CaMSP FAQ'sFrequently asked questions and answers about CaMSP.
- May a local educational agency (LEA)/district that served as the Lead LEA for a project in a previous cohort be the Lead LEA for a new project?
Yes, if the LEA is in Cycle/Year 3 of a currently funded project, the LEA is eligible to apply for a new project.
If we have been previously funded can we still participate in a consortium application if we only include teachers who have not participated in a previous MSP grant?Please contact the STEM Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 916-323-5847 with the specifics about your request because the answer depends on a variety of factors.
- The RFA discusses having a 100 percent Project Director for the LEA dedicated solely to this project. There are many reasons this is difficult. Could we have a 50 percent Co-Director from the LEA who does coaching and facilitation and 50 percent Co-Director from the institution of higher education (IHE) or Professional Development Provider who would be in charge of coordination, management (fiscally and PD) and facilitation?
No, the expectation and requirement is for a project to employ a single, full-time Project Director from the Lead LEA.
- The RFA requires naming the Project Director before we submit an application, which puts us in a bit of a quandary since we won¹t hire the person until we are awarded funding.
Many projects do not hire their Project Director until after the grant has been awarded. Ideally, the Project Director is a part of the writing of the grant. Typically, the Project Director is identified but is in another position at the district until the grant is funded. The inclusion of a position description would be nice in lieu of a Project Director biography if they'd like to include one.
- In terms of Lead LEA eligibility, is the CaMSP designed mainly for county offices of education (COE) to be the Lead LEA?
An LEA may apply individually or as part of a Consortium of LEAs. Further, a COE may apply individually or representing regional LEAs. The role of the COE must be substantial and made explicit.
The RFA states that COEs do not need to be a high-need LEA but then states 50 percent of the schools must be high-need.A COE can be the project lead, however participating schools and districts need to have at least 50 percent or the participating schools/districts which meet the 40 percent free and reduced lunch qualification. A COE as Lead LEA does not need to meet the free and reduced lunch qualification if they are not providing teachers of their own. However, if schools within the COE that the COE oversees participate, 50 percent of those schools must meet that free and reduced qualification.
- Cohorts 10 and 11 only: Core Partnership versus Regional Collaborative Partnership:
The Core Partnership Lead must be a high-need LEA, submit the application, accept management and fiduciary responsibility for the partnership, and provide a full-time Project Director. The only exception is if a COE applies as the Lead, the COE is not required to be a high-need LEA.
The goal of the Regional Collaborative Partnership is to extend the benefits of the project’s work to involve a regional array of partners such as: regional K-16 education providers; representatives from business and industry, legislature and government, chambers of commerce, COEs, and community based organizations; and other community members with a stake in STEM education. They provide community support, direction, and recommendations for continuous improvement to the Core Partnership. They also provide a fertile source of LEAs that would be interested in, and prepared for, participating in the expansion phase.
In performance year 2 and 3, the Regional Collaborative Partnership may benefit from the project by participating in webinars or using professional development videos produced by a project.
- Is the RFA saying that a district couldn't be a partner unless it has 50 percent of their schools at 40 percent or greater Free and Reduced Lunches?
The 50 percent criteria is for the partnering LEAs, be it districts or schools. So 50 percent of the LEAs partnering in the grant must meet the high-need (40 percent free and reduced lunch) definition.
- Are Charter Management Organizations (CMOs) considered an LEA?
Yes, they are. CMOs may apply as the lead LEA.
- May a teacher participant who is reassigned to another school within the project’s originally targeted LEAs continue in the project?
Yes, a teacher reassigned to a school within an originally targeted LEA may continue as a teacher participant as long as the teacher has been assigned to a grade and discipline within the scope of the approved project, and the principal gives their permission.
- Do potential teachers need to be identified prior to receiving the grant or may they be recruited after it is awarded?
Yes, target teachers must be identified and have signed a document committing to an interest in participation in the project for three years. This may be in a list or letter form.
- What is the criteria for a teacher to participate in a CaMSP project?
