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Grants and Other Financial Assistance Programs: FY2015

Adult Basic Education Professional Development System
Fund Code: 667/343

Purpose:The purpose of this grant program is to establish a coordinated and cohesive system of statewide professional development entities to provide research-based, high quality and effective professional development and support to the Commonwealth's Adult Basic Education (ABE)1 programs funded by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE or the Department). All grant-funded professional development will assist ABE programs and practitioners2 in addressing the Department's overarching goal of preparing all ABE students for success in their next steps, within the context of college and career readiness.
Background:

The Massachusetts ABE System

The Massachusetts ABE system is guided by a mission statement adopted by the state board of education in 1993, and a strategic framework entitled Facing the Future: Massachusetts Strategic Framework for Adult Basic Education 2010-20153. Per the mission statement, "The Massachusetts ABE system exists to provide each and every adult with opportunities to develop literacy skills needed to qualify for further education, job training, and better employment, and to reach his/her full potential as a family member, productive worker, and citizen." The strategic framework contains three goals that were developed over several years through extensive input from and dialogue with practitioners and other stakeholders. These goals state that the ABE system will:

  1. ensure that adults needing basic education have access to services;
  2. increase system effectiveness and quality; and
  3. prepare students for success in their next steps4: in college and further training, at work, and in the community.

A key strategy for achieving these goals is to provide ongoing, research-based, high quality professional development to ESE-funded ABE programs and practitioners including ABE teachers, advisors, and directors.

The ABE Teacher

Unlike K-12 teachers, ABE teachers work under unique circumstances that impact professional development design. The Massachusetts ABE system is comprised of approximately 1,100 teachers, 74% of whom are part-time, working in approximately100 local programs housed in community adult learning centers, local school districts, community colleges, libraries, correctional facilities, and volunteer associations. While many ABE teachers have teacher training, and some hold a professional license, many who have transferred into the field from other professions have neither, and fewer still have been trained in content-specific pedagogy.

The majority of ABE teachers work part-time, often combining two or more part-time jobs, and access to health insurance and other typical fringe benefits cannot be assumed. ESE requires ABE grant recipients to pay staff salaries no less than what the ABE Rates System supports, within a small range of flexibility (3%). For teachers, the hourly rate of pay that is supported by the ABE Rates System5 ranges from $20.50 to $26.65 depending on the level of fringe benefits received by each teacher; some teacher salaries are higher than what the rates support due to supplemental local funding.

While ESE ABE grants include funding to allow ABE teachers to engage in professional development on paid time, the average ABE teacher has only about 20 paid hours annually for this purpose. Many ABE teachers are expected to teach all subjects, yet cannot be assumed to be familiar with current educational research.

The Adult Student

There are significant differences between children and adults that present unique challenges for the adult educator. Adult learners have accumulated a reservoir of experience that can be a rich resource for learning; however, many adult learners have family and job responsibilities that limit the time they can devote to their own learning. Adult learners often have substantial gaps in their background content knowledge, resulting from academic content they missed during their K-12 school years.

Unlike children, adults' orientation to learning is practical and focused; adult learners need to know why they should learn something and how it will benefit them. Adults usually become ready to learn something when they experience a need to learn it; however, not all learners are able to identify what they need to know, and they don't necessarily know what they need to learn to take their next step in their educational and economic growth. Most adults tend to be motivated to learn by internal factors such as an increased ability to help their children in school, the promise of increased job satisfaction, increased self-esteem, and a higher quality of life.

The Massachusetts ABE Professional Development System

The current Massachusetts ABE professional development system, structured around five geographical regions for the past 20 years, is being redesigned as a coordinated system of statewide, rather than regional, professional development providers. Each of these statewide providers will be selected for its expertise related to developing and implementing a research-based, high quality, and effective professional development program for ESE-funded ABE programs and providers across the Commonwealth.

The Department has developed standards for professional development6 that describe criteria for High Quality Professional Development (HQPD). The Department defines HQPD as a set of coherent learning experiences that is systematic, purposeful, and structured over a sustained period of time with the goal of improving teacher practice and student outcomes. It enables educators to facilitate the learning of students by acquiring and applying knowledge, skills, and abilities that address student needs and improvement goals of (a) the district, school, and/or ABE program, as applicable, and (b) the individual. HQPD conforms to best practices in research, relates to educators' assignments and professional responsibilities, and conforms to the 10 Massachusetts Standards for Professional Development. All successful applicants for this grant program will be required to work with ACLS to create and promote professional development programs that are responsive to the HQPD criteria to the greatest extent possible, within the parameters of ABE.

ESE will hire a contractor to support its coordination of the Massachusetts ABE professional development system. ESE may also contract with high level experts to contribute to the development of research-based, high quality professional development for one or more of the priority areas.

All successful applicants will be expected to work collaboratively with ESE, its designees, and each other to address the purpose and priorities of this grant program.

Priorities: The following priorities have been set for this grant program:
  1. Invest ABE professional development resources in content expertise using a statewide provider structure whereby each successful applicant will be responsible for providing statewide leadership, professional development, and ongoing support for one or more of the professional development priority areas identified in this request for proposals (RFP);

  2. Strengthen curriculum and instruction at ESE-funded ABE programs in full alignment with the College and Career Readiness standards for adult education (the CCR standards)7 with an emphasis on increased academic rigor and expertise;

  3. Strengthen ABE educator effectiveness by providing a range of professional development offerings and supports of sufficient quality, intensity, and duration in order to increase educators' professional learning and improve educator practice;

  4. Strengthen education and career advising to support college and career readiness for all students;

  5. Develop and support educational leadership within ESE-funded ABE programs in order to build capacity of administrators to effectively lead their staff and manage their programs to fully implement the rigorous CCR standards for adult education; and

  6. Provide technical assistance to ESE-funded ABE programs, including targeted intervention for underperforming programs referred by the Department, in order to improve student performance and achieve state and local ABE program goals.

Eligibility Eligible applicants are public and private non-profit entities of demonstrated effectiveness and requisite expertise that 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 all of which having the ability to provide high quality professional development services to ABE programs and practitioners using multiple delivery formats including online and webinar-based professional development; additional eligible applicants are consortia of the agencies, organizations, institutions, libraries, and authorities described above.
Funding:The total allocation for this grant program is approximately $1,960,000. The exact number of grant recipients will depend on the availability of funds and the number and selection of professional development priority areas addressed by each grant recipient.

