[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 76 (Thursday, April 19, 2018)]
[Pages 17390-17396]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-08239]

[[Page 17390]]



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

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

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: The Department of Education (Department) is issuing a notice 
inviting applications for fiscal year (FY) 2018 for the Education 
Innovation and Research Program--Early-phase Grants, Catalog of Federal 
Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number 84.411C (Early-phase Grants).

    Applications Available: April 23, 2018.
    Deadline for Notice of Intent to Apply: May 9, 2018.
    Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: June 5, 2018.
    Deadline for Intergovernmental Review: August 6, 2018.

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 12, 2018 (83 FR 6003) and available at 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kelly Terpak, U.S. Department of 
Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Room 4W312, Washington, DC 20202-
5900. Telephone: (202) 453-7122. Email: eir@ed.gov.
    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-


Full Text of Announcement

I. Funding Opportunity Description

    Purpose of Program: The Education Innovation and Research (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, 
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 educational challenges and to support the 
expansion of those solutions to serve substantially larger numbers of 
    The central design element of the EIR program is its multi-tier 
structure that links the amount of funding that 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.'' Applicants proposing innovative 
projects that are supported by limited evidence can receive relatively 
small grants to support the development, implementation, and initial 
evaluation of the practices; applicants proposing projects supported by 
evidence from rigorous evaluations, such as an experimental study (as 
defined in this notice), can receive larger grant awards to support 
expansion across the country. This structure provides incentives for 
applicants to: (1) Explore new ways of addressing persistent challenges 
that other educators can build on and learn from; (2) build evidence of 
effectiveness of their practices; and (3) replicate and scale 
successful practices in new schools, districts, and States while 
addressing the barriers to scale, such as cost structures and 
implementation fidelity.
    All EIR projects are expected to generate information regarding 
their effectiveness in order to inform EIR grantees' efforts to learn 
about and improve upon their efforts, and to help similar, non-EIR 
efforts across the country benefit from EIR grantees' knowledge. By 
requiring that all grantees conduct independent evaluations of their 
EIR projects, EIR ensures that its funded projects make a significant 
contribution to improving the quality and quantity of information 
available to practitioners and policymakers about which practices 
improve student achievement and attainment, for which types of 
students, and in what contexts.
    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 
    Early-phase grants provide funding to support 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. Early-phase grants must demonstrate a rationale 
(as defined in this notice). These Early-phase grants are not intended 
simply to implement established practices in additional locations or 
address needs that are unique to one particular 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 are 
published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register.
    Background: 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 improvements in 
project design and implementation before conducting a full-scale 
evaluation of effectiveness. Grantees should consider questions such 
     How easy would it be for others to implement this 
practice, and how can its implementation be improved?
     How can I use data from early indicators to gauge impact, 
and what changes in implementation and student achievement do these 
early indicators suggest?
    By focusing on continuous improvement and iterative development, 
Early-phase grantees can make adaptations that are necessary to 
increase their practice's potential to be effective and ensure that the 
EIR-funded evaluation assesses the impact of a thoroughly conceived 
    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 meet the moderate evidence (as defined in this 
notice) threshold. 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

[[Page 17391]]

