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Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS)

FY19-FY22 Adult Education Professional Development System RFP Q&A

FY19-FY22 Adult Education Professional Development System
Competitive Request for Proposals
Fund Codes: 667 and 343

Updated: March 7, 2018

Q&As added in red

Grant Submission

  1. Can we submit the proposals via email?
    Answer: The RFP instructs applicants to submit their completed applications by email. See the Proposal Submission instructions on page 8 of the RFP.

  2. Will we use EdGrants to submit our proposal?
    Answer: No, you will submit your proposal to the email address provided in the RFP. After grants are awarded, successful applicants will submit all required grant related documents in EdGrants.

  3. Will you send a confirmation email upon receipt of the emailed proposal?
    Answer: Yes.

  4. Will you be publishing guidance re: how to submit the proposal in separate files in case your system cannot handle the size of the file as one attachment?
    Answer: Applicants have three options for submitting their proposal submissions by email, as long as no one email is greater than 20 MB, the maximum size limit for our statewide system.

    • Option A: Submit proposal files as one compressed PDF file or submit sections of the proposal in multiple emails, labeling them Part 1, Part 2, etc.
    • Option B: Submit materials as a zipped file.
    • Option C: Submit files as Word and Excel documents in one or more emails as needed, labeling them Part 1, Part 2, etc.
      Note that resumes should have home addresses and phone numbers redacted before submitting.

Letter of Intent

  1. Is a Letter of Intent (LOI) required?
    Answer: No, but ACLS is requesting that applicants submit LOIs for ACLS planning purposes.

  2. Can applicants decide to submit more or fewer proposals than what was indicated in the LOI?
    Answer: Yes, the LOIs are not binding.

  3. Will the LOIs be published?
    Answer: After the LOI due date, ACLS will post a Letter of Intent Submissions List to the ACLS website under the Funding Opportunities link. For each applicant, this list will contain the agency name, primary contact name, primary contact email, and PD center grants for which the applicant intends to apply.

Grant — General

  1. Can companies from outside the USA apply for this (e.g., India, Canada)?
    Answer: Eligible applicants are public and private non-profit entities of demonstrated effectiveness and requisite expertise that (a) include community colleges and other institutions of higher learning, local educational agencies, community-based organizations, volunteer literacy organizations, libraries, public housing authorities, and other non-profit institutions, and (b) have the ability to provide high quality PD services to AE programs and practitioners using multiple delivery formats including online and webinar-based PD; additional eligible applicants are consortia of the agencies, organizations, institutions, libraries, and authorities described above.

  2. Do we need to come over there (from outside the USA) for meetings? Can we perform the tasks (related to the RFP) outside the USA?
    Answer: Applicants are required to have a physical location in Massachusetts. Many of the tasks outlined in the RFP must be done in Massachusetts (e.g., delivering PD at the agency's location and elsewhere throughout the state, hosting other PD centers' face-to-face PD, participating in PD system meetings).

  3. Is there any space for letters of support or reference?
    Answer: No.

  4. Do references and end notes count toward the page limit?
    Answer: Yes.

  5. How do we verify if we are an approved PD provider?
    Answer: There is no process for verifying approved PD providers with this open and competition RFP. Applicants are responsible for carefully considering the extent to which they meet the RFP requirements and priorities.

  6. What's your anticipated timeline for the review and announcing of grant awards?
    Answer: Proposal review is expected to occur during the first half of April 2018 and the grant awards are expected to be announced in early May 2018.

  7. Can you explain the process by which annual renewals will be decided?
    Answer: AE PD System grants are renewable for a maximum of three additional years, through fiscal year 2022, subject to satisfactory performance, the appropriation of state and federal funds, and the continuance of federal authorizing legislation. Grantees submit an application in mid to late spring in response to an annual continuation (non-competitive) request for proposals. The response typically consists of a complete budget package, signed statement of assurances, and narrative report which includes a proposed workplan for the upcoming fiscal year.

  8. (from ACLS) Applicants are encouraged to review the FY2019-FY2022 Multi-Year Open and Competitive RFP for Adult Education Services located at Community Adult Learning Centers RFP webpage. It was released in July 2017 and contains important information about the AE system that the PD system will be supporting.

Additional Requirements

  1. What might be considered a minimal or reasonable cost for securing space for hosting PD in various regions? Presumably, a PD center would exhaust options for adequate cost-free space in a targeted region before paying for space. Do you have any other stipulations regarding charging space to the grant?
    Answer: It is up to the applicant. We are looking for statewide coverage, and have no other stipulations.

  2. All PD centers will use their own agency platforms for delivering webinars and online PD, so the platform does not have to be the same for all centers, correct?
    Answer: Yes, a PD center will use whatever platform its agency is using.