Funding for Priority Instructional Areas:

  1. English Language Arts (up to $400,000)
  2. Mathematics and Adult Numeracy (up to $350,000)
  3. English for Speakers of Other Languages (up to $350,000)

Funding for Other Priority Areas:

  1. Educational Leadership and Strengthening ABE Programs (up to $380,000)
  2. Education and Career Planning (up to $150,000)
  3. ABE Distance Learning and Technology Support (up to $130,000)
  4. Massachusetts ABE Assessments (up to $100,000)
  5. Using SMARTT8 and Cognos (up to $100,000)
Fund Use: This Fund Use section is organized as follows:
  1. General Fund Use Information, essential for all eight priority areas unless otherwise noted;
  2. Fund Use Information Specific to the Priority Instructional Areas, essential for the three priority instructional areas but not for the other five priority areas; and
  3. separate fund use sections for each of the eight priority areas with essential information specific to each priority area.

Applicants are advised to ensure they have carefully reviewed all applicable information in this Fund Use section.

General Fund Use Information

Eligible applicants may propose initiatives and services for as many of the eight priority areas of focus as can effectively be managed and implemented; however, only one applicant will be funded for each of the eight priority areas.

Applicants may use grant funds for personnel and non-personnel expenses relevant to the purpose and priorities of this grant program (e.g., development and delivery of professional development offerings including costs related to distance learning modalities; provision of technical assistance; training of trainers; teacher observation and feedback; data entry for all professional development offerings and data analysis; and the coordination and management of all priority area activities) as follows: salary and fringe benefits for staff; compensation for consultants with expertise related to grant priorities including mentors or coaches; ABE professional development travel expenses including transportation, conference registrations, and lodging; relevant professional development materials and supplies, including computer software and upgrades necessary to support the distance learning requirements and access to technology lab required of all providers; and other reasonable costs associated with project planning and implementation. Applicants are not permitted to use grant funds for capital expenses.

For each priority area, grant funds must be clearly allocated for individuals who have the content expertise necessary to effectively develop and deliver professional development offerings and provide related technical assistance to ABE practitioners and programs. For the three priority instructional areas, the level of grant funds allocated to support individuals with content expertise must be considerable in order to maximize instructional leadership and support for teachers, and strengthen the impact on teaching and learning. Content experts can be staff and/or consultants and can function as mentors or coaches.

Applicants with a current approved federal indirect cost rate will be required to submit a copy of their current approval letter. Please note that the maximum allowable indirect cost rate that may be charged to this grant is eight percent (8%) of the subtotal of direct costs. Any entity that does not have a current federal indirect cost rate may apply to the Department for a maximum five percent (5%) indirect cost rate using the current ESE Indirect Cost Rate Application.

For all priority areas, the program of professional development must reflect research-based principles of effective educator professional development and be aligned with the Massachusetts Standards for Professional Development.

The professional development offerings for all priority areas must address the professional development needs of ABE practitioners with different levels of expertise (e.g., novice, intermediate, advanced).

Professional development providers will be responsible for integrating relevant information and research throughout the professional development program for each of the priority areas. For the Education and Career Planning priority area, relevant information and research must include labor market information and research in adult education. For the Massachusetts ABE Assessments priority area, relevant research refers to formative assessments and using standardized assessment data for continuous program improvement. The Using SMARTT and Cognos professional development provider will not be responsible for integrating relevant research into the professional development program.

Professional development providers will be responsible for remaining current with the most relevant research and other resources, connecting ABE practitioners and programs to these resources, and providing periodic summary updates to the Department. The professional development provider for the Using SMARTT and Cognos priority area will be responsible for connecting ABE practitioners and programs to current, relevant resources as applicable. The Department will not provide funded applicants with centralized support for resource identification or dissemination, either directly or through a contract.

The professional development programs for all priority areas must be implemented using multiple delivery formats such as statewide and regional face-to-face sessions; site-based offerings and technical assistance at local ABE programs; online venues and offerings such as distance or blended learning and webinar-based professional development; and phone and email technical support. The professional development provider for each of these priority areas will be expected to have, and continuously develop, the capacity to provide services through distance learning modalities. The Department does not plan to continue to provide centralized support for distance learning professional development providers, either directly or through a contract.

Each professional development provider funded through this RFP must be prepared to assist ABE practitioners to access and effectively use its distance learning modalities. This may include helping practitioners to open accounts with online platforms, log into webinars, register for online professional development, upload files and videos, and resolve other related problems.

For each priority area, the professional development provider is responsible for ensuring that professional development offerings maximize ABE practitioner participation. Successful applicants will be expected to: actively promote professional development activities to ESE-funded programs and practitioners, using social media and publicity materials; collaborate with the Department and its designees in the development and implementation of related marketing strategies; and ensure alignment with Department messaging about ESE's ABE priorities and policies.

Under the direction of the Department, successful applicants should be prepared to participate in the development, implementation, and evaluation of an annual ESE-sponsored statewide conference focused on the College and Career Readiness standards for adult education and/or other Department priorities. Additionally, successful applicants will be asked to share their work, including relevant research and data, with ABE practitioners and programs via other ESE-sponsored events, websites, publications, and/or mailings. All print and online materials developed and/or disseminated by successful applicants will be subject to ESE review and approval to ensure alignment with Department priorities and message.

For each priority area, grant funds should cover costs associated with evaluating the effectiveness and impact of professional development initiatives and activities, and reporting evaluation results to ESE twice annually. All professional development evaluations must include and go beyond assessing practitioner/participant reaction to professional development activities. Evaluations must also measure the impact of professional development on practitioner/participant learning, ABE program organizational support and learning, participant use of new knowledge and skills, especially as they relate to advancing adult students' college and career readiness, and student learning.9

Depending on the priority area, the evaluation of professional development should also focus on such areas as: the use of program-wide and/or CCR contextualized curricula; full implementation of the CCR standards; effective administration and scoring of assessments; effective use of SMARTT and Cognos for program planning and continuous program improvement; and measurably improving the performance of underperforming programs referred by the Department for targeted technical assistance.

