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Applying to Become a PLAN Mentor School

The University of the State of New York – Regents Research Fund (USNY-RRF)


REQUEST FOR BID (RFB): Performance-Based Learning and Assessment Networks (PLAN) Mentor Schools

The University of the State of New York (“USNY”) is a corporation organized under the laws and Constitution of the State of New York and is registered as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation. The goals and projects of USNY are accomplished through the State Education Department. USNY’s fiscal responsibilities are administered by an office of USNY called the Regents Research Fund (“RRF” or “the Fund”). 


To be eligible to serve as a Mentor School in the PLAN Pilot, an entity must be a public or non-public New York State educational institution that is a middle school; high school; Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES); or approved private special education program or Special Act, State-operated, or State-supported school with a middle- and/or high-school component.  

The “eligible bidder” is the entity with legal authority to contract on behalf of the Mentor School.  

The New York State Education Department (NYSED), through USNY-RRF, seeks to engage exemplary Mentor Schools that are systematically implementing an evidence-based approach or model of performance-based learning and assessment (PBLA) that is available to all students enrolled in the school (or, in the case of a BOCES, all students enrolled in the program). The PLAN Mentor School opportunity is appropriate for schools and BOCES programs interested in supporting PLAN Pilot Schools in making the transition to implementing a system of PBLA at the middle school and/or high school level. 

Project Description and Scope of Services to be Performed

Mentor Schools will fulfill a key role in supporting PLAN Pilot Schools to implement PBLA. As a group and individually, the Mentor Schools will work in partnership with NYSED staff and PLAN Professional Learning Providers / Technical Assistance Centers (PLAN TACs) to serve as models for replication and adaptation, help to transfer knowledge, and provide on-the-ground support to PLAN Pilot Schools and Networks, to support their transition to implementing PBLA approaches. NYSED’s vision is that teachers and leaders from Pilot Schools will be able to engage in professional learning experiences with Mentor Schools and see first-hand the instructional shifts that they will need to make in their own schools and classrooms.  

Each Mentor School will specialize in one of three Focus Areas that correspond to the three types of promising PBLA approaches operating in New York State (see Focus Areas accordion, below). Each Mentor School will be expected to participate in and provide services to one Pilot Network with approximately three Pilot Schools, based on a process of matching schools that PLAN project staff will manage after contracts are awarded. Mentor Schools must commit to supporting all PLAN Pilot Schools in their Pilot Network through the full implementation process, including providing ongoing mentoring and coaching supports, engaging in Communities of Practice (CoPs) at the Pilot Network level, helping to transfer knowledge, and providing on-the-ground support to the extent possible.  

In addition to participating in and providing services to their assigned Pilot Network, each Mentor School will be encouraged to engage in Focus-Area-wide and Pilot-wide collaboration—including but not limited to participating in CoPs and hosting school intervisitations—in furtherance of the PLAN project’s goals and objectives. This entails building a collaborative relationship with the PLAN TACs, other Mentor Schools and Pilot Schools across Pilot Networks and Focus Areas, and, as appropriate, with New York’s existing school capacity-building networks and organizations. 

Importantly, the contracted PLAN TACs have primary responsibility for providing professional learning and technical assistance to PLAN Pilot Schools and Networks. These PLAN TACs are further charged with collaborating with Mentor Schools to coordinate and facilitate the provision of learning opportunities to educators in their Pilot Network, such as school intervisitations, modeling PBLA practices, peer coaching and mentoring, and collaboratively addressing problems of practice (see p. 16 of RFP #23-018).   

Finally, to advance the PLAN Pilot’s goals, objectives, and outcomes—which include conducting a rigorous evaluation to identify key professional learning supports, technical assistance, and other conditions needed for schools to implement PBLA—each Mentor School must cooperate with USNY-RRF and NYSED and their research and evaluation partners in the collection and reporting of qualitative and quantitative data regarding the PBLA implementation and the associated professional learning, technical assistance, and other supports utilized by Pilot Schools and Pilot Networks in making the transition.


