Secretary's Final Supplemental Priorities and Definitions for Discretionary Grant Programs, 73425-73456 [2014-28911]

Download as PDF Vol. 79 Wednesday, No. 237 December 10, 2014 Part III Department of Education mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 Secretary’s Final Supplemental Priorities and Definitions for Discretionary Grant Programs; Notice VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 PO 00000 Frm 00001 Fmt 4717 Sfmt 4717 E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM 10DEN2 73426 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / Notices priorities and relevant definitions. Each major provision is discussed in the Public Comment section of this document. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION [Docket ID ED–2013–OII–0146] RIN 1894–AA04 Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1221e–3, 3474. Secretary’s Final Supplemental Priorities and Definitions for Discretionary Grant Programs Department of Education. Final priorities and definitions. AGENCY: ACTION: To support a comprehensive education agenda, the Secretary of Education establishes 15 priorities and related definitions for use in any appropriate discretionary grant program for fiscal year (FY) 2015 and future years. These priorities and definitions replace the supplemental priorities for discretionary grant programs that were published in 2010 and corrected in 2011. These priorities reflect the lessons learned from implementing discretionary grant programs, as well as our current policy objectives and emerging needs in education. DATES: Effective Date: These supplemental priorities and definitions are effective January 9, 2015. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Allison Moss, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 4W319, Washington, DC 20202. Telephone: (202) 205–7726 or by email: allison.moss@ed.gov. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) or a text telephone (TTY), call the Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1–800–877– 8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 SUMMARY: Executive Summary Purpose of This Regulatory Action: The Secretary has outlined a comprehensive education agenda that includes support for early learning and development programs that prepare children to succeed in school; elementary and secondary education programs that prepare students to succeed in college, career, and life; and postsecondary programs that prepare students to be competitive in the workforce. These final priorities and definitions may be used across the Department of Education’s (the Department) discretionary grant programs to further the Department’s mission to promote Student Achievement 1 and global competitiveness. Summary of the Major Provisions of This Regulatory Action: This regulatory action announces 15 supplemental 1 Defined terms are used throughout this document and are indicated by capitalization. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 We published a notice of proposed priorities and definitions (NPP) in the Federal Register on June 24, 2014 (79 FR 35736). That document contained background information and our reasons for proposing the particular priorities and definitions. Public Comment: In response to our invitation in the NPP, more than 1,600 parties submitted comments on the proposed priorities and definitions. We group major issues according to subject. Generally, we do not address technical and other minor changes. Analysis of Comments and Changes: An analysis of the comments and any changes in the priorities and definitions since publication of the notice of proposed priorities and definitions follows. General Comment: Over 1,000 commenters urged the Department to include in this notice of final priorities (NFP) a priority on a specific content area in education. Many of these commenters expressed support for a new priority focused on history and civic learning, but several commenters also wrote in support of the arts, foreign languages, geography, economics, and social studies. These commenters, in general, stated that it is inappropriate to include a priority that promotes science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education without focusing on other educational areas such as history, civic learning, and social studies. One commenter suggested that if a new priority focused on such subjects was not possible, we amend all of the 15 proposed priorities to require that applicants demonstrate knowledge of peoples, cultures, and histories within that applicant’s region. Discussion: We appreciate the commenters’ concern that these priorities do not highlight content areas equally. While we do include Priority 7, which promotes STEM education and access to rigorous coursework in those subjects, but not priorities for other content areas, we clearly discuss our reasoning for focusing on STEM learning in the background section for Priority 7 in the NPP. Most of the priorities, as written, could be used to support any type of content area or classroom. For example, an applicant proposing a project designed to address Priority 2— PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 Influencing the Development of NonCognitive Factors could do so using a strategy that includes creative arts expression. In addition, under Priority 9—Improving Teacher Effectiveness and Promoting Equitable Access to Effective Teachers, projects that recruit, select, develop, support, and retain effective teachers could be designed with the specific needs of a history, social studies, foreign language, or civic education teacher in mind. As such, we do not think specific priorities in the recommended content areas are necessary. We appreciate the commenter’s suggestion that, if inclusion of a priority on history and civic learning is not possible, we change all of our priorities to ensure that applicants approach their proposed projects with the full context of the communities they propose to serve in mind. We agree that, to implement projects successfully, grant recipients should consider the history and characteristics of the communities they serve. However, applicants already have adequate incentives to demonstrate that they understand the community they intend to serve through their responses to the selection criteria used by the Department in its discretionary grant competitions to solicit information from applicants, such as how the proposed project would work, why the proposed project is necessary, and if the applicant has the necessary resources and experience to successfully implement the proposed project. In addition to program-specific selection criteria, general selection criteria are available in 34 CFR 75.210 for the Department to use, when appropriate, and the Department can develop selection criteria under 34 CFR 75.209 for use in any discretionary grant program. Including such a focus in each priority is therefore unnecessary. Changes: None. Comment: A few commenters asked that the Department include priorities on additional general topics. One commenter asked the Department to prioritize secondary and postsecondary transitions. Another commenter requested that we prioritize emerging fields of study that are important to national security and global competitiveness, such as computer science. A third commenter asked that we include a priority that would support school personnel who are not teachers or principals, but who are still critical to student success. Discussion: We agree with the commenters that transitions, national security and global competitiveness, and school support staff are important issues that merit attention. However, we E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM 10DEN2 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / Notices think that these topics are addressed in the final priorities. For example, we think that smooth transitions from secondary to postsecondary education could be part of a project under Priority 8, which focuses on implementation of internationally benchmarked collegeand career-ready standards and assessments. In addition, a program using subpart (c) of Priority 5— Improving Postsecondary Access, Affordability, and Completion would seek projects that are designed to increase the number and proportion of High-need Students who are prepared to enroll in and complete college, other postsecondary education, or other career and technical education, thus improving transitions to postsecondary education. These final priorities reflect a comprehensive education agenda that supports projects that improve student outcomes and prepare students for success in their careers and in life. Improving the education of the Nation’s students would have the ancillary effect of improved national security and global competitiveness. Further, we expect that use of Priority 7 to promote STEM education and improve Student Achievement in these areas will spur technological innovation, creation, and study across the Nation. The commenter references computer science as a particularly important field of study, and we note that computer science falls clearly within the scope of the STEM fields addressed in Priority 7. Finally, we agree with the commenter that school support staff, in addition to teachers and principals, can play integral roles in improving student academic outcomes. We think that projects that are designed to support such staff could be proposed under several priorities, including Priority 2— Influencing the Development of NonCognitive Factors, Priority 4— Supporting High-Need Students, Priority 13—Improving School Climate, Behavioral Supports, and Correctional Education, and Priority 14—Improving Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Changes: None. Comment: Some commenters requested a separate priority focusing on partnerships, including school and community partnerships, and support for intermediaries. One commenter proposed adding a priority on utilizing the collective impact of such partnerships, including subparts on implementing a shared community vision, integrating professional expertise and data to make decisions, creating networks of cross-sector practitioners, and building civic infrastructure VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 through committed resources. Another commenter recommended a priority that will support projects that leverage national service initiatives. Discussion: We agree that partnerships, whether they are school and community partnerships or partnerships with other intermediaries, provide opportunities to leverage resources to either increase a project’s effectiveness or its ability to reach more students. However, we do not agree with the recommendation of a priority that focuses solely on the establishment of such partnerships, and note that applicants could form partnerships to address any of the priorities proposed in the NPP. It is important to note that the Department may use factors from the general selection criteria in 34 CFR 75.210 and criteria developed under 34 CFR 75.209 to encourage the types of efforts described by the commenters. For example, 34 CFR 75.210(c) (Quality of the project design) includes factors that ask applicants to describe the extent to which the proposed project is supported by evidence and will integrate with, or build on, similar or related efforts, using existing funding streams from other programs or policies supported by community, State, and Federal resources. The Department has discretion in choosing whether to use the selection criteria and, if so, which selection criteria and factors are most appropriate for a given competition. Changes: None. Comments: Several commenters provided suggestions to strengthen the background sections for each priority included in the NPP. Discussion: We appreciate the feedback we received on the background sections included in the NPP, which explain our rationale for each proposed priority. We do not include background sections for priorities in the NFP. Therefore, we are not making any changes in response to these comments. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter urged the Department to use the priorities and selection criteria related to building evidence of effectiveness in the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) in combination with these priorities. Discussion: We appreciate the commenter’s suggestion and note that this combination is already possible. For a discretionary grant program, the Department already may use the evidence-related competitive preference priorities in 34 CFR 75.266 (What procedures does the Secretary use if the Secretary decides to give special consideration to applications supported PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 73427 by strong or moderate evidence of effectiveness?) or selection criteria in 34 CFR 75.210 (General selection criteria) or developed under 34 CFR 75.209 so long as the priority or criteria are consistent with the program’s authorizing statute and purpose. Changes: None. Comment: A few commenters were concerned that we are including too many priorities, and that it would be difficult to determine which of the priorities are most important. One commenter noted that it is confusing to include so many supplemental priorities in addition to the selection criteria and factors available in 34 CFR 75.210, and that so many emphases create unrest in the education field. Another commenter stated that all 15 priorities are not suitable for some discretionary grant programs, and may add unnecessary burden for applicants. In the same vein, another commenter strongly encouraged us to consider funding those programs using these priorities at levels appropriate for successful implementation of projects designed to address them. Some commenters also suggested strategies to better organize the priorities. For example, one commenter suggested we group the priorities into broader categories. Discussion: We appreciate the commenters’ concerns and suggestions, and want to clarify the purpose of these supplemental priorities. These priorities are intended as options for the Department to use when announcing a discretionary grant program competition. For each grant program the Department may choose which, if any, of the priorities (or subparts) and definitions included in this NFP are appropriate for the competition with regard to feasibility and scope. The Department has the discretion to choose which priorities should be used in each competition, and how the priority would apply; for example, a priority may be used as an absolute priority, meaning that applicants that propose projects under that priority would need to address the priority to be eligible to receive funds. A priority could also be used as a competitive preference priority, meaning that applicants that propose projects addressing that priority could receive additional points for their applications, depending on how well they do so. Although we publish 15 priorities in this NFP, we will use only those priorities that are relevant to and appropriate for the particular program. Furthermore, the Department is not required to use any of these priorities for any particular program. E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM 10DEN2 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 73428 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / Notices In addition, we think it is important to clarify how selection criteria are used in discretionary grant competitions as compared to absolute and competitive preference priorities. Selection criteria developed under 34 CFR 75.209 and general selection criteria from 34 CFR 75.210 may be used to focus applicants on how they would meet statutory or regulatory requirements of a program, and encourage applicants to describe how well they are positioned to implement their proposed projects. For example, 34 CFR 75.210(c) (Quality of the project design) asks applicants to describe the project’s logic model, or theory of action. These factors are content neutral, and, if used, may help the Department to fund well-designed and thoughtful projects that are proposed by capable applicants. Conversely, absolute, competitive preference, and invitational priorities are used in discretionary grant competitions to guide applicants to propose projects that respond to a specific need, such as increasing completion rates for High-need Students at the postsecondary level, or improving family engagement efforts in schools. Thus, the priorities used in discretionary grant competitions instruct applicants in what to propose in their applications, while the Department uses selection criteria to assess how well the applicants could implement their proposed projects within the context of the priorities, in addition to the underlying statute and any applicable rules or regulations. Finally, we do not think that grouping priorities is necessary since they are designed so that each discretionary grant program may use one or a combination of several priorities in its competition, as appropriate; and further grouping could limit flexibility in using the priorities. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter suggested that, in establishing the Supplemental Priorities, the Department is inappropriately bypassing the legislative process, and providing itself with total discretion over how each priority will be used in discretionary grant programs. Discussion: We appreciate the commenter’s concerns; however, the Department is not bypassing the legislative process. Section 410 of the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA) authorizes the Secretary ‘‘to make, promulgate, issue, rescind, and amend rules and regulations governing the manner of operation of, and governing the applicable programs administered by, the Department.’’ (20 U.S.C. 1221e–3.) When establishing rules—such as these priorities—the VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 Department is required to obtain and consider public comment. (20 U.S.C. 1232(d); see also 5 U.S.C. 551, et seq.) Establishing these priorities through rulemaking at one time simply enables the Department to avoid the expenditure of resources otherwise needed to conduct a separate rulemaking for each grant competition for which it would want to apply one or more of the priorities. The statutory provisions cited above authorize the establishment of these priorities. Second, the commenter is correct that the Department will have discretion to decide which of the priorities, if any, are applicable to a particular discretionary grant competition. However, its decision to apply one or more to a particular competition, and to do so as absolute, competitive preference, or invitational priorities, must be consistent with the statute authorizing the program for which the Department has announced that competition and the statutory provisions identified in the preceding paragraph. Furthermore, we note that use of these priorities in any particular grant competition is not mandatory. Finally, to effectively carry out our responsibilities to award discretionary grant funds in a timely manner, our administrative regulations clearly delineate areas in which the Department may exercise discretion. This discretion includes, for example, selecting priorities from those established by Department regulations or statutory language, program regulations, or statutory provisions; deciding whether priorities should be absolute or competitive; and establishing selection criteria by which applications will be judged. (See, e.g., 34 CFR 75.105, 75.209, and 75.210.) Moreover, supplemental priorities that the Department may apply to its grant competitions have been available since October 11, 2006 (71 FR 60046). Changes: None. Comment: One commenter wrote that Priority 2—Influencing the Development of Non-Cognitive Factors and Priority 12—Promoting Diversity should be eliminated because they do not focus specifically on educational outcomes and may conflict with family values. Discussion: We appreciate the commenter’s concern, but are unclear on how Priorities 2 and 12 would affect ‘‘family values.’’ The commenter did not define ‘‘family values,’’ so we cannot be certain which particular values the commenter considers at risk. We also note that Priority 2 and Priority 12 include implicit references to academic outcomes: Projects designed to meet Priority 2 would need to improve some PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 combination of student academic behaviors, academic mindset, perseverance, self-regulation, social and emotional skills, and approaches toward learning strategies, and projects designed to meet Priority 12 would need to prepare students for success in the workforce. Changes: None. Comments: Two commenters suggested several edits across each priority to better reflect afterschool and expanded learning programs. Discussion: We thank the commenters for the suggestions, and agree that highquality afterschool and expanded learning programs may be effective mechanisms for engaging students, and their families, in their academic lives. For this reason, we have modified some of the priorities to include a focus on programs such as these in addition to schools, thereby broadening the scope of those priorities to include afterschool, expanded learning, and other community-based programs. Changes: In Priority 1—Improving Early Learning and Development Outcomes, Priority 14—Improving Parent, Family, and Community Engagement, and the definitions for Community Engagement and Parent and Family Engagement, we have included an emphasis on ‘‘programs’’ and ‘‘program staff’’ so that communitybased programs could be supported through these priorities. Comment: One commenter urged us to better support projects that are designed to increase academic outcomes for students in middle school. Discussion: We agree that the middle grades are important to a student’s overall academic outcomes. We note that projects designed to support student success in middle school could meet many of the priorities in this NFP; for example, a project designed to implement Personalized Learning approaches to ensure appropriate support and academic excellence could be targeted at students in the middle grades. We prioritize early learning and development and postsecondary access, affordability, and completion separately because projects designed to address these areas would largely fall outside the kindergarten-through-12th grade (K– 12) sphere, or may seek to improve different outcomes that would require a different set of strategies. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter urged the Department to include a priority focused on school turnaround, similar to the priority included in the current Supplemental Priorities published in 2010 (75 FR 78485) and corrected and republished in 2011 (76 FR 27637) E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM 10DEN2 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / Notices (2010 Supplemental Priorities). The commenter recognized that a few of the proposed priorities referenced teachers or principals who work in Lowestperforming Schools, but wished to see specific support for Priority Schools in our discretionary grant programs. Discussion: In drafting the NPP, the Department considered lessons learned in implementing discretionary grant programs. One lesson we learned from our implementation of the 2010 Supplemental Priorities was that the priority focused on turning around Persistently-lowest Achieving Schools was not broadly applicable across our programs. We think that integrating such efforts into other priorities may allow us to use the discretionary grant programs to encourage turnaround initiatives in ways that better align with the programs’ purposes. For that reason, we decided to approach supporting these schools differently by retaining a focus on students in schools that are in urgent need of support. As the commenter noted, we included in Priority 9—Improving Teacher Effectiveness and Promoting Equitable Access to Effective Teachers and Priority 10—Improving the Effectiveness of Principals references to Lowestperforming Schools. Students in these schools are also a focus of Priority 4— Supporting High-Need Students. Our definition of Lowest-performing Schools is designed to include struggling schools in all States, regardless of whether the State has received a flexibility waiver from the Department under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA). We do not think that including a special priority for school turnaround is necessary in this NFP because the students and educators in these schools would be a focus of these other priorities. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter suggested that we include in the NFP several Federal coordination efforts, including joint ventures between the Department and the U.S. Department of Labor to create a cooperative grant application process, manage contracts, provide team-based technical assistance, and promote a particular mechanism for workforce program performance reporting. Discussion: We appreciate the commenter’s suggestions, but we cannot make the administrative and procedural changes the commenter suggested because the purpose of this NFP is to announce final priorities and definitions, based on our current policy agenda, for use in discretionary grant programs. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 Changes: None. Priority 1—Improving Early Learning and Development Outcomes Comment: One commenter expressed general support for Priority 1 and suggested that we incorporate the concept of program leadership into the priority, noting that it is a critical factor in program success. Discussion: We appreciate the commenter’s support for this priority and agree that leadership is important to the success of any early learning and development program. We have revised subpart (b) of Priority 1 to emphasize that it includes administrators, which may include directors, supervisors, and other early learning and development program leaders. Change: We have added ‘‘including administrators’’ to subpart (b) so that it now reads: ‘‘Improving the quality and effectiveness of the early learning workforce so that early childhood educators, including administrators, have the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to improve young children’s health, social-emotional, and cognitive outcomes.’’ Comment: Several commenters expressed support for mixed-delivery models discussed in Priority 1. Two commenters suggested we revise subpart (d) to include a focus on communitywide mixed-delivery systems. Discussion: We appreciate the commenters’ support for communitywide mixed-delivery models and agree that they are important. We have therefore revised subpart (d) to include a focus on community-based programs, which will allow discretionary grant programs to prioritize in competitions community-wide mixed-delivery models and other community-based strategies. Changes: We have added ‘‘whether offered in schools or community-based settings’’ to subpart (d) so that it now reads: ‘‘Including preschool, whether offered in schools or community-based settings, as part of elementary education programs and systems in order to expand opportunities for preschool students and teachers.’’ Comment: Several commenters stated that they appreciated the inclusion of the coordination and alignment between early learning and development systems and elementary education systems in subpart (c) of Priority 1. One commenter noted that, while vertical alignment between early learning and development and early elementary programs is highlighted in Priority 1, we should also focus on horizontal alignment with existing early childhood programs. PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 73429 One commenter suggested that we clarify that early learning and development systems include early intervention. Three commenters suggested that we emphasize meaningful transition planning that includes parents and families. Another commenter asked that we emphasize knowledge and skills as a way to improve transitions from birth through third grade. Discussion: We appreciate the commenters’ support for subpart (c). While we do not define ‘‘early learning and development systems’’ or ‘‘early learning and development programs,’’ we mention early learning and development programs in subpart (a) of Priority 1, which supports projects that increase access to high-quality programs, particularly for Children with High Needs. Early learning and development programs may include early intervention. We do not think that it is necessary to include a specific reference to ‘‘knowledge and skills as a way to improve transitions from birth through third grade’’ because the priority does not list the specific strategies that should be used to improve the coordination and alignment between early learning and development systems and elementary education systems, but rather allows applicants the flexibility to propose how they would improve this coordination and alignment. We also note that Priority 1 asks that all projects be designed to improve one or more outcomes across the Essential Domains of School Readiness, which include several examples of knowledge and skills. We agree with the commenter’s suggestion that it would be helpful to include in Priority 1 a focus on transition planning, particularly for parents and families as their children transition into kindergarten. We also appreciate the commenters’ suggestions on improving coordination among early learning and development programs and engaging parents in the transition process. Changes: We have changed the language in subpart (c) so that it now reads: ‘‘Improving the coordination and alignment among early learning and development systems and between such systems and elementary education systems, including coordination and alignment in engaging and supporting families and improving transitions for children along the birth-through-thirdgrade continuum, in accordance with applicable privacy laws.’’ Comment: One commenter expressed strong support for State flexibility to establish multiple ways to improve the E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM 10DEN2 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 73430 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / Notices quality and effectiveness of the early learning workforce. Discussion: We appreciate the commenter’s support for State flexibility. We believe the priority allows flexibility for applicants to focus proposed projects on improving the quality and effectiveness of their early learning workforce in accordance with their States’ laws and approaches. Changes: None. Comment: Several commenters suggested that we define terms such as ‘‘preschool,’’ ‘‘early learning provider,’’ and ‘‘early learning programs.’’ One commenter asked that ‘‘preschool’’ be defined as early learning from birth to age five. Other commenters requested that ‘‘early learning provider’’ and ‘‘early learning programs’’ be defined and used in a manner consistent with the Preschool Development and Expansion grants program. One commenter requested that we clarify that parent and family engagement and cultural and linguistic sensitivity are important elements of high-quality early learning. Discussion: We appreciate the commenters’ suggestions. We do not think it is appropriate to establish a formal definition for ‘‘preschool’’ because, while the term is generally understood to mean early education that takes place before kindergarten, each State may have different requirements. We note that the term ‘‘early learning provider’’ is not used in this NFP, nor is the term ‘‘early learning program.’’ Changes: None. Comment: One commenter asked that we clarify how assessment results will be used to determine if our efforts to align preschool with early elementary grades are working. The commenter also asserted that the assessments should be research-based. Discussion: We appreciate the commenter’s recommendations. While the focus of Priority 1 is not primarily on assessments, we think that there are several ways in which grantees could use assessments and their results to enhance the quality of their projects. For example, projects designed to address Priority 1 should improve early learning and development outcomes across one or more of the Essential Domains of School Readiness, which includes areas of language and literacy development, cognition, and general knowledge. We also note that any project funded by the Department must be evaluated in accordance with 34 CFR 75.590 (Evaluation by the grantee). We think that one way in which a grant recipient proposing a project designed to address Priority 1 could meet this evaluation requirement is by assessing students on VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 the Essential Domains of School Readiness that are relevant to that project. As such, we do not think it is necessary to include a focus on research-based assessments in this NFP. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter expressed concerns regarding the examples provided in the background section of the NPP. Specifically, the commenter was concerned that an early learning provider that did not offer a full-day program, but that had improved early learning and development outcomes, would not meet the description of ‘‘high-quality early learning’’ provided in the background section. Discussion: We note that the examples in the background section of the NPP were meant to clarify what we mean by ‘‘high-quality early learning’’ and are not binding. We do not define ‘‘highquality’’ because early learning and development programs may cover a wide range of age groups from birth through kindergarten entry. Group size, ratios, and professional qualifications, for example, will differ depending on the age of the children served, and it is therefore difficult to set a ‘‘high-quality’’ standard that would be appropriate for all types of programs for children of different ages. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter asked that we emphasize the effects that stress and trauma may have on the development of the brain in Priority 1. Discussion: We appreciate this suggestion from the commenter. We think that this concept could be supported already through subpart (b) of Priority 1, which references health, socio-emotional, and cognitive outcomes. In addition, we think that projects designed to meet Priority 2— Influencing the Development of NonCognitive Factors and Priority 13— Improving School Climate, Behavioral Supports, and Correctional Education could include elements of this suggestion. Changes: None. Comment: Two commenters suggested that we include a new subpart in Priority 1 focused on increasing the percentage of children who are able to read and perform mathematics at grade level by the end of third grade. Discussion: We appreciate the commenters’ suggestion but note that a change is unnecessary because, given our definition of Essential Domains of Schools Readiness, these types of projects would currently be covered by the introductory paragraph of the priority: ‘‘Projects that are designed to improve early learning and development outcomes across one or PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 more of the Essential Domains of Schools Readiness.’’ Changes: None. Comment: One commenter noted that early learning should be an absolute priority in all discretionary grant competitions. The commenter also requested that we refer to ‘‘early learning and education’’ consistently throughout the NFP to emphasize our cradle-to-career focus. Discussion: These priorities are intended as a menu of options for our discretionary grant programs. The Department may choose which, if any, of the priorities or subparts are appropriate for a particular program competition. If the Department chooses to use the supplemental priorities, it also has discretion to decide how the priorities should be used in the grant competitions. Furthermore, because some discretionary grant programs that may decide to use some of these priorities are statutorily required to serve only K–12 or postsecondary students (in other words, not early learning students or programs), it is not appropriate to require all programs using the Supplemental Priorities to include an absolute priority or focus on early learning. In addition, we think that using the phrase ‘‘education’’ throughout the priorities is broad enough to include early learning and development. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, the priorities could be used in competitions that focus on early learning and development programs. Changes: None. Priority 2—Influencing the Development of Non-Cognitive Factors Comment: Several commenters expressed support for this priority, and many of these commenters also recommended expanding it. Four commenters suggested including a focus on tools that appropriately measure the development of non-cognitive factors. One commenter advocated for the priority supporting the assessment, measurement, and design of highquality instructional tools that provide for students’ mastery of non-cognitive skills. Three commenters recommended that the priority include a focus on professional development for teachers or district and school personnel; and two commenters made similar recommendations about providing training for parents. One commenter noted the importance of teachers, parents, and students learning a ‘‘growth mindset’’ to recognize one’s own control of his or her growth and achievement. E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM 10DEN2 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / Notices A number of commenters suggested that the Department use the priority to encourage the use of specific approaches, including arts education, physical education, expanded learning time, and afterschool or summer programs. Another commenter noted the importance of addressing non-cognitive factors for middle school students. Discussion: Although we appreciate the commenters’ recommendations for how this priority could be expanded, we want to clarify that the priority does not prohibit the projects described by the commenters so long as the projects are designed to improve students’ mastery of non-cognitive skills and behaviors and enhance student motivation and engagement in learning. Applicants have the discretion to determine what approach or intervention will best address the priority and meet the needs of the targeted student population. Finally, because any one of these Supplemental Priorities may be used in a variety of discretionary grant programs, we do not think it is appropriate to prescribe a specific approach to addressing this priority. As such, we decline to revise the priority in a manner that might limit its use. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter suggested adding the reduction of maladaptive behaviors that interfere with learning as an expected outcome of projects funded under this priority. Discussion: This priority requires applicants to propose projects that would improve students’ mastery of non-cognitive skills and behaviors and enhance student motivation and engagement in learning. These stated outcomes, which are specific to the priority, provide applicants with the discretion to develop performance measures that are appropriate to their specific contexts and relevant to their proposed projects. A performance measure for the reduction of maladaptive behaviors may be appropriate for a particular project or discretionary grant program, but may not be appropriate for all projects or discretionary grant programs that may use the priority. We do not think it is necessary to prescribe a performance measure that applicants may already use under the expected outcomes that are included in the priority. Changes: None. Comment: Two commenters discussed the meaning of ‘‘noncognitive factors.’’ Specifically, one commenter suggested that the Department identify specific indicators of success in school settings, such as those indicators referenced in the Division for Early Childhood’s recent VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 publication on recommended practices in early intervention. Another commenter recommended the inclusion of the four academic mindsets that are discussed in the University of Chicago Consortium of Chicago School Research June 2012 publication (i.e., sense of belonging, implicit theories of ability, self-efficacy, and expectancy-value theory). The commenter noted that these mindsets help students identify their educational and social needs as well as intellectual and emotional development needs, which provides a critical connection between college readiness and college fit. Discussion: Research on non-cognitive skills and behaviors is emerging. We recognize that the education field does not have a standard definition for noncognitive factors, and we have not defined that term here. Rather, we provided examples of non-cognitive skills and behaviors in the priority. By using examples that reflect current research, we aim to provide a common understanding of our intent for the priority while also allowing applicants the flexibility to adjust as new research emerges. Changes: None. Comment: Five commenters expressed support for the priority, but requested that the Department change its title. One commenter noted that the behavior and processes that the Department includes in ‘‘non-cognitive factors’’ involve cognition and suggested the Department use the term ‘‘metacognitive learning skills’’ instead. Another commenter recommended using ‘‘foundational skills’’ because those skills are inherently embedded in cognitive processes. Three commenters offered ‘‘social and emotional skills,’’ ‘‘social and emotional competency,’’ or ‘‘social and intellectual habits’’ as alternative titles for the priority. Discussion: We recognize and appreciate the concerns of the commenters and the potential risk of using a term that suggests that cognition is not involved in the process of developing the skills and behaviors covered under this priority. However, we also realize that ‘‘non-cognitive’’ is a term that is commonly used and understood in the education field and that broad consensus has not been reached on a new term that would replace it. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter applauded this priority, and encouraged the Department to consider the difference between beliefs and skills, the need for students to develop non-cognitive factors at both the classroom and cultural levels, and the importance of PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 73431 continuing funding for the practical application of researched interventions. Another commenter noted the importance of using empirical research on targeted non-cognitive interventions to spread the use of effective programs. Discussion: Priority 2 could support projects that may address the issues raised by the commenters. We do not think that it is necessary to revise the priority to require research, because the Department has discretion to select factors from 34 CFR 75.210(c) (Quality of the project design) to encourage applicants to provide evidence or a reasonable hypothesis in support of their proposed projects. Under 34 CFR 75.266 (What procedures does the Secretary use if the Secretary decides to give special consideration to applications supported by strong or moderate evidence of effectiveness?), the Department has the discretion to provide incentives to applicants that propose projects based on rigorous evidence through the use of competitive preference or absolute priorities. Finally, the Department has the discretion to select factors from 34 CFR 75.210(h) (Quality of the project evaluation) to encourage applicants to design project evaluations that are appropriate for the areas of study and research goals for a particular program. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter urged the Department to revise the priority to clarify that projects must set high expectations for all students, including students with disabilities. Another commenter noted that it is particularly important for students with learning and attention issues to develop noncognitive skills. Discussion: We agree with the commenters that it is important to set high expectations for all students, including students with disabilities. This priority includes all students, and does not include language limiting its focus to a subset of students. As the language of the priority does not limit access for or, expectations of, a subset of students, we do not think a revision to the priority is necessary. Changes: None. Proposed Priority 3—Promoting Personalized Learning Comment: One commenter stated that the Department’s emphasis on Personalized Learning is misplaced and that we should remove Priority 3 from the NFP. Specifically, the commenter cautioned that tools developed outside of the classroom would be less effective at informing instruction than tools developed within the classroom through face-to-face interactions. E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM 10DEN2 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 73432 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / Notices Discussion: We disagree with the underlying assumption of the comment that grant funding would result in projects using tools that were developed without consideration for the classroom context. Depending on the discretionary grant program, local educational agencies (LEAs), State educational agencies (SEAs), nonprofit organizations, and institutions of higher education (IHEs) may be applicants. Applicants are primarily responsible for deciding what tool or approach will be used and we do not think that Federal funding would cause applicants to propose using tools that are not relevant or useful for informing instruction. Changes: None. Comment: Several commenters expressed support for the priority, and some of these commenters also provided suggestions for expanding it. One commenter proposed adding a new subpart focusing on professional development. One commenter recommended that the Department add a focus that would support projects that propose to design and implement networks that support the technology and dynamic learning environments necessary for students to experience ‘‘anytime, anywhere’’ Personalized Learning. Another commenter expressed concern that the proposed priority did not require applicants to intentionally plan for scaling the use of technology to deliver personalized resources to students, and suggested that the Department require applicants addressing the priority to develop a sustainable plan for leveraging technology. Conversely, another commenter suggested that we clarify that applicants could propose projects that use Personalized Learning modalities other than technology. A few commenters noted that the Department’s 2010 National Educational Technology Plan identified universal design for learning (UDL) as a method for supporting all students’ learning, and suggested revising the proposed priority to encourage projects that support Personalized Learning based on UDL principles. One commenter noted that Personalized Learning can be achieved through competency-based learning, and another commenter suggested that the priority support projects that use competency-based learning as a component of Personalized Learning with a requirement that students demonstrate a mastery of college- and career-ready standards. Discussion: We appreciate the commenters’ support of the priority and recommendations for how it might be expanded. Regarding the suggestion that we include a subpart on professional VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 development for educators, we note that subpart (a) of this priority supports the provision of professional development on Personalized Learning and the use of data as part of a project implementing Personalized Learning approaches. We do not think it would be appropriate to fund a project that provides professional development only on Personalized Learning, without implementing the approaches for which the professional development is being provided. Regarding the recommendation that this priority include a focus on designing and implementing networks, we point the commenter to subpart (a) of Priority 11—Leveraging Technology to Support Instructional Practice and Professional Development, because it supports the infrastructure that schools and districts need to increase students’ and educators’ access to high-quality digital tools. Although subpart (a) of Priority 11 specifically references access to high-speed Internet and devices, the priority, as proposed, would not preclude an applicant from also supporting the development of networks that support the technology and dynamic learning environments that are necessary for students to experience ‘‘anytime, anywhere’’ Personalized Learning. Because the purpose of this priority is to implement Personalized Learning approaches that may or may not require the use of technology, we decline to revise this priority. We agree with the commenter that Personalized Learning can be achieved through learning modalities other than technology. For that reason, the definition of Personalized Learning requires tailoring the pace of learning and instructional approaches to the needs of individual learners, but does not require that tailoring to be done through the use of technology. Although technology is commonly used to implement Personalized Learning, other approaches may also be used to address subpart (a) of Priority 3. We agree with the commenter that, if an applicant is using technology to implement or deliver Personalized Learning services or resources, the applicant should consider how it will sustain its use of technology. However, because an applicant may address the priority in a manner that does not rely on technology, it is not appropriate to require applicants to develop a sustainability plan for leveraging technology. In a program using this priority the Department could use selection criteria from 34 CFR 75.210(c) (Quality of the project design) to encourage applicants to address their sustainability needs as part of their proposed projects or develop selection PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 criteria under 34 CFR 75.209 to achieve the same purpose. The Department’s 2010 National Educational Technology Plan 2 discusses the importance of making learning experiences accessible and the use of UDL principles. Although the plan calls for the use of technology to empower Personalized Learning and provides examples of how to do it, we do not think that it is appropriate to prescribe a single approach or principle that all applicants must use when addressing this priority. We also note that Personalized Learning can be achieved through approaches other than competency-based learning. This priority does not prohibit an applicant from using the approach or principle that it determines to be most suitable for its project. As such, we decline to revise the priority to include explicit references to UDL or competency-based learning approaches. Changes: None. Comment: A few commenters suggested additional expected outcomes to be included in the priority. One commenter recommended that the Department emphasize that Personalized Learning should be used for developmental college reading and mathematics to reduce the number of students who need remedial coursework when they enter postsecondary programs. One commenter proposed adding increasing academic recovery as a required outcome for projects addressing the priority. Another commenter recommended including a focus on promoting knowledge and skills acquisition in subpart (a) of Priority 3. Similarly, another commenter requested that the adoption of social and emotional skills be added to subparts (a) and (b) of Priority 3. Discussion: We do not want to limit or prescribe specific outcomes or performance measures that applicants could propose to use in their projects. The priority requires applicants to improve student academic outcomes and close academic opportunity or attainment gaps. These outcomes are broad and provide applicants the discretion to select and propose performance measures that are most appropriate for the students who are served by their projects. Priority 3 does not prohibit applicants from proposing performance measures for reducing the number of students who are participating in remedial coursework, increasing academic recovery, promoting skills and knowledge acquisition, or adopting social and 2 Available at: http://www.ed.gov/sites/default/ files/netp2010.pdf. E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM 10DEN2 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / Notices emotional skills, so long as the proposed project is implementing Personalized Learning and is designed to improve student academic outcomes and close academic opportunity and attainment gaps. Additionally, we do not want to restrict the use of the priority. If we were, for example, to revise the priority to require a focus on reducing the number of students who are participating in remedial coursework when they enter postsecondary education, we could not use the priority in discretionary grant programs that focus on early grades because it may not be possible to measure the success of the outcome during the project period. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter noted that more information and research is needed on Personalized Learning and stated that the priority should require applicants to conduct a rigorous evaluation and make the findings and lessons learned from their evaluations publicly available. Discussion: The Department can select factors from 34 CFR 75.210(h) (Quality of the project evaluation) to encourage applicants to design project evaluations that are appropriate for the areas of study and research goals for a particular program. Because the Department may promote rigorous evaluations as part of a program’s selection criteria, it is not necessary to also include those requirements in the Supplemental Priorities. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter agreed that Digital Credentials support Personalized Learning, but cautioned that they should not be used as the only approach. Discussion: We agree that Digital Credentials support, but are not the only approach to, Personalized Learning. For this reason, we included subpart (a), which focuses broadly on implementing Personalized Learning approaches without identifying a specific approach. However, with more students participating in online courses, and using digital learning resources to achieve their academic goals, we think that it is appropriate to include the award of Digital Credentials that are aligned with college- and career-ready standards and based on Personalized Learning. Changes: None. Priority 4—Supporting High-Need Students Comment: Several commenters expressed support for this priority, including the expanded focus that allows applicants to propose projects VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 that are designed to improve academic outcomes or learning environments for students. However, a few commenters asked that the Department define ‘‘academic outcomes’’ and ‘‘learning environments.’’ Many commenters also applauded the broader list of student groups that may be served under this priority. However, some commenters recommended that the Department include additional groups of students, such as students living in public housing, first-generation college students, adjudicated youth in residential sites, high-ability and gifted students, Native American students, Alaska native students, youth in alternative schools, and students who are served by schools that are highly segregated by race or ethnicity. One commenter suggested the Department distinguish between the different types of rural LEAs under the priority. Another commenter requested that the Department remove from Priority 4 the focus on students served by rural LEAs, or revise it to include students in both rural and urban LEAs. Discussion: We appreciate the commenters’ support for Priority 4. However, given the variety of programs in which the priority may be used, we do not think that it is appropriate to prescribe what would constitute an ‘‘academic outcome’’ or ‘‘learning environment.’’ Any definition would risk restricting the use of the priority. Similarly, because one of the options for students who could be served under Priority 4 is High-need Students, defined broadly as students at risk of educational failure or otherwise in need of special assistance and support, it is not necessary to add most of the suggested groups to the list. However, upon review we think that it is appropriate to include a focus on students who are members of federally recognized Indian tribes in the list, as these tribes constitute distinct governmental entities with unique needs. We note that federally recognized Indian tribes include many Alaska native entities. We have made this change. Regarding the recommendation that we remove the option to focus on students in Rural LEAs, or retain that focus but also include a focus on students in urban LEAs, we note that we include a specific focus on students who are served by rural LEAs because we acknowledge that the solutions to educational challenges may be different in rural communities than in urban and suburban communities and that there is a need for solutions that are unique to rural communities. For these reasons, we decline to remove the option or PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 73433 revise it to require a focus on students served by rural and urban LEAs. Changes: We have revised Priority 4 so that it now includes ‘‘Students who are members of federally recognized Indian tribes’’ in the list of student subgroups that may be supported by projects addressing the priority. Comment: One commenter requested that the Department define ‘‘disconnected youth’’ as used in Priority 4. Discussion: We agree with the commenter and have added a definition of Disconnected Youth that is consistent with the Department’s Performance Partnerships for Disconnected Youth Fact Sheet.3 We note that this definition will apply to each priority in which the term Disconnected Youth is used. Changes: We have defined Disconnected Youth to mean lowincome individuals, ages 14–24, who are homeless, are in foster care, are involved in the justice system, or are not working or not enrolled in (or at risk of dropping out of) an educational institution. Comment: One commenter expressed support for Priority 4, but noted that an effective method for improving outcomes for High-need Students is to increase salaries for teachers who work in urban LEAs where many students may live in poverty. Discussion: We agree with the commenter that such methods may be effective, and include a subpart in Priority 9—Improving Teacher Effectiveness and Promoting Equitable Access to Effective Teachers that promotes equitable access to effective teachers for students from low-income families and minority students. An applicant could propose a project that provides incentives, through salary increases or other means, effective teachers to work in schools with high concentrations of such students. Changes: None. Priority 5—Increasing Postsecondary Access, Affordability, and Completion Comment: Two commenters expressed concerns regarding the financial burden of the Supplemental Priorities on students. One commenter noted that we do not include a focus on reducing the cost burden for postsecondary students and another commenter indicated that the priorities would further burden individuals with student loan debt. Discussion: We appreciate the commenters’ concerns, but think that 3 Available at: http://www.ed.gov/blog/wpcontent/uploads/2014/03/2014-PPPs-FactSheet.pdf. E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM 10DEN2 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 73434 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / Notices there are several references in the priorities that address reducing the cost burden for postsecondary students. For example, subpart (a) of Priority 5 focuses on projects that will reduce the net cost and median student loan debt for High-need Students who enroll in college, other postsecondary education, or other career and technical education. In addition, we also include a priority focused on increasing academic outcomes for High-need Students, as well as a priority that focuses on developing and implementing collegeready standards and assessments, which help to reduce the number of students who arrive at college unprepared and in need of additional time to complete their degrees, and thereby reduce such students’ postsecondary costs. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter suggested that we add a priority that would focus on four-year IHE applicants, stating that the Federal government invests large amounts in IHEs annually, but does not ask for reported outcomes in return. In addition, the commenter suggested that we give low-performing IHEs three to six years to improve and proposed definitions for ‘‘low-performing college’’ and ‘‘low graduation rate college.’’ The commenter also recommended that we recognize high-performing IHEs and award competitive preference priority points to those high-performing applicants that wish to implement projects that support colleges and universities with low graduation rates in improving their first-time, full-time student graduation rates. Discussion: We do not specify who may be eligible to apply for grants under this, or any, priority. The focus of this priority is intentionally not limited to projects proposed by IHEs, as we are focused on the outcomes for students, irrespective of the type of applicant. The type of applicant will be specified by the eligibility requirements for the discretionary grant programs in which this priority is used and, therefore, we do not think that it is necessary to revise the priority in a manner that would limit its use. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter suggested that we further prioritize affordability by adding an additional subpart that would support projects that provide meaningful information about college to students and their families. Discussion: We appreciate the commenters’ suggestion and agree that it is important to support projects that provide meaningful information about college to students and their families. Subpart (c) of Priority 5, which supports projects that increase postsecondary VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 enrollment or completion through college preparation, awareness, recruitment, application, and selection activities, would support this type of project. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter suggested that we include a subpart to support the development and implementation of an ongoing feedback process between IHEs and LEAs, and suggested a definition for ‘‘ongoing feedback process.’’ The commenter also recommended creating a new priority that focused on key secondary and postsecondary transition points. Another commenter also noted the importance of coordination between secondary and postsecondary leaders to ensure that coursework at the high school level adequately prepares students for college. Discussion: We appreciate the commenters’ suggestions and think that projects designed to improve those transitions or coordination fall within the scope of Priority 5. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter urged the Department to include the early childhood workforce in its initiatives related to student loans and teacher preparation program involvement. Discussion: We appreciate the commenter’s support for the Department’s initiatives on the early childhood workforce and agree that this continued focus is important. We have included Priority 1—Improving Early Learning and Development Outcomes, which includes in subpart (b) a focus on the early childhood workforce. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter asked the Department to include a focus on K–12 in-school and out-of-school programs that provide students with appropriate support to enter college prepared. Discussion: We appreciate the commenter’s suggestions and think that these types of programs fall within the scope of Priority 5. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter asked the Department to prioritize underserved college students who are obtaining STEM degrees. Discussion: We agree that it is important to prioritize underserved college students who are obtaining STEM degrees. Under Priority 7— Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education, we include subpart (d), which addresses the commenter’s request. Changes: None. Comment: Several commenters made suggestions to improve subpart (b) of Priority 5. Specifically, one commenter PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 suggested we remove the reference to ‘‘on time’’ completion in subpart (b), noting that students with disabilities often need additional time to complete college. Another commenter asked that we prioritize projects that focus on preparing middle school students to be on a college path. A third commenter asked that we emphasize the role that IHEs can play in developing secondary programs designed to improve degree and certificate completion, noting that the goal must be to increase completion in programs that represent high-quality academic knowledge and understanding. Discussion: We recognize that some groups of students struggle disproportionately to complete college on time. It is for this reason that we want to prioritize projects that could help these students to complete their degrees more quickly through better academic preparation. Regarding the suggestion for preparation of middle school students, the priority does not preclude applicants who address subpart (b) of Priority 5 from proposing middle school interventions. Finally, regarding the suggestion that we emphasize the role that IHEs can play in developing secondary programs designed to improve degree and certificate completion, this priority intentionally focuses on student outcomes. We think that projects designed to improve coordination between IHEs and high schools already fall within the scope of Priority 5. Changes: None. Comment: Several commenters made suggestions to the language in Priority 5 so that specific strategies could be included in the subparts. Specifically, one commenter suggested the inclusion of early college high schools in subpart (c). Two commenters suggested that we include dual enrollment and early college high school programs as strategies in subpart (f), while another commenter suggested that we include dual enrollment and early college high school programs as a separate subpart. In addition, one commenter asked that we revise the priority so that applicants could propose strategies that do not involve online or hybrid approaches. Another commenter suggested that we define ‘‘hybrid learning opportunities.’’ Discussion: We appreciate the commenters’ suggestions and think that many of the suggestions made are within the scope of subparts (b) or (c) of Priority 5. We decline to revise Priority 5 in a manner that might limit its use. We think that hybrid learning opportunities consist of a combination of online and in-person techniques. We E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM 10DEN2 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 think that this term is commonly used and understood in the field and, therefore, do not think it is necessary to define it. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter suggested that we clarify that our use of the phrase ‘‘regular high school diploma’’ in subpart (d) of Priority 5 is aligned with the definition of that phrase in 34 CFR 200.19(b)(iv). Discussion: We agree that our definition of the term Regular High School Diploma should be aligned with 34 CFR 200.19(b)(1)(iv). We have included the definition of Regular High School Diploma in this NFP. Changes: We have indicated that applicants should refer to the definition for Regular High School Diploma included in this NFP. We have also added the definition of Regular High School Diploma in 34 CFR 200.19(b)(1)(iv) to the definitions section. Comment: None. Discussion: After review, we decided that subpart (a) of Priority 5 may be challenging for applicants to address, because it would be very difficult to obtain information about the student loan default rate for High-need Students. Changes: We have revised subpart (a) so that it now reads: ‘‘Reducing the net cost, median student loan debt, and likelihood of student loan default for High-need Students . . .’’ Priority 6—Improving Job-Driven Training and Employment Outcomes Comment: One commenter supported this priority and asked that we ensure that it is aligned with the U.S. Department of Labor’s efforts and with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), enacted on July 22, 2014. Another commenter noted that, while subpart (d) of Priority 6 includes a focus on providing Labor Market Information, we do not provide an incentive to applicants to use Labor Market Information to continuously improve training programs. Discussion: We support the Department of Labor’s efforts in this area and note that Priority 6 is fully aligned with WIOA. For example, WIOA promotes engagement with employers so that education and training programs supported by the Department can equip individuals with the education and skills sought by employers. We agree that thoughtfully using Labor Market Information should be included in this priority, and note that such a change would further align Priority 6 with Vice President Biden’s July 22, 2014 report to the President VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 entitled Ready to Work: Job-Driven Training and American Opportunity.4 We also agree that using Labor Market Information effectively is important and have added a subpart to Priority 6 to encourage applicants to use it to inform their projects. We also define the term Labor Market Information in this NFP, and note that our definition aligns with the definition in the July 22, 2014 Office of Management and Budget memorandum entitled ‘‘Ensuring that Employment and Training Programs are Job-Driven.’’ 5 Changes: We have added a subpart to Priority 6 so that it now reads: ‘‘Using Labor Market Information to inform the focus of programs and to guide jobseekers in choosing the types of employment or fields of study, training, or credentials to pursue.’’ This subpart is subpart (e), and the proposed subpart (e) is now subpart (f). We have also included a definition of Labor Market Information, and note that applicants should refer to that definition when proposing a project that addresses subpart (d) of Priority 6, in addition to subpart (e). Comment: One commenter noted that the goals of Priority 6 could be achieved through community partnerships, internships, and career and technical courses in high school. Another commenter suggested that we include an additional subpart focused on careerbased classroom learning, real-world workplace experiences, and wraparound supports for high school students. A third commenter urged the Department to provide a clear focus on academic skill-building in Priority 6. Discussion: We agree that the strategies listed by the first commenter could be used to address Priority 6. In general, we do not prescribe specific strategies because we think that applicants are best suited to propose appropriate strategies given the needs of their target populations. We do not want to limit the potential use of this priority. We therefore do not think that it is appropriate to incorporate into Priority 6 the strategies suggested by the first commenter or the subpart suggested by the second commenter. We think that a project designed to improve academic skill-building would be well-aligned with subpart (c) of this priority, which seeks projects designed to improve job-driven training and employment outcomes by integrating education and training into a career pathways program through a variety of 4 Available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/ default/files/docs/skills_report.pdf. 5 Available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/ default/files/omb/memoranda/2014/m-14-15.pdf. PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 73435 means. We also think that applicants proposing such a project would be wellpositioned to address subpart (d) of Priority 5—Increasing Postsecondary Access, Affordability, and Completion, which includes an explicit focus on obtaining basic and academic skills. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter asked that we remove the focus in Priority 6 on Low-skilled Adults and High-need Students, because, by limiting the scope to projects that serve only these individuals, it would impede systemic organizational change. Discussion: We appreciate the commenter’s concern and agree that all students deserve appropriate support. While subparts (b) and (c) of Priority 6 do reference these groups specifically, a project could serve any other type of student so long as the project also serves Low-skilled Adults or other High-need Students. We think that it is important to focus on these groups because they may need more targeted assistance; however, applicants addressing Priority 6 have flexibility in choosing the populations they will serve. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter expressed support for ‘‘ability to benefit.’’ The commenter also suggested we focus on expanding research in the adult education and literacy field, and conduct a review of the historically low funding levels for adult education. Discussion: In the Administration’s FY 2015 budget request, we proposed to restore the ‘‘ability to benefit’’ provision for students who are enrolled in eligible career pathway programs to qualify for financial assistance. We note, however, that the ‘‘ability to benefit’’ requirement was eliminated by Congress in 2011. To better understand the best strategies to improve reading skills for struggling adult learners, the Department has invested in research on adult education through the Center for the Study of Adult Literacy, funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). In addition, the Department of Labor has recently launched the Clearinghouse for Labor Evaluation and Research 6 to make data on labor topics more readily accessible. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter supported Priority 6, but was concerned that rural applicants would struggle to implement projects addressing this priority due to a dearth of employment opportunities in their communities. Discussion: We do not think that rural applicants would be disadvantaged by Priority 6, because its purpose is to 6 Available E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM at: http://clear.dol.gov/. 10DEN2 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 73436 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / Notices support projects that narrow the gap between employment opportunities and workforce skills in every community, including rural communities. To address such gaps in high-need communities, we note that in January 2014, President Obama announced the first five Promise Zones: The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Antonio, and Kentucky Highlands. On March 27, 2014, the Department published an NFP for the Promise Zones Initiative (79 FR 17035), which focuses Federal financial assistance on expanding the number of Department programs and projects that support activities in the abovementioned Promise Zones. We may now include in our discretionary grant competitions an absolute or competitive preference priority for areas designated as Promise Zones, meaning that applicants would have the incentive to design projects that support these areas. While the designated Promise Zones include a mix of rural and urban communities, we think that use of the Promise Zones priority will provide an incentive to applicants to support rural communities such as those described by the commenter. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter asked that we emphasize collaboration with labor unions in subpart (b) of Priority 6 because they may already be providing work-based learning opportunities. Discussion: We agree that collaboration with labor unions and other workers’ organizations is important, and while we do not include an explicit focus on such collaboration in subpart (b), that collaboration is reflected in subpart (a) through the definition of Employer Engagement. We also note that the parenthetical list in subpart (b) is illustrative, and that applicants have flexibility in the types of opportunities they propose to provide. The strategies by which they propose to provide work-based learning opportunities are also at the applicant’s discretion, so an applicant could deliberately include collaboration with labor unions as part of its proposed approach. We think that the commenter’s suggestion is already within the scope of Priority 6. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter felt that the phrase ‘‘stackable credentials’’ in subpart (c) of Priority 6 was unclear, and suggested that we define the term. Two commenters recommended that we replace the term ‘‘industry-relevant certification’’ with ‘‘industry-recognized credentials,’’ as that term is more commonly used, and thus more commonly recognized, in the field. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 Another commenter asked that we explicitly include engagement with colleges, particularly community colleges, in subpart (c). Discussion: We value clarity and the use of common terms, and agree with the first commenter that Stackable Credentials should be defined. We have included a definition in this notice, and also indicate in subpart (c) that this term has been defined. Our definition is aligned with a December 15, 2010 Department of Labor guidance document entitled ‘‘Increasing Credential, Degree, and Certificate Attainment by Participants of the Public Workforce System.’’ 7 We also agree with the commenters that ‘‘industryrecognized credentials’’ is a commonly used term, and have edited the subpart to reflect that. In response to the commenter who suggested that we include a focus on engaging colleges, we agree that such engagement would be important to the success of projects addressing this priority. Therefore, we include in subpart (c) a parenthetical phrase to indicate that applicants may consider including engagement of community colleges or other IHEs in their proposed projects. Changes: We have included a definition of Stackable Credentials, and note in subpart (c) of Priority 6 that applicants should refer to that definition. We also have replaced ‘‘industry-relevant certification’’ with ‘‘industry-recognized credentials’’ in subpart (c). Finally, we have included the following parenthetical phrase in subpart (c) to indicate that applicants may consider including engagement of community colleges or other IHEs in their proposed projects: ‘‘(Such as education and training programs offered by community colleges or other institutions of higher education . . .’’ Comment: One commenter identified a flaw in subpart (d) of proposed Priority 6. Specifically, the commenter noted that, as proposed, subpart (d) implies that all items listed after ‘‘including’’ would be mandatory for applicants to incorporate into their proposed projects, but that an applicant could also disregard the list and propose to provide a different support, because the list concluded with ‘‘. . . or others as deemed appropriate.’’ The commenter noted a similar flaw in subpart (e) of proposed Priority 6, where we reference both personnel and service providers, but do not clearly explain whether we consider the two groups to be fundamentally different. 7 Available at: http://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/ attach/TEGL15-10.pdf. PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 Discussion: We appreciate the commenter’s thoughtful review and note that, in both cases, the lack of clarity was not intended. In subpart (d), it is not our intent to require applicants to propose projects that would provide support in all the areas noted, and on review of the proposed subpart (e), which is now subpart (f), we think it is unnecessary to include both personnel and service providers. We have modified subparts (d) and (f) to clarify Priority 6. Changes: In subpart (d), we have replaced ‘‘including’’ with ‘‘such as.’’ In subpart (f), we have removed ‘‘personnel.’’ Comment: One commenter asked that we include in proposed subpart (e), which is now subpart (f), instructors and students, in addition to service providers and customers, so that professional development could also be provided to teachers of career and technical education. Discussion: This subpart is intended for vocational rehabilitation agencies and other providers who serve adults who may not be enrolled in an educational institution or program. As such, we do not think that it is appropriate to include instructors and students. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter recommended a number of changes to Priority 6. They include defining the terms ‘‘employment outcomes,’’ ‘‘jobdriven training,’’ ‘‘non-degree postsecondary credentials,’’ and ‘‘workforce and labor market information;’’ establishing new subparts focused on Labor Market Information, counseling, training for counselors, and increasing the capacity of education and training institutions to use Labor Market Information; specifying that the career pathways programs referenced in subpart (c) should lead to ‘‘a non-degree postsecondary credential;’’ and specifying that the purpose of providing the support services outlined in subpart (d) of Priority 6 is to ‘‘facilitate credential attainment, employability, and job tenure.’’ Discussion: We decline to add the new definitions recommended by the commenter because we do not think that they are necessary to implement Priority 6. Most of the topics that the commenter recommended we include as subparts are already addressed adequately by the other subparts in Priority 6. We also do not agree with the commenter’s recommendation that career pathway programs be limited to pathways that lead to non-degree postsecondary credentials; instead, we think that pathways should lead to the full range E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM 10DEN2 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 of postsecondary credentials, including associate’s and baccalaureate degrees. Finally, we agree with the commenter’s proposed clarification of the purpose of providing the support services described in subpart (d) and have modified the subpart accordingly. Changes: We have added the phrase ‘‘that facilitate credential attainment, employability, and job tenure’’ to the end of subpart (d). Priority 7—Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Comment: One commenter suggested that STEM education is supported by philanthropy and business, rendering Federal support unnecessary, and recommended that we remove Priority 7. Discussion: Efforts to improve STEM education are often supported by a diverse group of funders. However, the Supplemental Priorities reflect our policy agenda, which includes, among other things, a focus on preparing students to meet the current demands of the labor market and on preparing teachers to effectively teach STEM subjects. We think that projects designed to address the distinct subparts listed in Priority 7 will help to achieve these goals. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter suggested that we enhance Priority 7 by asking applicants to provide internships as part of their proposed projects. Another commenter requested that we highlight in Priority 7 the importance of partnerships with industry organizations. Discussion: We agree with both commenters and think that strategies similar to those described are already reflected in Priority 7. For example, an applicant could propose a project that included a focus on internships to address subparts (b), (c), (d), and (e) of Priority 7. We also note that an internship could be considered an Authentic STEM Experience. In addition, we note that local or regional partnerships are supported through subpart (e) of Priority 7. Changes: None. Comment: A few commenters asked that we include in Priority 7 a focus on early indicators of STEM success. One commenter suggested we use Priority 7 to focus on building research about early mathematics and science learning. Discussion: We agree that it is important to identify indicators of STEM success for children and students. In Priority 1—Improving Early Learning and Development Outcomes, projects designed to address any of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 subparts must improve outcomes across at least one of the Essential Domains of School Readiness, which include early mathematics and early scientific development. Early childhood educators may also benefit from projects that address Priority 7, and to clarify that, we remove the reference in subpart (a) to teachers of career and technical education, which may have been viewed as limiting the scope of the priority. We appreciate the commenter’s request that we use Priority 7 as a mechanism to build the evidence base supporting early mathematics and science learning. As discussed elsewhere in this notice, the Department currently supports evidence-based funding through several provisions in EDGAR, most notably 34 CFR 75.590 (Evaluation by the grantee). In addition, discretionary grant programs may use selection factors included in 34 CFR 75.210(h) (Quality of the project evaluation), as appropriate, to encourage applicants to design evaluations of their projects that accurately reflect the research questions most relevant to the field. Because the Department has discretion in choosing the types of evidence-building activities that are most appropriate for particular discretionary grant programs, we do not think that it is necessary to include a requirement that applicants addressing Priority 7 build the research base in a specific policy area. Changes: We have revised subpart (a) of Priority 7 so that it now reads: ‘‘Increasing the preparation of teachers or other educators in STEM subjects through activities that may include building content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge, and increasing the number and quality of Authentic STEM Experiences.’’ Comment: One commenter asked that the term ‘‘teachers’’ be replaced with ‘‘educators’’ in subpart (c) of Priority 7. Discussion: We appreciate the commenter’s suggestion, and note that, while teachers are not mentioned in subpart (c) of Priority 7, both teachers and educators are included in subpart (a). Changes: None. Comment: One commenter suggested the addition of several subparts to highlight the role that afterschool and summer programs can play in promoting STEM education, encouraging joint professional development for community educators and teachers, and increasing partnerships between LEAs and afterschool and expanded learning programs. Another commenter suggested that we include a focus on PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 73437 public-private partnerships that would align STEM labor market demands with a supply of well-prepared STEM workers. Discussion: We agree with the first commenter and think that the areas of focus suggested are important; however, we do not think that it is appropriate to prescribe the specific types of programs, such as afterschool or summer programs, that should be supported through the Supplemental Priorities. We think that applicants are best-suited to propose projects that will meet the needs of the target populations they propose to serve, and those projects may include support for afterschool or summer programs. The main goal of the priority is to prepare students to meet the demands of the STEM labor market. Finally, we note that our reference in subpart (a) of Priority 7 to ‘‘other educators,’’ as well as our reference to Authentic STEM Experiences, allows applicants to propose projects that include a focus on joint professional development. To further bolster this concept, we revise subpart (b) of Priority 7 to clarify that projects designed to provide students with increased access to STEM opportunities may be integrated across multiple settings. Changes: We have revised subpart (b) of Priority 7 so that it ends with the phrase: ‘‘. . . that may be integrated across multiple settings.’’ Comment: One commenter urged the Department to include in Priority 7 a focus on arts education to improve students’ creative thinking skills. Discussion: We appreciate the commenter’s suggestion, and note that Priority 7 includes ways for projects to address creative thinking skills. For example, subpart (b) of Priority 7 could be used to support projects that provide students with increased access to Authentic STEM Experiences, which could be laboratory, research-based, or experiential learning opportunities in informal or formal settings. We also note that applicants could include a focus on arts education in a project designed to promote STEM education; and that elements of arts education can be particularly relevant to technology and engineering programs. In fact, we view arts education as a strategy that can touch several of the Supplemental Priorities. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter asked that we include a new subpart in Priority 7 that would support projects that engage parents and families in their children’s STEM education. Discussion: We agree that family engagement is important for student success in all subjects and reflect our E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM 10DEN2 73438 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 interest in supporting family engagement in Priority 14—Improving Parent, Family, and Community Engagement. As appropriate, we may combine elements of Priority 7 and Priority 14 to solicit applications that include both a focus on STEM and on family engagement. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter expressed concern that subpart (d) of Priority 7, which would support projects that are intended to increase the number of individuals from groups that have been historically under-represented in STEM who are provided with rigorous STEM coursework and prepared for postsecondary study and careers in STEM, is unconstitutional. The commenter asserts that the Federal government cannot use classifications based on race, ethnicity, or gender in its efforts to support the improvement of student outcomes. Discussion: Subpart (d) of Priority 7 is designed to support investments in strategies that are most likely to increase access to rigorous STEM coursework, and preparation for postsecondary study and careers in STEM, for individuals from groups that have been historically under-represented in STEM fields. These individuals may include, but are not limited to, minorities, individuals with disabilities, and women. This priority does not encourage or require classifications based on race, ethnicity, or gender. Applicants may propose approaches that seek to increase participation by individuals from groups that have been historically under-represented and that serve all individuals. We further note that recipients of Department funding must comply with the nondiscrimination requirements of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975. For more information on these requirements, and other guidance related to diversity, please visit the Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) Web site at http://www2.ed.gov/ about/offices/list/ocr/index.html. Changes: None. Priority 8—Implementing Internationally Benchmarked Collegeand Career-Ready Standards and Assessments Comment: One commenter supported internationally benchmarked collegeand career-ready standards, but noted that many States are already of developing and implementing those standards. Thus, the commenter argued that it was not necessary for the Federal VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 government to support this type of work. Discussion: Priority 8 is not focused on developing the standards themselves. Rather, this priority supports strategies for implementing college- and careerready standards effectively, and projects designed to address Priority 8 would not be conducted at the Federal level. Rather, the Department would use this priority to support State, local, or regional entities carrying out this work and those entities would propose strategies that are best-suited to the populations they propose to serve and the particular college- and career-ready standards and assessments that are being implemented. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter expressed concern that the term ‘‘performancebased tool,’’ found in subpart (a) of Priority 8, is not a commonly understood term. Discussion: We appreciate the commenter’s concern. We think, however, that the text of subpart (a) provides the necessary context for the term ‘‘performance-based tool.’’ Our intent in this subpart is to broadly refer to performance-based tools, allowing applicants flexibility in developing and implementing the materials they need in order to effectively assess student progress. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter asked that we provide further incentives to States to broaden their accountability definitions and requirements to include a more comprehensive definition of student success. The commenter noted the importance of using multiple measures, formative assessments, nontest-based evidence of learning, and progress toward personal growth objectives. Discussion: We agree that the elements listed by the commenter can be important and useful measures of student success, and we include formative assessments in subpart (a) of Priority 8. While we do not mention the commenter’s other examples specifically in the subpart, we think that the phrase ‘‘performance-based tools’’ is broad and could encompass several types of measures. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter suggested that we revise subpart (a) so that it is clear that the focus of student assessments should be to improve and inform instruction and learning. Discussion: We agree with the commenter that student assessments should be used to improve and inform instruction and learning, but we do not think that it is necessary to revise PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 subpart (a) to require applicants to focus on those goals. Changes: None. Comment: Two commenters asked that we include in subpart (b) of Priority 8 a focus on professional development for principals, as well as teachers. Discussion: We agree that supporting principals with professional development and training opportunities that are aligned with college- and career-ready standards is important, and have edited subpart (b) to reflect this goal. Changes: We have revised subpart (b) to read: ‘‘Developing and implementing teacher or principal professional development or preparation programs that are aligned with those standards.’’ Comment: One commenter suggested several revisions to subparts (b) and (c) of Priority 8. The commenter suggested that we should encourage applicants to provide opportunities for deeper learning, improving content knowledge, communicating effectively, collaborating with peers, and participating in professional development that is self-directed. The commenter also asked that Priority 8 be revised to specifically support efforts to improve literacy instruction, and be tailored to meet the needs of middle and high school teachers. Discussion: We appreciate the commenter’s suggestions and agree that the elements outlined by the commenter are important. However we do not think that it is appropriate in these priorities to prescribe specific strategies, content areas, or grades on which projects should focus, because we think that applicants are best-suited to propose projects that meet the needs of the target populations they propose to serve. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter requested that we require that new assessments developed by applicants or grant recipients be licensed with an intellectual property license that allows for unrestricted reuse and modification. Discussion: We appreciate the commenter’s suggestion, but we do not believe that it is appropriate to impose this license requirement unilaterally, because making some types of assessments so broadly available could have implications for academic integrity. The Department’s existing regulations relating to products produced with grant funds already provide that grantees may copyright intellectual property produced with Department grant funds per 34 CFR 75.261 (Copyright policy for grantees). However, under 34 CFR 74.36 (Intangible property) and 80.34 (Copyrights), the Department retains a E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM 10DEN2 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 non-exclusive and irrevocable license to reproduce, publish, or otherwise use those project materials for government purposes.8 This license gives the Department the authority we need to ensure that materials produced as part of Department-supported grant projects can be made available to the public. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter asked that we include a new subpart in Priority 8 focused on developing equitable conditions and resources to support the implementation of standards and improve students’ academic skills and opportunities in a broad range of subjects and competencies, in order to prepare students for success in the globally interdependent world. Conversely, one commenter objected to our reference to internationally benchmarked standards and assessments, explaining that students should not be focused on comparing themselves to their peers in other nations, but rather on their own academic achievement. Discussion: We agree that students must be prepared for success in college, career, and life. We think that the proposed subparts could support a project designed to do what the commenter described, and also note that any project proposed to address Priority 8 would need to be relevant to internationally benchmarked standards and assessments. We also note that Priority 12—Promoting Diversity already provides an opportunity for a focus on preparing students to be successful in the increasingly diverse workforce. Finally, we disagree with the commenter that students should not be prepared to be globally competitive and note that the Department’s mission is to promote Student Achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access. We think that projects designed to assess students against internationally benchmarked college- and career-ready standards will help to ensure those students are on track for future success in any context. Changes: None. Priority 9—Improving Teacher Effectiveness and Promoting Equitable Access to Effective Teachers Comment: One commenter expressed support for proposed Priority 9 and proposed Priority 10—Improving the Effectiveness of Principals, and 8 For grants awarded on or after the date on which the Department adopts and makes effective the Uniform Guidance in 2 CFR part 200 (expected on December 26, 2014), 2 CFR 200.315(b) would preserve the Federal government’s license that exists under current §§ 74.36 and 80.34. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 suggested several instances where we could better differentiate supports for teachers and principals in other priorities and definitions proposed in the NPP. Discussion: We appreciate the commenter’s suggestion, and note resulting changes to Priority 1— Improving Early Learning and Development Outcomes. We thought clearer differentiation was appropriate in subpart (b) of Priority 1, which focuses on improving the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the early learning workforce because, we think that it is crucial for administrators to be wellversed in methods of improving young children’s health, social-emotional, and cognitive outcomes. However, we did not edit all the priorities suggested by the commenter, because we do not think that each priority identified by the commenter focused on a professional development or training need that is as meaningful for principals as it is for teachers. We also note that, in priorities in which we use the term ‘‘educator,’’ a project could be designed to support individuals, such as principals, who are not teachers. Changes: We have revised Priority 1 to better reflect the needs of administrators and leaders. Further explanation of this change is included in relevant sections of this notice. Comment: One commenter expressed general concern that the Department does not focus its efforts on encouraging teachers to be innovative, creative, and effective in the classroom. Another commenter stressed that we explicitly focus on balancing direct instruction with project-oriented methods, enhancing problem-solving through deep understanding of subject matter, improving critical thinking skills, and cultivating teachers’ recognition of student learning styles. Discussion: We agree that innovative, creative, and effective teachers are important to students’ academic success. For this reason, we have included Priority 9, which focuses in part on supporting teachers to be effective in the classroom. Particularly, we note that subpart (a)(i) of Priority 9 focuses on preparing, recruiting, selecting, and developing teachers to be effective. We think that, to be effective, teachers also need to be innovative and creative. As such, a project designed to increase the number and percentage of effective teachers through the strategies outlined in subparts (a)(i) or (ii) of Priority 9 would likely support teachers to be innovative and creative. In addition, we thank the commenter who suggested several specific foci for this priority. We agree that the skills PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 73439 suggested by the commenter are relevant, but also think that these skills are captured in Priority 9. Priority 3— Promoting Personalized Learning, can support projects that help teachers customize their instructional approaches to meet the needs of individual students. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter expressed general support for the proposed priorities, but suggested that we also support projects that reduce class sizes, particularly in secondary schools, and that we support paid teacher internships for new teachers that mirror the training that medical doctors receive. Discussion: We think that there are several ways that our discretionary grant programs could use this priority to solicit projects that are designed to better prepare and support teachers, and to ensure that teachers have manageable workloads. In general, we do not wish to require applicants proposing projects under Priority 9 to support teachers through specific strategies. Rather, we think that applicants are generally best suited to propose specific strategies to support the target populations they propose to serve. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter asked that we expand proposed Priority 9 so that early learning providers could also benefit from the activities described in subparts (a) and (b). Discussion: We agree that early learning providers should receive support so that they can be effective in their careers. Priority 9 does not preclude early learning and development teachers from benefiting from projects supported under Priority 9. Changes: None. Comments: A few commenters expressed support for Priority 9, but suggested that we include specific methods to support effective teachers. One commenter suggested that peer evaluations are helpful, and another stressed the importance of including strategies to support teachers to be effective in diverse classroom settings. In particular, the commenter asked that we encourage rural districts to implement ‘‘grow your own’’ strategies to improve teacher recruitment and retention. Another commenter suggested that we revise the language in subpart (a) of Priority 9 to stress the importance and difficulty of staffing Lowest-performing Schools. Discussion: We thank the commenters for suggesting specific strategies to support the preparation, recruitment, development, and retention of effective E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM 10DEN2 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 73440 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / Notices teachers, and agree that several strategies may be used to do this work successfully. We also agree that some strategies are better suited than others to effect positive change, depending on the needs of the community to be served by the proposed project. For these reasons, we do not want to limit the scope of Priority 9 by including or requiring the use of specific strategies. Rather, we expect applicants to propose appropriate strategies to increase the number and percentage of effective teachers in their schools and to promote equitable access to effective teachers. We also agree with the commenter that rural schools, in addition to schools with high concentrations of students from low-income families and minority students, should be staffed by effective teachers. For this reason, we have revised Priority 9 to explicitly include ‘‘schools in Rural Local Educational Agencies.’’ Finally, we agree that teachers working in Lowest-performing Schools, schools in Rural LEAs, and schools with high concentrations of students from low-income families and minority students may face unique challenges. We therefore have added language to subpart (a) of Priority 9 to better support projects that will increase the number and percentage of effective teachers in schools where they are most needed. Changes: We have revised subpart (a) of Priority 9 so that it now reads: ‘‘Increasing the number and percentage of effective teachers in Lowestperforming Schools, schools in Rural Local Educational Agencies, or schools with high concentrations of students from low-income families and minority students . . .’’ We have made a corresponding change to subpart (a) of Priority 10—Improving the Effectiveness of Principals. Comment: One commenter suggested that we separate the concept of improving workplace conditions from subpart (a)(ii) because that strategy could not only improve the retention of effective teachers, but also increase successful teaching and learning. The commenter also noted the importance of tailoring professional development to meet the needs of new teachers, because they are typically assigned to classrooms and schools with greater needs, and suggested that we emphasize comprehensive teacher induction as an effective strategy for supporting those teachers. Another commenter suggested including, in subpart (a)(ii), a focus on relevant, effective, and outcomeoriented professional development to support teachers who work in challenging environments. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 Discussion: We agree with the commenter that improving workplace conditions would not only improve retention of effective teachers, but also would support environments in which teachers and students can be successful. We note that subpart (a)(ii) of Priority 9 includes a focus on both retention and on creating opportunities for successful teaching and learning. For this priority, our focus is to support projects that are designed to retain effective teachers, and through such strategies as improving workplace conditions, improve outcomes for teachers and students. We also agree with the commenter that teachers need differentiated support depending on the amount of time they have spent in the classroom. We think that, in order to implement the strategies outlined in subpart (a)(ii) well, an applicant would need to customize its approach to meet the needs of teachers in different stages of their careers. We also note that, in subpart (a)(i), we include a focus on early career teacher development. We therefore do not think it is necessary to edit Priority 9 to meet the needs of early career teachers. We think that teachers working in Lowest-performing Schools, schools in Rural LEAs, and schools with high concentrations of students from lowincome families and minority students may need differentiated support in order to be effective. We have changed subpart (a)(ii) of Priority 9 to more clearly communicate the expectations of the professional development to be delivered to teachers in these schools. Changes: We have revised subpart (a)(ii) of Priority 9 so that it now reads: ‘‘Improving the retention of effective teachers through such activities as creating or enhancing opportunities for teachers’ professional growth; delivering professional development to teachers that is relevant, effective, and outcomeoriented; reforming compensation and advancement systems; and improving workplace conditions to create opportunities for successful teaching and learning.’’ Comment: One commenter asked that we revise subpart (b) of proposed Priority 9 so that children with disabilities, in addition to students from low-income families and minority students, could benefit from projects designed to encourage equitable access to effective teachers. Discussion: We appreciate the commenter’s concern, and note that this subpart is intended to help SEAs and LEAs comply with requirements in 34 CFR 200.57(a)(2)(iii)(A) and (b)(2) that are designed to ensure that students PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 from low-income families and minority students are not taught at higher rates than other students by inexperienced, out-of-field, or unqualified teachers. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter asked that we revise proposed Priority 9 to include a preference for nonprofit organizations that provide afterschool and extended learning programs, as well as nonprofit organizations that provide alternative routes to teacher certification. Discussion: We agree that nonprofit organizations can play key roles in supporting and retaining effective teachers, and in providing students equitable access to effective teachers. Many, but not all, of our discretionary grant programs consider nonprofit organizations to be eligible to apply for funding. Because Priority 9 does not preclude nonprofit organizations and we do not want to revise the priority in a manner that would restrict the use of the priority by discretionary grant programs, we do not think that Priority 9 should be revised to specify their participation in projects to support effective teachers or to promote equitable access to effective teachers. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter noted that we refer to ‘‘low-income students’’ in Priority 9, but to ‘‘students from lowincome families’’ in other priorities and definitions in the NPP. Discussion: The use of two different phrases was unintentional and we thank the commenter for pointing out the discrepancy. We have revised this priority to ensure that we refer only to ‘‘students from low-income families.’’ Changes: In Priority 9, we have changed ‘‘low-income students’’ to ‘‘students from low-income families.’’ Comment: One commenter stressed the importance of understanding social and emotional competencies, and asked that we include in Priority 9 and Priority 10—Improving the Effectiveness of Principals projects that would support teacher and principal understanding of these competencies. Discussion: While we agree that teachers and principals should fully understand the social and emotional needs of students at all grade levels, we do not think that changes to Priorities 9 or 10 are necessary to reflect this concept. First, we include Priority 2— Influencing the Development of NonCognitive Factors. The inclusion of this priority represents a focus of the Department on improving students’ mastery of skills and behaviors, such as perseverance, self-regulation, and social and emotional skills. Second, Priority 1—Improving Early Learning and E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM 10DEN2 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 Development Outcomes supports projects that improve outcomes for early learners across one or more of the Essential Domains of School Readiness, which include, among other things, social and emotional development. For these reasons, we do not think that edits to Priorities 9 or 10 are necessary in response to this comment. Changes: None. Priority 10—Improving the Effectiveness of Principals Comment: One commenter asked that we highlight the importance of preparing principals to be effective in leading rural schools. Discussion: We agree that principals face unique challenges in rural schools, much like teachers in those schools. We think it is important to include an explicit focus on schools in Rural LEAs and to augment the priority to reflect this. Changes: We have revised subpart (a) of Priority 10 to support principals in schools in Rural LEAs. Comment: One commenter suggested that we use Priority 10 to support projects that would retain talented individuals to lead schools, in addition to recruiting, selecting, preparing, and supporting those individuals. Discussion: We agree that retaining effective principals in schools where they are needed most is an important way to significantly improve instruction. Changes: We have revised subpart (e) of Priority 10 so that it now reads: ‘‘Implementing practices or strategies that support districts in hiring, evaluating, supporting, and retaining principals who effectively lead schools.’’ Comment: One commenter suggested that we include a focus on district conditions, in addition to school conditions, in subpart (b) of proposed Priority 10, which seeks projects that identify, implement, and support policies and conditions to turn around Lowest-performing Schools. Discussion: We agree with the commenter, and now include a focus on district conditions in subpart (b) of Priority 10. Changes: We have revised subpart (b) of Priority 10 so that it now reads: ‘‘Identifying, implementing, and supporting policies and school and district conditions that facilitate efforts by principals to turn around Lowestperforming Schools.’’ Comment: One commenter asked that we include foci on boards of education and superintendents, in addition to principals, in proposed Priority 10. Another commenter expressed concern VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 that early learning education leaders would not be included in projects designed under this priority; and a third commenter asked us to extend our focus on aligning principal preparation programs to college- and career-ready standards so that the coursework begins with subject matter for children at birth, rather than at pre-kindergarten. A fourth commenter suggested that we revise subpart (e) of Priority 10 to promote the creation of leadership pipelines and to include teacher leaders, assistant principals, and principal supervisors in the subpart. Discussion: We think that support of superintendents, boards of education, principal supervisors, and other district leaders is an integral component of strategies to effectively prepare and support principals to lead schools. For this reason, we include subpart (e) of Priority 10, which incentivizes projects designed to support districts in hiring, evaluating, and supporting principals. We agree with the commenter that early learning leaders should also be prepared and supported so they can be effective in the schools or programs they lead. We include in subpart (c) of Priority 10 an emphasis on aligning principal preparation programs with pre-K through grade 12 college- andcareer ready standards. We do not think that it is appropriate to extend this focus to encompass college- and career-ready standards for children who are not yet three years old, because those standards are not in place in most States. We note, however, that we have made some changes to Priority 1—Improving Early Learning and Development Outcomes to more explicitly reference early learning and development program administrators. We think that the changes in Priority 1 will allow for more flexibility in terms of the supports available to program administrators. Finally, we also agree that creating pathways for teachers to move into leadership roles can be an effective way to encourage continued professional learning and growth for teachers. In general, we think that projects designed to meet subparts (a), (c), and (e) of Priority 10, as well as subpart (a)(ii) of Priority 9—Improving Teacher Effectiveness and Promoting Equitable Access to Effective Teachers, could focus on leadership pipelines or career pathways for teacher leaders and assistant principals. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter suggested that we encourage improvement in principal preparation and licensure through subpart (c) of Priority 10, which supports the creation and expansion of principal preparation programs. PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 73441 Discussion: We thank the commenter for the suggestion, but note that principal licensure is handled largely by State agencies. Although some of the Department’s discretionary grant programs include SEAs as eligible applicants, many do not. As such, licensure is not an activity that could be conducted by most applicants. We do not want to revise the priority in a manner that might limit its use. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter stressed the importance of ensuring that principals are well-versed in early learning curricula so that they are able to effectively lead instruction in that area, and so that they are able to appropriately evaluate teachers at various grade levels. Discussion: We agree that principals must fully understand the curricula being taught by the teachers they lead, and that many principals oversee early learning and development programs in addition to elementary or secondary education programs. We note that Priority 10 includes a focus in subpart (c) on aligning principal preparation programs with pre-kindergarten through grade 12 college- and career-ready standards. We also think that projects that are designed to meet subpart (d) of Priority 10, which focuses on supporting principals in their mastery of instructional and organizational leadership skills, could include strategies to ensure that principals understand the unique needs of preschool teachers and other early learning and development providers. Further, we include mechanisms in Priority 1—Improving Early Learning and Development Outcomes to support educators and administrators to improve young children’s health, socialemotional, and cognitive outcomes. Because these priorities provide multiple options for bolstering principals’ understanding of early learning curricula, we do not think revisions are necessary to address the commenter’s concern. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter expressed support for proposed Priority 10, but encouraged us to further strengthen subpart (d) by including specific leadership skills, such as developing and managing talent and creating a strong organizational culture focused on high expectations for student and teacher performance. Another commenter suggested several edits throughout Priority 10 to highlight additional important skills that principals must master, including accessing and using data to make E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM 10DEN2 73442 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 decisions and improving the learning environment in addition to instruction. Discussion: We thank the commenters for suggesting specific skills to prioritize. In general, we do not think that it is appropriate, through this NFP, to dictate specific strategies, methods, or activities beyond the broad areas of focus outlined in each priority. We think that applicants are generally bestsuited to choose approaches that are most appropriate in their particular contexts. Changes: None. Priority 11—Leveraging Technology To Support Instructional Practice and Professional Development Comment: Several commenters noted the benefits of education technology and expressed support for proposed Priority 11. Several of these commenters also provided suggestions for expanding the reach of the proposed priority. Two commenters suggested that the Department expand subpart (c) to support projects that offer a broader range of activities by including school leaders and technology leaders in addition to educators as staff that could earn professional development credit, certification, or continuing education and supporting online networks for peer collaboration or mentorship. One commenter also suggested adding a focus on teacher preparation coursework to build new teachers’ capacity to engage in learning environments and use digital tools. Similarly, another commenter recommended adding professional development for educators on how to effectively use digital resources and student data. One commenter encouraged the Department to consider content and pedagogy as necessary elements to inform the development of high-quality digital materials, and another commenter suggested adding a subpart for projects that use technology to restructure the traditional pedagogical model to overcome traditional time, space, and fiscal constraints. One commenter requested that the Department include a focus on schooland district-level activities, including the development and implementation of comprehensive plans for technology integration and data privacy policies. Another commenter suggested that research and evaluation be included as a required activity under the proposed priority. Discussion: We appreciate the commenter’s recommendations and note that many of the suggestions are covered under subpart (c) of Priority 11. For example, we think that ‘‘educators’’, as VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 it appears in subpart (c), is a broad enough term to encompass school leaders, in addition to teachers. We also think that professional development on the use of digital resources, the use of student data, and privacy policies would be appropriate elements of a project that addresses subpart (c) of Priority 11. In general, we do not think that it is appropriate to prescribe the specific topic of the professional development, because applicants are best suited to identify the needs of the teachers and leaders they propose to serve. The purpose of this priority is for applicants to leverage the use of technology in supporting instructional practices and professional development; we do not intend to restrict the topics of the instructional practice or professional development. Further, we do not think that it is necessary to revise the priority to include a subpart for projects that use technology to restructure the traditional pedagogical model to overcome traditional time, space, and fiscal constraints because those projects may be supported under Priority 3—Promoting Personalized Learning. We decline to list or prescribe specific types of learning communities. As proposed, we think that learning communities would allow for online networks for peer collaboration. However, we change ‘‘including’’ to ‘‘such as’’ in subpart (c) to clarify that projects addressing the priority may include online learning communities that do not result in awarding professional development or continuous learning units. We agree with the commenter that applicants addressing this priority will benefit from the development and implementation of comprehensive plans for technology integration and data privacy policies. However, given the variety of programs and entities that may use or address this priority, we do not think that it is appropriate to include those requirements in Priority 11. We also note that recipients of Department funding are required to protect the privacy of student data. Additionally, a program using this priority could use factors from 34 CFR 75.210(c) (Quality of the project design) or 34 CFR 75.210(h) (Quality of the project evaluation) to encourage applicants to address their planning and sustainability needs, as well as their proposed project evaluations, as part of their proposed projects. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter recommended that proposed Priority 11 include language highlighting the value of technology in supporting improved PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 outcomes for young children and their families. Discussion: We agree with the commenter that technology can enhance the implementation of early learning projects and efforts to more effectively engage parents. In fact, we discussed the opportunities to leverage this priority with Priority 1—Improving Early Learning and Development Outcomes and Priority 14—Improving Parent, Family, and Community Engagement in the background provided in the NPP. We include the priority on leveraging technology as a separate priority so that discretionary grant programs have the flexibility to use the priority alone or in combination with other priorities. We decline to revise the priority in a manner that would limit the types of students that could be served by projects that address the priority. As proposed, Priority 11 does not preclude projects with a focus on early learning or early grades. However, we have revised subpart (a) of Priority 14— Improving Parent, Family, and Community Engagement to include an explicit reference to technological tools as a means to expand and enhance the skill, strategies, and knowledge of parents and families. Changes: In subpart (a) of Priority 14, we have revised the parenthetical list so that it now begins with: ‘‘including techniques or use of technological tools . . .’’ Comment: Several commenters suggested that the proposed priority be revised to require projects supported under it to be based on the principles of UDL. Discussion: Although UDL is not explicitly discussed in Priority 11, an applicant could propose to develop and implement high-quality accessible digital tools, materials, and assessments that are based on UDL principles in response to subpart (b). Moreover, the priority, as proposed, does not preclude an applicant from using the approach or principle it determines to be most suitable for its project. We therefore decline to revise the priority. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter noted that the use of ‘‘particularly’’ in subpart (a), with respect to open educational resources, and ‘‘including’’ in subpart (c), with respect to certain types of online courses, learning communities, and simulations, may be too restrictive. Discussion: The Department strongly encourages the use of Open Educational Resources (OER) and online courses, learning communities, or simulations that award professional development credit or continuing education units, but did not intend to restrict subparts (a) E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM 10DEN2 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / Notices and (c) so that only those projects could apply. We agree with the commenter that the use of ‘‘including’’ in subpart (c) may be too restrictive and we have revised the subpart to better reflect our intent. However, we do not think that the use of ‘‘particularly’’ in subpart (a) is too restrictive, because it appropriately reflects the Department’s interest in promoting the development and use of OER. Further, in our review of Priority 11, we concluded that subpart (a) could be better organized to ensure the clarity of our intent regarding OER. We have also revised subpart (c) to clarify that we intend the courses, learning communities, and simulations that are supported by projects under this priority to be high-quality, accessible, and online. In addition, on reconsideration of Priority 11, we noticed that the phrasing of subparts (b) and (c) was unintentionally restrictive and would require applicants to both develop and implement the elements described in each subpart. We think that there are cases in which an applicant that may want to implement an alreadydeveloped product, but would be precluded from doing so by the proposed subpart language. As such, we have revised subparts (b) and (c) of Priority 11 to require that applicants only implement, with the clear understanding that some applicants may also develop, the products they propose to implement, as appropriate. Changes: We have revised subparts (a), (b), and (c) of Priority 11 so that they now read: (a) Using high-speed Internet access and devices to increase students’ and educators’ access to high-quality accessible digital tools, assessments, and materials, particularly Open Educational Resources. (b) Implementing high-quality accessible digital tools, assessments, and materials that are aligned to rigorous college- and career-ready standards. (c) Implementing high-quality, accessible online courses, online learning communities, or online simulations, such as those for which educators could earn professional development credit or continuing education units through Digital Credentials based on demonstrated mastery of competencies and performance-based outcomes, instead of traditional time-based metrics. Comment: One commenter requested the Department to clarify in subpart (d) that data platforms can also be used to inform and improve learning outcomes. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 Discussion: We agree that producing evidence on teaching and learning is not the sole purpose of data platforms, and also agree that the focus of subpart (d) should be to inform and improve learning outcomes. Changes: We have revised subpart (d) so that it now reads: ‘‘Using data platforms that enable the development, visualization, and rapid analysis of data to inform and improve learning outcomes, while also protecting privacy in accordance with applicable laws.’’ Comment: One commenter expressed strong support for Priority 11, but stated that an applicant addressing subpart (a) alone should not be recognized as meeting the goal of the priority. Conversely, another commenter said that most schools are behind the technology curve and lack resources for the infrastructure, hardware, software, and professional development that are necessary for educators to incorporate technology into the classroom. Discussion: We appreciate the commenters’ concern. However, we note that, for some schools, projects designed to meet subpart (a) of Priority 11 could represent the first step in leveraging technology. Data provided to the Federal Communications Commission through the ConnectED initiative show a significant need for the types of projects that would be funded under subpart (a). Without access to highspeed Internet and devices, students and educators also do not have access to digital tools and materials in the classroom. We also note that the Department considers a program’s authorizing statute and the types of entities that are eligible to apply when determining whether it is appropriate to select and use a given priority. The Department will not use a priority for a program if it determined that the use of that priority is inconsistent with the program’s purpose or would not result in meaningful projects. Changes: None. Comment: Multiple commenters expressed support for the Department’s reference to, and definition of, OER. Two commenters stated that open licensing of publicly funded educational resources should be made a requirement in all Department programs. One commenter noted that OER can be used to effectively address many of the other proposed priorities, including proposed Priorities 3, 4, 5, and 7. On the other hand, one commenter expressed concern about the Department giving preference to entities that provide OER, stating that one size does not fit all and that those entities may not understand the teaching and PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 73443 learning experience. The commenter requested that the Department let the market decide which tools are successful. Discussion: We thank the commenters for their support of the OER definition. Although we encourage OER, its inclusion in these priorities does not require grant recipients to produce or use OER. Therefore, we do not agree with the commenter who suggested that our inclusion of OER would impede the market or result in entities selecting and using tools that are not appropriate for their particular teaching and learning experiences. It should be noted that the Department has regulations related to products produced with grant funds. Specifically, under 34 CFR 75.621 (Copyright policy for grantees), grantees may copyright intellectual property that they produce with Department grant funds. However, under 34 CFR 74.36 (Intangible property) and 80.34 (Copyrights), the Department retains a non-exclusive and irrevocable license to reproduce, publish, or otherwise use those project materials for government purposes.9 This license gives the Department the authority needed to ensure that materials produced as part of Department grant projects can be made available to the public. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter noted the importance of live-online proctoring and recommended that the Department require authentication procedures that ensure the integrity of online education. Discussion: We agree that it is important to have methods in place to support the integrity and credibility of online education programs. However, given the variety of applicants and discretionary grant programs that may use this priority, we do not think that it is appropriate to prescribe those methods as part of Priority 11. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter stated that technology does not, in and of itself, improve instruction or learning, as it is only a tool used by educators and students. The commenter questioned whether this priority should be included. Discussion: Although we agree that technology access alone may not improve instruction or learning, when used effectively, technology has the potential to engage students, empower teachers, and connect them to each 9 For grants awarded on or after the date on which the Department adopts and makes effective the Uniform Guidance in 2 CFR part 200 (expected on December 26, 2014), 2 CFR 200.315(b) would preserve the Federal government’s license that exists under current §§ 74.36 and 80.34. E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM 10DEN2 73444 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 other and to some of the best resources the world has to offer. These results do have the power to improve instruction and learning and, for that reason, we include this priority to support projects that would leverage technology. Changes: None. Priority 12—Promoting Diversity Comment: One commenter expressed general support for Priority 12 and suggested that we integrate the priority into the other 14 priorities. Discussion: We thank the commenter and agree that increasing diversity is an important strategy to prepare students to be successful in an increasingly diverse workforce. We note that programs have the flexibility to use several of these priorities in a single competition, as appropriate. The Department has discretion in choosing which priorities they use in a competition in any given year, and those decisions must be made with the program’s statutory requirements in mind. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter was concerned that we are encouraging the selection and assignment of students based on race and ethnicity in proposed Priority 12. The commenter also indicated that the focus of the Department’s 2011 and 2013 guidance on diversity (which was created in cooperation with the Department of Justice (DOJ)) is misplaced, and that we should not encourage schools to adopt diversity policies. Discussion: We appreciate the commenter’s concern, and note that we do not intend for this priority to be used to support projects that select and assign students based solely on race; nor are we requiring schools to adopt particular diversity policies. Rather, our intent for this priority is to promote strategies that prepare students to be successful in the increasingly diverse workforce. We currently support projects that would increase racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity in schools and postsecondary programs; as well as projects that would decrease racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic isolation of students in preschool, elementary, or secondary programs, as appropriate. We intend to use this priority only in discretionary grant programs for which it is useful, relevant, and allowable under the program’s authorizing statute. We also note that the Department’s 2011 and 2013 guidance 10 on diversity was reaffirmed by guidance issued in 10 Available at: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/ list/ocr/letters/colleague-201111.html and www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/new-guidancesupports-voluntary-use-race-achieve-diversityhigher-education. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 2014 11 by both the Department and DOJ and is consistent with Supreme Court decisions. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter expressed concern that the changes made to Priority 12 from the 2010 Supplemental Priorities, namely the inclusion of socioeconomic diversity, may lead applicants to avoid increasing racial and ethnic diversity. The commenter was also concerned that proposed Priority 12 is no longer aligned with the 2011 and 2013 joint guidance issued by the Department and DOJ. The commenter also noted that the 2010 version of the priority was rarely used in discretionary grant competitions, and asked that we ensure greater use of the proposed priority in the future. Another commenter asked that we revise proposed Priority 12 so that applicants have greater flexibility to interpret ‘‘diversity’’ in terms of the specific needs of their communities; and a third commenter asked that we include in Priority 12 a focus on disability diversity. Discussion: We agree that increasing racial and ethnic diversity is important for preparing students for success in an increasingly diverse workforce, and also acknowledge that the 2010 version of this priority was not widely used in the Department’s discretionary grant programs. We therefore sought input from stakeholders on how to better frame the priority so that it could be used more broadly. We learned that including a focus on socioeconomic diversity, in addition to racial and ethnic diversity, may facilitate the use of the priority in more discretionary grant programs, and may have the corollary effect of also increasing racial and ethnic diversity in schools and postsecondary programs. Thus, we think that including socioeconomic diversity in Priority 12 may encourage broader use of the priority across our discretionary grant programs while maintaining the original focus on increasing racial and ethnic diversity. We note, however, that we have discretion in choosing which priorities to use in a competition in any given year, and that those decisions must be made in accordance with the program’s authorizing statute. We do not think that revising the priority so that ‘‘diversity’’ could be interpreted with the flexibility proposed by the commenter is appropriate. We think that the focus of the priority should be on increasing racial, ethnic, 11 Available at: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/ list/ocr/letters/colleague-201405-schuetteguidance.pdf. PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 and socioeconomic diversity. Moreover, we do not think it is appropriate to add disability diversity to Priority 12, and note that we do include a mechanism to otherwise support students with disabilities through Priority 4— Supporting High-Need Students. Priority 12 is fully consistent with the guidance on diversity issued by the Department and DOJ in 2011 and 2013. We also note that all recipients of Department funds must comply with the nondiscrimination requirements of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter supported Priority 12, and suggested additional edits to further strengthen the priority. For example, the commenter thought that the priority should be structured so that applicants would need to decrease racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic isolation of students in preschool, elementary, or secondary programs, rather than choose one area of focus among the three. The commenter also suggested that we revise the priority so that increasing diversity and decreasing racial isolation would need to be a focus of any project under the priority, regardless of that project’s focus on preschool, elementary, secondary, or postsecondary institutions. Finally, the commenter asked that we expand the priority to support projects that would maintain diversity in already diverse districts that may be experiencing demographic shifts. Discussion: While we agree that increasing socioeconomic diversity may also be an effective strategy for increasing racial and ethnic diversity, we do not think that it is appropriate to require that applicants proposing projects under this priority include strategies for increasing all three types of diversity. We intend for Priority 12 to facilitate its broader use in our discretionary grant programs, so we do not wish to impose further requirements on applicants. Similarly, we think that preschool and elementary and secondary schools face particular issues of racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic isolation. In an effort to focus the Department’s investments in this respect on the areas in most need, we have not edited the priority to include a focus on decreasing racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic isolation in postsecondary programs. We agree with the commenter that school districts that are already diverse may need support to maintain their diversity in the midst of shifting E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM 10DEN2 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 demographics. However, we do not think that Priority 12 would preclude such a project. We think that an applicant proposing a project of this nature could do so in the context of decreasing racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic isolation. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter expressed general support for proposed Priority 12, and suggested that we extend the reach of the priority so that increasing racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity could be a mechanism for increasing secondary and postsecondary completion rates, in addition to increasing enrollment. Discussion: While we agree with the commenter that completion of secondary and postsecondary programs is an important area, we do not think that Priority 12 is the appropriate place for such a focus. Our intent for Priority 12 is to facilitate a broader focus on diversity in our discretionary grant programs, so we do not wish to impose further limitations on applicants. In addition, we note that Priority 5— Increasing Postsecondary Access, Affordability, and Completion includes two subparts focused on completion of college, other postsecondary programs, or other career and technical education. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter requested that we include a focus on supporting the diversity of the teaching workforce. Discussion: We agree with the commenter that exposing students to teachers from a variety of backgrounds may be an effective way to prepare students for a diverse world of work. However, we do not think that it is appropriate to expand the areas of focus in Priority 12. Changes: None. Comment: None. Discussion: Upon review, we recognized that the language of Priority 12 did not clearly reflect our intention that the increase in diversity needs to occur at the school or program level in order to address the priority. We have made that clarification. Changes: We have revised Priority 12 so that it now refers to ‘‘individual schools or postsecondary programs.’’ Priority 13—Improving School Climate, Behavioral Supports, and Correctional Education Comment: One commenter expressed support for Priority 13, but suggested that we expand it to recognize the causal connection that links poor instruction to inappropriate student behavior. Discussion: The commenter’s hypothesis is reasonable and a project VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 focused on improving instruction to improve student behavior could fall under subpart (a) of Priority 13, which supports projects that improve school climate through strategies that may include Tiered Behavioral Supports. Moreover, we note that the definition of Tiered Behavioral Supports refers to evidence-based supports and data-based strategies. Thus, a strategy that is based on a causal connection to student behavior could be appropriate under this priority. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter asked that we include in Priority 13 a focus on youth mentoring as an effective strategy for improving school climate. Two commenters suggested that we focus specifically on increasing student engagement and connectedness. Another commenter asked that we highlight arts programs, citing examples of how they have been shown to improve school climate. In addition, a few commenters suggested that we include subparts with a wider range of strategies under Priority 13. One commenter suggested that we include a subpart for projects that are designed to improve student outcomes through school-based health clinics and social services, and another asked that we include support for school-based addiction treatment. A third commenter urged the Department to incentivize learning environments that provide real-world experience through project-based or other applied work. Discussion: We agree that each of the strategies suggested by commenters may be effective in improving school climate. In general, we do not think that it is appropriate to include specific strategies in this priority because we do not want to limit those that applicants could propose to use in their projects. As noted elsewhere, we think that applicants are best-suited to propose appropriate strategies for improving school climate, behavioral supports, and correctional education, with their target populations in mind. We also note that our definition of Tiered Behavioral Supports now includes a reference to external partners, which may provide some flexibility under subpart (a) of Priority 13 for applicants that propose the strategies described by the commenters. We make this change in order to recognize the unique supports that these partners can offer and note that the rationale for this change to the definition of Tiered Behavioral Supports is set out later in the Analysis of Comments and Changes section of this document. PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 73445 Finally, regarding the suggestion we address learning environments under this priority, we note that Priority 7— Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education includes a focus on Authentic STEM Experiences, which can be laboratory, research-based, or experiential learning opportunities in informal or formal settings. We think that this provision in Priority 7 would allow for project-based and other applied work strategies. Because those learning environments are supported in Priority 7, we do not think it is necessary to revise this priority. Changes: None. Comment: A few commenters noted the important role external partners, particularly organizations that provide afterschool and extended learning programs, can play in improving school climate. Discussion: We agree that coordination between LEAs and external partners can be an effective strategy for improving school climate. We note, however, that these partnerships are often eligible applicants, in their own right, under our discretionary grant programs. It is not necessary to include language that specifically allows for partnerships with community organizations that provide afterschool, extended learning, or other relevant programs, because the priority does not preclude those partnerships from participating in this work. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter suggested that we include language in Priority 13 to allow for children in early learning and development programs to benefit from projects addressing this priority. Discussion: We think that applicants proposing to serve young children could address Priority 13. We also note that we include in Priority 1—Improving Early Learning and Development Outcomes a clear focus on improving outcomes across the Essential Domains of School Readiness, which includes social and emotional development. Projects that are designed to improve such development in young children could likely do so through strategies that are similar to those described in Priority 13. We decline to revise Priority 13 in a manner that would set clear agegroup parameters because we think that it could limit the use of the priority. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter stressed that we should include in Priority 13 strategies that use family engagement as a mechanism for improving student behavior and strengthening student social, emotional, and behavioral skills. E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM 10DEN2 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 73446 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / Notices Discussion: We agree that engaging parents and families in their students’ education is important, which is why we include Priority 14—Improving Parent, Family, and Community Engagement. As noted elsewhere, these priorities are intended as a menu of options from which we may choose in administering our discretionary grant programs. We may choose which, if any, of the priorities or subparts are appropriate for competitions under those programs. Thus, we may combine elements of Priority 14 with elements of Priority 13 in one competition, if appropriate and relevant to that program’s goals. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter expressed support for subpart (b) of Priority 13, which supports projects that reduce or eliminate school discipline disparities between student subgroups, reduce or eliminate the use of exclusionary discipline, and address the causes of those disparities. The commenter suggested that we add to subpart (b) an additional activity that would require applicants to also promote disciplinary practices that are alternatives to exclusionary discipline. Another commenter suggested that we emphasize in subpart (b) the importance of training school personnel to address underlying causes of disparities in school discipline. Discussion: We agree that it is important for applicants to promote alternative disciplinary practices in addition to reducing or eliminating exclusionary practices. We have therefore edited subpart (b) to include this additional focus. While we agree with the other commenter that school personnel must have the appropriate knowledge and skills to address disparities in school discipline practices, we think that projects that are designed to address subpart (b) of Priority 13, as proposed, could include a focus on training school personnel in these matters. Changes: We have revised subpart (b) of Priority 13 to conclude with: ‘‘. . . and promoting alternative disciplinary practices that address the disparities.’’ Comment: One commenter expressed concern with subpart (b) of Priority 13, which supports projects that reduce or eliminate disparities in school discipline practices for particular groups of students by identifying and addressing the root causes of those disparities. The commenter asserted that disparities exist because some groups of students commit more violations than others. Discussion: We disagree with the commenter, and note that the Civil VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 Rights Data Collection Issue Brief No. 1 12 reported extensively on these disparities. Research suggests that the substantial racial disparities of the kind reflected in the CRDC data are not explained by more frequent or more serious misbehavior by students of color. 13 We also want to clarify the purpose of this subpart, which is to better understand the root causes of disparate disciplinary practices and, through that improved understanding, reduce or eliminate disparities in disciplinary practices among student subgroups. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter felt that our focus in subpart (c) of Priority 13 was misplaced, and suggested that we restructure the subpart so that projects designed to address it would more clearly support the re-entry process after release from juvenile justice facilities or adult correctional facilities. Discussion: We thank the commenter for this suggestion and agree that reentry should be a more prominent focus of subpart (c). Changes: We have revised subpart (c) of Priority 13 so that it now reads: ‘‘Improving the quality of educational programs in juvenile justice facilities (such as detention facilities and secure and non-secure placements) or adult correctional facilities, or supporting reentry after release, by linking the youth or adults to education or job-training programs.’’ Comment: None. Discussion: Upon review, we determined that subpart (b) should be clarified to acknowledge that efforts to either reduce or eliminate disparities in school disciplinary practices or to reduce or eliminate the use of exclusionary discipline may be alternative goals for projects designed to address Priority 13, and that an individual project need not be designed to achieve both of those goals in order to address the priority. We have made that clarification. Changes: We have revised subpart (b) so that it now reads: ‘‘Reducing or eliminating disparities in school disciplinary practices for particular groups of students, including minority students and students with disabilities, or reducing or eliminating the use of exclusionary discipline (such as suspensions, expulsions, and unnecessary placements in alternative education programs) by identifying and 12 Available at: http://ocrdata.ed.gov/Downloads/ CRDC-School-Discipline-Snapshot.pdf. 13 Available at: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/ list/ocr/letters/colleague-201401-title-vi-sp.pdf. (See Footnote 7) PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 addressing the root causes of those disparities or uses and promoting alternative disciplinary practices that address the disparities or uses.’’ Priority 14—Improving Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Comment: One commenter supported proposed Priority 14, noting that family engagement is important in fostering language and literacy development in young children. A second commenter echoed this idea by asking that we include in subpart (c) of Priority 14 a focus on reducing language barriers between parents or families and school staff. Another commenter also expressed support for this priority and asked that we further strengthen the priority to pay particular attention to the needs of students from low-income families, English learners, and other High-need Students. One commenter noted that Community Engagement and Parent and Family Engagement are very important for student success, and said that it should be ranked higher in the final list of priorities. Discussion: We thank the commenters for their support for Priority 14. We think that language and literacy outcomes for children and students may be improved through strategies that also improve Parent and Family Engagement in schools. We also agree that language barriers between parents or families and school staff can be difficult to overcome when attempting to engage parents or families in their students’ education. However, we do not think that changes to the priority are necessary to allow support for projects that are designed to address these needs. Applicants are best suited to propose projects to address the specific needs of their communities, and we therefore decline to revise the priority in a manner that might limit its use to those applicants that identify language barriers as a prevalent issue. We also agree that High-need Students may need additional support, and that their parents may be uncomfortable entering their children’s schools. Because several of our discretionary grant programs are already targeted on High-need Students, and because we include Priority 4— Supporting High-Need Students, we do not think that adding an additional focus to Priority 14 on High-need Students, is necessary. Finally, we note that the priorities are not ranked in any particular order. None of the priorities will be used more frequently than others in our discretionary grant programs as a result of where they fall in this list; the Department has discretion in choosing which priorities to use in competitions. E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM 10DEN2 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / Notices Changes: None. Comment: A few commenters suggested that we include a more explicit focus in proposed Priority 14 on linking learning in school to learning at home. One commenter noted that including the concept of Systemic Initiatives in subpart (b) of Priority 14 would further emphasize the need to develop and implement systems for promoting family engagement in schools. In addition, two commenters expressed support for proposed Priority 14 and suggested several places—in Priority 14, in the other priorities, and in some definitions—where the Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family and Community Engagement could be better represented. Discussion: We agree that an important outcome of improving parent, family, and community engagement is to connect what students learn at school to the resources and support that are available for them at home. We also agree that, in order to do this work well, it is helpful for schools to have systems in place to effectively engage parents and families. For these reasons, we amend subpart (b) of Priority 14. Changes: We have revised subpart (b) of Priority 14 so that it reads: ‘‘. . . to build meaningful relationships with students’ parents or families through Systemic Initiatives that may also support students’ learning at home.’’ Comments: One commenter urged us to restructure Priority 14 to better reflect the Community Engagement or Parent and Family Engagement needs of children beginning at birth. A few other commenters suggested edits to the priority to be more inclusive of early childhood programs. Discussion: We agree that young children, in addition to students in kindergarten and above, benefit from improved Community Engagement and Parent and Family Engagement, and note that we have made some changes to Priority 1—Improving Early Learning and Development Outcomes, to improve coordination between parents, families, and early childhood educators. We have revised subparts (b) and (c) to allow for support for community-based early learning and development programs. Changes: In subpart (b), we have included references to ‘‘program leaders’’ in addition to school leaders, and also have included ‘‘practitioners’’ in addition to teachers. In subpart (c), we have included ‘‘program staff’’ in addition to school staff. We have made similar changes to the definitions of Community Engagement and Parent and Family Engagement to include both school and program staff. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 Comment: One commenter suggested that we add an additional subpart to Priority 14 that would support opportunities for parents, families, and communities to, among other things, build meaningful relationships with professionals, understand fiscal processes, and understand how to use data to drive decision-making. Another commenter suggested specific edits to subpart (a) of Priority 14 to encourage parents’ use of technological tools to improve communication. Discussion: We think that the elements suggested by the first commenter are important, and note that any of these elements could be supported by projects that are designed under subpart (a) of Priority 14. We also note that subpart (c) of Priority 14 allows for broad improvement of Community Engagement. In general, we do not think that it is appropriate to list specific areas of focus beyond what is already discussed in Priority 14, because applicants for discretionary grant programs may wish to propose projects that are designed to support the particular needs of their target populations. We decline to revise the priority in a manner that might limit its use. We appreciate the second commenter’s suggestion to include a focus on technological tools, and have edited subpart (a) to reflect the suggestion. Changes: In subpart (a) of Priority 14, we have revised the parenthetical list so that it now begins with ‘‘including techniques or use of technological tools . . .’’ Comments: One commenter expressed support for proposed Priority 14, and noted the important role that afterschool programs can play in improving engagement. Another commenter asked that use of technology be explicitly included as an innovative tool to improve communication with parents and families. Discussion: We thank the commenters for offering approaches to this work that may be effective. In general, we do not think that it is appropriate to list specific strategies or approaches beyond what is already discussed in Priority 14, because applicants for discretionary grant programs may wish to propose projects designed to support the particular needs of their target populations. We decline to revise the priority in a manner that might limit its potential use. We note that both afterschool programs and the use of technology could be central elements to a project designed to meet Priority 14, and we think our inclusion of ‘‘program,’’ in PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 73447 addition to ‘‘school,’’ in some subparts and definitions, as discussed above, may facilitate the inclusion of afterschool programs. Changes: None. Comment: None. Discussion: After reviewing Priority 14, we conclude that projects that are designed to address this priority can focus on student outcomes in general, rather than purely academic outcomes. We think that this is appropriate given the types of projects we seek to support under Priority 14, and note that any project that is designed to address this priority could focus on improving student academic outcomes. Changes: We have removed ‘‘academic’’ from the introductory language of Priority 14. Priority 15—Supporting Military Families and Veterans Comment: A few commenters expressed support for proposed Priority 15. Response: We appreciate the commenters’ support. Changes: None. Definitions. We discuss and respond to comments received on the proposed definitions in alphabetical order. Comment: One commenter suggested that we define the term ‘‘adult learners’’ and noted that they make up almost 40 percent of the college-going population. Discussion: We agree that adult learners are an important group, and note that Priority 5—Increasing Postsecondary Access, Affordability, and Completion includes several mechanisms for supporting adult learners. For example, subpart (d) of Priority 5 focuses on increasing the number of individuals who return to the educational system to obtain a Regular High School Diploma, enroll in and complete postsecondary education, or obtain basic and academic skills. We do not define ‘‘adult learners’’ because we do not include the term in the NFP, but we note that our definitions of both High-need Students and Low-skilled Adult would include the subgroup about which the commenter is concerned. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter suggested that we revise the proposed definition of Authentic STEM Experiences to include teacher-led integration of STEM fields within the K–12 setting. Another commenter suggested that we include out-of-school time programs and summer camp programs in the definition. Discussion: While we think that each commenter’s suggestion is important and could be useful for some applicants, E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM 10DEN2 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 73448 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / Notices we do not think that the definition of Authentic STEM Experiences precludes an applicant from using any of the strategies or programs discussed above. Changes: None. Comment: A few commenters expressed support for the proposed definition of Community Engagement and asked that we include specific types of organizations in the definition. One commenter noted the important role that public media can play in fostering engagement, and another asked that museums, cultural organizations, and other art venues be highlighted in the definitions of Community Engagement and Sustained Partnerships. Another commenter suggested that we revise the proposed definition of Community Engagement to include examples of systematic inclusion. Discussion: We agree that several types of organizations, in addition to those listed in the definitions of Community Engagement and Sustained Partnerships, may play integral roles in projects to improve Community Engagement or Parent and Family Engagement. We note that our definition of Community Engagement includes an illustrative list of organizations that may partner with SEAs, LEAs, or other educational institutions, and that other organizations not specifically listed in the definition could also be appropriate partners, depending on the scope of a proposed project. Our definition of Sustained Partnerships includes a similar list, but is not structured in a way that provides for flexible interpretation. We therefore restructure that definition to reflect the structure of the Community Engagement definition, so that applicants may include other organizations in addition to those listed as examples in the definition. Finally, we agree with the commenter that including examples of systematic inclusion may be helpful, and have revised the definition of Community Engagement to include an illustrative list of possible ways to systematically include community organizations as partners with SEAs, LEAs, or other educational institutions, or their school or program staff. Changes: We have included in the definition of Community Engagement the following strategies as possible ways to achieve systemic inclusion: ‘‘Developing a shared community vision, establishing a shared accountability agreement, participating in shared data collection and analysis, or establishing community networks that are focused on shared communitylevel outcomes.’’ We have also revised the definition of Sustained Partnerships to make the list of possible partner VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 organizations illustrative rather than complete. Comment: One commenter identified technical errors in the proposed definitions of Community Engagement and Sustained Partnerships. First, the commenter asserted that Title III of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) does not authorize grants to IHEs generally; rather, it authorizes Federal assistance to certain types of institutions. Second, the commenter noted that Hispanic-serving institutions are eligible for assistance under Title V, not Title III, of the HEA and that, without specific mention of Title V in our definitions of Community Engagement and Sustained Partnerships, those institutions would not be included. Finally, the commenter stated that historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are a type of minority-serving institution (MSI), and are eligible for assistance under Title III of the HEA. Because HBCUs are a type of MSI that is authorized to receive assistance under Title III, it is not necessary to mention them in addition to MSIs. Discussion: We thank the commenter for pointing out these errors. We have revised the definitions of Community Engagement and Sustained Partnerships to ensure that the HEA is cited properly, that Hispanic-serving institutions are included, and that we do not include redundant references to specific types of MSIs. Changes: In the definitions of Community Engagement and Sustained Partnerships, we have amended our reference to the HEA so that it includes Title III and Title V. We have also deleted specific reference to HBCUs. Comment: One commenter suggested that we add language to the proposed definitions of Community Engagement and Parent and Family Engagement to indicate that the goal of such engagement must be to improve student academic and other related outcomes. Another commenter asked that our definitions of Community Engagement and Parent and Family Engagement require that inclusion of community organizations be not only systematic, but sustained over time. Discussion: We think that it is important that projects supported by the Department generally be designed to support students. As proposed, any project addressing Priority 14 must be designed to improve student academic outcomes through strategies supporting Community Engagement or Parent and Family Engagement. Therefore, we do not think that it is necessary to include an additional focus on improving student academic outcomes in the PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 definitions of Community Engagement and Parent and Family Engagement. We think that the issue of sustaining strong partnerships is an important one. However, we think that by requiring grantees to systematically include community organizations in their work, through the definitions, sustainable partnerships could happen organically. We also think that requiring a focus on sustained inclusion may disadvantage an applicant that is implementing those strategies for the first time. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter suggested that we include ‘‘validating credentials’’ in the definition of Employer Engagement to signal the importance of ensuring that credentials provided by training programs are those needed for in-demand jobs. Another commenter suggested that we include, in the definition of Employer Engagement, a focus on encouraging employers to actively recruit Low-skilled Adults and High-need Students. A third commenter thought that it was important to include potential employers in the definition to more fully reflect the economic challenges that rural communities face. Discussion: We agree that validating credentials is an important part of Employer Engagement and we have edited the definition to reflect that. We decline to make the change recommended by the second commenter because the definition of Employer Engagement is focused on ways in which employers can be involved in the design and delivery of education and training programs, rather than activities that seek to influence how and who employers hire. One intended result of greater Employer Engagement, however, is that education and training programs will be more successful in preparing and placing Low-skilled Adults and High-need Students in employment. With regard to the third commenter’s suggestion, we decline to make the change because the goal of subpart (a) of Priority 6, which is increasing Employer Engagement, is to encourage education and training programs to engage with entities that hire workers so that these programs can prepare individuals for indemand jobs. Engaging with an entity that merely has the ‘‘potential’’ to hire workers sometime in the future would not advance this goal. Changes: We have included in the definition of Employer Engagement the phrase ‘‘validating credentials’’ as a way in which employers may demonstrate active involvement. Comment: One commenter asked that creative arts expression be included in the definition of Essential Domains of School Readiness, so that the definition E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM 10DEN2 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / Notices would align with the Strong Start for America’s Children Act of 2013. Discussion: We appreciate the commenter’s suggestion and have edited the definition of Essential Domains of School Readiness to align with the Strong Start for America’s Children Act of 2013 and with the Department’s Preschool Development Grants program. Changes: We have edited the definition of Essential Domains of School Readiness so that it is aligned with the Strong Start for America’s Children Act of 2013 and with the Department’s Preschool Development Grants program. Comment: One commenter asked that we include a definition of ‘‘graduation rate,’’ and suggested that it be consistent with the definition in 34 CFR 200.19(b)(1). Discussion: The term ‘‘graduation rate’’ is not included in the Supplemental Priorities so we think it is unnecessary to define it. Changes: None. Comment: Several commenters requested that the Department add more student groups to the illustrative list that is included in the definition of High-need Students. Specifically, commenters asked that vulnerable students, students with multiple disciplinary incidents, chronically absent students, students with low-level literacy achievement, and new immigrants be explicitly listed as examples in the definition of High-need Students. One commenter suggested that the Department change ‘‘such as’’ to ‘‘and’’ so that, in order to meet the definition of High-need Students, the students would need to be among one of the listed groups. Discussion: So long as the students are at risk of educational failure or otherwise in need of special assistance, the definition of High-need Students could include the groups of students suggested by the commenters. Applicants are not limited by the examples provided in the definition. We think that it is important that an applicant have the discretion to determine which students are at risk of educational failure, and to discuss how the proposed project will meet the needs of those students. Also, it should be noted that this definition is consistent with the existing definition of this term that is used by Department programs, such as the Investing in Innovation Fund. Although we agree with the commenters that additional groups of students may be considered High-need Students, we think that it is important for the Department to be consistent in defining this term. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 Changes: None. Comment: Two commenters questioned the differences between the definitions of Children with High Needs and High-need Students. One commenter suggested defining ‘‘low income’’ in the definition of Children with High-needs and suggested using ‘‘children from low-income families’’ in both definitions. Discussion: Because Children with High Needs, as we define that term, are not yet in school, an exact alignment between these two terms is not appropriate (for example, Children with High Needs do not attend school and, thus, cannot attend High-minority Schools). Further, we note that the terms Children with High Needs and High-need Students are currently used in other Department programs (such as Race to the Top—Early Learning Challenge and the Investing in Innovation Fund); and we think that it is important for the Department to be consistent in defining these terms. Changes: None. Comment: Several commenters expressed concerns with the definitions of High-quality Teacher Evaluation and Support System and High-quality Principal Evaluation and Support system. Specifically, one commenter was concerned that the definition of Highquality Teacher Evaluation and Support System would not allow for fair and appropriate assessment of early career teachers, for whom there may not be sufficient Student Growth data available. One commenter thought that we did not include a formative assessment component, teacher buy-in and collective bargaining rights were not adequately reflected, our use of the phrase ‘‘significant factor’’ with respect to using Student Growth to inform assessments of teacher performance was unclear, and that States may unfavorably interpret the term ‘‘significant’’ when measuring Student Growth. Another commenter asked that we clarify that, under the proposed definition, teachers would be evaluated only for subjects they teach. Commenters expressed similar concerns about the definition of Highquality Principal Evaluation and Support System. In particular, one commenter was concerned with using Student Growth as a significant factor in evaluating principal performance, because teachers have a larger impact on student performance than principals. Discussion: We thank the commenters for their thoughtful consideration of both definitions. These definitions are aligned with Department guidance to PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 73449 States on ESEA flexibility waivers, which we think is appropriate. To address some of the specific concerns of the commenters, we note that both definitions refer to regularly scheduled evaluations and clear and timely feedback. We think that these provisions speak clearly to the need for formative assessments. We also note that both high-quality teacher and principal evaluation and support systems must, as defined, be developed with teacher and principal involvement. We think that teacher buy-in is an integral piece in developing and implementing high-quality evaluation and support systems, and the definitions do not affect collective bargaining rights or agreements. Changes: None. Comment: Two commenters suggested that we expand the definition of Lowskilled Adult. One commenter asked that we include adults who are not fluent in English and who may also be illiterate in their native language. Another commenter suggested that we include adults who do not have a high school diploma (or its recognized equivalent) or the postsecondary credential or degree necessary to obtain employment. Discussion: We agree that the groups of individuals described by the commenters may need targeted support to succeed in the workforce. We note, however, that these groups would be included in our definition of High-need Students, and that Low-skilled Adults and High-need Students are referenced specifically in subparts (b) and (c) of Priority 6—Improving Job-Driven Training and Employment Outcomes. The Department does not need to amend the definition of Low-skilled Adult in order for those groups identified by the commenters to be incorporated under the priorities because those groups would be appropriately categorized as High-need Students and could be supported by projects designed to address those subparts. Changes: None. Comment: Two commenters suggested edits to the definition of Military- or Veteran-connected Student. One commenter suggested that we revise the definition to include children of military families who do not reside on military bases and children of veterans. Another commenter asked that we include a focus on children with high needs, including children with disabilities. Discussion: The definition of Militaryor Veteran-connected Student encompasses all of the groups described by the commenters. The definition does not prescribe where students must live E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM 10DEN2 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 73450 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / Notices in order to be categorized as military- or veteran-connected. A High-need Student could be included in the definition as long as that student has a parent or guardian who is a member of the uniformed services, the student is a member of the uniformed services, or the student has a parent or guardian who is a veteran. Children of veterans are clearly included in subpart (c) of the definition. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter suggested revisions to the definition of Parent and Family Engagement so that it would include activities that take place prior to school entry, beginning at the prenatal period. Another commenter suggested that we include in the definition a focus on engaging parents and families as their children transition from early learning and development programs to kindergarten, and connecting those parents and families to appropriate social services. Discussion: We appreciate the commenter’s suggestions, and edit the definition to include a focus on program staff, in addition to school staff, which significantly broadens the scope of the definition. We do not think it is appropriate to further broaden the definition. We appreciate the commenter’s suggestion to include supports for parents and families as their children transition from early learning and development programs to kindergarten. We note that we have revised subpart (c) of Priority 1—Improving Early Learning and Development Outcomes so that applicants addressing this subpart must weave Parent and Family Engagement into a project designed to improve transitions for children across the birththrough-third-grade continuum. Therefore, we do not think that the changes suggested by the commenter are necessary. Changes: We have revised the definition of Parent and Family Engagement to include program staff, in addition to school staff. Comment: One commenter suggested edits to the definition of Persistentlylowest Achieving School. Discussion: This definition is widely used across the Department, and amendments to the definition would have implications for any discretionary grant program that wishes to use the priorities that include this definition. Changes: None. Comment: A few commenters suggested revisions to the proposed definition of Personalized Learning. One commenter suggested clarifying the term so that both scope and sequence of instruction can be tailored to individual VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 learners. One commenter stated that the second sentence in the proposed definition be deleted, because the objectives and content of the instruction should not vary from college- and career-ready standards. One commenter stated that the definition is too broad, and requested the Department to identify the specific interventions that would be included or excluded. Another commenter recommended that the definition be strengthened through the specific inclusion of supports for student engagement in Personalized Learning environments. One commenter suggested that we amend the definition to clarify that the role of digital tools and technology is to use data and student engagement as the driving forces in Personalized Learning. One commenter recommended explaining in the definition that data from Personalized Learning should be used to create a feedback loop between students, their parents, and their teachers. Another commenter stated that data should always be used to improve learning and instruction in Personalized Learning. Discussion: Many of the commenters’ suggestions are captured in the definition of Personalized Learning. For example, ‘‘scope’’ and ‘‘sequence’’ are consistent with the definition’s reference to learning objectives, content, learning activities, and pace varying depending on a learner’s needs. Regarding the comment that learning objectives and content should not vary by learner, we note that learning objectives differ from standards. A learning objective is aligned with college- and career-ready standards, but the specific learning objective or content in which a learner focuses in a given lesson may vary based on that learner’s needs and mastery at a given point in time. Thus, we decline to remove the references to learning objectives and content. We do not want to revise the definition in a manner that would prescribe specific approaches to Personalized Learning. For that reason, we decline to list specific interventions or supports that may or may not be used to implement Personalized Learning approaches. Also, although we agree that digital tools and technology are valuable tools, we do not want to prescribe or limit the types of tools that may be used under the definition of Personalized Learning. We agree with commenters that available data should be used in Personalized Learning approaches and that data are most helpful when supporting a feedback loop between PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 students, their parents, and their teachers. We think that the definition of Personalized Learning is consistent with these activities and that a revision is not necessary. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter suggested that we include ‘‘relevant external partners’’ as part of the definition of Tiered Behavioral Supports, noting that external partners can play an important role in matching intensive supports to student needs. Discussion: We agree with the commenter and have included the suggested phrase in the definition. Changes: We have revised the definition of Tiered Behavioral Supports so that it now reads: ‘‘. . . a continuum of increasingly intensive and evidencebased social, emotional, and behavioral supports, including a framework of universal strategies for students, school staff, and relevant external partners to promote positive behavior and databased strategies for matching more intensive supports to individual student needs.’’ Comment: None. Discussion: After review, we determined that the definition of Student Achievement was not fully aligned with the definition of that term included in the Race to the Top (RTT) program. Specifically, the definition in the NPP would require applicants to measure student achievement for grades and subjects that require assessment under the ESEA through both student scores and other measures of student learning. The RTT program, however, requires only that student scores be used to inform student achievement. Other measures may be used as appropriate. Changes: We have revised the definition of Student Achievement to clarify that other measures of student learning may be used, as appropriate, to determine student achievement in grades and subjects for which assessments are required under the ESEA. Final Priorities The Secretary establishes the following priorities and related definitions for use in any appropriate discretionary grant competitions in FY 2015 and future years. These priorities and definitions replace the supplemental priorities and definitions that were published in 2010. Priority 1—Improving Early Learning and Development Outcomes Projects that are designed to improve early learning and development outcomes across one or more of the E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM 10DEN2 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / Notices Essential Domains of School Readiness for children from birth through third grade (or for any age group within this range) through a focus on one or more of the following: (a) Increasing access to high-quality early learning and development programs and comprehensive services, particularly for Children with High Needs. (b) Improving the quality and effectiveness of the early learning workforce so that early childhood educators, including administrators, have the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to improve young children’s health, social-emotional, and cognitive outcomes. (c) Improving the coordination and alignment among early learning and development systems and between such systems and elementary education systems, including coordination and alignment in engaging and supporting families and improving transitions for children along the birth-through-thirdgrade continuum, in accordance with applicable privacy laws. (d) Including preschool, whether offered in school or community-based settings, as part of elementary education programs and systems in order to expand opportunities for preschool students and teachers. (e) Sustaining improved early learning and development outcomes throughout the early elementary school years. Priority 2—Influencing the Development of Non-Cognitive Factors Projects that are designed to improve students’ mastery of non-cognitive skills and behaviors (such as academic behaviors, academic mindset, perseverance, self-regulation, social and emotional skills, and approaches toward learning strategies) and enhance student motivation and engagement in learning. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 Priority 3—Promoting Personalized Learning Projects that are designed to improve student academic outcomes and close academic opportunity or attainment gaps through one or both of the following: (a) Implementing Personalized Learning approaches that will ensure appropriate support and produce academic excellence for all students. (b) Awarding credit or Digital Credentials based on Personalized Learning or adaptive assessments of academic performance, cognitive growth, or behavioral improvements and aligned with college- and careerready standards. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 Priority 4—Supporting High-Need Students (a) Projects that are designed to improve: (i) Academic outcomes; (ii) Learning environments; or (iii) Both, (b) For one or more of the following groups of students: (i) High-need Students. (ii) Students served by Rural Local Educational Agencies. (iii) Students with disabilities. (iv) English learners. (v) Students in Lowest-performing Schools. (vi) Students who are living in poverty and are served by schools with high concentrations of students living in poverty. (vii) Disconnected Youth or migrant youth. (viii) Low-skilled Adults. (ix) Students who are members of federally recognized Indian tribes. Priority 5—Increasing Postsecondary Access, Affordability, and Completion Projects that are designed to address one or more of the following: (a) Reducing the net cost, median student loan debt, and likelihood of student loan default for High-need Students who enroll in college, other postsecondary education, or other career and technical education. (b) Increasing the number and proportion of High-need Students who are academically prepared for, enroll in, or complete on time college, other postsecondary education, or other career and technical education. (c) Increasing the number and proportion of High-need Students who, through college preparation, awareness, recruitment, application, selection, and other activities and strategies, enroll in or complete college, other postsecondary education, or other career and technical education. (d) Increasing the number of individuals who return to the educational system to obtain a Regular High School Diploma or its recognized equivalent; enroll in and complete college, other postsecondary education, or career and technical training; or obtain basic and academic skills that they need to succeed in college, other postsecondary education, other career and technical education, or the workforce. (e) Increasing the number and proportion of High-need Students, particularly Low-skilled Adults, individuals with disabilities, and Disconnected Youth or youth who are at risk of becoming disconnected, who PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 73451 enroll in and complete postsecondary programs. (f) Supporting the development and implementation of high-quality online or hybrid credit-bearing and accessible learning opportunities that reduce the cost of higher education, reduce time to degree completion, or allow students to progress at their own pace. Priority 6—Improving Job-Driven Training and Employment Outcomes Projects that are designed to improve job-driven training and employment outcomes through a focus on one or more of the following: (a) Increasing Employer Engagement. (b) Providing work-based learning opportunities (such as Registered Apprenticeships, other apprenticeships, internships, externships, on-the-job training, co-operative learning, practica, and work experience) for Low-skilled Adults or other High-need Students. (c) Integrating education and training into a career pathways program or system that offers connected education and training (such as education and training programs offered by community colleges or other institutions of higher education), related Stackable Credentials, and support services that enable Low-skilled Adults or other High-need Students to obtain industryrecognized credentials and obtain employment within an occupational area with the potential to advance to higher levels of education and employment in that area.14 (d) Providing Labor Market Information, career information, advising, counseling, job search assistance, and other supports, such as performance-based or other income supports or stipends, transportation and child care assistance and information, that facilitate credential attainment, employability, and job tenure. (e) Using Labor Market Information to inform the focus of programs and to guide jobseekers in choosing the types of employment or fields of study, training, or credentials to pursue. (f) Improving the knowledge and skills of service providers that will enable the providers to better assist their customers to obtain the competencies and job skills that are needed in the competitive labor market. 14 Examples of such integration include partnering or coordinating with other programs that provide job training and employment services, including American Job Centers and other programs authorized by the Workforce Investment Act or the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM 10DEN2 73452 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / Notices Priority 7—Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Projects that are designed to improve Student Achievement or other related outcomes by addressing one or more of the following: (a) Increasing the preparation of teachers or other educators in STEM subjects through activities that may include building content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge, and increasing the number and quality of Authentic STEM Experiences. (b) Providing students with increased access to rigorous and engaging STEM coursework and Authentic STEM Experiences that may be integrated across multiple settings. (c) Identifying and implementing instructional strategies, systems, and structures that improve postsecondary learning and retention, resulting in completion of a degree in a STEM field. (d) Increasing the number of individuals from groups that have been historically under-represented in STEM, including minorities, individuals with disabilities, and women, who are provided with access to rigorous and engaging coursework in STEM or who are prepared for postsecondary study and careers in STEM. (e) Supporting local or regional partnerships to give students access to real-world STEM experiences and to give educators access to high-quality STEM-related professional learning. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 Priority 8—Implementing Internationally Benchmarked Collegeand Career-Ready Standards and Assessments Projects that are designed to support the implementation of, and transition to, internationally benchmarked collegeand career-ready standards and assessments, including projects in one or more of the following: (a) Developing and implementing student assessments (such as formative assessments, interim assessments, and summative assessments) or performance-based tools that are aligned with those standards, that are accessible to all students. (b) Developing and implementing teacher or principal professional development or preparation programs that are aligned with those standards. (c) Developing and implementing strategies that use the standards and information from assessments to inform classroom practices that meet the needs of all students. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 Priority 9—Improving Teacher Effectiveness and Promoting Equitable Access to Effective Teachers Projects that are designed to address one or more of the following: (a) Increasing the number and percentage of effective teachers in Lowest-performing Schools, schools in Rural Local Educational Agencies, or schools with high concentrations of students from low-income families and minority students, through such activities as: (i) Improving the preparation, recruitment, selection, and early career development of teachers; implementing performance-based certification systems; reforming compensation and advancement systems; and reforming hiring timelines and systems. (ii) Improving the retention of effective teachers through such activities as creating or enhancing opportunities for teachers’ professional growth; delivering professional development to teachers that is relevant, effective, and outcome-oriented; reforming compensation and advancement systems; and improving workplace conditions to create opportunities for successful teaching and learning. (b) Promoting equitable access to effective teachers for students from lowincome families and minority students across and within schools and districts. For the purposes of this priority, teacher effectiveness must be measured using a High-quality Teacher Evaluation and Support System. Priority 10—Improving the Effectiveness of Principals 15 Projects that are designed to increase the number and percentage of highly effective principals by addressing one or more of the following: (a) Creating or expanding practices and strategies to recruit, select, prepare, and support talented individuals to lead and significantly improve instruction in Lowest-performing Schools, schools in Rural Local Educational Agencies, or schools with high concentrations of High-need Students. (b) Identifying, implementing, and supporting policies and school and district conditions that facilitate efforts by principals to turn around Lowestperforming Schools. (c) Creating or expanding principal preparation programs that include clinical experiences, induction and other supports for program participants, strategies for tracking the effect that program graduates have on teaching and 15 For the purpose of this priority, the term ‘‘principal’’ also refers to an assistant principal. PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 learning, and coursework that is aligned with pre-kindergarten through grade 12 college- and career-ready standards. (d) Implementing professional development for current principals, especially in Lowest-performing Schools, that is designed to improve teacher and student learning by supporting principals in their mastery of essential instructional and organizational leadership skills. (e) Implementing practices or strategies that support districts in hiring, evaluating, supporting, and retaining effective principals. For the purposes of this priority, principal effectiveness must be measured using a High-quality Principal Evaluation and Support System. Priority 11—Leveraging Technology To Support Instructional Practice and Professional Development Projects that are designed to leverage technology through one or more of the following: (a) Using high-speed Internet access and devices to increase students’ and educators’ access to high-quality accessible digital tools, assessments, and materials, particularly Open Educational Resources. (b) Implementing high-quality accessible digital tools, assessments, and materials that are aligned with rigorous college- and career-ready standards. (c) Implementing high-quality, accessible online courses, online learning communities, or online simulations, such as those for which educators could earn professional development credit or continuing education units through Digital Credentials based on demonstrated mastery of competencies and performance-based outcomes, instead of traditional time-based metrics. (d) Using data platforms that enable the development, visualization, and rapid analysis of data to inform and improve learning outcomes, while also protecting privacy in accordance with applicable laws. Priority 12—Promoting Diversity Projects that are designed to prepare students for success in an increasingly diverse workforce and society by increasing the diversity, including racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity, of students enrolled in individual schools or postsecondary programs; or, in the case of preschool, elementary, or secondary programs, decreasing the racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic isolation of students who are served by the project. E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM 10DEN2 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / Notices Priority 13—Improving School Climate, Behavioral Supports, and Correctional Education Projects that are designed to improve student outcomes through one or more of the following: (a) Improving school climate through strategies that may include establishing Tiered Behavioral Supports or strengthening student social, emotional, and behavioral skills. (b) Reducing or eliminating disparities in school disciplinary practices for particular groups of students, including minority students and students with disabilities, or reducing or eliminating the use of exclusionary discipline (such as suspensions, expulsions, and unnecessary placements in alternative education programs) by identifying and addressing the root causes of those disparities or uses and promoting alternative disciplinary practices that address the disparities or uses. (c) Improving the quality of educational programs in juvenile justice facilities (such as detention facilities and secure and non-secure placements) or adult correctional facilities, or supporting re-entry after release, by linking the youth or adults to education or job training programs. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 Priority 14—Improving Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Projects that are designed to improve student outcomes through one or more of the following: (a) Developing and implementing Systemic Initiatives to improve Parent and Family Engagement by expanding and enhancing the skills, strategies, and knowledge (including techniques or use of technological tools needed to effectively communicate, advocate, support, and make informed decisions about the student’s education) of parents and families. (b) Providing professional development that enhances the skills and competencies of school or program leaders, principals, teachers, practitioners, or other administrative and support staff to build meaningful relationships with students’ parents or families through Systemic Initiatives that may also support students’ learning at home. (c) Implementing initiatives that improve Community Engagement, the relationships between parents or families and school or program staff by cultivating Sustained Partnerships. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 Priority 15—Supporting Military Families and Veterans Projects that are designed to address the needs of Military- or Veteranconnected Students. Types of Priorities When inviting applications for a competition using one or more priorities, we designate the type of each priority as absolute, competitive preference, or invitational through a notice in the Federal Register. The effect of each type of priority follows: Absolute priority: Under an absolute priority, we consider only applications that meet the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(3)). Competitive preference priority: Under a competitive preference priority, we give competitive preference to an application by (1) awarding additional points, depending on the extent to which the application meets the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(i)); or (2) selecting an application that meets the priority over an application of comparable merit that does not meet the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(ii)). Invitational priority: Under an invitational priority, we are particularly interested in applications that meet the priority. However, we do not give an application that meets the priority a preference over other applications (34 CFR 75.105(c)(1)). Final Definitions Authentic STEM experiences means laboratory, research-based, or experiential learning opportunities in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subject in informal or formal settings. Children with high needs means children from birth through kindergarten entry who are from lowincome families or otherwise in need of special assistance and support, including children who have disabilities or developmental delays; who are English learners; who reside on ‘‘Indian lands’’ as that term is defined by section 8013(7) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA); who are migrant, homeless, or in foster care; and who are other children as identified by the State. Community engagement means the systematic inclusion of community organizations as partners with State educational agencies, local educational agencies, or other educational institutions, or their school or program staff to accomplish activities that may include developing a shared community vision, establishing a shared accountability agreement, participating PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 73453 in shared data-collection and analysis, or establishing community networks that are focused on shared communitylevel outcomes. These organizations may include faith- and communitybased organizations, institutions of higher education (including minorityserving institutions eligible to receive aid under Title III or Title V of the Higher Education Act of 1965), businesses and industries, labor organizations, State and local government entities, or Federal entities other than the Department. Digital credentials means evidence of mastery of specific competencies or performance-based abilities, provided in digital rather than physical medium (such as through digital badges). These digital credentials may then be used to supplement or satisfy continuing education or professional development requirements. Disconnected youth means lowincome individuals, ages 14–24, who are homeless, are in foster care, are involved in the justice system, or are not working or not enrolled in (or at risk of dropping out of) an educational institution. Employer engagement means the active involvement of employers, employer associations, and labor organizations in identifying skills and competencies, validating credentials, designing programs, offering real workplace problem sets, facilitating access to leading-edge equipment and facilities, providing ‘‘return to work’’type professional development opportunities for faculty, and providing work-based learning and mentoring opportunities for participants. Essential domains of school readiness means the domains of language and literacy development, cognition and general knowledge (including early mathematics and early scientific development), approaches toward learning (including the utilization of the arts), physical well-being and motor development (including adaptive skills), and social and emotional development. High-minority school means a school as that term is defined by a local educational agency (LEA), which must define the term in a manner consistent with its State’s Teacher Equity Plan, as required by section 1111(b)(8)(C) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA). The applicant must provide the definition(s) of High-minority Schools used in its application. High-need students means students who are at risk of educational failure or otherwise in need of special assistance and support, such as students who are living in poverty, who attend High- E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM 10DEN2 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 73454 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / Notices minority Schools, who are far below grade level, who have left school before receiving a Regular High School Diploma, who are at risk of not graduating with a diploma on time, who are homeless, who are in foster care, who have been incarcerated, who have disabilities, or who are English learners. High-quality teacher evaluation and support system means a system that provides for continuous improvement of instruction; differentiates performance using at least three performance levels; uses multiple valid measures to determine performance levels, including data on Student Growth as a significant factor and other measures of professional practice; evaluates teachers on a regular basis; provides clear and timely feedback that identifies needs and guides professional development; is developed with teacher and principal involvement; and is used to inform personnel decisions. High-quality principal evaluation and support system means a system that provides for continuous improvement of instruction; differentiates performance using at least three performance levels; uses multiple valid measures to determine performance levels, including data on Student Growth as a significant factor and other measures of professional practice; evaluates principals on a regular basis; provides clear and timely feedback that identifies needs and guides professional development; is developed with teacher and principal involvement; and is used to inform personnel decisions. Labor market information means data on current and projected local, regional, State, and national labor markets, such as the number and type of available jobs, future demand, job characteristics, training and skills requirements, and the composition, characteristics, and skills of the labor force. Low-skilled adult means an adult with low literacy and numeracy skills. Lowest-performing schools means— For a State with an approved request for flexibility under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA, Priority Schools or Tier I and Tier II Schools that have been identified under the School Improvement Grants program. For any other State, Tier I and Tier II Schools that have been identified under the School Improvement Grants program. Military- or veteran-connected student means— (a) A child participating in an early learning and development program, a student enrolled in preschool through grade 12, or a student enrolled in postsecondary education or career and VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 technical training who has a parent or guardian who is a member of the uniformed services (as defined by 37 U.S.C. 101, in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, National Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or Public Health Service); (b) A student who is a member of the uniformed services, a veteran of the uniformed services, or the spouse of a service member or veteran; or (c) A child participating in an early learning and development program or a student enrolled in preschool through grade 12 who has a parent or guardian who is a veteran of the uniformed services (as defined by 37 U.S.C. 101). Open educational resources means teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and repurposing by others. Parent and family engagement means the systematic inclusion of parents and families, working in partnership with State educational agencies (SEAs), State lead agencies (under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or the State’s Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant), local educational agencies (LEAs), or other educational institutions, or their staff, in their child’s education, which may include strengthening the ability of (a) parents and families to support their child’s education; and (b) school or program staff to work with parents and families. Persistently-lowest achieving school means, as determined by the State— (a)(1) Any Title I school that has been identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring under section 1116 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA) and that— (i) Is among the lowest-achieving five percent of Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring or the lowest-achieving five Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring in the State, whichever number of schools is greater; or (ii) Is a high school that has had a graduation rate, as defined in 34 CFR 200.19(b), that is less than 60 percent over a number of years; and (2) Any secondary school that is eligible for, but does not receive, Title I funds that— (i) Is among the lowest-achieving five percent of secondary schools or the lowest-achieving five secondary schools in the State that are eligible for, but do PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 not receive, Title I funds, whichever number of schools is greater; or (ii) Is a high school that has had a graduation rate, as defined in 34 CFR 200.19(b), that is less than 60 percent over a number of years. (b) To identify the lowest-achieving schools, a State must take into account both— (i) The academic achievement of the ‘‘all students’’ group in a school in terms of proficiency on the State’s assessments under section 1111(b)(3) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA), in reading/language arts and mathematics combined; and (ii) The school’s lack of progress on those assessments over a number of years in the ‘‘all students’’ group. Personalized learning means instruction that is aligned with rigorous college- and career-ready standards so that the pace of learning and the instructional approach are tailored to the needs of individual learners. Learning objectives and content, as well as the pace, may all vary depending on a learner’s needs. In addition, learning activities are aligned with specific interests of each learner. Data from a variety of sources (including formative assessments, student feedback, and progress in digital learning activities), along with teacher recommendations, are often used to personalize learning. Priority schools means schools that, based on the most recent data available, have been identified as among the lowest-performing schools in the State. The total number of Priority Schools in a State must be at least five percent of the Title I schools in the State. A priority school is— (a) A school among the lowest five percent of Title I schools in the State based on the achievement of the ‘‘all students’’ group in terms of proficiency on the statewide assessments that are part of the SEA’s differentiated recognition, accountability, and support system, combined, and has demonstrated a lack of progress on those assessments over a number of years in the ‘‘all students’’ group; (b) A Title I-participating or Title Ieligible high school with a graduation rate that is less than 60 percent over a number of years; or (c) A Tier I or Tier II school under the School Improvement Grant (SIG) program that is using SIG funds to implement a school intervention model. Regular high school diploma means the standard high school diploma that is awarded to students in the State and that is fully aligned with the State’s academic content standards or a higher diploma and does not include a General E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM 10DEN2 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / Notices Education Development (GED) credential, certificate of attendance, or any alternative award. Rural local educational agency means a local educational agency (LEA) that is eligible under the Small Rural School Achievement (SRSA) program or the Rural and Low-Income School (RLIS) program authorized under Title VI, Part B of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA). Eligible applicants may determine whether a particular LEA is eligible for these programs by referring to information on the Department’s Web site at www2.ed.gov/nclb/freedom/local/ reap.html. Stackable credentials means credentials that are part of a sequence of credentials that can be accumulated over time to increase an individual’s qualifications and help him or her to advance along a career pathway to different and potentially higher-paying jobs. Student achievement means— For grades and subjects in which assessments are required under section 1111(b)(3) of the Elementary and Secondary Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA): (1) A student’s score on such assessments; and, as appropriate (2) other measures of student learning, such as those described in the subsequent paragraph, provided that they are rigorous and comparable across schools within a local educational agency (LEA). For grades and subjects in which assessments are not required under section 1111(b)(3) of the ESEA: (1) Alternative measures of student learning and performance, such as student results on pre-tests, end-of-course tests, and objective performance-based assessments; (2) student learning objectives; (3) student performance on English language proficiency assessments; and (4) other measures of student achievement that are rigorous and comparable across schools within an LEA. Student growth means the change in Student Achievement for an individual student between two or more points in time. Sustained partnership means a relationship that has demonstrably adequate resources and other support to continue beyond the funding period and that consist of community organizations as partners with a local educational agency and one or more of its schools. These organizations may include faithand community-based organizations, institutions of higher education (including minority-serving institutions eligible to receive aid under Title III or Title V of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA)), businesses and industries, VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 labor organizations, State and local government entities, or Federal entities other than the Department. Systemic initiative means a policy, program, or activity that includes Parent and Family Engagement as a core component and is designed to meet critical educational goals, such as school readiness, Student Achievement, and school turnaround. Tier I schools means— (a) A Title I school that has been identified as in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring under section 1116 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA) and that is identified by the SEA under paragraph (a)(1) of the definition of Persistently-lowest Achieving School. (b) An elementary school that is eligible for Title I, Part A funds that— (1)(i) Has not made adequate yearly progress for at least two consecutive years; or (ii) Is in the State’s lowest quintile of performance based on proficiency rates on the State’s assessments under section 1111(b)(3) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA) in reading/language arts and mathematics combined; and (2) Is no higher achieving than the highest-achieving school identified by the SEA under paragraph (a)(1)(i) of the definition of Persistently-lowest Achieving School. Tier II schools means— (a) A secondary school that is eligible for, but does not receive, Title I, Part A funds and is identified by the State educational agency (SEA) under paragraph (a)(2) of the definition of Persistently-lowest Achieving Schools. (b) A secondary school that is eligible for Title I, Part A funds that— (1)(i) Has not made adequate yearly progress for at least two consecutive years; or (ii) Is in the State’s lowest quintile of performance based on proficiency rates on the State’s assessments under section 1111(b)(3) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA), in reading/language arts and mathematics combined; and (2)(i) Is no higher achieving than the highest-achieving school identified by the SEA under paragraph (a)(2)(i) of the definition of Persistently-lowest Achieving School; or (ii) Is a high school that has had a graduation rate, as defined in 34 CFR 200.19(b), that is less than 60 percent over a number of years. Tiered behavioral supports means a continuum of increasingly intensive and evidence-based social, emotional, and behavioral supports, including a framework of universal strategies for PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4703 73455 students, school staff, and relevant external partners to promote positive behavior and data-based strategies to match more intensive supports to individual student needs. This notice does not preclude us from proposing additional priorities, requirements, definitions, or selection criteria, subject to meeting applicable rulemaking requirements. Note: This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in which we choose to use one or more of these priorities and definitions, we invite applications through a notice in the Federal Register. Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 Regulatory Impact Analysis Under Executive Order 12866, the Secretary must determine whether this regulatory action is ‘‘significant’’ and, therefore, subject to the requirements of the Executive order and subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866 defines a ‘‘significant regulatory action’’ as an action likely to result in a rule that may— (1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more, or adversely affect a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or tribal governments or communities in a material way (also referred to as an ‘‘economically significant’’ rule); (2) Create serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency; (3) Materially alter the budgetary impacts of entitlement grants, user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients thereof; or (4) Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the President’s priorities, or the principles stated in the Executive order. This final regulatory action is a significant regulatory action subject to review by OMB under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866. We have also reviewed this final regulatory action under Executive Order 13563, which supplements and explicitly reaffirms the principles, structures, and definitions governing regulatory review established in Executive Order 12866. To the extent permitted by law, Executive Order 13563 requires that an agency— (1) Propose or adopt regulations only upon a reasoned determination that their benefits justify their costs (recognizing that some benefits and costs are difficult to quantify); (2) Tailor its regulations to impose the least burden on society, consistent with E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM 10DEN2 73456 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES2 obtaining regulatory objectives and taking into account—among other things and to the extent practicable—the costs of cumulative regulations; (3) In choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, select those approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety, and other advantages; distributive impacts; and equity); (4) To the extent feasible, specify performance objectives, rather than the behavior or manner of compliance a regulated entity must adopt; and (5) Identify and assess available alternatives to direct regulation, including economic incentives—such as user fees or marketable permits—to encourage the desired behavior, or provide information that enables the public to make choices. Executive Order 13563 also requires an agency ‘‘to use the best available techniques to quantify anticipated present and future benefits and costs as accurately as possible.’’ The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of OMB has emphasized that these techniques may include ‘‘identifying changing future compliance costs that might result from technological innovation or anticipated behavioral changes.’’ We are issuing these final priorities and definitions only on a reasoned determination that their benefits justify their costs. In choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, we selected those approaches that maximize net benefits. Based on the analysis that follows, the Department believes that this regulatory action is consistent with the principles in Executive Order 13563. We also have determined that this regulatory action would not unduly interfere with State, local, and tribal governments in the exercise of their governmental functions. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:24 Dec 09, 2014 Jkt 235001 In accordance with both Executive orders, the Department has assessed the potential costs and benefits, both quantitative and qualitative, of this regulatory action. The potential costs associated with this regulatory action are those resulting from regulatory requirements and those we have determined as necessary for administering the Department’s programs and activities. Discussion of Costs and Benefits The final priorities and definitions do not impose significant costs on entities that receive assistance through the Department’s discretionary grant programs. Additionally, the benefits of implementing the priorities contained in this document outweigh any associated costs because they result in the Department’s discretionary grant programs selecting high-quality applications to implement activities that are most likely to have a significant national effect on educational reform and improvement. Application submission and participation in a discretionary grant program are voluntary. The Secretary believes that the costs imposed on applicants by the final priorities and definitions are to be limited to paperwork burden related to preparing an application for a discretionary grant program that is using one or more of the final priorities and definitions in its competition. Because the costs of carrying out activities will be paid for with program funds, the costs of implementation will not be a burden for any eligible applicants, including small entities. Regulatory Flexibility Act Certification For these reasons as well, the Secretary certifies that these final priorities and definitions do not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 9990 Intergovernmental Review: Some of the programs affected by these final priorities and definitions are subject to Executive Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79. One of the objectives of the Executive order is to foster an intergovernmental partnership and a strengthened federalism. The Executive order relies on processes developed by State and local governments for coordination and review of proposed Federal financial assistance. Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this document in an accessible format (such as braille, large print, audiotape, or compact disc) on request to the program contact person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. Electronic Access to This Document: 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 through the Federal Digital System at: www.gpo.gov/fdsys. At this site you can 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). To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at the site. You may also access documents of the Department published in the Federal Register by using the article search feature at: www.federalregister.gov. Specifically, through the advanced search feature at this site, you can limit your search to documents published by the Department. Dated: December 4, 2014. Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education. [FR Doc. 2014–28911 Filed 12–9–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000–01–P E:\FR\FM\10DEN2.SGM 10DEN2