Successful applicants will be required to:

  • propose evaluation plans and submit plans to ESE for review and approval;
  • implement ESE-approved evaluation plans;
  • collect and analyze participation and evaluative data including event evaluations, progress toward meeting negotiated performance measures, and impact on ABE programs, teaching, and student learning;
  • submit to the Department quarterly participation and enrollment reports10; and
  • submit to the Department semi-annual evaluation reports that summarize the results, effectiveness, and impact of professional development initiatives and activities, and identify trends, successes, challenges, and recommendations for future professional development.

Successful applicants will be required to participate in monthly statewide meetings of ESE-funded ABE professional development providers, and other content-specific meetings, as needed. These meetings are expected to be held using a combination of face-to-face and online venues.

Successful applicants will be required to enter professional development activities and participation data into SMARTT at least monthly, and keep this data updated as soon as it is available. To accommodate extenuating circumstances, the Department allows a maximum of one additional month for all current data to be entered in SMARTT.

All expenditures will be closely reviewed as they relate to the priorities of this grant opportunity.

Fund Use Information Specific to the Priority Instructional Areas

For each priority instructional area, selected applicants must provide a proposed comprehensive and cohesive program of professional development that (a) includes effective sequencing of professional development offerings, (b) builds the capacity of ABE teachers, directors, and programs to fully implement the CCR standards, for the English Language Arts (ELA) and Math priority areas, and (c) builds the capacity of ABE teachers, directors, and programs to fully implement the Massachusetts ABE Curriculum Framework for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) for the English for Speakers of Other Languages priority area. The professional development program for the ESOL priority area must make explicit connections between the Massachusetts ABE Curriculum Framework for ESOL and the CCR standards11.

Professional development providers for the priority instructional areas must remain current with ESE policies regarding ABE curriculum scope and sequence and alignment with the CCR standards. Professional development providers must also ensure that professional development offerings and ongoing technical assistance to ABE practitioners and programs adequately focus on curriculum development and implementation, pedagogy (e.g., instructional theory and strategies), instructional leadership, and technology integration.

Professional development providers for the three priority instructional areas will also be expected to coordinate with the Massachusetts ABE Assessments professional development provider regarding the development, scheduling, and delivery of professional development and technical assistance related to creating effective formative assessments, and using the results of formative assessment to improve student learning.

For the three priority areas, grant funds must cover costs associated with the provision of content-specific targeted intervention for underperforming ABE programs, in coordination with the professional development provider for the Educational Leadership and Strengthening ABE Programs priority area.

English Language Arts (up to $400,000 per year)

The priority instructional area of English Language Arts (ELA) encompasses the ELA and Literacy content areas covered in the CCR standards for adult education, namely: reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language (e.g., standard English conventions, language use, and vocabulary). This priority area also includes, as part of its focus on reading, the STudent Achievement in Reading (STAR) program12. STAR is an evidence-based reading instruction approach for ABE learners.

ESE funds currently support the delivery of several ELA professional development offerings for ABE teachers and programs. These offerings cover a range of topics including the Diagnostic Assessment of Reading, using MAPT13 for Reading assessment score reports to improve instruction, selecting appropriate texts for students, differentiating instruction in the literacy classroom, evidence-based reading instruction, teaching alphabetics to adult learners, introduction of college-level writing approaches, evidence-based writing instruction, and the writing process. No professional development has yet been offered on speaking and listening skills for ABE.

The Department has not yet established a comprehensive and cohesive English Language Arts professional development program that is fully aligned with the CCR standards. Therefore, the professional development provider for the ELA priority instructional area will be responsible for the development and delivery of this professional development program, under the direction of the Department. It is expected that both the development and delivery of this program will occur throughout the three-year grant period.

ESE is currently developing Massachusetts professional content standards for ABE teachers in the area of English Language Arts, a preliminary draft of which will be completed by the end of FY 2014. The ELA professional development provider will be responsible for finalizing these standards and ensuring their alignment with all aspects of the CCR standards for English Language Arts. The ELA professional development program must be in full alignment with these professional content standards when both are finalized. The ELA provider must also ensure that the professional development program includes offerings that focus on and/or integrate learning disabilities, learning difficulties, and universal design.

The ELA professional development provider will be required to hire a STAR-certified STAR Reading Coordinator, at no less than .75 full-time equivalent, who will be mainly responsible for overseeing and managing the implementation of the statewide STAR reading program, in coordination with the Department. In addition to this primary oversight responsibility, the STAR Reading Coordinator will be responsible for co-facilitating STAR trainings; facilitating monthly STAR trainer meetings; conducting site visits for the purpose of observing STAR classes and providing STAR teachers and directors with verbal and written observation feedback; sharing facilitation of quarterly STAR support meetings with ESE staff; providing support to STAR trainers and practitioners; connecting STAR trainers and practitioners with the STAR ToolKit's resources; and ensuring the fidelity to the STAR training model.

In order to effectively implement the ELA professional development program, the successful applicant for the ELA priority instructional area must ensure that staff and/or consultants who are hired to develop the professional development program, deliver the professional development offerings, provide technical assistance to adult ELA teachers and ABE programs, and finalize the ELA professional content standards, have strong ELA credentials and expertise as follows:

  • Master's degree in or related to ELA, with a relevant PhD preferred;
  • extensive knowledge of relevant research on reading and/or writing instruction;
  • five or more years of recent experience applying this research to practice;
  • five or more years developing ELA instructional skills of teachers;
  • experience with the integration of technology into instruction, and delivering and facilitating online professional development;
  • as a preferred qualification, having relevant published research; and
  • as a preferred qualification, three or more years in supporting teachers to implement the ELA Common Core State Standards or the Massachusetts K-12 ELA/Literacy Standards from 2011; the latter set of standards includes connections to History/Social Studies and Science.

The above credentials and expertise are also required for the individual(s) who will be responsible for the coordination, leadership, and overall management of this priority area and grant program.

