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Frequently Asked Questions regarding the FY09 ARRA RFA

What is the deadline for submission?

The deadline has been extended to December 4, 2009 at 4:30 p.m. EST (the original deadline was November 19, 2009). The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) strongly suggests state education agencies (SEAs) submit their applications at least 2 days prior to the December 4 deadline to address any needed issues. Late submissions will NOT be accepted and technical issues experienced on the applicant's side are not an acceptable reason for submitting an application after the deadline.


Who can apply for the FY09 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) Grant?

State K12 SEAs are the only agency that can apply for the SLDS grant, but SEAs are strongly encouraged to work with other state agencies (early childhood, postsecondary, workforce, etc.) to create an application worthy of funding based on the application's requirements.


Is the SEA the only agency that can use SLDS funds, if awarded?

No. While SEAs are the fiscal agents for SLDS funds, SEAs may share grant funds with partner agencies (e.g. early childhood, postsecondary, workforce, etc.) to support partner agencies' work contributing to the SLDS.


Are the P20 data systems funded by these grants required to be "one system"?

No. Although one of the requirements of this competition is to link early childhood, K12, postsecondary and workforce data, these data do not have to reside in one place or within one agency. Instead, the actual data system could be a series of linked data systems, as long as these systems achieve the required capabilities listed in the Request for Application.


Does all of the data (early childhood, postsecondary, etc) have to reside in the K12 SEA?

No. Linked data do not have to reside in the K12 SEA. A SLDS could be a series of linked data systems that reside in different agencies, as long as these data systems achieve the required capabilities listed in the Request for Application.


When creating an outcomes-based budget, how should costs that apply to more than one outcome by handled?

Costs that apply to multiple outcomes (e.g. a server or personnel) can be divided across outcomes, or ascribed to a particular outcome and then referenced and attributed to that particular outcome when describing the budget of other outcomes. The only costs that do not have to be assigned to individual outcomes are those associated with travel to the national grantee conference (see Section IX Special Requirements).


Will states be judged based, in part, on past performance and use of previous SLDS funds?

Yes. States' performance and use of funds under previous Federal awards, including SLDS grants, will be considering in making award decisions.


Must all of the grant requirements be fulfilled and the outcomes completed in place by the end of the grant?

If the State cannot fully achieve each of these capabilities and fully implement each of these elements in its statewide, longitudinal data system by the end of the 3-year grant period, the State must outline in its application its plan for accomplishing each requirement, including the date by which each will be realized and the projected sources of funding.


Who reviews SLDS applications?

Peer reviewers, who are not NCES or U.S. Department of Education staff, are selected to evaluate and rate all complete and responsive SLDS applications. The SLDS project team does not evaluate and rate applications.


Is this grant an 'all or nothing' submission? For example, if the review panel deems one of the proposed outcomes as out of scope, will the entire application be rated down?

No. The reviewer panel can decide to fund specific proposed outcomes if they are judged to have merit and meet the requirements of the Request for Application.


Will states be penalized for not including the LEARN multi-state collaboration?

No. States will NOT be penalized for applying alone nor will they be awarded bonus points for including LEARN. States will be judged on the review criteria described in the Request for Application (see Section XIII Review Criteria for a complete list of the factors that reviewers will use to evaluate applications). The requirement of interoperability within the State and between States is based on the use of standard data structures, data formats, and data definitions to ensure linkage and connectivity among the various levels and types of data.


How are state collaborations handled if only one state receives the funding?

If only one state receives funding for specific outcome that includes multi-state collaboration, NCES will work with the grantee to ensure the original intention of the grant is fulfilled regarding those outcomes. This is done on a case by case basis.


How do cooperative agreements differ from a regular grant award?

Cooperative agreements allow NCES to have ongoing relationships with grantees that encourage knowledge sharing and convening among grantees, and allow for easier distribution of technical assistance and other resources and services to grantees. Grantees must fulfill certain duties as part of cooperative agreements, such as attendance and participation in the national grantee conference, for instance. All such requirements are outlined in the Cooperative Agreement sent to awardees.


How much funding is available and is there an average award amount anticipated?

$245 million is available in the FY09 ARRA SLDS Grant competition. The average award is anticipated to be about $10 million dollars. Awards will vary based on the needs of the state. Unlike previous competitions, justification of the budget is part of the review criteria; reviewers can evaluate whether the budget requested is reasonable and appropriate given an applicant's proposed outcomes.


How should letters of support be submitted?

All letters of support should be sent to the SEA and then submitted with the application. Letters of support that are sent directly to NCES or to other divisions of The U.S. Department of Education will not be included in the review of application packages.


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