Within their PLAN Pilot Network, Mentor Schools will be responsible for the following deliverables, all of which should be fully addressed in the bid narrative and budget: 

  1. Provide a PBLA Support Leader throughout the contract term who will serve as a point of contact and coordination with their network’s Pilot Schools and PLAN TAC, as well as with USNY-RRF and NYSED and their research and evaluation partners; 
  2. Invite teachers and leaders from PLAN Pilot Schools to engage in the Mentor School’s established professional learning experiences alongside their teachers and leaders, including, to the maximum amount possible, creating and providing new professional learning activities that support both Mentor School and Pilot School teachers and school leaders; 
  3. Provide opportunities for PLAN Pilot School staff to visit and, if/when feasible, provide Pilot School staff with short-term opportunities to experience and participate in the life and work of the Mentor School, beyond just visiting and observing;  
  4. Provide instructional coaching for PLAN Pilot School educators; and 
  5. Provide mentoring to PLAN Pilot School educators and engage in PLAN Pilot Communities of Practice (CoPs). 
Focus Areas

NYSED’s vision is that each PLAN Pilot Network will include a Mentor School proficient in implementing PBLA in accordance with key features of a particular Focus Area. The three Focus Areas are differentiated by the following key features:  

Focus A: Career and Technical Education and Work-Based Learning  

Grade Level: High School
Instructional Model:

Structured learning experiences for students that are explicitly connected to classroom-based learning;  

Features coaching/mentoring and hands-on experiences in authentic settings, including work-based learning, internships, and other real-world opportunities;  

Focused on exploring postsecondary career pathways and technical training to provide students with opportunities to apply their knowledge gained from classroom instruction to real-world situations.  


Incorporates performance measures on student application of knowledge and skills to the workplace and other settings, including knowledge of career pathways and exhibition of technical skills, such as those assessed for CDOS Option 1 or CTE 4+1 pathways;  

Includes a portfolio of student work;  

Culminates in a credential that communicates evidence about each student’s learning, achievement, and competencies.  

Focus B: Inquiry-Based Approach with Learner Profile

Grade Level: Middle School and High School
Instructional Model:

Inquiry-based pedagogical approach designed around a “learner profile” that aims to help students develop a set of attributes through their educational experience;  

Focused on understanding individual strengths and weaknesses, to support learning and personal development;  

Promotes conceptual learning;  

Develops skills for inquiry, research, and responsible action;  

Offers interdisciplinary learning and opportunities for students to connect that learning to their community and global contexts. 


Uses a combination of school-based and externally evaluated assessment strategies to measure students’ individual performance on specified objectives;  

Includes personal and community projects.

Focus C: Project-Based Learning and Performance-Based Assessment Tasks

Grade Level: High School
Instructional Model:

Project-based learning approach that organizes learning around student design of complex tasks and presentation of an original product, following a self-directed, long-term investigation;  

Features inquiry- and literacy-based curriculum across content areas, designed to build toward student completion of performance-based assessment tasks;  

Supports the development of strong language skills by purposefully including interdisciplinary and experiential learning opportunities and collaborative structures that build on the strengths of each member of the school community, motivate students, and enhance their capacity to successfully participate in modern society.  

Assessment: Uses practitioner-developed, externally evaluated performance-based assessment tasks that comprise both oral and written components to assess graduation-level work in core subject areas.  


Grant Awards

USNY-RRF will run three (3) competitions within this application, one for each of the Focus Areas, and make up to eight (8) awards. Eligible bidders must submit separate applications if they are bidding for more than one school and/or more than one Focus Area. Awards will be based on the results of the PLAN Pilot School selection process and will be made based on considerations of both the Focus Area and the regions the applicant is willing to support: 

  1. Focus Area: The awards made through this competition will consist of a combination of Mentor Schools across the three (3) Focus Areas. Based on the number of Pilot Schools selected in each Focus Area, the number of Mentor Schools needed in each Focus Area is anticipated to be at least two (2) and no more than (4). 
  2. Region: Mentor School selection will also depend in part on the regions in which PLAN Pilot Schools are located for each Focus Area. Awards will be made to support PLAN Pilot Networks that will span New York State’s economic development regions (i.e., Capital Region, Central NY, Finger Lakes, Long Island, Mid-Hudson, Mohawk Valley, New York City, North Country, Southern Tier, and Western NY). The regions covered by each PLAN Pilot Network will be based on the results of the PLAN Pilot School selection process. 