In addition to being STAR-certified, the STAR Reading Coordinator must be an expert in ABE reading instruction and have: a Masters Degree in Education, Reading Education, or a related field; at least 10 years of experience training teachers how to conduct reading instruction for adults; strong familiarity with the goals of the U.S. Department of Education to improve ABE reading instruction; experience coaching, evaluating, and developing skills of new trainers; and ability to effectively communicate information to training participants about key topics related to implementing evidence-based reading instruction such as diagnostic assessment, instructional leadership, and ABE program managed enrollment.

Grant funds for the ELA priority instructional area must cover costs associated with: review and finalization of the Massachusetts ELA professional content standards; and oversight and implementation of the statewide STAR Reading program, including the cost of a STAR Reading Coordinator, at no less than .75 full-time equivalent.

Mathematics and Adult Numeracy (up to $350,000 per year)

ESE launched an ABE Mathematics and Adult Numeracy (Math14) professional development program in the fall of 201315. This Math program currently includes professional development offerings of varying intensity, several of which have already been developed and are being delivered in FY 2014, with the remaining offerings projected to be developed in FY 2015 and FY 2016 and delivered in FY 2015 and beyond. The Math professional development program's current offerings focus on adult numeracy research, the CCR standards for mathematics, aligning ABE program-wide math curricula with the CCR standards, math pedagogy and the math proficiency strands16, and using MAPT17 math assessment score reports to improve instruction. Future math offerings will deepen and expand the current areas of focus and will address (a) how to contextualize curriculum, and (b) how the results of formative assessments can be used to improve math instruction. The Mathematics and Adult Numeracy professional development program must also include professional development offerings that focus on and/or integrate learning disabilities, learning difficulties, and universal design.

Under the direction of the Department, the professional development provider for the Math priority instructional area will be responsible for:

  • the promotion and delivery of the Math professional development program;
  • contributing to the development of the Math program's professional development offerings, in coordination with any consultants hired directly by ESE for this purpose;
  • the revision, as needed, of the draft ABE Math professional content standards and alignment between these standards, the CCR standards for mathematics, and the ABE Math professional development program;
  • collaborating with the ESOL professional development provider to incorporate math into ESOL instruction; and
  • providing ongoing technical assistance to ABE Math practitioners and programs.

In order to effectively implement the Mathematics and Adult Numeracy professional development program, the successful applicant for this priority instructional area must ensure that staff and/or consultants who are hired to deliver the professional development offerings, contribute to the development of the Math professional development program, provide technical assistance to adult Math teachers and ABE programs, and revise the Math professional content standards, have strong math and adult numeracy credentials and expertise as follows:

  • Bachelor's degree in mathematics education or a related area, with a relevant Master's degree preferred;
  • strong familiarity with research on adult numeracy and mathematics instruction;
  • five years recent experience applying such research to practice;
  • three years experience coaching, evaluating, and developing mathematical skills of teachers, using the latest research on math education;
  • ability to effectively translate knowledge of mathematical pedagogy and research into adult education instructional and professional development settings; and
  • demonstrated expertise in and ability to communicate information to teachers about topics related to implementing evidence-based math instruction including:
    • the National Research Council's Mathematical Proficiency Strands and the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for Mathematics or the CCR standards for mathematics, a subset of the CCSS;
    • the concept and components of numeracy and its relevance for adult education;
    • the practice of addressing all mathematical content strands at all levels of instruction to provide a critical foundation;
    • pedagogical knowledge of content and students, content and teaching, and curriculum;
    • the role of diagnostic assessment, including analysis of student work; and
    • the role of instructional leadership and organizational support in improving teaching.

Additional, preferred experience for the staff and/or consultants identified above are:

  • experience in an adult instructional setting or in adult education professional development;
  • familiarity with mathematical algorithms used in other cultures;
  • experience with the integration of technology into instruction, and delivering and facilitating online professional development; and
  • having relevant published research.

The two sets of credentials and expertise above are strongly preferred for the individual(s) who will be responsible for the coordination, leadership, and overall management of this priority area and grant program.

Grant funds for the Mathematics and Adult Numeracy priority instructional area must cover costs associated with the revision of the Massachusetts ABE Math professional content standards.

English for Speakers of Other Languages (up to $350,000 per year)

ESOL is a multifaceted discipline requiring training and expertise in linguistics, second language acquisition, language pedagogy, methodology, materials development, assessment, curriculum scope and sequence, and cross-cultural communication.

In April 2014, Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document  The Massachusetts Professional Content Standards for Teachers of Adult English Speakers of Other Languages (Adult ESOL Professional Content Standards) were finalized. These standards address the following topics:

  • second language acquisition theories and their applications,
  • components of language,
  • intercultural awareness,
  • curriculum and instructional design,
  • instructional delivery and classroom management,
  • learner assessment, and
  • professional growth.

Professional development offerings, aligned with each of the first six standards, provide participants with five hours of face-to-face interaction with the option of additional time for application and reflection. These offerings will be piloted and delivered in FY 2014, and all of them are expected to be delivered in FY 2015 and beyond. Thus, there is a foundation in place for a comprehensive and cohesive ESOL professional development program, and grant funds are intended to heavily support the delivery of these and other adult ESOL professional development offerings to the several hundred ESOL teachers and directors from ESE-funded ABE programs.

In addition to the existing professional development offerings, the ESOL professional development program will need to be further developed to respond to practitioner need. Grant funds will support the expansion of the current professional development offerings to allow for participants' extended learning and application, and the development and delivery of additional offerings, based on practitioner need, covering such topics as:

  • understanding causes of learning difficulties;
  • working with adult English language learners who have minimal or no literacy skills;
  • reading and writing for second language learners;
  • collaborating with the math professional development provider to incorporate math into ESOL instruction; and
  • ESOL teaching strategies that align with the CCR standards instructional shifts.

The ESOL professional development provider will be responsible for solidifying the ESOL professional development program; contributing to the revision and development of current and new professional development offerings, respectively; and promoting and delivering the full spectrum of offerings, under the direction of the Department.

The ESOL professional development provider will also be responsible for:

  • contributing to the alignment of the Massachusetts ABE Curriculum Framework for ESOL's standards and benchmarks, the Adult ESOL Professional Content Standards, and the ESOL professional development program;
  • making explicit connections between the Massachusetts ABE Curriculum Frameworks and the CCR standards or the CCSS;
  • delivering professional development offerings that focus on and/or integrate learning disabilities, learning difficulties, and universal design;
  • reviewing the Adult ESOL Professional Content Standards over time and making minor revisions to the standards, if needed; and
  • providing ongoing technical assistance to adult ESOL practitioners and programs.