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 237 (Wednesday, December 10, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 73425-73456]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-28911]



[[Page 73425]]

Vol. 79

Wednesday,

No. 237

December 10, 2014

Part III





Department of Education





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Secretary's Final Supplemental Priorities and Definitions for 
Discretionary Grant Programs; Notice

Federal Register / Vol. 79 , No. 237 / Wednesday, December 10, 2014 / 
Notices

[[Page 73426]]


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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

[Docket ID ED-2013-OII-0146]
RIN 1894-AA04


Secretary's Final Supplemental Priorities and Definitions for 
Discretionary Grant Programs

AGENCY: Department of Education.

ACTION: Final priorities and definitions.

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SUMMARY: To support a comprehensive education agenda, the Secretary of 
Education establishes 15 priorities and related definitions for use in 
any appropriate discretionary grant program for fiscal year (FY) 2015 
and future years. These priorities and definitions replace the 
supplemental priorities for discretionary grant programs that were 
published in 2010 and corrected in 2011. These priorities reflect the 
lessons learned from implementing discretionary grant programs, as well 
as our current policy objectives and emerging needs in education.

DATES: Effective Date: These supplemental priorities and definitions 
are effective January 9, 2015.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Allison Moss, U.S. Department of 
Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 4W319, Washington, DC 20202. 
Telephone: (202) 205-7726 or by email: allison.moss@ed.gov.
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) or a text 
telephone (TTY), call the Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1-
800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Executive Summary

    Purpose of This Regulatory Action: The Secretary has outlined a 
comprehensive education agenda that includes support for early learning 
and development programs that prepare children to succeed in school; 
elementary and secondary education programs that prepare students to 
succeed in college, career, and life; and postsecondary programs that 
prepare students to be competitive in the workforce. These final 
priorities and definitions may be used across the Department of 
Education's (the Department) discretionary grant programs to further 
the Department's mission to promote Student Achievement \1\ and global 
competitiveness.
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    \1\ Defined terms are used throughout this document and are 
indicated by capitalization.
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    Summary of the Major Provisions of This Regulatory Action: This 
regulatory action announces 15 supplemental priorities and relevant 
definitions. Each major provision is discussed in the Public Comment 
section of this document.

    Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1221e-3, 3474.

    We published a notice of proposed priorities and definitions (NPP) 
in the Federal Register on June 24, 2014 (79 FR 35736). That document 
contained background information and our reasons for proposing the 
particular priorities and definitions.
    Public Comment: In response to our invitation in the NPP, more than 
1,600 parties submitted comments on the proposed priorities and 
definitions.
    We group major issues according to subject. Generally, we do not 
address technical and other minor changes.
    Analysis of Comments and Changes: An analysis of the comments and 
any changes in the priorities and definitions since publication of the 
notice of proposed priorities and definitions follows.

