Office of Elementary and Secondary Education; Overview Information; Comprehensive Centers; Notice Inviting Applications for New Awards for Fiscal Year 2005, 32583-32594 [05-11097]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 106 / Friday, June 3, 2005 / Notices following: (1) Type of review requested, e.g. new, revision, extension, existing or reinstatement; (2) Title; (3) Summary of the collection; (4) Description of the need for, and proposed use of, the information; (5) Respondents and frequency of collection; and (6) Reporting and/or Recordkeeping burden. OMB invites public comment. Dated: May 27, 2005. Angela C. Arrington, Leader, Information Management Case Services Team, Regulatory Information Management Services, Office of the Chief Information Officer. 18:03 Jun 02, 2005 Jkt 205001 [FR Doc. 05–11071 Filed 6–2–05; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000–01–P DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION Institute of Education Sciences Type of Review: New. Title: Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort: Kindergarten and First Grade Field Test and Full Scale. Frequency: One time. Affected Public: Individuals or household; businesses or other forprofit; not-for-profit institutions. Reporting and Recordkeeping Hour Burden: Responses: 562; Burden Hours: 197. Abstract: The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort (ECLS–B) is a nationally representative longitudinal study of children born in the year 2001. Children are assessed using state of the art assessment tools, parents are interviewed as well as child care providers and school personnel. Together with the Kindergarten component of this early childhood studies program, the survey informs the research and general community about children’s health, early learning, development and education experiences. The focus of this survey is on characteristics of children and their families that influence children’s first experiences with the demands of formal schools as well as early health care and in- and out-of-home experiences. Requests for copies of the information collection submission for OMB review may be accessed from http:// edicsweb.ed.gov, by selecting the ‘‘Browse Pending Collections’’ link and by clicking on link number 2721. When you access the information collection, click on ‘‘Download Attachments’’ to view. Written requests for information should be addressed to U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., Potomac Center, 9th Floor, Washington, DC 20202–4700. Requests may also be electronically mailed to the Internet address OCIO_RIMG@ed.gov or faxed to 202–245–6623. Please specify the complete title of the information collection when making your request. Comments regarding burden and/or the collection activity requirements VerDate jul<14>2003 should be directed to Katrina Ingalls at her e-mail address Katrina.Ingalls@ed.gov. Individuals who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1– 800–877–8339. Office of Elementary and Secondary Education; Overview Information; Comprehensive Centers; Notice Inviting Applications for New Awards for Fiscal Year 2005 Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 84.283B. DATES: Applications Available: June 3, 2005. Deadline for Notice of Intent to Apply: June 23, 2005. Dates of Pre-Application Meetings: The Department will conduct briefings on this competition via conference call to clarify the purposes of the program and the selection criteria and process at 11 a.m. on each of the following dates: Applicants for Regional Centers June 13 and 17; Applicants for Content Centers June 22 and 23. Please e-mail Enid Simmons at enid.simmons@ed.gov to register for a call date and time and obtain the conference call number and code. Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: July 18, 2005. Deadline for Intergovernmental Review: August 17, 2005. Eligible Applicants: Research organizations, institutions, agencies, institutions of higher education, or partnerships among such entities, or individuals, with the demonstrated ability or capacity to carry out the activities described in this notice. An application from a consortium of eligible entities must include a consortium agreement. Letters of support do not meet the requirement for a consortium agreement. Note: The Department will reject any application that does not meet these eligibility requirements. Estimated Number of Awards: The Secretary intends to support 21 awards under this competition. Sixteen awards will support Regional comprehensive centers (Regional Centers) to serve States within defined geographic boundaries. The States and territories to be served by each Regional Center are described in this notice under Absolute Priorities for Regional Centers. Five awards will support Content PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 32583 comprehensive centers (Content Centers), each having a specific content expertise and focus, to support the work of the Regional Centers. These five Content Centers are: the Center on Assessment and Accountability, the Center on Instruction, the Center on Teacher Quality, the Center on Innovation and Improvement, and the Center on High Schools. The functions and activities for each of the five Content Centers are described in this notice under Absolute Priorities for Content Centers. Note: The Educational Technical Assistance Act of 2002 (TA Act) provides that the Secretary must ensure that not less than one Comprehensive Center is established in each of the 10 geographic regions served by the Regional Educational Laboratories. Note that these regions differ, in some instances, from the Regional Centers described in this notice. The Secretary will consider the location of the proposed Regional Centers in the selection and negotiation of cooperative agreements to ensure that this requirement of the law is met. Estimated Available Funds: Eighteen of the 21 Centers proposed for funding under this competition will be supported entirely with funds from the Comprehensive Centers program, authorized under Title II of the TA Act. Three of the 21 centers will be supported with funds appropriated for the Comprehensive Centers program and the Special Education Technical Assistance and Dissemination program, which is authorized under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, as amended (IDEA). The estimated available funds from the Comprehensive Centers program for FY 2005 is $40 million. Of that amount, an estimated $35 million will be used to fund Regional Centers and $5 million will be used to fund the Content Centers. FY 2005 funds will support awards for the first budget period of the project, which is the first nine months of the project period. Funding for the subsequent 12-month budget periods for years two through five (FY 2006 through FY 2009) is contingent on appropriation levels. For FY 2006, the President’s budget, if funded at the requested level, would provide approximately $56.8 million for the Comprehensive Centers program. The estimated total funds from the Special Education Technical Assistance and Dissemination program for FY 2005 is $3 million to provide partial support for three of the Content Centers for the first budget period of the project. Depending on appropriation levels, a total of up to $3 million from the Special Education Technical Assistance E:\FR\FM\03JNN1.SGM 03JNN1 32584 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 106 / Friday, June 3, 2005 / Notices and Dissemination program will be available for awards to the co-funded Content Centers in subsequent budget periods. The Department anticipates that each program will provide approximately 50 percent of the annual funding for the three co-funded Content Centers during the first budget period of the project. The co-funded Content Centers will be the Center on Instruction, the Center on Teacher Quality and the Center on High Schools. Estimated Range of Awards: The estimated range of awards for Regional Centers is $750,000 to $4,604,348 from FY 2005 funds for the first budget period, covering the first 9 months of the project period. Funding for each Regional Center was calculated by formula, based equally on shares of population and poor children, ages 5–17 in the States (including DC, Puerto Rico, and the Outlying Areas) served by each Regional Center. Department estimates for awards to each Regional Center are provided at: http://www.ed.gov/ programs/newccp/index.html. The estimated range of awards for Content Centers is $1,000,000 to $2,000,000 for the first budget period, which includes the first nine months of the project period. Estimated Average Size of Awards: Regional Centers—$2,187,500 in the first budget period (FY 2005) and approximately $2,895,313 in each subsequent budget period; the three cofunded Content Centers—$2,000,000 in the first budget period (FY 2005) and approximately $2,500,000 in each subsequent budget period; the other two Content Centers—$1,000,000 in the first budget period (FY 2005) and approximately $1,500,000 in each subsequent budget period. Note: The Department is not bound by any estimates in this notice. Project Period: Up to 60 months. Budget Period: Nine months for the first budget period only. Each subsequent budget period will be 12 months. Full Text of Announcement I. Funding Opportunity Description Purpose of Program: The Comprehensive Centers program supports the establishment of not fewer than 20 comprehensive technical assistance centers that provide technical assistance to States as States work to help districts and schools to close achievement gaps in core content areas and raise student achievement in schools, especially those in need of improvement (as defined by Section 1116(b), of the Elementary and Secondary Act, as amended (ESEA)) in VerDate jul<14>2003 18:03 Jun 02, 2005 Jkt 205001 implementing the school improvement provisions under section 1116 of ESEA. Centers established under this program will replace the existing Comprehensive Regional Assistance Centers, the Regional Technology in Education Consortia, the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse for Mathematics and Science Education, and the Regional Mathematics and Science Education Consortia. Background: The ESEA, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), holds States accountable for closing achievement gaps and ensuring that all children, regardless of ethnicity, income, language or disability, receive a high quality education and meet State academic standards by 2013–2014. To that end, NCLB requires States to set standards for student performance, implement statewide testing and accountability systems to measure school and student performance toward achieving those standards, adopt research-based instructional and program improvements related to teaching and learning in the classroom, ensure that all teachers in core subject areas are highly qualified, and improve or ultimately restructure schools that are consistently low-performing. The comprehensive centers funded under this competition will begin providing technical assistance at a time when States, districts, and schools have accomplished much of the initial implementation of NCLB. The new centers funded under this competition will provide intensive technical assistance in several areas that are key to success in meeting NCLB goals. Recent assessments conducted to help determine technical assistance priorities for the Comprehensive Centers program indicate that States need assistance, for example, to implement school improvement efforts to help meet school and district adequate yearly progress requirements; to identify and adopt instructional and assessment methods that have been proven effective through scientifically based research, especially for students with special needs; to design programs and strategies and allocate resources to recruit, retain, and train talented teachers and school leaders; and to enhance assessment and accountability systems. Because States have the primary responsibility for school improvement efforts, these centers will focus their technical assistance on States and on helping States increase their capacity to provide sustained support to districts and schools as they implement NCLB reforms. The new centers will serve as field agents for the Department to further PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 States’ understanding of the provisions and purposes of NCLB and related Federal programs and help them adopt proven approaches to achieve the school improvement and student performance goals required under NCLB. The centers will work closely with, and leverage the resources of, other technical assistance providers and research organizations, including the Regional Educational Laboratories, the Special Education Technical Assistance Network, the Parental Information and Resource Centers, the Equity Assistance Centers, the Reading First National Technical Assistance Center, the Institute of Education Sciences’ research centers and its What Works Clearinghouse, and other Federal, regional, and State entities and postsecondary institutions, to gather and disseminate information and knowledge about what works and to help States translate that knowledge into meaningful practice. The approach to technical assistance delivery for the centers is two-tiered: The Regional Centers will have the primary relationships with, and provide services to, the States in their regions; in serving their State clients, the Regional Centers will draw heavily on the research-based information, products, guidance, and knowledge on key NCLB topics supplied by the Content Centers. The Department intends to have substantial and sustained involvement in the activities of each center funded under this competition, including shaping grantee priorities, activities, and major products to meet the purposes of this program. The Department also intends to partner with the centers, particularly the Content Centers, to convene national conferences to disseminate information and resources about Departmental priorities related to NCLB. The details and parameters of the Department’s expectations and involvement with each center funded under this competition will be included in the Department’s cooperative agreement with the grantee that receives an award for that center under this competition. Regional Advisory Committees: To help inform the Secretary’s priorities for the centers funded under this competition, the Secretary (in accordance with section 206 of the TA Act) established 10 Regional Advisory Committees (RACs) charged with conducting education needs assessments within the geographical regions served by the current regional educational laboratories. The RACs conducted their needs assessments during the period from December 2004 to March 2005 and E:\FR\FM\03JNN1.SGM 03JNN1 32585 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 106 / Friday, June 3, 2005 / Notices submitted their reports to the Secretary on March 31, 2005. The full reports are available at: http://www.ed.gov/ programs/newccp/index.html. Applicants for the centers are encouraged to consider the specific priorities and recommendations contained in the RAC reports when preparing their applications. Priorities: This competition contains three sets of absolute priorities (Absolute Priorities for All Centers (priorities one and two), Absolute Priorities for Regional Centers (priorities three through six), and Absolute Priorities for Content Centers (priorities seven through eleven)). We are establishing these absolute priorities for the FY 2005 grant competition only, in accordance with section 437 (d)(1) of the General Education Provisions Act. Absolute Priorities: For FY 2005 these priorities are absolute priorities. For Regional Center awards, under 34 CFR 75.105 (c)(3) we consider only applications that meet the Absolute Priorities for All Centers (priorities one and two) and Absolute Priorities for Regional Centers (priorities three through six). For Content Center awards, under 34 CFR 75.105 (c)(3) we consider only applications that meet the Absolute Priorities for All Centers (priorities one and two) and one of the priorities under Absolute Priorities for Content Centers (i.e., priorities 7, 8, 9, 10, or 11). Note: If an applicant wants to apply for funding for more than one center, it must submit separate applications for each proposed center. Absolute Priorities for All Centers Priority 1—Focus on States. To meet this priority, applicants must propose a plan of technical assistance specifically focused on helping States implement the provisions of NCLB applicable to States, and helping States build the capacity to help school districts and schools implement NCLB provisions and programs. To the extent an applicant proposes to work with individual school districts and schools, the applicant must propose a technical assistance plan that only proposes work with districts and schools where the effort—(a) Involves a high leverage strategy (i.e., reaches a large number or proportion of schools, teachers, and administrators needing the assistance within the State); (b) responds to a need identified by the State; and (c) is planned and coordinated with the State. Note: This priority does not support research, program evaluation, or curriculum development. Thus, an applicant will not VerDate jul<14>2003 18:03 Jun 02, 2005 Jkt 205001 satisfy this priority if it proposes a technical assistance plan to— (a) Design or develop curricula or instructional materials for use in classrooms or develop professional development programs where proven models already exist; or (b) conduct basic research or program evaluations on behalf of States or districts. Priority 2—Crosscutting Expertise. To meet this priority, an applicant must demonstrate that proposed center staff has expertise on several issues of crosscutting importance related to the delivery of technical assistance in specific regions and content areas. These issues are: (a) Proven strategies for addressing the needs of schools with populations at risk of failure, especially children who have limited proficiency in English, children with disabilities, and children from economically disadvantaged families. (b) Effective uses of technology to improve instruction, and as an efficient means of delivering technical assistance. (c) Implementing school improvement reforms within urban and rural contexts. Absolute Priorities for Regional Centers Background: Regional Centers must provide frontline assistance to States to help them implement NCLB and other related Federal school improvement programs and help increase State capacity to assist districts and schools meet their student achievement goals. Regional Centers must be embedded in regions and responsible for developing strong relationships and partnerships within their regional community. While Content Centers must focus almost entirely on specific content areas, analyzing research, developing useful products and tools for Regional Centers and other clients, the Regional Centers will be the ‘‘on the ground’’ providers to States. Drawing from the information and resources provided by the Content Centers funded through this competition and other sources, the Regional Centers must provide a program of technical assistance to States that will enable them to among other things— (a) Assess the improvement needs of districts and schools and assist them in developing solutions to address those needs; (b) build and sustain systemic support for district and school improvement efforts to (i) close existing achievement gaps; and (ii) adopt proven practices to improve instruction and achievement outcomes for students in schools identified as in need of improvement; and PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 (b) improve the tools and systems for school improvement and accountability for the achievement outcomes. Text of Priorities Priority 3—Location of Regional Centers. The Secretary will award grants to establish 16 Regional Centers serving States and territories. In order to meet the requirement of this priority, a proposed Regional Center must serve one of the following regions: Regional comprehensive center New England New York ....... Mid-Atlantic .... Appalachia ..... Southeast ....... Florida and Islands. Great Lakes West. Great Lakes East. North Central Mid-Continent Texas ............. West/Southwest. California ........ Northwest ....... Alaska ............ Pacific ............ Region Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. New York. Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC. Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, and South Carolina. Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Wisconsin and Illinois. Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Iowa. Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri. Texas. Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. California. Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. Alaska. American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia (Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap), Guam, Hawaii, Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. Priority 4—Regional Technical Assistance Activities. To meet this priority, the work of the proposed Regional Centers must involve activities that address State technical assistance needs by— (a) Working closely with each State in its region on an ongoing basis; (b) linking States with the resources of Content Centers, Department staff, Regional Educational Laboratories, The What Works Clearinghouse, and other entities that have, or may be able to, E:\FR\FM\03JNN1.SGM 03JNN1 32586 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 106 / Friday, June 3, 2005 / Notices design products and services tailored to State needs; (c) suggesting sources of appropriate service providers or assistance for State activities that are not within the core mission of the centers—including, for example, activities to address needs related to curriculum development, designing school-level training programs, or conducting basic research or impact evaluations; (d) assisting State efforts to build statewide systems of support for districts and schools in need of improvement, partly by leveraging the resources of Content Centers and other sources of scientifically-based education research and high-quality technical assistance on behalf of State and district clients; (e) working to identify, broker, leverage, and deliver information, resources and services from the Content Centers and other sources that focus on research-based knowledge of promising practices, including assistance to States and districts on securing high-quality consultants and experts to meet specific education needs; (f) convening, in partnership with Content Centers and others, as appropriate, States and districts to receive training and information on best practices and research-based improvement strategies; (g) providing guidance and training on implementation of requirements under NCLB and other related Federal programs; (h) facilitating collaboration at the State level to align Federal, State, district and school improvement programs and help States understand and use the flexibility provided by NCLB to target resources and programs to address the greatest needs; and (i) helping Content Centers to identify, document and disseminate emerging promising practices by working with States to distill and document the experiences of highperforming districts and schools. Priority 5—Knowledge and Expertise. To satisfy this priority, the proposed Regional Center must demonstrate indepth knowledge of regional and local issues, conditions, and needs, particularly as those relate to the roles and responsibilities of States, districts, and schools in implementing the provisions of NCLB and other related Federal programs. In addition, the proposed Regional Center must have expertise in comprehensive planning, needs assessment, and State, district, and school improvement processes. Priority 6—Coordination and Cooperation. To meet this priority, the proposed Regional Center must create VerDate jul<14>2003 18:03 Jun 02, 2005 Jkt 205001 and maintain cooperative working relationships with States in their region and other technical assistance providers serving the region, including the Regional Educational Laboratories, the Special Education Technical Assistance Network, Parental Information and Resource Centers, Equity Assistance Centers, the Reading First National Technical Assistance Center, and other regional and State entities, including for example, regional service providers and post-secondary institutions. Absolute Priorities for Content Centers: There are five priorities under these Absolute Priorities for Content Centers. Each priority corresponds to one of the Content Centers the Department intends to fund through this competition (i.e., Priority 7—Center on Assessment and Accountability, Priority 8—Center on Instruction, Priority 9— Center on Teacher Quality, Priority 10— Center on Innovation and Improvement, and Priority 11—Center on High Schools). To be eligible to receive funding for a Content Center under this competition, an applicant must meet the requirements of only one of the priorities in this section. Together, the five Content Centers cover a spectrum of inter-related school improvement and technical assistance areas. The Content Centers will work closely with Regional Centers to provide technical assistance to States. While Regional Centers will have the primary relationships to States in their regions, Content Centers will supply much of the common research-based information, products, guidance, analyses, and knowledge on certain key NCLB topics that Regional Centers will use when working with States. The purpose of having national level Content Centers is to avoid duplication of efforts across centers in key NCLB areas and to ensure depth of content knowledge in these areas. Because the Content Center focus areas cut across the school improvement process, Content Centers will also connect and collaborate with each other as a network and a central source of knowledge, resources and tools that stakeholders can readily access to find information and resources to address their needs in one or more of the content areas covered by the five Content Centers. Content Centers will have in-depth knowledge of the content and research related to the center’s focus area; expertise in evaluating existing resources and synthesizing information into a meaningful and useful knowledge base; the ability to translate and communicate that knowledge; and the ability to collaborate with other PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 providers and research institutions, broker resources and connect technical assistance resources at a national level to identify and share the best practices of States and districts. Content Centers will facilitate access to, and use of, existing research and proven practice by analyzing, synthesizing, and disseminating information on proven, promising and emerging practices and strategies in the Center’s focus area, as well as develop tools for Regional Centers to use in providing assistance to States. In general, the Content Centers will, among other things— (a) Identify, organize, select and translate existing key research knowledge pertaining to the Center’s content-focus area and communicate the information in ways that are highly relevant and highly useful to State and local level policy makers and practitioners; (b) Benchmark State and district practices for implementing NCLB provisions and school improvement interventions related to the center’s area of focus and identify promising approaches that can be shared with States and districts; (c) Convene States and districts, researchers and other experts to learn from each other about practical strategies for implementing NCLB provisions and programs related to the Center’s area of focus; (d) Train Regional Center staff on what is known about scientifically valid practices and programs; (e) Collaborate with Regional Centers to address specific requests for assistance from States within the regions; (f) Communicate to the field, including through national conferences, Department guidance related to the center’s content focus and examples of workable strategies and systems for implementing provisions and programs that have produced positive outcomes for schools and students; and (g) Design needs assessment and data analysis tools that States and districts can use to benchmark their own programs and progress. Priority 7—Center on Assessment and Accountability. Background: The Assessment and Accountability Center will focus on State and school district implementation of NCLB assessment and accountability requirements, including support for administration of accountability plans, and the design and administration of effective models, strategies and tools for the following: (a) Implementing valid, standardsbased testing and large scale assessment programs, especially for students with E:\FR\FM\03JNN1.SGM 03JNN1 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 106 / Friday, June 3, 2005 / Notices limited English proficiency and special education students, and using classroom data designed to diagnose needs, guide instruction, and regularly monitor progress. (b) Implementing data systems that support student assessment, program accountability, reporting requirements, and school improvement efforts. (b) Training data users, including State and district and policy makers, program and school officials, administrators and classroom teachers to use data effectively in making instructional and school improvement decisions. Text of Priority: To meet this priority, an applicant must demonstrate— (a) In-depth understanding of and the ability to apply that understanding to testing, assessment and data systems issues confronting States and districts as they design and manage statewide accountability systems; and (b) In-depth knowledge and understanding of— • The range of assessment models, methods and tests available and their applicability for various testing purposes for diverse learners, including, for example, English language learners and students with disabilities; • Test development, test reliability and validity issues for different types of tests, and for measuring the academic progress of diverse learners; • Curriculum to test alignment issues and strategies; • Methods, systems, and rubrics for scoring tests and reporting the results; and • How to interpret and use test results to inform decisions about student progress and education practice. To meet the priority for the Assessment and Accountability Center, an applicant also must demonstrate expertise in designing or helping States and districts design data systems, establishing system standards, policies and procedures, and implementing an integrated assessment and accountability system that can yield real-time data to inform on-going decisions about student and school performance and program improvement. The center must work closely with other technical assistance providers, including the National Center on Education Outcomes and National Collaborative Center on Standards and Assessment Development. Priority 8—Center on Instruction. Background: The Center on Instruction will focus on helping States and districts evaluate and select evidencebased interventions and practices to improve instruction for students in the content areas of reading/literacy, VerDate jul<14>2003 18:03 Jun 02, 2005 Jkt 205001 language arts, mathematics, and science, and English language acquisition. The Center on Instruction will disseminate existing research and information on proven instructional practices that work to help schools and districts identified as in need of improvement to improve the academic achievement of students from diverse backgrounds, including economically disadvantaged students, students who are receiving special education, students who have limited proficiency in English, migrant students, and other students and groups of students who are at risk of academic failure. Instructional practices must include interventions designed to provide intensive support for students with disabilities, including students with disabilities who need modified achievement standards as described in ‘‘Raising Achievement: A New Path for No Child Left Behind’’, which can be found at http://www.ed.gov/news/ pressreleases/2005/04/04072005.html. Text of Priority: To receive funding under this priority, the proposed center must— (a) Disseminate guidance for policy makers and practitioners on how to understand and interpret scientifically based research to evaluate instructional strategies and programs and their application and effectiveness in instructional practice; (b) On issues related to early reading/ language arts instruction, work closely with the Reading First National Technical Assistance Center and act as a provider of knowledge and research, consistent with that delivered to Reading First grantees; (c) Help identify and track proven, as well as promising and emerging, practices around adolescent literacy; and (d) Focus on analyzing and disseminating information on practices based on scientifically valid research and other promising practices in math and science instruction. Staff of the proposed center must have extensive content knowledge and understanding of emerging and promising practices that can be shared with States and districts. Specifically, to meet this priority, an applicant must demonstrate— (a) In-depth knowledge of instructional practices and strategies that work to improve schools and the academic achievement of students from diverse backgrounds, including economically disadvantaged students, students who are receiving special education, students who are limited English proficient, migrant students, and other students and groups of PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 32587 students who are at risk of academic failure; (b) In-depth knowledge of evidencebased instructional interventions and features that improve achievement, particularly in reading and math, of students with disabilities, including students with disabilities who need modified achievement standards (Features that are extremely important for implementing, evaluating, and sustaining effective instruction for students with disabilities include intensity, duration, development of individual education plans, student grouping, the use of data to measure progress and inform instruction, and fidelity.); (c) In-depth knowledge of instructional practices that work to help districts and schools identified as in need of improvement to improve the academic achievement of students from diverse backgrounds; and (d) The ability to translate and communicate that knowledge in ways that are meaningful and useful to the Content Center’s Regional Center clients and to education policy makers and practitioners. Finally, because a proportion of the funding for the Center on Instruction comes from the Special Education Technical Assistance and Dissemination program, to meet this priority, an applicant’s plan of activities must provide for a level of technical assistance benefiting students with disabilities that is consistent with that proportion of funding. Thus, for the first budget period (FY 2005), grantees must target 50 percent of services to support technical assistance needs related to identifying evidence-based interventions and practices that work to improve instruction and academic achievement in the content areas of reading/literacy, language arts, mathematics, and science for students with disabilities. For subsequent years, applicants must propose technical assistance benefiting students with disabilities that is equivalent to $1 million per year. Priority 9—Center on Teacher Quality. Background: This center will focus on helping Regional Centers and States to identify proven and promising practices and strategies to meet a range of teacher quality goals under NCLB, including: (a) Recruitment, retention and selection of highly qualified teachers who have the greatest chance to succeed, particularly in districts and schools identified as in need of improvement; (b) support, induction, pay for performance/differentiated compensation systems, and mentoring strategies and programs that may E:\FR\FM\03JNN1.SGM 03JNN1 32588 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 106 / Friday, June 3, 2005 / Notices increase the likelihood that highly qualified teachers will stay in teaching, especially in high-need districts and schools and in rural and urban settings; (c) expanding alternative routes to teacher certification and transition into teaching (including programs for midcareer professionals, paraprofessionals, and recent college graduates) that have demonstrated a level of quality and intensity of training necessary to produce teachers with the knowledge and skills needed to be effective in meeting the needs of students at high risk of academic failure, including students who with disabilities, students who are limited English proficient and migrant students; (d) development and administration of high-quality, intensive and sustained in-service professional development programs to ensure that all teachers improve and expand their content knowledge, teaching skills and success and that school leaders have the knowledge and skill to support classroom teachers and instructional and school improvements; and (e) professional development programs and strategies to ensure that all teachers are prepared to identify and address the diverse needs of students in a classroom, particularly those students at risk of academic failure. The Center on Teacher Quality will draw on existing knowledge and resources, including research supported by the Department’s Institute of Education Sciences and teacher quality grant programs such as Transition to Teaching, Troops to Teachers, Teaching American History, and School Leadership programs. Text of Priority: To meet this priority, an applicant must demonstrate— (a) In-depth knowledge of (i) what makes a highly qualified teacher, with a particular focus on the teaching practices and approaches that are linked to improvements in achievement for students at risk of failure; (ii) the challenges, including systemic barriers, States face in their efforts to recruit, select, train and retain highly qualified teachers, particularly to teach in highneed and low-performing districts and schools and in urban and rural settings; and (iii) the available research-based strategies, practices and tools available to address those challenges; (b) expertise in identifying effective alternative routes into teaching and demonstrated knowledge of the various teacher credentialing and certification practices currently being employed by States; and (c) an understanding of the importance of principal leadership to hiring and retaining high-quality teachers. VerDate jul<14>2003 18:03 Jun 02, 2005 Jkt 205001 Finally, because a proportion of the funding for this Center comes from the Special Education Technical Assistance and Dissemination program, to meet this priority, an applicant’s plan of activities must provide for a level of technical assistance benefiting students with disabilities that is consistent with that proportion of funding. Thus, for the first budget period (FY 2005), grantees must target 50 percent of services to support technical assistance needs related to identifying and disseminating researchbased knowledge and models of best practice to recruit, select, train and retain teachers with the knowledge and skills needed to be effective in meeting the needs of students who are receiving special education services. For subsequent years, applicants must propose technical assistance benefiting students with disabilities that is equivalent to $1 million per year. Priority 10—Center on Innovation and Improvement. Background: This center will focus on effective systems and strategies to support States and districts as they (1) plan and administer school improvement programs, and (2) implement the key choice provisions of NCLB, including public school choice, supplemental educational services, charter schools, and equitable services for private school students. This center will inform and support Regional Centers as they work to raise the capacity of States to provide sustained technical assistance to, and help build infrastructure supports in, districts and schools. To support States’ and districts’ plans and implementation of school improvement programs, the Center on Innovation and Improvement will work with Regional Centers and with the other Content Centers funded under this competition to identify school improvement processes, policies and practices for analyzing problems, building infrastructures at the district and school levels, involving teachers and parents in decision-making, and using Federal (especially Title I of ESEA), State and local resources more effectively to support improved teaching and learning for all students, including limited English proficient, migrant, and disabled students. The center will also identify, analyze, and disseminate new and emerging approaches to governance, resource management, decision processes, personnel systems, and program coordination and alignment at the district and school levels that will help make schools and districts in need of improvement high performing. To address the key choice provisions of NCLB, the center will assist States PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 and districts with informing and empowering the neediest parents about the public school choice provisions, and with building capacity for public school choice, including through the development of high-quality charter schools. The center will also assist States and districts with implementing supplemental educational services by supporting their efforts to increase students’ access to these services, to improve the quality of service providers, and to increase the variety of provider options available to parents. The center will also assist in expanding the number of high-quality charter schools available to students by focusing assistance on States, charter authorizers (including local school boards), and charter developers for the planning, implementation, and oversight of effective charter schools. The center will also assist States and districts in improving their implementation of the provisions in NCLB regarding the equitable participation of private school students and teachers. Text of Priority: In order to satisfy this priority, applicants must demonstrate in-depth knowledge of systemic reform and school improvement strategies that work to help schools in need of improvement close the achievement gap, as well as in-depth knowledge of the key choice provisions of NCLB. Applicants must also demonstrate the ability to translate and communicate that knowledge in ways that are meaningful and useful to their Regional Center clients and to education policy makers and practitioners. Priority 11—Center on High Schools. Background: The Center on High Schools will focus on the comprehensive reform of high schools to ensure that every student receives the knowledge, skills and support they need to graduate from high school prepared to succeed in postsecondary education and the workforce. The center will place particular emphasis on identifying new and emerging strategies that will benefit high schools consistently in need of improvement and students who are at risk of academic failure. Text of Priority: To satisfy this priority for a Center