The Pilot Schools in a single Pilot Network will not all be located in the same economic development region; rather, each PLAN Pilot Network will likely consist of PLAN Pilot Schools from economic development regions that are adjacent to one another. For example, a PLAN Pilot Network formed for Focus Area A may consist of one PLAN Pilot School located in the Mid-Hudson, one located in New York City, and one located on Long Island. Upstate, schools may be even further spread out. For example, a PLAN Pilot Network formed for a particular Focus Area may consist of one PLAN Pilot School located in the North Country, one from Central New York, and one from the Southern Tier. 

The project team anticipates that a Mentor School is likely to be in a different region than one or all of the Pilot Schools in its Pilot Network. Bidders are asked to indicate their willingness to support each of the state’s economic development regions and encouraged to consider applying to support a PLAN Pilot Network in regions beyond just the one in which they are located—with the understanding that their inability/unwillingness to support certain regions may be the reason they are not selected. 

Awards will be made as follows: Each bid will receive a score for the narrative and a score for the cost proposal, and those scores will be totaled (see “Bid Requirements” below). Applicants applying for the same Focus Area will be ranked according to their total scores. The contracts issued pursuant to this RFB will be awarded to bidders in each Focus Area whose total score is the highest among all the proposals rated, provided that if the set of highest-scoring bidders would not support all regions necessary for the Pilot Schools and Pilot Networks in that Focus Area, USNY-RRF will proceed to the next-ranked bidder. The analysis will be repeated until the combination of Mentor Schools that covers all needed regions at the highest minimum level of quality (as indicated by the total score of the lowest-ranked Mentor School selected) is achieved. In the event of a tie in the total score within the same Focus Area, the bidder who scored highest for “Program Plan and Organizational Capacity” will be ranked higher. (See below for an explanation of the narrative scoring categories.) 

Term of Contract ***UPDATED JUNE 06, 2024***

USNY-RRF will award up to eight (8) contracts pursuant to this bid. The contract resulting from this RFB will be for a term beginning on or about September 3, 2024 and ending June 30, 2027. 


The award is $37,500 per Mentor School. Upon the awarding of the grant, each contractor will receive 50% of the funds up front. It is anticipated that the remaining 50% of the funds will be paid in Spring 2025, contingent on satisfactory performance up to that point. 

USNY-RRF and NYSED continue to seek additional funding sources to support the PLAN program, including the needs of Mentor Schools. If such funding becomes available, USNY-RRF would not be able to expand the scope of the contracts awarded pursuant to this bid or pay for costs not included in the original budget. Such funds could only be provided to the Mentor Schools to supplant matching funds and cost-share for allowable costs that are included in the Cost Proposals submitted pursuant to this bid. Accordingly, bidders are encouraged to include in their Cost Proposal the value of any match, cost-share, and in-kind resources they propose to use to carry out their obligations under this contract—whether provided by the school, the district/board, or other partners.  