General

    Comment: Over 1,000 commenters urged the Department to include in 
this notice of final priorities (NFP) a priority on a specific content 
area in education. Many of these commenters expressed support for a new 
priority focused on history and civic learning, but several commenters 
also wrote in support of the arts, foreign languages, geography, 
economics, and social studies. These commenters, in general, stated 
that it is inappropriate to include a priority that promotes science, 
technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education without 
focusing on other educational areas such as history, civic learning, 
and social studies. One commenter suggested that if a new priority 
focused on such subjects was not possible, we amend all of the 15 
proposed priorities to require that applicants demonstrate knowledge of 
peoples, cultures, and histories within that applicant's region.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenters' concern that these 
priorities do not highlight content areas equally. While we do include 
Priority 7, which promotes STEM education and access to rigorous 
coursework in those subjects, but not priorities for other content 
areas, we clearly discuss our reasoning for focusing on STEM learning 
in the background section for Priority 7 in the NPP.
    Most of the priorities, as written, could be used to support any 
type of content area or classroom. For example, an applicant proposing 
a project designed to address Priority 2--Influencing the Development 
of Non-Cognitive Factors could do so using a strategy that includes 
creative arts expression. In addition, under Priority 9--Improving 
Teacher Effectiveness and Promoting Equitable Access to Effective 
Teachers, projects that recruit, select, develop, support, and retain 
effective teachers could be designed with the specific needs of a 
history, social studies, foreign language, or civic education teacher 
in mind. As such, we do not think specific priorities in the 
recommended content areas are necessary.
    We appreciate the commenter's suggestion that, if inclusion of a 
priority on history and civic learning is not possible, we change all 
of our priorities to ensure that applicants approach their proposed 
projects with the full context of the communities they propose to serve 
in mind. We agree that, to implement projects successfully, grant 
recipients should consider the history and characteristics of the 
communities they serve. However, applicants already have adequate 
incentives to demonstrate that they understand the community they 
intend to serve through their responses to the selection criteria used 
by the Department in its discretionary grant competitions to solicit 
information from applicants, such as how the proposed project would 
work, why the proposed project is necessary, and if the applicant has 
the necessary resources and experience to successfully implement the 
proposed project. In addition to program-specific selection criteria, 
general selection criteria are available in 34 CFR 75.210 for the 
Department to use, when appropriate, and the Department can develop 
selection criteria under 34 CFR 75.209 for use in any discretionary 
grant program. Including such a focus in each priority is therefore 
unnecessary.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters asked that the Department include 
priorities on additional general topics. One commenter asked the 
Department to prioritize secondary and postsecondary transitions. 
Another commenter requested that we prioritize emerging fields of study 
that are important to national security and global competitiveness, 
such as computer science. A third commenter asked that we include a 
priority that would support school personnel who are not teachers or 
principals, but who are still critical to student success.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenters that transitions, national 
security and global competitiveness, and school support staff are 
important issues that merit attention. However, we

[[Page 73427]]

think that these topics are addressed in the final priorities.
    For example, we think that smooth transitions from secondary to 
postsecondary education could be part of a project under Priority 8, 
which focuses on implementation of internationally benchmarked college- 
and career-ready standards and assessments. In addition, a program 
using subpart (c) of Priority 5--Improving Postsecondary Access, 
Affordability, and Completion would seek projects that are designed to 
increase the number and proportion of High-need Students who are 
prepared to enroll in and complete college, other postsecondary 
education, or other career and technical education, thus improving 
transitions to postsecondary education.
    These final priorities reflect a comprehensive education agenda 
that supports projects that improve student outcomes and prepare 
students for success in their careers and in life. Improving the 
education of the Nation's students would have the ancillary effect of 
improved national security and global competitiveness. Further, we 
expect that use of Priority 7 to promote STEM education and improve 
Student Achievement in these areas will spur technological innovation, 
creation, and study across the Nation. The commenter references 
computer science as a particularly important field of study, and we 
note that computer science falls clearly within the scope of the STEM 
fields addressed in Priority 7.
    Finally, we agree with the commenter that school support staff, in 
addition to teachers and principals, can play integral roles in 
improving student academic outcomes. We think that projects that are 
designed to support such staff could be proposed under several 
priorities, including Priority 2--Influencing the Development of Non-
Cognitive Factors, Priority 4--Supporting High-Need Students, Priority 
13--Improving School Climate, Behavioral Supports, and Correctional 
Education, and Priority 14--Improving Parent, Family, and Community 
Engagement
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Some commenters requested a separate priority focusing on 
partnerships, including school and community partnerships, and support 
for intermediaries. One commenter proposed adding a priority on 
utilizing the collective impact of such partnerships, including 
subparts on implementing a shared community vision, integrating 
professional expertise and data to make decisions, creating networks of 
cross-sector practitioners, and building civic infrastructure through 
committed resources. Another commenter recommended a priority that will 
support projects that leverage national service initiatives.
    Discussion: We agree that partnerships, whether they are school and 
community partnerships or partnerships with other intermediaries, 
provide opportunities to leverage resources to either increase a 
project's effectiveness or its ability to reach more students. However, 
we do not agree with the recommendation of a priority that focuses 
solely on the establishment of such partnerships, and note that 
applicants could form partnerships to address any of the priorities 
proposed in the NPP.
    It is important to note that the Department may use factors from 
the general selection criteria in 34 CFR 75.210 and criteria developed 
under 34 CFR 75.209 to encourage the types of efforts described by the 
commenters. For example, 34 CFR 75.210(c) (Quality of the project 
design) includes factors that ask applicants to describe the extent to 
which the proposed project is supported by evidence and will integrate 
with, or build on, similar or related efforts, using existing funding 
streams from other programs or policies supported by community, State, 
and Federal resources. The Department has discretion in choosing 
whether to use the selection criteria and, if so, which selection 
criteria and factors are most appropriate for a given competition.
    Changes: None.
    Comments: Several commenters provided suggestions to strengthen the 
background sections for each priority included in the NPP.
    Discussion: We appreciate the feedback we received on the 
background sections included in the NPP, which explain our rationale 
for each proposed priority. We do not include background sections for 
priorities in the NFP. Therefore, we are not making any changes in 
response to these comments.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter urged the Department to use the priorities 
and selection criteria related to building evidence of effectiveness in 
the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) in 
combination with these priorities.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenter's suggestion and note that 
this combination is already possible. For a discretionary grant 
program, the Department already may use the evidence-related 
competitive preference priorities in 34 CFR 75.266 (What procedures 
does the Secretary use if the Secretary decides to give special 
consideration to applications supported by strong or moderate evidence 
of effectiveness?) or selection criteria in 34 CFR 75.210 (General 
selection criteria) or developed under 34 CFR 75.209 so long as the 
priority or criteria are consistent with the program's authorizing 
statute and purpose.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters were concerned that we are including too 
many priorities, and that it would be difficult to determine which of 
the priorities are most important. One commenter noted that it is 
confusing to include so many supplemental priorities in addition to the 
selection criteria and factors available in 34 CFR 75.210, and that so 
many emphases create unrest in the education field. Another commenter 
stated that all 15 priorities are not suitable for some discretionary 
grant programs, and may add unnecessary burden for applicants. In the 
same vein, another commenter strongly encouraged us to consider funding 
those programs using these priorities at levels appropriate for 
successful implementation of projects designed to address them.
    Some commenters also suggested strategies to better organize the 
priorities. For example, one commenter suggested we group the 
priorities into broader categories.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenters' concerns and suggestions, 
and want to clarify the purpose of these supplemental priorities. These 
priorities are intended as options for the Department to use when 
announcing a discretionary grant program competition. For each grant 
program the Department may choose which, if any, of the priorities (or 
subparts) and definitions included in this NFP are appropriate for the 
competition with regard to feasibility and scope. The Department has 
the discretion to choose which priorities should be used in each 
competition, and how the priority would apply; for example, a priority 
may be used as an absolute priority, meaning that applicants that 
propose projects under that priority would need to address the priority 
to be eligible to receive funds. A priority could also be used as a 
competitive preference priority, meaning that applicants that propose 
projects addressing that priority could receive additional points for 
their applications, depending on how well they do so. Although we 
publish 15 priorities in this NFP, we will use only those priorities 
that are relevant to and appropriate for the particular program. 
Furthermore, the Department is not required to use any of these 
priorities for any particular program.

[[Page 73428]]

    In addition, we think it is important to clarify how selection 
criteria are used in discretionary grant competitions as compared to 
absolute and competitive preference priorities. Selection criteria 
developed under 34 CFR 75.209 and general selection criteria from 34 
CFR 75.210 may be used to focus applicants on how they would meet 
statutory or regulatory requirements of a program, and encourage 
applicants to describe how well they are positioned to implement their 
proposed projects. For example, 34 CFR 75.210(c) (Quality of the 
project design) asks applicants to describe the project's logic model, 
or theory of action. These factors are content neutral, and, if used, 
may help the Department to fund well-designed and thoughtful projects 
that are proposed by capable applicants.
    Conversely, absolute, competitive preference, and invitational 
priorities are used in discretionary grant competitions to guide 
applicants to propose projects that respond to a specific need, such as 
increasing completion rates for High-need Students at the postsecondary 
level, or improving family engagement efforts in schools. Thus, the 
priorities used in discretionary grant competitions instruct applicants 
in what to propose in their applications, while the Department uses 
selection criteria to assess how well the applicants could implement 
their proposed projects within the context of the priorities, in 
addition to the underlying statute and any applicable rules or 
regulations. Finally, we do not think that grouping priorities is 
necessary since they are designed so that each discretionary grant 
program may use one or a combination of several priorities in its 
competition, as appropriate; and further grouping could limit 
flexibility in using the priorities.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that, in establishing the 
Supplemental Priorities, the Department is inappropriately bypassing 
the legislative process, and providing itself with total discretion 
over how each priority will be used in discretionary grant programs.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenter's concerns; however, the 
Department is not bypassing the legislative process. Section 410 of the 
General Education Provisions Act (GEPA) authorizes the Secretary ``to 
make, promulgate, issue, rescind, and amend rules and regulations 
governing the manner of operation of, and governing the applicable 
programs administered by, the Department.'' (20 U.S.C. 1221e-3.) When 
establishing rules--such as these priorities--the Department is 
required to obtain and consider public comment. (20 U.S.C. 1232(d); see 
also 5 U.S.C. 551, et seq.) Establishing these priorities through 
rulemaking at one time simply enables the Department to avoid the 
expenditure of resources otherwise needed to conduct a separate 
rulemaking for each grant competition for which it would want to apply 
one or more of the priorities. The statutory provisions cited above 
authorize the establishment of these priorities.
    Second, the commenter is correct that the Department will have 
discretion to decide which of the priorities, if any, are applicable to 
a particular discretionary grant competition. However, its decision to 
apply one or more to a particular competition, and to do so as 
absolute, competitive preference, or invitational priorities, must be 
consistent with the statute authorizing the program for which the 
Department has announced that competition and the statutory provisions 
identified in the preceding paragraph. Furthermore, we note that use of 
these priorities in any particular grant competition is not mandatory.
    Finally, to effectively carry out our responsibilities to award 
discretionary grant funds in a timely manner, our administrative 
regulations clearly delineate areas in which the Department may 
exercise discretion. This discretion includes, for example, selecting 
priorities from those established by Department regulations or 
statutory language, program regulations, or statutory provisions; 
deciding whether priorities should be absolute or competitive; and 
establishing selection criteria by which applications will be judged. 
(See, e.g., 34 CFR 75.105, 75.209, and 75.210.) Moreover, supplemental 
priorities that the Department may apply to its grant competitions have 
been available since October 11, 2006 (71 FR 60046).
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter wrote that Priority 2--Influencing the 
Development of Non-Cognitive Factors and Priority 12--Promoting 
Diversity should be eliminated because they do not focus specifically 
on educational outcomes and may conflict with family values.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenter's concern, but are unclear 
on how Priorities 2 and 12 would affect ``family values.'' The 
commenter did not define ``family values,'' so we cannot be certain 
which particular values the commenter considers at risk. We also note 
that Priority 2 and Priority 12 include implicit references to academic 
outcomes: Projects designed to meet Priority 2 would need to improve 
some combination of student academic behaviors, academic mindset, 
perseverance, self-regulation, social and emotional skills, and 
approaches toward learning strategies, and projects designed to meet 
Priority 12 would need to prepare students for success in the 
workforce.
    Changes: None.
    Comments: Two commenters suggested several edits across each 
priority to better reflect afterschool and expanded learning programs.
    Discussion: We thank the commenters for the suggestions, and agree 
that high-quality afterschool and expanded learning programs may be 
effective mechanisms for engaging students, and their families, in 
their academic lives. For this reason, we have modified some of the 
priorities to include a focus on programs such as these in addition to 
schools, thereby broadening the scope of those priorities to include 
afterschool, expanded learning, and other community-based programs.
    Changes: In Priority 1--Improving Early Learning and Development 
Outcomes, Priority 14--Improving Parent, Family, and Community 
Engagement, and the definitions for Community Engagement and Parent and 
Family Engagement, we have included an emphasis on ``programs'' and 
``program staff'' so that community-based programs could be supported 
through these priorities.
    Comment: One commenter urged us to better support projects that are 
designed to increase academic outcomes for students in middle school.
    Discussion: We agree that the middle grades are important to a 
student's overall academic outcomes. We note that projects designed to 
support student success in middle school could meet many of the 
priorities in this NFP; for example, a project designed to implement 
Personalized Learning approaches to ensure appropriate support and 
academic excellence could be targeted at students in the middle grades. 
We prioritize early learning and development and postsecondary access, 
affordability, and completion separately because projects designed to 
address these areas would largely fall outside the kindergarten-
through-12th grade (K-12) sphere, or may seek to improve different 
outcomes that would require a different set of strategies.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter urged the Department to include a priority 
focused on school turnaround, similar to the priority included in the 
current Supplemental Priorities published in 2010 (75 FR 78485) and 
corrected and republished in 2011 (76 FR 27637)

[[Page 73429]]

(2010 Supplemental Priorities). The commenter recognized that a few of 
the proposed priorities referenced teachers or principals who work in 
Lowest-performing Schools, but wished to see specific support for 
Priority Schools in our discretionary grant programs.
    Discussion: In drafting the NPP, the Department considered lessons 
learned in implementing discretionary grant programs. One lesson we 
learned from our implementation of the 2010 Supplemental Priorities was 
that the priority focused on turning around Persistently-lowest 
Achieving Schools was not broadly applicable across our programs. We 
think that integrating such efforts into other priorities may allow us 
to use the discretionary grant programs to encourage turnaround 
initiatives in ways that better align with the programs' purposes. For 
that reason, we decided to approach supporting these schools 
differently by retaining a focus on students in schools that are in 
urgent need of support. As the commenter noted, we included in Priority 
9--Improving Teacher Effectiveness and Promoting Equitable Access to 
Effective Teachers and Priority 10--Improving the Effectiveness of 
Principals references to Lowest-performing Schools. Students in these 
schools are also a focus of Priority 4--Supporting High-Need Students. 
Our definition of Lowest-performing Schools is designed to include 
struggling schools in all States, regardless of whether the State has 
received a flexibility waiver from the Department under the Elementary 
and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA). We do not think 
that including a special priority for school turnaround is necessary in 
this NFP because the students and educators in these schools would be a 
focus of these other priorities.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that we include in the NFP several 
Federal coordination efforts, including joint ventures between the 
Department and the U.S. Department of Labor to create a cooperative 
grant application process, manage contracts, provide team-based 
technical assistance, and promote a particular mechanism for workforce 
program performance reporting.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenter's suggestions, but we 
cannot make the administrative and procedural changes the commenter 
suggested because the purpose of this NFP is to announce final 
priorities and definitions, based on our current policy agenda, for use 
in discretionary grant programs.
    Changes: None.

Priority 1--Improving Early Learning and Development Outcomes

    Comment: One commenter expressed general support for Priority 1 and 
suggested that we incorporate the concept of program leadership into 
the priority, noting that it is a critical factor in program success.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenter's support for this priority 
and agree that leadership is important to the success of any early 
learning and development program. We have revised subpart (b) of 
Priority 1 to emphasize that it includes administrators, which may 
include directors, supervisors, and other early learning and 
development program leaders.
    Change: We have added ``including administrators'' to subpart (b) 
so that it now reads: ``Improving the quality and effectiveness of the 
early learning workforce so that early childhood educators, including 
administrators, have the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to 
improve young children's health, social-emotional, and cognitive 
outcomes.''
    Comment: Several commenters expressed support for mixed-delivery 
models discussed in Priority 1. Two commenters suggested we revise 
subpart (d) to include a focus on community-wide mixed-delivery 
systems.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenters' support for community-
wide mixed-delivery models and agree that they are important. We have 
therefore revised subpart (d) to include a focus on community-based 
programs, which will allow discretionary grant programs to prioritize 
in competitions community-wide mixed-delivery models and other 
community-based strategies.
    Changes: We have added ``whether offered in schools or community-
based settings'' to subpart (d) so that it now reads: ``Including 
preschool, whether offered in schools or community-based settings, as 
part of elementary education programs and systems in order to expand 
opportunities for preschool students and teachers.''
    Comment: Several commenters stated that they appreciated the 
inclusion of the coordination and alignment between early learning and 
development systems and elementary education systems in subpart (c) of 
Priority 1. One commenter noted that, while vertical alignment between 
early learning and development and early elementary programs is 
highlighted in Priority 1, we should also focus on horizontal alignment 
with existing early childhood programs.
    One commenter suggested that we clarify that early learning and 
development systems include early intervention. Three commenters 
suggested that we emphasize meaningful transition planning that 
includes parents and families. Another commenter asked that we 
emphasize knowledge and skills as a way to improve transitions from 
birth through third grade.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenters' support for subpart (c). 
While we do not define ``early learning and development systems'' or 
``early learning and development programs,'' we mention early learning 
and development programs in subpart (a) of Priority 1, which supports 
projects that increase access to high-quality programs, particularly 
for Children with High Needs. Early learning and development programs 
may include early intervention. We do not think that it is necessary to 
include a specific reference to ``knowledge and skills as a way to 
improve transitions from birth through third grade'' because the 
priority does not list the specific strategies that should be used to 
improve the coordination and alignment between early learning and 
development systems and elementary education systems, but rather allows 
applicants the flexibility to propose how they would improve this 
coordination and alignment. We also note that Priority 1 asks that all 
projects be designed to improve one or more outcomes across the 
Essential Domains of School Readiness, which include several examples 
of knowledge and skills.
    We agree with the commenter's suggestion that it would be helpful 
to include in Priority 1 a focus on transition planning, particularly 
for parents and families as their children transition into 
kindergarten. We also appreciate the commenters' suggestions on 
improving coordination among early learning and development programs 
and engaging parents in the transition process.
    Changes: We have changed the language in subpart (c) so that it now 
reads: ``Improving the coordination and alignment among early learning 
and development systems and between such systems and elementary 
education systems, including coordination and alignment in engaging and 
supporting families and improving transitions for children along the 
birth-through-third-grade continuum, in accordance with applicable 
privacy laws.''
    Comment: One commenter expressed strong support for State 
flexibility to establish multiple ways to improve the

[[Page 73430]]

quality and effectiveness of the early learning workforce.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenter's support for State 
flexibility. We believe the priority allows flexibility for applicants 
to focus proposed projects on improving the quality and effectiveness 
of their early learning workforce in accordance with their States' laws 
and approaches.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters suggested that we define terms such as 
``preschool,'' ``early learning provider,'' and ``early learning 
programs.'' One commenter asked that ``preschool'' be defined as early 
learning from birth to age five. Other commenters requested that 
``early learning provider'' and ``early learning programs'' be defined 
and used in a manner consistent with the Preschool Development and 
Expansion grants program. One commenter requested that we clarify that 
parent and family engagement and cultural and linguistic sensitivity 
are important elements of high-quality early learning.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenters' suggestions. We do not 
think it is appropriate to establish a formal definition for 
``preschool'' because, while the term is generally understood to mean 
early education that takes place before kindergarten, each State may 
have different requirements. We note that the term ``early learning 
provider'' is not used in this NFP, nor is the term ``early learning 
program.''
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter asked that we clarify how assessment results 
will be used to determine if our efforts to align preschool with early 
elementary grades are working. The commenter also asserted that the 
assessments should be research-based.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenter's recommendations. While 
the focus of Priority 1 is not primarily on assessments, we think that 
there are several ways in which grantees could use assessments and 
their results to enhance the quality of their projects. For example, 
projects designed to address Priority 1 should improve early learning 
and development outcomes across one or more of the Essential Domains of 
School Readiness, which includes areas of language and literacy 
development, cognition, and general knowledge. We also note that any 
project funded by the Department must be evaluated in accordance with 
34 CFR 75.590 (Evaluation by the grantee). We think that one way in 
which a grant recipient proposing a project designed to address 
Priority 1 could meet this evaluation requirement is by assessing 
students on the Essential Domains of School Readiness that are relevant 
to that project. As such, we do not think it is necessary to include a 
focus on research-based assessments in this NFP.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed concerns regarding the examples 
provided in the background section of the NPP. Specifically, the 
commenter was concerned that an early learning provider that did not 
offer a full-day program, but that had improved early learning and 
development outcomes, would not meet the description of ``high-quality 
early learning'' provided in the background section.
    Discussion: We note that the examples in the background section of 
the NPP were meant to clarify what we mean by ``high-quality early 
learning'' and are not binding. We do not define ``high-quality'' 
because early learning and development programs may cover a wide range 
of age groups from birth through kindergarten entry. Group size, 
ratios, and professional qualifications, for example, will differ 
depending on the age of the children served, and it is therefore 
difficult to set a ``high-quality'' standard that would be appropriate 
for all types of programs for children of different ages.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter asked that we emphasize the effects that 
stress and trauma may have on the development of the brain in Priority 
1.
    Discussion: We appreciate this suggestion from the commenter. We 
think that this concept could be supported already through subpart (b) 
of Priority 1, which references health, socio-emotional, and cognitive 
outcomes. In addition, we think that projects designed to meet Priority 
2--Influencing the Development of Non-Cognitive Factors and Priority 
13--Improving School Climate, Behavioral Supports, and Correctional 
Education could include elements of this suggestion.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters suggested that we include a new subpart in 
Priority 1 focused on increasing the percentage of children who are 
able to read and perform mathematics at grade level by the end of third 
grade.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenters' suggestion but note that 
a change is unnecessary because, given our definition of Essential 
Domains of Schools Readiness, these types of projects would currently 
be covered by the introductory paragraph of the priority: ``Projects 
that are designed to improve early learning and development outcomes 
across one or more of the Essential Domains of Schools Readiness.''
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter noted that early learning should be an 
absolute priority in all discretionary grant competitions. The 
commenter also requested that we refer to ``early learning and 
education'' consistently throughout the NFP to emphasize our cradle-to-
career focus.
    Discussion: These priorities are intended as a menu of options for 
our discretionary grant programs. The Department may choose which, if 
any, of the priorities or subparts are appropriate for a particular 
program competition. If the Department chooses to use the supplemental 
priorities, it also has discretion to decide how the priorities should 
be used in the grant competitions. Furthermore, because some 
discretionary grant programs that may decide to use some of these 
priorities are statutorily required to serve only K-12 or postsecondary 
students (in other words, not early learning students or programs), it 
is not appropriate to require all programs using the Supplemental 
Priorities to include an absolute priority or focus on early learning.
    In addition, we think that using the phrase ``education'' 
throughout the priorities is broad enough to include early learning and 
development. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, the priorities could 
be used in competitions that focus on early learning and development 
programs.
    Changes: None.

Priority 2--Influencing the Development of Non-Cognitive Factors

    Comment: Several commenters expressed support for this priority, 
and many of these commenters also recommended expanding it. Four 
commenters suggested including a focus on tools that appropriately 
measure the development of non-cognitive factors. One commenter 
advocated for the priority supporting the assessment, measurement, and 
design of high-quality instructional tools that provide for students' 
mastery of non-cognitive skills. Three commenters recommended that the 
priority include a focus on professional development for teachers or 
district and school personnel; and two commenters made similar 
recommendations about providing training for parents. One commenter 
noted the importance of teachers, parents, and students learning a 
``growth mindset'' to recognize one's own control of his or her growth 
and achievement.

[[Page 73431]]

    A number of commenters suggested that the Department use the 
priority to encourage the use of specific approaches, including arts 
education, physical education, expanded learning time, and afterschool 
or summer programs. Another commenter noted the importance of 
addressing non-cognitive factors for middle school students.
    Discussion: Although we appreciate the commenters' recommendations 
for how this priority could be expanded, we want to clarify that the 
priority does not prohibit the projects described by the commenters so 
long as the projects are designed to improve students' mastery of non-
cognitive skills and behaviors and enhance student motivation and 
engagement in learning. Applicants have the discretion to determine 
what approach or intervention will best address the priority and meet 
the needs of the targeted student population.
    Finally, because any one of these Supplemental Priorities may be 
used in a variety of discretionary grant programs, we do not think it 
is appropriate to prescribe a specific approach to addressing this 
priority. As such, we decline to revise the priority in a manner that 
might limit its use.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested adding the reduction of 
maladaptive behaviors that interfere with learning as an expected 
outcome of projects funded under this priority.
    Discussion: This priority requires applicants to propose projects 
that would improve students' mastery of non-cognitive skills and 
behaviors and enhance student motivation and engagement in learning. 
These stated outcomes, which are specific to the priority, provide 
applicants with the discretion to develop performance measures that are 
appropriate to their specific contexts and relevant to their proposed 
projects. A performance measure for the reduction of maladaptive 
behaviors may be appropriate for a particular project or discretionary 
grant program, but may not be appropriate for all projects or 
discretionary grant programs that may use the priority. We do not think 
it is necessary to prescribe a performance measure that applicants may 
already use under the expected outcomes that are included in the 
priority.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters discussed the meaning of ``non-cognitive 
factors.'' Specifically, one commenter suggested that the Department 
identify specific indicators of success in school settings, such as 
those indicators referenced in the Division for Early Childhood's 
recent publication on recommended practices in early intervention. 
Another commenter recommended the inclusion of the four academic 
mindsets that are discussed in the University of Chicago Consortium of 
Chicago School Research June 2012 publication (i.e., sense of 
belonging, implicit theories of ability, self-efficacy, and expectancy-
value theory). The commenter noted that these mindsets help students 
identify their educational and social needs as well as intellectual and 
emotional development needs, which provides a critical connection 
between college readiness and college fit.
    Discussion: Research on non-cognitive skills and behaviors is 
emerging. We recognize that the education field does not have a 
standard definition for non-cognitive factors, and we have not defined 
that term here. Rather, we provided examples of non-cognitive skills 
and behaviors in the priority. By using examples that reflect current 
research, we aim to provide a common understanding of our intent for 
the priority while also allowing applicants the flexibility to adjust 
as new research emerges.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Five commenters expressed support for the priority, but 
requested that the Department change its title. One commenter noted 
that the behavior and processes that the Department includes in ``non-
cognitive factors'' involve cognition and suggested the Department use 
the term ``metacognitive learning skills'' instead. Another commenter 
recommended using ``foundational skills'' because those skills are 
inherently embedded in cognitive processes. Three commenters offered 
``social and emotional skills,'' ``social and emotional competency,'' 
or ``social and intellectual habits'' as alternative titles for the 
priority.
    Discussion: We recognize and appreciate the concerns of the 
commenters and the potential risk of using a term that suggests that 
cognition is not involved in the process of developing the skills and 
behaviors covered under this priority. However, we also realize that 
``non-cognitive'' is a term that is commonly used and understood in the 
education field and that broad consensus has not been reached on a new 
term that would replace it.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter applauded this priority, and encouraged the 
Department to consider the difference between beliefs and skills, the 
need for students to develop non-cognitive factors at both the 
classroom and cultural levels, and the importance of continuing funding 
for the practical application of researched interventions. Another 
commenter noted the importance of using empirical research on targeted 
non-cognitive interventions to spread the use of effective programs.
    Discussion: Priority 2 could support projects that may address the 
issues raised by the commenters. We do not think that it is necessary 
to revise the priority to require research, because the Department has 
discretion to select factors from 34 CFR 75.210(c) (Quality of the 
project design) to encourage applicants to provide evidence or a 
reasonable hypothesis in support of their proposed projects. Under 34 
CFR 75.266 (What procedures does the Secretary use if the Secretary 
decides to give special consideration to applications supported by 
strong or moderate evidence of effectiveness?), the Department has the 
discretion to provide incentives to applicants that propose projects 
based on rigorous evidence through the use of competitive preference or 
absolute priorities. Finally, the Department has the discretion to 
select factors from 34 CFR 75.210(h) (Quality of the project 
evaluation) to encourage applicants to design project evaluations that 
are appropriate for the areas of study and research goals for a 
particular program.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter urged the Department to revise the priority 
to clarify that projects must set high expectations for all students, 
including students with disabilities. Another commenter noted that it 
is particularly important for students with learning and attention 
issues to develop non-cognitive skills.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenters that it is important to 
set high expectations for all students, including students with 
disabilities. This priority includes all students, and does not include 
language limiting its focus to a subset of students. As the language of 
the priority does not limit access for or, expectations of, a subset of 
students, we do not think a revision to the priority is necessary.
    Changes: None.

Proposed Priority 3--Promoting Personalized Learning

    Comment: One commenter stated that the Department's emphasis on 
Personalized Learning is misplaced and that we should remove Priority 3 
from the NFP. Specifically, the commenter cautioned that tools 
developed outside of the classroom would be less effective at informing 
instruction than tools developed within the classroom through face-to-
face interactions.

[[Page 73432]]

    Discussion: We disagree with the underlying assumption of the 
comment that grant funding would result in projects using tools that 
were developed without consideration for the classroom context. 
Depending on the discretionary grant program, local educational 
agencies (LEAs), State educational agencies (SEAs), nonprofit 
organizations, and institutions of higher education (IHEs) may be 
applicants. Applicants are primarily responsible for deciding what tool 
or approach will be used and we do not think that Federal funding would 
cause applicants to propose using tools that are not relevant or useful 
for informing instruction.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters expressed support for the priority, and 
some of these commenters also provided suggestions for expanding it. 
One commenter proposed adding a new subpart focusing on professional 
development. One commenter recommended that the Department add a focus 
that would support projects that propose to design and implement 
networks that support the technology and dynamic learning environments 
necessary for students to experience ``anytime, anywhere'' Personalized 
Learning. Another commenter expressed concern that the proposed 
priority did not require applicants to intentionally plan for scaling 
the use of technology to deliver personalized resources to students, 
and suggested that the Department require applicants addressing the 
priority to develop a sustainable plan for leveraging technology. 
Conversely, another commenter suggested that we clarify that applicants 
could propose projects that use Personalized Learning modalities other 
than technology.
    A few commenters noted that the Department's 2010 National 
Educational Technology Plan identified universal design for learning 
(UDL) as a method for supporting all students' learning, and suggested 
revising the proposed priority to encourage projects that support 
Personalized Learning based on UDL principles. One commenter noted that 
Personalized Learning can be achieved through competency-based 
learning, and another commenter suggested that the priority support 
projects that use competency-based learning as a component of 
Personalized Learning with a requirement that students demonstrate a 
mastery of college- and career-ready standards.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenters' support of the priority 
and recommendations for how it might be expanded. Regarding the 
suggestion that we include a subpart on professional development for 
educators, we note that subpart (a) of this priority supports the 
provision of professional development on Personalized Learning and the 
use of data as part of a project implementing Personalized Learning 
approaches. We do not think it would be appropriate to fund a project 
that provides professional development only on Personalized Learning, 
without implementing the approaches for which the professional 
development is being provided.
    Regarding the recommendation that this priority include a focus on 
designing and implementing networks, we point the commenter to subpart 
(a) of Priority 11--Leveraging Technology to Support Instructional 
Practice and Professional Development, because it supports the 
infrastructure that schools and districts need to increase students' 
and educators' access to high-quality digital tools. Although subpart 
(a) of Priority 11 specifically references access to high-speed 
Internet and devices, the priority, as proposed, would not preclude an 
applicant from also supporting the development of networks that support 
the technology and dynamic learning environments that are necessary for 
students to experience ``anytime, anywhere'' Personalized Learning. 
Because the purpose of this priority is to implement Personalized 
Learning approaches that may or may not require the use of technology, 
we decline to revise this priority.
    We agree with the commenter that Personalized Learning can be 
achieved through learning modalities other than technology. For that 
reason, the definition of Personalized Learning requires tailoring the 
pace of learning and instructional approaches to the needs of 
individual learners, but does not require that tailoring to be done 
through the use of technology. Although technology is commonly used to 
implement Personalized Learning, other approaches may also be used to 
address subpart (a) of Priority 3.
    We agree with the commenter that, if an applicant is using 
technology to implement or deliver Personalized Learning services or 
resources, the applicant should consider how it will sustain its use of 
technology. However, because an applicant may address the priority in a 
manner that does not rely on technology, it is not appropriate to 
require applicants to develop a sustainability plan for leveraging 
technology. In a program using this priority the Department could use 
selection criteria from 34 CFR 75.210(c) (Quality of the project 
design) to encourage applicants to address their sustainability needs 
as part of their proposed projects or develop selection criteria under 
34 CFR 75.209 to achieve the same purpose.
    The Department's 2010 National Educational Technology Plan \2\ 
discusses the importance of making learning experiences accessible and 
the use of UDL principles. Although the plan calls for the use of 
technology to empower Personalized Learning and provides examples of 
how to do it, we do not think that it is appropriate to prescribe a 
single approach or principle that all applicants must use when 
addressing this priority. We also note that Personalized Learning can 
be achieved through approaches other than competency-based learning. 
This priority does not prohibit an applicant from using the approach or 
principle that it determines to be most suitable for its project. As 
such, we decline to revise the priority to include explicit references 
to UDL or competency-based learning approaches.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ Available at: http://www.ed.gov/sites/default/files/netp2010.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters suggested additional expected outcomes to 
be included in the priority. One commenter recommended that the 
Department emphasize that Personalized Learning should be used for 
developmental college reading and mathematics to reduce the number of 
students who need remedial coursework when they enter postsecondary 
programs. One commenter proposed adding increasing academic recovery as 
a required outcome for projects addressing the priority. Another 
commenter recommended including a focus on promoting knowledge and 
skills acquisition in subpart (a) of Priority 3. Similarly, another 
commenter requested that the adoption of social and emotional skills be 
added to subparts (a) and (b) of Priority 3.
    Discussion: We do not want to limit or prescribe specific outcomes 
or performance measures that applicants could propose to use in their 
projects. The priority requires applicants to improve student academic 
outcomes and close academic opportunity or attainment gaps. These 
outcomes are broad and provide applicants the discretion to select and 
propose performance measures that are most appropriate for the students 
who are served by their projects. Priority 3 does not prohibit 
applicants from proposing performance measures for reducing the number 
of students who are participating in remedial coursework, increasing 
academic recovery, promoting skills and knowledge acquisition, or 
adopting social and

[[Page 73433]]

emotional skills, so long as the proposed project is implementing 
Personalized Learning and is designed to improve student academic 
outcomes and close academic opportunity and attainment gaps.
    Additionally, we do not want to restrict the use of the priority. 
If we were, for example, to revise the priority to require a focus on 
reducing the number of students who are participating in remedial 
coursework when they enter postsecondary education, we could not use 
the priority in discretionary grant programs that focus on early grades 
because it may not be possible to measure the success of the outcome 
during the project period.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter noted that more information and research is 
needed on Personalized Learning and stated that the priority should 
require applicants to conduct a rigorous evaluation and make the 
findings and lessons learned from their evaluations publicly available.
    Discussion: The Department can select factors from 34 CFR 75.210(h) 
(Quality of the project evaluation) to encourage applicants to design 
project evaluations that are appropriate for the areas of study and 
research goals for a particular program. Because the Department may 
promote rigorous evaluations as part of a program's selection criteria, 
it is not necessary to also include those requirements in the 
Supplemental Priorities.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter agreed that Digital Credentials support 
Personalized Learning, but cautioned that they should not be used as 
the only approach.
    Discussion: We agree that Digital Credentials support, but are not 
the only approach to, Personalized Learning. For this reason, we 
included subpart (a), which focuses broadly on implementing 
Personalized Learning approaches without identifying a specific 
approach. However, with more students participating in online courses, 
and using digital learning resources to achieve their academic goals, 
we think that it is appropriate to include the award of Digital 
Credentials that are aligned with college- and career-ready standards 
and based on Personalized Learning.
    Changes: None.

Priority 4--Supporting High-Need Students

    Comment: Several commenters expressed support for this priority, 
including the expanded focus that allows applicants to propose projects 
that are designed to improve academic outcomes or learning environments 
for students. However, a few commenters asked that the Department 
define ``academic outcomes'' and ``learning environments.''
    Many commenters also applauded the broader list of student groups 
that may be served under this priority. However, some commenters 
recommended that the Department include additional groups of students, 
such as students living in public housing, first-generation college 
students, adjudicated youth in residential sites, high-ability and 
gifted students, Native American students, Alaska native students, 
youth in alternative schools, and students who are served by schools 
that are highly segregated by race or ethnicity. One commenter 
suggested the Department distinguish between the different types of 
rural LEAs under the priority. Another commenter requested that the 
Department remove from Priority 4 the focus on students served by rural 
LEAs, or revise it to include students in both rural and urban LEAs.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenters' support for Priority 4. 
However, given the variety of programs in which the priority may be 
used, we do not think that it is appropriate to prescribe what would 
constitute an ``academic outcome'' or ``learning environment.'' Any 
definition would risk restricting the use of the priority.
    Similarly, because one of the options for students who could be 
served under Priority 4 is High-need Students, defined broadly as 
students at risk of educational failure or otherwise in need of special 
assistance and support, it is not necessary to add most of the 
suggested groups to the list. However, upon review we think that it is 
appropriate to include a focus on students who are members of federally 
recognized Indian tribes in the list, as these tribes constitute 
distinct governmental entities with unique needs. We note that 
federally recognized Indian tribes include many Alaska native entities. 
We have made this change.
    Regarding the recommendation that we remove the option to focus on 
students in Rural LEAs, or retain that focus but also include a focus 
on students in urban LEAs, we note that we include a specific focus on 
students who are served by rural LEAs because we acknowledge that the 
solutions to educational challenges may be different in rural 
communities than in urban and suburban communities and that there is a 
need for solutions that are unique to rural communities. For these 
reasons, we decline to remove the option or revise it to require a 
focus on students served by rural and urban LEAs.
    Changes: We have revised Priority 4 so that it now includes 
``Students who are members of federally recognized Indian tribes'' in 
the list of student subgroups that may be supported by projects 
addressing the priority.
    Comment: One commenter requested that the Department define 
``disconnected youth'' as used in Priority 4.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenter and have added a definition 
of Disconnected Youth that is consistent with the Department's 
Performance Partnerships for Disconnected Youth Fact Sheet.\3\ We note 
that this definition will apply to each priority in which the term 
Disconnected Youth is used.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \3\ Available at: http://www.ed.gov/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/2014-PPPs-Fact-Sheet.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Changes: We have defined Disconnected Youth to mean low-income 
individuals, ages 14-24, who are homeless, are in foster care, are 
involved in the justice system, or are not working or not enrolled in 
(or at risk of dropping out of) an educational institution.
    Comment: One commenter expressed support for Priority 4, but noted 
that an effective method for improving outcomes for High-need Students 
is to increase salaries for teachers who work in urban LEAs where many 
students may live in poverty.
     Discussion: We agree with the commenter that such methods may be 
effective, and include a subpart in Priority 9--Improving Teacher 
Effectiveness and Promoting Equitable Access to Effective Teachers that 
promotes equitable access to effective teachers for students from low-
income families and minority students. An applicant could propose a 
project that provides incentives, through salary increases or other 
means, effective teachers to work in schools with high concentrations 
of such students.
    Changes: None.

