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Some Hints on Who's Applying for i3

The list of those who say they intend to apply for the $650 million Investing in Innovation grants isn't online yet, but the U.S. Department of Education has offered a glimpse into the future of i3. UPDATED: This document has mysteriously disappeared from the education department's web site. I'll try to find out what happened to it and why. In the meantime, we're still waiting for the department to post the full list of those who intend to apply, as they did in Race to the Top.

First, every state plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico had at least two school districts or nonprofits tell the department they plan to apply. (The act of notifying the department of an intent to apply is really just a courtesy, and prospective applicants can change their minds and apply—or not apply.) Not surprising, because of their sheer size, California, New York and Texas had the most applicants, at more than 100 each. The deadline to formally apply for these awards is May 11, at 4:30 p.m. (on the dot!)

Second, it appears that prospective applicants want to focus their grant proposals on standards and assessments and turning around low-performing schools. In competing for i3, applicants have to decide which of the four "assurances" they will focus on (and it can be more than one). Roughly 30 percent said they would focus on standards and assessment, and 26 percent on low-performing schools. Twenty percent said they would focus on teacher and principal effectiveness, while 13 percent want to focus on data systems.

Finally, and this also shouldn't be a surprise, most applicants want to compete for the small $5 million "development" grants, which require the least amount of evidence to win a grant. The largest, scale-up grants, which require rigorous amounts of evidence, accounted for 87 of the prospective applicants.

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