The key to determining which teachers may participate is whether or not the teachers are teaching their own class(es) of students. Participating teachers must be from LEA partners that are listed in the original application. Portions of the local evaluation, the statewide evaluation, and the federal report are dedicated to student achievement. In order to show a correlation between a teacher participant and his/her students’ achievement, each teacher must have a class of students. Only in-service teachers currently employed by the district(s) in the targeted grade span(s) count toward the partnership's target number of treatment teachers and benefit from CaMSP funding. For this reason, administrators, principals, coaches, subject matter specialists, teachers on special assignment, and student/pre-service teachers are not considered teacher participants.
Teacher participants must commit to the entire three-year project. New teacher participants cannot be added after the first performance year of the project. This establishes the teacher cohort. If the number of teacher participants in a project is less than 30, the project will be defunded. Due to attrition and unforeseen circumstances, the CDE strongly encourages that projects recruit at least 20 percent over their target number of teacher participants.
- Can a transitional kindergarten teacher be paid for using CaMSP funds? This teacher has been looping between TK/K which would have her in kindergarten in the next school year.
Yes, TK teachers are credentialed as kindergarten teachers, therefore they are eligible to participate in a CaMSP project targeting kindergarten.
- Would a special education teacher qualify as a grant funded participant if they are a teacher in a self-contained science class and are co-teaching with a science teacher?
As long as the CaMSP teacher participant (special education or not) is teaching science in a grade level targeted by the grant, employed by an LEA partner identified in the application, and has a class of their own students, they are eligible to participate. The co-teacher would also be eligible as long as only one of the two co-teachers is a teacher participant of the project.
- Does the grade span need to be contiguous grades, or can a project include multiple grade spans (for example, grades 3-5 and 8-10) if the rationale is clear?
The eligible grades are K-11 and the grades targeted need to be contiguous.
- a) The RFA states that each IHE partner must have faculty who represent the STEM disciplines reflected in the work of the project. I am a science educator with substantive background in science, and one of my colleagues is a math educator with substantive background in mathematics. We are housed within a School of Education that is part of the College of Science and Mathematics at Cal Poly. Would we be considered as fulfilling the need to have faculty who represent the STEM disciplines in the project or is there the expectation that there are also faculty who are housed in discipline-specific departments?
The requirement and expectation is for discipline-specific department faculty to be involved in the grant as well as school of education faculty. The law strongly encourages education faculty involvement.
b) Second, if our intent is to work with the integration of math and science and engineering, would there be the expectation that we have a designated faculty member who represents each of those areas? We are involving a faculty member from one of our engineering departments (materials engineering) who has substantial expertise in science and engineering.
The goal is to have a designated faculty member who represents each discipline involved in an application. If the proposal integrates math, science, and engineering, the CDE would expect to see faculty members from each of the three disciplines represented/involved in the grant.
- Does the IHE need to be local or may it be outside of California?
Yes, all primary IHEs involved must be California IHEs.
- May an IHE designate their lead contact as a Principal Investigator (PI)?
Yes, an individual with the authority to commit their institution must be named PI of the grant and must serve on the Leadership Team. The PI must be a mathematics, science, engineering, or technology faculty member from a partnership IHE and they are typically the primary professional development provider. Further, this individual should have background and training is in scientific and administrative oversight necessary to conduct and manage the IHEs portion of a the project.
What are the limits for IHEs and professional development providers to participate in more than one project at a time?
The limits on IHEs and PD providers is dependent upon on the IHE or PD provider with whom you want to partner. Although we allow IHEs and PD providers to work with more than one project at a time, the CDE does an internal review to assess capacity before making the final determination on which projects to fund. Please contact the STEM Office at email@example.com or 916-323-5847 with the specifics about your request because the answer depends on a variety of factors.
- Do the 6-12 grade group teachers have to be science and mathematics teachers or can we incorporate other disciplines?
You can incorporate disciplines that are part of the integration that you are proposing. If you are integrating technology into science or integrating technology into mathematics or integrating science, mathematics, and technology or integrating all four of the disciplines, include whatever teachers are appropriate for those disciplines. For example, you might have a group of math teachers integrating engineering processes, therefore you would want to have math teachers and/or engineering and technology teachers involved. It will be a learning and sharing experience for all.
