Knowledge Alliance supports the President’s request to fund ARPA-ED through the Investing in Innovation (I3) program set aside to help create the next generation of effective instructional strategies. To further strengthen this proposal, we recommend that the following provisions be included in legislation, regulation or policy governing an ARPA-ED program.
Effective use of learning technologies should be considered from the outset
Careful attention must be paid to the effectiveness of the development, testing and implementation phases of the project, in both the application period, and most importantly, the evaluation period of the grant.
Employ the current knowledge base and resources to ensure effective dissemination and use
Ensure that educational entities that are experienced at getting innovation out into the field and implemented effectively are required partners to apply for innovation awards. Comprehensive Centers, Regional Educational Laboratories, and their related Research Alliances must be critical partners in this effort.
Require evidence standards that ensure that theoretical support drives ARPA-ED
ARPA-ED should award grants using evidence standards that show there is theoretical support for the proposed practices, strategy or program. Theoretical support should be based on research findings, reasonable hypotheses based on learning theory, and promise of success including related research or theories in education and other sectors.
Ensure that only projects that are making progress continue to receive funding
Strong development and testing phases coupled with ongoing evaluation will result in projects that produce critical information on early progress or failure. ARPA-ED should require regular and early reporting on the progress of its funded projects. Projects that are not showing significant progress mid-way through the grant process should be defunded, and that funding should be reallocated to projects that are showing significant progress, or moved to the next highly-rated project that did not receive initial funding. This process not only incentivizes early delivery of results, but it supports the core of innovation – if it’s not working, move on to the next good idea.