Additional Information

  1. Is there any flexibility with the 8% indirect cost (IDC) rate cap?
    Answer: ACLS will consider a slightly higher IDC rate if the applicant provides a compelling rationale and has a higher, federally-approved IDC rate. The applicant can also show reasonable expenses associated with implementing and supporting the grant program on other lines in the budget.

  2. What is the AE PD System website?
    Answer: It is called the System for Adult Basic Education Support website and is a tool for AE practitioners and programs and the PD system itself. It includes an online calendar and registration system, PD resources, news, promotional materials, and much more.

  3. What are provisions for transferring PD content/offerings developed by existing PD centers to new PD centers? Issues of intellectual property and transfer across different platforms?
    Answer: As needed, ACLS will consult with DESE legal staff and work with current and new PD centers to make the PD content transfer process as seamless and fair as possible. There will be no additional funds for such transfers, but a reasonable amount of grant funds could be allocated for this purpose.

  4. (from ACLS) The scorecard has been revised to eliminate discrepancies between the Scoring Rubric terminology (unchanged) and corresponding score column headers.

  5. One of the scoring rubric criteria is "well-documented". What do you mean by this term?
    Answer: The term "well-documented" refers to narrative (statements or claims) supported by references, citations, testimonials, data, etc.

Part III — Curriculum and Instruction PD Centers

  1. Can you elaborate on what it means for the C&I PD Centers to take the lead on finalizing the proficiency guides?
    Answer: You will be guided by ACLS, but the C&I PD centers will do the work. The footnote explains that the development of the proficiency guides is in progress and is projected to be done in FY19.

  2. Where does the RFP speak to PD staff and consultants needing to be certified
    Answer: On page 21, the RFP indicates that the EBRI Coordinator must be STAR-certified and individuals hired to deliver EBRI PD must either be STAR-certified or have comparable credentials and expertise.

Part III — Program Support PD Center

  1. Can you say more about assisting programs in implementing the EGE 5-step cycle?
    Answer: This is a small sub-component of the work of this PD center. ACLS will provide guidance to the successful applicant so that the latter is able to provide the necessary support for practitioners and programs. The EGE cycle sub-bullets serve as general parameters for what we expect the PD center to do.

  2. How can we access and view the online EGE tutorials? Do these online tutorials constitute the PD that has been developed for EGE to date?
    Answer: The tutorials introduce participants to each of the five steps of the EGE cycle and constitute the PD, broadly defined, needed to implement the EGE model; to date, these tutorials have been used for piloting purposes only. 13 AE programs, totaling nearly 50 participants including directors and teachers, are currently participating in an implementation pilot that ends June 30, 2018. ACLS is not able to provide access to these tutorials at this time; however, information about the EGE cycle can be found on the educator effectiveness page of the ACLS website at ACLS Educator Effectiveness.

  3. Under Content Expertise, the RFP asks for "experience with the EGE model" (p. 36), which would exclude anyone not involved in the EGE pilots. Would experience with comparable models be considered for this work?
    Answer: Yes.

  4. Will all programs be expected to implement the EGE model? If not, do you have an idea of how many programs might be served through this PD effort annually?
    Answer: This matter has not yet been decided, but ACLS and the Program Support PD Center will promote and support AE programs with the implementation of the EGE model.

  5. (from ACLS) On page 8 of the RFP, see the link for the FY19 Massachusetts Policies for Effective Adult Education. In this policy manual, Appendix C: Massachusetts Career Pathways Systems Development for Adult Education is a useful career pathways resource.

  6. The Program Support PD Center is asked to work with ACLS to explore the feasibility of creating self-assessment tools; however, the same PD center is also asked to assess the digital skills and abilities of practitioners, as part of its digital literacy responsibilities. Please clarify. Also, by when will the digital literacy assessment tool need to be developed in the first year of the funding cycle?
    Answer: ACLS is clear that it wants the Program Support PD Center to assess practitioner digital literacy skills and abilities; however, ACLS wants to explore the feasibility of creating practitioner self-assessment tools related to other PD center work (e.g., program management and educational leadership, career pathways, advising); ACLS will identify a reasonable target date for completing the development of the digital literacy assessment during the grant negotiation session with the Program Support PD Center grantee.

  7. Will additional funding be secured and available for procuring digital software upon approval of the software?
    Answer: This will be addressed during the grant negotiation session with the Program Support PD Center grantee.

  8. On page 33, the last bullet references self-paced online distance learning courses. Where do they live, when were they developed, and how can we access and view them?
    Answer: The two self-paced online distance learning courses, Teaching Adult Basic Education Students Online and Pathways of Persistence - Roadmap to Student Success, can be accessed in Blackboard using the following URL and case-sensitive login information:

  9. Would you be able to provide access to course materials for the Art of Advising?
    Answer: Art of Advising course materials can be found at SABES: ACLS — Art of Advising Materials.

