budget showing their matching contributions to the
                budget amount of EIR grant funds and must
                [[Page 40518]]
                provide evidence of their matching contributions for the first year of
                the grant in their grant applications. Section 4611(d) of the ESEA also
                authorizes the Secretary to waive this matching requirement on a case-
                by-case basis, upon a showing of exceptional circumstances, such as:
                 (a) The difficulty of raising matching funds for a program to serve
                a rural area;
                 (b) The difficulty of raising matching funds in areas with a
                concentration of LEAs or schools with a high percentage of students
                aged 5 through 17--
                 (1) Who are in poverty, as counted in the most recent census data
                approved by the Secretary;
                 (2) Who are eligible for a free or reduced price lunch under the
                Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1751 et seq.);
                 (3) Whose families receive assistance under the State program
                funded under part A of title IV of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C.
                601 et seq.); or
                 (4) Who are eligible to receive medical assistance under the
                Medicaid program; and
                 (c) The difficulty of raising funds on Tribal land.
                 Applicants that wish to apply for a waiver must include a request
                in their application that describes why the matching requirement would
                cause serious hardship or an inability to carry out project activities.
                Further information about applying for waivers can be found in the
                application package. However, given the importance of matching funds to
                the long-term success of the project, the Secretary expects eligible
                entities to identify appropriate matching funds.
                 3. Subgrantees: A grantee under this competition may not award
                subgrants to entities to directly carry out project activities
                described in its application.
                 4. Other: a. Funding Categories: An applicant will be considered
                for an award only for the type of EIR grant for which it applies (i.e.,
                Early-phase: Absolute Priority 2, Early-phase: Absolute Priority 3, or
                Early-phase: Absolute Priority 4). An applicant may not submit an
                application for the same proposed project under more than one type of
                grant (e.g., both an Early-phase grant and Mid-phase grant).
                 Note: Each application will be reviewed under the competition it
                was submitted under in the Grants.gov system, and only applications
                that are successfully submitted by the established deadline will be
                peer reviewed. Applicants should be careful that they download the
                intended EIR application package and that they submit their
                applications under the intended EIR competition.
                 b. Evaluation: The grantee must conduct an independent evaluation
                of the effectiveness of its project.
                 c. High-need students: The grantee must serve high-need students.
                IV. Application and Submission Information
                 1. Application Submission Instructions: Applicants are required to
                follow the Common Instructions for Applicants to Department of
                Education Discretionary Grant Programs, published in the Federal
                Register on February 13, 2019 (84 FR 3768) and available at
                www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2019-02-13/pdf/2019-02206.pdf, which
                contain requirements and information on how to submit an application.
                 2. Submission of Proprietary Information: Given the types of
                projects that may be proposed in applications for Early-phase grants,
                your application may include business information that you consider
                proprietary. In 34 CFR 5.11 we define ``business information'' and
                describe the process we use in determining whether any of that
                information is proprietary and, thus, protected from disclosure under
                Exemption 4 of the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552, as
                amended).
                 Because we plan to make successful applications available to the
                public, you may wish to request confidentiality of business
                information.
                 Consistent with Executive Order 12600, please designate in your
                application any information that you believe is exempt from disclosure
                under Exemption 4. In the appropriate Appendix section of your
                application, under ``Other Attachments Form,'' please list the page
                number or numbers on which we can find this information. For additional
                information please see 34 CFR 5.11(c).
                 3. Intergovernmental Review: This competition is subject to
                Executive Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79.
                Information about Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs under
                Executive Order 12372 is in the application package for this
                competition.
                 4. Funding Restrictions: We reference regulations outlining funding
                restrictions in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice.
                 5. Recommended Page Limit: The application narrative is where you,
                the applicant, address the selection criteria that reviewers use to
                evaluate your application. We recommend that you (1) limit the
                application narrative for an Early-phase grant to no more than 25 pages
                and (2) use the following standards:
                 A ``page'' is 8.5'' x 11'', on one side only, with 1''
                margins at the top, bottom, and both sides.
