Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST)

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    Funder Type

    Federal Government

    IT Classification

    B - Readily funds technology as part of an award


    National Science Foundation (NSF)


    ITEST is an applied research and development program with goals to advance the equitable and inclusive integration of technology in the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) from pre-kindergarten through high school. The program's objective is to support all students' acquisition of the foundational preparation in STEM disciplines. Preparation for the current and future workforce is increasingly dependent upon the application and use of technology and computing. Proposed ITEST projects are expected to

    1. engage students in technology-rich learning to develop disciplinary and/or transdisciplinary STEM content knowledge, including skills in data literacy and evidence-based decision-making and reasoning;
    2. prioritize the full inclusion of groups who have been underrepresented and/or underserved, including but not limited to Blacks and African Americans, Alaska Natives, Hispanics and Latinos , Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, Native Pacific Islanders, persons with disabilities, neurodiverse students, and women in the STEM and information and communication technologies (ICT) workforce;
    3. motivate students to pursue appropriate education pathways to technology-rich careers; and
    4. leverage strategic and community partnerships to expand education pathways in communities through public and private partnerships and collaborations.

    ITEST supports three main types of projects:

    • Exploring Theory and Design Principles (ETD) - ETD projects describe and explore extant conditions and factors in the field intended to increase students' (and educators') STEM knowledge and motivation, participation, persistence, confidence, and resilience in STEM and ICT fields. ETD studies build core knowledge, interrelated theory, design principles and methods. Successful ETD proposals demonstrate strong potential to yield a preliminary theoretical framework, prototype or design principles, methods or features that increase STEM knowledge, and knowledge and interest in STEM and ICT careers among PreK- 12 students in formal and informal settings, particularly students from underserved and/or underrepresented populations. This project type is appropriate for projects in the conceptualization and planning phase with the goal of developing proof of concept.
    • Developing and Testing Innovations (DTI) - DTI projects draw on existing theory and evidence to design and iteratively develop interventions, including testing individual intervention components, to provide feedback in the development process. DTI proposals involve designing a theoretically driven innovation, pilot-testing or implementing the innovation and analyzing its outcomes. DTI studies focus on direct engagement with students and educators and assessment of student outcomes relevant to ITEST's primary goals of increasing student knowledge of, and interest in STEM and ICT careers as well as the development of STEM / ICT knowledge and skills required for pursuit of those careers. Results from DTI studies should inform the project's guiding theory of change and may lead to additional work to better understand the guiding theory. DTI projects may also indicate that the intervention is sufficiently promising to warrant large-scale testing, and expansion or iteration of innovations. DTI projects must be clear on the guiding theory of change, logic model, or other rationale for the relationship between its proposed activities and anticipated outcomes. DTI implementation involves all students in underserved and or underrepresented student populations in PreK-12 formal or informal settings. Research on implementation should explicitly attend to the ways in which the design principles or features of the innovation capitalize on the strengths and challenges that participating student populations bring to the learning environments and how the design principles or project features are expected to influence student knowledge of and interest in STEM and ICT careers.
    • Scaling, Expanding, and Iterating Innovations (SEI) - SEI studies are designed to build on and expand an existing innovation that has evidence of success (including DTI projects or similar innovations previously developed within or outside of the ITEST portfolio). SEI projects (a) broaden the implementation and research of an innovation at a significant scale of five to ten times greater than the original implementation. (b) extend an innovation to different student populations, regions of the country, grade levels or ages of students with varying skills, and educators' capacities in PreK-12 formal and informal settings; (c) examine issues of transferability and generalizability and the factors that support or inhibit scaling; and (d) assess cognitive and social-emotional student outcomes and measure student STEM knowledge and whether students continue to pursue further STEM and ICT education or careers. 

    ITEST also supports Synthesis and Conference/Workshop proposals. ITEST will support one 5-year resource center starting in FY23.

    • Synthesis Studies - Synthesis proposals should focus on a question, issue, or topic of critical importance to the ITEST program's pillars. ITEST supports various types of syntheses including literature reviews, qualitative meta-syntheses, and meta-analyses focused on effective technology-based models, efforts to advance students' interest in or awareness of STEM and ICT careers in PreK-12 STEM learning environments, and measurement of cognitive and social-emotional student outcomes in relation to STEM learning and learning environments. Synthesis studies are expected to generate products usable by researchers and practitioners and indicate how the products serve the ITEST program goals. The goals, potential outcomes and dissemination plan for the proposed work should be emphasized. Synthesis proposals must demonstrate a command of the literature or topic to be addressed in both breadth and depth. They should also strive to present the current state of knowledge in the area of interest and highlight issues for future research. Synthesis proposals should explain and justify the methodological approach (e.g., meta-analysis or meta-synthesis), and should outline the systematic steps that will be taken regarding literature identification and decision points (e.g., identifying inclusion and exclusion criteria and outcome measures of interest). Investigators interested in Synthesis proposals are strongly encouraged to contact a program officer prior to submission to discuss proposal idea(s).
    • Conferences or Workshop Projects - ITEST supports conference or workshop projects aimed at advancing the ITEST program goals, objectives and pillars as described in this solicitation. All proposals in this category should address the need for the work, why it is timely, and the expected contributions to understanding or advancing the question, issue, or topic. Proposals must demonstrate command of the literature and the challenges and opportunities related to current practice of the topic selected. They must also describe the expertise and selection criteria of participants, include a conceptual framework, a draft agenda, the expected outcomes or products resulting from the conference or workshop activities. Finally, all conference/workshop proposals should discuss how these outcomes will be useful and disseminated to the research and practitioner communities and the broader public. Conference or workshop proposals may be submitted anytime during the year and reviewed accordingly. Proposers should contact a program officer prior to submission to discuss their ideas. For general guidance, follow the PAPPG guidance for preparing Conference Proposals (PAPPG II.E.9). The "Conference" type of proposal should be selected in or