In order to effectively implement the ESOL professional development program, the successful applicant for the ESOL priority instructional area must ensure that staff and/or consultants who are hired to develop the professional development program, deliver the professional development offerings, provide technical assistance to adult ESOL teachers and ABE programs, and ensure alignment between the ESOL professional development program and all relevant standards, have the following ESOL credentials and expertise:

  • Master's degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) or related area (e.g., ESOL, Linguistics), with (additional) graduate level courses related to all or most of the following:
    • evaluation and application of knowledge of ESOL instructional approaches and best practices for promoting English language development for ESOL students;
    • application of knowledge of processes and stages of language acquisition;
    • application of contemporary English grammatical structures that may be problematic for students;
    • methods and techniques for assessing student progress in English speaking skills;
    • methods and techniques for applying knowledge of theory, research, and practice related to developing reading and writing skills and reading comprehension in English as a second language; and
    • methods and techniques for approaches to instruction for a diversity of ESOL students' language needs and cultural backgrounds.
  • five or more years of adult ESOL teaching experience;
  • five or more years of ESOL teacher training;
  • experience with the integration of technology into ESOL instruction, and delivering and facilitating online professional development.

The above credentials and expertise are also required for the individual(s) who will be responsible for the coordination, leadership, and overall management of this priority area and grant program.

Fund Use Information Specific to Other Priority Areas

Eligible applicants may apply for funding for one or more of the following priority areas; however, only one applicant will be funded for each of these priority areas.

Educational Leadership and Strengthening ABE Programs (up to $380,000)

Under the direction of the Department, the Educational Leadership and Strengthening ABE Programs professional development provider will be responsible for the design and delivery of professional development initiatives and services designed to:

  • build the capacity of ABE administrators and programs to fully implement the rigorous CCR standards for adult education;
  • assist ABE program directors and other program leaders in strengthening their educational and instructional leadership;
  • provide technical assistance to ABE programs in support of continuous program improvement;
  • provide targeted intervention and support for underperforming programs that are referred to the professional development provider by the Department;
  • provide practitioners who are new to ABE with an orientation to the Massachusetts ABE System;
  • provide general support to teachers who are pursuing ABE licensure; and
  • provide the educational leadership, including vision and influence, necessary for ABE programs to effectively help students succeed beyond the milestone of a high school credential.18

The professional development provider for this priority area must develop, promote, and implement a comprehensive program of professional development and technical assistance to support administrators in developing their knowledge and skills to be effective educational leaders. The professional development program should address a range of topics including:

  • engaging stakeholders in the development of a program philosophy, vision, and goals;
  • creating program conditions conducive to effective teaching and learning;
  • supervising, evaluating, and supporting staff, including the evaluation of teachers based, in part, on multiple classroom observations annually;
  • using data to assess program strengths and areas for improvement; and
  • monitoring how well the professional development program is impacting teaching, student learning, and student goal attainment.

This professional development program must provide a cohesive progression of learning grounded in research on effective educational leadership, particularly in High Performing, High Poverty (HPHP) schools19. The program should flexibly incorporate existing resources such as NCSALL's Program Administrators' Sourcebook20.

The professional development provider for this priority area will be responsible for orienting staff (e.g., teachers and advisors) who are new to an ESE-funded ABE program about such topics as the structure of the Massachusetts ABE system, the statewide professional development system, student goal setting, using standardized assessments to measure student learning gains, and curriculum development and instruction. Accordingly, the professional development provider will oversee and facilitate two existing orientation courses for new staff:

  1. The Foundations for New Staff: Overview of ABE, a five hour online course providing an orientation to the ABE field and practice in Massachusetts, and
  2. The Foundations for New Staff: The Art of Teaching, a 10-hour face-to-face course for teachers focusing on a range of teaching-related topics including the adult learner, lesson planning, and effective teaching.

The Educational Leadership and Strengthening ABE Programs professional development provider will also provide general support to ABE teachers who are seeking ABE Licensure21, individually and/or in cohorts, using a variety of professional development formats (e.g., face-to-face, online, blended, site-based; email and phone). Licensure support includes assistance with the application, portfolio development, MTEL test preparation, and classroom observation preparation.

The professional development provider will need to consult with the Department regarding the ESE-sponsored New Directors Orientation offered annually, in order to ensure alignment of messaging to ABE administrators. Additionally, the provider will be expected to contribute to the implementation of the new ESE ABE Educator Evaluation system currently under development.

The professional development provider must provide targeted intervention and support, in coordination with the Department, for the approximately 10-15% of ESE-funded ABE programs that are identified as underperforming annually. Depending on the type of technical assistance that is warranted, the professional development provider for this priority area may also need to collaborate with one or more of the professional development providers for the other priority areas.

The Educational Leadership and Strengthening ABE Programs professional development provider must have a full understanding of ESE's ABE Accountability and Assistance policies, performance data, and SMARTT management information system.22

Education and Career Planning (up to $150,000)

Funding for this priority area will support professional development initiatives and services that:

  • build the capacity of ABE advisors, administrators and programs to fully implement effective education and career advising and career planning in order to support college and career readiness for all students; and
  • provide support to adult education providers in designing, implementing, and improving Adult Career Pathways programs.

Under the direction of the Department, the professional development provider for the Education and Career Planning priority area provider must:

  • provide a cohesive progression of learning to help build the capacity of ESE-funded ABE programs to provide all students with effective education and career planning;
  • support ABE advisors and programs in the development and use of written student education and career plans that are informed by up-to-date knowledge of local and regional labor markets and that identify steps leading to a potential career path;
  • develop and/or deliver multiple professional development offerings related to advising and career planning including the existing Foundations for New Staff: The Art of Advising course23;
  • ensure the annual delivery of the existing Appreciative Advising24 course for 100 ABE advisors, directors, and teachers;
  • provide professional development offerings and support for Adult Career Pathways programs25 and practitioners regarding the principles of contextual teaching and learning and the development of contextualized lesson plans and curriculum aligned with one or more career pathways;
  • promote curriculum, instruction, advising, and educational leadership that support the effective implementation of an Adult Career Pathways model; and
  • include a focus on the effective use of technology to support students' education and career goals.

