In a sign that the final regulations for the $650 million Investing in Innovation competition are just about ready, the Education Department has put out a call for peer reviewers. The deadline for those interested to apply is March 1.
In many ways, the i3 competition is a much bigger logistical problem for the department than Race to the Top, which has higher stakes. For Race to the Top, only states (and D.C.) could apply, limiting the number of applications. But i3 is open to all school districts, of which there are thousands across the country. Plus, within i3, there are three levels of grants, creating mini-competitions within a larger competition.
It will be difficult for the department to find i3 judges who are knowledgeable enough to judge all parts of an application. Since a big chunk of i3 is about providing evidence that a program does or might work, the Education Department will have to find experts in statistics, experimental and quasi-experimental models, and general research principles. Thus, the department is looking for people who are experts in at least one of these areas: education reform and policy, evidence, innovation, strategy, and application review as defined below. Likely candidates will be preK-12 teachers and principals, college and university educators, researchers and evaluators, social entrepreneurs, strategy consultants, grantmakers and managers.
I’m not sure how many peer reviewers they’re looking for, but given that they needed about 60 for the first round of Race to the Top, my guess is they’ll need at least double that.
Peer reviewers will be screened for conflicts of interest, and must be available for training sessions and to read applications for four weeks from May to July. There’s an honorarium attached, although I’m not sure how much. Race to the Top judges get $5,000.