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 2018 Early-phase competition includes three absolute 
priorities and two invitational priorities. All Early-phase applicants 
must address Absolute Priority 1. Early-phase applicants are also 
required to address one of the other two absolute priorities. 
Applicants have the option of addressing one or more of the 
invitational priorities.
    The absolute priorities and invitational priorities align with the 
purpose of the program and the Administration's priorities. Absolute 
Priority 1 establishes the evidence requirement for the Early-phase 
tier of grants. Section 4611(a)(1)(A) of the ESEA requires that Early-
phase grants be evidence-based. For this competition that means 
applicants must demonstrate a rationale, as defined in section 
8101(21)(A)(ii)(I) of the ESEA, in order to meet Absolute Priority 1. 
Absolute Priority 2 aligns with the EIR program as it is intended to 
take to scale entrepreneurial, evidence-based, field-initiated 
innovations to improve student achievement and attainment. In addition 
to incorporating the focus on field-initiated innovations in Absolute 
Priority 2, Absolute Priority 3 aligns with the Administration's 
efforts to invest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) 
education in order to ensure our Nation's economic competitiveness by 
improving and expanding STEM learning and engagement. Invitational 
Priority 1 is intended to encourage applicants to focus on the needs of 
each child, with customized learning opportunities tailored to the 
needs of individual students. Invitational Priority 2 is intended to 
encourage applicants to improve early learning and cognitive 
development outcomes. Through these priorities, the Department intends 
to advance innovation and the use and building of evidence, and address 
the learning and achievement of high-need students.
    Priorities: This competition includes three absolute priorities. In 
accordance with 34 CFR 75.105(b)(2)(iv), Absolute Priority 1 is from 
sections 4611(a)(1) and 8101(21)(a)(ii)(I) of the ESEA. Absolute 
Priority 2 is from section 4611(a)(1)(A) of the ESEA. Absolute Priority 
3 is from section 4611(a)(1)(A) of the ESEA and the Secretary's Final 
Supplemental Priorities and Definitions for Discretionary Grant 
Programs, published in the Federal Register on March 2, 2018 (83 FR 
9096) (Supplemental Priorities). We also include two invitational 
    Under the Early-phase grant competition, Absolute Priorities 2 and 
3 constitute their own funding categories. The Secretary intends to 
award grants under each of these absolute priorities for which 
applications of sufficient quality are submitted. Because applications 
will be rank ordered separately for Absolute Priorities 2 and 3, 
applicants must clearly identify the specific absolute priority that 
the proposed project addresses.
    Absolute Priorities: For FY 2018 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 
34.105(c)(3), we consider only applications that meet Absolute Priority 
1, Demonstrates a Rationale, and one additional absolute priority.
    These priorities are:

Absolute Priority 1--Demonstrates a Rationale

    Under this priority, we provide funding to projects that 
demonstrate 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.

Absolute Priority 2--Field-Initiated Innovations--General

    Under the priority, we provide funding to 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 Science, 
Technology, Engineering, or Math (STEM) Education, With a Particular 
Focus on Computer Science

    Under the priority, we provide funding to 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 (as defined in this notice). These projects 
must address the following priority area:
    Creating or expanding partnerships between schools, local 
educational agencies, State educational agencies, businesses, not-for-
profit organizations, or institutions of higher education to give 
students access to internships, apprenticeships, or other work-based 
learning experiences in STEM fields, including computer science (as 
defined in this notice).
    Invitational Priorities: For FY 2018 and any subsequent year in 
which we make awards from the list of unfunded applications from this 
competition, these priorities are invitational priorities. Under 34 
CFR.105(c)(1) we do not give an application that meets these 
invitational priorities a competitive or absolute preference over other 
    These priorities are:

Invitational Priority One--Personalized Learning

    Projects that support educators in personalizing learning for all 
students so that learning opportunities may be tailored to fit the 
needs of individual students. In personalized learning environments, 
the pace, location, and delivery method of education may vary based on 
individual student interests and needs. Personalized learning 
approaches recognize that there are multiple pathways through which 
students can develop and demonstrate academic competencies and social-
emotional skills aligned to college- and career-ready standards and 
that students may attain these competencies and skills in different 
amounts of time. Examples of personalized learning instructional 
approaches include dynamic student groupings, student-driven projects, 
and the use of adaptive technologies, such as digital curricula to both 
accelerate, and to target gaps in, student learning. Personalized 
learning approaches use data to provide ongoing feedback about student 
progress to educators, students, and their families and to adjust 
learning strategies in real-time.