The successful applicant for this priority area will be required to allocate funds for hiring an ESE-approved national consultant to deliver the Appreciative Advising course (i.e., one full day face-to-face session with a follow-up webinar).

ABE Distance Learning and Technology Support (up to $130,000)

Under the direction of the Department, the professional development provider for the ABE Distance Learning and Technology Support priority area will be responsible for:

  • supporting adult learners enrolled in ESE-funded ABE Distance Learning programs in order to increase learner access to educational services, increase the intensity of instruction for learners, and enhance learners' technology skills;
  • providing support to ESE-funded ABE Distance Learning (DL) programs and practitioners in the use of approved distance learning curricula and instructional modalities to help adult students meet the rigorous CCR standards and prepare for college and careers26; and
  • providing general technology support to all ABE practitioners and programs enabling them to use technology for their own professional purposes and assist all ABE students in acquiring the technology knowledge and skills that are necessary for achieving college and career readiness.

The professional development provider must ensure that grant funds will support a minimum of a .75 full-time equivalent statewide Distance Learning (DL) Coordinator who has considerable experience and expertise related to distance learning, delivery of professional development, provision of technical assistance, evaluating online curriculum products, and working with relevant vendors.

Under the direction of the Department, the DL Coordinator will be responsible for the professional development and support of ABE DL programs and practitioners as follows:

  • coordinate, revise as needed, and deliver a range of existing DL courses for DL instructors and coaches that focus on such topics as the Massachusetts ABE DL model, DL teacher technology skills and attitudes, roles and expectations for learning online, learner screening and orientation, and adult learner persistence;
  • coordinate with a vendor or designee, when available, to provide training on the approved ESE DL Curricula for all instructors;
  • facilitate monthly professional development webinars, discussions, or sharing groups online for DL instructors and coaches;
  • coordinate and facilitate a day-long Distance Learning Kickoff event for newly-funded DL programs at the start of each fiscal year and the annual daylong DL Summit in the spring;
  • attend annual Project Ideal or related distance learning conference;
  • provide DL programs with training and technical assistance related to designing and maintaining successful DL programs and entering and utilizing DL data in SMARTT27;
  • participate on the ACLS DL Planning Team, convene team meetings as requested by the Department, and assist the team with any ABE DL research projects;
  • manage the seats for state licensed DL products; and
  • develop and/or provide professional development offerings for DL program staff based on identified professional development gaps and needs.

The professional development provider for this priority area must ensure that technology support services are specifically designed to assist all ABE practitioners in being able to:

  • function competently in a range of professional development venues and environments such as videoconferencing, on-line platforms, and social media;
  • utilize computer hardware, software, and other technologies in order to contribute to technology integration in their ABE programs and classrooms; and
  • assist students in acquiring and using the technology knowledge and skills they will need to function effectively in their ABE programs and become college and career ready.

At the outset of the grant program and annually thereafter, the professional development provider for this priority area will create and implement a survey, under the direction of ESE, to determine ABE program and staff technology support needs. Survey results will directly inform the professional development program for this priority area.

ESE-funded professional development providers for the other priority areas will be expected to provide technical support for their own distance learning offerings; however, the provider selected for the ABE Distance Learning and Technology Support priority area must be prepared to assist ABE practitioners to access and effectively use a range of distance learning modalities using any platform, offered by any provider including non-ESE-funded providers. This technical support may include helping practitioners to open accounts with online platforms, log into webinars, register for online professional development, upload files and videos, and resolve other related problems.

Massachusetts ABE Assessments (up to $100,000)

Funding for this priority area will support professional development initiatives and services that:

  • offer training and assess competency for the five state-required pre- and post-assessments28;
  • enable ABE practitioners to become certified and recertified in test administration and scoring;
  • support ABE practitioners and programs in the use of assessment data for continuous improvement; and
  • support ABE practitioners and programs in the development and use of formative assessments.

The Massachusetts ABE required assessments are:

  • BEST Plus English oral proficiency test for ESOL,
  • Massachusetts Adult Proficiency Test (MAPT) for ABE reading and math,
  • Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE) 9/10 for ABE writing29
  • TABE CLAS-E Writing Assessment for ESOL, and
  • TABE CLAS-E Reading Assessment for ESOL.

The professional development program for this priority area must be aligned with and support the implementation of current ESE ABE assessment policy, located on the ACLS Assessment webpage.

Under the direction of the Department, the Massachusetts ABE Assessments professional development provider will be responsible for:

  • overseeing and coordinating the hiring of trainers to deliver existing trainings related to the required standardized tests;
  • evaluating and providing guidance to assessment trainers to ensure effective delivery of training and provision of related technical assistance;
  • developing and delivering professional development offerings related to formative assessments (e.g., using assessment results to improve student learning), in collaboration with the professional development providers for the three priority instructional areas;
  • securing adequate space for the assessment trainings with any requisite technology, and providing all trainer and participant materials;
  • ensuring that up-to-date assessment information and materials are posted on the statewide ABE professional development website; and
  • providing training participants with certificates of competence or completion as appropriate.30

The professional development provider for this priority area should be familiar the National Reporting System (NRS) requirements31 and how assessment data is used for continuous program improvement including the impact on teaching and learning.

Staff and/or consultants hired for this priority area must have strong education measurement credentials and expertise in order to effectively develop and deliver assessment-related professional development and provide corresponding technical assistance to ABE program staff. Examples of appropriate expertise are:

  • advanced degree in psychometrics, or related area preferred (e.g., research and evaluation methods, test development, statistics, education measurement);
  • extensive knowledge of research on formative and summative assessment;
  • research interests in some of the areas listed above and/or test accommodations, item response theory, and standardized assessments;
  • experience working on assessment/psychometrics within a School of Education;
  • completion of two or more courses in educational or psychological testing;
  • having published research in the area of assessment;
  • five or more years of recent experience applying assessment research to practice;
  • five or more years of experience developing the skills of teachers in the areas of formative and/or summative assessment, and using test results for improved learning;
  • experience participating in education measurement at the state or national level;
  • experience managing and/or contracting with individual assessment trainers who deliver ABE standardized assessments (e.g., BEST Plus, MAPT, CLAS-E Reading and Writing, TABE 9/10); and
  • knowledge and skills needed to maintain high standards of trainers in their presentation of assessments, delivery of assessment trainings, and provision of relevant technical assistance.

