Learn about our Equitable Foundational Literacy Research

Why the structure of our board of directors matters – and how it will help us grow

After several months of board development, AERDF is excited to announce five new members who bring rich and diverse professional and personal experiences to our Board of Directors: 

Since last fall, we have been working to broaden the expertise and perspectives on our board. As an organization focused on Inclusive Research and Development (R&D) in education, it is important that both our board structure and the process of identifying new members reflect our values. Last fall, we asked the field to recommend outstanding leaders  we should consider as board candidates. And the response was overwhelming – overall, we vetted nearly 50 amazing leaders and elected five new members to the board between January and June 2022, three of whom were sourced through the open recommendation process.

These new board members join original directors Jim Shelton, Dr. Lisette Nieves, Dr. Bror Saxberg and Stacey Childress in ensuring the strategic direction of AERDF stays true to its promise: nurturing breakthroughs in learning and well-being for Black and Latino students and students of all races experiencing poverty. We do this through Inclusive R&D programs that bring together diverse teams of educators, researchers, and developers to co-create practical solutions to real-world problems.

Together, our board brings decades of experience in teaching and teacher preparation, school and system leadership, education research and learning science, federal and state policy, and innovation in curriculum and instructional tools. They bring curiosity, expertise and their lived experience to bear on solving long standing systemic inequities that impact our priority students. We are confident our board will help supercharge our impact as we move into the future. 

In addition to adding new members, the board underwent another important change this summer. From our founding until June of this year, representatives from our three anchor donors served as directors. As part of our board development, they followed through on an earlier commitment to shift out of their seats as voting members and into observer roles. This shift achieves two related aims: decentering donor voice in AERDF’s governance and direction, and at the same time elevating the wisdom and expertise of a group of leaders from the field who reflect the identities and experiences of our priority students.

“With this new group of members in place, our board of directors is well positioned to provide us with critical advice and support in our next phase of development. Our first three R&D programs are off to a terrific start in their focus areas — math, reading, and assessment — and we are working hard to build a durable organization that can support them as well as future programs. We are grateful for each board member’s commitment to AERDF’s mission and for the trust our anchor donors are demonstrating by reducing their role in our governance,” said Stacey Childress, CEO of AERDF. 

AERDF’s board has a number of key priorities this year, which include recruiting a new CEO, greenlighting the organization’s next Inclusive R&D program, and strengthening AERDF’s public profile. As always, they will also continue to advise senior leadership on long-term strategy and ensure that we have the talent, resources, and relationships to execute on our mission. 

Thank you to everyone who submitted a recommendation for our new board members! We look forward to continuing to share our progress with you. 

Each month we’ll share the latest stories, news, and highlights from AERDF. In this special Women’s History Month edition, we highlight the bold and powerful AERDF women leading the charge in the predominantly male-dominated field of R&D. Enjoy!
Read the newsletter here.

Five education teams have been selected to conduct research and development (R&D) on how assessment can be done differently to create affirming learning environments and improve learning opportunities for Black and Latinx learners.

These R&D projects are the first set of investments by Assessment for Good (AFG), which launched in 2021 under the Advanced Education Research and Development Fund with the goal of shifting the ways that Black and Latinx students ages 8-13 are assessed and served at a critical stage in their education. The funding awards range between $100,000 and $300,000 per project.

“We’re excited to take the next step in our journey to transform assessment,” said Dr. Temple Lovelace, AFG program director. “These projects will illuminate the promise of culturally affirming assessment tools that help identify students’ strengths, rather than their deficits, and enable educators and caregivers to make better decisions that lead to positive learning outcomes. We are proud to fund diverse teams with deep expertise in research and development and a strong commitment to co-create solutions with school communities.”

The teams announced today will create and pilot new assessment tools and frameworks that give educators and caregivers a better understanding of students’ strengths and how learning environments support specific aspects of their emotional and identity development. These insights can be leveraged to improve instructional practices and cultivate more affirming spaces that foster student wellbeing and learning.