Invitational Priority Two--Early Learning and Cognitive Development

    The Department is especially interested in projects that improve 
early learning and cognitive development outcomes through neuroscience-
based and scientifically validated interventions.
    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 Handbook (WWC

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Handbook)'' are from 34 CFR 77.1. The definition for ``computer 
science'' is from the Supplemental Priorities. The definitions of 
``local educational agency'' and ``State educational agency'' are from 
section 8101 of the ESEA.
    Baseline means the starting point from which performance is 
measured and targets are set.
    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 (as defined 
in this notice) included in the project's logic model (as defined in 
this notice) is informed by research or evaluation findings that 
suggest the project component is likely to improve relevant outcomes 
(as defined in this notice).
    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 Handbook (as 
defined in this notice):
    (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 
    (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 
    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 local educational agency 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 (as defined in this notice) other than the Bureau of Indian 
    (d) Educational Service Agencies. The term includes educational 
service agencies and consortia of those agencies.
    (e) State educational agency. The term includes the State 
educational agency in a State in which the State educational agency 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 or 3.0 
of the WWC Handbook 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 
or 3.0 of the WWC Handbook 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 or 3.0 of the 
WWC Handbook, or otherwise assessed by the Department using version 3.0 
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 or 3.0 
of the WWC Handbook; 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 
    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

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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 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 Handbook.
    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.
    State educational agency (SEA) means the agency primarily 
responsible for the State supervision of public elementary schools and 
secondary schools.
    What Works Clearinghouse Handbook (WWC Handbook) means the 
standards and procedures set forth in the WWC Procedures and Standards 
Handbook, Version 3.0 or Version 2.1 (incorporated by reference, see 34 
CFR 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 and 
intervention reports include findings from systematic reviews of 
evidence as described in the Handbook documentation.

    Program Authority:  Section 4611 of the ESEA, 20 U.S.C. 7261.
    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 in 2 CFR part 3474. (d) The Supplemental 

    Note:  The regulations in 34 CFR part 79 apply to all applicants 
except federally recognized Indian Tribes.

    Note:  The regulations in 34 CFR part 86 apply to institutions 
of higher education only.

II. Award Information

    Type of Award: Discretionary grants.
    Estimated Available Funds: $115,000,000.
    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 
    Estimated Average Size of Awards: Up to $4,000,000.
    Maximum Award: We will not make an award exceeding $4,000,000 for a 
single project period of 60 months.
    Estimated Number of Awards: 8-16.

    Note:  The Department is not bound by any estimates in this 

    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, the 
Department may fund high-quality applications from rural applicants 
out of rank order in the Early-phase competition.

III. Eligibility Information

    1. Eligible Applicants:
    (a) An LEA;
    (b) An SEA;
    (c) The Bureau of Indian Education;
    (d) A consortium of SEAs or LEAs;
    (e) A nonprofit organization; and
    (f) An SEA, an LEA, a consortium described in (d), or the Bureau of 
Indian Education, in partnership with--
    (1) A nonprofit organization;
    (2) A business;
    (3) An educational service agency; or
    (4) An institution of higher education.
    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.
    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 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

[[Page 17394]]

part A of title IV of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 601 et seq.); 
    (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 (i.e., Early-phase, Mid-
phase, and Expansion grant) for which it applies. An applicant may not 
submit an application for the same proposed project under more than one 
type of 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: For information on how to 
submit an application please refer to our Common Instructions for 
Applicants to Department of Education Discretionary Grant Programs, 
published in the Federal Register on February 12, 2018 (83 FR 6003) and 
available at www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2018-02-12/pdf/2018-02558.pdf.
    2. Submission of Proprietary Information: Given the types of 
projects that may be proposed in applications for the Early-phase grant 
competition, 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 
    Because we plan to make successful applications available to the 
public, you may wish to request confidentiality of business 
    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 
    4. Funding Restrictions: We reference regulations outlining funding 
restrictions in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice.
    5. Recommended Page Limit: The application narrative (Part III of 
the application) 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 
application to no more than 25 pages and (2) use the following 
     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.
     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 Part I, the cover 
sheet; Part II, the budget section, including the narrative budget 
justification; Part IV, 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: We will be able to develop a more 
efficient process for reviewing grant applications if we know the 
approximate number of applicants that intend to apply for funding under 
this competition. Therefore, the Secretary strongly encourages each 
potential applicant to notify us of the applicant's intent to submit an 
application by completing a web-based form. When completing this form, 
applicants will provide (1) the applicant organization's name and 
address and (2) the absolute priority the applicant intends to address. 
Applicants may access this form online at www.surveymonkey.com/r/68R7WHZ. Applicants that do not complete this form may still submit an 