The above credentials and expertise are strongly preferred for the individual(s) who will be responsible for the coordination, leadership, and overall management of this priority area and grant program.

Using SMARTT and Cognos (up to $100,000)

Funding for this priority area will support professional development initiatives and services that support ABE programs in using the online Massachusetts ABE management information system known as the System for Managing Accountability and Results Through Technology for Adult Basic Education (SMARTT)32 and its companion online reporting tool, Cognos, for purposes of continuous program improvement and meeting all ESE reporting requirements.

Under the direction of the Department, the professional development provider for this priority area will support programs in using SMARTT for program planning, data entry, and producing reports, and in using Cognos for viewing, saving, and utilizing reports to make informed programmatic decisions.

The Using SMARTT and Cognos professional development provider must have a full understanding of SMARTT and the National Reporting System requirements33. The provider must also understand how data in Cognos is used for reporting and for continuous program improvement.

The professional development provider will be responsible for remaining current with all state SMARTT and Cognos policies as well as federal National Reporting System policies. When there are policy changes, the provider must update current trainings or develop new trainings as needed, under the direction of the Department, to ensure that all professional development offerings reflect the policy changes. Trainings can be delivered face-to-face and/or at a distance.

The professional development provider must utilize a "Help Desk" model and tool when providing ABE programs and practitioners with SMARTT and Cognos technical support. The provider can purchase a Help Desk tool or develop its own, subject to approval by the Department. The Help Desk tool must include tracking of all technical support issues by specific categories and must allow for accessibility and edit capabilities by the Department as well as the provider.

The professional development provider for this priority area will be responsible for preparing a narrative section of the Data Quality Checklist for the annual NRS federal report and submitting it to the Department by November 15th of each year. This section of the NRS federal report describes NRS-related professional development that has been offered for state and local ABE program staff and that addresses such topics as data collection, measures, assessment, goal setting, and data quality.

Project Duration: 7/1/2014 or upon approval, whichever comes later - 6/30/2015 (State Funds - Fund Code: 667)

9/1/2014 - 8/31/2015 (Federal Funds - Fund Code: 343)

ABE Professional Development System grants are renewable for a maximum of two additional years, through FY 2017, subject to satisfactory performance, the appropriation of state and federal funds, and the continuance of federal authorizing legislation.

Program Unit: Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS)
Contact:All inquiries must be submitted in writing to FY15ABEPDSRFP@doe.mass.edu; all answers will be posted to the ACLS webpage. Requests for assistance may be directed to the ACLS receptionist at (781) 338-3850.
Date Due:Tuesday, June 16, 2014
Proposals must be received at the Department by 3:00 p.m. on the date due.
Bidders' Conference:Prospective applicants are invited to a Bidders' Conference for the ABE Professional Development System grant program to be held on Friday May 16, 2014 from 2:00 - 3:30 p.m. at:

Mount Wachusett Community College
Devens Learning Center, Room 124
One Jackson Place
27 Jackson Road
Devens, MA 01434 (directions will be posted on the ACLS website)

Letter of Intent:The Letter of Intent to Apply, designed by the applicant, must be received at the Department by 3:00 p.m. on Friday, May 16, 2014. It should be sent by Certified, Registered, or Return Receipt Requested mail. Applicants are requested to indicate in the Letter of Intent the priority area(s) for which they are applying for funding.

Mail the Letter of Intent to:

Lorraine Domigan
Adult and Community Learning Services
Massachusetts Department of
Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street
Malden, MA 02148-4906

Required Forms:Applicants must submit the following required forms with the grant application (proposal). All required forms are excluded from the page limits set for each professional development priority area.
Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
Part I - General Standard Contract Form and Application for Program Grants (signature page), with original signature
Download PDF Document  Download MS EXCEL Document
Part II - Project Expenditures - Detail Information (budget detail pages)
Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
Part III - Required Program Information
Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
FY 2015 Statement of Assurances for the Adult Basic Education Professional Development System grant program, with original signatures
FY 2015 - Annual Application for Indirect Cost Rate, for grant applicants who intend to apply for an ESE-approved indirect cost rate.
Required Appendices:The following appendices are required and should be developed by the applicant. All required appendices are excluded from the page limits set for each professional development priority area. Proposal submissions must include:

Appendix A Current resumes for individuals who will provide services and/or coordinate and supervise services provided under this grant program.

Appendix B Proposed job descriptions for each staff person and contractor.

Appendix C Copy of the applying agency's latest completed audit report, issued by an independent certified public accountant.

Appendix D Budget narrative, designed by applicant, for the period July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015 that provides an explanation for each proposed project expenditure listed in the Part II-B Project Expenditures - Detail Pages form (see Required Forms section of the RFP). See instructions in Part III, Section V. Applicants are advised to refer to the ESE Grants Management Procedural Manual and to the Fund Use section of the RFP for guidance in preparing the budget.

Additional Requirements:

All applicants are required to submit a 12-month budget for the period of time from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015. Successful applicants may be required to resubmit budgets that divide the funding award between state and federal grant funds.

If a successful applicant receives a funding award that includes federal grant funds, the applicant will be required to complete and submit to the Department a federal form entitled "Certifications Regarding Lobbying; Debarment, Suspension, and Other Responsibility Matters; and Drug-Free Workplace Requirements."

Institutional Support Requirements: Applicants are required to provide, at no cost to the grant, an auditable level of institutional support as it relates to space, technology, connectivity, and administrative support for the grant program.

Space: Successful applicants will be required to provide, at no cost to the grant, physical space that is of high quality, of sufficient size, and fully accessible in order to ensure that all grant requirements and expectations are fully met. This requirement refers to: space that is used for conducting meetings and delivering trainings for up to forty participants; regular access to a technology lab that is of high quality and sufficient size to accommodate up to twenty participants, at times that meet the needs of ABE practitioners in the geographical region; office space for all grant-funded or in-kind staff or other personnel; and space for housing grant-related technology, educational resources, and program documentation.

