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Welcome to the Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII), where our mission is to accelerate the pace at which the U.S. identifies, develops, and scales solutions to education’s most important or persistent challenges. OII makes strategic investments in innovative educational programs and practices, and administers more than 25 discretionary grant programs managed by four program offices: Charter Schools ProgramParental Options and Improvement, Teacher Quality Programs, and the Office of Investing in Innovation. In addition, OII is home to ED’s STEM initiatives team and ED’s liaison to the military community.  OII also serves as the Department’s liaison and resource to the nonpublic education community through the Office of Non-Public Education.

This home page provides news about OII — its programs, grantees, and initiatives — through articles, blogs, press releases, and links to the Department’s home page.

Click here to see a list and descriptions of OII’s programs and here for key staff.

U.S. Department of Education Announces $25 Million for Science and Literacy-Themed Television and Digital Media

(Sep. 3, 2015) The U.S. Department of Education announced today two grant awards totaling $25 million to Twin Cities Public Television and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for the development of television and multimedia programs that will engage preschool and young elementary school children and their families in science and literacy-themed learning.

The awards, made through the Ready-to-Learn Television program, support the creation of television shows, games, websites and apps for young children and families to play and explore, with a particular focus on science and literacy. The grantees—two award-winning public telecommunications entities—will create digital experiences for children that teach the content and skills needed to succeed in elementary school. Today’s awards build upon the successful 2010 Ready-to-Learn competition, which facilitated the launch of the Emmy-award winning show, Peg + Cat.

“Children find inspiration to learn in many parts of their lives, including through exciting multimedia programs like those supported by Ready-to-Learn,” said Nadya Chinoy Dabby, assistant deputy secretary for Innovation and Improvement. “Today’s investments will support innovative organizations as they create programs and platforms that make learning literacy and science a fun and engaging part of young children’s experiences.”
Twin Cities Public Television will create and distribute nationally in English and Spanish a new educational program that will include 40 television episodes and 24 interactive games. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), will develop several new educational programs focused on science and literacy, as well as build upon existing successful programs such as The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That and Curious George. They will also launch a series of interactive tools and materials that motivate hands-on active learning. CPB/PBS member stations will manage 30 community collaboratives that will provide community-based outreach programs and engage such partners as libraries, Head Start, and housing authorities.

Click here for the Department of Education press release that includes the list of grantees, with their states and Year 1 amounts.

Becoming a New Leader In New Orleans

10 YEARS LATER: EDUCATION INNOVATION TAKES ROOT IN NEW ORLEANS

[Part 2 of 2 profiles of the U.S. Department of Education’s New Orleans grantees, and the difference they are making for children in the city. To see part 1 of this series please click here.]

She didn’t start her career thinking that she was going to be a principal, but all of that changed ten years ago this month.

In August 2005, Shimon Ancker was teaching in New Orleans East, a part of the city that was hit particularly hard by the Hurricane Katrina’s storm surge. The day before the storm hit, she evacuated to Texas and moved in with her sister, where, at one point, she was among 16 people living in one house. About six months later, she was able to return to the city she called home, although it had been changed forever.

Today, Shimon Ancker is the new principal at the Einstein Charter School extension campus in New Orleans. She is a graduate of the New Leaders program, which in 2009 received a $3.7 million U.S. Department of Education (ED) School Leadership Program grant.

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How New Schools for New Orleans Helped the City Come Back

10 YEARS LATER: EDUCATION INNOVATION TAKES ROOT IN NEW ORLEANS

[Part 1 of 2 profiles of the U.S. Department of Education’s New Orleans grantees, and the difference they are making for children in the city.]

In the years since Hurricane Katrina, the people of New Orleans have worked hard to rebuild virtually every aspect of their city. Yet few sectors have undergone as much change as the city’s educational system. Since 2005, the city has rebuilt how it educates its students.

It’s made a real difference in student outcomes—though there is still a great deal more to accomplish. For example, graduation rates are up 19 percentage points since 2005.