                 Double space (no more than three lines per vertical inch)
                all text in the application narrative, including titles, headings,
                footnotes, quotations, references, and captions, as well as all text in
                charts, tables, figures, and graphs.
                 Use a font that is either 12 point or larger or no smaller
                than 10 pitch (characters per inch).
                 Use one of the following fonts: Times New Roman, Courier,
                Courier New, or Arial.
                 The recommended page limit does not apply to the cover sheet; the
                budget section, including the narrative budget justification; the
                assurances and certifications; or the one-page abstract, the resumes,
                the bibliography, or the letters of support. However, the recommended
                page limit does apply to all of the application narrative.
                 6. Notice of Intent to Apply: The Department will be able to review
                grant applications more efficiently if we know the approximate number
                of applicants that intend to apply. Therefore, we strongly encourage
                each potential applicant to notify us of their intent to submit an
                application. Applicants may access this form using the link available
                on the Notice of Intent to Apply section of the competition website:
                https://oese.ed.gov/offices/office-of-discretionary-grants-support-services/innovation-early-learning/education-innovation-and-research-eir. Applicants that do not submit a notice of intent to apply may
                still apply for funding; applicants that do submit a notice of intent
                to apply are not bound to apply or bound by the information provided.
                V. Application Review Information
                 1. Selection Criteria: The selection criteria for the Early-phase
                competition are from 34 CFR 75.210. The points assigned to each
                criterion are indicated in the parentheses next to the criterion. An
                applicant may earn up to a total of 100 points based on the selection
                criteria for the application.
                 A. Significance (up to 20 points).
                 The Secretary considers the significance of the proposed project.
                In determining the significance of the proposed project, the Secretary
                considers the following factors:
                 (1) The extent to which the proposed project involves the
                development or demonstration of promising new strategies that build on,
                or are alternatives to, existing strategies. (15 points)
                [[Page 40519]]
                 (2) The extent to which the results of the proposed project are to
                be disseminated in ways that will enable others to use the information
                or strategies. (5 points)
                 B. Quality of the Project Design (up to 30 points).
                 The Secretary considers the quality of the design of the proposed
                project. In determining the quality of the design of the proposed
                project, the Secretary considers the following factors:
                 (1) The extent to which there is a conceptual framework underlying
                the proposed research or demonstration activities and the quality of
                that framework. (15 points)
                 (2) The extent to which the goals, objectives, and outcomes to be
                achieved by the proposed project are clearly specified and measurable.
                (5 points)
                 (3) The extent to which the design of the proposed project is
                appropriate to, and will successfully address, the needs of the target
                population or other identified needs. (10 points)
                 C. Adequacy of Resources and Quality of the Management Plan (up to
                25 points).
                 The Secretary considers the adequacy of resources and the quality
                of the management plan for the proposed project. In determining the
                adequacy of resources and quality of the management plan, the Secretary
                considers the following factors:
                 (1) The adequacy of the management plan to achieve the objectives
                of the proposed project on time and within budget, including clearly
                defined responsibilities, timelines, and milestones for accomplishing
                project tasks. (10 points)
                 (2) The qualifications, including relevant training and experience,
                of key project personnel. (5 points)
                 (3) The extent to which the costs are reasonable in relation to the
                objectives, design, and potential significance of the proposed project.
                (5 points)
                 (4) The adequacy of procedures for ensuring feedback and continuous
                improvement in the operation of the proposed project. (5 points)