on High Schools, the proposed center must— (a) Identify new and emerging approaches, including those involving district and State systemic reforms to improve and enhance the academic performance of students in high schools; (b) identify, analyze and disseminate knowledge on strategies for: (i) Instituting higher academic standards, more rigorous coursework requirements, and assessment programs that align with E:\FR\FM\03JNN1.SGM 03JNN1 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 106 / Friday, June 3, 2005 / Notices the performance requirements of college and work; (ii) ensuring that teachers and school leaders are prepared to teach and lead to academic excellence; (iii) instituting policies and programs to reduce the incidence of dropouts and increase graduation rates; (iv) increasing access to and improving the quality of education in the general education curriculum for students with disabilities in high schools; (v) involving parents in decisions about their child’s high school educational program and planning for the child’s post-high school future; (vi) adopting new approaches to governance, resource management, decision processes, personnel systems, and program coordination and alignment that may better facilitate and support high-quality high school programs; (vii) facilitating better coordination between K–12 programs and postsecondary institution requirements within States; and (viii) helping States rethink how they might better use Federal, State and local programs and resources for high schools. To meet this priority, an applicant must also demonstrate in-depth understanding of: (a) The issues and challenges confronting high schools and the current high school reform context; (b) current research and practice regarding high school reform; (c) current research and practice regarding increasing access to and improving the quality of education in the general education curriculum for students with disabilities in high schools; and (d) the State and district systemic issues that need to be addressed to facilitate improvement in student achievement in high schools. Finally, because a proportion of the funding for the center comes from the Special Education Technical Assistance and Dissemination program, to meet this priority, an applicant’s plan of activities must provide for a level of technical assistance benefiting students with disabilities that is consistent with that proportion of funding. Thus, for the first budget period (FY 2005), grantees must target 50 percent of services to support technical assistance needs related to identifying and disseminating new approaches for increasing access to and improving the quality of education in the general education high school curriculum for students receiving special education services. For subsequent years, applicants must propose technical assistance benefiting students with disabilities that is equivalent to $1 million per year. The Center on High Schools will also be expected to collaborate with the Department’s National Dropout VerDate jul<14>2003 18:03 Jun 02, 2005 Jkt 205001 Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities. Additional Requirements 1. Plan of Technical Assistance. All applicants under this competition must submit as part of their application a 5year plan of technical assistance that describes the strategies and approaches the applicant will use to carry out the activities of the proposed center in a manner that addresses the statutory requirements of sections 203 through 207 of the TA Act, and the priorities and additional requirements described in this notice. 2. Focus on Districts and Schools that are High-Need and Identified as in Need of Improvement. Applicants must demonstrate how the proposed plan of technical assistance will give priority to helping States, districts and schools build the capacity to develop and implement programs targeted specifically to meet the educational needs of students in school districts and schools with high percentages or numbers of school-age children from low income families, including such school districts and schools in rural and urban areas; and schools in the region that have been identified for school improvement under section 1116(b) of the ESEA. 3. Focus on State/Regional Priorities. Applicants must tailor the strategies and activities they propose to address the educational priorities and related technical assistance needs of States. For Regional Centers, the proposed plan of technical assistance must reflect a thorough understanding of the technical assistance needs and propose strategies that specifically address those needs for the particular States the Regional Center will serve, considering: (a) The educational goals and priorities of States to be served, including major reform efforts underway; (b) the current status of States in meeting the requirements and goals of NCLB; (c) the types of technical assistance and related strategies that would help States, districts and schools implement the programs and goals of NCLB and close existing achievement gaps in the content areas; and (d) State and regional student demographics and other contextual factors, such as urban and rural locality. In the case of Content Centers, the proposed plan of technical assistance should address the needs of States and regions nationally. 4. Allocation of Resources. Proposed technical assistance plans must allocate resources to and within States and regions (or, for Content Centers, across States and regions) in a manner that reflects the need for assistance, taking PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 32589 into account such factors as the proportion of economically disadvantaged students, the increased cost burden of service delivery in areas of sparse populations, and any special initiatives being undertaken by State, intermediate, local educational agencies, or schools funded under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which may require special assistance from the center. 5. Coordination and Collaboration. Each applicant must describe in its technical assistance plan how the proposed center will: (a) Communicate regularly with the U.S. Department of Education, other comprehensive centers, the Regional Educational Laboratories, State educational agencies, and other technical assistance providers as appropriate; and (b) how the proposed center will plan and coordinate activities funded under this competition with the activities of those other entities to leverage available knowledge and resources and avoid duplicating efforts. 6. Advisory Board. Each application must propose, as part of its technical assistance plan, establishing an advisory board to advise the proposed comprehensive center on: (a) The activities of the center relating to its allocation of resources to and within each State in a manner that reflects the need for assistance in accordance with section 203(d) of Title II of the TA Act; (b) strategies for monitoring and addressing the educational needs of the region, on an ongoing basis; (c) maintaining a high standard of quality in the performance of the center’s activities; and (d) carrying out the center’s duties in a manner that promotes progress toward improving student academic achievement. The plan must detail the composition of the board by name and affiliation in accordance with the requirements described in section 205 of the TA Act and in the application instructions found in the application package. A letter of commitment from each proposed board member must accompany the plan. 7. Evaluation Plan. Each applicant must provide, as part of its technical assistance plan, a plan to assess: (a) The needs of all States served by the comprehensive center on an ongoing basis, and (b) the progress and performance of the center in meeting the educational needs of their clients. The plan must identify performance objectives the project intends to achieve and performance measures for each performance objective; explain the quantitative and qualitative methods that will be used to collect, analyze, and E:\FR\FM\03JNN1.SGM 03JNN1 32590 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 106 / Friday, June 3, 2005 / Notices report performance data; and describe the methods that will be used to monitor progress and make mid-course corrections, as appropriate. 8. Project Meetings. For each center under this competition, applicants must budget for— (a) The Project Director to attend a 2day meeting in Washington, DC at least once a year for each year of the project period; and (b) key staff to attend the following: (i) A 2-day post-award conference with Department officials at in Washington, DC, to be held within 45 days from the grant award date. The purpose of this conference will be to— • Refine the grantee’s technical assistance plan as appropriate; • Review with the grantee the Department’s intentions regarding the role of the grantee’s center(s); • Define how the grantee’s center(s) and the Department will work together as partners to accomplish the purposes of the grant; • Establish lines of communication and feedback between grantees and the Department; and • Establish content for cooperative agreements; and (ii) A 1-day annual performance review with Department officials in Washington, DC beginning one year after the post-award conference and each year of the grant thereafter. Waiver of Proposed Rulemaking: Under the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 553), the Department generally offers interested parties the opportunity to comment on proposed priorities and other non-statutory program requirements. Section 437(d)(1) of the General Education Provisions Act (20 U.S.C. 1232 (d)(1)), however, allows the Secretary to exempt from rulemaking requirements, regulations governing the first competition under a new program authority. This is the first competition for the new Comprehensive Centers program under Title II of the TA Act and therefore qualifies for this exemption. In order to ensure timely grant awards, the Secretary has decided to forego public comment on the absolute priorities, selection criteria and non-statutory requirements under section 437(d)(1). These absolute priorities, selection criteria and nonstatutory requirements will apply to the FY 2005 grant competition only. Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 9602–9606. Applicable Regulations: The Education Department General Administration Regulations (EDGAR) in 34 CFR parts 74, 75, 77, 79, 80, 81, 82, 84, 85, 86, 97, 98, and 99. VerDate jul<14>2003 18:03 Jun 02, 2005 Jkt 205001 Note: The regulations in 34 CFR part 79 apply to all applicants except federally recognized Indian tribes. Note: The regulations in 34 CFR part 86 apply to institutions of higher education only. II. Award Information Type of Award: Cooperative agreements. Estimated Number of Awards: The Secretary intends to support 21 awards under this competition. Sixteen awards will support Regional Centers to serve States within defined geographic boundaries. The States and territories to be served by each Regional Center are described in this notice under Absolute Priorities for Regional Centers. Five awards will support Content Centers, each having a specific content expertise and focus, to support the work of the Regional Centers. These five Content Centers are: The Center on Assessment and Accountability, the Center on Instruction, the Center on Teacher Quality, the Center on Innovation and Improvement, and the Center on High Schools. The functions and activities for each of the five Content Centers are described in this notice under Absolute Priorities for Content Centers. Note: The TA Act provides that the Secretary must ensure that not less than one Comprehensive Center is established in each of the 10 geographic regions served by the Regional Educational Laboratories. Note that these regions differ, in some instances, from the Regional Centers described in this notice. The Secretary will consider the location of the proposed Regional Centers in the selection and negotiation of cooperative agreements to ensure that this requirement of the law is met. Estimated Available Funds: Eighteen of the 21 Centers proposed for funding under this competition will be supported entirely with funds from the Comprehensive Centers program, authorized under Title II of the TA Act. Three of the 21 centers will be supported with funds appropriated for the Comprehensive Centers program and the Special Education Technical Assistance and Dissemination program, which is authorized under IDEA. The estimated available funds from the Comprehensive Centers program for FY 2005 is $40 million. Of that amount, an estimated $35 million will be used to fund Regional Centers and $5 million will be used to fund the Content Centers. FY 2005 funds will support awards for the first budget period of the project, which is the first nine months of the project period. Funding for the subsequent 12-month budget periods for years two through five (i.e. FY 2006 through FY 2009) is contingent on PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 appropriation levels. For FY 2006, the President’s budget, if funded at the requested level, would provide approximately $56.8 million for the Comprehensive Centers program. The estimated total funds from the Special Education Technical Assistance and Dissemination program for FY 2005 is $3 million to provide partial support for three of the Content Centers for the first budget period of the project. Depending on appropriation levels, a total of up to $3 million from the Special Education Technical Assistance and Dissemination program will be available for awards to the co-funded Content Centers in subsequent budget periods. The Department anticipates that each program will provide approximately 50 percent of the annual funding for the three co-funded Content Centers during the first budget period of the project. The co-funded Content Centers will be the Center on Instruction, the Center on Teacher Quality and the Center on High Schools. Estimated Range of Awards: The estimated range of awards for Regional Centers is $750,000 to $4,604,348 from FY 2005 funds for the first budget period, covering the first 9 months of the project period. Funding for each Regional Center was calculated by formula, based equally on shares of population and poor children, ages 5–17 in the States (including DC, Puerto Rico, and the Outlying Areas) served by each Regional Center. Department estimates for awards to each Regional Center are provided at: http://www.ed.gov/ programs/newccp/index.html. The estimated range of awards for Content Centers is $1,000,000 to $2,000,000 for the first budget period, which includes the first nine months of the project period. Estimated Average Size of Awards: Regional Centers—$2,187,500 in the first budget period (FY 2005) and approximately $2,895,313 in each subsequent budget period; the three cofunded Content Centers—$2,000,000 in the first budget period (FY 2005) and approximately $2,500,000 in each subsequent budget period; the other two Content Centers—$1,000,000 in the first budget period (FY 2005) and approximately $1,500,000 in each subsequent budget period. Note: The Department is not bound by any estimates in this notice. Project Period: Up to 60 months. Budget Period: Nine months for the first budget period only. Each subsequent budget period will be 12 months. E:\FR\FM\03JNN1.SGM 03JNN1 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 106 / Friday, June 3, 2005 / Notices III. Eligibility Information 1. Eligible Applicants: Research organizations, institutions, agencies, institutions of higher education, or partnerships among such entities, or individuals, with the demonstrated ability or capacity to carry out the activities described in this notice. An application from a consortium of eligible entities must include a consortium agreement. Letters of support do not meet the requirement for a consortium agreement. 2. Cost Sharing or Matching: This competition does not involve cost sharing or matching. IV. Application and Submission Information 1. Address to Request Application Package: You may obtain an application package via the Internet or from the Education Publications Center (ED Pubs). To obtain an application via the Internet, use the following address: http://www.ed.gov/programs/newccp/ index.html. To obtain a copy from ED Pubs, write or call the following: Education Publications Center (ED Pubs), P.O. Box 1398, Jessup, MD 20794–1398. Telephone (toll free): 1–877–433–7827. FAX: (301) 470–1244. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may call (toll free): 1–877– 576–7734. You may also contact ED Pubs at its Web site: http://www.ed.gov/pubs/ edpubs.html; or you may contact ED Pubs at its e-mail address: edpubs@inet.ed.gov. If you request an application package from ED Pubs, be sure to identify this competition as follows: CFDA number 84.283B. Individuals with disabilities may obtain a copy of the application package in an alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer diskette) by contacting the program contact person listed elsewhere in section VII of this notice. 2. Content and Form of Application Submission: Requirements concerning the content of the application, together with the forms you must submit, are in the application package for this competition. If an applicant is applying for more than one center, the applicant must submit a separate application for each center. Notice of Intent to Apply: In order to expedite the process for reviewing grant applications, we strongly encourage each potential applicant to send a notification of its intent to apply for funding to the following address: OESE.cc@ed.gov. In this notice, please indicate the comprehensive center(s) for which you VerDate jul<14>2003 18:03 Jun 02, 2005 Jkt 205001 intend to apply. The notification of intent to apply for funding is optional and should not include information regarding your proposed application(s). Page Limit: Applicants are strongly encouraged to limit their application to 150 pages. 3. Submission Dates and Times: Applications Available: June 3, 2005. Deadline for Notice of Intent to Apply: June 23, 2005. Dates of Pre-Application Meetings: The Department will conduct briefings on this competition via conference call to clarify the purposes of the program and the selection criteria and process at 11 AM on each of the following dates: Applicants for Regional Centers June 13 and 17; Applicants for Content Centers June 22 and 23. Please e-mail Enid Simmons at enid.simmons@ed.gov to register for a call date and time and obtain the conference call number and code. Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: July 18, 2005. Applications for grants under this competition must be submitted electronically using the Electronic Grant Application System (e-Application) available through the Department’s eGrants system. For information (including dates and times) about how to submit your application electronically or by mail or hand delivery if you qualify for an exception to the electronic submission requirement, please refer to section IV. 6. Note: We do not consider an application that does not comply with the deadline requirements. Deadline for Intergovernmental Review: August 17, 2005. 4. Intergovernmental Review: This program is subject to Executive Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79. Information about Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs under Executive Order 12372 is in the application package for this competition. 5. Funding Restrictions: We reference regulations outlining funding restrictions in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice. 6. Other Submission Requirements: Applications for grants under this competition must be submitted electronically, unless you qualify for an exception to this requirement in accordance with the instructions in this section. We will reject your application if you submit it in paper format unless, as described elsewhere in this section, you qualify for one of the exceptions to the electronic submission requirement and submit, no later than two weeks before PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 32591 the application deadline date, a written statement to the Department that you qualify for one of these exceptions. Further information regarding calculation of the date that is two weeks before the application deadline date is provided later in this section under Exception to Electronic Submission Requirement. a. Electronic Submission of Applications. Applications for grants under the new Comprehensive Center Competition CFDA Number 84.283B must be submitted electronically using e-Application available through the Department’s e-Grants system, accessible through the e-Grants portal page at: http://e-grants.ed.gov. While completing your electronic application, you will be entering data online that will be saved into a database. You may not e-mail an electronic copy of a grant application to us. Please note the following: • You must complete the electronic submission of your grant application by 4:30 p.m., Washington, DC time, on the application deadline date. The eApplication system will not accept an application for this competition after 4:30 p.m., Washington, DC time, on the application deadline date. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you do not wait until the application deadline date to begin the application process. • The regular hours of operation of the e-Grants Web site are 6 a.m. Monday until 7 p.m. Wednesday; and 6 a.m. Thursday until midnight Saturday, Washington, DC time. Please note that the system is unavailable on Sundays, and between 7 p.m. on Wednesdays and 6 a.m. on Thursdays, Washington, DC time, for maintenance. Any modifications to these hours are posted on the e-Grants Web site. • You will not receive additional point value because you submit your application in electronic format, nor will we penalize you if you qualify for an exception to the electronic submission requirement, as described elsewhere in this section, and submit your application in paper format. • You must submit all documents electronically, including the Application for Federal Education Assistance (ED 424), Budget Information—Non-Construction Programs (ED 524), and all necessary assurances and certifications. • Any narrative sections of your application must be attached as files in a .DOC (document), .RTF (rich text), or .PDF (Portable Document) format. • Your electronic application must comply with any page limit requirements described in this notice. E:\FR\FM\03JNN1.SGM 03JNN1 32592 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 106 / Friday, June 3, 2005 / Notices • Prior to submitting your electronic application, you may wish to print a copy of it for your records. • After you electronically submit your application, you will receive an automatic acknowledgment that will include a PR/Award number (an identifying number unique to your application). • Within three working days after submitting your electronic application, fax a signed copy of the ED 424 to the Application Control Center after following these steps: (1) Print ED 424 from e-Application. (2) The applicant’s Authorizing Representative must sign this form. (3) Place the PR/Award number in the upper right hand corner of the hardcopy signature page of the ED 424. (4) Fax the signed ED 424 to the Application Control Center at (202) 245–6272. • We may request that you provide us original signatures on other forms at a later date. Application Deadline Date Extension in Case of e-Application System Unavailability: If you are prevented from electronically submitting your application on the application deadline date because the e-Application system is unavailable, we will grant you an extension of one business day in order to transmit your application electronically, by mail, or by hand delivery. We will grant this extension if— (1) You are a registered user of eApplication and you have initiated an electronic application for this competition; and, (2) (a) The e-Application system is unavailable for 60 minutes or more between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Washington, DC time, on the application deadline date; or (b) The eApplication system is unavailable for any period of time between 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., Washington, DC time, on the application deadline date. We must acknowledge and confirm these periods of unavailability before granting you an extension. To request this extension or to confirm our acknowledgment of any system unavailability, you may contact either: (1) The person listed elsewhere in this notice under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT (see VII. Agency Contact) or (2) the e-Grants help desk at 1–888–336– 8930. If the system is down and therefore the application deadline is extended, an e-mail will be sent to all registered users who have initiated an eApplication. Extensions referred to in this section apply only to the unavailability of the Department’s eApplication system. VerDate jul<14>2003 18:03 Jun 02, 2005 Jkt 205001 Exception to Electronic Submission Requirement: You qualify for an exception to the electronic submission requirement, and may submit your application in paper format, if you are unable to submit an application through the e-Application system because— • You do not have access to the Internet; or • You do not have the capacity to upload large documents to the Department’s e-Application system; and • No later than two weeks before the application deadline date (14 calendar days or, if the fourteenth calendar day before the application deadline date falls on a Federal holiday, the next business day following the Federal holiday), you mail or fax a written statement to the Department, explaining which of the two grounds for an exception prevent you from using the Internet to submit your application. If you mail your written statement to the Department, it must be postmarked no later than two weeks before the application deadline date. If you fax your written statement to the Department, we must receive the faxed statement no later than two weeks before the application deadline date. Address and mail or fax your statement to: Enid Simmons, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 3E307, Washington, DC 20202. FAX: (202) 250–5870. Your paper application must be submitted in accordance with the mail or hand delivery instructions described in this notice. b. Submission of Paper Applications by Mail. If you qualify for an exception to the electronic submission requirement, you may mail (through the U.S. Postal Service or a commercial carrier) your application to the Department. You must mail the original and two copies of your application, on or before the application deadline date, to the Department at the applicable following address: By mail through the U.S. Postal Service: U.S. Department of Education, Application Control Center, Attention: CFDA Number 84.283B, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20202–4260; or By mail through a commercial carrier: U.S. Department of Education, Application Control Center—Stop 4260, Attention: (CFDA Number 84.283B), 7100 Old Landover Road, Landover, MD 20785–1506. Regardless of which address you use, you must show proof of mailing consisting of one of the following: (1) A legibly dated U.S. Postal Service postmark, (2) A legible mail receipt with the date of mailing stamped by the U.S. Postal Service, PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 (3) A dated shipping label, invoice, or receipt from a commercial carrier, or (4) Any other proof of mailing acceptable to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education. If you mail your application through the U.S. Postal Service, we do not accept either of the following as proof of mailing: (1) A private metered postmark, or (2) A mail receipt that is not dated by the U.S. Postal Service. If your application is postmarked after the application deadline date, we will not consider your application. Note: The U.S. Postal Service does not uniformly provide a dated postmark. Before relying on this method, you should check with your local post office. c. Submission of Paper Applications by Hand Delivery. If you qualify for an exception to electronic submission requirement, you (or a courier service) may deliver your paper application to the Department by hand. You must deliver the original and two copies of your application, by hand, on or before the application deadline date, to the Department at the following address: U.S. Department of Education, Application Control Center, Attention: (CFDA Number 84.283B), 550 12th Street, SW., Room 7041, Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC 20202–4260. The Application Control Center accepts hand deliveries daily between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Washington, DC time, except Saturdays, Sundays, and Federal holidays. Note for Mail or Hand Delivery of Paper Applications: If you mail or hand deliver your application to the Department: (1) You must indicate on the envelope and—if not provided by the Department—in Item 4 of the ED 424 the CFDA number—and suffix letter, if any—of the competition under which you are submitting your application. (2) The Application Control Center will mail a grant application receipt acknowledgment to you. If you do not receive the grant application receipt acknowledgment within 15 business days from the application deadline date, you should call the U.S. Department of Education Application Control Center at (202) 245–6288. V. Application Review Information 1. Selection Criteria: We will use the following selection criteria to evaluate applications under this competition. The maximum score for each criterion is indicated in parentheses with the criterion. The maximum number of points an application may earn based on the selection criteria is 100 points. a. Need for the Center (10 points). In determining the need for the proposed E:\FR\FM\03JNN1.SGM 03JNN1 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 106 / Friday, June 3, 2005 / Notices center, the Secretary considers the following: (i) The extent to which the proposed plan of technical assistance presents strategies that address the priority technical assistance needs of States as evidenced by in-depth knowledge and understanding of— (A) In the case of Content Centers, data and evidence on State and district technical assistance needs and demands related to standards and accountability, teacher quality, innovation and improvement, instruction, or high school reform; (B) For Regional Centers, the specific educational goals and priorities of the States to be served by the center, including relevant major reform efforts underway; (C) For Regional Centers, the status of States in meeting the requirements of NCLB, including the number and proportion of districts and schools in need of improvement within each State, the number and proportion of students not meeting State standards in the reading and mathematics; and (D) For Regional Centers, applicable State and, regional demographics and other contextual factors and their relevance for the purposes, goals, and challenges for implementing the provisions of NCLB. (ii) For both Regional and Content Centers, the likelihood that activities of the proposed center will result in products and services that are of high quality, high relevance, and high usefulness to clients. b. Significance (10 points). In determining the significance of the proposed center, the Secretary considers the following: (i) The extent to which the proposed technical assistance plan presents an approach that will likely result in systems change or improvement at the State or district levels. (ii) The potential contribution of the center proposal to increase knowledge or understanding of effective strategies. (iii) The importance of outcomes likely to be attained by the proposed center, especially improvements in teaching and student achievement. c. Quality of the Project Design (25 points). In determining the quality of the design of the proposed center, the Secretary will consider the following factors: (i) The extent to which the application proposes an exceptional approach for carrying out the purposes and activities for the center for which the applicant is applying. (ii) The extent to which the application proposes high-leverage approaches that focus assistance at the VerDate jul<14>2003 18:03 Jun 02, 2005 Jkt 205001 State level and on helping States build capacity to support district and school improvement and programs. (iii) The extent to which the proposed technical assistance plan reflects indepth knowledge and understanding of NCLB, as well as supporting regulations and guidance pertinent to carrying out the purposes and activities of the center for which the applicant is applying. (iv) The extent to which the proposed technical assistance plan reflects indepth knowledge and understanding of available scientifically valid, researchbased and/or evidence-based practices to improve student achievement and close achievement gaps and demonstrates knowledge of and access to reliable sources for obtaining such knowledge on an ongoing basis. (v) The extent to which the proposed technical assistance plan reflects indepth knowledge and understanding of current scientifically valid, researchbased and/or evidence-based technical assistance methods and practices. d. Quality of Project Personnel and Adequacy of Grantee Resources (25 points). In determining the quality of project personnel, the Secretary considers the extent to which the applicant encourages applications for employment from persons who are members of groups that have traditionally been underrepresented based on race, color, national origin, gender, age, or disability. In addition, the Secretary will consider the following factors under this criterion: (i) The extent to which the application presents evidence of professional preparation and successful prior experience of the center director and other key staff, including subgrantees and key consultants and partners that would indicate that each has the knowledge, skills and ability to successfully carry out the responsibilities they are assigned. For example, the extent to which the application presents evidence of: (A) In the case of Content Centers, (1) in-depth knowledge of content and research in the proposed center’s focus area, particularly those practices and approaches that are linked to improvements in achievement for students at risk of failure, including students from low-income families, students who have limited English proficiency, students with disabilities, and migrant students; (2) the ability to translate and communicate that knowledge; and (3) the demonstrated ability to collaborate with other providers and research institutions, broker relationships, and connect stakeholders at a regional and/or PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 32593 national level, as appropriate, to identify and share best practices. (B) In the case of Regional Centers, expertise and demonstrated successful experience assisting States with comprehensive planning, needs assessments and implementing school improvement programs and processes, with a particular focus on improving outcomes for students at risk of failure, including students from low-income families, disabled students, students with limited proficiency in English, and migrant students. (ii) The extent to which proposed center staff have expertise using technology to deliver technical assistance and implementing school improvement reforms within urban and rural contexts. (iii) The extent to which the applicant has demonstrated experience providing technical assistance and professional development in reading, mathematics, science and technology, especially in schools and districts identified as in need of improvement. (iv) The extent to which the applicant has prior relevant experience operating a project of the scope required for the purposes of the center being proposed. (v) The extent to which the application proposes an advisory board membership in accordance with the requirements of the TA Act and includes reasonable assurance of their commitment to serve on the board. The extent to which the resources and plans for the board’s operation are reasonable and cost-efficient. (vi) The adequacy of resources for the proposed project, including facilities and equipment, to successfully carry out the purposes and activities of the proposed project. e. Quality of the Management Plan (20 points). In determining the quality of the management plan for the proposed project, the Secretary will consider the following factors: (i) The extent to which resources are allocated within the region in a manner that reflects the need for assistance. (ii) The adequacy of the management plan to achieve the objectives of the project on time and within budget, including clearly defined responsibilities, timelines, and milestones for accomplishing project tasks. (iii) The extent to which the time commitments of the project director and other key project personnel are appropriate and adequate to meet the objectives of the proposed project. (iv) The adequacy of procedures for ensuring feedback on performance measures and continuous improvement in the operation of the proposed project. E:\FR\FM\03JNN1.SGM 03JNN1 32594 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 106 / Friday, June 3, 2005 / Notices (v) The extent to which the application proposes exceptional, innovative and workable approaches and plans to— (A) Communicate on an ongoing basis with other comprehensive centers, as appropriate, the Regional Educational Laboratories, the client State educational agencies and other technical assistance providers serving the region; and (B) Coordinate the plans and activities funded by this grant with the plans and activities of the State and other agencies, in order to leverage resources, avoid duplications and otherwise maximize the effectiveness of services; and make effective use of available technologies to widely disseminate information about proven practices. f. Quality of the Project Evaluation (10 points). In determining the quality of the evaluation plan, the Secretary will consider the following factors: (i) The extent to which the performance goals and objectives for the project are clearly specified and measurable in terms of the project activities to be accomplished and their stated outcomes for clients. (ii) The extent to which the methods for monitoring performance and evaluating the effectiveness of project strategies in terms of outcomes for clients are thorough, feasible, and appropriate to the goals, objectives, and outcomes of the proposed project. (iii) The extent to which the methods of evaluation will provide continuous performance feedback and permit the continuous assessment of progress toward achieving intended outcomes. (iv) The extent to which the applicant demonstrates a strong capacity to provide reliable data on performance measures. VI. Award Administration Information 1. Award Notices: If your application is successful, we notify your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators and send you a Grant Award Notification (GAN). We may also notify you informally. If your application is not evaluated or not selected for funding, we will notify you. 2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements: We identify administrative and national policy requirements in the application package and reference these and other requirements in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice. We reference the regulations outlining the terms and conditions of an award in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice and include these and other specific conditions in the GAN. The VerDate jul<14>2003 18:03 Jun 02, 2005 Jkt 205001 GAN also incorporates your approved application as part of your binding commitments under the grant. 3. Reporting: At the end of your project, you must submit a final performance report, including financial information, as directed by the Secretary. If you receive a multi-year award, you must submit an annual performance report that provides the most current performance and financial expenditure information as specified by the Secretary in 34 CFR 75.118. 4. Performance Measures: To evaluate the overall success of the Comprehensive Center Program, beginning in FY 2006, the Department will use three performance measures to assess the quality, relevance, and usefulness of center activities funded under this competition. These new measures, adapted from a set of common measures developed to help assess performance across the Department’s technical assistance programs, are: (1) The percentage of technical assistance services that are deemed to be of high quality by an independent review panel of expert stakeholders; (2) the percentage of technical assistance services that are deemed to be of high relevance to educational policy or practice by an independent review panel of qualified practitioners; and (3) the percentage of technical assistance services that are deemed to be of high usefulness to educational policy or practice by target audiences. All grantees will be expected to submit, as part of their performance report, quantitative data documenting their progress with regard to these performance measures. The Department will provide information to grantees about the independent panels conducting the review, the review process, and the definitions and criteria that will be used to evaluate quality, relevance and usefulness. VII. Agency Contact Enid Simmons, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 3E307, Washington, DC 20202– 6335. Telephone: (202) 401–0039 or by e-mail: OESE.cc@ed.gov. 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 program contact person listed in this section. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 VIII. Other Information Electronic Access to This Document: You may view this document, as well as all other documents of this Department 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. Dated: May 31, 2005. Raymond Simon, Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education. [FR Doc. 05–11097 Filed 6–2–05; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000–01–P DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION [CFDA No. 84.345A] Office of Postsecondary Education; Underground Railroad Educational and Cultural Program (URR) Correction; Notice correcting the Deadline for Intergovernmental Review date. ACTION: SUMMARY: We correct the Deadline for Intergovernmental Review in the notice published on May 13, 2005 (70 FR 25553). On May 13, 2005, we published a notice in the Federal Register inviting applications for new awards for FY 2005 for the Underground Railroad Educational and Cultural Program. The date listed under Deadline for Intergovernmental Review was incorrect. The correct Deadline for Intergovernmental Review is August 12, 2005. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Beverly Baker, Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, U.S. Department of Education, 1990 K Street, NW., suite 6140, Washington, DC 20006–8544. Telephone: (202) 502–7503 or by e-mail: beverly.baker@ed.gov. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may call SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: E:\FR\FM\03JNN1.SGM 03JNN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 70, Number 106 (Friday, June 3, 2005)]
[Notices]
[Pages 32583-32594]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 05-11097]