- When are Teacher Participation Letters required?
The need for a Teacher Participation Letter vs. a Teacher Commitment Form (evidence of teacher commitment kept on file with Lead LEA) is only relevant if the LEAs targeted by the grant application are involved in more than one CaMSP project. Although few, there have been cases where one district has different schools involved in multiple CaMSP projects. We want to ensure that no individual teacher is participating in more than one project at a time. There is no need to collect Teacher Participation Letters from non-participating teachers.
- a) May we write a series of STEM modules that would be incorporated into current math classes and also be put together to create a course?
CaMSP partnerships are responsible for improving STEM instruction through the process of implementing high-quality professional development for in-service teachers, based in science and/or math, and integrating engineering and/or technology. Deliverables expected of a grant project include the development of integrated curricular units, modules, and courses. The CDE envisions these (units, modules, courses) will be created by teacher participants as the result or by-product of the professional development provided to them by the grant project.
b) May we use grant funds to pay IHE teams to start the module creation process?
As long as the STEM modules incorporated into current math classes and those used to create a course are a by-product of the professional development, then yes it is allowed. However, grant funds may not be used to pay IHE teams to create modules as IHE module or course creation is not an intended focus of the grant.
- This year we are planning an opening of a new middle school with a STEM focus. Because the school will not open until next year, we will not hire our full staff until the spring semester but the application states that we must have a three-year commitment of participating teachers. May we apply for the grant with a contingency that will have the commitment of the staff upon hiring?
Unfortunately, you must have the school in operation at the time of the application. We cannot assume that you will have the commitment of teachers you have not yet even hired. If the federal government continues our funding, perhaps you can apply next year.
- Must the Community Expansion Collaborative be in place at the time of the proposal or can it be created if the grant is awarded?
Letters of commitment must be included for each partner in order for the application to be considered for funding. This demonstrates the readiness of the Community Expansion Collaborative.
- Can grant funds be used to purchase hands-on science materials?
All supplies and materials purchased, hands-on or otherwise, must be used by the in-service target teachers only. CaMSP funding does not allow for the purchase of classroom supplies and materials that will be used in the classroom with K-12 students.
- Is it possible for the first quarter of the grant to be a planning phase and, if so, is it possible that a classroom teacher who will be the FTE Project Coordinator still be in the classroom for that planning phase then released for the implementation phase?
No, from Day 1 of the project, the Project Director is expected to work full-time on the grant project.
- Can the Community Expansion Collaborative build upon a district career advisory committee?
- In the quasi experimental model does each partnership need a control group?
No, it would be difficult to find a control group for the kinds of integrated work that we are doing here. To find a control group that is receiving the same treatment as these projects, would be difficult. Public Works would recommend that we are going to focus on pre-, mid-, and post assessments, mostly to determine progression of both teachers and students.
- Section 1, Rationale: local needs assessment of the teachers given within the last nine months. What is an example of that? Is it different from the Teacher Workforce Narrative and Data Table(s)?
Typically a teacher survey is conducted by the district or COE to establish the teacher’s needs. Teacher workforce and student data are also typically used to further establish a local need.
- May CaMSP grant funding be used to purchase hardware and or software?
The purpose of the legislation authorizing CaMSP is to provide professional development for teachers. Thus, only purchases of technological tools (hardware, software, and other tools used to apply knowledge) that are essential to support the goals, objectives, priorities, and activities to realize the proposed project will be approved. The technology should assist the project with:
- Access to information integral to project goals and activities
- Applications, including software applications, aligned with project goals, activities, and classroom implementation
- Networking capabilities to facilitate participant sharing of work resources and peer observations
All technology purchases must be inventoried, maintained, and controlled by the project for continued use in the purchased role, and adaptable to other professional development roles in the future.
- The Budget forms provided in the RFA cover nearly four performance years and there appears to be overlap each year. How do we report the overlap?
The budget forms are set up to capture costs/planned expenditures for activities relative to each particular Cycle/performance year. While there is overlap in terms of time, there is no overlap in funding. Funding follows the activity and must be charged accordingly.