                 D. Quality of the Project Evaluation (up to 25 points).
                 The Secretary considers the quality of the evaluation to be
                conducted of the proposed project. In determining the quality of the
                evaluation, the Secretary considers the following factors:
                 (1) The extent to which the methods of evaluation will, if well
                implemented, produce evidence about the project's effectiveness that
                would meet the What Works Clearinghouse standards with or without
                reservations as described in the What Works Clearinghouse Handbook (as
                defined in this notice). (15 points)
                 (2) The extent to which the methods of evaluation will provide
                performance feedback and permit periodic assessment of progress toward
                achieving intended outcomes. (5 points)
                 (3) The potential contribution of the proposed project to increased
                knowledge or understanding of educational problems, issues, or
                effective strategies. (5 points)
                 Note: Applicants may wish to review the following technical
                assistance resources on evaluation: (1) WWC Procedures and Standards
                Handbooks: https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Handbooks; (2) ``Technical
                Assistance Materials for Conducting Rigorous Impact Evaluations'':
                http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/projects/evaluationTA.asp; and (3) IES/NCEE
                Technical Methods papers: http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/tech_methods/. In
                addition, applicants may view an optional webinar recording that was
                hosted by the Institute of Education Sciences. The webinar focused
                on more rigorous evaluation designs, discussing strategies for
                designing and executing experimental studies that meet WWC evidence
                standards without reservations. This webinar is available at: http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Multimedia/18.
                 2. Review and Selection Process: We remind potential applicants
                that in reviewing applications in any discretionary grant competition,
                the Secretary may consider, under 34 CFR 75.217(d)(3), the past
                performance of the applicant in carrying out a previous award, such as
                the applicant's use of funds, achievement of project objectives, and
                compliance with grant conditions. The Secretary may also consider
                whether the applicant failed to submit a timely performance report or
                submitted a report of unacceptable quality.
                 In addition, in making a competitive grant award, the Secretary
                requires various assurances, including those applicable to Federal
                civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or
                activities receiving Federal financial assistance from the Department
                (34 CFR 100.4, 104.5, 106.4, 108.8, and 110.23).
                 Before making awards, we will screen applications submitted in
                accordance with the requirements in this notice to determine whether
                applications have met eligibility and other requirements. This
                screening process may occur at various stages of the process;
                applicants that are determined to be ineligible will not receive a
                grant, regardless of peer reviewer scores or comments.
                 Peer reviewers will read, prepare a written evaluation of, and
                score the assigned applications, using the selection criteria provided
                in this notice.
                 3. Risk Assessment and Specific Conditions: Consistent with 2 CFR
                200.206, before awarding grants under this competition the Department
                conducts a review of the risks posed by applicants. Under 2 CFR
                200.208, the Secretary may impose specific conditions and, under 2 CFR
                3474.10, in appropriate circumstances, high-risk conditions on a grant
                if the applicant or grantee is not financially stable; has a history of
                unsatisfactory performance; has a financial or other management system
                that does not meet the standards in 2 CFR part 200, subpart D; has not
                fulfilled the conditions of a prior grant; or is otherwise not
                responsible.
                 4. Integrity and Performance System: If you are selected under this
                competition to receive an award that over the course of the project
                period may exceed the simplified acquisition threshold (currently
                $250,000), under 2 CFR 200.206(a)(2), we must make a judgment about
                your integrity, business ethics, and record of performance under
                Federal awards--that is, the risk posed by you as an applicant--before
                we make an award. In doing so, we must consider any information about
                you that is in the integrity and performance system (currently referred
                to as the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System
                (FAPIIS)), accessible through the System for Award Management. You may
                review and comment on any information about yourself that a Federal
                agency previously entered and that is currently in FAPIIS.
                 Please note that, if the total value of your currently active
                grants, cooperative agreements, and procurement contracts from the
                Federal Government exceeds $10,000,000, the reporting requirements in 2
                CFR part 200, Appendix XII, require you to report certain integrity
                information to FAPIIS semiannually. Please review the requirements in 2
                CFR part 200, Appendix XII, if this grant plus all the other Federal
                funds you receive exceed $10,000,000.