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

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION


Office of Elementary and Secondary Education; Overview 
Information; Comprehensive Centers; Notice Inviting Applications for 
New Awards for Fiscal Year 2005

    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 84.283B.

DATES: Applications Available: June 3, 2005.
    Deadline for Notice of Intent to Apply: June 23, 2005.
    Dates of Pre-Application Meetings: The Department will conduct 
briefings on this competition via conference call to clarify the 
purposes of the program and the selection criteria and process at 11 
a.m. on each of the following dates: Applicants for Regional Centers 
June 13 and 17; Applicants for Content Centers June 22 and 23. Please 
e-mail Enid Simmons at enid.simmons@ed.gov to register for a call date 
and time and obtain the conference call number and code.
    Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: July 18, 2005.
    Deadline for Intergovernmental Review: August 17, 2005.
    Eligible Applicants: Research organizations, institutions, 
agencies, institutions of higher education, or partnerships among such 
entities, or individuals, with the demonstrated ability or capacity to 
carry out the activities described in this notice. An application from 
a consortium of eligible entities must include a consortium agreement. 
Letters of support do not meet the requirement for a consortium 
agreement.

    Note: The Department will reject any application that does not 
meet these eligibility requirements.

    Estimated Number of Awards: The Secretary intends to support 21 
awards under this competition. Sixteen awards will support Regional 
comprehensive centers (Regional Centers) to serve States within defined 
geographic boundaries. The States and territories to be served by each 
Regional Center are described in this notice under Absolute Priorities 
for Regional Centers. Five awards will support Content comprehensive 
centers (Content Centers), each having a specific content expertise and 
focus, to support the work of the Regional Centers. These five Content 
Centers are: the Center on Assessment and Accountability, the Center on 
Instruction, the Center on Teacher Quality, the Center on Innovation 
and Improvement, and the Center on High Schools. The functions and 
activities for each of the five Content Centers are described in this 
notice under Absolute Priorities for Content Centers.

    Note: The Educational Technical Assistance Act of 2002 (TA Act) 
provides that the Secretary must ensure that not less than one 
Comprehensive Center is established in each of the 10 geographic 
regions served by the Regional Educational Laboratories. Note that 
these regions differ, in some instances, from the Regional Centers 
described in this notice. The Secretary will consider the location 
of the proposed Regional Centers in the selection and negotiation of 
cooperative agreements to ensure that this requirement of the law is 
met.

    Estimated Available Funds: Eighteen of the 21 Centers proposed for 
funding under this competition will be supported entirely with funds 
from the Comprehensive Centers program, authorized under Title II of 
the TA Act. Three of the 21 centers will be supported with funds 
appropriated for the Comprehensive Centers program and the Special 
Education Technical Assistance and Dissemination program, which is 
authorized under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, as 
amended (IDEA).
    The estimated available funds from the Comprehensive Centers 
program for FY 2005 is $40 million. Of that amount, an estimated $35 
million will be used to fund Regional Centers and $5 million will be 
used to fund the Content Centers. FY 2005 funds will support awards for 
the first budget period of the project, which is the first nine months 
of the project period. Funding for the subsequent 12-month budget 
periods for years two through five (FY 2006 through FY 2009) is 
contingent on appropriation levels. For FY 2006, the President's 
budget, if funded at the requested level, would provide approximately 
$56.8 million for the Comprehensive Centers program.
    The estimated total funds from the Special Education Technical 
Assistance and Dissemination program for FY 2005 is $3 million to 
provide partial support for three of the Content Centers for the first 
budget period of the project.
    Depending on appropriation levels, a total of up to $3 million from 
the Special Education Technical Assistance

[[Page 32584]]

and Dissemination program will be available for awards to the co-funded 
Content Centers in subsequent budget periods. The Department 
anticipates that each program will provide approximately 50 percent of 
the annual funding for the three co-funded Content Centers during the 
first budget period of the project. The co-funded Content Centers will 
be the Center on Instruction, the Center on Teacher Quality and the 
Center on High Schools.
    Estimated Range of Awards: The estimated range of awards for 
Regional Centers is $750,000 to $4,604,348 from FY 2005 funds for the 
first budget period, covering the first 9 months of the project period. 
Funding for each Regional Center was calculated by formula, based 
equally on shares of population and poor children, ages 5-17 in the 
States (including DC, Puerto Rico, and the Outlying Areas) served by 
each Regional Center. Department estimates for awards to each Regional 
Center are provided at: http://www.ed.gov/programs/newccp/index.html.
    The estimated range of awards for Content Centers is $1,000,000 to 
$2,000,000 for the first budget period, which includes the first nine 
months of the project period.
    Estimated Average Size of Awards: Regional Centers--$2,187,500 in 
the first budget period (FY 2005) and approximately $2,895,313 in each 
subsequent budget period; the three co-funded Content Centers--
$2,000,000 in the first budget period (FY 2005) and approximately 
$2,500,000 in each subsequent budget period; the other two Content 
Centers--$1,000,000 in the first budget period (FY 2005) and 
approximately $1,500,000 in each subsequent budget period.

    Note: The Department is not bound by any estimates in this 
notice.

    Project Period: Up to 60 months.
    Budget Period: Nine months for the first budget period only. Each 
subsequent budget period will be 12 months.