Priority 5--Increasing Postsecondary Access, Affordability, and 
Completion

    Comment: Two commenters expressed concerns regarding the financial 
burden of the Supplemental Priorities on students. One commenter noted 
that we do not include a focus on reducing the cost burden for 
postsecondary students and another commenter indicated that the 
priorities would further burden individuals with student loan debt.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenters' concerns, but think that

[[Page 73434]]

there are several references in the priorities that address reducing 
the cost burden for postsecondary students. For example, subpart (a) of 
Priority 5 focuses on projects that will reduce the net cost and median 
student loan debt for High-need Students who enroll in college, other 
postsecondary education, or other career and technical education. In 
addition, we also include a priority focused on increasing academic 
outcomes for High-need Students, as well as a priority that focuses on 
developing and implementing college-ready standards and assessments, 
which help to reduce the number of students who arrive at college 
unprepared and in need of additional time to complete their degrees, 
and thereby reduce such students' postsecondary costs.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that we add a priority that would 
focus on four-year IHE applicants, stating that the Federal government 
invests large amounts in IHEs annually, but does not ask for reported 
outcomes in return. In addition, the commenter suggested that we give 
low-performing IHEs three to six years to improve and proposed 
definitions for ``low-performing college'' and ``low graduation rate 
college.'' The commenter also recommended that we recognize high-
performing IHEs and award competitive preference priority points to 
those high-performing applicants that wish to implement projects that 
support colleges and universities with low graduation rates in 
improving their first-time, full-time student graduation rates.
    Discussion: We do not specify who may be eligible to apply for 
grants under this, or any, priority. The focus of this priority is 
intentionally not limited to projects proposed by IHEs, as we are 
focused on the outcomes for students, irrespective of the type of 
applicant. The type of applicant will be specified by the eligibility 
requirements for the discretionary grant programs in which this 
priority is used and, therefore, we do not think that it is necessary 
to revise the priority in a manner that would limit its use.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that we further prioritize 
affordability by adding an additional subpart that would support 
projects that provide meaningful information about college to students 
and their families.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenters' suggestion and agree that 
it is important to support projects that provide meaningful information 
about college to students and their families. Subpart (c) of Priority 
5, which supports projects that increase postsecondary enrollment or 
completion through college preparation, awareness, recruitment, 
application, and selection activities, would support this type of 
project.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that we include a subpart to 
support the development and implementation of an ongoing feedback 
process between IHEs and LEAs, and suggested a definition for ``ongoing 
feedback process.'' The commenter also recommended creating a new 
priority that focused on key secondary and postsecondary transition 
points. Another commenter also noted the importance of coordination 
between secondary and postsecondary leaders to ensure that coursework 
at the high school level adequately prepares students for college.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenters' suggestions and think 
that projects designed to improve those transitions or coordination 
fall within the scope of Priority 5.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter urged the Department to include the early 
childhood workforce in its initiatives related to student loans and 
teacher preparation program involvement.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenter's support for the 
Department's initiatives on the early childhood workforce and agree 
that this continued focus is important. We have included Priority 1--
Improving Early Learning and Development Outcomes, which includes in 
subpart (b) a focus on the early childhood workforce.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter asked the Department to include a focus on 
K-12 in-school and out-of-school programs that provide students with 
appropriate support to enter college prepared.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenter's suggestions and think 
that these types of programs fall within the scope of Priority 5.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter asked the Department to prioritize 
underserved college students who are obtaining STEM degrees.
    Discussion: We agree that it is important to prioritize underserved 
college students who are obtaining STEM degrees. Under Priority 7--
Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education, 
we include subpart (d), which addresses the commenter's request.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters made suggestions to improve subpart (b) 
of Priority 5. Specifically, one commenter suggested we remove the 
reference to ``on time'' completion in subpart (b), noting that 
students with disabilities often need additional time to complete 
college. Another commenter asked that we prioritize projects that focus 
on preparing middle school students to be on a college path. A third 
commenter asked that we emphasize the role that IHEs can play in 
developing secondary programs designed to improve degree and 
certificate completion, noting that the goal must be to increase 
completion in programs that represent high-quality academic knowledge 
and understanding.
    Discussion: We recognize that some groups of students struggle 
disproportionately to complete college on time. It is for this reason 
that we want to prioritize projects that could help these students to 
complete their degrees more quickly through better academic 
preparation.
    Regarding the suggestion for preparation of middle school students, 
the priority does not preclude applicants who address subpart (b) of 
Priority 5 from proposing middle school interventions.
    Finally, regarding the suggestion that we emphasize the role that 
IHEs can play in developing secondary programs designed to improve 
degree and certificate completion, this priority intentionally focuses 
on student outcomes. We think that projects designed to improve 
coordination between IHEs and high schools already fall within the 
scope of Priority 5.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters made suggestions to the language in 
Priority 5 so that specific strategies could be included in the 
subparts. Specifically, one commenter suggested the inclusion of early 
college high schools in subpart (c). Two commenters suggested that we 
include dual enrollment and early college high school programs as 
strategies in subpart (f), while another commenter suggested that we 
include dual enrollment and early college high school programs as a 
separate subpart. In addition, one commenter asked that we revise the 
priority so that applicants could propose strategies that do not 
involve online or hybrid approaches. Another commenter suggested that 
we define ``hybrid learning opportunities.''
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenters' suggestions and think 
that many of the suggestions made are within the scope of subparts (b) 
or (c) of Priority 5. We decline to revise Priority 5 in a manner that 
might limit its use.
    We think that hybrid learning opportunities consist of a 
combination of online and in-person techniques. We

[[Page 73435]]

think that this term is commonly used and understood in the field and, 
therefore, do not think it is necessary to define it.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that we clarify that our use of 
the phrase ``regular high school diploma'' in subpart (d) of Priority 5 
is aligned with the definition of that phrase in 34 CFR 200.19(b)(iv).
    Discussion: We agree that our definition of the term Regular High 
School Diploma should be aligned with 34 CFR 200.19(b)(1)(iv). We have 
included the definition of Regular High School Diploma in this NFP.
    Changes: We have indicated that applicants should refer to the 
definition for Regular High School Diploma included in this NFP. We 
have also added the definition of Regular High School Diploma in 34 CFR 
200.19(b)(1)(iv) to the definitions section.
    Comment: None.
    Discussion: After review, we decided that subpart (a) of Priority 5 
may be challenging for applicants to address, because it would be very 
difficult to obtain information about the student loan default rate for 
High-need Students.
    Changes: We have revised subpart (a) so that it now reads: 
``Reducing the net cost, median student loan debt, and likelihood of 
student loan default for High-need Students . . .''

Priority 6--Improving Job-Driven Training and Employment Outcomes

    Comment: One commenter supported this priority and asked that we 
ensure that it is aligned with the U.S. Department of Labor's efforts 
and with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), enacted 
on July 22, 2014. Another commenter noted that, while subpart (d) of 
Priority 6 includes a focus on providing Labor Market Information, we 
do not provide an incentive to applicants to use Labor Market 
Information to continuously improve training programs.
    Discussion: We support the Department of Labor's efforts in this 
area and note that Priority 6 is fully aligned with WIOA. For example, 
WIOA promotes engagement with employers so that education and training 
programs supported by the Department can equip individuals with the 
education and skills sought by employers.
    We agree that thoughtfully using Labor Market Information should be 
included in this priority, and note that such a change would further 
align Priority 6 with Vice President Biden's July 22, 2014 report to 
the President entitled Ready to Work: Job-Driven Training and American 
Opportunity.\4\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \4\ Available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/skills_report.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We also agree that using Labor Market Information effectively is 
important and have added a subpart to Priority 6 to encourage 
applicants to use it to inform their projects. We also define the term 
Labor Market Information in this NFP, and note that our definition 
aligns with the definition in the July 22, 2014 Office of Management 
and Budget memorandum entitled ``Ensuring that Employment and Training 
Programs are Job-Driven.'' \5\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \5\ Available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/memoranda/2014/m-14-15.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Changes: We have added a subpart to Priority 6 so that it now 
reads: ``Using Labor Market Information to inform the focus of programs 
and to guide jobseekers in choosing the types of employment or fields 
of study, training, or credentials to pursue.'' This subpart is subpart 
(e), and the proposed subpart (e) is now subpart (f). We have also 
included a definition of Labor Market Information, and note that 
applicants should refer to that definition when proposing a project 
that addresses subpart (d) of Priority 6, in addition to subpart (e).
    Comment: One commenter noted that the goals of Priority 6 could be 
achieved through community partnerships, internships, and career and 
technical courses in high school. Another commenter suggested that we 
include an additional subpart focused on career-based classroom 
learning, real-world workplace experiences, and wraparound supports for 
high school students.
    A third commenter urged the Department to provide a clear focus on 
academic skill-building in Priority 6.
    Discussion: We agree that the strategies listed by the first 
commenter could be used to address Priority 6. In general, we do not 
prescribe specific strategies because we think that applicants are best 
suited to propose appropriate strategies given the needs of their 
target populations. We do not want to limit the potential use of this 
priority. We therefore do not think that it is appropriate to 
incorporate into Priority 6 the strategies suggested by the first 
commenter or the subpart suggested by the second commenter.
    We think that a project designed to improve academic skill-building 
would be well-aligned with subpart (c) of this priority, which seeks 
projects designed to improve job-driven training and employment 
outcomes by integrating education and training into a career pathways 
program through a variety of means. We also think that applicants 
proposing such a project would be well-positioned to address subpart 
(d) of Priority 5--Increasing Postsecondary Access, Affordability, and 
Completion, which includes an explicit focus on obtaining basic and 
academic skills.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter asked that we remove the focus in Priority 6 
on Low-skilled Adults and High-need Students, because, by limiting the 
scope to projects that serve only these individuals, it would impede 
systemic organizational change.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenter's concern and agree that 
all students deserve appropriate support. While subparts (b) and (c) of 
Priority 6 do reference these groups specifically, a project could 
serve any other type of student so long as the project also serves Low-
skilled Adults or other High-need Students. We think that it is 
important to focus on these groups because they may need more targeted 
assistance; however, applicants addressing Priority 6 have flexibility 
in choosing the populations they will serve.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed support for ``ability to 
benefit.'' The commenter also suggested we focus on expanding research 
in the adult education and literacy field, and conduct a review of the 
historically low funding levels for adult education.
    Discussion: In the Administration's FY 2015 budget request, we 
proposed to restore the ``ability to benefit'' provision for students 
who are enrolled in eligible career pathway programs to qualify for 
financial assistance. We note, however, that the ``ability to benefit'' 
requirement was eliminated by Congress in 2011.
    To better understand the best strategies to improve reading skills 
for struggling adult learners, the Department has invested in research 
on adult education through the Center for the Study of Adult Literacy, 
funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). In addition, the 
Department of Labor has recently launched the Clearinghouse for Labor 
Evaluation and Research \6\ to make data on labor topics more readily 
accessible.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \6\ Available at: http://clear.dol.gov/.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter supported Priority 6, but was concerned that 
rural applicants would struggle to implement projects addressing this 
priority due to a dearth of employment opportunities in their 
communities.
    Discussion: We do not think that rural applicants would be 
disadvantaged by Priority 6, because its purpose is to

[[Page 73436]]

support projects that narrow the gap between employment opportunities 
and workforce skills in every community, including rural communities.
    To address such gaps in high-need communities, we note that in 
January 2014, President Obama announced the first five Promise Zones: 
The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Antonio, 
and Kentucky Highlands. On March 27, 2014, the Department published an 
NFP for the Promise Zones Initiative (79 FR 17035), which focuses 
Federal financial assistance on expanding the number of Department 
programs and projects that support activities in the above-mentioned 
Promise Zones. We may now include in our discretionary grant 
competitions an absolute or competitive preference priority for areas 
designated as Promise Zones, meaning that applicants would have the 
incentive to design projects that support these areas. While the 
designated Promise Zones include a mix of rural and urban communities, 
we think that use of the Promise Zones priority will provide an 
incentive to applicants to support rural communities such as those 
described by the commenter.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter asked that we emphasize collaboration with 
labor unions in subpart (b) of Priority 6 because they may already be 
providing work-based learning opportunities.
    Discussion: We agree that collaboration with labor unions and other 
workers' organizations is important, and while we do not include an 
explicit focus on such collaboration in subpart (b), that collaboration 
is reflected in subpart (a) through the definition of Employer 
Engagement. We also note that the parenthetical list in subpart (b) is 
illustrative, and that applicants have flexibility in the types of 
opportunities they propose to provide. The strategies by which they 
propose to provide work-based learning opportunities are also at the 
applicant's discretion, so an applicant could deliberately include 
collaboration with labor unions as part of its proposed approach. We 
think that the commenter's suggestion is already within the scope of 
Priority 6.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter felt that the phrase ``stackable 
credentials'' in subpart (c) of Priority 6 was unclear, and suggested 
that we define the term. Two commenters recommended that we replace the 
term ``industry-relevant certification'' with ``industry-recognized 
credentials,'' as that term is more commonly used, and thus more 
commonly recognized, in the field. Another commenter asked that we 
explicitly include engagement with colleges, particularly community 
colleges, in subpart (c).
    Discussion: We value clarity and the use of common terms, and agree 
with the first commenter that Stackable Credentials should be defined. 
We have included a definition in this notice, and also indicate in 
subpart (c) that this term has been defined. Our definition is aligned 
with a December 15, 2010 Department of Labor guidance document entitled 
``Increasing Credential, Degree, and Certificate Attainment by 
Participants of the Public Workforce System.'' \7\ We also agree with 
the commenters that ``industry-recognized credentials'' is a commonly 
used term, and have edited the subpart to reflect that.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \7\ Available at: http://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/attach/TEGL15-10.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In response to the commenter who suggested that we include a focus 
on engaging colleges, we agree that such engagement would be important 
to the success of projects addressing this priority. Therefore, we 
include in subpart (c) a parenthetical phrase to indicate that 
applicants may consider including engagement of community colleges or 
other IHEs in their proposed projects.
    Changes: We have included a definition of Stackable Credentials, 
and note in subpart (c) of Priority 6 that applicants should refer to 
that definition. We also have replaced ``industry-relevant 
certification'' with ``industry-recognized credentials'' in subpart 
(c). Finally, we have included the following parenthetical phrase in 
subpart (c) to indicate that applicants may consider including 
engagement of community colleges or other IHEs in their proposed 
projects: ``(Such as education and training programs offered by 
community colleges or other institutions of higher education . . .''
    Comment: One commenter identified a flaw in subpart (d) of proposed 
Priority 6. Specifically, the commenter noted that, as proposed, 
subpart (d) implies that all items listed after ``including'' would be 
mandatory for applicants to incorporate into their proposed projects, 
but that an applicant could also disregard the list and propose to 
provide a different support, because the list concluded with ``. . . or 
others as deemed appropriate.''
    The commenter noted a similar flaw in subpart (e) of proposed 
Priority 6, where we reference both personnel and service providers, 
but do not clearly explain whether we consider the two groups to be 
fundamentally different.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenter's thoughtful review and 
note that, in both cases, the lack of clarity was not intended. In 
subpart (d), it is not our intent to require applicants to propose 
projects that would provide support in all the areas noted, and on 
review of the proposed subpart (e), which is now subpart (f), we think 
it is unnecessary to include both personnel and service providers. We 
have modified subparts (d) and (f) to clarify Priority 6.
    Changes: In subpart (d), we have replaced ``including'' with ``such 
as.'' In subpart (f), we have removed ``personnel.''
    Comment: One commenter asked that we include in proposed subpart 
(e), which is now subpart (f), instructors and students, in addition to 
service providers and customers, so that professional development could 
also be provided to teachers of career and technical education.
    Discussion: This subpart is intended for vocational rehabilitation 
agencies and other providers who serve adults who may not be enrolled 
in an educational institution or program. As such, we do not think that 
it is appropriate to include instructors and students.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended a number of changes to Priority 
6. They include defining the terms ``employment outcomes,'' ``job-
driven training,'' ``non-degree postsecondary credentials,'' and 
``workforce and labor market information;'' establishing new subparts 
focused on Labor Market Information, counseling, training for 
counselors, and increasing the capacity of education and training 
institutions to use Labor Market Information; specifying that the 
career pathways programs referenced in subpart (c) should lead to ``a 
non-degree postsecondary credential;'' and specifying that the purpose 
of providing the support services outlined in subpart (d) of Priority 6 
is to ``facilitate credential attainment, employability, and job 
tenure.''
    Discussion: We decline to add the new definitions recommended by 
the commenter because we do not think that they are necessary to 
implement Priority 6. Most of the topics that the commenter recommended 
we include as subparts are already addressed adequately by the other 
subparts in Priority 6. We also do not agree with the commenter's 
recommendation that career pathway programs be limited to pathways that 
lead to non-degree postsecondary credentials; instead, we think that 
pathways should lead to the full range

[[Page 73437]]

of postsecondary credentials, including associate's and baccalaureate 
degrees. Finally, we agree with the commenter's proposed clarification 
of the purpose of providing the support services described in subpart 
(d) and have modified the subpart accordingly.
    Changes: We have added the phrase ``that facilitate credential 
attainment, employability, and job tenure'' to the end of subpart (d).

Priority 7--Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics 
(STEM) Education

    Comment: One commenter suggested that STEM education is supported 
by philanthropy and business, rendering Federal support unnecessary, 
and recommended that we remove Priority 7.
    Discussion: Efforts to improve STEM education are often supported 
by a diverse group of funders. However, the Supplemental Priorities 
reflect our policy agenda, which includes, among other things, a focus 
on preparing students to meet the current demands of the labor market 
and on preparing teachers to effectively teach STEM subjects. We think 
that projects designed to address the distinct subparts listed in 
Priority 7 will help to achieve these goals.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that we enhance Priority 7 by 
asking applicants to provide internships as part of their proposed 
projects. Another commenter requested that we highlight in Priority 7 
the importance of partnerships with industry organizations.
    Discussion: We agree with both commenters and think that strategies 
similar to those described are already reflected in Priority 7. For 
example, an applicant could propose a project that included a focus on 
internships to address subparts (b), (c), (d), and (e) of Priority 7. 
We also note that an internship could be considered an Authentic STEM 
Experience. In addition, we note that local or regional partnerships 
are supported through subpart (e) of Priority 7.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters asked that we include in Priority 7 a 
focus on early indicators of STEM success. One commenter suggested we 
use Priority 7 to focus on building research about early mathematics 
and science learning.
    Discussion: We agree that it is important to identify indicators of 
STEM success for children and students. In Priority 1--Improving Early 
Learning and Development Outcomes, projects designed to address any of 
the subparts must improve outcomes across at least one of the Essential 
Domains of School Readiness, which include early mathematics and early 
scientific development. Early childhood educators may also benefit from 
projects that address Priority 7, and to clarify that, we remove the 
reference in subpart (a) to teachers of career and technical education, 
which may have been viewed as limiting the scope of the priority.
    We appreciate the commenter's request that we use Priority 7 as a 
mechanism to build the evidence base supporting early mathematics and 
science learning. As discussed elsewhere in this notice, the Department 
currently supports evidence-based funding through several provisions in 
EDGAR, most notably 34 CFR 75.590 (Evaluation by the grantee). In 
addition, discretionary grant programs may use selection factors 
included in 34 CFR 75.210(h) (Quality of the project evaluation), as 
appropriate, to encourage applicants to design evaluations of their 
projects that accurately reflect the research questions most relevant 
to the field. Because the Department has discretion in choosing the 
types of evidence-building activities that are most appropriate for 
particular discretionary grant programs, we do not think that it is 
necessary to include a requirement that applicants addressing Priority 
7 build the research base in a specific policy area.
    Changes: We have revised subpart (a) of Priority 7 so that it now 
reads: ``Increasing the preparation of teachers or other educators in 
STEM subjects through activities that may include building content 
knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge, and increasing the number 
and quality of Authentic STEM Experiences.''
    Comment: One commenter asked that the term ``teachers'' be replaced 
with ``educators'' in subpart (c) of Priority 7.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenter's suggestion, and note 
that, while teachers are not mentioned in subpart (c) of Priority 7, 
both teachers and educators are included in subpart (a).
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested the addition of several subparts 
to highlight the role that afterschool and summer programs can play in 
promoting STEM education, encouraging joint professional development 
for community educators and teachers, and increasing partnerships 
between LEAs and afterschool and expanded learning programs. Another 
commenter suggested that we include a focus on public-private 
partnerships that would align STEM labor market demands with a supply 
of well-prepared STEM workers.
    Discussion: We agree with the first commenter and think that the 
areas of focus suggested are important; however, we do not think that 
it is appropriate to prescribe the specific types of programs, such as 
afterschool or summer programs, that should be supported through the 
Supplemental Priorities. We think that applicants are best-suited to 
propose projects that will meet the needs of the target populations 
they propose to serve, and those projects may include support for 
afterschool or summer programs. The main goal of the priority is to 
prepare students to meet the demands of the STEM labor market.
    Finally, we note that our reference in subpart (a) of Priority 7 to 
``other educators,'' as well as our reference to Authentic STEM 
Experiences, allows applicants to propose projects that include a focus 
on joint professional development. To further bolster this concept, we 
revise subpart (b) of Priority 7 to clarify that projects designed to 
provide students with increased access to STEM opportunities may be 
integrated across multiple settings.
    Changes: We have revised subpart (b) of Priority 7 so that it ends 
with the phrase: ``. . . that may be integrated across multiple 
settings.''
    Comment: One commenter urged the Department to include in Priority 
7 a focus on arts education to improve students' creative thinking 
skills.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenter's suggestion, and note that 
Priority 7 includes ways for projects to address creative thinking 
skills. For example, subpart (b) of Priority 7 could be used to support 
projects that provide students with increased access to Authentic STEM 
Experiences, which could be laboratory, research-based, or experiential 
learning opportunities in informal or formal settings.
    We also note that applicants could include a focus on arts 
education in a project designed to promote STEM education; and that 
elements of arts education can be particularly relevant to technology 
and engineering programs. In fact, we view arts education as a strategy 
that can touch several of the Supplemental Priorities.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter asked that we include a new subpart in 
Priority 7 that would support projects that engage parents and families 
in their children's STEM education.
    Discussion: We agree that family engagement is important for 
student success in all subjects and reflect our

[[Page 73438]]

interest in supporting family engagement in Priority 14--Improving 
Parent, Family, and Community Engagement. As appropriate, we may 
combine elements of Priority 7 and Priority 14 to solicit applications 
that include both a focus on STEM and on family engagement.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed concern that subpart (d) of 
Priority 7, which would support projects that are intended to increase 
the number of individuals from groups that have been historically 
under-represented in STEM who are provided with rigorous STEM 
coursework and prepared for postsecondary study and careers in STEM, is 
unconstitutional. The commenter asserts that the Federal government 
cannot use classifications based on race, ethnicity, or gender in its 
efforts to support the improvement of student outcomes.
    Discussion: Subpart (d) of Priority 7 is designed to support 
investments in strategies that are most likely to increase access to 
rigorous STEM coursework, and preparation for postsecondary study and 
careers in STEM, for individuals from groups that have been 
historically under-represented in STEM fields. These individuals may 
include, but are not limited to, minorities, individuals with 
disabilities, and women. This priority does not encourage or require 
classifications based on race, ethnicity, or gender. Applicants may 
propose approaches that seek to increase participation by individuals 
from groups that have been historically under-represented and that 
serve all individuals. We further note that recipients of Department 
funding must comply with the nondiscrimination requirements of Title VI 
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act 
of 1973, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and the Age 
Discrimination Act of 1975. For more information on these requirements, 
and other guidance related to diversity, please visit the Department's 
Office for Civil Rights (OCR) Web site at http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/index.html.
    Changes: None.

Priority 8--Implementing Internationally Benchmarked College- and 
Career-Ready Standards and Assessments

    Comment: One commenter supported internationally benchmarked 
college- and career-ready standards, but noted that many States are 
already of developing and implementing those standards. Thus, the 
commenter argued that it was not necessary for the Federal government 
to support this type of work.
    Discussion: Priority 8 is not focused on developing the standards 
themselves. Rather, this priority supports strategies for implementing 
college- and career-ready standards effectively, and projects designed 
to address Priority 8 would not be conducted at the Federal level. 
Rather, the Department would use this priority to support State, local, 
or regional entities carrying out this work and those entities would 
propose strategies that are best-suited to the populations they propose 
to serve and the particular college- and career-ready standards and 
assessments that are being implemented.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed concern that the term 
``performance-based tool,'' found in subpart (a) of Priority 8, is not 
a commonly understood term.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenter's concern. We think, 
however, that the text of subpart (a) provides the necessary context 
for the term ``performance-based tool.'' Our intent in this subpart is 
to broadly refer to performance-based tools, allowing applicants 
flexibility in developing and implementing the materials they need in 
order to effectively assess student progress.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter asked that we provide further incentives to 
States to broaden their accountability definitions and requirements to 
include a more comprehensive definition of student success. The 
commenter noted the importance of using multiple measures, formative 
assessments, non-test-based evidence of learning, and progress toward 
personal growth objectives.
    Discussion: We agree that the elements listed by the commenter can 
be important and useful measures of student success, and we include 
formative assessments in subpart (a) of Priority 8. While we do not 
mention the commenter's other examples specifically in the subpart, we 
think that the phrase ``performance-based tools'' is broad and could 
encompass several types of measures.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that we revise subpart (a) so that 
it is clear that the focus of student assessments should be to improve 
and inform instruction and learning.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenter that student assessments 
should be used to improve and inform instruction and learning, but we 
do not think that it is necessary to revise subpart (a) to require 
applicants to focus on those goals.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters asked that we include in subpart (b) of 
Priority 8 a focus on professional development for principals, as well 
as teachers.
    Discussion: We agree that supporting principals with professional 
development and training opportunities that are aligned with college- 
and career-ready standards is important, and have edited subpart (b) to 
reflect this goal.
    Changes: We have revised subpart (b) to read: ``Developing and 
implementing teacher or principal professional development or 
preparation programs that are aligned with those standards.''
    Comment: One commenter suggested several revisions to subparts (b) 
and (c) of Priority 8. The commenter suggested that we should encourage 
applicants to provide opportunities for deeper learning, improving 
content knowledge, communicating effectively, collaborating with peers, 
and participating in professional development that is self-directed. 
The commenter also asked that Priority 8 be revised to specifically 
support efforts to improve literacy instruction, and be tailored to 
meet the needs of middle and high school teachers.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenter's suggestions and agree 
that the elements outlined by the commenter are important. However we 
do not think that it is appropriate in these priorities to prescribe 
specific strategies, content areas, or grades on which projects should 
focus, because we think that applicants are best-suited to propose 
projects that meet the needs of the target populations they propose to 
serve.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter requested that we require that new 
assessments developed by applicants or grant recipients be licensed 
with an intellectual property license that allows for unrestricted 
reuse and modification.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenter's suggestion, but we do not 
believe that it is appropriate to impose this license requirement 
unilaterally, because making some types of assessments so broadly 
available could have implications for academic integrity. The 
Department's existing regulations relating to products produced with 
grant funds already provide that grantees may copyright intellectual 
property produced with Department grant funds per 34 CFR 75.261 
(Copyright policy for grantees). However, under 34 CFR 74.36 
(Intangible property) and 80.34 (Copyrights), the Department retains a

[[Page 73439]]

non-exclusive and irrevocable license to reproduce, publish, or 
otherwise use those project materials for government purposes.\8\ This 
license gives the Department the authority we need to ensure that 
materials produced as part of Department-supported grant projects can 
be made available to the public.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \8\ For grants awarded on or after the date on which the 
Department adopts and makes effective the Uniform Guidance in 2 CFR 
part 200 (expected on December 26, 2014), 2 CFR 200.315(b) would 
preserve the Federal government's license that exists under current 
Sec. Sec.  74.36 and 80.34.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter asked that we include a new subpart in 
Priority 8 focused on developing equitable conditions and resources to 
support the implementation of standards and improve students' academic 
skills and opportunities in a broad range of subjects and competencies, 
in order to prepare students for success in the globally interdependent 
world.
    Conversely, one commenter objected to our reference to 
internationally benchmarked standards and assessments, explaining that 
students should not be focused on comparing themselves to their peers 
in other nations, but rather on their own academic achievement.
    Discussion: We agree that students must be prepared for success in 
college, career, and life. We think that the proposed subparts could 
support a project designed to do what the commenter described, and also 
note that any project proposed to address Priority 8 would need to be 
relevant to internationally benchmarked standards and assessments. We 
also note that Priority 12--Promoting Diversity already provides an 
opportunity for a focus on preparing students to be successful in the 
increasingly diverse workforce.
    Finally, we disagree with the commenter that students should not be 
prepared to be globally competitive and note that the Department's 
mission is to promote Student Achievement and preparation for global 
competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal 
access. We think that projects designed to assess students against 
internationally benchmarked college- and career-ready standards will 
help to ensure those students are on track for future success in any 
context.
    Changes: None.

Priority 9--Improving Teacher Effectiveness and Promoting Equitable 
Access to Effective Teachers

    Comment: One commenter expressed support for proposed Priority 9 
and proposed Priority 10--Improving the Effectiveness of Principals, 
and suggested several instances where we could better differentiate 
supports for teachers and principals in other priorities and 
definitions proposed in the NPP.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenter's suggestion, and note 
resulting changes to Priority 1--Improving Early Learning and 
Development Outcomes. We thought clearer differentiation was 
appropriate in subpart (b) of Priority 1, which focuses on improving 
the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the early learning workforce 
because, we think that it is crucial for administrators to be well-
versed in methods of improving young children's health, social-
emotional, and cognitive outcomes. However, we did not edit all the 
priorities suggested by the commenter, because we do not think that 
each priority identified by the commenter focused on a professional 
development or training need that is as meaningful for principals as it 
is for teachers. We also note that, in priorities in which we use the 
term ``educator,'' a project could be designed to support individuals, 
such as principals, who are not teachers.
    Changes: We have revised Priority 1 to better reflect the needs of 
administrators and leaders. Further explanation of this change is 
included in relevant sections of this notice.
    Comment: One commenter expressed general concern that the 
Department does not focus its efforts on encouraging teachers to be 
innovative, creative, and effective in the classroom. Another commenter 
stressed that we explicitly focus on balancing direct instruction with 
project-oriented methods, enhancing problem-solving through deep 
understanding of subject matter, improving critical thinking skills, 
and cultivating teachers' recognition of student learning styles.
    Discussion: We agree that innovative, creative, and effective 
teachers are important to students' academic success. For this reason, 
we have included Priority 9, which focuses in part on supporting 
teachers to be effective in the classroom. Particularly, we note that 
subpart (a)(i) of Priority 9 focuses on preparing, recruiting, 
selecting, and developing teachers to be effective. We think that, to 
be effective, teachers also need to be innovative and creative. As 
such, a project designed to increase the number and percentage of 
effective teachers through the strategies outlined in subparts (a)(i) 
or (ii) of Priority 9 would likely support teachers to be innovative 
and creative.
    In addition, we thank the commenter who suggested several specific 
foci for this priority. We agree that the skills suggested by the 
commenter are relevant, but also think that these skills are captured 
in Priority 9. Priority 3--Promoting Personalized Learning, can support 
projects that help teachers customize their instructional approaches to 
meet the needs of individual students.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed general support for the proposed 
priorities, but suggested that we also support projects that reduce 
class sizes, particularly in secondary schools, and that we support 
paid teacher internships for new teachers that mirror the training that 
medical doctors receive.
    Discussion: We think that there are several ways that our 
discretionary grant programs could use this priority to solicit 
projects that are designed to better prepare and support teachers, and 
to ensure that teachers have manageable workloads. In general, we do 
not wish to require applicants proposing projects under Priority 9 to 
support teachers through specific strategies. Rather, we think that 
applicants are generally best suited to propose specific strategies to 
support the target populations they propose to serve.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter asked that we expand proposed Priority 9 so 
that early learning providers could also benefit from the activities 
described in subparts (a) and (b).
    Discussion: We agree that early learning providers should receive 
support so that they can be effective in their careers. Priority 9 does 
not preclude early learning and development teachers from benefiting 
from projects supported under Priority 9.
    Changes: None.
    Comments: A few commenters expressed support for Priority 9, but 
suggested that we include specific methods to support effective 
teachers. One commenter suggested that peer evaluations are helpful, 
and another stressed the importance of including strategies to support 
teachers to be effective in diverse classroom settings. In particular, 
the commenter asked that we encourage rural districts to implement 
``grow your own'' strategies to improve teacher recruitment and 
retention.
    Another commenter suggested that we revise the language in subpart 
(a) of Priority 9 to stress the importance and difficulty of staffing 
Lowest-performing Schools.
    Discussion: We thank the commenters for suggesting specific 
strategies to support the preparation, recruitment, development, and 
retention of effective

[[Page 73440]]

teachers, and agree that several strategies may be used to do this work 
successfully. We also agree that some strategies are better suited than 
others to effect positive change, depending on the needs of the 
community to be served by the proposed project. For these reasons, we 
do not want to limit the scope of Priority 9 by including or requiring 
the use of specific strategies. Rather, we expect applicants to propose 
appropriate strategies to increase the number and percentage of 
effective teachers in their schools and to promote equitable access to 
effective teachers.
    We also agree with the commenter that rural schools, in addition to 
schools with high concentrations of students from low-income families 
and minority students, should be staffed by effective teachers. For 
this reason, we have revised Priority 9 to explicitly include ``schools 
in Rural Local Educational Agencies.''
    Finally, we agree that teachers working in Lowest-performing 
Schools, schools in Rural LEAs, and schools with high concentrations of 
students from low-income families and minority students may face unique 
challenges. We therefore have added language to subpart (a) of Priority 
9 to better support projects that will increase the number and 
percentage of effective teachers in schools where they are most needed. 
Changes: We have revised subpart (a) of Priority 9 so that it now 
reads: ``Increasing the number and percentage of effective teachers in 
Lowest-performing Schools, schools in Rural Local Educational Agencies, 
or schools with high concentrations of students from low-income 
families and minority students . . .'' We have made a corresponding 
change to subpart (a) of Priority 10--Improving the Effectiveness of 
Principals.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that we separate the concept of 
improving workplace conditions from subpart (a)(ii) because that 
strategy could not only improve the retention of effective teachers, 
but also increase successful teaching and learning. The commenter also 
noted the importance of tailoring professional development to meet the 
needs of new teachers, because they are typically assigned to 
classrooms and schools with greater needs, and suggested that we 
emphasize comprehensive teacher induction as an effective strategy for 
supporting those teachers. Another commenter suggested including, in 
subpart (a)(ii), a focus on relevant, effective, and outcome-oriented 
professional development to support teachers who work in challenging 
environments.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenter that improving workplace 
conditions would not only improve retention of effective teachers, but 
also would support environments in which teachers and students can be 
successful. We note that subpart (a)(ii) of Priority 9 includes a focus 
on both retention and on creating opportunities for successful teaching 
and learning. For this priority, our focus is to support projects that 
are designed to retain effective teachers, and through such strategies 
as improving workplace conditions, improve outcomes for teachers and 
students.
    We also agree with the commenter that teachers need differentiated 
support depending on the amount of time they have spent in the 
classroom. We think that, in order to implement the strategies outlined 
in subpart (a)(ii) well, an applicant would need to customize its 
approach to meet the needs of teachers in different stages of their 
careers. We also note that, in subpart (a)(i), we include a focus on 
early career teacher development. We therefore do not think it is 
necessary to edit Priority 9 to meet the needs of early career 
teachers.
    We think that teachers working in Lowest-performing Schools, 
schools in Rural LEAs, and schools with high concentrations of students 
from low-income families and minority students may need differentiated 
support in order to be effective. We have changed subpart (a)(ii) of 
Priority 9 to more clearly communicate the expectations of the 
professional development to be delivered to teachers in these schools.
    Changes: We have revised subpart (a)(ii) of Priority 9 so that it 
now reads: ``Improving the retention of effective teachers through such 
activities as creating or enhancing opportunities for teachers' 
professional growth; delivering professional development to teachers 
that is relevant, effective, and outcome-oriented; reforming 
compensation and advancement systems; and improving workplace 
conditions to create opportunities for successful teaching and 
learning.''
    Comment: One commenter asked that we revise subpart (b) of proposed 
Priority 9 so that children with disabilities, in addition to students 
from low-income families and minority students, could benefit from 
projects designed to encourage equitable access to effective teachers.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenter's concern, and note that 
this subpart is intended to help SEAs and LEAs comply with requirements 
in 34 CFR 200.57(a)(2)(iii)(A) and (b)(2) that are designed to ensure 
that students from low-income families and minority students are not 
taught at higher rates than other students by inexperienced, out-of-
field, or unqualified teachers.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter asked that we revise proposed Priority 9 to 
include a preference for nonprofit organizations that provide 
afterschool and extended learning programs, as well as nonprofit 
organizations that provide alternative routes to teacher certification.
    Discussion: We agree that nonprofit organizations can play key 
roles in supporting and retaining effective teachers, and in providing 
students equitable access to effective teachers. Many, but not all, of 
our discretionary grant programs consider nonprofit organizations to be 
eligible to apply for funding. Because Priority 9 does not preclude 
nonprofit organizations and we do not want to revise the priority in a 
manner that would restrict the use of the priority by discretionary 
grant programs, we do not think that Priority 9 should be revised to 
specify their participation in projects to support effective teachers 
or to promote equitable access to effective teachers.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter noted that we refer to ``low-income 
students'' in Priority 9, but to ``students from low-income families'' 
in other priorities and definitions in the NPP.
    Discussion: The use of two different phrases was unintentional and 
we thank the commenter for pointing out the discrepancy. We have 
revised this priority to ensure that we refer only to ``students from 
low-income families.''
    Changes: In Priority 9, we have changed ``low-income students'' to 
``students from low-income families.''
    Comment: One commenter stressed the importance of understanding 
social and emotional competencies, and asked that we include in 
Priority 9 and Priority 10--Improving the Effectiveness of Principals 
projects that would support teacher and principal understanding of 
these competencies.
    Discussion: While we agree that teachers and principals should 
fully understand the social and emotional needs of students at all 
grade levels, we do not think that changes to Priorities 9 or 10 are 
necessary to reflect this concept.
    First, we include Priority 2--Influencing the Development of Non-
Cognitive Factors. The inclusion of this priority represents a focus of 
the Department on improving students' mastery of skills and behaviors, 
such as perseverance, self-regulation, and social and emotional skills. 
Second, Priority 1--Improving Early Learning and

[[Page 73441]]

Development Outcomes supports projects that improve outcomes for early 
learners across one or more of the Essential Domains of School 
Readiness, which include, among other things, social and emotional 
development. For these reasons, we do not think that edits to 
Priorities 9 or 10 are necessary in response to this comment.
    Changes: None.

Priority 10--Improving the Effectiveness of Principals

    Comment: One commenter asked that we highlight the importance of 
preparing principals to be effective in leading rural schools.
    Discussion: We agree that principals face unique challenges in 
rural schools, much like teachers in those schools. We think it is 
important to include an explicit focus on schools in Rural LEAs and to 
augment the priority to reflect this.
    Changes: We have revised subpart (a) of Priority 10 to support 
principals in schools in Rural LEAs.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that we use Priority 10 to support 
projects that would retain talented individuals to lead schools, in 
addition to recruiting, selecting, preparing, and supporting those 
individuals.
    Discussion: We agree that retaining effective principals in schools 
where they are needed most is an important way to significantly improve 
instruction.
    Changes: We have revised subpart (e) of Priority 10 so that it now 
reads: ``Implementing practices or strategies that support districts in 
hiring, evaluating, supporting, and retaining principals who 
effectively lead schools.''
    Comment: One commenter suggested that we include a focus on 
district conditions, in addition to school conditions, in subpart (b) 
of proposed Priority 10, which seeks projects that identify, implement, 
and support policies and conditions to turn around Lowest-performing 
Schools.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenter, and now include a focus on 
district conditions in subpart (b) of Priority 10.
    Changes: We have revised subpart (b) of Priority 10 so that it now 
reads: ``Identifying, implementing, and supporting policies and school 
and district conditions that facilitate efforts by principals to turn 
around Lowest-performing Schools.''
    Comment: One commenter asked that we include foci on boards of 
education and superintendents, in addition to principals, in proposed 
Priority 10. Another commenter expressed concern that early learning 
education leaders would not be included in projects designed under this 
priority; and a third commenter asked us to extend our focus on 
aligning principal preparation programs to college- and career-ready 
standards so that the coursework begins with subject matter for 
children at birth, rather than at pre-kindergarten. A fourth commenter 
suggested that we revise subpart (e) of Priority 10 to promote the 
creation of leadership pipelines and to include teacher leaders, 
assistant principals, and principal supervisors in the subpart.
    Discussion: We think that support of superintendents, boards of 
education, principal supervisors, and other district leaders is an 
integral component of strategies to effectively prepare and support 
principals to lead schools. For this reason, we include subpart (e) of 
Priority 10, which incentivizes projects designed to support districts 
in hiring, evaluating, and supporting principals.
    We agree with the commenter that early learning leaders should also 
be prepared and supported so they can be effective in the schools or 
programs they lead. We include in subpart (c) of Priority 10 an 
emphasis on aligning principal preparation programs with pre-K through 
grade 12 college- and-career ready standards. We do not think that it 
is appropriate to extend this focus to encompass college- and career-
ready standards for children who are not yet three years old, because 
those standards are not in place in most States. We note, however, that 
we have made some changes to Priority 1--Improving Early Learning and 
Development Outcomes to more explicitly reference early learning and 
development program administrators. We think that the changes in 
Priority 1 will allow for more flexibility in terms of the supports 
available to program administrators.
    Finally, we also agree that creating pathways for teachers to move 
into leadership roles can be an effective way to encourage continued 
professional learning and growth for teachers. In general, we think 
that projects designed to meet subparts (a), (c), and (e) of Priority 
10, as well as subpart (a)(ii) of Priority 9--Improving Teacher 
Effectiveness and Promoting Equitable Access to Effective Teachers, 
could focus on leadership pipelines or career pathways for teacher 
leaders and assistant principals.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that we encourage improvement in 
principal preparation and licensure through subpart (c) of Priority 10, 
which supports the creation and expansion of principal preparation 
programs.
    Discussion: We thank the commenter for the suggestion, but note 
that principal licensure is handled largely by State agencies. Although 
some of the Department's discretionary grant programs include SEAs as 
eligible applicants, many do not. As such, licensure is not an activity 
that could be conducted by most applicants. We do not want to revise 
the priority in a manner that might limit its use.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter stressed the importance of ensuring that 
principals are well-versed in early learning curricula so that they are 
able to effectively lead instruction in that area, and so that they are 
able to appropriately evaluate teachers at various grade levels.
    Discussion: We agree that principals must fully understand the 
curricula being taught by the teachers they lead, and that many 
principals oversee early learning and development programs in addition 
to elementary or secondary education programs. We note that Priority 10 
includes a focus in subpart (c) on aligning principal preparation 
programs with pre-kindergarten through grade 12 college- and career-
ready standards. We also think that projects that are designed to meet 
subpart (d) of Priority 10, which focuses on supporting principals in 
their mastery of instructional and organizational leadership skills, 
could include strategies to ensure that principals understand the 
unique needs of preschool teachers and other early learning and 
development providers. Further, we include mechanisms in Priority 1--
Improving Early Learning and Development Outcomes to support educators 
and administrators to improve young children's health, social-
emotional, and cognitive outcomes. Because these priorities provide 
multiple options for bolstering principals' understanding of early 
learning curricula, we do not think revisions are necessary to address 
the commenter's concern.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed support for proposed Priority 10, 
but encouraged us to further strengthen subpart (d) by including 
specific leadership skills, such as developing and managing talent and 
creating a strong organizational culture focused on high expectations 
for student and teacher performance. Another commenter suggested 
several edits throughout Priority 10 to highlight additional important 
skills that principals must master, including accessing and using data 
to make

[[Page 73442]]

decisions and improving the learning environment in addition to 
instruction.
    Discussion: We thank the commenters for suggesting specific skills 
to prioritize. In general, we do not think that it is appropriate, 
through this NFP, to dictate specific strategies, methods, or 
activities beyond the broad areas of focus outlined in each priority. 
We think that applicants are generally best-suited to choose approaches 
that are most appropriate in their particular contexts.
    Changes: None.

