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Wisconsin ESEA Title II
Improving Teacher Quality Program

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Grant Competition for Institutions of Higher Education in Wisconsin

Frequently Asked Questions

The following questions and answers are intended to provide additional information regarding the Wisconsin ESEA Improving Teacher Quality Grants.

1. What is the purpose of the ESEA Title II Higher Education Grants program?

In Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin System administers a portion of the Title II, Part A funds to make competitive subgrants to eligible partnerships comprised of at least institutions of higher education and high-need LEAs. The partnerships use the funds to conduct professional development activities in core academic subjects in order to ensure that highly qualified teachers, paraprofessionals, and (if appropriate) principals have subject matter knowledge in the academic subjects they teach, or in computer-related technology to enhance instruction. The University of Wisconsin System works in conjunction with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

2. Who is eligible to receive a competitive award under this program?

Eligibility is limited to partnerships comprised at a minimum of (1) a private or State Institution of Higher Education (IHE) and the division of the institution that prepares teachers and principals; (2) a school of arts and sciences; and (3) a high need LEA (see below).
An eligible partnership also may include additional LEAs, a public charter school, an elementary school or secondary school, an educational service agency, a nonprofit educational organization, another IHE, a nonprofit cultural organization, a teacher or principal organization, or a business.

A high-need LEA is defined as an LEA:

(A)(i) that serves not fewer than 10,000 children from families with incomes below the poverty line; or
(ii) for which not less than 20 percent of the children served by the agency are from families with incomes below the poverty line; and

(B)(i) for which there is a high percentage of teachers not teaching in the academic subjects or grade levels that the teachers were trained to teach; or
(ii) for which there is a high percentage of teachers with emergency, provisional, or temporary certification or licensing. [section 2102]

3. What activities may the UWS fund with its share of Improving Teacher Quality State Grants funds?

Consistent with the priorities and criteria it has announced for selection of grant recipients, the UWS must make awards of Improving Teacher Quality State Grants funds to support the following types of partnership activities to enhance student achievement in participating high-need LEAs:

  1. Professional development activities in core academic subjects to ensure that:
    1. Teachers and highly qualified paraprofessionals (and, when appropriate, principals) have subject matter knowledge in the academic subjects that the teachers teach (including knowledge of how to use computers and other technology to enhance student learning); and
    2. Principals have the instructional leadership skills to help them work more effectively with teachers to help students master core academic subjects.
       
  2. Development and provision of assistance to LEAs and to their teachers, highly qualified paraprofessionals, or school principals, in providing sustained, high-quality professional development activities that:
    1. Ensure that those individuals can use challenging State academic content standards, student academic achievement standards, and State assessments to improve instructional practices and student academic achievement;
    2. May include intensive programs designed to prepare individuals to provide instruction related to the professional development described in the preceding paragraph to others in their schools; and
    3. May include activities of partnerships between one or more LEAs, one or more of the LEAs' schools, and one or more IHEs for the purpose of improving teaching and learning at low performing schools.

    Note: The law requires any partnership receiving both a subgrant from a SAHE and an award under the Partnership Program for Improving Teacher Preparation in section 203 of Title 11 of the Higher Education Act (HEA) to coordinate activities conducted under the two awards.

4. Are there state of Wisconsin DPI resources available for prospective proposers?

Yes, the Wisconsin Information Network for Successful Schools (WINSS) website (http://www.dpi.state.wi.us/sig/index.html) is a tool to help proposers work with schools to improve student achievement.

5. When will project activities take place?

Funding will be for participant related activities that take place March 1, 2014 through July 31, 2015, except for the initial year(s) of multi-year projects. Multi-year projects are for two or three years and the first year’s activities end March 1, 2015. Project funding and activities for the second year begin March 1, 2015.

6. How will the selection be made for which proposals to fund?

Grants will be awarded on a competitive basis. All proposals will be reviewed by a widely based Proposal Review Committee of Wisconsin educators representing public and private higher education institutions, K-12 schools, University of Wisconsin System, Wisconsin Technical College System, the Department of Public Instruction, and non-profit organizations. Reviewers use a proposal evaluation form for assigning a score to each proposal. The program coordinator and the University of Wisconsin System’s Office of Academic Affairs will make the final selection.

7. How much money will be available for the ESEA Title II Higher Education Grant Program in Wisconsin?

The amount available for higher education projects in Wisconsin is approximately $900,000.

8. Are there any other requirements regarding the statewide distribution of these subgrants?

Yes. The UWS must ensure either that subgrants are equitably distributed by geographic area within a State or that subgrants serve eligible partnerships in all geographic areas within the State [Section 2132(b)].

9. Must members of the partnership receiving a subgrant use a "restricted indirect cost rate" in calculating the maximum amount of indirect costs that may be charged to their awards?