Allowable Costs

Bidders may use funds awarded pursuant to this bid for the following: 

  • Compensation for the PBLA Support Leader; 
  • Stipends for educators within the Mentor School to provide learning opportunities and technical assistance to Pilot School educators, such as school intervisitations, modeling PBLA practices, peer coaching and mentoring, co-creating PBLA tools and resources, and collaboratively addressing problems of practice;  
  • Substitute teacher coverage, to enable Mentor School educators to participate in professional learning that falls during the school day;  
  • Travel expenses to carry out the essential work of the project;  
  • Supplies, materials, and printing directly related to the project;  
  • Subcontracting costs for direct services necessary to fulfill project goals (limited to 30% of the total budget);  
  • Costs associated with conducting training or conferences directly related to the project, including such expenses as meeting rooms, supplies and materials for the event, and light beverages and snacks for breaks. 
RFB Timeline
WEEK OF MAY 06, 2024 Request for Bids (RFB) Released
COB THURSDAY, MAY 23rd Questions Deadline
WEEK OF JUNE 3, 2024 Q&A Posted
JULY 2024 Mentor Schools Selected
SEPTEMBER 2024 Contract Start Date
Bid Requirements and Forms

Technical Proposal. The technical proposal will be scored on a 90-point scale. The following forms are required for the technical proposal: 

Cost Proposal.  The cost proposal will be scored on a 10-point scale. Cost proposals will be evaluated based on reasonableness of expenses to be covered with awarded funds (5 points) and thoroughness in costing out all services to be provided (5 points). The cost proposal template in Excel is posted here. For each deliverable, the template includes space to provide: 

  • A brief narrative description; 
  • The amount to covered with awarded funds; and 
  • The amount to be covered with match/cost-share/in-kind contributions from the school, district/board, and/or other partners. 
Questions & Answers ***UPDATED JUNE 17, 2024***

Questions related to this RFB should be submitted to by close of business (COB) Thursday, May 23, 2024, and include “RFB PLAN Pilot” in the subject line. Questions will not be answered directly. To ensure all potential bidders have access to the same information, a summary of Questions & Answers is posted below. Project staff will not be assisting bidders in completing the technical or cost proposal or collecting the necessary information for submission. 

Designated Contacts: 

Program Matters - Nicole Lennon,

Fiscal Matters - Ed Lenart,

Bid Submission Process and Deadline

Bidders must complete all required fields in the technical proposal form and submit the final bid no later than midnight, Friday, June 28, 2024. The remaining materials should be submitted in PDF format by email to, labeled with the proposed Mentor School's name and the name of the document. USNY-RRF will not be providing feedback on proposals or allowing bidders to revise and resubmit. 

For reference, see a PDF of the full PLAN Request for Bids (RFB) here.


Technical Proposal Narrative - Examples of Information to Include

Through the Narrative, as bidders describe their school or program’s aims, vision, current conditions, program plan, and capacity to serve as a PLAN Mentor School in their Focus Area, they should convey: 

  • Evidence that the proposed Mentor School currently exemplifies the distinctive features of successful implementation of a system of PBLA that are explained in the accordion below, and 
  • How they would support PLAN Pilot Schools in developing these features. 

In the subsequent accordions numbered Section 1, Section 2, and Section 3, each subsection prompt is accompanied by examples of specific information that could be relevant to include in the Narrative. These examples are offered to spur your thinking and assist you in developing a thorough application, but they are not required, nor are they intended to limit what you choose to cover in the narrative.


For purposes of this application, "school community" is defined broadly to include students and their families; faculty (including department heads and instructional coaches), administrators, and other staff at the school and district levels; and other stakeholders such as (but not limited to) local government, collective bargaining units, institutions of higher education, community-based organizations, and employers.

For purposes of this application, "assessment literacy" is defined as "the set of beliefs, knowledge and practices about assessment that lead a teacher, administrator, policymaker[,] student [or community member] to use [or advocate for the use of] assessment to improve student learning and achievement" (Michigan Assessment Consortium, 2015; see also IES, 2016).

