Developing a Competitive ITEST Proposal: Tips from the STELAR Center 2021

As the resource center for the NSF ITEST Program, STELAR assists both ITEST grantees and those interested in submitting a proposal.  Each year we host solicitation webinars on behalf of NSF, which allow program officers to provide direct information and answer questions from participants. While the archived webinar materials are crucial to understanding the requirements of the program, we would like to highlight additional tools, resources, and information that are freely available to assist proposal writers.  

As a reminder, the ITEST program now requires the use of for the preparation and submission of proposals.  For more information see, Important Information Regarding

ITEST Proposal Development Resources

STELAR's page on proposal development resources is designed to help those interested in developing a submission. The resources under each heading provide valuable information to help you develop a competitive proposal in response to the 2021 ITEST Solicitation.  These include: 

  • Get to know ITEST - View presentations provided by NSF Program Officers highlighting aspects of the current solicitation (19-583), requirements, and additional guidance for those submitting a proposal.   See list of recordings below.
  • Prepare your proposal for submission - A read of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), specifically Chapter II, is a crucial step in ensuring your proposal meets all NSF requirements.   Also be sure to review the steps required to submit your proposal via by reviewing NSF's resource library on the “Proposal Preparation and Submission” page. 
  • Develop a robust research design - All ITEST projects are required to include a significant research component, as outlined in the solicitation (Section B1. High-Quality Research Design). Resources in this section support the development of a strong research design.
  • Create an effective evaluation strategy - ITEST projects should also include an external evaluation of the work, which is outlined in outlined in the solicitation (Section B2. Project Evaluation) Resources in this section support planning for project evaluation.
  • Leverage Student Strengths - ITEST projects must include specific research-informed instructional approaches that build on the challenges and strengths that students and their teachers bring to classrooms.  Check out our blog, Leveraging Student Strengths in STEM: Tips for ITEST Proposal Writers to learn more about moving away from a deficits-based approach.
  • Connect with partners – Looking for an evaluator? Interested in connecting with a learning site? Enter your information into our People Connector, or browse entries from others interested in building a partnership.  
  • Reach underserved populations – View  publications and resources on ITEST project's engagement with and support of youth traditionally underrepresented in STEM subjects. 
  • Develop the workforce of the future – ITEST projects are workforce development projects, focused on increasing students’ knowledge and interest in STEM careers. Read publications on preparing youth for the workforce of the future. 

ITEST Project Resources

STELAR maintains a rich library of more than 650 resources; publications, research and evaluation instruments, and curricular materials that have been either utilized in ITEST project work or were written and developed by ITEST projects. Each section is organized into a searchable database, and all entries are highly relevant to the work of the NSF ITEST Program. Each resource includes a list of the ITEST projects that have developed or used these resources in their project work, with links to more information about each project.  

Examples of funded ITEST Projects

Our website houses an archive of current and past ITEST project descriptions, which can be filtered by discipline, project participants, project grade spans, project settings, states where work occurs, and project status. Within each page, you can read the project’s description, leadership and project staff, and view related resources uploaded by the project.   

We encourage you to browse the project profiles to see what projects have already been funded; read ITEST Program Findings to discover what the previously funded ITEST projects have learned from their research and implementation efforts; and search within resources to find instruments and curricular materials used and developed by ITEST projects. 

STELAR is a Resource 

We hope that the resources highlighted above are useful in your proposal development efforts. If you need assistance locating something not covered above, or have other questions about the proposal development process, please reach out to us by email. Additionally, STELAR is available to help with the following:

Draft Proposal Feedback - Once you have a draft of your proposal, the STELAR team is available to review and provide suggestions on your strengthening your submission. We ask that you contact STELAR with your questions as soon as possible to ensure adequate time for response. 

We look forward to supporting your development efforts!