Summer Proposal Submissions

Faculty in the COE are submitting 20 proposals this summer, including 13 IES proposals — a record number — with the same August 7 deadline. To accommodate IES submissions, the OER requested that PIs schedule an appointment time with Brian to ensure all proposals are finalized and uploaded successfully before the deadline. We want to thank everyone for communicating with Brian to confirm a date.

Considering the overall number of proposals in the queue, we encourage all PIs with summer submissions to schedule an appointment time with Brian even for proposals not being submitted to IES.

If you are planning any submissions this summer and have not already let us know, please contact us and submit early consultation and capital needs forms to Ana and Brian as soon as possible.  Please also let Ana know if you will need editorial support from Patti Casey. As always, the earlier you start working with us the better.

We anticipate another banner year for the COE!

Recent Legislative Action Affects IES

In April, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce reported on the Strengthening Education through Research Act (H.R. 4366). The bill, passed by the House of Representatives in May, amends several provisions related to the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) including independence, research standards, technical assistance, evaluation, privacy protection, oversight of student assessment, and IES accountability.

Below are some highlights of the changes:

  • H.R. 4366 amends the definition of “scientifically based research standards,” renaming it to “principles of scientific research.” IES-supported research should adhere to the new definition of these principles allowing for “strong claims of causal relationships” only with research designs that eliminate plausible competing explanations for results, although the definition explicitly does not limit such claims to research employing random-assignment experiments.
  • H.R. 4366 adjusts the specified topical research priorities for IES, preserving language authorizing research on educational problems and issues relevant to the goals and requirements of major federal educational laws such as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and Higher Education Act (HEA). In addition, H.R. 4366 authorizes research focused on improving the quality of early childhood and elementary and secondary education, as well as research focused on access to opportunities for and completion of postsecondary education. Some more narrowly targeted priorities that are specified under current law would no longer be specified.
  • H.R. 4366 eliminates the requirement that there be “not less than 8” national research and development centers supported by the National Center for Education Research (NCER) as well as language naming specific topics of research to be supported by these centers.
  • H.R. 4366 explicitly identifies the mission of the regional educational laboratories (RELs) as conducting applied research, development, evaluation, and dissemination activities, and developing the capacity of state educational agencies (SEAs) and local educational agencies (LEAs) to carry out such activities. It also specifies processes for ensuring that the work of such RELs is responsive to the needs of the region served and eliminates their role in providing other types of training and technical assistance.
  • H.R. 4366 designates IES as the primary entity responsible for conducting research on and evaluations of federal education programs and programs within the Department of Education, aiming to ensure rigor and independence of such research and evaluation.
  • H.R. 4366 authorizes a new performance management system that aims to promote continuous improvement of activities and effective use of funds through the required development and use of measurable performance indicators that would be designed to gauge the effectiveness of IES activities and their utility in terms of meeting stakeholders’ needs.
  • H.R. 4366 requires that renewal of all IES-supported grants be contingent on the results of evaluations tied to the performance management system.
  • H.R. 4366 authorizes appropriations for the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA), Educational Technical Assistance Act (ETAA), and National Assessment of Educational Progress Authorization Act (NAEPAA) at specific levels for each of FY2015 through FY2020, rather than for the first fiscal year and such sums as necessary for subsequent fiscal years as under current law. The bill sets all authorized amounts for FY2015 at the same level as amounts appropriated for FY2014, with increases in subsequent years as follows: 0.2% for FY2016, 2.2% for FY2017, 2.4% for FY2018, 2.7% for FY2019, and 2.5% for FY2020.
  • H.R. 4366 authorizes appropriations for the RELs at 16.13% of funds appropriated for ESRA, rather than at $100,000 and such sums as necessary for the five succeeding years as under current law. In FY2014, the RELs received $54,423,000, or 16.13% of the amount authorized under H.R. 4366 for FY2015.

Excerpted from the Congressional Research Service report The Education Sciences Reform Act.

NIH Policy Changes and Items of Interest

Changes in Resubmission Policy

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is now allowing researchers more than one chance to revise a rejected grant application before having to start over with a new idea. While the new policy still allows a single resubmission per application, ideas that were unsuccessfully submitted as a resubmission may now be presented in a new grant application without having to substantially redesign the content and scope of the project. Reviewers will be instructed to review it as a new idea even if they have seen it in prior cycles. The applicant will not be required to describe how the application has changed or respond to previous reviews although NIH expects that applicants will nevertheless take advantage of previous reviewers’ comments to strengthen the applications for each submission.

