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Improving Teacher Quality State Grants Program

Some Helpful Hints about Proposal Quality

The Commission has provided the comments and questions below as a tool for you to consider when writing the proposal. It is our hope that the following will help you prepare the best proposal your partnership can assemble for this year's competitions.
  • Makes the case for need, the choice of site & the proposed intervention - Why is the project needed and why you and your partnership are especially suited to address those needs:
    • Identify not just general need (demographics) but specific need of participating school(s).
    • Show site-specific evidence to warrant the proposed intervention - avoid generalities.
    • Be clear about WHAT will be provided to teachers (intervention) and HOW it will be provided (professional development model).
    • Explain who the partnership will help, have you contacted this group, do they support the project, and in what ways have they been involved in the development of this proposal.
  • Specificity:
    • Goals and expected outcomes (or objectives) should be specified very clearly. Goals are broader and less specific (what you hope will be accomplished) whereas objectives are specific and measurable (what you will accomplish).
    • Partnership plan (shows evidence of GENUINE COLLABORATION). It should be noted that support letters should be original and sincere as opposed to a template.
    • Roles & responsibilities of all players (e.g., IHE principals, LEA principals, lead researcher, others).
    • What will be measured and how it will be measured.
  • Data supports project design and data collected links to implementation plan to show measurable impacts. Proposal shows:
    • Thoughtful attention to goals, objectives and hypotheses
    • Thoughtful examination of issues related to data collection
    • Clear links to prior research on intervention and professional development model
  • The Budget:
    • Matches the implementation plan and the requested resources.
    • Includes clear explanations of staff functions.
    • Explains any subcontracts (especially tentative ones) and is careful re: indirect costs.
    • Clearly delineates the research portion of the budget and specifies percent allocated.
    • Is cost-effective in terms of Cost per Teacher Day and proposed participation and activities. In previous competitions most projects that were deemed to be fundable and reasonable by the reviewers showed Costs per Teacher Day between $300 and $700. A figure that is much higher or lower will need to be explained and justified in the proposal. Note that figures that are significantly out of this range (so that they can not reasonably be negotiated without altering the program) are likely to be a disqualifying.
  • Strength of argument/evidence for sustainability:
    • The project should fit into long-term planning for reform initiatives?
    • The project should demonstrate awareness of constraints of schools and systems and strategies for dealing with them.
    • Indicates how leadership will be sustained through and beyond funding period.
  • Other tips:
    • Consider writing the abstract after the proposal is complete. This should be a snapshot of the proposal.
    • Make sure that the project can be sustained, intensive, and of high quality.
    • Address the specific needs of the population(s) served (such as English Learners and other unique needs)
    • Connect with challenging academic standards.
    • Include strong academic content and instructional strategies.
    • Value and demonstrate the essential role of teachers in planning and implementing professional development activities.
    • Proposers should avoid using boilerplate language in multiple proposals.
    • Walk a Mile in a Reader's Shoes. A reader has a depth of knowledge and experience that makes them proficient in grasping a large body of work. They may not, however, be an expert in all of the techniques or strategies you are proposing. Each reader will read and form an opinion on 12 to 15 proposals and rank them according to quality. Proposals that rank higher typically:
      • Provide clearly written text that a non-expert can understand, jargon-free, acronyms explained, free of errors, and precise.
      • Present preliminary data demonstrating the need, the reasons for the proposed intervention, the goals, and objectives in a way that supports and connects the whole proposal.
      • Explains how the evaluation research component of the project will contribute to the body of knowledge.
      • Provide concise qualifications for those that will administer, implement, support, and evaluate the project. The readers will most likely not know who you or your partners are or are capable of. They will be looking for evidence that shows the individuals involved in the project are able to deliver the promises project through to the end.