The teams were selected through two initiatives, a request for proposals and the launch of AFG’s in-house research initiative. The cohort includes teams led by researchers of color who are dedicated to improving outcomes for Black and Latinx learners. Each team will work closely with school leaders, educators, caregivers, and learners to derive insights about the design, implementation, and effectiveness of each tool.

The teams will come together regularly to share updates on their progress and participate in collective learning activities with AFG program staff and each other. As their work moves forward, AFG will share what teams are learning about inclusive R&D.

[Applications Closed]

Equitable Foundational Literacy Research with Older Learners

Learning to read is a complex process. Decades of research provide some insight into the skills, knowledge, and beliefs that students must possess to become proficient readers – but there is much more to learn about how to put all of our students, especially Black, Latino, and Native American students and those experiencing poverty, on accelerated trajectories of reading success that match their potential.

To learn more, see details below and access the complete Equitable Foundational Literacy Research for Older Learners RFP.

Read more about our approach to literacy learning and the foundational research behind it in our concept paper: Reading Reimagined: A New Inclusive Research & Development Initiative.


RFP Details

Our first request for proposals focused on an area of literacy learning where we still have unanswered questions as a field: foundational literacy with learners in grades three through eight. We are no longer accepting proposals, but stay tuned for award announcements in June 2022!

Reading Reimagined funded projects no more than sixteen months in duration and funding ranges were $50,000-$400,000.

Note: For organizations with less RFP experience, there is an opportunity to request potential support around proposal development within the Concept Note submission, due March 23, 2022, should your organization be invited to submit a full proposal. Support requests will be reviewed for feasibility, but are not guaranteed, as part of our commitment to supporting a diversity of proposals and proposing teams.


Webinar and Office Hours

View our pre-recorded webinar series to learn more about our program goals and RFP details.

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Need to meet with us to discuss your RFP? Sign up via Calendly (limited # of time slots).

Read the full RFP here.

Assessment for Good (AFG), an inclusive R&D program part of the Advanced Education Research and Development Fund (AERDF), is calling all changemakers interested co-designing and co-developing formative assessment solutions that actively engage with learners, educators, and their caregivers to redefine practices that center the strengths of Black and Latinx learners.

View the RFP

LEARN Fall 2022 Topics 

For this request, our topics (areas under which you can be awarded funding) are divided into three categories: Assessment Instruments, Assessment Platforms, and Place-based Assessment R&D. Each category has a specific funding level and set of submission dates. Proposers can suggest projects that cover any stage of research (i.e., exploratory, mid-stage, or products approaching wide-scale adoption) for any of these topics. 

Assessment Instruments

Under this category, we are looking for research projects that will result in a reliable and valid assessment instrument that aligns with one of the following: 

  • Academic Identity: Assessment instrument prototypes that assist educators, caregivers, or learners in understanding how learners from diverse backgrounds, aged 8 – 13, engage in and form identities as learners. This can include a general identity as a learner, or a more specific disciplinary identity, such as a “reader” or “math learner.”  Successful prototypes would allow a learner or educator to maximize the opportunity for discovery and learning in a developmentally meaningful way. Tools that focus on the interplay between social development, emotional development, disability identity development, and/or development of a disciplinary identity from an asset-based perspective are especially desired. 
  • Culturally Valid Core Levers: Assessment instrument prototypes reflecting a culturally valid approach of measuring our priority population’s development in one or more of AFG’s core levers: emotional development, engagement and belonging, executive function, or social development. For smaller projects, this may include building item pools through a systematic research process. For larger projects, this may include conducting a comprehensive validity study. Teams that apply under this topic will work closely with AFG as these components will be built across multiple R&D teams to be used in concert with each other. 
  • Ecological Assessment: Assessment instrument prototypes that measure how to optimize the environment for high-quality, effective learning for our priority populations. This includes a variety of ecological factors, such as instruments that are sensitive to the measurement of a single learner’s experiences across multiple learning environments; instruments that measure the ecosystemic variables within a classroom, such as crucial environmental variables within a learning space that are important for high-quality learning; or, instruments that are constructed to reliably and validly determine a group of learner’s experiences in a single learning context that produces timely and usable information for an educator. This also includes dynamic assessment prototypes, which can provide usable information in a momentary fashion to support evidence-informed changes in instruction, intervention, or features within a learning environment. 
  • Whole Child: Assessment instrument prototypes that reflect a new approach to what “whole child” development may mean for this generation of Black and Latinx learners. Focusing on the youngest learners in our program’s target age (ages 8 – 10), instrument prototypes that reflect responsive approaches to child development for Black and Latinx populations, that utilize unique measurement approaches for variables across multiple domains (i.e., play, interpersonal connections, learning, etc.) or multiple identities (e.g., gender and ability, or race and gender), are especially desired.  