This transformation has been led by local educators and innovators. In many cases, their work has been helped by New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO), a U.S. Department of Education grantee.

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New Funding Opportunity for Public Charter Schools: Non-SEA Competition Opens

  • On August 21, 2015, the U.S. Department of Education’s Charter Schools Program (CSP) announced a $4,000,000 million non-State Educational Agency (non-SEA) grant competition for the planning, program design, and initial implementation of high-quality start-up charter schools. The grants will also support dissemination of best practices for charter schools that have a proven track record of success and have been in operation for at least three years.
  • These funds are for charter schools in states that don’t have existing—or do not win new—SEA grants in September 2015. Since the non-SEA competition has opened before new SEA grants have been awarded, non-SEA applicants may, in some cases, submit applications to the non-SEA competition and become ineligible for those grants if their state is awarded an SEA grant.
  • Despite that possibility, even if your state has applied for an SEA grant in this year’s round, interested charter school operators may still apply. If your state wins an SEA grant—making you ineligible for a non-SEA grant—you can likely repurpose much of your application if you apply for a subgrant from a winning SEA.
  • We anticipate awarding these non-SEA grants in December 2015. This timeline allows charter school operators that intend to open new schools in the 2016–17 school year to apply for federal start-up funding sufficiently in advance of those school openings—either via an SEA subgrant competition or the non-SEA grant competition. Again, even if your SEA has submitted an SEA grant application this year, interested charter school operators in those states may wish to apply for a non-SEA grant in order to maximize their odds of receiving funding in advance of the 2016–17 school year.
  • Interested applicants must apply by October 6, 2015 at 4:30 p.m., Eastern Time.
  • Please visit the Non-SEA Competition page to learn more.
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    New and Upcoming Funding Opportunities for Public Charter Schools

    • This week, the U.S. Department of Education’s Charter Schools Program (CSP) announced a $116 million grant competition focused on starting up new, high-quality charter schools via a State Education Agency (SEA) competition for the first time since 2011. We anticipate awarding these SEA grants in September 2015.
    • In the coming weeks, we will announce another grant competition to support the start-up of new charter schools via the “non-SEA” competition. These funds are for charter schools in states that don’t have existing—or do not win new—SEA grants. We anticipate awarding these non-SEA grants in fall 2015—after September 2015.
    • This timeline allows charter school operators that intend to open new schools in the 2016–17 school year to apply for federal start-up funding sufficiently in advance of those school openings—either via the SEA or the non-SEA grant competition. Even if a charter school operator’s SEA plans to submit an SEA grant application this year, interested charter school operators in those states may wish to apply for a non-SEA grant in order to maximize their odds of receiving funding in advance of the 2016–17 school year.
    • Please visit http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oii/csp/index.html to learn more.

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    U.S. Dept. of Education Senior Program Advisor Brad Jupp and Policy Advisor Kelly Fitzpatrick Discuss New Skills for Success Grant

    In this video, former middle school teacher and current Senior Program Advisory Brad Jupp discusses why he thinks the Skills for Success grant competition addresses some of the most important challenges that our schools and students face.

     

    In this video, former middle school teacher and current Policy Advisor Kelly Fitzpatrick discusses why she believes the Skills for Success grant competition can have a major impact on the lives of students like the ones she taught in her middle school.

    Charter Schools Program Seeking Reviewers for State-Level Grant Competition

    The Office of Innovation and Improvement is seeking peer reviewers for the FY 2015 Charter Schools Program (CSP) State Educational Agency (SEA) grant competition. This is a competitive grant program that enables SEAs to provide financial assistance, through subgrants to eligible applicants, for the planning, program design, and initial implementation of charter schools and for the dissemination of information about successful charter schools.

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    Engagement, Creativity and Inspiration Found in New Afterschool STEM Programs.

    Engagement, Creativity and Inspiration Found in New Afterschool STEM Programs.

    Team Cupcake, Team Imaginators, Team Spaced Out, and Thinkers of Tomorrow. These are some of the hard-working student teams that can say that they have tackled challenges similar to those faced by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) scientists and engineers.

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