Features of Successful PBLA Implementation

There are many models of implementing PBLA and they are varied, but researchers and practitioner-experts have identified certain common features that make successful implementation distinctive: 

  • Educational Aims and Core Commitments: Schools successfully implementing PBLA are committed to a student-centered school culture, providing multiple ways for ALL students to demonstrate mastery of learning standards, and supporting family and community buy-in to PBLA. 
  • Educator Supports and Professional Learning: Schools successfully implementing PBLA employ policies and practices that provide routine support for infusing PBLA into classrooms for all types of students. Educators and leaders are supported in connecting interpretations of student performance to appropriate actions and next steps, and teachers are included in the development of assessments. In support of this, schools successfully implementing PBLA foster shared approaches to assessment design, processes to ensure reliable scoring, and PBLA collaboration time. 
  • Assessments: Schools successfully implementing PBLA provide multiple, authentic opportunities for students to demonstrate learning as well as student-driven cycles of performance, reflection, and revision. Teachers are included in collaborative design and development processes for assessments and student performance is evaluated using rubrics that focus on skill development and what a student can do. These distinguishing features enable ongoing, authentic, robust demonstrations of learning that provide schools with a body of evidence for what students know and are able to do, and for their continued development over time. 
  • Data Practices: Schools successfully implementing PBLA triangulate information about student progress and performance with available information about students’ opportunity to learn, in order to tailor supports. Multiple measures are used to inform decisions and the school actively works to build assessment literacy throughout the school community, to enable all stakeholders to make sense of data and create shared accountability. 

(See Quality Criteria for Systems of Performance Assessment by the Learning Policy Institute, 2022.)

Section 1. Educational Aims, Core Commitments, and Vision

(1.1) Educational Aims and Core Commitments 

  • How do the ideas of the PLAN Pilot align with your school/program’s mission and values? 
  • Why do you believe your school/program would be a good fit for the pilot, in terms of your school/program’s philosophy around teaching, learning, and assessment for ALL students? Describe your school/program’s approach to inclusivity:   
    • How does your school/program provide PBLA access as an opportunity for ALL students in the building or the specific grade level(s) and/or subject area(s)?  
    • Provide examples of specific strategies and practices for ensuring accessibility and support for special populations, such as students with disabilities and English language learners.  
  • Why is your school/program ready to participate in the pilot as a Mentor School, in terms of your PBLA proficiency and assets in alignment with the Focus Area?   
  • How does participation in the pilot fit into the broader vision/direction of your school/program? Include a rationale for participating as a Mentor School at this time (i.e., why now?).  
  • Why do you believe your school community (as defined above) would be supportive of participating in the pilot as a Mentor School? What steps have you taken or would you take to inform your school community and gain support for your school’s participation as a PLAN Mentor School? 

(1.2) Vision for Supporting PBLA Implementation 

  • How do you envision providing mentorship to PLAN Pilot Schools that may differ from your school/program in terms of school philosophy, school community buy-in to PBLA, diversity of student populations, etc.?  
    • Would you be able to help/advise Pilot Schools in cultivating support from their unions around PBLA implementation? 
  • Describe your vision for supporting novice AND veteran educators in PLAN Pilot Schools design and use performance-based assessment tasks and rubrics.   
    • What do you believe pilot schools and educators can learn about assessment practices from your school/program?  
  • Describe your vision for providing opportunities and supports to help pilot schools build assessment literacy throughout their school community (see definitions, above).  
    • How do you envision supporting PLAN Pilot Schools in developing and implementing strategies for educators, parents/caregivers, family/community, and students to engage with student performance data?  
  • How will you ensure that participation is mutually beneficial for your school and the Pilot Schools you are supporting? 
Section 2. PBLA Proficiency and Focus Area Alignment

(2.1) Educator Supports and Professional Learning 

  • Describe your school/program’s current capacity and culture of professional learning, as it relates to supporting PBLA implementation in your Focus Area.  
  • How does your school/program support teachers—individually and in teams—in pursuing professional learning opportunities tailored to their needs and interests?  
  • How does your school/program support school leaders in pursuing professional learning opportunities tailored to their needs and interests, and those of the school/program?  
  • How does your school/program foster shared approaches to assessment design, processes to ensure reliable scoring, and PBLA collaboration time for educators? 

