Frequently Asked Questions

Updated March 2019

Competition in 2019 for FY 2019 Funds

These frequently asked questions (FAQs) are designed to provide applicants for funding from the Competitive Grants for State Assessments (CGSA) program with information about the competition for funding. The FAQs are organized into the following six sections:

  1. Overview of the CGSA Program and the 2019 Competition
  2. Absolute Priorities, Invitational Priorities, and Selection Criteria
  3. Requirements, Definitions, Procurement, and Other Topics
  4. The Application Process
  5.  Managing a Grant and Establishing a Consortium
  6. Resources

Section A – Overview of the CGSA Program and the 2019 Competition

The purpose of the CGSA program is to enhance the quality of assessment instruments and assessment systems used by States to measure the academic achievement of elementary and secondary school students. This program is similar to the Enhanced Assessment Grant (EAG) program authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act, but there are some important differences between the CGSA and EAG programs. Most importantly, the CGSA has a different set of absolute priorities. We encourage applicants to carefully read the CGSA absolute priorities to ensure that their applications are responsive to the CGSA absolute priorities.
  • FAQ for Competition in FY 2019 PDF (138K)
  • The U.S. Department of Education (ED) will make CGSA grant awards to States to support the development or enhancement of assessment instruments, assessment research, or tools that support the administration of assessment instruments. Section 1203(b)(1) of the ESEA, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA), authorizes the CGSA program.
  • On January 28, 2019, ED published in the Federal Register a notice inviting applications (NIA) for the FY 2019 CGSA competition ( The NIA includes the program authority, the specific priorities, and the selection criteria that apply to this competition. The NIA also includes due date and instructions on how to obtain an application package.
  • ED will consider only applications that meet one or more of the six announced absolute 2 priorities. These absolute priorities are from section 1203(b)(1) of the ESEA. The 2019 CGSA competition also includes two invitational priorities that are from the Secretary’s Final Supplemental Priorities and Definitions for Discretionary Grant Programs (Supplemental Priorities) published in the Federal Register on March 2, 2018 (83 FR 9096).
  • The absolute and invitational priorities are:
    • Absolute Priority 1: Developing or improving State academic assessments for English learners, including assessments of English language proficiency as required under section 1111(b)(2)(G) of the ESEA and academic assessments in languages other than English to meet the State’s obligations under section 1111(b)(2)(F) of the ESEA.
    • Absolute Priority 2: Developing or improving models to measure and assess student progress or student growth on State academic assessments under section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA and other assessments not required under section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA.
    • Absolute Priority 3: Developing or improving State academic assessments for children with disabilities, including alternate assessments aligned to alternate academic achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities described in section 1111(b)(2)(D) of the ESEA, and using the principles of universal design for learning.
    • Absolute Priority 4: Allowing for collaboration with institutions of higher education, other research institutions, or other organizations to improve the quality, validity, and reliability of State academic assessments beyond the requirements for such assessments described in section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA.
    • Absolute Priority 5: Measuring student academic achievement using multiple measures of student academic achievement from multiple sources.
    • Absolute Priority 6: Evaluating student academic achievement through the development of comprehensive academic assessment instruments (such as performance and technology-based academic assessments, computer adaptive assessments, projects, or extended performance task assessments) that emphasize the mastery of standards and aligned competencies in a competency-based education model.
  • Invitational priorities signal areas of particular interest to ED; applicants may choose to address one or both invitational priorities; however, applicants who meet an invitational priority do not earn extra points and are not given a competitive or absolute preference over other applicants.
    • Invitational Priority 1: Promoting Literacy. Projects that are designed to address facilitating the accurate and timely use of data by educators to improve reading instruction and make informed decisions about how to help children or students build literacy skills while protecting student and family privacy.
    • Invitational Priority 2: Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math (STEM) Education, With a Particular Focus on Computer Science. Projects designed to improve student achievement or other educational outcomes in one or more of the following areas: science, technology, engineering, math, or computer science (as defined in the NIA).