                 5. In General: In accordance with the Office of Management and
                Budget's guidance located at 2 CFR part 200, all applicable Federal
                laws, and relevant Executive guidance, the Department will review and
                consider applications for funding pursuant to this notice inviting
                applications in accordance with:
                 (a) Selecting recipients most likely to be successful in delivering
                results based on the program objectives through an objective process of
                evaluating Federal award applications (2 CFR 200.205);
                 (b) Prohibiting the purchase of certain telecommunication and video
                surveillance services or equipment in alignment with section 889 of the
                National Defense Authorization Act of 2019 (Pub. L. 115-232) (2 CFR
                200.216);
                [[Page 40520]]
                 (c) Providing a preference, to the extent permitted by law, to
                maximize use of goods, products, and materials produced in the United
                States (2 CFR 200.322); and
                 (d) Terminating agreements in whole or in part to the greatest
                extent authorized by law if an award no longer effectuates the program
                goals or agency priorities (2 CFR 200.340).
                VI. Award Administration Information
                 1. Award Notices: If your application is successful, we notify your
                U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators and send you a Grant Award
                Notification (GAN); or we may send you an email containing a link to
                access an electronic version of your GAN. We may notify you informally,
                also.
                 If your application is not evaluated or not selected for funding,
                we notify you.
                 2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements: We identify
                administrative and national policy requirements in the application
                package and reference these and other requirements in the Applicable
                Regulations section of this notice.
                 We reference the regulations outlining the terms and conditions of
                an award in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice and
                include these and other specific conditions in the GAN. The GAN also
                incorporates your approved application as part of your binding
                commitments under the grant.
                 3. Open Licensing Requirements: Unless an exception applies, if you
                are awarded a grant under this competition, you will be required to
                openly license to the public grant deliverables created in whole, or in
                part, with Department grant funds. When the deliverable consists of
                modifications to pre-existing works, the license extends only to those
                modifications that can be separately identified and only to the extent
                that open licensing is permitted under the terms of any licenses or
                other legal restrictions on the use of pre-existing works.
                Additionally, a grantee or subgrantee that is awarded Early-phase grant
                funds must have a plan to disseminate these public grant deliverables.
                This dissemination plan can be developed and submitted after your
                application has been reviewed and selected for funding. For additional
                information on the open licensing requirements please refer to 2 CFR
                3474.20.
                 Note: The evaluation report is a specific deliverable under an
                Early-phase grant that grantees must make available to the public.
                Additionally, EIR grantees are encouraged to submit final studies
                resulting from research supported in whole or in part by EIR to the
                Educational Resources Information Center (http://eric.ed.gov).
                 4. Reporting: (a) If you apply for a grant under this competition,
                you must ensure that you have in place the necessary processes and
                systems to comply with the reporting requirements in 2 CFR part 170
                should you receive funding under the competition. This does not apply
                if you have an exception under 2 CFR 170.110(b).
                 (b) At the end of your project period, you must submit a final
                performance report, including financial information, as directed by the
                Secretary. If you receive a multiyear award, you must submit an annual
                performance report that provides the most current performance and
                financial expenditure information as directed by the Secretary under 34
                CFR 75.118. The Secretary may also require more frequent performance
                reports under 34 CFR 75.720(c). For specific requirements on reporting,
                please go to www.ed.gov/fund/grant/apply/appforms/appforms.html.
                 (c) Under 34 CFR 75.250(b), the Secretary may provide a grantee
                with additional funding for data collection analysis and reporting. In
                this case the Secretary establishes a data collection period.
                 5. Performance Measures: The overall purpose of the EIR program is
                to expand the implementation of, and investment in, innovative
                practices that are demonstrated to have an impact on improving student
                achievement and attainment for high-need students. We have established,
                for the purpose of the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993
                (GPRA), several performance measures (as defined in this notice) for
                the Early-phase grants.
                 Annual performance measures: (1) The percentage of grantees that
                reach their annual target number of students as specified in the
                application; (2) the percentage of grantees that reach their annual
                target number of high-need students as specified in the application;
                (3) the percentage of grantees with ongoing well-designed and
                independent evaluations that will provide evidence of their
                effectiveness at improving student outcomes in multiple contexts; (4)
                the percentage of grantees that implement an evaluation that provides
                information about the key practices and the approach of the project so
                as to facilitate replication; (5) the percentage of grantees that
                implement an evaluation that provides information on the cost-
                effectiveness of the key practices to identify potential obstacles and
                success factors to scaling; and (6) the cost per student served by the
                grant.