    History of Funding

    Abstracts of recent ITEST awards are available online at:,7774&ProgOrganization=DRL&BooleanElement=true&BooleanRef=true&from=fund

    Additional Information

    All ITEST proposals must address how the proposed research and development project meets the ITEST program Pillars. The following three ITEST Pillars are the core intellectual foci of the ITEST program. Each Pillar is required to be presented in all proposals. In aggregate, these Pillars advance the solicitation's career and workforce objectives:

    1. Innovative Use of Technologies in Learning and Teaching - When responding to this Pillar, consideration should be given to how specific disciplinary concepts will be taught, such as how the proposed technology will be used to improve or deepen students' conceptual and disciplinary understanding, critical thinking skills, development of competencies in computing, computational thinking, data literacy, and evidence-based decision-making and reasoning. It is not sufficient for students to gain only experience in how to use technology. Students need to learn the creative ideas and STEM knowledge behind technology, such as the highly creative application of artificial intelligence used to solve scientific and social problems for the benefit of society or Quantum information science (QIS) as a new field of science and technology. When addressing more than one STEM discipline, as in transdisciplinary learning, discussion of the research on integrative teaching and learning processes is an important consideration.
    2. Partnerships for Career and Workforce Preparation - Core to this Pillar is the call for investigators to work with community stakeholders to identify and define opportunities for proposed research to support students' awareness and preparation for careers in the technological and computational workforce. Opportunities, such as entrepreneurship, apprenticeships, externships, internships, and mentoring can promote or support students' STEM engagement and interest in STEM/ICT careers. Community stakeholders may include, but are not limited to, neighborhood or community groups, nonprofit or philanthropic organizations, businesses, libraries, museums, educational institutions, and other agencies. The voices, knowledge, and experiences of individuals who have been underrepresented and/or underserved in STEM should be considered to play a key role at the center of strategic partnerships, collaborations, and career guidance to ensure that students have full and equitable opportunities to prepare for the future workforce. Such community-based strategies include, for example: project leadership, research positions, conceptualization of the partnership, decision-making processes, and interpretation and dissemination of evidence and research results.
    3. Strategies for Equity in STEM Education - The ITEST program seeks to advance NSF's vision of STEM inclusivity by leveraging diversity of intellectual and cultural perspectives to meet the goal of a fully inclusive and fully diverse STEM workforce. Ensuring equity and strengthening access and inclusion for the diverse groups of PreK-12 learners who are underrepresented and/or underserved in STEM fields is fundamental to broadening participation in the high-quality careers and high-paying jobs in the technological and computational STEM workforce. Exclusion from participation diminishes the nation's capacity for creative and innovative scientific discovery, including new technologies and advances in computing capacity that the U.S. depends upon for global economic competitiveness.

    All proposals must also include high-quality research design, a section describing how the project meets the Solicitation-Specific Review Criteria and plans for project evaluation and dissemination of findings.


    ITEST Program Staff

    ITEST Program Staff
    4201 Wilson Boulevard
    Arlington, VA 22230
    (703) 292-8628

  • Eligibility Details

    All U.S. organizations with an educational mission are eligible for ITEST. All ITEST projects must demonstrate evidence of partnerships and collaboration in the formulation, implementation, and/or interpretation and dissemination of the project. It is highly recommended that research-capable entities serve as the lead applicant and K-12 districts or schools act as a sub-recipient.

    Deadline Details

    Applications are to be submitted by 5:00p.m on August 9, 2024. A similar deadline is anticipated annually.

    Award Details

    NSF anticipates having approximately $25,000,000 to $30,000,000 available for the FY22 competition and approximately $25,000,000 to $30,000,000 each year thereafter. ITEST expects to fund between 24 and 33 awards per year depending on the type of proposal and funding level. Awards will be distributed across all project areas:

    • 8 to 10 awards for Exploring Theory and Design Principles for Innovations (ETD) with durations up to three years and budgets up to $500,000;
    • 8 to 10 awards for Developing and Testing Innovations (DTI) with durations up to four years and budgets up to $1,300,000;
    • 3 to 5 awards for Scaling, Expanding, and Iterating Innovations (SEI) with durations up to five years and budgets up to $3,500,000;
    • 2 to 4 awards for Syntheses with durations up to two years and budgets up to $400,000; and
    • 2 to 3 awards for Conferences with durations of one year and budgets up to $100,000.
    • In addition, ITEST intends to fund one Resource Center with a duration up to five years and total funding up to $5,000,000 in FY 2023. This award will be made as a grant.

    Note - Major research equipment purchases are not supported. The ITEST program limits the purchase of equipment to software, probes, and specialized equipment needed to implement a specific project. General purpose equipment, such as computers, notepads, and cellphones are not supported.

    Related Webcasts Use the links below to view the recorded playback of these webcasts

    • Funding Classroom Technology to Empower Students and Teachers - Sponsored by Panasonic - Playback Available
    • Maximizing Technology-friendly Workforce Development Grants - Sponsored by Panasonic - Playback Available
    • Funding Data-driven Workforce Development Projects - Sponsored by NetApp - Playback Available


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