  • The CGSA is a competitive grant program for States and consortia of States designed to enhance State academic assessments and assessment systems. An essential part of educating students involves assessing students’ progress toward meeting the high academic standards students need to be ready for college and the workplace. Assessments provide necessary information for States, districts, educators, families, the public, and students themselves to measure progress and improve outcomes for all learners. It is important to continuously improve and innovate to ensure that these assessments are fair, of high quality and not duplicative, and reflect the expectation that students will be prepared for success in college and careers.
  • Proficiency on State assessments required under Title I, Part A, of the ESEA is the primary indicator in the ESEA of student academic achievement and, hence, the primary measure of State success in meeting the goals of ESEA. In view of the critical importance of these State assessments, section 1201 of the ESEA provides formula grants to all State educational agencies (SEAs), and section 1203 authorizes the Secretary to make competitive grant awards to SEAs to help them enhance the quality of assessment and accountability systems.
  • An eligible applicant under this program must propose activities that meet one or more of the absolute priorities listed above in FAQ A2
An SEA, as defined in section 8101(49) of the ESEA, or a consortium of SEAs, of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico may apply for a CGSA grant. Section 8101(49) of the ESEA defines an SEA as the agency primarily responsible for the State supervision of public elementary schools and secondary schools. Please see FAQ C5 for information about contracted vendor guidelines.
If a consortium of SEAs applies for a grant, the members of the consortium must either designate one member to apply for the grant on behalf of the consortium or establish a separate, eligible legal entity to apply for the grant. See 34 CFR 75.128(a). The consortium must consist of only SEAs. While an applicant may work in collaboration with institutions of higher education (IHEs), research institutions, or other organizations in carrying out grant activities (see section 1203(b)(1)(A) of the ESEA), only SEAs or consortia of SEAs are eligible to apply for a CGSA grant. IHEs, research institutions, or other organizations may partner with the consortium, so long as they comply with any applicable State procurement laws and consortium governance rules; however, these institutions and organizations may not be members of the applicant consortium. See FAQ E5 through FAQ E11 for more information on a consortium applying for a CGSA grant
Yes. An SEA developing an assessment instrument or an assessment system with funds from another ED grant, including an EAG award, is eligible to apply for a 2019 CGSA grant. However, applicants must propose activities that would not duplicate activities funded by another Federal grant. Applicants must submit a clear management plan to show how work to be accomplished through the CGSA 2019 competition enhances, but does not duplicate, work already paid for with other Federal funds.
As outlined in the NIA, approximately $17,622,000 is available for awards in the 2019 CGSA competition. ED estimates that it will make four to eight awards, with each award falling within an estimated range of $1,000,000 to $4,000,000 total over a 48-month project period. ED further estimates that the average size of awards will be $2,500,000. Please note that ED will not make an award for less than the amount specified in section 1203(b)(1)(C) of the ESEA. Please see the chart below and the application package for more information about minimum award sizes by State. The minimum amounts for each State are based on each State’s proportionate share of school aged children in the United States divided by the total amount of the funds available for this program.
State Minimum Award Amount State Minimum Award Amount State Minimum Award Amount
ALABAMA $263,238 LOUISIANA  $262,414 OKLAHOMA $228,320
ALASKA $42,952 MAINE $61,756 OREGON $209,316
ARIZONA $392,674 MARYLAND $322,062 PENNSYLVANIA $641,972
CALIFORNIA $2,162,780 MICHIGAN $526,320 SOUTH CAROLINA $266,226
COLORADO $303,846 MINNESOTA $309,688 TENNESSEE $360,710
CONNECTICUT $183,992 MISSISSIPPI $172,792 TEXAS $1,751,074
DELAWARE $49,072 MISSOURI $331,048 UTAH $220,426
FLORIDA $1,005,752 NEBRASKA $56,243 VIRGINIA $445,614
GEORGIA $608,720 NEVADA $82,2004 WASHINGTON $389,842
IDAHO $107,260 NEW JERSEY $478,372 WISCONSIN $310,782
ILLINOIS $697,268 NEW MEXICO $118,156 WYOMING $32,646
INDIANA $378,232 NEW YORK $981,526 PUERTO RICO $167,028
IOWA $174,946 NORTH CAROLINA $555,624
You may find information in the NIA published in the Federal Register on January 28, 2019, ( The application package describes the application requirements and selection criteria and includes the instructions for the forms an applicant must submit as part of the application. The electronic grant application is available through, as explained further in FAQs D1 and D2. In addition, the NIA and instructions for how to access the application at are posted on the Applicant Info page of the CGSA program Web site at:  
Further information about the CGSA program is available on the program’s Website at:  



FAQ’s Prior to 2019

  • FAQ for Competition in FY 2016 MS WORD (77.8K)
  • FAQ for the Competition in 2015 MS WORD (164K)
  • Competition in 2013 for FY 2012 Funds MS WORD (136K)
  • Note: Update to FAQ #A6 made on June 14, 2013

Last Modified: 01/30/2020