                 Cumulative performance measures: (1) The percentage of grantees
                that reach the targeted number of students specified in the
                application; (2) the percentage of grantees that reach the targeted
                number of high-need students specified in the application; (3) the
                percentage of grantees that implement a completed, well-designed, well-
                implemented and independent evaluation that provides evidence of their
                effectiveness at improving student outcomes at scale; (4) the
                percentage of grantees with a completed well-designed, well-
                implemented, and independent evaluation that provides information about
                the key elements and the approach of the project so as to facilitate
                replication or testing in other settings; (5) the percentage of
                grantees with a completed evaluation that provided information on the
                cost-effectiveness of the key practices to identify potential obstacles
                and success factors to scaling; and (6) the cost per student served by
                the grant.
                 Project-Specific Performance Measures: Applicants must propose
                project-specific performance measures and performance targets (as
                defined in this notice) consistent with the objectives of the proposed
                project. Applications must provide the following information as
                directed under 34 CFR 75.110(b) and (c):
                 (1) Performance measures. How each proposed performance measure
                would accurately measure the performance of the project and how the
                proposed performance measure would be consistent with the performance
                measures established for the program funding the competition.
                 (2) Baseline (as defined in this notice) data. (i) Why each
                proposed baseline is valid; or (ii) if the applicant has determined
                that there are no established baseline data for a particular
                performance measure, an explanation of why there is no established
                baseline and of how and when, during the project period, the applicant
                would establish a valid baseline for the performance measure.
                 (3) Performance targets. Why each proposed performance target is
                ambitious yet achievable compared to the baseline for the performance
                measure and when, during the project period, the applicant would meet
                the performance target(s).
                 (4) Data collection and reporting. (i) The data collection and
                reporting methods the applicant would use and why those methods are
                likely to yield reliable, valid, and meaningful performance data; and
                (ii) the applicant's capacity to collect and report reliable, valid,
                and meaningful
                [[Page 40521]]
                performance data, as evidenced by high-quality data collection,
                analysis, and reporting in other projects or research.
                 All grantees must submit an annual performance report with
                information that is responsive to these performance measures.
                 6. Continuation Awards: In making a continuation award under 34 CFR
                75.253, the Secretary considers, among other things: Whether a grantee
                has made substantial progress in achieving the goals and objectives of
                the project; whether the grantee has expended funds in a manner that is
                consistent with its approved application and budget; and, if the
                Secretary has established performance measurement requirements, whether
                the grantee has made substantial progress in achieving the performance
                targets in the grantee's approved application.
                 In making a continuation award, the Secretary also considers
                whether the grantee is operating in compliance with the assurances in
                its approved application, including those applicable to Federal civil
                rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities
                receiving Federal financial assistance from the Department (34 CFR
                100.4, 104.5, 106.4, 108.8, and 110.23).
                VII. Other Information
                 Accessible Format: On request to the program contact person listed
                under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT, individuals with disabilities
                can obtain this document and a copy of the application package in an
                accessible format. The Department will provide the requestor with an
                accessible format that may include Rich Text Format (RTF) or text
                format (txt), a thumb drive, an MP3 file, braille, large print,
                audiotape, or compact disc, or other accessible format.
                 Electronic Access to This Document: The official version of this
                document is the document published in the Federal Register. You may
                access the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of
                Federal Regulations at www.govinfo.gov. At this site you can view this
                document, as well as all other documents of this Department published
                in the Federal Register, in text or Portable Document Format (PDF). To
                use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at
                the site.
                 You may also access documents of the Department published in the
                Federal Register by using the article search feature at
                www.federalregister.gov. Specifically, through the advanced search
                feature at this site, you can limit your search to documents published
                by the Department.
                Ian Rosenblum,
                Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Programs Delegated the
                Authority to Perform the Functions and Duties of the Assistant
                Secretary, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.
                [FR Doc. 2021-16099 Filed 7-27-21; 8:45 am]
                BILLING CODE 4000-01-P
                

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