Each selected applicant will be responsible for providing adequate and accessible space not only for the delivery of its own professional development offerings, but also for the delivery of other selected applicants' professional development offerings in order to allow for regional and statewide professional development for all priority areas, as needed.

Selected applicants for the priority areas of ABE Distance Learning and Technology Support, Massachusetts ABE Assessments, and Using SMARTT and Cognos will be required to provide, in each region of the state, trainings utilizing technology labs. Each successful applicant must therefore be able to provide access to a technology lab in order for these three providers to bring their professional development offerings and trainings to all regions.

For the DL kick-off and DL summit events, the ABE Distance Learning and Technology Support professional development provider must have access to a technology lab that meets the above space-related criteria and meeting space that can accommodate between 50-150 participants. Similarly, for the Appreciative Advising course, the Education and Career Planning professional development provider must have access to meeting space that can accommodate between 50-150 participants.

Note that "fully accessible space" includes the ease with which adult educators can access the locations where trainings and meetings are held (e.g., centrally located, near public transportation, with ample, nearby parking available).

Technology support: Funded applicants will be expected to provide professional development using multiple delivery formats including online venues, distance learning and webinars. Applicants will need to have an IT infrastructure that is sufficiently robust to support these distance learning requirements. The Department will not provide funded applicants with centralized support for distance learning modalities, either directly or through a contract.

Connectivity: Some videoconferencing equipment may be transferred from current ABE professional development providers to providers newly funded through this RFP. Successful applicants will be required to provide, at no cost to the grant, adequate ISDN or IP connectivity to enable videoconferencing (minimum 384 KB, 768KB is preferable if connection is IP) and a secure location to house the equipment.

Following the funding award announcements, each successful applicant will be required to participate in a grant negotiation session with the Department at which time any funding conditions will be reviewed and required actions identified. The applicant may be required to revise aspects of its proposed plan such as professional development activities, hiring of staff and consultants, identification of satisfactory space and location of professional development services, and allocation of funds. During or soon after the grant negotiations session, annual workplan will be negotiated by the applicant and the Department.

After the start of the grant program, any substantial change in the full-time equivalency of any individual on this grant must be promptly reported by the grantee to the Department.

Successful applicants will be required to develop and implement plans for evaluating the success and impact of the professional development offerings and services. Successful applicants will be required to collect, analyze, and report participation and evaluative data including event evaluations, progress toward meeting negotiated performance measures, and impact on teaching. These evaluation plans will be subject to ESE review and approval.

Successful applicants will be required to collaborate with the Department and its designees in the development and implementation of professional development marketing strategies and materials, and ensure alignment with Department messaging about ESE's ABE priorities and policies.

Professional development providers must ensure that priority is given to practitioners from ESE-funded ABE programs when registering participants for professional development offerings; practitioners from non-ESE-funded ABE programs are allowed to participate in ESE-funded professional development offerings only if there is space available and only if there are no waitlisted practitioners from ESE-funded ABE programs.

Additional Information:

All successful applicants funded through this grant program will be expected to work collaboratively with ESE, its designees, and each other to strengthen teaching, advising, educational leadership, and ABE programs overall. The goal of this collaborative work is to improve adult learner proficiency in English Language Arts, Mathematics and Numeracy, and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), and support the state's overarching goal of preparing all ABE students for success in their next steps, within the context of college and career readiness.

All ABE professional development providers are expected to be knowledgeable about the content standards, professional standards, and professional development standards on which the Massachusetts ABE system is based. Professional development providers are expected to help ABE programs and practitioners use the standards to identify areas of strengths and areas for improvement, and to identify professional development and other strategies to enhance teaching and learning in ABE programs. Professional development providers should understand how the Department will use standards to inform investments in professional development to ensure that all students have teachers who are proficient in or have mastery of the subjects they teach34.

Applicants are advised to thoroughly read the Statement of Assurances for this grant program before providing the requisite signatures for this important document as it articulates key aspects of service provision for which ESE will hold all grantees accountable.

ESE reserves the right to approve or deny a selected applicant's proposal to hire staff or consultants prior to the commencement of the grant. ESE also reserves the right to approve or deny a grant recipient's hiring of staff and consultants throughout the duration of the grant period and prior to the grant recipient making an offer of employment.

ESE reserves the right to require ESE-approval of learning objectives, topics, and materials for professional development offerings or trainings that are developed with grant funds. This approval would be necessary before the professional development offerings or trainings could be delivered.

When designing grant proposals, and depending on the selected priority area(s), applicants should refer to the following resources to support effective design and implementation of proposed grant initiatives and services:

Proposal Submission Due Date June 16, 2014 by 3pm:
  1. Submit one electronic copy, excluding original signature page, to Joan LeMarbre at jlemarbre@doe.mass.edu.
  2. Submit seven (7) sets of the proposal (2 sets with original signatures in blue ink) to:

    Lorraine Domigan
    Adult and Community Learning Services
    Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
    75 Pleasant Street
    Malden, MA 02148-4906

Required Narrative Response:All applicants requesting funding to operate an ABE Professional Development System grant must respond to Sections I through V of Part III - Required Program Information for each priority area for which an applicant is applying.
Pagination Directions:

All applicants requesting funding to operate an ABE Professional Development System grant must adhere to the following pagination instructions:

Narrative responses may not exceed the following page limits for each of the professional development priority areas:

  1. English Language Arts (17 pages)
  2. Mathematics and Adult Numeracy (15 pages)
  3. English for Speakers of Other Languages (15 pages)
  4. Educational Leadership and Strengthening ABE Programs (17 pages)
  5. Education and Career Planning (15 pages)
  6. ABE Distance Learning and Technology Support (15 pages)
  7. Massachusetts ABE Assessments (12 pages)
  8. Using SMARTT and Cognos (12 pages)

Required forms and appendices are excluded from the page limit. Non-required appendices and narrative pages that exceed the page limits will not be read.

Applicants are required to provide page numbers on every page of the proposal, including appendices and other material not subject to the page limits. All narrative responses must be in Arial 10-point font, single-spaced, with 1" margins

Note:

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Last Updated: May 3, 2014
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