Smaller Learning Communities Program, 3910-3918 [05-1477]

Download as PDF 3910 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 17 / Thursday, January 27, 2005 / Notices personnel able to meet the high knowledge demands of interdependent joint, interagency, and multinational operations; and (7) study should evaluate progress made towards streamlining and reforming DoD’s business processes. In accordance with Section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, Public Law 92–463, as amended (5 U.S.C. App. 2), it has been determined that these Defense Science Board Task Force meetings concern matters listed in 5 U.S.C. 552b(c)(1) and that, accordingly, these meetings will be closed to the public. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Members of the public who wish to attend the meeting must contract LTC Dolgoff no later than January 24, 2005, for further information about admission as seating is limited. Additionally, those who wish to make oral comments or deliver written comments should also request to be scheduled, and submit a written text of the comments by January 26, 2005, to allow time for distribution to Task Force members prior to the meeting. Individual oral comments will be limited to five minutes, with the total oral comment period not exceeding 30 minutes. Dated: January 18, 2005. Jeanette Owings-Ballard, OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense. [FR Doc. 05–1464 Filed 1–26–05; 8:45 am] Dated: January 18, 2005. Jeannette Owings-Ballard, OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense. [FR Doc. 05–1465 Filed 1–26–05; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001–06–M BILLING CODE 5001–06–M DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Office of the Secretary Office of the Secretary Defense Science Board Defense Science Board Department of Defense. Notice of Advisory Committee Meeting. ACTION: SUMMARY: The Defense Science Board Task Force on Management Oversight of Acquisition Organizations will meet in open session on January 31–February 1, 2005, at SAIC, 4001 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA. This Task Force should assess whether all major acquisition organizations within the Department have adequate management and oversight processes, including what changes might be necessary to implement such processes where needed. The mission of the Defense Science Board is to advise the Secretary of Defense and the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics on scientific and technical matters as they affect the perceived needs of the Department of Defense. At these meetings, the Defense Science Board Task Force will examine the oversight function with respect to Title 10 and military department regulations to ensure that proper checks and balances exist. The Task Force will review whether simplification of the acquisition structure could improve both efficiency and oversight. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: LTC Scott Dolgoff, USA, Defense Science Board, 3140 Defense Pentagon, Room 3D865, Washington, DC 20301–3140, via e-mail at scott.dolgoff@osd.mil, or via phone at (703) 695–4158. VerDate jul<14>2003 17:20 Jan 26, 2005 Jkt 205001 AGENCY: Department of Defense. Notice of Advisory Committee Meeting. ACTION: SUMMARY: The Defense Science Board Task Force on 2005 Summer Study on Reducing Vulnerabilities to Weapons of Mass Destruction will meet in closed session on January 31–February 1, 2005; March 8–9, 2005; April 4–5, 2005; May 3–4, 2005; June 1–2, 2005; and June 28– 29, 2005, at Strategic Analysis Inc., 3601 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA. This Task Force will review a State’s clanedestine employment of weapons of massed destruction (WMD) or the use of such capability by a terrorist. The mission of the Defense Science Board is to advise the Secretary of Defense and the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics on scientific and technical matters as they affect the perceived needs of the Department of Defense. At these meetings, the Defense Science Board Task Force should develop national enterprise architecture to reduce vulnerabilities to WMD. The architecture should identify those areas where integration across modalities would pay off, as well as the issues that are uniquely tied to a single defense which may arise from new intelligence or other sources and adapt to different generations of WMD defense systems which will probably be procured under a spiral development model. An integrated WMD system would be able PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4703 Dated: January 18, 2005. Jeannette Owings-Ballard, OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense. [FR Doc. 05–1478 Filed 1–26–05; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001–06–M DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION Smaller Learning Communities Program DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE AGENCY: to assess from end-to-end the state of affairs in WMD. In accordance with Section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, Public Law 92–463, as amended (5 U.S.C. app. 2), it has been determined that these Defense Science Board Task Force meetings concern matters listed in 5 U.S.C. 552b(c)(1) and that, accordingly, these meetings will be closed to the public. Sfmt 4703 Office of Vocational and Adult Education, Department of Education. ACTION: Notice of proposed priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria. AGENCY: SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education proposes priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria for a special competition under the Smaller Learning Communities (SLC) program. The Assistant Secretary may use these priorities, requirements, definitions and selection criteria for a special competition using a portion of fiscal year (FY) 2004 funds and also in future years. The priorities, requirements, definitions and selection criteria proposed in this notice will not be used for all FY SLC 2004 competitions. Projects funded using these priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria would create and/or expand SLC activities as well as participate in a national research evaluation of supplemental reading programs. Another SLC competition will be conducted later this year, awarding additional FY 2004 funds, for projects that do not require participation in the national research evaluation. Requirements, priorities, definitions, and selection criteria for that competition will be proposed in a notice in the Federal Register at a later date. We propose these priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria to focus federal financial assistance on an identified national need for scientifically based data on supplemental reading programs for adolescents. E:\FR\FM\27JAN1.SGM 27JAN1 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 17 / Thursday, January 27, 2005 / Notices We must receive your comments on or before February 28, 2005. Address all comments about these proposed priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria to Matthew Fitzpatrick, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 11120, Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC 20202– 7120. If you prefer to send your comments through the Internet, use the following address: matthew.fitzpatrick@ed.gov. You must include the term ‘‘SLC Public Comment’’ in the subject line of your electronic message. Assistance to Individuals With Disabilities in Reviewing the Rulemaking Record On request, we will supply an appropriate aid, such as a reader or print magnifier, to an individual with a disability who needs assistance to review the comments or other documents in the public rulemaking record for these proposed priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria. If you want to schedule an appointment for this type of aid, please contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Background Matthew Fitzpatrick. Telephone: (202) 245–7809. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1– 800–877–8339. Individuals with disabilities may obtain this document in an alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer diskette) on request to the contact person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. Improving adolescent literacy is one of the major challenges facing high schools today. High school students must have strong literacy skills in order to acquire the knowledge and skills in English/language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, and other courses that they need in order to prepare for further learning, for careers, and for active participation in our democracy. Too many young people are now entering high school without these essential skills. At a time when they will soon enter high school, one-quarter of all eighth-grade students and more than 40 percent of those in urban schools scored below the basic level on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) in 2003. According to one estimate, at least one-third of entering ninth graders are at least two years behind grade level in their reading skills (Balfanz, et al., 2002). Many of these young people become discouraged and drop out before they reach the twelfth grade. Large numbers of those who do persist through their senior year leave high school nearly as unprepared for the future as when they entered it. Twenty-eight percent of twelfth-grade public school students scored below the basic level on the NAEP 2002 reading assessment. These students face a bleak future in an economy and society that demands more than ever before, higher levels of reading, writing, and oral communication skills. Recognizing the importance of improving the literacy skills of America’s children and youth, President Bush established, as key priorities, the implementation of scientifically based approaches to reading in the early grades and the development of new knowledge about how best to help adolescents read well. One ongoing initiative, the Adolescent Literacy Research Network, created by the Department’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) and the Office of Special Education and DATES: ADDRESSES: SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Invitation To Comment We invite you to submit comments regarding these proposed priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria. To ensure that your comments have maximum effect in developing the notice of final priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria, we urge you to identify clearly the specific proposed priority, requirement, definition, or selection criterion that each comment addresses. We invite you to assist us in complying with the specific requirements of Executive Order 12866 and its overall requirement of reducing regulatory burden that might result from these proposed priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria. Please let us know of any further opportunities we should take to reduce potential costs or increase potential benefits while preserving the effective and efficient administration of the program. During and after the comment period, you may inspect all public comments about these proposed priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria at the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education, room 11122, 550 12th Street, SW., Washington, DC, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., eastern time, Monday through Friday of each week except Federal holidays. VerDate jul<14>2003 17:20 Jan 26, 2005 Jkt 205001 PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 3911 Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) in collaboration with the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), supports six, five-year experimental research projects. These projects are examining cognitive, perceptual, behavioral, and other mechanisms that influence the development of reading and writing abilities during adolescence, as well as the extent to which interventions may narrow or close literacy gaps for adolescents. While these and other long-term, scientifically based research studies promise to provide a stronger foundation for designing more effective literacy interventions for adolescents, a number of noteworthy supplemental reading programs for adolescents are already available and have attracted great attention from high school leaders concerned about the literacy skills of their freshman students. High schools that have created freshman academy SLCs to ease the transition of ninthgrade students to high school are among those most interested in addressing the needs of ninth graders who have reading skills that are significantly below grade level. Unfortunately, however, there is little or no scientifically based evidence that schools can consult to inform their decision-making regarding the selection and implementation of these reading programs. In addition to this ongoing research initiative, to help fill this knowledge gap, the Department is now seeking to partner with local educational agencies (LEAs) in a national research evaluation that will examine the effectiveness of two supplemental reading programs that will be implemented within freshman academy SLCs. Section 5441(c)(2)(B) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (ESEA), authorizes SLC funds to be used to ‘‘research, develop, and implement * * * strategies for effective and innovative changes in curriculum and instruction, geared to challenging State academic content standards and State student academic achievement standards.’’ The Department proposes in this notice to provide a new opportunity for interested LEAs that are implementing freshman academy SLCs to partner with us to evaluate the effectiveness of two promising supplemental reading programs for ninth-grade students whose reading skills are two to four years below grade level. The Department’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) has awarded a contract to MDRC and the American Institutes of Research (AIR) to conduct E:\FR\FM\27JAN1.SGM 27JAN1 3912 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 17 / Thursday, January 27, 2005 / Notices this supplemental reading program evaluation. AIR has solicited proposals from vendors of classroom-based supplemental reading programs that wish to participate in this initiative. The supplemental reading programs must be suitable for implementation within freshman academies, must be researchbased, and must address all aspects of reading, from basic alphabetic skills to higher-level comprehension and writing. The programs must also consider issues of how to motivate adolescents to read. MDRC and AIR will convene an independent, expert panel to evaluate the programs submitted for consideration, assessing, particularly, the extent to which a program incorporates the features judged by experts in the field to be indicative of a high-quality adolescent reading program and the extent to which there is research-based evidence of the program’s effectiveness. Based on the expert panel’s recommendations, MDRC and AIR will select the two most promising programs for evaluation through this initiative. These programs will be identified and described in detail in the final notice inviting applications for this competition. Interested LEAs that are selected to participate in this initiative will implement the supplemental reading programs during the 2005–06 and 2006– 07 school years in high schools that have established freshman academy SLCs. Each high school will implement one of the two programs, serving firsttime ninth-grade students whose reading skills are two to four years below grade level. Working with MDRC, the contractor selected to conduct the evaluation, each high school will select by lottery approximately 50 students from a pool of a minimum of 125 eligible students to participate in the supplemental reading program; the remaining students will be assigned to an elective course, study hall, or other activity in which they would otherwise participate. The evaluators will work with each LEA and high school to assess the effectiveness of the supplemental reading program. After the completion of the 2006–07 school year, participating high schools will have gained valuable data about the effectiveness of these supplemental