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Department of Education Announces the Investing In Innovation Grant Winners

Published:  August 5, 2010

Yesterday, the Department of Education accidentally released the list of winners in the Investing in Innovation grant competition -- a day ahead of the scheduled announcement. The Investing in Innovation (i3) program provides competitive grants to school districts, consortia of schools, or partnerships between schools and non-profits to implement new innovative practices and programs. Thanks to Ed Week’s Michele McNeil, who posted ED’s list of winners on her Politics K-12 blog, and some earlier-released information, we can get some insight into who the winners are and which types of grants received the most money.

ED identified 49 winners who will be awarded grants once they secure a matching grant. There were four winners for Scale-up grants, which required the most supporting evidence of effectiveness, 15 winners for Validation grants, which required some evidence of effectiveness, and 30 winners for Development grants, where could be largely unproven. The grant awards total $648.5 million with $140.4 for Development grants, $194.5 for Validation grants, and $313.2 for Scale-up grants.

Scores for the winners ranged from a low of 81.17 points (for the Reading Recovery program at the Ohio State University) to a high of 116.95 points (for the Saint Vrain School District’s i3 project). Early guidance from ED suggests that i3 applications could earn a maximum of 105 points, so scores higher than 105 can apparently be attributed to "standardization," a process where ED accounts for variation in scores for different graders.

Thirteen local education agencies (school districts), 18 non-profit partnerships, and 17 consortia of schools were awarded grants. One winner did not provide information on the type of applicant it identifies as – the Erikson Institute.

As we’ve discussed before, i3 applications must design their applications to fit under one of four priorities, or goals. Twelve of the winners applied under the priority focusing on effective teachers and principals; nine applied the priority for projects focusing on the use of data; 15 applied under the “high standards and high-quality assessments” category; and 13 applied under the priority for grants that will focus on persistently low-performing schools.

And, i3 applicants could also apply under as many as four optional priorities which would give them an additional edge in the competition. This means that applicants could get an additional point (or two) in their score for focusing on one or more of four specific areas or populations identified by ED. Of the winners, 13 applied under the early learning priority, 20 applied under the college access and success priority, 28 applied under the unique learning needs priority, and 18 applied under the rural school district priority.

Of course, winners can only collect their grant awards once they have secured a private matching grant for their respective proposals. So far only 20 winners have secured such grants and the remaining winners have until September 8th to secure theirs. Assuming that all 49 of the winners are able to secure their matching grants, the amount of innovative activity occurring in schools and districts around the country is about to increase rapidly. This could mean a large scaling up of successful programs like KIPP and Teach for America or significantly more evidence to support (or refute) more local innovative efforts in college access, data use, standards, and low-performing schools. Either way, this represents an exciting step for the i3 winners, their communities, and the education arena as a whole.

To download all of these data for the 49 winners, click here.

UPDATE: Michele McNeil at Ed Week has a great explanation of the i3 scores and why they are difficult to interpret here.

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