Project budgets for the Assessment Instruments category should not exceed $100,000 – $300,000 for a 12-month project. The submission portal, Submittable, will open on August 15, 2022. The concept notes for Assessment Instruments are due September 1, 2022. 

Assessment Platforms

This category of funding is for teams with technological solutions that allow for easier administration of assessment instruments, easier connection across assessment instrument types, and/or easier decision-making after assessment information has been collected (i.e., visualization) by a learner, caregiver, or educator. This category is not limited to a specific platform (i.e., web-enabled, device-based, or LMS-embedded applications). In addition, platforms from other industries that may have promise in education are also welcome. This includes innovative assessment platforms or psychometric software that would be built alongside the development of an assessment instrument. NOTE: Teams that apply under this topic and do not have an assessment instrument that would qualify under LEARN may be paired with a current team to match an assessment instrument with a platform or system. Additional support for IP and licensing provisions will be made prior to the awarding of a contract to ensure protections are in place for all entities. 

  • Standalone Assessment Platforms: A software program or assessment platform that does not require any additional software to run other than a device’s operating system. 
  • Embedded Assessment Platforms: A software program or assessment platform that requires access to other software or devices to run, including plug-ins/APIs, or similar elements. 

Project budgets for the Assessment Platforms category should not exceed $100,000 – $400,000 for a 12-month project. The submission portal, Submittable, will open on August 15, 2022. The concept notes for Assessment Platforms are due September 1, 2022. 

Place-Based Assessment R&D

This category is for research projects that will explore the needs of district partners and the enabling conditions necessary for effective, community engaged, and mutually beneficial research and development partnerships with inclusive R&D teams. This includes exploratory studies for districts new to inclusive R&D partnerships and districts who wish to explore deep, long-term district-wide partnerships focused on trialing formative assessment prototypes. NOTE: For this category of research, teams will have additional time to submit their concept notes to allow for sufficient planning. 

  • Discovery: Research projects that will explore the current formative assessment methods utilized across a district and how it informs decision-making at multiple levels (i.e., classroom, team, building, district-wide). The goals of projects under this category are to understand the ways in which districts currently use formative assessment related to AFG’s core levers and how they would like to implement formative assessment differently in the future. Projects under this topic will involve deep collaboration between the school district and R&D team, allowing for a series of observations, focus groups, and data reviews to occur to determine the use cases within a district. 
  • Implementation:  Research projects that will evaluate the effectiveness and impact of formative assessment prototypes in comparison to the current tools a school district may use. These research projects may begin with an initial phase similar to discovery projects, but will quickly shift to running a pilot study investigating the effects of new prototypes. Potential teams applying under this topic can include current AFG awardees and new R&D teams with formative assessment prototypes that would qualify under our LEARN program. 

Project budgets should not exceed $100,000 – $300,000 per year for discovery projects and $200,000 – $500,000 per year for implementation projects. Each project will be scoped for two years, but will be funded a year at a time. Decisions to fund for the additional year will be based upon project success at each review period. The submission portal, Submittable, will open on November 1, 2022 for Place-Based Assessment R&D.  The concept notes for this category are due December 1, 2022. Potential teams are strongly encouraged to attend Office Hours or contact the program for guidance to determine fit under this category. 

Funding amount: Between $100,000-500,000