reading programs in their schools. These data will help them to decide whether to expand the supplemental reading program to include all eligible students, or to select and implement another supplemental reading program. The Department proposes to award 60-month grants using the priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria proposed in this notice. In VerDate jul<14>2003 17:20 Jan 26, 2005 Jkt 205001 addition to supporting the other broader SLC activities at each participating high school, each grant will fully fund the costs of implementing the supplemental reading program, technical assistance from the program vendor, and the cost of participating in the evaluation. The evaluation will provide researchers, policy-makers, school administrators, teachers, and parents throughout the United States important information about these supplemental reading programs and adolescent literacy development, and answer three important questions: (1) Do specific supplemental literacy interventions supporting personalized and intensive instruction for striving ninth-grade readers significantly improve reading proficiency? (2) What are the effects of supplemental reading programs on inschool outcomes such as attendance and course-taking behavior, and on longerterm outcomes such as student performance on State assessments in the tenth or eleventh grade? (3) Which students benefit most from participation in the interventions? LEAs and participating high schools would benefit in a number of ways from partnering with the Department in this initiative. They would make an important contribution to improving our now-limited knowledge of how we can help most effectively at-risk young people who enter high school with limited literacy skills. They would receive grant funds to support the implementation of a promising supplemental reading program and high-quality professional development for the teachers who will provide instruction. After the second year of the grant, once the research evaluation has been completed, participating schools would be free to expand the program to include all eligible students or implement a new program, if they choose. Finally, they would receive funds to support a broader SLC project that expands or creates new SLC structures and strategies in participating high schools. Those funds would be available for use throughout the 60month grant period. We will announce the final priorities, requirements, definitions and selection criteria in a notice in the Federal Register. We will determine the final priorities, requirements, definitions and selection criteria after considering responses to this notice and other information available to the Department. This notice does not preclude us from proposing additional priorities, subject to meeting applicable rulemaking requirements. PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Note: This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in which we choose to use these proposed priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria, we invite applications through a notice in the Federal Register. When inviting applications we designate each priority as absolute, competitive preference, or invitational. The effect of each type of priority follows: Absolute priority: Under an absolute priority we consider only applications that meet the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(3)). Competitive preference priority: Under a competitive preference priority we give competitive preference to an application by either (1) awarding additional points, depending on how well or the extent to which the application meets the competitive priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(i)); or (2) selecting an application that meets the competitive priority over an application of comparable merit that does not meet the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(ii)). Invitational priority: Under an invitational priority we are particularly interested in applications that meet the invitational priority. However, we do not give an application that meets the invitational priority a competitive or absolute preference over other applications (34 CFR 75.105(c)(1)). Priorities Proposed Priorities Proposed Priority 1—Participation in a National Research Evaluation That Assesses the Effectiveness of Supplemental Reading Programs in Freshman Academies To be eligible for consideration under this priority, an applicant must: (1) Apply on behalf of two or four large high schools that are currently implementing freshman academies; (2) Provide documentation of the LEA’s and schools’ willingness to participate in a large-scale, national evaluation that uses scientifically based research methods. Each LEA must include in its application a letter from its research office or research board agreeing to meet the requirements of the research design, if such approval is needed according to local policies. If such approval is not required, each LEA must include in its application a letter from its superintendent and the principals of the high schools named in the application, agreeing to meet the requirements of the research design; (3) Agree to implement two designated supplemental reading programs for striving ninth-grade readers, one in each school, in two or four eligible high schools, adhering strictly to the design of the reading program, with the understanding that the supplemental reading program will be one of two programs announced in the notice of final priorities and will be E:\FR\FM\27JAN1.SGM 27JAN1 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 17 / Thursday, January 27, 2005 / Notices chosen for the school by the contractor selected to conduct the evaluation; (4) Agree to assign one language arts teacher in each participating high school—to participate in professional development necessary to implement the supplemental reading program (which may include travel to an off-site location); to teach the selected supplemental reading program to participating students for a minimum of 225 minutes per week for each week of the 2005–2006 and 2006–07 school years; and to complete any surveys and administer any student assessments required by the evaluation contractor; (5) Assist the contractor in obtaining parental consent for students to participate in assessments and other data collections; (6) Agree to provide, prior to the start of school years 2005–06 and 2006–07, for each participating high school, a list of at least 125 striving ninth-grade readers who are eligible to participate in the research study; work with the contractor to assign by lottery 50 of those students in each participating high school to the supplemental reading program and assign the remaining students to other activities that they would otherwise participate in, such as a study hall, electives, or other activity that does not involve supplemental reading instruction; provide students selected for the supplemental reading program with a minimum of 225 minutes per week of instruction in the supplemental reading program for each week of the school year; and allow enough flexibility in the schedules of all eligible students so that students who are not initially selected by lottery to participate in the supplemental reading program may be reassigned, at random, to the program if students who were initially selected for the program transfer to another school, drop out, or otherwise discontinue their participation in supplemental reading instruction during the school year. Rationale: The terms and conditions of this proposed priority are required to implement the scientifically based research design of the research evaluation. The supplemental reading programs, for example, cannot be fairly and effectively evaluated if they are not implemented consistently across sites by well-trained instructors. Similarly, the evaluation design requires eligible students to be assigned randomly to participate in the designated supplemental reading programs so that the evaluation will provide clear and definitive information about the effectiveness of these programs. The design also requires that pairs of high schools implement the two VerDate jul<14>2003 17:20 Jan 26, 2005 Jkt 205001 supplemental reading programs so that the two programs can be evaluated under similar conditions. Though the characteristics of high schools within a single LEA may differ, they would each operate within the same policy context and under a similar set of circumstances and are likely to more closely resemble each other than high schools in other LEAs or states. Proposed Priority 2—Number of Schools The Secretary proposes a priority for applications from LEAs applying on behalf of four high schools that are implementing freshman academies and that commit to participate in the research study. Rationale: For the purposes of the research evaluation, the Department will accept applications from LEAs applying on behalf of either four schools or two schools that are implementing freshman academies. Ideally, the LEAs studied in this research evaluation will be uniform in terms of the number of schools participating. Furthermore, maintaining the integrity of the random assignment process is more challenging with a larger number of districts. While the Department would like many districts to have the opportunity to participate, we must balance the potential benefits of more districts receiving the grants with the objective of conducting a rigorous study that will yield conclusive results about the effectiveness of the two supplemental reading programs that will be evaluated. The Department, therefore, would prefer that all LEAs participating in this research evaluation implement the supplemental reading program in four high schools. However, in the interest of securing a suitable number of strong applications, the Department may implement proposed priority 2 as an invitational or competitive preference priority, in which case the Department will accept applications from LEAs applying on behalf of four or two high schools. Requirements Proposed Application Requirements The Assistant Secretary proposes the following application requirements for this SLC competition. These proposed requirements are in addition to the content that all Smaller Learning Communities grant applicants must include in their applications as required by the program statute under title V, part D, subpart 4, section 5441(b) of the ESEA. Eligibility We propose that, to be considered for funding, an applicant must be an LEA PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 3913 (including schools funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and educational service agencies) that applies on behalf of two or four large public high schools that have implemented at least one freshman academy SLC by no later than the 2004– 2005 school year. Accordingly, LEAs must identify in their applications the names of the two or four large high schools proposed to participate in the research evaluation and the number of students enrolled in each school, disaggregated by grade level. We will not accept applications from LEAs on behalf of one, three, or more than four schools. We require that each school include grades 11 and 12 and have an enrollment of 1,000 or more students in grades 9 through 12. Enrollment figures must be based upon data from the current school year or data from the most recently completed school year. We will not accept applications from LEAs applying on behalf of schools that are being constructed and do not have an active student enrollment at the time of application. The LEA also must provide an assurance that the schools identified in their application: (1) Are implementing at least one freshman academy SLC during the 2004–05 school year; (2) will continue to implement at least one freshman academy SLC during the 2005–06 and 2006–07 school years; and (3) did not implement a classroombased supplemental reading program for striving ninth-grade readers during the 2004–05 school year. For each school identified in the application, LEAs also must provide evidence that a minimum of 150 striving ninth-grade readers (as defined elsewhere in this notice) were enrolled at the school during each of the 2003–04 and 2004–05 school years. We will accept applications from LEAs whether or not they are applying on behalf of schools that have previously received funding under the Federal SLC program. Eligible schools would be those currently implementing freshman academy SLCs, though the freshman academies need not have been funded through a prior Federal SLC grant. Rationale: The Department needs enrollment information to determine if each of the two or four schools identified in an application meets the proposed definition of a large high school and to ensure that an LEA is applying on behalf of a correct number of schools. Schools under construction do not have actual enrollment data to be used to determine eligibility and, therefore, may not apply. In addition, the research evaluation design requires that (i) LEAs implement the E:\FR\FM\27JAN1.SGM 27JAN1 3914 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 17 / Thursday, January 27, 2005 / Notices supplemental reading programs in sets of two or four high schools; (ii) the supplemental reading programs are implemented within established freshman academy SLCs in high schools that have not implemented a classroombased supplemental reading program or classes for striving ninth-grade readers; and (iii) each school has a minimum of 125 striving ninth-grade readers. While we recognize that no LEA can be certain of the skills and academic needs of the students who will enter a particular high school during the 2005–06 and 2006–07 school years, we believe that high schools whose two most recent freshman classes included at least 150 striving ninth-grade readers are more likely than other high schools to have the required minimum of 125 eligible students during the next two school years. School Report Cards We propose to require that LEAs provide, for each of the schools included in the application, the most recent ‘‘report card’’ produced by the State or the LEA to inform the public about the characteristics of the school and its students, including information about student academic achievement and other student outcomes. These ‘‘report cards’’ must include, at a minimum, the information that LEAs are required to report for each school under section 1111(h)(2)(B)(ii) of the ESEA: (1) Whether the school has been identified for school improvement; and (2) information that shows how the academic assessments and other indicators of adequate yearly progress compare to students in the LEA and the State, as well as performance of the school’s students on the statewide assessment as a whole. Rationale: The Department needs the ‘‘report cards’’ to verify the accuracy of the information the LEA provides in its application about student academic achievement and other student outcomes at each school. Consortium Applications and Governing Authority In an effort to encourage systemic, LEA-level reform efforts, we propose permitting an individual LEA to submit only one application on behalf of multiple schools. Accordingly, the LEA would be required to specify in its application which high schools it intends to fund. In addition, we propose to require that an LEA applying for a grant under this competition apply only on behalf of a high school or high schools for which it has governing authority, unless the LEA is an educational service agency VerDate jul<14>2003 17:20 Jan 26, 2005 Jkt 205001 applying in the manner described in the section in this notice entitled Educational Service Agencies. An LEA, however, may form a consortium with another LEA with which it shares a geographical border and submit a joint application for funds. In such an instance, the consortium must apply on behalf of either two or four high schools, and follow the procedures for group applications described in 34 CFR 75.127 through 75.129 in the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR). For example, an LEA that wishes to apply for a grant but only has one eligible high school may partner with a neighboring LEA, if the neighboring LEA has another eligible high school. Rationale: These requirements are designed to ensure that each LEA that