Full Text of Announcement

I. Funding Opportunity Description

    Purpose of Program: The Comprehensive Centers program supports the 
establishment of not fewer than 20 comprehensive technical assistance 
centers that provide technical assistance to States as States work to 
help districts and schools to close achievement gaps in core content 
areas and raise student achievement in schools, especially those in 
need of improvement (as defined by Section 1116(b), of the Elementary 
and Secondary Act, as amended (ESEA)) in implementing the school 
improvement provisions under section 1116 of ESEA.
    Centers established under this program will replace the existing 
Comprehensive Regional Assistance Centers, the Regional Technology in 
Education Consortia, the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse for 
Mathematics and Science Education, and the Regional Mathematics and 
Science Education Consortia.
    Background: The ESEA, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 
2001 (NCLB), holds States accountable for closing achievement gaps and 
ensuring that all children, regardless of ethnicity, income, language 
or disability, receive a high quality education and meet State academic 
standards by 2013-2014.
    To that end, NCLB requires States to set standards for student 
performance, implement statewide testing and accountability systems to 
measure school and student performance toward achieving those 
standards, adopt research-based instructional and program improvements 
related to teaching and learning in the classroom, ensure that all 
teachers in core subject areas are highly qualified, and improve or 
ultimately restructure schools that are consistently low-performing.
    The comprehensive centers funded under this competition will begin 
providing technical assistance at a time when States, districts, and 
schools have accomplished much of the initial implementation of NCLB.
    The new centers funded under this competition will provide 
intensive technical assistance in several areas that are key to success 
in meeting NCLB goals. Recent assessments conducted to help determine 
technical assistance priorities for the Comprehensive Centers program 
indicate that States need assistance, for example, to implement school 
improvement efforts to help meet school and district adequate yearly 
progress requirements; to identify and adopt instructional and 
assessment methods that have been proven effective through 
scientifically based research, especially for students with special 
needs; to design programs and strategies and allocate resources to 
recruit, retain, and train talented teachers and school leaders; and to 
enhance assessment and accountability systems.
    Because States have the primary responsibility for school 
improvement efforts, these centers will focus their technical 
assistance on States and on helping States increase their capacity to 
provide sustained support to districts and schools as they implement 
NCLB reforms.
    The new centers will serve as field agents for the Department to 
further States' understanding of the provisions and purposes of NCLB 
and related Federal programs and help them adopt proven approaches to 
achieve the school improvement and student performance goals required 
under NCLB. The centers will work closely with, and leverage the 
resources of, other technical assistance providers and research 
organizations, including the Regional Educational Laboratories, the 
Special Education Technical Assistance Network, the Parental 
Information and Resource Centers, the Equity Assistance Centers, the 
Reading First National Technical Assistance Center, the Institute of 
Education Sciences' research centers and its What Works Clearinghouse, 
and other Federal, regional, and State entities and postsecondary 
institutions, to gather and disseminate information and knowledge about 
what works and to help States translate that knowledge into meaningful 
practice.
    The approach to technical assistance delivery for the centers is 
two-tiered: The Regional Centers will have the primary relationships 
with, and provide services to, the States in their regions; in serving 
their State clients, the Regional Centers will draw heavily on the 
research-based information, products, guidance, and knowledge on key 
NCLB topics supplied by the Content Centers.
    The Department intends to have substantial and sustained 
involvement in the activities of each center funded under this 
competition, including shaping grantee priorities, activities, and 
major products to meet the purposes of this program. The Department 
also intends to partner with the centers, particularly the Content 
Centers, to convene national conferences to disseminate information and 
resources about Departmental priorities related to NCLB. The details 
and parameters of the Department's expectations and involvement with 
each center funded under this competition will be included in the 
Department's cooperative agreement with the grantee that receives an 
award for that center under this competition.
    Regional Advisory Committees: To help inform the Secretary's 
priorities for the centers funded under this competition, the Secretary 
(in accordance with section 206 of the TA Act) established 10 Regional 
Advisory Committees (RACs) charged with conducting education needs 
assessments within the geographical regions served by the current 
regional educational laboratories.
    The RACs conducted their needs assessments during the period from 
December 2004 to March 2005 and

[[Page 32585]]

submitted their reports to the Secretary on March 31, 2005. The full 
reports are available at: http://www.ed.gov/programs/newccp/index.html.
    Applicants for the centers are encouraged to consider the specific 
priorities and recommendations contained in the RAC reports when 
preparing their applications.
    Priorities: This competition contains three sets of absolute 
priorities (Absolute Priorities for All Centers (priorities one and 
two), Absolute Priorities for Regional Centers (priorities three 
through six), and Absolute Priorities for Content Centers (priorities 
seven through eleven)). We are establishing these absolute priorities 
for the FY 2005 grant competition only, in accordance with section 437 
(d)(1) of the General Education Provisions Act.
    Absolute Priorities: For FY 2005 these priorities are absolute 
priorities.
    For Regional Center awards, under 34 CFR 75.105 (c)(3) we consider 
only applications that meet the Absolute Priorities for All Centers 
(priorities one and two) and Absolute Priorities for Regional Centers 
(priorities three through six).
    For Content Center awards, under 34 CFR 75.105 (c)(3) we consider 
only applications that meet the Absolute Priorities for All Centers 
(priorities one and two) and one of the priorities under Absolute 
Priorities for Content Centers (i.e., priorities 7, 8, 9, 10, or 11).

    Note: If an applicant wants to apply for funding for more than 
one center, it must submit separate applications for each proposed 
center.

Absolute Priorities for All Centers

    Priority 1--Focus on States. To meet this priority, applicants must 
propose a plan of technical assistance specifically focused on helping 
States implement the provisions of NCLB applicable to States, and 
helping States build the capacity to help school districts and schools 
implement NCLB provisions and programs.
    To the extent an applicant proposes to work with individual school 
districts and schools, the applicant must propose a technical 
assistance plan that only proposes work with districts and schools 
where the effort--(a) Involves a high leverage strategy (i.e., reaches 
a large number or proportion of schools, teachers, and administrators 
needing the assistance within the State); (b) responds to a need 
identified by the State; and (c) is planned and coordinated with the 
State.

    Note: This priority does not support research, program 
evaluation, or curriculum development. Thus, an applicant will not 
satisfy this priority if it proposes a technical assistance plan 
to--
    (a) Design or develop curricula or instructional materials for 
use in classrooms or develop professional development programs where 
proven models already exist; or
    (b) conduct basic research or program evaluations on behalf of 
States or districts.

    Priority 2--Crosscutting Expertise. To meet this priority, an 
applicant must demonstrate that proposed center staff has expertise on 
several issues of crosscutting importance related to the delivery of 
technical assistance in specific regions and content areas. These 
issues are:
    (a) Proven strategies for addressing the needs of schools with 
populations at risk of failure, especially children who have limited 
proficiency in English, children with disabilities, and children from 
economically disadvantaged families.
    (b) Effective uses of technology to improve instruction, and as an 
efficient means of delivering technical assistance.
    (c) Implementing school improvement reforms within urban and rural 
contexts.

Absolute Priorities for Regional Centers

    Background: Regional Centers must provide frontline assistance to 
States to help them implement NCLB and other related Federal school 
improvement programs and help increase State capacity to assist 
districts and schools meet their student achievement goals. Regional 
Centers must be embedded in regions and responsible for developing 
strong relationships and partnerships within their regional community. 
While Content Centers must focus almost entirely on specific content 
areas, analyzing research, developing useful products and tools for 
Regional Centers and other clients, the Regional Centers will be the 
``on the ground'' providers to States.
    Drawing from the information and resources provided by the Content 
Centers funded through this competition and other sources, the Regional 
Centers must provide a program of technical assistance to States that 
will enable them to among other things--
    (a) Assess the improvement needs of districts and schools and 
assist them in developing solutions to address those needs;
    (b) build and sustain systemic support for district and school 
improvement efforts to (i) close existing achievement gaps; and (ii) 
adopt proven practices to improve instruction and achievement outcomes 
for students in schools identified as in need of improvement; and
    (b) improve the tools and systems for school improvement and 
accountability for the achievement outcomes.

Text of Priorities

    Priority 3--Location of Regional Centers. The Secretary will award 
grants to establish 16 Regional Centers serving States and territories. 
In order to meet the requirement of this priority, a proposed Regional 
Center must serve one of the following regions:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Regional comprehensive center                    Region
------------------------------------------------------------------------
New England............................  Connecticut, Maine,
                                          Massachusetts, New Hampshire,
                                          Rhode Island, and Vermont.
New York...............................  New York.
Mid-Atlantic...........................  Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey,
                                          Pennsylvania, and Washington,
                                          DC.
Appalachia.............................  Kentucky, Tennessee, North
                                          Carolina, Virginia, and West
                                          Virginia.
Southeast..............................  Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi,
                                          Louisiana, and South Carolina.
Florida and Islands....................  Florida, Puerto Rico, and the
                                          Virgin Islands.
Great Lakes West.......................  Wisconsin and Illinois.
Great Lakes East.......................  Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio.
North Central..........................  North Dakota, South Dakota,
                                          Minnesota, Nebraska, and Iowa.
Mid-Continent..........................  Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and
                                          Missouri.
Texas..................................  Texas.
West/Southwest.........................  Nevada, Utah, Colorado,
                                          Arizona, and New Mexico.
California.............................  California.
Northwest..............................  Idaho, Montana, Oregon,
                                          Washington, and Wyoming.
Alaska.................................  Alaska.
Pacific................................  American Samoa, Commonwealth of
                                          the Northern Mariana Islands,
                                          Federated States of Micronesia
                                          (Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and
                                          Yap), Guam, Hawaii, Republic
                                          of the Marshall Islands, and
                                          the Republic of Palau.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Priority 4--Regional Technical Assistance Activities. To meet this 
priority, the work of the proposed Regional Centers must involve 
activities that address State technical assistance needs by--
    (a) Working closely with each State in its region on an ongoing 
basis;
    (b) linking States with the resources of Content Centers, 
Department staff, Regional Educational Laboratories, The What Works 
Clearinghouse, and other entities that have, or may be able to,

[[Page 32586]]

design products and services tailored to State needs;
    (c) suggesting sources of appropriate service providers or 
assistance for State activities that are not within the core mission of 
the centers--including, for example, activities to address needs 
related to curriculum development, designing school-level training 
programs, or conducting basic research or impact evaluations;
    (d) assisting State efforts to build statewide systems of support 
for districts and schools in need of improvement, partly by leveraging 
the resources of Content Centers and other sources of scientifically-
based education research and high-quality technical assistance on 
behalf of State and district clients;
    (e) working to identify, broker, leverage, and deliver information, 
resources and services from the Content Centers and other sources that 
focus on research-based knowledge of promising practices, including 
assistance to States and districts on securing high-quality consultants 
and experts to meet specific education needs;
    (f) convening, in partnership with Content Centers and others, as 
appropriate, States and districts to receive training and information 
on best practices and research-based improvement strategies;
    (g) providing guidance and training on implementation of 
requirements under NCLB and other related Federal programs;
    (h) facilitating collaboration at the State level to align Federal, 
State, district and school improvement programs and help States 
understand and use the flexibility provided by NCLB to target resources 
and programs to address the greatest needs; and
    (i) helping Content Centers to identify, document and disseminate 
emerging promising practices by working with States to distill and 
document the experiences of high-performing districts and schools.
    Priority 5--Knowledge and Expertise. To satisfy this priority, the 
proposed Regional Center must demonstrate in-depth knowledge of 
regional and local issues, conditions, and needs, particularly as those 
relate to the roles and responsibilities of States, districts, and 
schools in implementing the provisions of NCLB and other related 
Federal programs. In addition, the proposed Regional Center must have 
expertise in comprehensive planning, needs assessment, and State, 
district, and school improvement processes.
    Priority 6--Coordination and Cooperation. To meet this priority, 
the proposed Regional Center must create and maintain cooperative 
working relationships with States in their region and other technical 
assistance providers serving the region, including the Regional 
Educational Laboratories, the Special Education Technical Assistance 
Network, Parental Information and Resource Centers, Equity Assistance 
Centers, the Reading First National Technical Assistance Center, and 
other regional and State entities, including for example, regional 
service providers and post-secondary institutions.
    Absolute Priorities for Content Centers: There are five priorities 
under these Absolute Priorities for Content Centers. Each priority 
corresponds to one of the Content Centers the Department intends to 
fund through this competition (i.e., Priority 7--Center on Assessment 
and Accountability, Priority 8--Center on Instruction, Priority 9--
Center on Teacher Quality, Priority 10--Center on Innovation and 
Improvement, and Priority 11--Center on High Schools). To be eligible 
to receive funding for a Content Center under this competition, an 
applicant must meet the requirements of only one of the priorities in 
this section.
    Together, the five Content Centers cover a spectrum of inter-
related school improvement and technical assistance areas. The Content 
Centers will work closely with Regional Centers to provide technical 
assistance to States.
    While Regional Centers will have the primary relationships to 
States in their regions, Content Centers will supply much of the common 
research-based information, products, guidance, analyses, and knowledge 
on certain key NCLB topics that Regional Centers will use when working 
with States.
    The purpose of having national level Content Centers is to avoid 
duplication of efforts across centers in key NCLB areas and to ensure 
depth of content knowledge in these areas.
    Because the Content Center focus areas cut across the school 
improvement process, Content Centers will also connect and collaborate 
with each other as a network and a central source of knowledge, 
resources and tools that stakeholders can readily access to find 
information and resources to address their needs in one or more of the 
content areas covered by the five Content Centers.
    Content Centers will have in-depth knowledge of the content and 
research related to the center's focus area; expertise in evaluating 
existing resources and synthesizing information into a meaningful and 
useful knowledge base; the ability to translate and communicate that 
knowledge; and the ability to collaborate with other providers and 
research institutions, broker resources and connect technical 
assistance resources at a national level to identify and share the best 
practices of States and districts.
    Content Centers will facilitate access to, and use of, existing 
research and proven practice by analyzing, synthesizing, and 
disseminating information on proven, promising and emerging practices 
and strategies in the Center's focus area, as well as develop tools for 
Regional Centers to use in providing assistance to States.
    In general, the Content Centers will, among other things--
    (a) Identify, organize, select and translate existing key research 
knowledge pertaining to the Center's content-focus area and communicate 
the information in ways that are highly relevant and highly useful to 
State and local level policy makers and practitioners;
    (b) Benchmark State and district practices for implementing NCLB 
provisions and school improvement interventions related to the center's 
area of focus and identify promising approaches that can be shared with 
States and districts;
    (c) Convene States and districts, researchers and other experts to 
learn from each other about practical strategies for implementing NCLB 
provisions and programs related to the Center's area of focus;
    (d) Train Regional Center staff on what is known about 
scientifically valid practices and programs;
    (e) Collaborate with Regional Centers to address specific requests 
for assistance from States within the regions;
    (f) Communicate to the field, including through national 
conferences, Department guidance related to the center's content focus 
and examples of workable strategies and systems for implementing 
provisions and programs that have produced positive outcomes for 
schools and students; and
    (g) Design needs assessment and data analysis tools that States and 
districts can use to benchmark their own programs and progress.
    Priority 7--Center on Assessment and Accountability. Background: 
The Assessment and Accountability Center will focus on State and school 
district implementation of NCLB assessment and accountability 
requirements, including support for administration of accountability 
plans, and the design and administration of effective models, 
strategies and tools for the following:
    (a) Implementing valid, standards-based testing and large scale 
assessment programs, especially for students with