  10. What is the online licensure preparation course? How can we access and view it? Will ACLS provide access to the online licensure preparation course referenced in the RFP on page 34?
    Answer: There is no access to the online licensure course as it is currently being revised to align with the new explanatory statements and is not being used in FY18. However, ACLS will post to its website the licensure course outline that was used through FY17.

  11. Has the licensure course been offered and taken? Can you speak to how many people pursue licensure on an annual basis and what the Department's expectations are (e.g., do you want to expand this service component)?
    Answer: Yes, the course was offered and taken in FY16 and FY17. In the course of a year, the successful applicant can expect to support an average of twenty teachers pursuing licensure. This number has always been greater than the number of individuals who submit portfolios. In each of the last five years, there has been a range of 0-6 teachers who actually submitted portfolios, with an average of three per year. Currently, there are 22 teachers on the licensure preparation cohort list, of which five have submitted a portfolio.

Part III — Curriculum and Instruction and Program Support PD Centers

  1. How is the sequence of PD from novice to advanced currently implemented?
    Answer: To get a sense of what PD is currently offered for practitioners with varying levels of expertise, visit the online calendar on the System for Adult Basic Education Support website and view PD offering descriptions in which the target audience is identified.

  2. Is the new staff orientation PD — the Art of Teaching and the Art of Advising — "out"?
    Answer: ACLS is not requiring these two courses. However, the C&I PD Centers are required to address the needs of novice teachers and provide teacher induction PD and support, and thus can include or draw from the Art of Teaching. Similarly, the Program Support PD Center can include or draw from the Art of Advising.

  3. Can you give examples of outcomes or metrics you are looking for, including projected numbers served, completion rates, etc.?
    Answer: We are asking you to tell us what you will do. ACLS will work with successful applicants to set and revisit annual performance goals, report on progress, and engage in an ongoing process of planning and evaluation.

  4. Will there be an external evaluation required?
    Answer: Per the RFP, the C&I and Program Support PD Centers will all contribute to evaluating the impact of PD on educator practice, under the direction of ACLS and its system evaluation consultant. ACLS will hire an external evaluator to evaluate the system over the life of this grant, and PD centers are also expected to engage in self-evaluation.

  5. How does the PD system facilitate the Program Support PD Center providing internal PD support to C&I PD centers in the areas of digital literacy integration, career pathways, and cultural competence?
    Answer: Review the responsibilities of the four PD centers in these areas and hopefully you will see how the work comes together; if not, send us your questions for the Q&A.

  6. Is there teacher data available that applicants could review?
    Answer: See the Teacher Data Statewide and Regional document that has been posted along with this revised Q&A. Applicants can also visit the ACLS Homepage, click on the top left link for the ABE and ESOL Directory, and view information about current ESE-funded AE programs that are sorted by region, city, and agency name.

Part III — PD System Communication Center

  1. Will there be an advisory board as part of the system, and if yes, will it be the responsibility of the PD System Communication Center?
    Answer: There will be no advisory board with the revised PD system.

  2. Are there any Supplier Diversity Program (SDP) requirements or expectations?
    Answer: No. While there are SDP requirements for contracts, there are not any for grant programs such as this one.

Part III — All PD Centers

  1. In Section II, Content (and Service Delivery) Expertise, I interpret "such as" to mean that any item listed (e.g., a master's degree) does not apply to every staff member and consultant. Is this correct?
    Answer: Yes. The items listed are not required but are examples of expertise we are looking for.

  2. Why are the credentials different for different PD centers (e.g., bachelor's versus master's degree)?
    Answer: The credentials and expertise listed for each PD center are tailored to that center; they represent what we are looking for and are designed to inform PD center hiring of individuals best qualified to implement the PD program or service plan.

  3. Could you clarify the vision of sections II and III, Content Expertise versus Organizational Capacity? If there is overlap with job descriptions and resumes, are we allowed to refer back?
    Answer: The two sections are distinct; however, if there is overlap in the response, you can reference the relevant information. Remember that we are (also) looking for agency oversight and administrative support of the grant program.

  4. Can you speak about the auditable level of institutional support?
    Answer: Institutional support includes both what we pay for and what in-kind support the agency offers. It is up to the applicant to tell us about this.


  1. If we are applying for more than one PD center, do we apply for each PD center separately? What about the combined budget?
    Answer: ACLS has adjusted its RFP budget submission requirements as follows: if an applicant submits a proposal for more than one PD center, the applicant must submit, for each PD center, a separate Part I — Signature Page, separate Budget Template, and separate applicant-designed budget narrative. If an applicant is awarded funding for more than one PD center, then the applicant will need to submit additional combined budget documents.

  2. The RFP says to submit a 12-month budget for the period July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019. Is there a difference for federally funded grants?
    Answer: No, there is no difference for current or future state and federal funded grants. All applicants are asked to use the state timeframe for submitting their 12-month budgets. Once awards are announced, ACLS will decide which grantees will get state funding, federal funding or a combination of the two.

Last Updated: March 9, 2018
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