Priority 11--Leveraging Technology To Support Instructional Practice 
and Professional Development

    Comment: Several commenters noted the benefits of education 
technology and expressed support for proposed Priority 11. Several of 
these commenters also provided suggestions for expanding the reach of 
the proposed priority. Two commenters suggested that the Department 
expand subpart (c) to support projects that offer a broader range of 
activities by including school leaders and technology leaders in 
addition to educators as staff that could earn professional development 
credit, certification, or continuing education and supporting online 
networks for peer collaboration or mentorship. One commenter also 
suggested adding a focus on teacher preparation coursework to build new 
teachers' capacity to engage in learning environments and use digital 
tools. Similarly, another commenter recommended adding professional 
development for educators on how to effectively use digital resources 
and student data. One commenter encouraged the Department to consider 
content and pedagogy as necessary elements to inform the development of 
high-quality digital materials, and another commenter suggested adding 
a subpart for projects that use technology to restructure the 
traditional pedagogical model to overcome traditional time, space, and 
fiscal constraints.
    One commenter requested that the Department include a focus on 
school- and district-level activities, including the development and 
implementation of comprehensive plans for technology integration and 
data privacy policies. Another commenter suggested that research and 
evaluation be included as a required activity under the proposed 
priority.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenter's recommendations and note 
that many of the suggestions are covered under subpart (c) of Priority 
11. For example, we think that ``educators'', as it appears in subpart 
(c), is a broad enough term to encompass school leaders, in addition to 
teachers. We also think that professional development on the use of 
digital resources, the use of student data, and privacy policies would 
be appropriate elements of a project that addresses subpart (c) of 
Priority 11. In general, we do not think that it is appropriate to 
prescribe the specific topic of the professional development, because 
applicants are best suited to identify the needs of the teachers and 
leaders they propose to serve. The purpose of this priority is for 
applicants to leverage the use of technology in supporting 
instructional practices and professional development; we do not intend 
to restrict the topics of the instructional practice or professional 
development. Further, we do not think that it is necessary to revise 
the priority to include a subpart for projects that use technology to 
restructure the traditional pedagogical model to overcome traditional 
time, space, and fiscal constraints because those projects may be 
supported under Priority 3--Promoting Personalized Learning.
    We decline to list or prescribe specific types of learning 
communities. As proposed, we think that learning communities would 
allow for online networks for peer collaboration. However, we change 
``including'' to ``such as'' in subpart (c) to clarify that projects 
addressing the priority may include online learning communities that do 
not result in awarding professional development or continuous learning 
units.
    We agree with the commenter that applicants addressing this 
priority will benefit from the development and implementation of 
comprehensive plans for technology integration and data privacy 
policies. However, given the variety of programs and entities that may 
use or address this priority, we do not think that it is appropriate to 
include those requirements in Priority 11. We also note that recipients 
of Department funding are required to protect the privacy of student 
data. Additionally, a program using this priority could use factors 
from 34 CFR 75.210(c) (Quality of the project design) or 34 CFR 
75.210(h) (Quality of the project evaluation) to encourage applicants 
to address their planning and sustainability needs, as well as their 
proposed project evaluations, as part of their proposed projects.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that proposed Priority 11 
include language highlighting the value of technology in supporting 
improved outcomes for young children and their families.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenter that technology can enhance 
the implementation of early learning projects and efforts to more 
effectively engage parents. In fact, we discussed the opportunities to 
leverage this priority with Priority 1--Improving Early Learning and 
Development Outcomes and Priority 14--Improving Parent, Family, and 
Community Engagement in the background provided in the NPP. We include 
the priority on leveraging technology as a separate priority so that 
discretionary grant programs have the flexibility to use the priority 
alone or in combination with other priorities.
    We decline to revise the priority in a manner that would limit the 
types of students that could be served by projects that address the 
priority. As proposed, Priority 11 does not preclude projects with a 
focus on early learning or early grades. However, we have revised 
subpart (a) of Priority 14--Improving Parent, Family, and Community 
Engagement to include an explicit reference to technological tools as a 
means to expand and enhance the skill, strategies, and knowledge of 
parents and families.
    Changes: In subpart (a) of Priority 14, we have revised the 
parenthetical list so that it now begins with: ``including techniques 
or use of technological tools . . .''
    Comment: Several commenters suggested that the proposed priority be 
revised to require projects supported under it to be based on the 
principles of UDL.
    Discussion: Although UDL is not explicitly discussed in Priority 
11, an applicant could propose to develop and implement high-quality 
accessible digital tools, materials, and assessments that are based on 
UDL principles in response to subpart (b). Moreover, the priority, as 
proposed, does not preclude an applicant from using the approach or 
principle it determines to be most suitable for its project. We 
therefore decline to revise the priority.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter noted that the use of ``particularly'' in 
subpart (a), with respect to open educational resources, and 
``including'' in subpart (c), with respect to certain types of online 
courses, learning communities, and simulations, may be too restrictive.
    Discussion: The Department strongly encourages the use of Open 
Educational Resources (OER) and online courses, learning communities, 
or simulations that award professional development credit or continuing 
education units, but did not intend to restrict subparts (a)

[[Page 73443]]

and (c) so that only those projects could apply. We agree with the 
commenter that the use of ``including'' in subpart (c) may be too 
restrictive and we have revised the subpart to better reflect our 
intent. However, we do not think that the use of ``particularly'' in 
subpart (a) is too restrictive, because it appropriately reflects the 
Department's interest in promoting the development and use of OER.
    Further, in our review of Priority 11, we concluded that subpart 
(a) could be better organized to ensure the clarity of our intent 
regarding OER. We have also revised subpart (c) to clarify that we 
intend the courses, learning communities, and simulations that are 
supported by projects under this priority to be high-quality, 
accessible, and online.
    In addition, on reconsideration of Priority 11, we noticed that the 
phrasing of subparts (b) and (c) was unintentionally restrictive and 
would require applicants to both develop and implement the elements 
described in each subpart. We think that there are cases in which an 
applicant that may want to implement an already-developed product, but 
would be precluded from doing so by the proposed subpart language. As 
such, we have revised subparts (b) and (c) of Priority 11 to require 
that applicants only implement, with the clear understanding that some 
applicants may also develop, the products they propose to implement, as 
appropriate.
    Changes: We have revised subparts (a), (b), and (c) of Priority 11 
so that they now read:
    (a) Using high-speed Internet access and devices to increase 
students' and educators' access to high-quality accessible digital 
tools, assessments, and materials, particularly Open Educational 
Resources.
    (b) Implementing high-quality accessible digital tools, 
assessments, and materials that are aligned to rigorous college- and 
career-ready standards.
    (c) Implementing high-quality, accessible online courses, online 
learning communities, or online simulations, such as those for which 
educators could earn professional development credit or continuing 
education units through Digital Credentials based on demonstrated 
mastery of competencies and performance-based outcomes, instead of 
traditional time-based metrics.
    Comment: One commenter requested the Department to clarify in 
subpart (d) that data platforms can also be used to inform and improve 
learning outcomes.
    Discussion: We agree that producing evidence on teaching and 
learning is not the sole purpose of data platforms, and also agree that 
the focus of subpart (d) should be to inform and improve learning 
outcomes.
    Changes: We have revised subpart (d) so that it now reads: ``Using 
data platforms that enable the development, visualization, and rapid 
analysis of data to inform and improve learning outcomes, while also 
protecting privacy in accordance with applicable laws.''
    Comment: One commenter expressed strong support for Priority 11, 
but stated that an applicant addressing subpart (a) alone should not be 
recognized as meeting the goal of the priority. Conversely, another 
commenter said that most schools are behind the technology curve and 
lack resources for the infrastructure, hardware, software, and 
professional development that are necessary for educators to 
incorporate technology into the classroom.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenters' concern. However, we note 
that, for some schools, projects designed to meet subpart (a) of 
Priority 11 could represent the first step in leveraging technology. 
Data provided to the Federal Communications Commission through the 
ConnectED initiative show a significant need for the types of projects 
that would be funded under subpart (a). Without access to high-speed 
Internet and devices, students and educators also do not have access to 
digital tools and materials in the classroom.
    We also note that the Department considers a program's authorizing 
statute and the types of entities that are eligible to apply when 
determining whether it is appropriate to select and use a given 
priority. The Department will not use a priority for a program if it 
determined that the use of that priority is inconsistent with the 
program's purpose or would not result in meaningful projects.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Multiple commenters expressed support for the Department's 
reference to, and definition of, OER. Two commenters stated that open 
licensing of publicly funded educational resources should be made a 
requirement in all Department programs. One commenter noted that OER 
can be used to effectively address many of the other proposed 
priorities, including proposed Priorities 3, 4, 5, and 7.
    On the other hand, one commenter expressed concern about the 
Department giving preference to entities that provide OER, stating that 
one size does not fit all and that those entities may not understand 
the teaching and learning experience. The commenter requested that the 
Department let the market decide which tools are successful.
    Discussion: We thank the commenters for their support of the OER 
definition. Although we encourage OER, its inclusion in these 
priorities does not require grant recipients to produce or use OER. 
Therefore, we do not agree with the commenter who suggested that our 
inclusion of OER would impede the market or result in entities 
selecting and using tools that are not appropriate for their particular 
teaching and learning experiences.
    It should be noted that the Department has regulations related to 
products produced with grant funds. Specifically, under 34 CFR 75.621 
(Copyright policy for grantees), grantees may copyright intellectual 
property that they produce with Department grant funds. However, under 
34 CFR 74.36 (Intangible property) and 80.34 (Copyrights), the 
Department retains a non-exclusive and irrevocable license to 
reproduce, publish, or otherwise use those project materials for 
government purposes.\9\ This license gives the Department the authority 
needed to ensure that materials produced as part of Department grant 
projects can be made available to the public.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \9\ For grants awarded on or after the date on which the 
Department adopts and makes effective the Uniform Guidance in 2 CFR 
part 200 (expected on December 26, 2014), 2 CFR 200.315(b) would 
preserve the Federal government's license that exists under current 
Sec. Sec.  74.36 and 80.34.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter noted the importance of live-online 
proctoring and recommended that the Department require authentication 
procedures that ensure the integrity of online education.
    Discussion: We agree that it is important to have methods in place 
to support the integrity and credibility of online education programs. 
However, given the variety of applicants and discretionary grant 
programs that may use this priority, we do not think that it is 
appropriate to prescribe those methods as part of Priority 11.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter stated that technology does not, in and of 
itself, improve instruction or learning, as it is only a tool used by 
educators and students. The commenter questioned whether this priority 
should be included.
    Discussion: Although we agree that technology access alone may not 
improve instruction or learning, when used effectively, technology has 
the potential to engage students, empower teachers, and connect them to 
each

[[Page 73444]]

other and to some of the best resources the world has to offer. These 
results do have the power to improve instruction and learning and, for 
that reason, we include this priority to support projects that would 
leverage technology.
    Changes: None.

Priority 12--Promoting Diversity

    Comment: One commenter expressed general support for Priority 12 
and suggested that we integrate the priority into the other 14 
priorities.
    Discussion: We thank the commenter and agree that increasing 
diversity is an important strategy to prepare students to be successful 
in an increasingly diverse workforce. We note that programs have the 
flexibility to use several of these priorities in a single competition, 
as appropriate. The Department has discretion in choosing which 
priorities they use in a competition in any given year, and those 
decisions must be made with the program's statutory requirements in 
mind.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter was concerned that we are encouraging the 
selection and assignment of students based on race and ethnicity in 
proposed Priority 12. The commenter also indicated that the focus of 
the Department's 2011 and 2013 guidance on diversity (which was created 
in cooperation with the Department of Justice (DOJ)) is misplaced, and 
that we should not encourage schools to adopt diversity policies.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenter's concern, and note that we 
do not intend for this priority to be used to support projects that 
select and assign students based solely on race; nor are we requiring 
schools to adopt particular diversity policies. Rather, our intent for 
this priority is to promote strategies that prepare students to be 
successful in the increasingly diverse workforce. We currently support 
projects that would increase racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic 
diversity in schools and postsecondary programs; as well as projects 
that would decrease racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic isolation of 
students in preschool, elementary, or secondary programs, as 
appropriate. We intend to use this priority only in discretionary grant 
programs for which it is useful, relevant, and allowable under the 
program's authorizing statute.
    We also note that the Department's 2011 and 2013 guidance \10\ on 
diversity was reaffirmed by guidance issued in 2014 \11\ by both the 
Department and DOJ and is consistent with Supreme Court decisions.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \10\ Available at: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201111.html and www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/new-guidance-supports-voluntary-use-race-achieve-diversity-higher-education.
    \11\ Available at: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201405-schuette-guidance.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed concern that the changes made to 
Priority 12 from the 2010 Supplemental Priorities, namely the inclusion 
of socioeconomic diversity, may lead applicants to avoid increasing 
racial and ethnic diversity. The commenter was also concerned that 
proposed Priority 12 is no longer aligned with the 2011 and 2013 joint 
guidance issued by the Department and DOJ. The commenter also noted 
that the 2010 version of the priority was rarely used in discretionary 
grant competitions, and asked that we ensure greater use of the 
proposed priority in the future.
    Another commenter asked that we revise proposed Priority 12 so that 
applicants have greater flexibility to interpret ``diversity'' in terms 
of the specific needs of their communities; and a third commenter asked 
that we include in Priority 12 a focus on disability diversity.
    Discussion: We agree that increasing racial and ethnic diversity is 
important for preparing students for success in an increasingly diverse 
workforce, and also acknowledge that the 2010 version of this priority 
was not widely used in the Department's discretionary grant programs. 
We therefore sought input from stakeholders on how to better frame the 
priority so that it could be used more broadly. We learned that 
including a focus on socioeconomic diversity, in addition to racial and 
ethnic diversity, may facilitate the use of the priority in more 
discretionary grant programs, and may have the corollary effect of also 
increasing racial and ethnic diversity in schools and postsecondary 
programs. Thus, we think that including socioeconomic diversity in 
Priority 12 may encourage broader use of the priority across our 
discretionary grant programs while maintaining the original focus on 
increasing racial and ethnic diversity. We note, however, that we have 
discretion in choosing which priorities to use in a competition in any 
given year, and that those decisions must be made in accordance with 
the program's authorizing statute.
    We do not think that revising the priority so that ``diversity'' 
could be interpreted with the flexibility proposed by the commenter is 
appropriate. We think that the focus of the priority should be on 
increasing racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity. Moreover, we do 
not think it is appropriate to add disability diversity to Priority 12, 
and note that we do include a mechanism to otherwise support students 
with disabilities through Priority 4--Supporting High-Need Students.
    Priority 12 is fully consistent with the guidance on diversity 
issued by the Department and DOJ in 2011 and 2013. We also note that 
all recipients of Department funds must comply with the 
nondiscrimination requirements of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 
1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title IX of the 
Education Amendments of 1972, and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter supported Priority 12, and suggested 
additional edits to further strengthen the priority. For example, the 
commenter thought that the priority should be structured so that 
applicants would need to decrease racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic 
isolation of students in preschool, elementary, or secondary programs, 
rather than choose one area of focus among the three. The commenter 
also suggested that we revise the priority so that increasing diversity 
and decreasing racial isolation would need to be a focus of any project 
under the priority, regardless of that project's focus on preschool, 
elementary, secondary, or postsecondary institutions. Finally, the 
commenter asked that we expand the priority to support projects that 
would maintain diversity in already diverse districts that may be 
experiencing demographic shifts.
    Discussion: While we agree that increasing socioeconomic diversity 
may also be an effective strategy for increasing racial and ethnic 
diversity, we do not think that it is appropriate to require that 
applicants proposing projects under this priority include strategies 
for increasing all three types of diversity. We intend for Priority 12 
to facilitate its broader use in our discretionary grant programs, so 
we do not wish to impose further requirements on applicants.
    Similarly, we think that preschool and elementary and secondary 
schools face particular issues of racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic 
isolation. In an effort to focus the Department's investments in this 
respect on the areas in most need, we have not edited the priority to 
include a focus on decreasing racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic 
isolation in postsecondary programs.
    We agree with the commenter that school districts that are already 
diverse may need support to maintain their diversity in the midst of 
shifting

[[Page 73445]]

demographics. However, we do not think that Priority 12 would preclude 
such a project. We think that an applicant proposing a project of this 
nature could do so in the context of decreasing racial, ethnic, or 
socioeconomic isolation.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed general support for proposed 
Priority 12, and suggested that we extend the reach of the priority so 
that increasing racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity could be a 
mechanism for increasing secondary and postsecondary completion rates, 
in addition to increasing enrollment.
    Discussion: While we agree with the commenter that completion of 
secondary and postsecondary programs is an important area, we do not 
think that Priority 12 is the appropriate place for such a focus. Our 
intent for Priority 12 is to facilitate a broader focus on diversity in 
our discretionary grant programs, so we do not wish to impose further 
limitations on applicants. In addition, we note that Priority 5--
Increasing Postsecondary Access, Affordability, and Completion includes 
two subparts focused on completion of college, other postsecondary 
programs, or other career and technical education.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter requested that we include a focus on 
supporting the diversity of the teaching workforce.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenter that exposing students to 
teachers from a variety of backgrounds may be an effective way to 
prepare students for a diverse world of work. However, we do not think 
that it is appropriate to expand the areas of focus in Priority 12.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: None.
    Discussion: Upon review, we recognized that the language of 
Priority 12 did not clearly reflect our intention that the increase in 
diversity needs to occur at the school or program level in order to 
address the priority. We have made that clarification.
    Changes: We have revised Priority 12 so that it now refers to 
``individual schools or postsecondary programs.''

Priority 13--Improving School Climate, Behavioral Supports, and 
Correctional Education

    Comment: One commenter expressed support for Priority 13, but 
suggested that we expand it to recognize the causal connection that 
links poor instruction to inappropriate student behavior.
    Discussion: The commenter's hypothesis is reasonable and a project 
focused on improving instruction to improve student behavior could fall 
under subpart (a) of Priority 13, which supports projects that improve 
school climate through strategies that may include Tiered Behavioral 
Supports. Moreover, we note that the definition of Tiered Behavioral 
Supports refers to evidence-based supports and data-based strategies. 
Thus, a strategy that is based on a causal connection to student 
behavior could be appropriate under this priority.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter asked that we include in Priority 13 a focus 
on youth mentoring as an effective strategy for improving school 
climate. Two commenters suggested that we focus specifically on 
increasing student engagement and connectedness. Another commenter 
asked that we highlight arts programs, citing examples of how they have 
been shown to improve school climate.
    In addition, a few commenters suggested that we include subparts 
with a wider range of strategies under Priority 13. One commenter 
suggested that we include a subpart for projects that are designed to 
improve student outcomes through school-based health clinics and social 
services, and another asked that we include support for school-based 
addiction treatment. A third commenter urged the Department to 
incentivize learning environments that provide real-world experience 
through project-based or other applied work.
    Discussion: We agree that each of the strategies suggested by 
commenters may be effective in improving school climate. In general, we 
do not think that it is appropriate to include specific strategies in 
this priority because we do not want to limit those that applicants 
could propose to use in their projects. As noted elsewhere, we think 
that applicants are best-suited to propose appropriate strategies for 
improving school climate, behavioral supports, and correctional 
education, with their target populations in mind.
    We also note that our definition of Tiered Behavioral Supports now 
includes a reference to external partners, which may provide some 
flexibility under subpart (a) of Priority 13 for applicants that 
propose the strategies described by the commenters. We make this change 
in order to recognize the unique supports that these partners can offer 
and note that the rationale for this change to the definition of Tiered 
Behavioral Supports is set out later in the Analysis of Comments and 
Changes section of this document.
    Finally, regarding the suggestion we address learning environments 
under this priority, we note that Priority 7--Promoting Science, 
Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education includes a 
focus on Authentic STEM Experiences, which can be laboratory, research-
based, or experiential learning opportunities in informal or formal 
settings. We think that this provision in Priority 7 would allow for 
project-based and other applied work strategies. Because those learning 
environments are supported in Priority 7, we do not think it is 
necessary to revise this priority.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters noted the important role external 
partners, particularly organizations that provide afterschool and 
extended learning programs, can play in improving school climate.
    Discussion: We agree that coordination between LEAs and external 
partners can be an effective strategy for improving school climate. We 
note, however, that these partnerships are often eligible applicants, 
in their own right, under our discretionary grant programs. It is not 
necessary to include language that specifically allows for partnerships 
with community organizations that provide afterschool, extended 
learning, or other relevant programs, because the priority does not 
preclude those partnerships from participating in this work.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that we include language in 
Priority 13 to allow for children in early learning and development 
programs to benefit from projects addressing this priority.
    Discussion: We think that applicants proposing to serve young 
children could address Priority 13. We also note that we include in 
Priority 1--Improving Early Learning and Development Outcomes a clear 
focus on improving outcomes across the Essential Domains of School 
Readiness, which includes social and emotional development. Projects 
that are designed to improve such development in young children could 
likely do so through strategies that are similar to those described in 
Priority 13. We decline to revise Priority 13 in a manner that would 
set clear age-group parameters because we think that it could limit the 
use of the priority.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter stressed that we should include in Priority 
13 strategies that use family engagement as a mechanism for improving 
student behavior and strengthening student social, emotional, and 
behavioral skills.

[[Page 73446]]

    Discussion: We agree that engaging parents and families in their 
students' education is important, which is why we include Priority 14--
Improving Parent, Family, and Community Engagement. As noted elsewhere, 
these priorities are intended as a menu of options from which we may 
choose in administering our discretionary grant programs. We may choose 
which, if any, of the priorities or subparts are appropriate for 
competitions under those programs. Thus, we may combine elements of 
Priority 14 with elements of Priority 13 in one competition, if 
appropriate and relevant to that program's goals.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed support for subpart (b) of 
Priority 13, which supports projects that reduce or eliminate school 
discipline disparities between student subgroups, reduce or eliminate 
the use of exclusionary discipline, and address the causes of those 
disparities. The commenter suggested that we add to subpart (b) an 
additional activity that would require applicants to also promote 
disciplinary practices that are alternatives to exclusionary 
discipline. Another commenter suggested that we emphasize in subpart 
(b) the importance of training school personnel to address underlying 
causes of disparities in school discipline.
    Discussion: We agree that it is important for applicants to promote 
alternative disciplinary practices in addition to reducing or 
eliminating exclusionary practices. We have therefore edited subpart 
(b) to include this additional focus.
    While we agree with the other commenter that school personnel must 
have the appropriate knowledge and skills to address disparities in 
school discipline practices, we think that projects that are designed 
to address subpart (b) of Priority 13, as proposed, could include a 
focus on training school personnel in these matters.
    Changes: We have revised subpart (b) of Priority 13 to conclude 
with: ``. . . and promoting alternative disciplinary practices that 
address the disparities.''
    Comment: One commenter expressed concern with subpart (b) of 
Priority 13, which supports projects that reduce or eliminate 
disparities in school discipline practices for particular groups of 
students by identifying and addressing the root causes of those 
disparities. The commenter asserted that disparities exist because some 
groups of students commit more violations than others.
    Discussion: We disagree with the commenter, and note that the Civil 
Rights Data Collection Issue Brief No. 1 \12\ reported extensively on 
these disparities. Research suggests that the substantial racial 
disparities of the kind reflected in the CRDC data are not explained by 
more frequent or more serious misbehavior by students of color. \13\ We 
also want to clarify the purpose of this subpart, which is to better 
understand the root causes of disparate disciplinary practices and, 
through that improved understanding, reduce or eliminate disparities in 
disciplinary practices among student subgroups.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \12\ Available at: http://ocrdata.ed.gov/Downloads/CRDC-School-Discipline-Snapshot.pdf.
    \13\ Available at: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201401-title-vi-sp.pdf. (See Footnote 7)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter felt that our focus in subpart (c) of 
Priority 13 was misplaced, and suggested that we restructure the 
subpart so that projects designed to address it would more clearly 
support the re-entry process after release from juvenile justice 
facilities or adult correctional facilities.
    Discussion: We thank the commenter for this suggestion and agree 
that re-entry should be a more prominent focus of subpart (c).
    Changes: We have revised subpart (c) of Priority 13 so that it now 
reads: ``Improving the quality of educational programs in juvenile 
justice facilities (such as detention facilities and secure and non-
secure placements) or adult correctional facilities, or supporting re-
entry after release, by linking the youth or adults to education or 
job-training programs.''
    Comment: None.
    Discussion: Upon review, we determined that subpart (b) should be 
clarified to acknowledge that efforts to either reduce or eliminate 
disparities in school disciplinary practices or to reduce or eliminate 
the use of exclusionary discipline may be alternative goals for 
projects designed to address Priority 13, and that an individual 
project need not be designed to achieve both of those goals in order to 
address the priority. We have made that clarification.
    Changes: We have revised subpart (b) so that it now reads: 
``Reducing or eliminating disparities in school disciplinary practices 
for particular groups of students, including minority students and 
students with disabilities, or reducing or eliminating the use of 
exclusionary discipline (such as suspensions, expulsions, and 
unnecessary placements in alternative education programs) by 
identifying and addressing the root causes of those disparities or uses 
and promoting alternative disciplinary practices that address the 
disparities or uses.''

Priority 14--Improving Parent, Family, and Community Engagement

    Comment: One commenter supported proposed Priority 14, noting that 
family engagement is important in fostering language and literacy 
development in young children. A second commenter echoed this idea by 
asking that we include in subpart (c) of Priority 14 a focus on 
reducing language barriers between parents or families and school 
staff. Another commenter also expressed support for this priority and 
asked that we further strengthen the priority to pay particular 
attention to the needs of students from low-income families, English 
learners, and other High-need Students. One commenter noted that 
Community Engagement and Parent and Family Engagement are very 
important for student success, and said that it should be ranked higher 
in the final list of priorities.
    Discussion: We thank the commenters for their support for Priority 
14. We think that language and literacy outcomes for children and 
students may be improved through strategies that also improve Parent 
and Family Engagement in schools. We also agree that language barriers 
between parents or families and school staff can be difficult to 
overcome when attempting to engage parents or families in their 
students' education. However, we do not think that changes to the 
priority are necessary to allow support for projects that are designed 
to address these needs. Applicants are best suited to propose projects 
to address the specific needs of their communities, and we therefore 
decline to revise the priority in a manner that might limit its use to 
those applicants that identify language barriers as a prevalent issue.
    We also agree that High-need Students may need additional support, 
and that their parents may be uncomfortable entering their children's 
schools. Because several of our discretionary grant programs are 
already targeted on High-need Students, and because we include Priority 
4--Supporting High-Need Students, we do not think that adding an 
additional focus to Priority 14 on High-need Students, is necessary.
    Finally, we note that the priorities are not ranked in any 
particular order. None of the priorities will be used more frequently 
than others in our discretionary grant programs as a result of where 
they fall in this list; the Department has discretion in choosing which 
priorities to use in competitions.

[[Page 73447]]

    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters suggested that we include a more explicit 
focus in proposed Priority 14 on linking learning in school to learning 
at home. One commenter noted that including the concept of Systemic 
Initiatives in subpart (b) of Priority 14 would further emphasize the 
need to develop and implement systems for promoting family engagement 
in schools. In addition, two commenters expressed support for proposed 
Priority 14 and suggested several places--in Priority 14, in the other 
priorities, and in some definitions--where the Dual Capacity-Building 
Framework for Family and Community Engagement could be better 
represented.
    Discussion: We agree that an important outcome of improving parent, 
family, and community engagement is to connect what students learn at 
school to the resources and support that are available for them at 
home. We also agree that, in order to do this work well, it is helpful 
for schools to have systems in place to effectively engage parents and 
families. For these reasons, we amend subpart (b) of Priority 14.
    Changes: We have revised subpart (b) of Priority 14 so that it 
reads: ``. . . to build meaningful relationships with students' parents 
or families through Systemic Initiatives that may also support 
students' learning at home.''
    Comments: One commenter urged us to restructure Priority 14 to 
better reflect the Community Engagement or Parent and Family Engagement 
needs of children beginning at birth. A few other commenters suggested 
edits to the priority to be more inclusive of early childhood programs.
    Discussion: We agree that young children, in addition to students 
in kindergarten and above, benefit from improved Community Engagement 
and Parent and Family Engagement, and note that we have made some 
changes to Priority 1--Improving Early Learning and Development 
Outcomes, to improve coordination between parents, families, and early 
childhood educators. We have revised subparts (b) and (c) to allow for 
support for community-based early learning and development programs. 
Changes: In subpart (b), we have included references to ``program 
leaders'' in addition to school leaders, and also have included 
``practitioners'' in addition to teachers. In subpart (c), we have 
included ``program staff'' in addition to school staff. We have made 
similar changes to the definitions of Community Engagement and Parent 
and Family Engagement to include both school and program staff.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that we add an additional subpart 
to Priority 14 that would support opportunities for parents, families, 
and communities to, among other things, build meaningful relationships 
with professionals, understand fiscal processes, and understand how to 
use data to drive decision-making. Another commenter suggested specific 
edits to subpart (a) of Priority 14 to encourage parents' use of 
technological tools to improve communication.
    Discussion: We think that the elements suggested by the first 
commenter are important, and note that any of these elements could be 
supported by projects that are designed under subpart (a) of Priority 
14. We also note that subpart (c) of Priority 14 allows for broad 
improvement of Community Engagement. In general, we do not think that 
it is appropriate to list specific areas of focus beyond what is 
already discussed in Priority 14, because applicants for discretionary 
grant programs may wish to propose projects that are designed to 
support the particular needs of their target populations. We decline to 
revise the priority in a manner that might limit its use.
    We appreciate the second commenter's suggestion to include a focus 
on technological tools, and have edited subpart (a) to reflect the 
suggestion.
    Changes: In subpart (a) of Priority 14, we have revised the 
parenthetical list so that it now begins with ``including techniques or 
use of technological tools . . .''
    Comments: One commenter expressed support for proposed Priority 14, 
and noted the important role that afterschool programs can play in 
improving engagement. Another commenter asked that use of technology be 
explicitly included as an innovative tool to improve communication with 
parents and families.
    Discussion: We thank the commenters for offering approaches to this 
work that may be effective. In general, we do not think that it is 
appropriate to list specific strategies or approaches beyond what is 
already discussed in Priority 14, because applicants for discretionary 
grant programs may wish to propose projects designed to support the 
particular needs of their target populations. We decline to revise the 
priority in a manner that might limit its potential use.
    We note that both afterschool programs and the use of technology 
could be central elements to a project designed to meet Priority 14, 
and we think our inclusion of ``program,'' in addition to ``school,'' 
in some subparts and definitions, as discussed above, may facilitate 
the inclusion of afterschool programs.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: None.
    Discussion: After reviewing Priority 14, we conclude that projects 
that are designed to address this priority can focus on student 
outcomes in general, rather than purely academic outcomes. We think 
that this is appropriate given the types of projects we seek to support 
under Priority 14, and note that any project that is designed to 
address this priority could focus on improving student academic 
outcomes.
    Changes: We have removed ``academic'' from the introductory 
language of Priority 14.

Priority 15--Supporting Military Families and Veterans

    Comment: A few commenters expressed support for proposed Priority 
15.
    Response: We appreciate the commenters' support.
    Changes: None.
    Definitions. We discuss and respond to comments received on the 
proposed definitions in alphabetical order.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that we define the term ``adult 
learners'' and noted that they make up almost 40 percent of the 
college-going population.
    Discussion: We agree that adult learners are an important group, 
and note that Priority 5--Increasing Postsecondary Access, 
Affordability, and Completion includes several mechanisms for 
supporting adult learners. For example, subpart (d) of Priority 5 
focuses on increasing the number of individuals who return to the 
educational system to obtain a Regular High School Diploma, enroll in 
and complete postsecondary education, or obtain basic and academic 
skills. We do not define ``adult learners'' because we do not include 
the term in the NFP, but we note that our definitions of both High-need 
Students and Low-skilled Adult would include the subgroup about which 
the commenter is concerned.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that we revise the proposed 
definition of Authentic STEM Experiences to include teacher-led 
integration of STEM fields within the K-12 setting. Another commenter 
suggested that we include out-of-school time programs and summer camp 
programs in the definition.
    Discussion: While we think that each commenter's suggestion is 
important and could be useful for some applicants,

[[Page 73448]]

we do not think that the definition of Authentic STEM Experiences 
precludes an applicant from using any of the strategies or programs 
discussed above.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters expressed support for the proposed 
definition of Community Engagement and asked that we include specific 
types of organizations in the definition. One commenter noted the 
important role that public media can play in fostering engagement, and 
another asked that museums, cultural organizations, and other art 
venues be highlighted in the definitions of Community Engagement and 
Sustained Partnerships.
    Another commenter suggested that we revise the proposed definition 
of Community Engagement to include examples of systematic inclusion.
    Discussion: We agree that several types of organizations, in 
addition to those listed in the definitions of Community Engagement and 
Sustained Partnerships, may play integral roles in projects to improve 
Community Engagement or Parent and Family Engagement. We note that our 
definition of Community Engagement includes an illustrative list of 
organizations that may partner with SEAs, LEAs, or other educational 
institutions, and that other organizations not specifically listed in 
the definition could also be appropriate partners, depending on the 
scope of a proposed project. Our definition of Sustained Partnerships 
includes a similar list, but is not structured in a way that provides 
for flexible interpretation. We therefore restructure that definition 
to reflect the structure of the Community Engagement definition, so 
that applicants may include other organizations in addition to those 
listed as examples in the definition.
    Finally, we agree with the commenter that including examples of 
systematic inclusion may be helpful, and have revised the definition of 
Community Engagement to include an illustrative list of possible ways 
to systematically include community organizations as partners with 
SEAs, LEAs, or other educational institutions, or their school or 
program staff.
    Changes: We have included in the definition of Community Engagement 
the following strategies as possible ways to achieve systemic 
inclusion: ``Developing a shared community vision, establishing a 
shared accountability agreement, participating in shared data 
collection and analysis, or establishing community networks that are 
focused on shared community-level outcomes.'' We have also revised the 
definition of Sustained Partnerships to make the list of possible 
partner organizations illustrative rather than complete.
    Comment: One commenter identified technical errors in the proposed 
definitions of Community Engagement and Sustained Partnerships. First, 
the commenter asserted that Title III of the Higher Education Act of 
1965 (HEA) does not authorize grants to IHEs generally; rather, it 
authorizes Federal assistance to certain types of institutions. Second, 
the commenter noted that Hispanic-serving institutions are eligible for 
assistance under Title V, not Title III, of the HEA and that, without 
specific mention of Title V in our definitions of Community Engagement 
and Sustained Partnerships, those institutions would not be included. 
Finally, the commenter stated that historically black colleges and 
universities (HBCUs) are a type of minority-serving institution (MSI), 
and are eligible for assistance under Title III of the HEA. Because 
HBCUs are a type of MSI that is authorized to receive assistance under 
Title III, it is not necessary to mention them in addition to MSIs.
    Discussion: We thank the commenter for pointing out these errors. 
We have revised the definitions of Community Engagement and Sustained 
Partnerships to ensure that the HEA is cited properly, that Hispanic-
serving institutions are included, and that we do not include redundant 
references to specific types of MSIs.
    Changes: In the definitions of Community Engagement and Sustained 
Partnerships, we have amended our reference to the HEA so that it 
includes Title III and Title V. We have also deleted specific reference 
to HBCUs.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that we add language to the 
proposed definitions of Community Engagement and Parent and Family 
Engagement to indicate that the goal of such engagement must be to 
improve student academic and other related outcomes. Another commenter 
asked that our definitions of Community Engagement and Parent and 
Family Engagement require that inclusion of community organizations be 
not only systematic, but sustained over time.
    Discussion: We think that it is important that projects supported 
by the Department generally be designed to support students. As 
proposed, any project addressing Priority 14 must be designed to 
improve student academic outcomes through strategies supporting 
Community Engagement or Parent and Family Engagement. Therefore, we do 
not think that it is necessary to include an additional focus on 
improving student academic outcomes in the definitions of Community 
Engagement and Parent and Family Engagement.
    We think that the issue of sustaining strong partnerships is an 
important one. However, we think that by requiring grantees to 
systematically include community organizations in their work, through 
the definitions, sustainable partnerships could happen organically. We 
also think that requiring a focus on sustained inclusion may 
disadvantage an applicant that is implementing those strategies for the 
first time.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that we include ``validating 
credentials'' in the definition of Employer Engagement to signal the 
importance of ensuring that credentials provided by training programs 
are those needed for in-demand jobs. Another commenter suggested that 
we include, in the definition of Employer Engagement, a focus on 
encouraging employers to actively recruit Low-skilled Adults and High-
need Students. A third commenter thought that it was important to 
include potential employers in the definition to more fully reflect the 
economic challenges that rural communities face.
    Discussion: We agree that validating credentials is an important 
part of Employer Engagement and we have edited the definition to 
reflect that. We decline to make the change recommended by the second 
commenter because the definition of Employer Engagement is focused on 
ways in which employers can be involved in the design and delivery of 
education and training programs, rather than activities that seek to 
influence how and who employers hire. One intended result of greater 
Employer Engagement, however, is that education and training programs 
will be more successful in preparing and placing Low-skilled Adults and 
High-need Students in employment.
    With regard to the third commenter's suggestion, we decline to make 
the change because the goal of subpart (a) of Priority 6, which is 
increasing Employer Engagement, is to encourage education and training 
programs to engage with entities that hire workers so that these 
programs can prepare individuals for in-demand jobs. Engaging with an 
entity that merely has the ``potential'' to hire workers sometime in 
the future would not advance this goal.
    Changes: We have included in the definition of Employer Engagement 
the phrase ``validating credentials'' as a way in which employers may 
demonstrate active involvement.
    Comment: One commenter asked that creative arts expression be 
included in the definition of Essential Domains of School Readiness, so 
that the definition