[[Page 32587]]

limited English proficiency and special education students, and using 
classroom data designed to diagnose needs, guide instruction, and 
regularly monitor progress.
    (b) Implementing data systems that support student assessment, 
program accountability, reporting requirements, and school improvement 
efforts.
    (b) Training data users, including State and district and policy 
makers, program and school officials, administrators and classroom 
teachers to use data effectively in making instructional and school 
improvement decisions.
    Text of Priority: To meet this priority, an applicant must 
demonstrate--
    (a) In-depth understanding of and the ability to apply that 
understanding to testing, assessment and data systems issues 
confronting States and districts as they design and manage statewide 
accountability systems; and
    (b) In-depth knowledge and understanding of--
     The range of assessment models, methods and tests 
available and their applicability for various testing purposes for 
diverse learners, including, for example, English language learners and 
students with disabilities;
     Test development, test reliability and validity issues for 
different types of tests, and for measuring the academic progress of 
diverse learners;
     Curriculum to test alignment issues and strategies;
     Methods, systems, and rubrics for scoring tests and 
reporting the results; and
     How to interpret and use test results to inform decisions 
about student progress and education practice.
    To meet the priority for the Assessment and Accountability Center, 
an applicant also must demonstrate expertise in designing or helping 
States and districts design data systems, establishing system 
standards, policies and procedures, and implementing an integrated 
assessment and accountability system that can yield real-time data to 
inform on-going decisions about student and school performance and 
program improvement. The center must work closely with other technical 
assistance providers, including the National Center on Education 
Outcomes and National Collaborative Center on Standards and Assessment 
Development.
    Priority 8--Center on Instruction. Background: The Center on 
Instruction will focus on helping States and districts evaluate and 
select evidence-based interventions and practices to improve 
instruction for students in the content areas of reading/literacy, 
language arts, mathematics, and science, and English language 
acquisition. The Center on Instruction will disseminate existing 
research and information on proven instructional practices that work to 
help schools and districts identified as in need of improvement to 
improve the academic achievement of students from diverse backgrounds, 
including economically disadvantaged students, students who are 
receiving special education, students who have limited proficiency in 
English, migrant students, and other students and groups of students 
who are at risk of academic failure.
    Instructional practices must include interventions designed to 
provide intensive support for students with disabilities, including 
students with disabilities who need modified achievement standards as 
described in ``Raising Achievement: A New Path for No Child Left 
Behind'', which can be found at http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/
2005/04/04072005.html.
    Text of Priority: To receive funding under this priority, the 
proposed center must--
    (a) Disseminate guidance for policy makers and practitioners on how 
to understand and interpret scientifically based research to evaluate 
instructional strategies and programs and their application and 
effectiveness in instructional practice;
    (b) On issues related to early reading/language arts instruction, 
work closely with the Reading First National Technical Assistance 
Center and act as a provider of knowledge and research, consistent with 
that delivered to Reading First grantees;
    (c) Help identify and track proven, as well as promising and 
emerging, practices around adolescent literacy; and
    (d) Focus on analyzing and disseminating information on practices 
based on scientifically valid research and other promising practices in 
math and science instruction.
    Staff of the proposed center must have extensive content knowledge 
and understanding of emerging and promising practices that can be 
shared with States and districts. Specifically, to meet this priority, 
an applicant must demonstrate--
    (a) In-depth knowledge of instructional practices and strategies 
that work to improve schools and the academic achievement of students 
from diverse backgrounds, including economically disadvantaged 
students, students who are receiving special education, students who 
are limited English proficient, migrant students, and other students 
and groups of students who are at risk of academic failure;
    (b) In-depth knowledge of evidence-based instructional 
interventions and features that improve achievement, particularly in 
reading and math, of students with disabilities, including students 
with disabilities who need modified achievement standards (Features 
that are extremely important for implementing, evaluating, and 
sustaining effective instruction for students with disabilities include 
intensity, duration, development of individual education plans, student 
grouping, the use of data to measure progress and inform instruction, 
and fidelity.);
    (c) In-depth knowledge of instructional practices that work to help 
districts and schools identified as in need of improvement to improve 
the academic achievement of students from diverse backgrounds; and
    (d) The ability to translate and communicate that knowledge in ways 
that are meaningful and useful to the Content Center's Regional Center 
clients and to education policy makers and practitioners.
    Finally, because a proportion of the funding for the Center on 
Instruction comes from the Special Education Technical Assistance and 
Dissemination program, to meet this priority, an applicant's plan of 
activities must provide for a level of technical assistance benefiting 
students with disabilities that is consistent with that proportion of 
funding. Thus, for the first budget period (FY 2005), grantees must 
target 50 percent of services to support technical assistance needs 
related to identifying evidence-based interventions and practices that 
work to improve instruction and academic achievement in the content 
areas of reading/literacy, language arts, mathematics, and science for 
students with disabilities. For subsequent years, applicants must 
propose technical assistance benefiting students with disabilities that 
is equivalent to $1 million per year.
    Priority 9--Center on Teacher Quality. Background: This center will 
focus on helping Regional Centers and States to identify proven and 
promising practices and strategies to meet a range of teacher quality 
goals under NCLB, including: (a) Recruitment, retention and selection 
of highly qualified teachers who have the greatest chance to succeed, 
particularly in districts and schools identified as in need of 
improvement; (b) support, induction, pay for performance/differentiated 
compensation systems, and mentoring strategies and programs that may

[[Page 32588]]

increase the likelihood that highly qualified teachers will stay in 
teaching, especially in high-need districts and schools and in rural 
and urban settings; (c) expanding alternative routes to teacher 
certification and transition into teaching (including programs for mid-
career professionals, paraprofessionals, and recent college graduates) 
that have demonstrated a level of quality and intensity of training 
necessary to produce teachers with the knowledge and skills needed to 
be effective in meeting the needs of students at high risk of academic 
failure, including students who with disabilities, students who are 
limited English proficient and migrant students; (d) development and 
administration of high-quality, intensive and sustained in-service 
professional development programs to ensure that all teachers improve 
and expand their content knowledge, teaching skills and success and 
that school leaders have the knowledge and skill to support classroom 
teachers and instructional and school improvements; and (e) 
professional development programs and strategies to ensure that all 
teachers are prepared to identify and address the diverse needs of 
students in a classroom, particularly those students at risk of 
academic failure.
    The Center on Teacher Quality will draw on existing knowledge and 
resources, including research supported by the Department's Institute 
of Education Sciences and teacher quality grant programs such as 
Transition to Teaching, Troops to Teachers, Teaching American History, 
and School Leadership programs.
    Text of Priority: To meet this priority, an applicant must 
demonstrate--
    (a) In-depth knowledge of (i) what makes a highly qualified 
teacher, with a particular focus on the teaching practices and 
approaches that are linked to improvements in achievement for students 
at risk of failure; (ii) the challenges, including systemic barriers, 
States face in their efforts to recruit, select, train and retain 
highly qualified teachers, particularly to teach in high-need and low-
performing districts and schools and in urban and rural settings; and 
(iii) the available research-based strategies, practices and tools 
available to address those challenges;
    (b) expertise in identifying effective alternative routes into 
teaching and demonstrated knowledge of the various teacher 
credentialing and certification practices currently being employed by 
States; and
    (c) an understanding of the importance of principal leadership to 
hiring and retaining high-quality teachers.
    Finally, because a proportion of the funding for this Center comes 
from the Special Education Technical Assistance and Dissemination 
program, to meet this priority, an applicant's plan of activities must 
provide for a level of technical assistance benefiting students with 
disabilities that is consistent with that proportion of funding. Thus, 
for the first budget period (FY 2005), grantees must target 50 percent 
of services to support technical assistance needs related to 
identifying and disseminating research-based knowledge and models of 
best practice to recruit, select, train and retain teachers with the 
knowledge and skills needed to be effective in meeting the needs of 
students who are receiving special education services. For subsequent 
years, applicants must propose technical assistance benefiting students 
with disabilities that is equivalent to $1 million per year.
    Priority 10--Center on Innovation and Improvement. Background: This 
center will focus on effective systems and strategies to support States 
and districts as they (1) plan and administer school improvement 
programs, and (2) implement the key choice provisions of NCLB, 
including public school choice, supplemental educational services, 
charter schools, and equitable services for private school students. 
This center will inform and support Regional Centers as they work to 
raise the capacity of States to provide sustained technical assistance 
to, and help build infrastructure supports in, districts and schools.
    To support States' and districts' plans and implementation of 
school improvement programs, the Center on Innovation and Improvement 
will work with Regional Centers and with the other Content Centers 
funded under this competition to identify school improvement processes, 
policies and practices for analyzing problems, building infrastructures 
at the district and school levels, involving teachers and parents in 
decision-making, and using Federal (especially Title I of ESEA), State 
and local resources more effectively to support improved teaching and 
learning for all students, including limited English proficient, 
migrant, and disabled students.
    The center will also identify, analyze, and disseminate new and 
emerging approaches to governance, resource management, decision 
processes, personnel systems, and program coordination and alignment at 
the district and school levels that will help make schools and 
districts in need of improvement high performing.
    To address the key choice provisions of NCLB, the center will 
assist States and districts with informing and empowering the neediest 
parents about the public school choice provisions, and with building 
capacity for public school choice, including through the development of 
high-quality charter schools. The center will also assist States and 
districts with implementing supplemental educational services by 
supporting their efforts to increase students' access to these 
services, to improve the quality of service providers, and to increase 
the variety of provider options available to parents.
    The center will also assist in expanding the number of high-quality 
charter schools available to students by focusing assistance on States, 
charter authorizers (including local school boards), and charter 
developers for the planning, implementation, and oversight of effective 
charter schools. The center will also assist States and districts in 
improving their implementation of the provisions in NCLB regarding the 
equitable participation of private school students and teachers.
    Text of Priority: In order to satisfy this priority, applicants 
must demonstrate in-depth knowledge of systemic reform and school 
improvement strategies that work to help schools in need of improvement 
close the achievement gap, as well as in-depth knowledge of the key 
choice provisions of NCLB. Applicants must also demonstrate the ability 
to translate and communicate that knowledge in ways that are meaningful 
and useful to their Regional Center clients and to education policy 
makers and practitioners.
    Priority 11--Center on High Schools. Background: The Center on High 
Schools will focus on the comprehensive reform of high schools to 
ensure that every student receives the knowledge, skills and support 
they need to graduate from high school prepared to succeed in 
postsecondary education and the workforce. The center will place 
particular emphasis on identifying new and emerging strategies that 
will benefit high schools consistently in need of improvement and 
students who are at risk of academic failure.
    Text of Priority: To satisfy this priority for a Center on High 
Schools, the proposed center must--
    (a) Identify new and emerging approaches, including those involving 
district and State systemic reforms to improve and enhance the academic 
performance of students in high schools;
    (b) identify, analyze and disseminate knowledge on strategies for: 
(i) Instituting higher academic standards, more rigorous coursework 
requirements, and assessment programs that align with

[[Page 32589]]

the performance requirements of college and work; (ii) ensuring that 
teachers and school leaders are prepared to teach and lead to academic 
excellence; (iii) instituting policies and programs to reduce the 
incidence of dropouts and increase graduation rates; (iv) increasing 
access to and improving the quality of education in the general 
education curriculum for students with disabilities in high schools; 
(v) involving parents in decisions about their child's high school 
educational program and planning for the child's post-high school 
future; (vi) adopting new approaches to governance, resource 
management, decision processes, personnel systems, and program 
coordination and alignment that may better facilitate and support high-
quality high school programs; (vii) facilitating better coordination 
between K-12 programs and postsecondary institution requirements within 
States; and (viii) helping States rethink how they might better use 
Federal, State and local programs and resources for high schools.
    To meet this priority, an applicant must also demonstrate in-depth 
understanding of: (a) The issues and challenges confronting high 
schools and the current high school reform context; (b) current 
research and practice regarding high school reform; (c) current 
research and practice regarding increasing access to and improving the 
quality of education in the general education curriculum for students 
with disabilities in high schools; and (d) the State and district 
systemic issues that need to be addressed to facilitate improvement in 
student achievement in high schools.
    Finally, because a proportion of the funding for the center comes 
from the Special Education Technical Assistance and Dissemination 
program, to meet this priority, an applicant's plan of activities must 
provide for a level of technical assistance benefiting students with 
disabilities that is consistent with that proportion of funding. Thus, 
for the first budget period (FY 2005), grantees must target 50 percent 
of services to support technical assistance needs related to 
identifying and disseminating new approaches for increasing access to 
and improving the quality of education in the general education high 
school curriculum for students receiving special education services. 
For subsequent years, applicants must propose technical assistance 
benefiting students with disabilities that is equivalent to $1 million 
per year. The Center on High Schools will also be expected to 
collaborate with the Department's National Dropout Prevention Center 
for Students with Disabilities.