receives assistance under this program will manage and coordinate school-level planning and implementation activities as part of a single, coherent, LEA-wide reform strategy. These requirements will help LEAs make the most effective and efficient use of SLC resources and assist them in aligning SLC activities with other LEA-level initiatives, including the implementation of activities carried out under other programs funded by the ESEA and the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act. In addition, a high school would have considerable difficulty implementing or expanding an SLC program without the active participation of its parent LEA. Educational Service Agencies We propose to permit an educational service agency to apply on behalf of eligible high schools only if the educational service agency includes in its application evidence that the entity that has governing authority over the eligible high school supports the application. Rationale: Educational service agencies, which are included in the statutory definition of LEA, typically do not have governing authority over high schools they service. Generally, the administrative control or direction of a high school is invested in a public board of education or another public authority other than an educational service agency. We recognize that not all entities that have administrative control or direction of eligible high schools have the capacity to apply for and administer an SLC grant. Educational service agencies provide resources and expertise to assist districts and schools in performing functions that they otherwise could not, by themselves, perform efficiently or at all. Moreover, they are organized for the explicit PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 purpose of providing education-related services to entities with governing authority over schools and their students. Budget Information for Determination of Award We propose that LEAs may receive up to $1,000,000 during the 60-month project period. This is an increase from the maximum range of awards ($550,000 to $770,000) that we established in the previous SLC program competitions, plus an additional $230,000 to cover additional expenses related to participation in the research evaluation. In its budget calculations, each school would reserve $150,000 for implementation of the supplemental reading program during the 2005–06 school year and $80,000 for the implementation of the program during the 2006–07 school year. These funds will support the salary and benefits of one full-time equivalent teacher who will be responsible for providing the supplemental reading program instruction and performing administrative functions related to the conduct of the research evaluation, professional development and technical assistance provided by the program developer, and the purchase of curriculum and the technology necessary to deliver instruction. The remaining $770,000 will be available to support other activities related to the creation or expansion of smaller learning communities in the school. For one application, LEAs could receive up to $4,000,000. Grants would be designed to support participation in the research evaluation over the first two years of the project period, and a broader SLC project, including such activities as extensive redesign and improvement efforts, professional development, or direct student services, over five years. Applicants would be required to provide detailed, yearly budget information for the total grant period requested. Understanding the unique complexities of implementing a program that affects a school’s organization, physical design, curriculum, instruction, and preparation of teachers, we anticipate awarding the entire amount at the time of initial awards. The actual size of awards would be based on a number of factors. These factors include the scope, quality, and comprehensiveness of the proposed program, and the range of awards indicated in the application notice. Rationale: Requiring applicants to provide detailed, yearly budget information for the total grant period requested is necessary for us to determine appropriate grant amounts E:\FR\FM\27JAN1.SGM 27JAN1 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 17 / Thursday, January 27, 2005 / Notices based on the needs of the LEA and high schools. Student Placement We propose that applicants must include a description of how students will be selected or placed in the broader SLC project such that students will not be placed according to ability or any other measure, but will be placed at random or by student/parent choice and not pursuant to testing or other judgments. Rationale: The Department needs this information to ensure that each funded project complies with the requirements of the statute regarding random assignment or student/parent choice for SLC placement of students. Section 5441(b)(13) of the ESEA requires applicants for SLC grants to describe the method of placing students in the SLC or SLCs, such that students are not placed according to ability or any other measure, but are placed at random or by student/parent choice and not pursuant to testing or other judgments. For instance, projects that place students in any SLC on the basis of their prior academic achievement or performance on an academic assessment are not eligible for assistance under this program. Note that the supplemental reading programs are not SLCs. Enrollment in a supplemental reading program would be contingent on student performance, but enrollment in broader SLCs funded through this program may not be based on ability. Performance Indicators for the Broader SLC Project We propose to require applicants to identify in their application specific performance indicators and annual performance objectives for these indicators and one core indicator. Specifically, we propose to require applicants to use the following performance indicators to measure the progress of each school: (1) The percentage of students who score at the proficient and advanced levels on the mathematics assessments used by the State to measure adequate yearly progress under part A of title I of the ESEA, as well as these percentages disaggregated by the following subgroups: (A) Major racial and ethnic groups; (B) Students with disabilities; (C) Students with limited English proficiency; and (D) Economically disadvantaged students. (2) At least two other appropriate indicators the LEA would identify, such as rates of average daily attendance, year-to-year retention, achievement and VerDate jul<14>2003 17:20 Jan 26, 2005 Jkt 205001 gains in English proficiency of limited English proficient students; incidence of school violence, drug and alcohol use, and disciplinary actions; or the percentage of students completing advanced placement courses or passing advanced placement tests. Applicants must identify annual performance objectives for each indicator in their application. Rationale: The fundamental purpose of SLCs is to improve the academic achievement of students and prepare them to participate successfully in postsecondary education or advanced training, the workforce, our democracy, and our communities. It is important, therefore, that projects measure their progress in improving student academic achievement and other related outcomes. Evaluation of Broader SLC Projects We propose to require each applicant to provide an assurance that it will support an evaluation of its broader SLC project that provides information to the project director and school personnel and that will be useful in gauging the project’s progress and in identifying areas for improvement. We propose that each evaluation include an annual report for each of the five years of the project period and a final report that would be completed at the end of the fifth year. We would require grantees to submit each of these reports to the Department. We propose to require that the evaluation be conducted by an independent third party evaluator selected by the LEA whose role in the project is limited to conducting the evaluation. Rationale: Implementing or expanding an SLC project is difficult and complex work that administrators, teachers, and other school personnel must carry out at the same time that they are carrying out other demanding, day-to-day responsibilities. An evaluation that provides regular feedback on the progress of implementation and its impact can help the project director and school personnel identify their successes and how they may need to revise their strategies to accomplish their goals. To be most useful, the evaluation should be objective and be carried out by an independent third party who has no other role in the implementation of the project. Participation in the Research Evaluation We propose to require each applicant to provide an assurance that it and each participating high school will take several actions to assist in implementing the research evaluation, including: PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 3915 (1) The LEA must implement the supplemental reading program(s) adhering strictly to the design of the program(s), including purchasing all necessary instructional materials, technology, professional development, and student materials in sufficient time for the program(s) to be implemented at the start of the 2005–06 and 2006–07 school years. (2) The LEA or the participating high school(s) must use a lottery to assign randomly 50 of the expected 125 or more students determined to be eligible to participate in the supplemental reading class and the remainder to serve as non-participants. (3) The LEA must provide a language arts teacher for each participating high school who would receive professional development in the supplemental reading program (three days during Summer 2005 and two follow-up days during each of the 2005–2006 and 2006– 2007 school years) and would teach the supplemental reading program to the participating students for a minimum of 225 minutes per week for each week of the 2005–2006 and 2006–07 school years. This teacher would complete four surveys (at the beginning and end of the 2005–2006 and 2006–2007 school years) to provide information on his or her preparation, professional development, and experiences. (4) The LEA must administer, in conjunction with the contractor selected to conduct the evaluation, a diagnostic group assessment of reading skills at the beginning and the end of the ninthgrade year to assess whether or not those students participating and not participating in the supplemental reading program have made gains in reading skills. This reading assessment might also need to be administered again at the end of the tenth-grade year. (5) The LEA must provide transcripts and State assessment data for the entire pool of eligible students for the 2005– 06, 2006–07, 2007–08, and 2008–09 school years, in a manner and to the extent consistent with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. 1232g; 34 CFR part 99). (6) The LEA must designate a project coordinator who would participate in the professional development and serve as a resource and coordinator for teachers involved in the research study. This project coordinator would also work with the LEA’s technology office (if necessary) and the curriculum developers to organize the purchase of computer equipment and software needed to implement the supplemental reading program. The project coordinator would not also be the E:\FR\FM\27JAN1.SGM 27JAN1 3916 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 17 / Thursday, January 27, 2005 / Notices language arts teacher responsible for teaching the supplemental literacy program. (7) The LEA and participating high schools must allow enough flexibility in developing the participating students’ daily schedules to accommodate the supplemental literacy instruction, which might be scheduled as the typical 45-minute language arts period or as a larger block of 90 minutes for literacy instruction and practice. (8) The LEA and participating high schools must allow the evaluation team to observe both the classrooms implementing the supplemental literacy program and other English or language arts classrooms in the school. Rationale: The administration of a complex national research evaluation requires careful planning on the part of each LEA, high school, evaluator, and project director involved. It is essential that all schools participating in the study adhere to the research design to ensure that data collected from the project will be valid. The use of a lottery to determine the participation of eligible students maintains the integrity of the comparison group. Each school’s participation will require the efforts of a language arts teacher trained and dedicated to the faithful implementation of the research design. The language arts teacher will be responsible for working with the contractor selected to conduct the evaluation and administering group assessments of participating students. In a manner consistent with FERPA, the evaluator must have access to student transcripts and assessment data in order to gauge the effectiveness of the supplemental reading program. High-Risk Status and Other Enforcement Mechanisms Because the requirements listed in this notice are material requirements, we propose that failure to comply with any requirement or with any elements of the grantee’s application would subject the grantee to administrative action, including but not limited to designation as a ‘‘high-risk’’ grantee, the imposition of special conditions, or termination of the grant. Circumstances that might cause the Department to take such action include, but are not limited to: The grantee’s failure to implement the designated supplemental reading programs in a manner that adheres strictly to the design of the program; the grantee’s failure to purchase all necessary instructional materials, technology, professional development, and student materials in sufficient time for the programs to be implemented at the start of the 2005–06 and 2006–07 VerDate jul<14>2003 17:20 Jan 26, 2005 Jkt 205001 school years; and the grantee’s failure to adhere to any requirements or protocols established by the evaluator. Rationale: Part of the Department’s role in administering grant funds under the SLC program is to ensure that those taxpayer funds are used in a manner that is consistent with the aims of the grant program. To help ensure proper use of taxpayer funds, the Department reserves the right to use the enforcement actions listed above if a grantee fails to meet the requirements established by this notice and the law authorizing the SLC program. Definitions Proposed Definitions In addition to the definitions set out in the authorizing statute and 34 CFR 77.1, we propose that the following definitions also apply to this special competition. We may apply these definitions in any year in which we run an SLC supplemental reading program competition. Broader SLC Project means an SLC project at the site of the high school aside from and in addition to that high school’s implementation of a supplemental reading program and participation in the research evaluation. Freshman Academy means a form of SLC structure that groups ninth-grade students into an environment in which a core group of teachers and other adults within the school know the needs, interests, and aspirations of each ninthgrade student well, closely monitor each student’s progress, and provide the academic and other support each student needs to transition to high school and succeed. Student enrollment in (or exclusion from) a freshman academy is not based on ability, testing, or measures other than ninth-grade status and student/parent choice or random assignment. A freshman academy differs from a simple grouping of ninth-graders in that it incorporates programs or strategies designed to ease the transition for students from the eighth grade to the high school. A freshman academy may include ninthgrade students exclusively or it may be part of an SLC, sometimes called a ‘‘house,’’ which groups together a small number of ninth- through twelfth-grade students for instruction by the same core group of academic teachers. The freshman academy refers only to the ninth-grade students in the house. Large High School means an entity that includes grades 11 and 12 and has an enrollment