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Review of Competitive Grant Programs Underway at Ed. Dept.

Posted by guest blogger Sean Cavanagh

After a busy season managing high-profile federal competitions—including Race to the Top—U.S. Department of Education officials say they're going to be reviewing all of the competitive grant programs they administer, to see how they can be improved.

As we've reported, programs like Race to the Top and the Investing in Innovation (i3) fund have won praise from some policymakers and advocates for driving changes in school policy at the state and local level. But the department has also absorbed criticism for its final choice of winners in those contests, from those who questioned the scoring criteria used, how individual applicants were ranked, and other factors.

Department officials say the review, which they expect to finish early next year, is not meant to answer their detractors but to improve a process that they regard as sucessful—and which they plan to use again, for different programs.

The review, department officials tell Education Week, will extend beyond Race to the Top and i3 to examine other popular and well-funded competitive grant programs the agency administers, such as the Teacher Incentive Fund, Teacher Quality Partnership Grants, and Promise Neighborhoods. In addition, it will cover "hybrid" grant programs, administered by the department with some level of coordination and decision-making from the states, such as School Improvement Grants, a major effort to turn around low-performing schools.

For more details, see my post on State EdWatch.

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