For example, in July or August of Cycle 2/performance year 2 there will likely be expenditures to close out Cycle 1/performance year 1 which must be charged to the January 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015 budget and expenditures for Cycle 2/performance year 2 Summer Intensive hours which must be charged to the July 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016 budget. If you would like further clarification, please contact your CDE Project Monitor.
- The IHE we are partnering with typically charges 23 percent indirect. Is this allowable?
No, a maximum of 8 percent indirect is allowed for this training grant.
- How much should be budgeted for our project’s local evaluation?
All projects must allocate 5 percent of their grant ($50,000 for a $1,000,000 grant) in their budgets for statewide evaluator’s oversight of and assistance with local evaluation.
- Can we support stipends and materials for 120 teachers if our budget is based off of 100 teachers?
Yes, the $10,000 per teacher participant is a figure used to calculate the maximum grant award possible. If a project’s budget supports additional teachers, that is allowable.
- What would you consider matched funds? Do infrastructure contributions count?
Yes, it’s in-kind and matching funds. Keep in mind that any match funding must be over and above what the rest of the schools and the districts receive.
- Our grant application was funded for 40 teachers for a total budget of $400,000. We now have 50 teachers interested in participating. May we increase our budget to $500,000 based on this increase in teacher interest?
No, unfortunately, we are not able to supplement the grant to fund more than the originally requested 40 teacher participant target. However, we strongly encourage you to find matching funds to accommodate as many of those interested as possible. Having additional teachers trained through the use of district funds has proven to be a valuable strategy to avoid budget reductions due to attrition.
- May we use CaMSP federal funding to pay for meals or snacks for participants?
No, per the May 2013 U.S. Department of Education (ED) issued Frequently Asked Questions to Assist U.S. Department of Education Grantees to Appropriately Use Federal Funds for Conferences and Meetings
“Generally, there is a very high burden of proof to show that paying for food and beverages with Federal funds is necessary to meet the goals and objectives of a Federal grant. When a grantee is hosting a meeting, the grantee should structure the agenda the meeting so that there is time for participants to purchase their own food, beverages, and snacks. In addition, when planning a meeting, grantees may want to consider a location in which participants have easy access to food and beverages.
While these determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis, and there may be circumstances where the cost would be permissible, it is likely that those circumstances will be rare. Grantees, therefore, will have to make a compelling case that the unique circumstances they have identified would justify these costs as reasonable and necessary.”
- The RFA states that all travel and meeting costs associated with attending
Leadership Team and/or Community Expansion Collaborative meetings will be paid by the participating district(s) and may not be charged to the grant.
If the projects IHE partners reside over 50 miles from the meeting site(s), round trip mileage for each IHE partner to the site is over 100 miles. We plan to keep travel to a minimum using online collaboration tools for planning and meetings. May we use CaMSP funding to pay for this travel?
CaMSP funding may be used to cover travel and meeting costs associated with attending Leadership Team and/or Community Expansion Collaborative meetings for the Leadership Team or Community Expansion Collaborative members that reside or work more than 50+ miles one way to attend such meetings. Please do your best to keep this travel to a minimum using online collaboration tools for planning and meetings.
- If a project covers a large geographical area and teacher participants are travelling beyond their typical commute to get to workshops, can we use CaMSP funds to reimburse these teachers?
CaMSP may pay for teacher mileage as needed.
- Do we need a narrative for the budget section?
Although not explicitly required, the easier it is for a grant reader to answer the Budget questions listed in the RFA, the better.
- How will the funding change if Year 1 began at $700,000 budget for 70 teachers and Year 1 ended with 65 teachers. Would funding remain at $700,000 and only if we drop below 30 participants would we be defunded?
Projects are funded up to $1,000,000 per year for up to three years, at the rate of $10,000 per participating teacher for up to 100 teachers. Continued funding is dependent upon funding availability and performance evaluations. In the example above, if the grant project lost 5 teachers between Year 1 and Year 2, at $10,000 per teacher the funding would be reduced to $650,000 for Year 2.