of 1,000 or more students in grades 9 and above. Research evaluation means the study of the effectiveness of supplemental PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 reading programs that are implemented within freshman academies and that is being sponsored by the Department of Education and is described elsewhere in this notice. Smaller Learning Community (or SLC) means an environment in which a core group of teachers and other adults within the school know the needs, interests, and aspirations of each student well, closely monitor each student’s progress, and provide the academic and other support each student needs to succeed. Striving Ninth-Grade Readers means those students who are enrolled in the ninth grade for the first time and who read English at a level that is two to four grades below their current grade level, as determined by an eighth-grade standardized test of reading. The term includes those students with limited English proficiency who are enrolled in ninth grade for the first time, who read English at a level that is two to four grades below their current grade level, and who took the State’s eighth-grade standardized reading or language arts assessment with minimal accommodations (defined as having the test directions read to them orally, having access during the test to a dictionary, and/or being able to take the test without a time limit). The term does not include students with learning disabilities who have been designated to receive special education services in reading. Selection Criteria Proposed Selection Criteria We propose that the following selection criteria be used to evaluate applications for new grants under this special competition. We may apply these criteria in any year in which we conduct an SLC supplemental reading program competition. Need for Participation in the Supplemental Reading Program In determining the need for participation in the supplemental reading program, we will consider the extent to which the applicant will— (1) Involve schools that have the greatest need for assistance as indicated by such factors as: Student achievement scores in English or language arts; student achievement scores in other core curriculum areas; enrollment; attendance and dropout rates; incidents of violence, drug and alcohol use, and disciplinary actions; percentage of students who have limited English proficiency, come from low-income families, or are otherwise E:\FR\FM\27JAN1.SGM 27JAN1 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 17 / Thursday, January 27, 2005 / Notices disadvantaged; or other need factors as identified by the applicant; (2) Address the needs it has identified in accordance with paragraph (1) through participation in the supplemental reading program activities; and (3) Employ strategies and carry out activities in its implementation of broader SLC activities that address the needs it has identified in accordance with paragraph (1). Foundation for Implementation of the Supplemental Reading Program In determining the foundation for implementation of the supplemental reading program, we will consider the extent to which— (1) Administrators, teachers, and other school staff within each school support the school’s proposed involvement in the supplemental reading program and have been and will continue to be involved in its planning, development, and implementation, including, particularly, those teachers who will be directly affected by the proposed project; (2) Parents, students, and other community stakeholders support the proposed implementation of the supplemental reading program and have been and will continue to be involved in its planning, development and implementation; (3) The proposed implementation of the supplemental reading program is consistent with, and will advance, State and local initiatives to increase student achievement and narrow gaps in achievement between all students and students who are economically disadvantaged, students from major racial and ethnic groups, students with disabilities, or students with limited English proficiency; (4) The applicant demonstrates that it has carried out sufficient planning and preparatory activities, outreach, and consultation with teachers, administrators and other stakeholders to enable it to participate effectively in the supplemental reading program at the beginning of the 2005–6 school year; and (5) The applicant articulates a plan for using information gathered from the evaluation of the supplemental reading program to inform decision and policymaking at the LEA and school levels. Quality of the Project Design for the Broader SLC Project In determining the quality of the project design for the broader SLC project we will consider the extent to which— VerDate jul<14>2003 17:20 Jan 26, 2005 Jkt 205001 (1) The applicant demonstrates a foundation for implementing the broader SLC project, creating or expanding SLC structures or strategies in the school environment, including demonstrating: (A) That it has the support and involvement of administrators, teachers, and other school staff; (B) That it has the support of parents, students, and other community stakeholders; (C) The degree to which the proposed broader SLC project is consistent with, and will advance, State and local initiatives to increase student achievement and narrow gaps in achievement; and (D) The degree to which the applicant has carried out sufficient planning and preparatory activities to enable it to implement the proposed broader SLC project at the beginning of the 2005–6 school year. (2) The applicant will implement or expand strategies, new organizational structures, or other changes in practice that are likely to create an environment in which a core group of teachers and other adults within the school know the needs, interests, and aspirations of each student well, closely monitor each student’s progress, and provide the academic and other support each student needs to succeed; and (3) The applicant will provide highquality professional development throughout the project period that advances the understanding of teachers, administrators, and other school staff of effective, research-based instructional strategies for improving the academic achievement of students, including, particularly, students with academic skills that are significantly below grade level; and provide the knowledge and skills they need to participate effectively in the development, expansion, or implementation of a smaller learning community. Quality of the Management Plan In determining the quality of the management plan for the proposed project, we consider the following factors— (1) The adequacy of the proposed management plan to allow the participating schools to implement effectively the research evaluation and broader SLC project on time and within budget, including clearly defined responsibilities and detailed timelines and milestones for accomplishing project tasks; (2) The extent to which time commitments of the project director and other key personnel, including the teachers who will be responsible for PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 3917 providing instruction in the supplemental reading program, are appropriate and adequate to implement effectively the supplemental reading program and broader SLC project; (3) The qualifications, including relevant training and experience, of the project director, the program coordinator, the teachers who will be responsible for providing instruction in the supplemental reading program, and other key personnel who will be responsible for implementing the broader SLC project; and (4) The adequacy of resources, including the extent to which the budget is adequate, the extent to which the budget provides sufficient funds for the implementation of the supplemental reading program, and the extent to which costs are directly related to the objectives and design of the research evaluation and broader SLC activities. Quality of the Broader SLC Project Evaluation In determining the quality of the broader SLC project evaluation to be conducted on the applicant’s behalf by an independent, third party evaluator, we consider the following factors— (1) The extent to which the methods of evaluation are thorough, feasible, and appropriate to the goals, objectives, and outcomes of the proposed broader SLC project; (2) The extent to which the evaluation will collect and annually report accurate, valid, and reliable data for each of the required performance indicators, including student achievement data that are disaggregated for economically disadvantaged students, students from major racial and ethnic groups, students with disabilities, and students with limited English proficiency; (3) The extent to which the evaluation will collect additional qualitative and quantitative data that will be useful in assessing the success and progress of implementation, including, at a minimum, accurate, valid, and reliable data for the additional performance indicators identified by the applicant in the application; (4) The extent to which the methods of evaluation will provide timely and regular feedback to the LEA and the school on the success and progress of implementation and will identify areas for needed improvement; and (5) The qualifications and relevant training and experience of the independent evaluator. Executive Order 12866 This notice of proposed priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection E:\FR\FM\27JAN1.SGM 27JAN1 3918 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 17 / Thursday, January 27, 2005 / Notices criteria has been reviewed in accordance with Executive Order 12866. Under the terms of the order, we have assessed the potential costs and benefits of this regulatory action. The potential costs associated with the notice of proposed priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria are those resulting from statutory requirements and those we have determined as necessary for administering this program effectively and efficiently. In assessing the potential costs and benefits—both quantitative and qualitative—of this notice of proposed priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria, we have determined that the benefits of the proposed priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria justify the costs. We have also determined that this regulatory action does not unduly interfere with State, local, and tribal governments in the exercise of their governmental functions. Intergovernmental Review This program is subject to Executive Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79. One of the objectives of the Executive order is to foster an intergovernmental partnership and a strengthened federalism. The Executive order relies on processes developed by State and local governments for coordination and review of proposed Federal financial assistance. This document provides early notification of our specific plans and actions for this program. Electronic Access to This Document You may view this document, as well as all other Department of Education documents published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) on the Internet at the following site: http://www.ed.gov/ news/fedregister. To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at this site. If you have questions about using PDF, call the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), toll free, at 1– 888–293–6498; or in the Washington, DC, area at (202) 512–1530. Note: The official version of this document is the document published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations is available on GPO Access at: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/nara/ index.html. (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 84.215L Smaller Learning Communities Program) Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 7249. VerDate jul<14>2003 17:20 Jan 26, 2005 Jkt 205001 Dated: January 21, 2005. Susan Sclafani, Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education. [FR Doc. 05–1477 Filed 1–26–05; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000–01–P DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, as Amended by the Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 Notice of Public Meeting to seek comments and suggestions on regulatory issues under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), as amended by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004. ACTION: SUMMARY: The Secretary announces plans to hold the fifth of a series of public meetings to seek comments and suggestions from the public prior to developing and publishing proposed regulations to implement programs under the recently revised Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Date and Time of Public Meeting: Tuesday, February 15, 2005, from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ADDRESSES: Atlanta Public Schools, Frederick Douglass High School, 225 Hamilton E. Holmes Drive, NW., Atlanta, GA 30318. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Troy R. Justesen. Telephone: (202) 245–7468. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background On December 3, 2004, the President signed into law Public Law 108–446, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, amending the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Copies of the new law may be obtained at the following Web site: http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ osers/osep/index.html Enactment of the new law provides an opportunity to consider improvements in the regulations implementing the IDEA (including both formula and discretionary grant programs) that would strengthen the Federal effort to ensure every child with a disability has available a free appropriate public education that—(1) is of high quality, and (2) is designed to achieve the high standards reflected in the No Child Left Behind Act and regulations. The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services will be holding a PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 series of public meetings during the first few months of calendar year 2005 to seek input and suggestions for developing regulations, as needed, based on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004. This notice provides specific information about the fifth of these meetings, scheduled for Atlanta, GA (see ‘‘Date and Time of Public Meeting’’ earlier in this notice). Other meetings will be conducted in the following locations: • Laramie, WY; and • Washington, DC. In subsequent Federal Register notices, we will notify you of the specific dates and locations of each of these meetings, as well as other relevant information. Individuals who need accommodations for a disability in order to attend the meeting (i.e., interpreting services, assistive listening devices, and material in alternative format) should notify the contact person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. The meeting location is accessible to individuals with disabilities. Dated: January 24, 2005. John H. Hager, Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. [FR Doc. E5–312 Filed 1–26–05; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000–01–P DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket Nos. ER96–2495–024, ER97–4143– 012, ER97–1238–019, ER98–2075–018, and ER98–542–014] AEP Power Marketing, Inc., AEP Service Corporation, CSW Power Marketing, Inc., CSW Energy Services, Inc., Central and South West Services, Inc.; Notice of Compliance Filing January 12, 2005. Take notice that on January 3, 2005, American Electric Power Service Corporation, on behalf of AEP Power Marketing, Inc., AEP Service Corporation, CSW Power Marketing, Inc., CSW Energy Services, Inc., and Central and South West Services, Inc. (collectively, AEP) submitted revised market tariffs in compliance with the Commission’s order issued on December 17, 2004, in Docket Nos. ER96–2495– 020, et al., 109 FERC ¶ 61,276 (2004). AEP states that copies of the filing were served on parties on the official service list in the above-captioned proceeding. E:\FR\FM\27JAN1.SGM 27JAN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 70, Number 17 (Thursday, January 27, 2005)]
[Notices]
[Pages 3910-3918]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 05-1477]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION


Smaller Learning Communities Program

AGENCY: Office of Vocational and Adult Education, Department of 
Education.

ACTION: Notice of proposed priorities, requirements, definitions, and 
selection criteria.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education 
proposes priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria 
for a special competition under the Smaller Learning Communities (SLC) 
program. The Assistant Secretary may use these priorities, 
requirements, definitions and selection criteria for a special 
competition using a portion of fiscal year (FY) 2004 funds and also in 
future years. The priorities, requirements, definitions and selection 
criteria proposed in this notice will not be used for all FY SLC 2004 
competitions. Projects funded using these priorities, requirements, 
definitions, and selection criteria would create and/or expand SLC 
activities as well as participate in a national research evaluation of 
supplemental reading programs. Another SLC competition will be 
conducted later this year, awarding additional FY 2004 funds, for 
projects that do not require participation in the national research 
evaluation. Requirements, priorities, definitions, and selection 
criteria for that competition will be proposed in a notice in the 
Federal Register at a later date.
    We propose these priorities, requirements, definitions, and 
selection criteria to focus federal financial assistance on an 
identified national need for scientifically based data on supplemental 
reading programs for adolescents.

[[Page 3911]]


DATES: We must receive your comments on or before February 28, 2005.

ADDRESSES: Address all comments about these proposed priorities, 
requirements, definitions, and selection criteria to Matthew 
Fitzpatrick, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 11120, Potomac Center 
Plaza, Washington, DC 20202-7120. If you prefer to send your comments 
through the Internet, use the following address: 
matthew.fitzpatrick@ed.gov.
    You must include the term ``SLC Public Comment'' in the subject 
line of your electronic message.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Matthew Fitzpatrick. Telephone: (202) 
245-7809.
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may 
call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1-800-877-8339.
    Individuals with disabilities may obtain this document in an 
alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer 
diskette) on request to the contact person listed under FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Invitation To Comment

    We invite you to submit comments regarding these proposed 
priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria. To 
ensure that your comments have maximum effect in developing the notice 
of final priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria, 
we urge you to identify clearly the specific proposed priority, 
requirement, definition, or selection criterion that each comment 
addresses.
    We invite you to assist us in complying with the specific 
requirements of Executive Order 12866 and its overall requirement of 
reducing regulatory burden that might result from these proposed 
priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria. Please 
let us know of any further opportunities we should take to reduce 
potential costs or increase potential benefits while preserving the 
effective and efficient administration of the program.
    During and after the comment period, you may inspect all public 
comments about these proposed priorities, requirements, definitions, 
and selection criteria at the U.S. Department of Education, Office of 
Vocational and Adult Education, room 11122, 550 12th Street, SW., 
Washington, DC, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., eastern 
time, Monday through Friday of each week except Federal holidays.

Assistance to Individuals With Disabilities in Reviewing the Rulemaking 
Record

    On request, we will supply an appropriate aid, such as a reader or 
print magnifier, to an individual with a disability who needs 
assistance to review the comments or other documents in the public 
rulemaking record for these proposed priorities, requirements, 
definitions, and selection criteria. If you want to schedule an 
appointment for this type of aid, please contact the person listed 
under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

Background

    Improving adolescent literacy is one of the major challenges facing 
high schools today. High school students must have strong literacy 
skills in order to acquire the knowledge and skills in English/language 
arts, mathematics, science, social studies, and other courses that they 
need in order to prepare for further learning, for careers, and for 
active participation in our democracy. Too many young people are now 
entering high school without these essential skills. At a time when 
they will soon enter high school, one-quarter of all eighth-grade 
students and more than 40 percent of those in urban schools scored 
below the basic level on the National Assessment of Education Progress 
(NAEP) in 2003. According to one estimate, at least one-third of 
entering ninth graders are at least two years behind grade level in 
their reading skills (Balfanz, et al., 2002). Many of these young 
people become discouraged and drop out before they reach the twelfth 
grade. Large numbers of those who do persist through their senior year 
leave high school nearly as unprepared for the future as when they 
entered it. Twenty-eight percent of twelfth-grade public school 
students scored below the basic level on the NAEP 2002 reading 
assessment. These students face a bleak future in an economy and 
society that demands more than ever before, higher levels of reading, 
writing, and oral communication skills.
    Recognizing the importance of improving the literacy skills of 
America's children and youth, President Bush established, as key 
priorities, the implementation of scientifically based approaches to 
reading in the early grades and the development of new knowledge about 
how best to help adolescents read well.
    One ongoing initiative, the Adolescent Literacy Research Network, 
created by the Department's Office of Vocational and Adult Education 
(OVAE) and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services 
(OSERS) in collaboration with the National Institute of Child Health 
and Human Development (NICHD), supports six, five-year experimental 
research projects. These projects are examining cognitive, perceptual, 
behavioral, and other mechanisms that influence the development of 
reading and writing abilities during adolescence, as well as the extent 
to which interventions may narrow or close literacy gaps for 
adolescents.
    While these and other long-term, scientifically based research 
studies promise to provide a stronger foundation for designing more 
effective literacy interventions for adolescents, a number of 
noteworthy supplemental reading programs for adolescents are already 
available and have attracted great attention from high school leaders 
concerned about the literacy skills of their freshman students. High 
schools that have created freshman academy SLCs to ease the transition 
of ninth-grade students to high school are among those most interested 
in addressing the needs of ninth graders who have reading skills that 
are significantly below grade level. Unfortunately, however, there is 
little or no scientifically based evidence that schools can consult to 
inform their decision-making regarding the selection and implementation 
of these reading programs.
    In addition to this ongoing research initiative, to help fill this 
knowledge gap, the Department is now seeking to partner with local 
educational agencies (LEAs) in a national research evaluation that will 
examine the effectiveness of two supplemental reading programs that 
will be implemented within freshman academy SLCs. Section 5441(c)(2)(B) 
of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by 
the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (ESEA), authorizes SLC funds to be 
used to ``research, develop, and implement * * * strategies for 
effective and innovative changes in curriculum and instruction, geared 
to challenging State academic content standards and State student 
academic achievement standards.'' The Department proposes in this 
notice to provide a new opportunity for interested LEAs that are 
implementing freshman academy SLCs to partner with us to evaluate the 
effectiveness of two promising supplemental reading programs for ninth-
grade students whose reading skills are two to four years below grade 
level.
    The Department's Institute of Education Sciences (IES) has awarded 
a contract to MDRC and the American Institutes of Research (AIR) to 
conduct

[[Page 3912]]

this supplemental reading program evaluation. AIR has solicited 
proposals from vendors of classroom-based supplemental reading programs 
that wish to participate in this initiative. The supplemental reading 
programs must be suitable for implementation within freshman academies, 
must be research-based, and must address all aspects of reading, from 
basic alphabetic skills to higher-level comprehension and writing. The 
programs must also consider issues of how to motivate adolescents to 
read. MDRC and AIR will convene an independent, expert panel to 
evaluate the programs submitted for consideration, assessing, 
particularly, the extent to which a program incorporates the features 
judged by experts in the field to be indicative of a high-quality 
adolescent reading program and the extent to which there is research-
based evidence of the program's effectiveness. Based on the expert 
panel's recommendations, MDRC and AIR will select the two most 
promising programs for evaluation through this initiative. These 
programs will be identified and described in detail in the final notice 
inviting applications for this competition.
    Interested LEAs that are selected to participate in this initiative 
will implement the supplemental reading programs during the 2005-06 and 
2006-07 school years in high schools that have established freshman 
academy SLCs. Each high school will implement one of the two programs, 
serving first-time ninth-grade students whose reading skills are two to 
four years below grade level. Working with MDRC, the contractor 
selected to conduct the evaluation, each high school will select by 
lottery approximately 50 students from a pool of a minimum of 125 
eligible students to participate in the supplemental reading program; 
the remaining students will be assigned to an elective course, study 
hall, or other activity in which they would otherwise participate. The 
evaluators will work with each LEA and high school to assess the 
effectiveness of the supplemental reading program. After the completion 
of the 2006-07 school year, participating high schools will have gained 
valuable data about the effectiveness of these supplemental reading 
programs in their schools. These data will help them to decide whether 
to expand the supplemental reading program to include all eligible 
students, or to select and implement another supplemental reading 
program.
    The Department proposes to award 60-month grants using the 
priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria proposed 
in this notice. In addition to supporting the other broader SLC 
activities at each participating high school, each grant will fully 
fund the costs of implementing the supplemental reading program, 
technical assistance from the program vendor, and the cost of 
participating in the evaluation.
    The evaluation will provide researchers, policy-makers, school 
administrators, teachers, and parents throughout the United States 
important information about these supplemental reading programs and 
adolescent literacy development, and answer three important questions:
    (1) Do specific supplemental literacy interventions supporting 
personalized and intensive instruction for striving ninth-grade readers 
significantly improve reading proficiency?
    (2) What are the effects of supplemental reading programs on in-
school outcomes such as attendance and course-taking behavior, and on 
longer-term outcomes such as student performance on State assessments 
in the tenth or eleventh grade?
    (3) Which students benefit most from participation in the 
interventions?
    LEAs and participating high schools would benefit in a number of 
ways from partnering with the Department in this initiative. They would 
make an important contribution to improving our now-limited knowledge 
of how we can help most effectively at-risk young people who enter high 
school with limited literacy skills. They would receive grant funds to 
support the implementation of a promising supplemental reading program 
and high-quality professional development for the teachers who will 
provide instruction. After the second year of the grant, once the 
research evaluation has been completed, participating schools would be 
free to expand the program to include all eligible students or 
implement a new program, if they choose. Finally, they would receive 
funds to support a broader SLC project that expands or creates new SLC 
structures and strategies in participating high schools. Those funds 
would be available for use throughout the 60-month grant period.
    We will announce the final priorities, requirements, definitions 
and selection criteria in a notice in the Federal Register. We will 
determine the final priorities, requirements, definitions and selection 
criteria after considering responses to this notice and other 
information available to the Department. This notice does not preclude 
us from proposing additional priorities, subject to meeting applicable 
rulemaking requirements.