Please visit the NIH site for more information about the new resubmission policy.

Changes to the Biosketch Format

NIH is piloting a new biosketch format emphasizing the researcher’s accomplishments instead of just a list of publications. The primary focus of the new biosketch will be the magnitude and significance of the scientific advances associated with a researcher’s discoveries and the specific role the researcher played in those findings. The new format will extend the page limit from four to five pages. Use of this enhanced biosketch format is restricted to those Requests for Applications (RFAs) included in the pilot. The current series of pilot RFAs will be issued over the next few months. The information collected in the current pilot will be used along with findings previously collected to inform the roll-out of the modified biosketch for all NIH grant applications planned for FY 2016 and beyond.

Please visit the NIH site for more information about the new biosketch format.

The following was excerpted from NIH eSubmission Items of Interest.

Support for Applications with More Than Five Budget Periods

Although NIH typically allows only five budget periods to be submitted with grant applications, occasionally a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) will allow more than five budget periods. NIH’s electronic Research Administration (eRA Commons) is the online interface where PIs and co-PIs can access and share administrative information relating to their grants. eRA Commons has just added system support for the R&R Budget 10YR form that will allow for the collection of up to 10 budget periods of data. Going forward, this form will be included with the few, special FOAs that allow more than five budget periods. The bulk of NIH FOAs will continue to use the standard R&R Budget form.

Transition to FORMS-C to Complete in August

NIH has transitioned to using updated electronic application forms (FORMS-C). The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are the last remaining programs to use the older forms. These programs are scheduled to transition to FORMS-C for due dates on/after August 5, 2014.

New Cover Letter Form for FORMS-C

NIH form packages no longer use a separate, agency-specific PHS Cover Letter form.  The version of the SF424 (R&R) cover form included in FORMS-C packages has a new Cover Letter Attachment (item #21 at the bottom of the form). Applicants planning to include a cover letter with the application should use this Cover Letter Attachment only. The eRA system will keep this attachment separate from the assembled application image and limit access to it. If it is attached someplace else (e.g., Pre-application attachment on the SF424 R&R cover form, Other Attachments on the R&R Other Project Information form), it will become part of the assembled application image and will be visible to everyone with access to the application including reviewers.

Using Non-standard Characters in Form Fields

Although NIH systems now support a broader character set including Greek and other non-standard characters, systems currently do not. When completing application form fields, applicants should type content directly from the keyboard to avoid cutting and pasting from Word and other word processors which often convert plain text to rich text.

It is best to keep the text as simple as possible limiting the use of characters to letters, numbers, spaces, underscores, and standard punctuation marks and reserving the use of fancier characters to the body of the PDF attachments.

Review of eSubmission Basics

  • Watch out for form fields required by NIH that are not marked required on federal-wide forms (e.g., Credential for PD/PIs and Organization for all entries on R&R Sr/Key Person Profile form; primary site DUNS on Project/Performance Sites form).
  • Use PDF format for all attachments. Follow PDF Guidelines.
  • Submit early – days, not minutes – to allow time to correct unforeseen errors.
  • Track the submission in eRA Commons. Email can be unreliable.
  • Check the entire assembled application image in eRA Commons. If you can’t view it, NIH can’t review it!
  • If federal system issues threaten on-time submission, notify the help desk and follow the Guidelines for Applicants Experiencing System Issues.


Submitted Projects for May 2014

College of Education – Submitted Projects – May 2014
Principal Investigator: Magdalena Castaneda (STL)
Co-PI: N/A
Funding Agency: Miami-Dade County Public Schools – MDCPS
Proposal Title: Job-Embedded Professional Development through Professional Learning Communities (PLC)
Requested Amount: $58,402
Principal Investigator: Sondra Smith (SHDOSE)
Co-PI: Jacqueline Swank (SHDOSE)
Funding Agency: US Department of Justice/OJP/NIJ
Proposal Title: Support Networks in Bullying Prevention
Requested Amount: $378,670
Principal Investigator: Jacqueline Swank (SHDOSE)
Co-PI: Joseph Gagnon (SESPECS)
Funding Agency: US Department of Justice/OJP/NIJ
Proposal Title: Development and Evaluation of an Intervention for Trauma Counseling and Support in Juvenile Corrections
Requested Amount: $627,270