(2.2) Assessment 

  • How are performance-based assessments designed and used in your school/program? Describe how teachers, school leaders, and students are engaged in the process. 
  • Describe strategies and methods for helping educators in PLAN Pilot Schools learn to support students in transitioning to the use of performance-based assessments.   
  • To what extent, and in what ways, are teachers given collaboration time to work in teams on performance-based assessment task and rubric development? 
    • In relation to using performance-based assessments, how is interdisciplinary work encouraged in your school/program, if at all? 
    • How are professional learning communities (PLCs) used in your school/program to support the use of performance-based assessments, if at all? 
  • How are rubrics developed, used, and moderated in your school/program? 

(2.3) Data Practices 

  • How does your school/program use student performance data to improve instructional practices? 
  • How does your school/program use student performance data to communicate progress and skill development to parents/caregivers? 
  • How does your school/program assess community buy-in to the use of performance-based assessments? 
  • Describe your school/program’s feedback and reporting structures for student performance. What methods and strategies does your school/program employ to report student performance data to parents/caregivers and students? 
  • To what extent, and in what ways, does your school/program dedicate time and attention to building assessment literacy throughout the school community? Give any examples of opportunities your school/program makes available to parents and caregivers. 
Section 3. Program Plan and Organizational Capacity

(3.1) Program Plan 

  • How do you envision mentoring and otherwise supporting three PLAN Pilot Schools through the duration of the pilot program (2024-2027)? Include specific attention to how you would use the funding from this competition. 
    • Describe key steps and considerations for supporting PLAN Pilot Schools in their transition. What key training needs and supports do you anticipate pilot school educators will require? 
    • Describe your thinking and planning for how the PBLA Support Leader would coordinate the Mentor School’s support for PBLA implementation in PLAN Pilot Schools and Network, in alignment with the Focus Area for which you are applying. 
  • Describe methods and strategies your school/program would employ to support PLAN Pilot Schools and educators in adopting and adapting PBLA practices in your Focus Area. 
    • What process will you use to identify the PBLA Support Leader, if you haven’t already?  
    • What professional learning experiences would your school/program be able to lead/host for PLAN Pilot Schools? 
    • What instructional coaching would your school/program be able to provide to PLAN Pilot Schools? 
    • What kinds of supports would your school/program be able to provide to assist PLAN Pilot Schools in adjusting their existing data practices and/or adopting new data practices, such as personalized feedback and reporting strategies for student performance? 
  • Describe any challenges or considerations you anticipate in serving as a mentor to diverse schools/programs, and how you would address them. 
    • In particular, do you foresee any challenges in supporting schools located outside your region (if you are applying for regions other than the one in which you are located)? How would you address those challenges? 
  • If you are a high school applying for Focus Area B, how would you support PLAN Pilot Schools that serve grades 6-8 (middle schools)? 

(3.2) Organizational Capacity 

  • In what ways is your school/program poised to support PLAN Pilot Schools that may differ from yours in terms of size, location, student demographics, needs-to-resource capacity, etc.? 
  • Describe your school/program’s track record and any prior experiences that may have prepared your school/program to be a Mentor School. 
    • What lessons did your school/program learn from implementing PBLA as they relate to supporting educators, beneficial professional learning experiences, etc.? 
    • Describe your school/program’s track record with performance-based assessments. What was the journey to successfully using PBLA systematically like in your school/program? 
    • Describe the assessment literacy of your school community. How would you be able to support diverse PLAN Pilot Schools build assessment literacy in their own school communities? 
  • Describe the desired qualifications of your PBLA Support Leader. If you have already identified a PBLA Support Leader, you are encouraged to include their résumé as an attachment. How will you ensure that this individual maintains effective communication and devotes sufficient time to the PLAN project throughout the contract term? 
  • Is your school/program associated with a PBLA school support organization that works with multiple schools that utilize a PBLA model aligned with the Focus Area, and if so, will that organization actively support your work as a Mentor School? (Note: For any services and/or budget contributions to be provided by such partners, bidders are also strongly encouraged to include a letter or similar document from each partner that describes their support for their role in the project.)