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Deadline: October 3, 2019

NewSchools Venture Fund: EF+Math Program – Applied Research Track

The EF+Math Program funds and supports teams to develop innovative, effective approaches to significantly improve math outcomes for students in grades 3-8 in historically under-resourced schools by embedding executive function (EF) training into high-quality math learning. The EF+Math Program is different from typical education funding programs; awards will be contracts, not grants, made to multi-disciplinary teams of experts in executive function, math, and educational equity research, who are coming together to pursue the goal of developing, testing, and refining approaches that blend high-quality math content and instruction with activities that build EF capacity during math learning. These teams will work in partnership with educators to ensure solutions are designed to be useful, usable, equitable, and effective. The EF+Math Program Director and Deputy Director will be substantially involved in the scientific and programmatic decision-making aspects of each funded project. Representatives of the EF+Math Program team will also provide technical assistance to program teams to enhance work products. The program will require a high degree of collaboration between awardees and program staff, among awardees, and between awardees and school district partners to rapidly iterate on solutions through an inclusive research and development approach. The EF+Math Program values diversity, equity, and inclusion in every component of its work. Strong teams will represent the racial, ethnic, and gender balance of the students the program serves.

The Applied Research Track is specifically focused on technical developments that enhance the capabilities of the prototype learning systems. Technical innovations developed in the Applied Research Track are meant to be modular solutions that can work across multiple learning systems to be developed in the Prototyping Track.

The EF+Math Program Applied Research Track has two technical areas:

  • Making Learning Visible – NewSchools seeks breakthrough methods to make visible the dynamic EF states of the learner, including: when student attention is focused on the task at hand, whether or not they are cognitively overloaded, whether distractions are keeping them from learning, and more. Strong proposals will describe the technologies that can achieve this visibility, along with strategies to present this information to the student and teacher in ways that are informative and contribute to learning. All proposals will use rigorous privacy and security methods and practices to protect all data and will strictly adhere to relevant federal privacy laws and regulations. Proposals may draw from the fields of cognitive and affective computing, biometrics, bio-behavior modeling, and more, with the strongest proposals including a plan for scale (i.e., ultimately using only the digital footprint from learning systems).
  • Making Learning Actionable – The rationale for making learning visible is to guide actionable next steps to advance the learner through math learning progressions. Information about the dynamic EF states of the learner should be used to adapt the prototype learning systems in ways that allow for differentiated instruction for each learner. NewSchools seeks approaches that adapt the learning progressions in the systems being built in the Prototyping Track based on the dynamic EF state of the learner. Proposals may draw from the fields of reinforcement learning, deep learning networks, and more.

Amount: Dependent upon funding path, as follows:

  • Making Learning Visible – Approximately $3,000,000 is available to make 2-4 awards.
  • Making Learning Actionable – Approximately $2,500,000 is available to make 2-4 awards.

At the end of each phase, the Director and Deputy Director will assess the entire program and determine whether continued funding will advance the larger program objectives. Thus performance, in the context of advancing overall program objectives, will unlock subsequent funding at the end of each phase.

Eligibility: Multi-disciplinary teams of experts in executive function, math, and educational equity research.

Link: https://www.efmathprogram.org/

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