[[Page 73449]]

would align with the Strong Start for America's Children Act of 2013.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenter's suggestion and have 
edited the definition of Essential Domains of School Readiness to align 
with the Strong Start for America's Children Act of 2013 and with the 
Department's Preschool Development Grants program.
    Changes: We have edited the definition of Essential Domains of 
School Readiness so that it is aligned with the Strong Start for 
America's Children Act of 2013 and with the Department's Preschool 
Development Grants program.
    Comment: One commenter asked that we include a definition of 
``graduation rate,'' and suggested that it be consistent with the 
definition in 34 CFR 200.19(b)(1).
    Discussion: The term ``graduation rate'' is not included in the 
Supplemental Priorities so we think it is unnecessary to define it.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters requested that the Department add more 
student groups to the illustrative list that is included in the 
definition of High-need Students. Specifically, commenters asked that 
vulnerable students, students with multiple disciplinary incidents, 
chronically absent students, students with low-level literacy 
achievement, and new immigrants be explicitly listed as examples in the 
definition of High-need Students. One commenter suggested that the 
Department change ``such as'' to ``and'' so that, in order to meet the 
definition of High-need Students, the students would need to be among 
one of the listed groups.
    Discussion: So long as the students are at risk of educational 
failure or otherwise in need of special assistance, the definition of 
High-need Students could include the groups of students suggested by 
the commenters. Applicants are not limited by the examples provided in 
the definition. We think that it is important that an applicant have 
the discretion to determine which students are at risk of educational 
failure, and to discuss how the proposed project will meet the needs of 
those students.
    Also, it should be noted that this definition is consistent with 
the existing definition of this term that is used by Department 
programs, such as the Investing in Innovation Fund. Although we agree 
with the commenters that additional groups of students may be 
considered High-need Students, we think that it is important for the 
Department to be consistent in defining this term.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters questioned the differences between the 
definitions of Children with High Needs and High-need Students. One 
commenter suggested defining ``low income'' in the definition of 
Children with High-needs and suggested using ``children from low-income 
families'' in both definitions.
    Discussion: Because Children with High Needs, as we define that 
term, are not yet in school, an exact alignment between these two terms 
is not appropriate (for example, Children with High Needs do not attend 
school and, thus, cannot attend High-minority Schools). Further, we 
note that the terms Children with High Needs and High-need Students are 
currently used in other Department programs (such as Race to the Top--
Early Learning Challenge and the Investing in Innovation Fund); and we 
think that it is important for the Department to be consistent in 
defining these terms.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters expressed concerns with the definitions 
of High-quality Teacher Evaluation and Support System and High-quality 
Principal Evaluation and Support system.
    Specifically, one commenter was concerned that the definition of 
High-quality Teacher Evaluation and Support System would not allow for 
fair and appropriate assessment of early career teachers, for whom 
there may not be sufficient Student Growth data available. One 
commenter thought that we did not include a formative assessment 
component, teacher buy-in and collective bargaining rights were not 
adequately reflected, our use of the phrase ``significant factor'' with 
respect to using Student Growth to inform assessments of teacher 
performance was unclear, and that States may unfavorably interpret the 
term ``significant'' when measuring Student Growth. Another commenter 
asked that we clarify that, under the proposed definition, teachers 
would be evaluated only for subjects they teach.
    Commenters expressed similar concerns about the definition of High-
quality Principal Evaluation and Support System. In particular, one 
commenter was concerned with using Student Growth as a significant 
factor in evaluating principal performance, because teachers have a 
larger impact on student performance than principals.
    Discussion: We thank the commenters for their thoughtful 
consideration of both definitions. These definitions are aligned with 
Department guidance to States on ESEA flexibility waivers, which we 
think is appropriate.
    To address some of the specific concerns of the commenters, we note 
that both definitions refer to regularly scheduled evaluations and 
clear and timely feedback. We think that these provisions speak clearly 
to the need for formative assessments. We also note that both high-
quality teacher and principal evaluation and support systems must, as 
defined, be developed with teacher and principal involvement. We think 
that teacher buy-in is an integral piece in developing and implementing 
high-quality evaluation and support systems, and the definitions do not 
affect collective bargaining rights or agreements.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters suggested that we expand the definition of 
Low-skilled Adult. One commenter asked that we include adults who are 
not fluent in English and who may also be illiterate in their native 
language. Another commenter suggested that we include adults who do not 
have a high school diploma (or its recognized equivalent) or the 
postsecondary credential or degree necessary to obtain employment.
    Discussion: We agree that the groups of individuals described by 
the commenters may need targeted support to succeed in the workforce. 
We note, however, that these groups would be included in our definition 
of High-need Students, and that Low-skilled Adults and High-need 
Students are referenced specifically in subparts (b) and (c) of 
Priority 6--Improving Job-Driven Training and Employment Outcomes. The 
Department does not need to amend the definition of Low-skilled Adult 
in order for those groups identified by the commenters to be 
incorporated under the priorities because those groups would be 
appropriately categorized as High-need Students and could be supported 
by projects designed to address those subparts.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters suggested edits to the definition of 
Military- or Veteran-connected Student. One commenter suggested that we 
revise the definition to include children of military families who do 
not reside on military bases and children of veterans. Another 
commenter asked that we include a focus on children with high needs, 
including children with disabilities.
    Discussion: The definition of Military- or Veteran-connected 
Student encompasses all of the groups described by the commenters. The 
definition does not prescribe where students must live

[[Page 73450]]

in order to be categorized as military- or veteran-connected. A High-
need Student could be included in the definition as long as that 
student has a parent or guardian who is a member of the uniformed 
services, the student is a member of the uniformed services, or the 
student has a parent or guardian who is a veteran. Children of veterans 
are clearly included in subpart (c) of the definition.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested revisions to the definition of 
Parent and Family Engagement so that it would include activities that 
take place prior to school entry, beginning at the prenatal period. 
Another commenter suggested that we include in the definition a focus 
on engaging parents and families as their children transition from 
early learning and development programs to kindergarten, and connecting 
those parents and families to appropriate social services.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenter's suggestions, and edit the 
definition to include a focus on program staff, in addition to school 
staff, which significantly broadens the scope of the definition. We do 
not think it is appropriate to further broaden the definition.
    We appreciate the commenter's suggestion to include supports for 
parents and families as their children transition from early learning 
and development programs to kindergarten. We note that we have revised 
subpart (c) of Priority 1--Improving Early Learning and Development 
Outcomes so that applicants addressing this subpart must weave Parent 
and Family Engagement into a project designed to improve transitions 
for children across the birth-through-third-grade continuum. Therefore, 
we do not think that the changes suggested by the commenter are 
necessary.
    Changes: We have revised the definition of Parent and Family 
Engagement to include program staff, in addition to school staff.
    Comment: One commenter suggested edits to the definition of 
Persistently-lowest Achieving School.
    Discussion: This definition is widely used across the Department, 
and amendments to the definition would have implications for any 
discretionary grant program that wishes to use the priorities that 
include this definition.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A few commenters suggested revisions to the proposed 
definition of Personalized Learning. One commenter suggested clarifying 
the term so that both scope and sequence of instruction can be tailored 
to individual learners. One commenter stated that the second sentence 
in the proposed definition be deleted, because the objectives and 
content of the instruction should not vary from college- and career-
ready standards.
    One commenter stated that the definition is too broad, and 
requested the Department to identify the specific interventions that 
would be included or excluded. Another commenter recommended that the 
definition be strengthened through the specific inclusion of supports 
for student engagement in Personalized Learning environments.
    One commenter suggested that we amend the definition to clarify 
that the role of digital tools and technology is to use data and 
student engagement as the driving forces in Personalized Learning. One 
commenter recommended explaining in the definition that data from 
Personalized Learning should be used to create a feedback loop between 
students, their parents, and their teachers. Another commenter stated 
that data should always be used to improve learning and instruction in 
Personalized Learning.
    Discussion: Many of the commenters' suggestions are captured in the 
definition of Personalized Learning. For example, ``scope'' and 
``sequence'' are consistent with the definition's reference to learning 
objectives, content, learning activities, and pace varying depending on 
a learner's needs. Regarding the comment that learning objectives and 
content should not vary by learner, we note that learning objectives 
differ from standards. A learning objective is aligned with college- 
and career-ready standards, but the specific learning objective or 
content in which a learner focuses in a given lesson may vary based on 
that learner's needs and mastery at a given point in time. Thus, we 
decline to remove the references to learning objectives and content.
    We do not want to revise the definition in a manner that would 
prescribe specific approaches to Personalized Learning. For that 
reason, we decline to list specific interventions or supports that may 
or may not be used to implement Personalized Learning approaches. Also, 
although we agree that digital tools and technology are valuable tools, 
we do not want to prescribe or limit the types of tools that may be 
used under the definition of Personalized Learning.
    We agree with commenters that available data should be used in 
Personalized Learning approaches and that data are most helpful when 
supporting a feedback loop between students, their parents, and their 
teachers. We think that the definition of Personalized Learning is 
consistent with these activities and that a revision is not necessary.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that we include ``relevant 
external partners'' as part of the definition of Tiered Behavioral 
Supports, noting that external partners can play an important role in 
matching intensive supports to student needs.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenter and have included the 
suggested phrase in the definition.
    Changes: We have revised the definition of Tiered Behavioral 
Supports so that it now reads: ``. . . a continuum of increasingly 
intensive and evidence-based social, emotional, and behavioral 
supports, including a framework of universal strategies for students, 
school staff, and relevant external partners to promote positive 
behavior and data-based strategies for matching more intensive supports 
to individual student needs.''
    Comment: None.
    Discussion: After review, we determined that the definition of 
Student Achievement was not fully aligned with the definition of that 
term included in the Race to the Top (RTT) program. Specifically, the 
definition in the NPP would require applicants to measure student 
achievement for grades and subjects that require assessment under the 
ESEA through both student scores and other measures of student 
learning. The RTT program, however, requires only that student scores 
be used to inform student achievement. Other measures may be used as 
appropriate.
    Changes: We have revised the definition of Student Achievement to 
clarify that other measures of student learning may be used, as 
appropriate, to determine student achievement in grades and subjects 
for which assessments are required under the ESEA.

Final Priorities

    The Secretary establishes the following priorities and related 
definitions for use in any appropriate discretionary grant competitions 
in FY 2015 and future years. These priorities and definitions replace 
the supplemental priorities and definitions that were published in 
2010.

Priority 1--Improving Early Learning and Development Outcomes

    Projects that are designed to improve early learning and 
development outcomes across one or more of the

[[Page 73451]]

Essential Domains of School Readiness for children from birth through 
third grade (or for any age group within this range) through a focus on 
one or more of the following:
    (a) Increasing access to high-quality early learning and 
development programs and comprehensive services, particularly for 
Children with High Needs.
    (b) Improving the quality and effectiveness of the early learning 
workforce so that early childhood educators, including administrators, 
have the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to improve young 
children's health, social-emotional, and cognitive outcomes.
    (c) Improving the coordination and alignment among early learning 
and development systems and between such systems and elementary 
education systems, including coordination and alignment in engaging and 
supporting families and improving transitions for children along the 
birth-through-third-grade continuum, in accordance with applicable 
privacy laws.
    (d) Including preschool, whether offered in school or community-
based settings, as part of elementary education programs and systems in 
order to expand opportunities for preschool students and teachers.
    (e) Sustaining improved early learning and development outcomes 
throughout the early elementary school years.

Priority 2--Influencing the Development of Non-Cognitive Factors

    Projects that are designed to improve students' mastery of non-
cognitive skills and behaviors (such as academic behaviors, academic 
mindset, perseverance, self-regulation, social and emotional skills, 
and approaches toward learning strategies) and enhance student 
motivation and engagement in learning.

Priority 3--Promoting Personalized Learning

    Projects that are designed to improve student academic outcomes and 
close academic opportunity or attainment gaps through one or both of 
the following:
    (a) Implementing Personalized Learning approaches that will ensure 
appropriate support and produce academic excellence for all students.
    (b) Awarding credit or Digital Credentials based on Personalized 
Learning or adaptive assessments of academic performance, cognitive 
growth, or behavioral improvements and aligned with college- and 
career-ready standards.

Priority 4--Supporting High-Need Students

    (a) Projects that are designed to improve:
    (i) Academic outcomes;
    (ii) Learning environments; or
    (iii) Both,
    (b) For one or more of the following groups of students:
    (i) High-need Students.
    (ii) Students served by Rural Local Educational Agencies.
    (iii) Students with disabilities.
    (iv) English learners.
    (v) Students in Lowest-performing Schools.
    (vi) Students who are living in poverty and are served by schools 
with high concentrations of students living in poverty.
    (vii) Disconnected Youth or migrant youth.
    (viii) Low-skilled Adults.
    (ix) Students who are members of federally recognized Indian 
tribes.

Priority 5--Increasing Postsecondary Access, Affordability, and 
Completion

    Projects that are designed to address one or more of the following:
    (a) Reducing the net cost, median student loan debt, and likelihood 
of student loan default for High-need Students who enroll in college, 
other postsecondary education, or other career and technical education.
    (b) Increasing the number and proportion of High-need Students who 
are academically prepared for, enroll in, or complete on time college, 
other postsecondary education, or other career and technical education.
    (c) Increasing the number and proportion of High-need Students who, 
through college preparation, awareness, recruitment, application, 
selection, and other activities and strategies, enroll in or complete 
college, other postsecondary education, or other career and technical 
education.
    (d) Increasing the number of individuals who return to the 
educational system to obtain a Regular High School Diploma or its 
recognized equivalent; enroll in and complete college, other 
postsecondary education, or career and technical training; or obtain 
basic and academic skills that they need to succeed in college, other 
postsecondary education, other career and technical education, or the 
workforce.
    (e) Increasing the number and proportion of High-need Students, 
particularly Low-skilled Adults, individuals with disabilities, and 
Disconnected Youth or youth who are at risk of becoming disconnected, 
who enroll in and complete postsecondary programs.
    (f) Supporting the development and implementation of high-quality 
online or hybrid credit-bearing and accessible learning opportunities 
that reduce the cost of higher education, reduce time to degree 
completion, or allow students to progress at their own pace.

Priority 6--Improving Job-Driven Training and Employment Outcomes

    Projects that are designed to improve job-driven training and 
employment outcomes through a focus on one or more of the following:
    (a) Increasing Employer Engagement.
    (b) Providing work-based learning opportunities (such as Registered 
Apprenticeships, other apprenticeships, internships, externships, on-
the-job training, co-operative learning, practica, and work experience) 
for Low-skilled Adults or other High-need Students.
    (c) Integrating education and training into a career pathways 
program or system that offers connected education and training (such as 
education and training programs offered by community colleges or other 
institutions of higher education), related Stackable Credentials, and 
support services that enable Low-skilled Adults or other High-need 
Students to obtain industry-recognized credentials and obtain 
employment within an occupational area with the potential to advance to 
higher levels of education and employment in that area.\14\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \14\ Examples of such integration include partnering or 
coordinating with other programs that provide job training and 
employment services, including American Job Centers and other 
programs authorized by the Workforce Investment Act or the Workforce 
Innovation and Opportunity Act.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (d) Providing Labor Market Information, career information, 
advising, counseling, job search assistance, and other supports, such 
as performance-based or other income supports or stipends, 
transportation and child care assistance and information, that 
facilitate credential attainment, employability, and job tenure.
    (e) Using Labor Market Information to inform the focus of programs 
and to guide jobseekers in choosing the types of employment or fields 
of study, training, or credentials to pursue.
    (f) Improving the knowledge and skills of service providers that 
will enable the providers to better assist their customers to obtain 
the competencies and job skills that are needed in the competitive 
labor market.

[[Page 73452]]

Priority 7--Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics 
(STEM) Education

    Projects that are designed to improve Student Achievement or other 
related outcomes by addressing one or more of the following:
    (a) Increasing the preparation of teachers or other educators in 
STEM subjects through activities that may include building content 
knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge, and increasing the number 
and quality of Authentic STEM Experiences.
    (b) Providing students with increased access to rigorous and 
engaging STEM coursework and Authentic STEM Experiences that may be 
integrated across multiple settings.
    (c) Identifying and implementing instructional strategies, systems, 
and structures that improve postsecondary learning and retention, 
resulting in completion of a degree in a STEM field.
    (d) Increasing the number of individuals from groups that have been 
historically under-represented in STEM, including minorities, 
individuals with disabilities, and women, who are provided with access 
to rigorous and engaging coursework in STEM or who are prepared for 
postsecondary study and careers in STEM.
    (e) Supporting local or regional partnerships to give students 
access to real-world STEM experiences and to give educators access to 
high-quality STEM-related professional learning.

Priority 8--Implementing Internationally Benchmarked College- and 
Career-Ready Standards and Assessments

    Projects that are designed to support the implementation of, and 
transition to, internationally benchmarked college- and career-ready 
standards and assessments, including projects in one or more of the 
following:
    (a) Developing and implementing student assessments (such as 
formative assessments, interim assessments, and summative assessments) 
or performance-based tools that are aligned with those standards, that 
are accessible to all students.
    (b) Developing and implementing teacher or principal professional 
development or preparation programs that are aligned with those 
standards.
    (c) Developing and implementing strategies that use the standards 
and information from assessments to inform classroom practices that 
meet the needs of all students.

Priority 9--Improving Teacher Effectiveness and Promoting Equitable 
Access to Effective Teachers

    Projects that are designed to address one or more of the following:
    (a) Increasing the number and percentage of effective teachers in 
Lowest-performing Schools, schools in Rural Local Educational Agencies, 
or schools with high concentrations of students from low-income 
families and minority students, through such activities as:
    (i) Improving the preparation, recruitment, selection, and early 
career development of teachers; implementing performance-based 
certification systems; reforming compensation and advancement systems; 
and reforming hiring timelines and systems.
    (ii) Improving the retention of effective teachers through such 
activities as creating or enhancing opportunities for teachers' 
professional growth; delivering professional development to teachers 
that is relevant, effective, and outcome-oriented; reforming 
compensation and advancement systems; and improving workplace 
conditions to create opportunities for successful teaching and 
learning.
    (b) Promoting equitable access to effective teachers for students 
from low-income families and minority students across and within 
schools and districts.
    For the purposes of this priority, teacher effectiveness must be 
measured using a High-quality Teacher Evaluation and Support System.

Priority 10--Improving the Effectiveness of Principals \15\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \15\ For the purpose of this priority, the term ``principal'' 
also refers to an assistant principal.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Projects that are designed to increase the number and percentage of 
highly effective principals by addressing one or more of the following:
    (a) Creating or expanding practices and strategies to recruit, 
select, prepare, and support talented individuals to lead and 
significantly improve instruction in Lowest-performing Schools, schools 
in Rural Local Educational Agencies, or schools with high 
concentrations of High-need Students.
    (b) Identifying, implementing, and supporting policies and school 
and district conditions that facilitate efforts by principals to turn 
around Lowest-performing Schools.
    (c) Creating or expanding principal preparation programs that 
include clinical experiences, induction and other supports for program 
participants, strategies for tracking the effect that program graduates 
have on teaching and learning, and coursework that is aligned with pre-
kindergarten through grade 12 college- and career-ready standards.
    (d) Implementing professional development for current principals, 
especially in Lowest-performing Schools, that is designed to improve 
teacher and student learning by supporting principals in their mastery 
of essential instructional and organizational leadership skills.
    (e) Implementing practices or strategies that support districts in 
hiring, evaluating, supporting, and retaining effective principals.
    For the purposes of this priority, principal effectiveness must be 
measured using a High-quality Principal Evaluation and Support System.

Priority 11--Leveraging Technology To Support Instructional Practice 
and Professional Development

    Projects that are designed to leverage technology through one or 
more of the following:
    (a) Using high-speed Internet access and devices to increase 
students' and educators' access to high-quality accessible digital 
tools, assessments, and materials, particularly Open Educational 
Resources.
    (b) Implementing high-quality accessible digital tools, 
assessments, and materials that are aligned with rigorous college- and 
career-ready standards.
    (c) Implementing high-quality, accessible online courses, online 
learning communities, or online simulations, such as those for which 
educators could earn professional development credit or continuing 
education units through Digital Credentials based on demonstrated 
mastery of competencies and performance-based outcomes, instead of 
traditional time-based metrics.
    (d) Using data platforms that enable the development, 
visualization, and rapid analysis of data to inform and improve 
learning outcomes, while also protecting privacy in accordance with 
applicable laws.

Priority 12--Promoting Diversity

    Projects that are designed to prepare students for success in an 
increasingly diverse workforce and society by increasing the diversity, 
including racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity, of students 
enrolled in individual schools or postsecondary programs; or, in the 
case of preschool, elementary, or secondary programs, decreasing the 
racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic isolation of students who are served 
by the project.

[[Page 73453]]

Priority 13--Improving School Climate, Behavioral Supports, and 
Correctional Education

    Projects that are designed to improve student outcomes through one 
or more of the following:
    (a) Improving school climate through strategies that may include 
establishing Tiered Behavioral Supports or strengthening student 
social, emotional, and behavioral skills.
    (b) Reducing or eliminating disparities in school disciplinary 
practices for particular groups of students, including minority 
students and students with disabilities, or reducing or eliminating the 
use of exclusionary discipline (such as suspensions, expulsions, and 
unnecessary placements in alternative education programs) by 
identifying and addressing the root causes of those disparities or uses 
and promoting alternative disciplinary practices that address the 
disparities or uses.
    (c) Improving the quality of educational programs in juvenile 
justice facilities (such as detention facilities and secure and non-
secure placements) or adult correctional facilities, or supporting re-
entry after release, by linking the youth or adults to education or job 
training programs.

Priority 14--Improving Parent, Family, and Community Engagement

    Projects that are designed to improve student outcomes through one 
or more of the following:
    (a) Developing and implementing Systemic Initiatives to improve 
Parent and Family Engagement by expanding and enhancing the skills, 
strategies, and knowledge (including techniques or use of technological 
tools needed to effectively communicate, advocate, support, and make 
informed decisions about the student's education) of parents and 
families.
    (b) Providing professional development that enhances the skills and 
competencies of school or program leaders, principals, teachers, 
practitioners, or other administrative and support staff to build 
meaningful relationships with students' parents or families through 
Systemic Initiatives that may also support students' learning at home.
    (c) Implementing initiatives that improve Community Engagement, the 
relationships between parents or families and school or program staff 
by cultivating Sustained Partnerships.

Priority 15--Supporting Military Families and Veterans

    Projects that are designed to address the needs of Military- or 
Veteran-connected Students.

Types of Priorities

    When inviting applications for a competition using one or more 
priorities, we designate the type of each priority as absolute, 
competitive preference, or invitational through a notice in the Federal 
Register. The effect of each type of priority follows:
    Absolute priority: Under an absolute priority, we consider only 
applications that meet the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(3)).
    Competitive preference priority: Under a competitive preference 
priority, we give competitive preference to an application by (1) 
awarding additional points, depending on the extent to which the 
application meets the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(i)); or (2) 
selecting an application that meets the priority over an application of 
comparable merit that does not meet the priority (34 CFR 
75.105(c)(2)(ii)).
    Invitational priority: Under an invitational priority, we are 
particularly interested in applications that meet the priority. 
However, we do not give an application that meets the priority a 
preference over other applications (34 CFR 75.105(c)(1)).

Final Definitions

    Authentic STEM experiences means laboratory, research-based, or 
experiential learning opportunities in a STEM (science, technology, 
engineering, and mathematics) subject in informal or formal settings.
    Children with high needs means children from birth through 
kindergarten entry who are from low-income families or otherwise in 
need of special assistance and support, including children who have 
disabilities or developmental delays; who are English learners; who 
reside on ``Indian lands'' as that term is defined by section 8013(7) 
of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended 
(ESEA); who are migrant, homeless, or in foster care; and who are other 
children as identified by the State.
    Community engagement means the systematic inclusion of community 
organizations as partners with State educational agencies, local 
educational agencies, or other educational institutions, or their 
school or program staff to accomplish activities that may include 
developing a shared community vision, establishing a shared 
accountability agreement, participating in shared data-collection and 
analysis, or establishing community networks that are focused on shared 
community-level outcomes. These organizations may include faith- and 
community-based organizations, institutions of higher education 
(including minority-serving institutions eligible to receive aid under 
Title III or Title V of the Higher Education Act of 1965), businesses 
and industries, labor organizations, State and local government 
entities, or Federal entities other than the Department.
    Digital credentials means evidence of mastery of specific 
competencies or performance-based abilities, provided in digital rather 
than physical medium (such as through digital badges). These digital 
credentials may then be used to supplement or satisfy continuing 
education or professional development requirements.
    Disconnected youth means low-income individuals, ages 14-24, who 
are homeless, are in foster care, are involved in the justice system, 
or are not working or not enrolled in (or at risk of dropping out of) 
an educational institution.
    Employer engagement means the active involvement of employers, 
employer associations, and labor organizations in identifying skills 
and competencies, validating credentials, designing programs, offering 
real workplace problem sets, facilitating access to leading-edge 
equipment and facilities, providing ``return to work''-type 
professional development opportunities for faculty, and providing work-
based learning and mentoring opportunities for participants.
    Essential domains of school readiness means the domains of language 
and literacy development, cognition and general knowledge (including 
early mathematics and early scientific development), approaches toward 
learning (including the utilization of the arts), physical well-being 
and motor development (including adaptive skills), and social and 
emotional development.
    High-minority school means a school as that term is defined by a 
local educational agency (LEA), which must define the term in a manner 
consistent with its State's Teacher Equity Plan, as required by section 
1111(b)(8)(C) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as 
amended (ESEA). The applicant must provide the definition(s) of High-
minority Schools used in its application.
    High-need students means students who are at risk of educational 
failure or otherwise in need of special assistance and support, such as 
students who are living in poverty, who attend High-

[[Page 73454]]

minority Schools, who are far below grade level, who have left school 
before receiving a Regular High School Diploma, who are at risk of not 
graduating with a diploma on time, who are homeless, who are in foster 
care, who have been incarcerated, who have disabilities, or who are 
English learners.
    High-quality teacher evaluation and support system means a system 
that provides for continuous improvement of instruction; differentiates 
performance using at least three performance levels; uses multiple 
valid measures to determine performance levels, including data on 
Student Growth as a significant factor and other measures of 
professional practice; evaluates teachers on a regular basis; provides 
clear and timely feedback that identifies needs and guides professional 
development; is developed with teacher and principal involvement; and 
is used to inform personnel decisions.
    High-quality principal evaluation and support system means a system 
that provides for continuous improvement of instruction; differentiates 
performance using at least three performance levels; uses multiple 
valid measures to determine performance levels, including data on 
Student Growth as a significant factor and other measures of 
professional practice; evaluates principals on a regular basis; 
provides clear and timely feedback that identifies needs and guides 
professional development; is developed with teacher and principal 
involvement; and is used to inform personnel decisions.
    Labor market information means data on current and projected local, 
regional, State, and national labor markets, such as the number and 
type of available jobs, future demand, job characteristics, training 
and skills requirements, and the composition, characteristics, and 
skills of the labor force.
    Low-skilled adult means an adult with low literacy and numeracy 
skills.
    Lowest-performing schools means--
    For a State with an approved request for flexibility under the 
Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA, 
Priority Schools or Tier I and Tier II Schools that have been 
identified under the School Improvement Grants program.
    For any other State, Tier I and Tier II Schools that have been 
identified under the School Improvement Grants program.
    Military- or veteran-connected student means--
    (a) A child participating in an early learning and development 
program, a student enrolled in preschool through grade 12, or a student 
enrolled in postsecondary education or career and technical training 
who has a parent or guardian who is a member of the uniformed services 
(as defined by 37 U.S.C. 101, in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine 
Corps, Coast Guard, National Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration, or Public Health Service);
    (b) A student who is a member of the uniformed services, a veteran 
of the uniformed services, or the spouse of a service member or 
veteran; or
    (c) A child participating in an early learning and development 
program or a student enrolled in preschool through grade 12 who has a 
parent or guardian who is a veteran of the uniformed services (as 
defined by 37 U.S.C. 101).
    Open educational resources means teaching, learning, and research 
resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under 
an intellectual property license that permits their free use and 
repurposing by others.
    Parent and family engagement means the systematic inclusion of 
parents and families, working in partnership with State educational 
agencies (SEAs), State lead agencies (under Part C of the Individuals 
with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or the State's Race to the Top-
Early Learning Challenge grant), local educational agencies (LEAs), or 
other educational institutions, or their staff, in their child's 
education, which may include strengthening the ability of (a) parents 
and families to support their child's education; and (b) school or 
program staff to work with parents and families.
    Persistently-lowest achieving school means, as determined by the 
State--
    (a)(1) Any Title I school that has been identified for improvement, 
corrective action, or restructuring under section 1116 of the 
Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA) and 
that--
    (i) Is among the lowest-achieving five percent of Title I schools 
in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring or the lowest-
achieving five Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, or 
restructuring in the State, whichever number of schools is greater; or
    (ii) Is a high school that has had a graduation rate, as defined in 
34 CFR 200.19(b), that is less than 60 percent over a number of years; 
and
    (2) Any secondary school that is eligible for, but does not 
receive, Title I funds that--
    (i) Is among the lowest-achieving five percent of secondary schools 
or the lowest-achieving five secondary schools in the State that are 
eligible for, but do not receive, Title I funds, whichever number of 
schools is greater; or
    (ii) Is a high school that has had a graduation rate, as defined in 
34 CFR 200.19(b), that is less than 60 percent over a number of years.
    (b) To identify the lowest-achieving schools, a State must take 
into account both--
    (i) The academic achievement of the ``all students'' group in a 
school in terms of proficiency on the State's assessments under section 
1111(b)(3) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as 
amended (ESEA), in reading/language arts and mathematics combined; and
    (ii) The school's lack of progress on those assessments over a 
number of years in the ``all students'' group.
    Personalized learning means instruction that is aligned with 
rigorous college- and career-ready standards so that the pace of 
learning and the instructional approach are tailored to the needs of 
individual learners. Learning objectives and content, as well as the 
pace, may all vary depending on a learner's needs. In addition, 
learning activities are aligned with specific interests of each 
learner. Data from a variety of sources (including formative 
assessments, student feedback, and progress in digital learning 
activities), along with teacher recommendations, are often used to 
personalize learning.
    Priority schools means schools that, based on the most recent data 
available, have been identified as among the lowest-performing schools 
in the State. The total number of Priority Schools in a State must be 
at least five percent of the Title I schools in the State. A priority 
school is--
    (a) A school among the lowest five percent of Title I schools in 
the State based on the achievement of the ``all students'' group in 
terms of proficiency on the statewide assessments that are part of the 
SEA's differentiated recognition, accountability, and support system, 
combined, and has demonstrated a lack of progress on those assessments 
over a number of years in the ``all students'' group;
    (b) A Title I-participating or Title I-eligible high school with a 
graduation rate that is less than 60 percent over a number of years; or
    (c) A Tier I or Tier II school under the School Improvement Grant 
(SIG) program that is using SIG funds to implement a school 
intervention model.
    Regular high school diploma means the standard high school diploma 
that is awarded to students in the State and that is fully aligned with 
the State's academic content standards or a higher diploma and does not 
include a General

[[Page 73455]]

Education Development (GED) credential, certificate of attendance, or 
any alternative award.
    Rural local educational agency means a local educational agency 
(LEA) that is eligible under the Small Rural School Achievement (SRSA) 
program or the Rural and Low-Income School (RLIS) program authorized 
under Title VI, Part B of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 
1965, as amended (ESEA). Eligible applicants may determine whether a 
particular LEA is eligible for these programs by referring to 
information on the Department's Web site at www2.ed.gov/nclb/freedom/local/reap.html.
    Stackable credentials means credentials that are part of a sequence 
of credentials that can be accumulated over time to increase an 
individual's qualifications and help him or her to advance along a 
career pathway to different and potentially higher-paying jobs.
    Student achievement means--
    For grades and subjects in which assessments are required under 
section 1111(b)(3) of the Elementary and Secondary Act of 1965, as 
amended (ESEA): (1) A student's score on such assessments; and, as 
appropriate (2) other measures of student learning, such as those 
described in the subsequent paragraph, provided that they are rigorous 
and comparable across schools within a local educational agency (LEA).
    For grades and subjects in which assessments are not required under 
section 1111(b)(3) of the ESEA: (1) Alternative measures of student 
learning and performance, such as student results on pre-tests, end-of-
course tests, and objective performance-based assessments; (2) student 
learning objectives; (3) student performance on English language 
proficiency assessments; and (4) other measures of student achievement 
that are rigorous and comparable across schools within an LEA.
    Student growth means the change in Student Achievement for an 
individual student between two or more points in time.
    Sustained partnership means a relationship that has demonstrably 
adequate resources and other support to continue beyond the funding 
period and that consist of community organizations as partners with a 
local educational agency and one or more of its schools. These 
organizations may include faith- and community-based organizations, 
institutions of higher education (including minority-serving 
institutions eligible to receive aid under Title III or Title V of the 
Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA)), businesses and industries, labor 
organizations, State and local government entities, or Federal entities 
other than the Department.
    Systemic initiative means a policy, program, or activity that 
includes Parent and Family Engagement as a core component and is 
designed to meet critical educational goals, such as school readiness, 
Student Achievement, and school turnaround.
    Tier I schools means--
    (a) A Title I school that has been identified as in improvement, 
corrective action, or restructuring under section 1116 of the 
Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA) and 
that is identified by the SEA under paragraph (a)(1) of the definition 
of Persistently-lowest Achieving School.
    (b) An elementary school that is eligible for Title I, Part A funds 
that--
    (1)(i) Has not made adequate yearly progress for at least two 
consecutive years; or
    (ii) Is in the State's lowest quintile of performance based on 
proficiency rates on the State's assessments under section 1111(b)(3) 
of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended 
(ESEA) in reading/language arts and mathematics combined; and
    (2) Is no higher achieving than the highest-achieving school 
identified by the SEA under paragraph (a)(1)(i) of the definition of 
Persistently-lowest Achieving School.
    Tier II schools means--
    (a) A secondary school that is eligible for, but does not receive, 
Title I, Part A funds and is identified by the State educational agency 
(SEA) under paragraph (a)(2) of the definition of Persistently-lowest 
Achieving Schools.
    (b) A secondary school that is eligible for Title I, Part A funds 
that--
    (1)(i) Has not made adequate yearly progress for at least two 
consecutive years; or
    (ii) Is in the State's lowest quintile of performance based on 
proficiency rates on the State's assessments under section 1111(b)(3) 
of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended 
(ESEA), in reading/language arts and mathematics combined; and
    (2)(i) Is no higher achieving than the highest-achieving school 
identified by the SEA under paragraph (a)(2)(i) of the definition of 
Persistently-lowest Achieving School; or
    (ii) Is a high school that has had a graduation rate, as defined in 
34 CFR 200.19(b), that is less than 60 percent over a number of years.
    Tiered behavioral supports means a continuum of increasingly 
intensive and evidence-based social, emotional, and behavioral 
supports, including a framework of universal strategies for students, 
school staff, and relevant external partners to promote positive 
behavior and data-based strategies to match more intensive supports to 
individual student needs.
    This notice does not preclude us from proposing additional 
priorities, requirements, definitions, or selection criteria, subject 
to meeting applicable rulemaking requirements.

    Note:  This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in 
which we choose to use one or more of these priorities and 
definitions, we invite applications through a notice in the Federal 
Register.

Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

Regulatory Impact Analysis

    Under Executive Order 12866, the Secretary must determine whether 
this regulatory action is ``significant'' and, therefore, subject to 
the requirements of the Executive order and subject to review by the 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Section 3(f) of Executive Order 
12866 defines a ``significant regulatory action'' as an action likely 
to result in a rule that may--
    (1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more, 
or adversely affect a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, 
jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or 
tribal governments or communities in a material way (also referred to 
as an ``economically significant'' rule);
    (2) Create serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an 
action taken or planned by another agency;
    (3) Materially alter the budgetary impacts of entitlement grants, 
user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients 
thereof; or
    (4) Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal 
mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles stated in the 
Executive order.
    This final regulatory action is a significant regulatory action 
subject to review by OMB under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866.
    We have also reviewed this final regulatory action under Executive 
Order 13563, which supplements and explicitly reaffirms the principles, 
structures, and definitions governing regulatory review established in 
Executive Order 12866. To the extent permitted by law, Executive Order 
13563 requires that an agency--
    (1) Propose or adopt regulations only upon a reasoned determination 
that their benefits justify their costs (recognizing that some benefits 
and costs are difficult to quantify);
    (2) Tailor its regulations to impose the least burden on society, 
consistent with

[[Page 73456]]

obtaining regulatory objectives and taking into account--among other 
things and to the extent practicable--the costs of cumulative 
regulations;
    (3) In choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, select 
those approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential 
economic, environmental, public health and safety, and other 
advantages; distributive impacts; and equity);
    (4) To the extent feasible, specify performance objectives, rather 
than the behavior or manner of compliance a regulated entity must 
adopt; and
    (5) Identify and assess available alternatives to direct 
regulation, including economic incentives--such as user fees or 
marketable permits--to encourage the desired behavior, or provide 
information that enables the public to make choices.
    Executive Order 13563 also requires an agency ``to use the best 
available techniques to quantify anticipated present and future 
benefits and costs as accurately as possible.'' The Office of 
Information and Regulatory Affairs of OMB has emphasized that these 
techniques may include ``identifying changing future compliance costs 
that might result from technological innovation or anticipated 
behavioral changes.''
    We are issuing these final priorities and definitions only on a 
reasoned determination that their benefits justify their costs. In 
choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, we selected those 
approaches that maximize net benefits. Based on the analysis that 
follows, the Department believes that this regulatory action is 
consistent with the principles in Executive Order 13563.
    We also have determined that this regulatory action would not 
unduly interfere with State, local, and tribal governments in the 
exercise of their governmental functions.
    In accordance with both Executive orders, the Department has 
assessed the potential costs and benefits, both quantitative and 
qualitative, of this regulatory action. The potential costs associated 
with this regulatory action are those resulting from regulatory 
requirements and those we have determined as necessary for 
administering the Department's programs and activities.

Discussion of Costs and Benefits

    The final priorities and definitions do not impose significant 
costs on entities that receive assistance through the Department's 
discretionary grant programs. Additionally, the benefits of 
implementing the priorities contained in this document outweigh any 
associated costs because they result in the Department's discretionary 
grant programs selecting high-quality applications to implement 
activities that are most likely to have a significant national effect 
on educational reform and improvement.
    Application submission and participation in a discretionary grant 
program are voluntary. The Secretary believes that the costs imposed on 
applicants by the final priorities and definitions are to be limited to 
paperwork burden related to preparing an application for a 
discretionary grant program that is using one or more of the final 
priorities and definitions in its competition. Because the costs of 
carrying out activities will be paid for with program funds, the costs 
of implementation will not be a burden for any eligible applicants, 
including small entities.

Regulatory Flexibility Act Certification

    For these reasons as well, the Secretary certifies that these final 
priorities and definitions do not have a significant economic impact on 
a substantial number of small entities.
    Intergovernmental Review: Some of the programs affected by these 
final priorities and definitions are subject to Executive Order 12372 
and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79. One of the objectives of the 
Executive order is to foster an intergovernmental partnership and a 
strengthened federalism. The Executive order relies on processes 
developed by State and local governments for coordination and review of 
proposed Federal financial assistance.
    Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this 
document in an accessible format (such as braille, large print, 
audiotape, or compact disc) on request to the program contact person 
listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.
    Electronic Access to This Document: 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 through the Federal Digital 
System at: www.gpo.gov/fdsys. At this site you can 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). To 
use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at 
the site.
    You may also access documents of the Department published in the 
Federal Register by using the article search feature at: 
www.federalregister.gov. Specifically, through the advanced search 
feature at this site, you can limit your search to documents published 
by the Department.

    Dated: December 4, 2014.
Arne Duncan,
Secretary of Education.
[FR Doc. 2014-28911 Filed 12-9-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P