The Exploration route of the Empowering Action for School Improvement (EASI) application is focused on identifying needs and exploring options through external reviews, stakeholder engagement, and effective planning. There are several offerings to assist LEAs identifying areas of strength and need (External Review), building a plan centered around those prioritized needs (Improvement Planning) as well as how to engage a variety of stakeholders in improvement conversations (Stakeholder Engagement). New to the 2018-2019 EASI application, the opportunity for LEAs/schools to explore their school systems centered on a particular population of students or areas (i.e., English Learner, Students with IEPs, Literacy).
The Exploration route operates a bit differently than the other routes within the EASI application -- namely, the application process is simplified. Reviewers assess readiness and fit, rather than awarding points through a competitive grants process. If the collective amount of requests exceeds availability of funds, then a prioritization process will be used. The duration of the awards are typically shorter than the other EASI routes and span for the same year as the award year (e.g., January 2019 until July 2019). A short extension is available (i.e., December 30, 2019). Based on the exploration work, LEAs may build in a small amount of funding for initial implementation, with CDE’s approval.
Applicants are encouraged to apply for services in external review (holistic or specialized), community and family engagement and improvement planning (external partner or CDE) to ensure a thorough exploration process. However, EASI is a needs-based process, so LEAs should only opt schools into the services that are needed. Note that applying for subsequent implementation activities through EASI will require evidence of an external review, meaningful community engagement and a well-developed improvement plan. Below is a flowchart that describes the paths within Exploration. There is a detailed sheet for each support that details the process, allowable use of funds, timelines and eligible applicants and prioritization.