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 30 Points)

    In determining the significance of the project, the Secretary 
considers the following factors:
    (1) The national significance of the proposed project.
    (2) 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.
    (3) The extent to which the proposed project demonstrates a 
rationale (as defined in this notice).
    (4) The extent to which the proposed project represents an 
exceptional approach to the priority or priorities established for the 

B. Quality of the Project Design and Management Plan (Up to 50 Points)

    In determining the quality of the proposed project design, the 
Secretary considers the following factors:
    (1) The extent to which the goals, objectives, and outcomes to be 
achieved by the proposed project are clearly specified and measurable.
    (2) 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.
    (3) The extent to which performance feedback and continuous 
improvement are integral to the design of the proposed project.
    (4) The mechanisms the applicant will use to broadly disseminate 
information on its project so as to

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support further development or replication.

C. Quality of the Project Evaluation (Up to 20 Points)

    In determining the quality of the project evaluation to be 
conducted, 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).
    (2) The extent to which the evaluation will provide guidance about 
effective strategies suitable for replication or testing in other 
    (3) The extent to which the methods of evaluation will provide 
valid and reliable performance data on relevant outcomes.
    (4) The extent to which the evaluation plan clearly articulates the 
key project components, mediators, and outcomes, as well as a 
measurable threshold for acceptable implementation.

    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 two optional webinar recordings that 
were hosted by the Institute of Education Sciences. The first 
webinar discussed strategies for designing and executing well-
designed quasi-experimental design studies and is available at: 
http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Multimedia.aspx?sid=23. The second 
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.aspx?sid=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).
    For Early-phase grant applications, the Department intends to 
conduct a two-tier review process to review and score all eligible 
applications. Reviewers will review and score all eligible Early-phase 
applications on the following two criteria: A. Significance, and B. 
Quality of the Project Design and Management Plan. Applications that 
score highly on these two criteria will then have the remaining 
criterion, C. Quality of the Project Evaluation, reviewed and scored by 
a different panel of reviewers with evaluation expertise.
    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 
200.205, before awarding grants under this competition the Department 
conducts a review of the risks posed by applicants. Under 2 CFR 
3474.10, the Secretary may impose specific conditions and, 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 
    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 
$150,000), under 2 CFR 200.205(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.

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, 
    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 competitive 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

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requirements please refer to 2 CFR 3474.20(c).

    Note: A specific deliverable under an Early-phase grant that 
grantees must openly license to the public is the evaluation report. 
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 
several performance measures (as defined in this notice) for the Early-
phase grants. By reporting on these performance measures in Annual and 
Final Performance reports, grantees will satisfy the requirement in 
section 8101(21)(A)(ii)(II) of the ESEA for projects relying on the 
``demonstrates a rationale'' evidence level to have ``ongoing efforts 
to examine the effects'' of the funded activity, strategy, or 
    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 evaluations designed to provide 
performance feedback to inform project design; (4) the percentage of 
grantees with ongoing well-designed and independent evaluations that 
will provide evidence of their effectiveness at improving student 
outcomes; (5) the percentage of grantees that implement an evaluation 
that provides information about the key elements and the approach of 
the project so as to facilitate testing, development, or replication in 
other settings; 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 reached the target 
number of high-need students specified in the application; (3) the 
percentage of grantees that use evaluation data to make changes to 
their practice(s); (4) 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; (5) the percentage of grantees with a completed evaluation 
that provides information about the key elements and the approach of 
the project so as to facilitate testing, development, or replication in 
other settings; 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 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.

VII. Other Information

    Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this 
document and a copy of the application package in an accessible format 
(e.g., braille, large print, audiotape, or compact disc) on request to 
the program contact person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
    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 via the Federal Digital System at: www.gpo.gov/fdsys. 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.

    Dated: April 16, 2018.
Margo Anderson,
Acting Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement.
[FR Doc. 2018-08239 Filed 4-18-18; 8:45 am]