    Note: This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in 
which we choose to use these proposed priorities, requirements, 
definitions, and selection criteria, we invite applications through 
a notice in the Federal Register. When inviting applications we 
designate each priority as absolute, competitive preference, or 
invitational. The effect of each type of priority follows:

    Absolute priority: Under an absolute priority we consider only 
applications that meet the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(3)).
    Competitive preference priority: Under a competitive preference 
priority we give competitive preference to an application by either 
(1) awarding additional points, depending on how well or the extent 
to which the application meets the competitive priority (34 CFR 
75.105(c)(2)(i)); or (2) selecting an application that meets the 
competitive priority over an application of comparable merit that 
does not meet the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(ii)).
    Invitational priority: Under an invitational priority we are 
particularly interested in applications that meet the invitational 
priority. However, we do not give an application that meets the 
invitational priority a competitive or absolute preference over 
other applications (34 CFR 75.105(c)(1)).

Priorities

Proposed Priorities

Proposed Priority 1--Participation in a National Research Evaluation 
That Assesses the Effectiveness of Supplemental Reading Programs in 
Freshman Academies
    To be eligible for consideration under this priority, an applicant 
must:
    (1) Apply on behalf of two or four large high schools that are 
currently implementing freshman academies;
    (2) Provide documentation of the LEA's and schools' willingness to 
participate in a large-scale, national evaluation that uses 
scientifically based research methods. Each LEA must include in its 
application a letter from its research office or research board 
agreeing to meet the requirements of the research design, if such 
approval is needed according to local policies. If such approval is not 
required, each LEA must include in its application a letter from its 
superintendent and the principals of the high schools named in the 
application, agreeing to meet the requirements of the research design;
    (3) Agree to implement two designated supplemental reading programs 
for striving ninth-grade readers, one in each school, in two or four 
eligible high schools, adhering strictly to the design of the reading 
program, with the understanding that the supplemental reading program 
will be one of two programs announced in the notice of final priorities 
and will be

[[Page 3913]]

chosen for the school by the contractor selected to conduct the 
evaluation;
    (4) Agree to assign one language arts teacher in each participating 
high school--to participate in professional development necessary to 
implement the supplemental reading program (which may include travel to 
an off-site location); to teach the selected supplemental reading 
program to participating students for a minimum of 225 minutes per week 
for each week of the 2005-2006 and 2006-07 school years; and to 
complete any surveys and administer any student assessments required by 
the evaluation contractor;
    (5) Assist the contractor in obtaining parental consent for 
students to participate in assessments and other data collections;
    (6) Agree to provide, prior to the start of school years 2005-06 
and 2006-07, for each participating high school, a list of at least 125 
striving ninth-grade readers who are eligible to participate in the 
research study; work with the contractor to assign by lottery 50 of 
those students in each participating high school to the supplemental 
reading program and assign the remaining students to other activities 
that they would otherwise participate in, such as a study hall, 
electives, or other activity that does not involve supplemental reading 
instruction; provide students selected for the supplemental reading 
program with a minimum of 225 minutes per week of instruction in the 
supplemental reading program for each week of the school year; and 
allow enough flexibility in the schedules of all eligible students so 
that students who are not initially selected by lottery to participate 
in the supplemental reading program may be reassigned, at random, to 
the program if students who were initially selected for the program 
transfer to another school, drop out, or otherwise discontinue their 
participation in supplemental reading instruction during the school 
year.
    Rationale: The terms and conditions of this proposed priority are 
required to implement the scientifically based research design of the 
research evaluation. The supplemental reading programs, for example, 
cannot be fairly and effectively evaluated if they are not implemented 
consistently across sites by well-trained instructors. Similarly, the 
evaluation design requires eligible students to be assigned randomly to 
participate in the designated supplemental reading programs so that the 
evaluation will provide clear and definitive information about the 
effectiveness of these programs. The design also requires that pairs of 
high schools implement the two supplemental reading programs so that 
the two programs can be evaluated under similar conditions. Though the 
characteristics of high schools within a single LEA may differ, they 
would each operate within the same policy context and under a similar 
set of circumstances and are likely to more closely resemble each other 
than high schools in other LEAs or states.
Proposed Priority 2--Number of Schools
    The Secretary proposes a priority for applications from LEAs 
applying on behalf of four high schools that are implementing freshman 
academies and that commit to participate in the research study.
    Rationale: For the purposes of the research evaluation, the 
Department will accept applications from LEAs applying on behalf of 
either four schools or two schools that are implementing freshman 
academies. Ideally, the LEAs studied in this research evaluation will 
be uniform in terms of the number of schools participating. 
Furthermore, maintaining the integrity of the random assignment process 
is more challenging with a larger number of districts. While the 
Department would like many districts to have the opportunity to 
participate, we must balance the potential benefits of more districts 
receiving the grants with the objective of conducting a rigorous study 
that will yield conclusive results about the effectiveness of the two 
supplemental reading programs that will be evaluated.
    The Department, therefore, would prefer that all LEAs participating 
in this research evaluation implement the supplemental reading program 
in four high schools. However, in the interest of securing a suitable 
number of strong applications, the Department may implement proposed 
priority 2 as an invitational or competitive preference priority, in 
which case the Department will accept applications from LEAs applying 
on behalf of four or two high schools.

Requirements

Proposed Application Requirements

    The Assistant Secretary proposes the following application 
requirements for this SLC competition. These proposed requirements are 
in addition to the content that all Smaller Learning Communities grant 
applicants must include in their applications as required by the 
program statute under title V, part D, subpart 4, section 5441(b) of 
the ESEA.

Eligibility

    We propose that, to be considered for funding, an applicant must be 
an LEA (including schools funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and 
educational service agencies) that applies on behalf of two or four 
large public high schools that have implemented at least one freshman 
academy SLC by no later than the 2004-2005 school year.
    Accordingly, LEAs must identify in their applications the names of 
the two or four large high schools proposed to participate in the 
research evaluation and the number of students enrolled in each school, 
disaggregated by grade level. We will not accept applications from LEAs 
on behalf of one, three, or more than four schools. We require that 
each school include grades 11 and 12 and have an enrollment of 1,000 or 
more students in grades 9 through 12.
    Enrollment figures must be based upon data from the current school 
year or data from the most recently completed school year. We will not 
accept applications from LEAs applying on behalf of schools that are 
being constructed and do not have an active student enrollment at the 
time of application.
    The LEA also must provide an assurance that the schools identified 
in their application: (1) Are implementing at least one freshman 
academy SLC during the 2004-05 school year; (2) will continue to 
implement at least one freshman academy SLC during the 2005-06 and 
2006-07 school years; and (3) did not implement a classroom-based 
supplemental reading program for striving ninth-grade readers during 
the 2004-05 school year. For each school identified in the application, 
LEAs also must provide evidence that a minimum of 150 striving ninth-
grade readers (as defined elsewhere in this notice) were enrolled at 
the school during each of the 2003-04 and 2004-05 school years. We will 
accept applications from LEAs whether or not they are applying on 
behalf of schools that have previously received funding under the 
Federal SLC program. Eligible schools would be those currently 
implementing freshman academy SLCs, though the freshman academies need 
not have been funded through a prior Federal SLC grant.
    Rationale: The Department needs enrollment information to determine 
if each of the two or four schools identified in an application meets 
the proposed definition of a large high school and to ensure that an 
LEA is applying on behalf of a correct number of schools. Schools under 
construction do not have actual enrollment data to be used to determine 
eligibility and, therefore, may not apply. In addition, the research 
evaluation design requires that (i) LEAs implement the

[[Page 3914]]

supplemental reading programs in sets of two or four high schools; (ii) 
the supplemental reading programs are implemented within established 
freshman academy SLCs in high schools that have not implemented a 
classroom-based supplemental reading program or classes for striving 
ninth-grade readers; and (iii) each school has a minimum of 125 
striving ninth-grade readers. While we recognize that no LEA can be 
certain of the skills and academic needs of the students who will enter 
a particular high school during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 school years, 
we believe that high schools whose two most recent freshman classes 
included at least 150 striving ninth-grade readers are more likely than 
other high schools to have the required minimum of 125 eligible 
students during the next two school years.

School Report Cards

    We propose to require that LEAs provide, for each of the schools 
included in the application, the most recent ``report card'' produced 
by the State or the LEA to inform the public about the characteristics 
of the school and its students, including information about student 
academic achievement and other student outcomes. These ``report cards'' 
must include, at a minimum, the information that LEAs are required to 
report for each school under section 1111(h)(2)(B)(ii) of the ESEA: (1) 
Whether the school has been identified for school improvement; and (2) 
information that shows how the academic assessments and other 
indicators of adequate yearly progress compare to students in the LEA 
and the State, as well as performance of the school's students on the 
statewide assessment as a whole.
    Rationale: The Department needs the ``report cards'' to verify the 
accuracy of the information the LEA provides in its application about 
student academic achievement and other student outcomes at each school.

