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Federal 'i3' Competition Attracts Lots of Ideas to Improve Ed.

Lobster Science for Literacy and Learning. Sowing the Seeds of STEM Success. In2Books.

These are just three of the nearly 1,700 projects seeking federal funding under a new grant competition designed to support innovative ideas in education. A new story by my colleague Michele McNeil provides a great overview and analysis of the competition. As she notes, the single category that generated the most applications was "high-quality standards and high-quality assessments," though it appears that this category was defined pretty loosely.

Michele's story notes that demand is far outpacing the pot of money in the so-called Investing in Innovation Fund, or i3. In all, districts, schools, and nonprofits have pitched reform proposals worth $12.8 billion for competitive grants, nearly 20 times what the U.S. Department of Education has available.

"The $650 million competition funded by the economic-stimulus package drew 1,698 applicants by the May 12 application deadline, creating a wish list that ranges from a $22,282 proposal to improve students' writing in Connecticut's Preston Public Schools to a $50 million plan to expand the Teach for America corps," the story says.

The department has created a user-friendly website that provides a glimpse of who has applied, what they're proposing to do, and how much money they want.

In addition to the category focused on high standards and assessments, the three others identified by the Education Department are: effective teachers and principals, use of data, and persistently low-performing schools. In all, there were 592 applicants in the standards and assessments category, more than any other.

Here's a sampling of the titles of proposals from the standards/assessments category, to give you a flavor:

•"Dive Deeper: Lobster Science for Literacy and Learning," from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute;
•"Sowing the Seeds of STEM Success" from the Lower Merion School District in Ardmore, Pa.;
•"Gateway to Implementing Technology and Engineering Standards" by the Museum of Science in Boston;
•"In2Books" from the ePals Foundation;
•"Scribo Digita: Innovating Instruction Across the Curriculum Through Writing" from Longwood University;
•"RTI Plus One" from the Maine Support Network, Inc.;
•"Middle Grades Algebra Success Through Higher Order Thinking (MAS-HOT)" from the Pajaro Valley Unified School District in California; and
•"Arts Achieve: Impacting Student Success in the Arts" from the Studio in a School Association, Inc.

The federal i3 database is very easy to search, so if you have any interest, you should check out some of the ideas on tap.

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