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AGENCY Texas Education Agency
ISSUE 07/29/2016
ACTION Miscellaneous

Request for Applications Concerning 2016-2020 Texas Title I Priority Schools Grant, Cycle 5

Filing Date. July 20, 2016

Filing Authority. The availability of grant funds under Request for Applications (RFA) #701-16-105 is authorized as the School Improvement Grants program by P.L. 107-110, Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, Section 1003(g).

The U.S. Department of Education (USDE) published final requirements for the School Improvement Grants program in the Federal Register on October 28, 2010 (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2010-10-28/pdf/2010-27313.pdf). In 2015, the USDE revised the final requirements to implement language in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014, and the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015.

Eligible Applicants. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) is requesting applications under Request for Applications (RFA) #701-16-105 from campuses that qualify as Title I priority schools and Title I focus schools and are not currently receiving Texas Title I Priority Schools (TTIPS) funds.

Campuses identified as priority and as focus in the state of Texas flexibility waiver are exempt from specific provisions from the USDE Elementary and Secondary Education Act. A list of eligible priority or focus campuses is posted on the TEA Grant Opportunities web page at http://burleson.tea.state.tx.us/GrantOpportunities/forms, along with all documents pertaining to this RFA.

Description. The purpose of the 2016-2020 Texas Title I Priority Schools Grant is to provide funding to local education agencies (LEAs) for use in eligible schools in order to substantially raise the achievement of their students and enable the schools to meet annual goals and program-term measurable objectives. Funding is intended for LEAs that demonstrate the greatest need for the funds and the strongest commitment to provide adequate resources to support schools in meeting the criteria to exit priority or focus status.

The TTIPS grant program strives to achieve lasting positive reforms in the state's most struggling campuses through highest-quality implementation of strong evidence-based interventions. These interventions are designed within a framework of one of seven school reform models.

The LEA must describe how it will use school improvement funds in its priority/focus schools to plan and effectively implement one of the following school reform models:

1. Transformation model, which addresses specific areas critical to transforming persistently lowest-achieving schools;

2. Texas state-design model, in which the campus must deliver a comprehensive school improvement strategy for all students in the school that improves student achievement or attainment. The strategy must address school leadership, teaching and learning in academic content areas, professional learning for educators, and student non-academic supports. Additionally, the strategy will be consistent with the Texas concept for developing an Early College High School (ECHS). In doing so, the LEA/campus will (1) pursue designation as a Texas ECHS with a target of earning TEA ECHS designation and full operation as an ECHS no later than the start of the second year of the TTIPS grant implementation period; (2) provide a rigorous course of study that enables students to receive a high school diploma and complete the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's core curriculum, an associate's degree, or at least 60 credit hours toward a baccalaureate degree during Grades 9-12; and (3) provide college credit earned through the high school years for all students at no cost, including tuition, fees, and textbook costs;

3. Early learning intervention model, in which a campus addresses specific areas critical to transforming a persistently low-achieving elementary school and additionally offers full-day kindergarten and a pre-kindergarten program that meets the requirements of a high-quality preschool program, as defined in the USDE's Preschool Development Grants program;

4. Turnaround model, which includes, among other actions, replacing the principal and rehiring no more than 50% of the school's staff, adopting a new governance structure, and implementing an instructional program that is research based and vertically aligned from one grade to the next as well as aligned with Texas' academic standards;

5. Whole-school reform model, in which the campus must implement an evidence-based whole-school reform in partnership with a model developer. The model developer is an entity or individual that either has proprietary rights to the model or an entity or individual that has a demonstrated record of success in implementing whole-school reform models in one or more low-achieving schools that are comparable on several variables to the TTIPS applicant;

6. Restart model, in which an LEA converts the school or closes and reopens it under the management of a charter school operator, a charter management organization, or an education management organization that has been selected through a rigorous review process;

7. School closure, in which an LEA closes the school and enrolls the students who attended the school in other, higher-achieving schools within the LEA; or

8. Optional modification: rural LEA applicant flexibility, in which an applicant proposes to modify one element of the Transformation or Turnaround model but only in a manner that the modification meets the original intent and purpose of the element and does not eliminate the element from the resulting implementation plan.

Prospective applicants can see a full description of all elements within each of the school intervention models in the Program-Specific Provisions and Assurances section of the Standard Application System of RFA #701-16-105.