No. The Improving Teacher Quality State Grants program does not require these partnerships to use program funds only to supplement and not supplant non-Federal funds that otherwise would be used for funded activities. Because the restricted indirect cost rate (see section 76.563 of EDGAR) applies only where a "supplement not supplant" requirement is in effect, partnership members may apply a larger, unrestricted indirect cost rate.

10. In establishing application selection criteria or funding priorities, may the UWS preclude members of the partnership from charging any indirect costs to the subgrant?

No. EDGAR and applicable Office of Management and Budget (OMB) cost principles permit grant recipients to charge indirect costs to their grants. However, indirect costs are limited to 8 % of the subgrant.

11. Is the amount of administrative costs considered when awarding subgrants? May the UWS establish, as a selection criterion to be used in reviewing subgrant applications, the willingness of the partnership members to limit the amount of their administrative costs?

Yes. Preference is given to applicants that agree to charge lower levels of administrative costs. The program director will negotiate budgets with applicants selected for awards to ensure that all administrative costs are reasonable and necessary for the proper implementation of the grant.

12. Will proposals for funding the first year of multi-year projects be considered this year?

Yes. Proposals for two or three year projects are encouraged. Funding for second year and third year activities will be dependent on:

  1. Continued grant money to UWS for a professional development program;
  2. Sufficient first year enrollment to warrant continued funding;
  3. Successful completion of the project’s first year activities;
  4. Ensuring that there is effective management of the day-to-day operations of subgrant-supported activities;
  5. Ensuring compliance with program requirements and that performance goals are being achieved; and
  6. Ensuring that there is fiscal control and fund accountability over all subgrant funds.

If the program director determines that a partnership's Title 11, Part A-supported activities are not complying either with the Title 11 program requirements or the IHE's approved application action will be taken either to (1) bring the project into compliance, or (2) terminate the project rather than issue a continuation award.

13. Who may participate in funded Wisconsin ESEA Improving Teacher Quality Program activities?

  • Teams of teachers
  • Teachers
  • Pupil services personnel
  • Administrators
  • Preservice/Paraprofessionals

14. Do the ESEA Title IX requirements on services to private school teachers apply to activities that IHE-LEA partnerships conduct under competitive awards they receive from the SAHE?

Yes. The IHE-LEA partnerships need to ensure that services are offered on an equitable basis to public and private school teachers since the requirements apply to grants of "financial assistance" provided to an LEA "or another entity" [Section 9501(b)(1)].

15. When are proposals due?

All proposals must be emailed by 4:30 p.m. October 17, 2013.

16. What is the allowable amount for a proposal?

There is no stated maximum. Grants awarded in the past ranged from $18,000 to $98,000.

17. When will proposers be notified if they are to receive a grant?

Approximately January 15th of the year after they were submitted.

18. What are the reporting requirements for funded projects?

Each IHE that receives a subgrant must complete a financial report within 30 days of the project completion date. Project directors must submit a project report by September 30, 2006. The reporting forms will be available online.
Each project must attend a reporting conference in Spring after they have conducted a summer and fall program.

19. May a partner (i.e., IHE faculty in teacher education, IHE faculty in arts and sciences, LEA, or other educational entity) be a partner in more than one proposal?

Yes. There is nothing that prevents any partner from working with more than one proposal or funded project.

20. According to the proposal guidelines, each project must include “IHE faculty from the division of the institution that prepares teachers.” Our proposed project will focus on professional development for K-12 teachers. Are we still required to include IHE faculty from Teacher Ed in our project?

It is an absolute requirement that every proposal must have “IHE faculty from the division of the institution that prepares teachers." However, two IHEs may work together, with one supplying the IHE faculty members from the Arts and Sciences, and the other one supplying the IHE faculty members from the Teacher Education program.

21. We feel we have a good, comprehensive, collaborative project, with opportunities for K-12 faculty and IHE faculty. However, the budget is over $100,000. How should we proceed?

In a case like this, I would advise you to budget what you believe is appropriate. If the review committee recommends the project, they may recommend a lower award either by directing project changes, or recommend a specific amount asking the proposer to negotiate changes with me. In all cases, the proposer has the final word on what changes are made.

22. Are projects restricted to one LEA partner? And must all LEA participants be from Schools In Need of Improvement (SIFI)?

Multiple LEAs may be a part of a proposal, and participants may come from any schools, not only Schools In Need of Improvement (SIFI).

23. I'm really quite confused about the 50% rule. I may be missing some obvious thing about this new 50% rule so would really appreciate any advice you can offer which may clarify it for us.

The 50% Special Rule provision does not focus on which partner receives the funds, but which partner benefits from the funds. In completing Form SR, enter an estimate that apportions the proposed amount according to how it would benefit each partner. Salaries of IHE faculty may reasonably be attributed to the LEA partner that employs the participant as a teacher. At this time, details and explanations of this division are not required. Generally, the indirect costs are attributed to the partner that is the fiscal agent.