Consortium Applications and Governing Authority

    In an effort to encourage systemic, LEA-level reform efforts, we 
propose permitting an individual LEA to submit only one application on 
behalf of multiple schools. Accordingly, the LEA would be required to 
specify in its application which high schools it intends to fund.
    In addition, we propose to require that an LEA applying for a grant 
under this competition apply only on behalf of a high school or high 
schools for which it has governing authority, unless the LEA is an 
educational service agency applying in the manner described in the 
section in this notice entitled Educational Service Agencies. An LEA, 
however, may form a consortium with another LEA with which it shares a 
geographical border and submit a joint application for funds. In such 
an instance, the consortium must apply on behalf of either two or four 
high schools, and follow the procedures for group applications 
described in 34 CFR 75.127 through 75.129 in the Education Department 
General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR). For example, an LEA that 
wishes to apply for a grant but only has one eligible high school may 
partner with a neighboring LEA, if the neighboring LEA has another 
eligible high school.
    Rationale: These requirements are designed to ensure that each LEA 
that receives assistance under this program will manage and coordinate 
school-level planning and implementation activities as part of a 
single, coherent, LEA-wide reform strategy. These requirements will 
help LEAs make the most effective and efficient use of SLC resources 
and assist them in aligning SLC activities with other LEA-level 
initiatives, including the implementation of activities carried out 
under other programs funded by the ESEA and the Carl D. Perkins 
Vocational and Technical Education Act. In addition, a high school 
would have considerable difficulty implementing or expanding an SLC 
program without the active participation of its parent LEA.

Educational Service Agencies

    We propose to permit an educational service agency to apply on 
behalf of eligible high schools only if the educational service agency 
includes in its application evidence that the entity that has governing 
authority over the eligible high school supports the application.
    Rationale: Educational service agencies, which are included in the 
statutory definition of LEA, typically do not have governing authority 
over high schools they service. Generally, the administrative control 
or direction of a high school is invested in a public board of 
education or another public authority other than an educational service 
agency. We recognize that not all entities that have administrative 
control or direction of eligible high schools have the capacity to 
apply for and administer an SLC grant. Educational service agencies 
provide resources and expertise to assist districts and schools in 
performing functions that they otherwise could not, by themselves, 
perform efficiently or at all. Moreover, they are organized for the 
explicit purpose of providing education-related services to entities 
with governing authority over schools and their students.

Budget Information for Determination of Award

    We propose that LEAs may receive up to $1,000,000 during the 60-
month project period. This is an increase from the maximum range of 
awards ($550,000 to $770,000) that we established in the previous SLC 
program competitions, plus an additional $230,000 to cover additional 
expenses related to participation in the research evaluation.
    In its budget calculations, each school would reserve $150,000 for 
implementation of the supplemental reading program during the 2005-06 
school year and $80,000 for the implementation of the program during 
the 2006-07 school year. These funds will support the salary and 
benefits of one full-time equivalent teacher who will be responsible 
for providing the supplemental reading program instruction and 
performing administrative functions related to the conduct of the 
research evaluation, professional development and technical assistance 
provided by the program developer, and the purchase of curriculum and 
the technology necessary to deliver instruction. The remaining $770,000 
will be available to support other activities related to the creation 
or expansion of smaller learning communities in the school. For one 
application, LEAs could receive up to $4,000,000. Grants would be 
designed to support participation in the research evaluation over the 
first two years of the project period, and a broader SLC project, 
including such activities as extensive redesign and improvement 
efforts, professional development, or direct student services, over 
five years.
    Applicants would be required to provide detailed, yearly budget 
information for the total grant period requested. Understanding the 
unique complexities of implementing a program that affects a school's 
organization, physical design, curriculum, instruction, and preparation 
of teachers, we anticipate awarding the entire amount at the time of 
initial awards.
    The actual size of awards would be based on a number of factors. 
These factors include the scope, quality, and comprehensiveness of the 
proposed program, and the range of awards indicated in the application 
notice.
    Rationale: Requiring applicants to provide detailed, yearly budget 
information for the total grant period requested is necessary for us to 
determine appropriate grant amounts

[[Page 3915]]

based on the needs of the LEA and high schools.

Student Placement

    We propose that applicants must include a description of how 
students will be selected or placed in the broader SLC project such 
that students will not be placed according to ability or any other 
measure, but will be placed at random or by student/parent choice and 
not pursuant to testing or other judgments.
    Rationale: The Department needs this information to ensure that 
each funded project complies with the requirements of the statute 
regarding random assignment or student/parent choice for SLC placement 
of students. Section 5441(b)(13) of the ESEA requires applicants for 
SLC grants to describe the method of placing students in the SLC or 
SLCs, such that students are not placed according to ability or any 
other measure, but are placed at random or by student/parent choice and 
not pursuant to testing or other judgments. For instance, projects that 
place students in any SLC on the basis of their prior academic 
achievement or performance on an academic assessment are not eligible 
for assistance under this program. Note that the supplemental reading 
programs are not SLCs. Enrollment in a supplemental reading program 
would be contingent on student performance, but enrollment in broader 
SLCs funded through this program may not be based on ability.

Performance Indicators for the Broader SLC Project

    We propose to require applicants to identify in their application 
specific performance indicators and annual performance objectives for 
these indicators and one core indicator. Specifically, we propose to 
require applicants to use the following performance indicators to 
measure the progress of each school:
    (1) The percentage of students who score at the proficient and 
advanced levels on the mathematics assessments used by the State to 
measure adequate yearly progress under part A of title I of the ESEA, 
as well as these percentages disaggregated by the following subgroups:
    (A) Major racial and ethnic groups;
    (B) Students with disabilities;
    (C) Students with limited English proficiency; and
    (D) Economically disadvantaged students.
    (2) At least two other appropriate indicators the LEA would 
identify, such as rates of average daily attendance, year-to-year 
retention, achievement and gains in English proficiency of limited 
English proficient students; incidence of school violence, drug and 
alcohol use, and disciplinary actions; or the percentage of students 
completing advanced placement courses or passing advanced placement 
tests.
    Applicants must identify annual performance objectives for each 
indicator in their application.
    Rationale: The fundamental purpose of SLCs is to improve the 
academic achievement of students and prepare them to participate 
successfully in postsecondary education or advanced training, the 
workforce, our democracy, and our communities. It is important, 
therefore, that projects measure their progress in improving student 
academic achievement and other related outcomes.

Evaluation of Broader SLC Projects

    We propose to require each applicant to provide an assurance that 
it will support an evaluation of its broader SLC project that provides 
information to the project director and school personnel and that will 
be useful in gauging the project's progress and in identifying areas 
for improvement. We propose that each evaluation include an annual 
report for each of the five years of the project period and a final 
report that would be completed at the end of the fifth year. We would 
require grantees to submit each of these reports to the Department. We 
propose to require that the evaluation be conducted by an independent 
third party evaluator selected by the LEA whose role in the project is 
limited to conducting the evaluation.
    Rationale: Implementing or expanding an SLC project is difficult 
and complex work that administrators, teachers, and other school 
personnel must carry out at the same time that they are carrying out 
other demanding, day-to-day responsibilities. An evaluation that 
provides regular feedback on the progress of implementation and its 
impact can help the project director and school personnel identify 
their successes and how they may need to revise their strategies to 
accomplish their goals. To be most useful, the evaluation should be 
objective and be carried out by an independent third party who has no 
other role in the implementation of the project.

Participation in the Research Evaluation

    We propose to require each applicant to provide an assurance that 
it and each participating high school will take several actions to 
assist in implementing the research evaluation, including:
    (1) The LEA must implement the supplemental reading program(s) 
adhering strictly to the design of the program(s), including purchasing 
all necessary instructional materials, technology, professional 
development, and student materials in sufficient time for the 
program(s) to be implemented at the start of the 2005-06 and 2006-07 
school years.
    (2) The LEA or the participating high school(s) must use a lottery 
to assign randomly 50 of the expected 125 or more students determined 
to be eligible to participate in the supplemental reading class and the 
remainder to serve as non-participants.
    (3) The LEA must provide a language arts teacher for each 
participating high school who would receive professional development in 
the supplemental reading program (three days during Summer 2005 and two 
follow-up days during each of the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 school years) 
and would teach the supplemental reading program to the participating 
students for a minimum of 225 minutes per week for each week of the 
2005-2006 and 2006-07 school years. This teacher would complete four 
surveys (at the beginning and end of the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 school 
years) to provide information on his or her preparation, professional 
development, and experiences.
    (4) The LEA must administer, in conjunction with the contractor 
selected to conduct the evaluation, a diagnostic group assessment of 
reading skills at the beginning and the end of the ninth-grade year to 
assess whether or not those students participating and not 
participating in the supplemental reading program have made gains in 
reading skills. This reading assessment might also need to be 
administered again at the end of the tenth-grade year.
    (5) The LEA must provide transcripts and State assessment data for 
the entire pool of eligible students for the 2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08, 
and 2008-09 school years, in a manner and to the extent consistent with 
the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. 1232g; 
34 CFR part 99).
    (6) The LEA must designate a project coordinator who would 
participate in the professional development and serve as a resource and 
coordinator for teachers involved in the research study. This project 
coordinator would also work with the LEA's technology office (if 
necessary) and the curriculum developers to organize the purchase of 
computer equipment and software needed to implement the supplemental 
reading program. The project coordinator would not also be the

[[Page 3916]]

language arts teacher responsible for teaching the supplemental 
literacy program.
    (7) The LEA and participating high schools must allow enough 
flexibility in developing the participating students' daily schedules 
to accommodate the supplemental literacy instruction, which might be 
scheduled as the typical 45-minute language arts period or as a larger 
block of 90 minutes for literacy instruction and practice.
    (8) The LEA and participating high schools must allow the 
evaluation team to observe both the classrooms implementing the 
supplemental literacy program and other English or language arts 
classrooms in the school.
    Rationale: The administration of a complex national research 
evaluation requires careful planning on the part of each LEA, high 
school, evaluator, and project director involved. It is essential that 
all schools participating in the study adhere to the research design to 
ensure that data collected from the project will be valid.
    The use of a lottery to determine the participation of eligible 
students maintains the integrity of the comparison group. Each school's 
participation will require the efforts of a language arts teacher 
trained and dedicated to the faithful implementation of the research 
design. The language arts teacher will be responsible for working with 
the contractor selected to conduct the evaluation and administering 
group assessments of participating students. In a manner consistent 
with FERPA, the evaluator must have access to student transcripts and 
assessment data in order to gauge the effectiveness of the supplemental 
reading program.