Dates of Project. Applicants should plan for a project that will operate in a pre-implementation period from February 1, 2017, through July 31, 2017; in full implementation during the school years of 2017-2018, 2018-2019, and 2019-2020. Funding is available to grantees through all periods.

The timeline for this project is contingent upon the final approval from USDE for the Texas school improvement grant program state plan. Approval is recognized as final on the date a Grant Award Notification is issued from USDE to TEA.

Project Amount. The total amount of funding for this project is approximately $81 million. Each awarded project could receive up to a maximum of $8 million for operation through the school years of 2016-2017, 2017-2018, 2018-2019, and 2019-2020. A maximum funding per year for any applicant is $2 million.

This project is funded 100% from federal funds.

Note that funding availability and final terms for this project are contingent upon approval from USDE for the Texas school improvement grant program state plan. Funding and approval are recognized as final on the date a Grant Award Notification is issued from USDE to TEA.

Selection Criteria. Applications will be selected based on the independent reviewers' assessment of each applicant's ability to carry out all requirements contained in the RFA. Reviewers will evaluate applications based on the overall quality and validity of the proposed grant programs and the extent to which the applications address the primary objectives and intent of the project. Applications must address each requirement as specified in the RFA to be considered for funding.

Applications will be scored using the standard review criteria, as described in TEA Grants Administration General and Fiscal Guidelines at http://tea.texas.gov/Finance_and_Grants/Grants/Administering_a_Grant/General_and_Fiscal_Guidelines/. In addition to the standard review criteria, applications will be scored on the following grant-specific criteria:

1. Level of ability to benefit from grant resources, as demonstrated through district commitments and vision for school reform and existing structures that will allow reform to take hold;

2. Family and community member involvement in project planning, intervention selection, and ongoing program engagement;

3. Methods for selecting highest-quality staff and external providers for the project and methods for providing rigorous oversight of external providers;

4. Level of capacity gains that will create lasting, positive change to campus practices and can be sustained beyond the grant period; and

5. Quality of intervention design and strength at which interventions fulfill all requirements of the federal School Improvement Grant model selected.

Special consideration (or priority) will be given to certain applicants. TEA will give priority to campuses that have not met state accountability ratings for two or more years as of August 2016 and to campuses that select the state-designed or early-learning model. Ten priority points will be given to each LEA/campus applying to serve schools that meet any of these criteria.

TEA reserves the right to select from the highest-ranking applications those that address all requirements in the RFA and that are most advantageous to the project.

TEA is not obligated to approve an application, provide funds, or endorse any application submitted in response to this RFA. This RFA does not commit TEA to pay any costs before an application is approved. The issuance of this RFA does not obligate TEA to award a grant or pay any costs incurred in preparing a response.

Requesting the Application. The announcement letter, complete RFA, and additional applicant resources will be posted on the TEA Grant Opportunities web page at http://burleson.tea.state.tx.us/GrantOpportunities/forms for viewing and downloading. In the "Select Search Options" box, select the name of the RFA from the drop-down list. Scroll down to the "Application and Support Information" section to view all documents that pertain to this RFA.

Further Information. For clarifying information about the RFA, contact Karyn Gukeisen, Division of Grants Administration, Texas Education Agency, by email at karyn.gukeisen@tea.texas.gov or by telephone at (512) 463-8525.

In order to assure that no prospective applicant may obtain a competitive advantage because of acquisition of information unknown to other prospective applicants, any and all questions must be submitted in writing to the TEA contact persons identified in the Program Guidelines of the RFA. All questions and the written answers thereto will be posted on the TEA Grant Opportunities web page in the format of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) at http://burleson.tea.state.tx.us/GrantOpportunities/forms. In the "Select Search Options" box, select the name of the RFA from the drop-down list. Scroll down to the "Application and Support Information" section to view all documents that pertain to this RFA.

Deadline for Receipt of Applications. Applications must be received in the TEA Document Control Center by 5:00 p.m. (Central Time), Thursday, September 15, 2016, to be eligible to be considered for funding.

Issued in Austin, Texas, on July 20, 2016


Cristina De La Fuente-Valadez

Director, Rulemaking

Texas Education Agency

Filed: July 20, 2016

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