Additional Requirements

    1. Plan of Technical Assistance. All applicants under this 
competition must submit as part of their application a 5-year plan of 
technical assistance that describes the strategies and approaches the 
applicant will use to carry out the activities of the proposed center 
in a manner that addresses the statutory requirements of sections 203 
through 207 of the TA Act, and the priorities and additional 
requirements described in this notice.
    2. Focus on Districts and Schools that are High-Need and Identified 
as in Need of Improvement. Applicants must demonstrate how the proposed 
plan of technical assistance will give priority to helping States, 
districts and schools build the capacity to develop and implement 
programs targeted specifically to meet the educational needs of 
students in school districts and schools with high percentages or 
numbers of school-age children from low income families, including such 
school districts and schools in rural and urban areas; and schools in 
the region that have been identified for school improvement under 
section 1116(b) of the ESEA.
    3. Focus on State/Regional Priorities. Applicants must tailor the 
strategies and activities they propose to address the educational 
priorities and related technical assistance needs of States. For 
Regional Centers, the proposed plan of technical assistance must 
reflect a thorough understanding of the technical assistance needs and 
propose strategies that specifically address those needs for the 
particular States the Regional Center will serve, considering: (a) The 
educational goals and priorities of States to be served, including 
major reform efforts underway; (b) the current status of States in 
meeting the requirements and goals of NCLB; (c) the types of technical 
assistance and related strategies that would help States, districts and 
schools implement the programs and goals of NCLB and close existing 
achievement gaps in the content areas; and (d) State and regional 
student demographics and other contextual factors, such as urban and 
rural locality. In the case of Content Centers, the proposed plan of 
technical assistance should address the needs of States and regions 
nationally.
    4. Allocation of Resources. Proposed technical assistance plans 
must allocate resources to and within States and regions (or, for 
Content Centers, across States and regions) in a manner that reflects 
the need for assistance, taking into account such factors as the 
proportion of economically disadvantaged students, the increased cost 
burden of service delivery in areas of sparse populations, and any 
special initiatives being undertaken by State, intermediate, local 
educational agencies, or schools funded under the jurisdiction of the 
Bureau of Indian Affairs, which may require special assistance from the 
center.
    5. Coordination and Collaboration. Each applicant must describe in 
its technical assistance plan how the proposed center will: (a) 
Communicate regularly with the U.S. Department of Education, other 
comprehensive centers, the Regional Educational Laboratories, State 
educational agencies, and other technical assistance providers as 
appropriate; and (b) how the proposed center will plan and coordinate 
activities funded under this competition with the activities of those 
other entities to leverage available knowledge and resources and avoid 
duplicating efforts.
    6. Advisory Board. Each application must propose, as part of its 
technical assistance plan, establishing an advisory board to advise the 
proposed comprehensive center on: (a) The activities of the center 
relating to its allocation of resources to and within each State in a 
manner that reflects the need for assistance in accordance with section 
203(d) of Title II of the TA Act; (b) strategies for monitoring and 
addressing the educational needs of the region, on an ongoing basis; 
(c) maintaining a high standard of quality in the performance of the 
center's activities; and (d) carrying out the center's duties in a 
manner that promotes progress toward improving student academic 
achievement.
    The plan must detail the composition of the board by name and 
affiliation in accordance with the requirements described in section 
205 of the TA Act and in the application instructions found in the 
application package. A letter of commitment from each proposed board 
member must accompany the plan.
    7. Evaluation Plan. Each applicant must provide, as part of its 
technical assistance plan, a plan to assess: (a) The needs of all 
States served by the comprehensive center on an ongoing basis, and (b) 
the progress and performance of the center in meeting the educational 
needs of their clients. The plan must identify performance objectives 
the project intends to achieve and performance measures for each 
performance objective; explain the quantitative and qualitative methods 
that will be used to collect, analyze, and

[[Page 32590]]

report performance data; and describe the methods that will be used to 
monitor progress and make mid-course corrections, as appropriate.
    8. Project Meetings. For each center under this competition, 
applicants must budget for--
    (a) The Project Director to attend a 2-day meeting in Washington, 
DC at least once a year for each year of the project period; and
    (b) key staff to attend the following:
    (i) A 2-day post-award conference with Department officials at in 
Washington, DC, to be held within 45 days from the grant award date. 
The purpose of this conference will be to--
     Refine the grantee's technical assistance plan as 
appropriate;
     Review with the grantee the Department's intentions 
regarding the role of the grantee's center(s);
     Define how the grantee's center(s) and the Department will 
work together as partners to accomplish the purposes of the grant;
     Establish lines of communication and feedback between 
grantees and the Department; and
     Establish content for cooperative agreements; and
    (ii) A 1-day annual performance review with Department officials in 
Washington, DC beginning one year after the post-award conference and 
each year of the grant thereafter.
    Waiver of Proposed Rulemaking: Under the Administrative Procedure 
Act (5 U.S.C. 553), the Department generally offers interested parties 
the opportunity to comment on proposed priorities and other non-
statutory program requirements. Section 437(d)(1) of the General 
Education Provisions Act (20 U.S.C. 1232 (d)(1)), however, allows the 
Secretary to exempt from rulemaking requirements, regulations governing 
the first competition under a new program authority. This is the first 
competition for the new Comprehensive Centers program under Title II of 
the TA Act and therefore qualifies for this exemption. In order to 
ensure timely grant awards, the Secretary has decided to forego public 
comment on the absolute priorities, selection criteria and non-
statutory requirements under section 437(d)(1). These absolute 
priorities, selection criteria and non-statutory requirements will 
apply to the FY 2005 grant competition only.

    Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 9602-9606.

    Applicable Regulations: The Education Department General 
Administration Regulations (EDGAR) in 34 CFR parts 74, 75, 77, 79, 80, 
81, 82, 84, 85, 86, 97, 98, and 99.

    Note: The regulations in 34 CFR part 79 apply to all applicants 
except federally recognized Indian tribes.


    Note: The regulations in 34 CFR part 86 apply to institutions of 
higher education only.

II. Award Information

    Type of Award: Cooperative agreements.
    Estimated Number of Awards: The Secretary intends to support 21 
awards under this competition. Sixteen awards will support Regional 
Centers to serve States within defined geographic boundaries. The 
States and territories to be served by each Regional Center are 
described in this notice under Absolute Priorities for Regional 
Centers. Five awards will support Content Centers, each having a 
specific content expertise and focus, to support the work of the 
Regional Centers. These five Content Centers are: The Center on 
Assessment and Accountability, the Center on Instruction, the Center on 
Teacher Quality, the Center on Innovation and Improvement, and the 
Center on High Schools. The functions and activities for each of the 
five Content Centers are described in this notice under Absolute 
Priorities for Content Centers.

    Note: The TA Act provides that the Secretary must ensure that 
not less than one Comprehensive Center is established in each of the 
10 geographic regions served by the Regional Educational 
Laboratories. Note that these regions differ, in some instances, 
from the Regional Centers described in this notice. The Secretary 
will consider the location of the proposed Regional Centers in the 
selection and negotiation of cooperative agreements to ensure that 
this requirement of the law is met.

    Estimated Available Funds: Eighteen of the 21 Centers proposed for 
funding under this competition will be supported entirely with funds 
from the Comprehensive Centers program, authorized under Title II of 
the TA Act. Three of the 21 centers will be supported with funds 
appropriated for the Comprehensive Centers program and the Special 
Education Technical Assistance and Dissemination program, which is 
authorized under IDEA.
    The estimated available funds from the Comprehensive Centers 
program for FY 2005 is $40 million. Of that amount, an estimated $35 
million will be used to fund Regional Centers and $5 million will be 
used to fund the Content Centers. FY 2005 funds will support awards for 
the first budget period of the project, which is the first nine months 
of the project period. Funding for the subsequent 12-month budget 
periods for years two through five (i.e. FY 2006 through FY 2009) is 
contingent on appropriation levels. For FY 2006, the President's 
budget, if funded at the requested level, would provide approximately 
$56.8 million for the Comprehensive Centers program.
    The estimated total funds from the Special Education Technical 
Assistance and Dissemination program for FY 2005 is $3 million to 
provide partial support for three of the Content Centers for the first 
budget period of the project.
    Depending on appropriation levels, a total of up to $3 million from 
the Special Education Technical Assistance and Dissemination program 
will be available for awards to the co-funded Content Centers in 
subsequent budget periods. The Department anticipates that each program 
will provide approximately 50 percent of the annual funding for the 
three co-funded Content Centers during the first budget period of the 
project. The co-funded Content Centers will be the Center on 
Instruction, the Center on Teacher Quality and the Center on High 
Schools.
    Estimated Range of Awards: The estimated range of awards for 
Regional Centers is $750,000 to $4,604,348 from FY 2005 funds for the 
first budget period, covering the first 9 months of the project period. 
Funding for each Regional Center was calculated by formula, based 
equally on shares of population and poor children, ages 5-17 in the 
States (including DC, Puerto Rico, and the Outlying Areas) served by 
each Regional Center. Department estimates for awards to each Regional 
Center are provided at: http://www.ed.gov/programs/newccp/index.html.
    The estimated range of awards for Content Centers is $1,000,000 to 
$2,000,000 for the first budget period, which includes the first nine 
months of the project period.
    Estimated Average Size of Awards: Regional Centers--$2,187,500 in 
the first budget period (FY 2005) and approximately $2,895,313 in each 
subsequent budget period; the three co-funded Content Centers--
$2,000,000 in the first budget period (FY 2005) and approximately 
$2,500,000 in each subsequent budget period; the other two Content 
Centers--$1,000,000 in the first budget period (FY 2005) and 
approximately $1,500,000 in each subsequent budget period.

    Note: The Department is not bound by any estimates in this 
notice.

    Project Period: Up to 60 months.
    Budget Period: Nine months for the first budget period only. Each 
subsequent budget period will be 12 months.

[[Page 32591]]

III. Eligibility Information

    1. Eligible Applicants: Research organizations, institutions, 
agencies, institutions of higher education, or partnerships among such 
entities, or individuals, with the demonstrated ability or capacity to 
carry out the activities described in this notice. An application from 
a consortium of eligible entities must include a consortium agreement. 
Letters of support do not meet the requirement for a consortium 
agreement.
    2. Cost Sharing or Matching: This competition does not involve cost 
sharing or matching.

IV. Application and Submission Information

    1. Address to Request Application Package: You may obtain an 
application package via the Internet or from the Education Publications 
Center (ED Pubs). To obtain an application via the Internet, use the 
following address: http://www.ed.gov/programs/newccp/index.html.
    To obtain a copy from ED Pubs, write or call the following: 
Education Publications Center (ED Pubs), P.O. Box 1398, Jessup, MD 
20794-1398. Telephone (toll free): 1-877-433-7827. FAX: (301) 470-1244. 
If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may call 
(toll free): 1-877-576-7734.
    You may also contact ED Pubs at its Web site: http://www.ed.gov/
pubs/edpubs.html; or you may contact ED Pubs at its e-mail address: 
edpubs@inet.ed.gov.
    If you request an application package from ED Pubs, be sure to 
identify this competition as follows: CFDA number 84.283B.
    Individuals with disabilities may obtain a copy of the application 
package in an alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print, 
audiotape, or computer diskette) by contacting the program contact 
person listed elsewhere in section VII of this notice.
    2. Content and Form of Application Submission: Requirements 
concerning the content of the application, together with the forms you 
must submit, are in the application package for this competition. If an 
applicant is applying for more than one center, the applicant must 
submit a separate application for each center. Notice of Intent to 
Apply: In order to expedite the process for reviewing grant 
applications, we strongly encourage each potential applicant to send a 
notification of its intent to apply for funding to the following 
address: OESE.cc@ed.gov.
    In this notice, please indicate the comprehensive center(s) for 
which you intend to apply. The notification of intent to apply for 
funding is optional and should not include information regarding your 
proposed application(s).
    Page Limit: Applicants are strongly encouraged to limit their 
application to 150 pages.
    3. Submission Dates and Times: Applications Available: June 3, 
2005.
    Deadline for Notice of Intent to Apply: June 23, 2005. Dates of 
Pre-Application Meetings: The Department will conduct briefings on this 
competition via conference call to clarify the purposes of the program 
and the selection criteria and process at 11 AM on each of the 
following dates: Applicants for Regional Centers June 13 and 17; 
Applicants for Content Centers June 22 and 23. Please e-mail Enid 
Simmons at enid.simmons@ed.gov to register for a call date and time and 
obtain the conference call number and code.
    Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: July 18, 2005.
    Applications for grants under this competition must be submitted 
electronically using the Electronic Grant Application System (e-
Application) available through the Department's e-Grants system. For 
information (including dates and times) about how to submit your 
application electronically or by mail or hand delivery if you qualify 
for an exception to the electronic submission requirement, please refer 
to section IV. 6.

    Note: We do not consider an application that does not comply 
with the deadline requirements.

    Deadline for Intergovernmental Review: August 17, 2005.
    4. Intergovernmental Review: This program is subject to Executive 
Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79. Information about 
Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs under Executive Order 
12372 is in the application package for this competition.
    5. Funding Restrictions: We reference regulations outlining funding 
restrictions in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice.
    6. Other Submission Requirements: Applications for grants under 
this competition must be submitted electronically, unless you qualify 
for an exception to this requirement in accordance with the 
instructions in this section.
    We will reject your application if you submit it in paper format 
unless, as described elsewhere in this section, you qualify for one of 
the exceptions to the electronic submission requirement and submit, no 
later than two weeks before the application deadline date, a written 
statement to the Department that you qualify for one of these 
exceptions. Further information regarding calculation of the date that 
is two weeks before the application deadline date is provided later in 
this section under Exception to Electronic Submission Requirement.
    a. Electronic Submission of Applications. Applications for grants 
under the new Comprehensive Center Competition CFDA Number 84.283B must 
be submitted electronically using e-Application available through the 
Department's e-Grants system, accessible through the e-Grants portal 
page at: http://e-grants.ed.gov.
    While completing your electronic application, you will be entering 
data online that will be saved into a database. You may not e-mail an 
electronic copy of a grant application to us.
    Please note the following:
     You must complete the electronic submission of your grant 
application by 4:30 p.m., Washington, DC time, on the application 
deadline date. The e-Application system will not accept an application 
for this competition after 4:30 p.m., Washington, DC time, on the 
application deadline date. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you do 
not wait until the application deadline date to begin the application 
process.
     The regular hours of operation of the e-Grants Web site 
are 6 a.m. Monday until 7 p.m. Wednesday; and 6 a.m. Thursday until 
midnight Saturday, Washington, DC time. Please note that the system is 
unavailable on Sundays, and between 7 p.m. on Wednesdays and 6 a.m. on 
Thursdays, Washington, DC time, for maintenance. Any modifications to 
these hours are posted on the e-Grants Web site.
     You will not receive additional point value because you 
submit your application in electronic format, nor will we penalize you 
if you qualify for an exception to the electronic submission 
require