High-Risk Status and Other Enforcement Mechanisms

    Because the requirements listed in this notice are material 
requirements, we propose that failure to comply with any requirement or 
with any elements of the grantee's application would subject the 
grantee to administrative action, including but not limited to 
designation as a ``high-risk'' grantee, the imposition of special 
conditions, or termination of the grant. Circumstances that might cause 
the Department to take such action include, but are not limited to: The 
grantee's failure to implement the designated supplemental reading 
programs in a manner that adheres strictly to the design of the 
program; the grantee's failure to purchase all necessary instructional 
materials, technology, professional development, and student materials 
in sufficient time for the programs to be implemented at the start of 
the 2005-06 and 2006-07 school years; and the grantee's failure to 
adhere to any requirements or protocols established by the evaluator.
    Rationale: Part of the Department's role in administering grant 
funds under the SLC program is to ensure that those taxpayer funds are 
used in a manner that is consistent with the aims of the grant program. 
To help ensure proper use of taxpayer funds, the Department reserves 
the right to use the enforcement actions listed above if a grantee 
fails to meet the requirements established by this notice and the law 
authorizing the SLC program.

Definitions

Proposed Definitions

    In addition to the definitions set out in the authorizing statute 
and 34 CFR 77.1, we propose that the following definitions also apply 
to this special competition. We may apply these definitions in any year 
in which we run an SLC supplemental reading program competition.
    Broader SLC Project means an SLC project at the site of the high 
school aside from and in addition to that high school's implementation 
of a supplemental reading program and participation in the research 
evaluation.
    Freshman Academy means a form of SLC structure that groups ninth-
grade students into an environment in which a core group of teachers 
and other adults within the school know the needs, interests, and 
aspirations of each ninth-grade student well, closely monitor each 
student's progress, and provide the academic and other support each 
student needs to transition to high school and succeed. Student 
enrollment in (or exclusion from) a freshman academy is not based on 
ability, testing, or measures other than ninth-grade status and 
student/parent choice or random assignment. A freshman academy differs 
from a simple grouping of ninth-graders in that it incorporates 
programs or strategies designed to ease the transition for students 
from the eighth grade to the high school. A freshman academy may 
include ninth-grade students exclusively or it may be part of an SLC, 
sometimes called a ``house,'' which groups together a small number of 
ninth- through twelfth-grade students for instruction by the same core 
group of academic teachers. The freshman academy refers only to the 
ninth-grade students in the house.
    Large High School means an entity that includes grades 11 and 12 
and has an enrollment of 1,000 or more students in grades 9 and above.
    Research evaluation means the study of the effectiveness of 
supplemental reading programs that are implemented within freshman 
academies and that is being sponsored by the Department of Education 
and is described elsewhere in this notice.
    Smaller Learning Community (or SLC) means an environment in which a 
core group of teachers and other adults within the school know the 
needs, interests, and aspirations of each student well, closely monitor 
each student's progress, and provide the academic and other support 
each student needs to succeed.
    Striving Ninth-Grade Readers means those students who are enrolled 
in the ninth grade for the first time and who read English at a level 
that is two to four grades below their current grade level, as 
determined by an eighth-grade standardized test of reading. The term 
includes those students with limited English proficiency who are 
enrolled in ninth grade for the first time, who read English at a level 
that is two to four grades below their current grade level, and who 
took the State's eighth-grade standardized reading or language arts 
assessment with minimal accommodations (defined as having the test 
directions read to them orally, having access during the test to a 
dictionary, and/or being able to take the test without a time limit). 
The term does not include students with learning disabilities who have 
been designated to receive special education services in reading.

Selection Criteria

Proposed Selection Criteria

    We propose that the following selection criteria be used to 
evaluate applications for new grants under this special competition. We 
may apply these criteria in any year in which we conduct an SLC 
supplemental reading program competition.

Need for Participation in the Supplemental Reading Program

    In determining the need for participation in the supplemental 
reading program, we will consider the extent to which the applicant 
will--
    (1) Involve schools that have the greatest need for assistance as 
indicated by such factors as: Student achievement scores in English or 
language arts; student achievement scores in other core curriculum 
areas; enrollment; attendance and dropout rates; incidents of violence, 
drug and alcohol use, and disciplinary actions; percentage of students 
who have limited English proficiency, come from low-income families, or 
are otherwise

[[Page 3917]]

disadvantaged; or other need factors as identified by the applicant;
    (2) Address the needs it has identified in accordance with 
paragraph (1) through participation in the supplemental reading program 
activities; and
    (3) Employ strategies and carry out activities in its 
implementation of broader SLC activities that address the needs it has 
identified in accordance with paragraph (1).

Foundation for Implementation of the Supplemental Reading Program

    In determining the foundation for implementation of the 
supplemental reading program, we will consider the extent to which--
    (1) Administrators, teachers, and other school staff within each 
school support the school's proposed involvement in the supplemental 
reading program and have been and will continue to be involved in its 
planning, development, and implementation, including, particularly, 
those teachers who will be directly affected by the proposed project;
    (2) Parents, students, and other community stakeholders support the 
proposed implementation of the supplemental reading program and have 
been and will continue to be involved in its planning, development and 
implementation;
    (3) The proposed implementation of the supplemental reading program 
is consistent with, and will advance, State and local initiatives to 
increase student achievement and narrow gaps in achievement between all 
students and students who are economically disadvantaged, students from 
major racial and ethnic groups, students with disabilities, or students 
with limited English proficiency;
    (4) The applicant demonstrates that it has carried out sufficient 
planning and preparatory activities, outreach, and consultation with 
teachers, administrators and other stakeholders to enable it to 
participate effectively in the supplemental reading program at the 
beginning of the 2005-6 school year; and
    (5) The applicant articulates a plan for using information gathered 
from the evaluation of the supplemental reading program to inform 
decision and policymaking at the LEA and school levels.

Quality of the Project Design for the Broader SLC Project

    In determining the quality of the project design for the broader 
SLC project we will consider the extent to which--
    (1) The applicant demonstrates a foundation for implementing the 
broader SLC project, creating or expanding SLC structures or strategies 
in the school environment, including demonstrating:
    (A) That it has the support and involvement of administrators, 
teachers, and other school staff;
    (B) That it has the support of parents, students, and other 
community stakeholders;
    (C) The degree to which the proposed broader SLC project is 
consistent with, and will advance, State and local initiatives to 
increase student achievement and narrow gaps in achievement; and
    (D) The degree to which the applicant has carried out sufficient 
planning and preparatory activities to enable it to implement the 
proposed broader SLC project at the beginning of the 2005-6 school 
year.
    (2) The applicant will implement or expand strategies, new 
organizational structures, or other changes in practice that are likely 
to create an environment in which a core group of teachers and other 
adults within the school know the needs, interests, and aspirations of 
each student well, closely monitor each student's progress, and provide 
the academic and other support each student needs to succeed; and
    (3) The applicant will provide high-quality professional 
development throughout the project period that advances the 
understanding of teachers, administrators, and other school staff of 
effective, research-based instructional strategies for improving the 
academic achievement of students, including, particularly, students 
with academic skills that are significantly below grade level; and 
provide the knowledge and skills they need to participate effectively 
in the development, expansion, or implementation of a smaller learning 
community.

Quality of the Management Plan

    In determining the quality of the management plan for the proposed 
project, we consider the following factors--
    (1) The adequacy of the proposed management plan to allow the 
participating schools to implement effectively the research evaluation 
and broader SLC project on time and within budget, including clearly 
defined responsibilities and detailed timelines and milestones for 
accomplishing project tasks;
    (2) The extent to which time commitments of the project director 
and other key personnel, including the teachers who will be responsible 
for providing instruction in the supplemental reading program, are 
appropriate and adequate to implement effectively the supplemental 
reading program and broader SLC project;
    (3) The qualifications, including relevant training and experience, 
of the project director, the program coordinator, the teachers who will 
be responsible for providing instruction in the supplemental reading 
program, and other key personnel who will be responsible for 
implementing the broader SLC project; and
    (4) The adequacy of resources, including the extent to which the 
budget is adequate, the extent to which the budget provides sufficient 
funds for the implementation of the supplemental reading program, and 
the extent to which costs are directly related to the objectives and 
design of the research evaluation and broader SLC activities.

Quality of the Broader SLC Project Evaluation

    In determining the quality of the broader SLC project evaluation to 
be conducted on the applicant's behalf by an independent, third party 
evaluator, we consider the following factors--
    (1) The extent to which the methods of evaluation are thorough, 
feasible, and appropriate to the goals, objectives, and outcomes of the 
proposed broader SLC project;
    (2) The extent to which the evaluation will collect and annually 
report accurate, valid, and reliable data for each of the required 
performance indicators, including student achievement data that are 
disaggregated for economically disadvantaged students, students from 
major racial and ethnic groups, students with disabilities, and 
students with limited English proficiency;
    (3) The extent to which the evaluation will collect additional 
qualitative and quantitative data that will be useful in assessing the 
success and progress of implementation, including, at a minimum, 
accurate, valid, and reliable data for the additional performance 
indicators identified by the applicant in the application;
    (4) The extent to which the methods of evaluation will provide 
timely and regular feedback to the LEA and the school on the success 
and progress of implementation and will identify areas for needed 
improvement; and
    (5) The qualifications and relevant training and experience of the 
independent evaluator.

Executive Order 12866

    This notice of proposed priorities, requirements, definitions, and 
selection

[[Page 3918]]

criteria has been reviewed in accordance with Executive Order 12866. 
Under the terms of the order, we have assessed the potential costs and 
benefits of this regulatory action.
    The potential costs associated with the notice of proposed 
priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria are those 
resulting from statutory requirements and those we have determined as 
necessary for administering this program effectively and efficiently.
    In assessing the potential costs and benefits--both quantitative 
and qualitative--of this notice of proposed priorities, requirements, 
definitions, and selection criteria, we have determined that the 
benefits of the proposed priorities, requirements, definitions, and 
selection criteria justify the costs.
    We have also determined that this regulatory action does not unduly 
interfere with State, local, and tribal governments in the exercise of 
their governmental functions.

Intergovernmental Review

    This program is subject to Executive Order 12372 and the 
regulations in 34 CFR part 79. One of the objectives of the Executive 
order is to foster an intergovernmental partnership and a strengthened 
federalism. The Executive order relies on processes developed by State 
and local governments for coordination and review of proposed Federal 
financial assistance.
    This document provides early notification of our specific plans and 
actions for this program.

Electronic Access to This Document

    You may view this document, as well as all other Department of 
Education documents published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe 
Portable Document Format (PDF) on the Internet at the following site: 
http://www.ed.gov/news/fedregister.
    To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available 
free at this site. If you have questions about using PDF, call the U.S. 
Government Printing Office (GPO), toll free, at 1-888-293-6498; or in 
the Washington, DC, area at (202) 512-1530.

    Note: The official version of this document is the document 
published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the 
official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal 
Regulations is available on GPO Access at: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/
nara/index.html.


(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 84.215L Smaller 
Learning Communities Program)

    Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 7249.

    Dated: January 21, 2005.
Susan Sclafani,
Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education.
[FR Doc. 05-1477 Filed 1-26-05; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P