Common Reviewer Questions
Frequently Asked Questions - By Topic
Budget and Expenses
Are contractors considered staff?
Contractor time and residencies are permitted expenses.
Are paraprofessionals considered staff?
The Ecolab Teacher Grants do not support staff or substitute time, and paraprofessionals are considered staff.
Are stipends for tutors allowed?
Tutors have historically been permitted to be covered by the Ecolab grant program, as most tutors are not SPPS teachers or staff.
Can Ecolab grant funding be used to cover chaperones or chaperone admission on field trips?
On field trips, teachers need one or more additional chaperones to help keep the class together and to encourage the students to engage in activities. These are often parents or other community members. As this isn't staff time that is being covered, it is permitted for Ecolab grant budgets.
Can the Ecolab grant be used to cover employee training?
This is a complicated "that depends" question.
The grant may be used to cover registration for a workshop or training course. However, it may not be used to cover staff time to attend that conference or substitute time to cover for staff at training. If the narrative and budget indicate that staff time will be covered by the school's budget or other funding source, and the grant is just being used for the registration and materials, it would be permitted.
What should I do if a budget includes unallowable expenses (furniture, staff time, etc)?
If you are concerned that a budget includes expenses that are not (or may not be) allowed, mention this in the budget comments section of the review form but do not let this impact the score. If the application receives a high enough score to earn an award, a new budget will be requested that will address how these expenses will be covered without Ecolab grant funds.
How should I approach reviewing an application's content?
Some people read through the whole narrative once to get a feel for the project before reading for score. Other people score as they go during a single read. Use whatever method works for you.
The rubric and review form will tell you which section and which questions should provide you with the information for each scoreable element. If the questions aren't adequately answered, or if the content is not included where it should be, you do not need to search elsewhere in the application for it.
What is a good logistical approach to reading and taking notes?
Keep a copy of the rubric handy.
If you prefer to take notes, open or print out the reviewer notesheets for your group (individual or team). This is a Word document, and you can toggle (alt+Tab) between the notesheets and your applications to take notes digitally (saving as you go). Or you can print it and write on it, if that's your preference.
The narrative application has typos and poor grammar. How should this affect the score?
While not desirable, typos, grammar, and layout should not impact the score, as none of the rubric criteria focus on these. If you feel this is significant enough to call attention to, you may add it to the overall comments section of your scoring form.
We have teaching staff at SPPS who are not native English speakers, and for an internal grant such as this, they may be unable to access the outside support necessary to write their project in perfect fluent English.
Can I contact the applicants for clarification on their project?
No. The application needs to stand on its own merits.
Reviewers are not expected to to be experts on all types of projects and do not need to judge the validity of a proposed project based on independent research.
Can I discuss the ranking process with other reviewers to ensure we’re ranking the same way?
No. Please keep your thoughts and comments on the application content and your responses to yourself to prevent inadvertently influencing or biasing other reviewers.
How are packets developed and assigned to reviewers?
The packets were arranged so that reviewers would have a group of projects of the same type (team or individual) targeting the same age group. So if you are reviewing the team primary school packet, all the applications will have been submitted by teams, and all the projects will be targeting primary school students. The goal with this is to ensure consistency across each reviewer's scores.
As some of our reviewers are also applicants, care was taken to ensure reviewers wouldn't be assigned a packet that includes their own project. Also, as there were so few district-wide applications, they were placed to avoid conflict of interest.
How do I submit application scores?
Feel free to use the scoring section on the last page of the narrative portion of the application to keep track of scores and jot down comments as you review. Or keep track of the data in any other way that works for you until you’re able to report it.
All scores need to be reported electronically via this Google form.
I think I have duplicate applications. What should I do?
If the projects have different titles and narrative content, please review and rank each of them as you would any application. Teachers are not required to team up for their projects, even if other teachers in the same school are planning something similar or identical.
If the applications are entirely identical, same project title and identical narrative content but different ID, please contact Madeline Ramirez.
I'm a reviewer and an applicant, and I don't see my application in the packets. Should I be worried?
The packets were arranged so that reviewers would have a group of projects targeting the same age group. This will ensure consistency across each reviewer's scores. You have been assigned a packet that should not include your project.
If you're really concerned that your project isn't included in the review, contact Madeline Ramirez for confirmation that it is included.
I’ve figured out whose grant project this is; what should I do?
If you can be truly objective, you may go ahead and review it. If you aren’t sure if you can be objective, contact Madeline Ramirez for a replacement reviewer on that application.
What happens if my scores are vastly different from other reviewers?
If there is a significant difference between your reviews and all other reviews for the application, we may check in with you to be sure your scores didn't get recorded incorrectly (wrong application, or inverted scoring). However, if we check in with you and your scores were recorded correctly, your scores will remain as is; we will not expect you to change them just because other reviewers ranked things differently.
Each reviewer brings their own expertise to the process, so variations are expected. Scores that appear to be impacted with bias will be thrown out and a replacement reviewer will be assigned to fill in.