Final Priorities, Requirements, and Selection Criteria-Technical Assistance and Dissemination To Improve Services and Results for Children With Disabilities-The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Paperwork Reduction Planning and Implementation Program, 47656-47664 [2020-17213]

Download as PDF 47656 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 152 / Thursday, August 6, 2020 / Rules and Regulations Code of Federal Regulations at www.govinfo.gov. 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 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. Mark Schultz, Commissioner, Rehabilitation Services Administration, Delegated the Authority to Perform the Functions and Duties of the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. [FR Doc. 2020–17215 Filed 8–4–20; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 4000–01–P DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION 34 CFR Chapter III [Docket ID ED–2020–OSERS–0014] Final Priorities, Requirements, and Selection Criteria—Technical Assistance and Dissemination To Improve Services and Results for Children With Disabilities—The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Paperwork Reduction Planning and Implementation Program Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), Department of Education. ACTION: Final priorities, requirements, and selection criteria. AGENCY: The Department of Education (Department) announces priorities, requirements, and selection criteria for the IDEA Paperwork Reduction Planning and Implementation Program, Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number 84.326F. The Department may select as many as 15 States to receive support in planning for and implementing waivers of statutory requirements of, or regulatory requirements relating to, IDEA Part B to reduce excessive paperwork and noninstructional time burdens that do not assist in improving educational and functional results for children with disabilities. The Department may use these priorities, requirements, and selection criteria for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2020 and later years. We take this action to focus attention on an identified national need to reduce jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:05 Aug 05, 2020 Jkt 250001 paperwork burden associated with the requirements of IDEA Part B while preserving the rights of children with disabilities and promoting academic achievement. DATES: These priorities, requirements, and selection criteria are effective September 8, 2020. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: David Egnor, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Room 5163, Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC 20202–5076. Telephone: (202) 245–7334. Email: David.Egnor@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: Purpose of Program: The purpose of the Technical Assistance and Dissemination to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities Program is to promote academic achievement and to improve results for children with disabilities by providing technical assistance (TA), supporting model demonstration projects, disseminating useful information, and implementing activities that are supported by scientifically-based research. Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1408 and 1463. We published a notice of proposed priorities, requirements, and selection criteria (NPP) for this program in the Federal Register on May 29, 2020 (85 FR 32317). The NPP contained background information and our reasons for proposing these particular priorities, requirements, and selection criteria. There are minor substantive differences between the NPP and this notice. As discussed in the Analysis of Comments and Changes section of this document, these changes relate to instances where we believed further clarification regarding stakeholder participation was appropriate. Public Comment: In response to our invitation to comment in the NPP, six parties submitted comments on the proposed priorities, requirements, and selection criteria. Generally, we do not address technical and other minor changes. In addition, we do not address comments that raised concerns not directly related to the proposed priorities, requirements, and selection criteria. Analysis of Comments and Changes: An analysis of the comments and of any changes in the priorities, requirements, and selection criteria since publication of the NPP follows. PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 The Department received comments on several specific topics, including whether the Department had established—(1) an identified national need to reduce the paperwork burden associated with the requirements of IDEA Part B while preserving the rights of children with disabilities and promoting academic achievement; (2) the appropriateness of using funds for the stated purposes; and (3) recommendations to address perceived limitations in proposed requirements regarding stakeholder engagement, data collection, and other matters. Each topic is addressed below. Whether there is an identified national need to reduce the paperwork burden associated with the requirements of IDEA Part B. Comment: Several commenters raised questions regarding the needs for the IDEA Paperwork Reduction Planning and Implementation Program, noting that no States had received awards as a result of two similar prior competitions in 2007 and 2019, which they argued signified that special education paperwork reduction was no longer a significant issue in the field. The same commenters also cited recent survey results indicating that special education teachers and administrators no longer identified special education paperwork burden as a major concern as it was perceived prior to the 2004 amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). They also noted that, since 2004, advancements in various technologies, such as computerbased individualized education programs (IEPs), have significantly reduced the amount of time that educators spend on completing special education paperwork. Two commenters expressed general support for seeking ways to reduce special education paperwork but cautioned that certain administrative requirements that may seem unnecessary for educators or administrators may be vital to protecting the interests of children with disabilities. Another commenter noted that IDEA paperwork and other administrative burdens interfered with the ability of related services providers, including members of their professional association, to provide high-quality services to children with disabilities. Discussion: We appreciate commenters’ concerns about the extent to which they anticipate the proposed priorities would generate value for States. We acknowledge that, across States, the degree of administrative burdens may vary. As such, we do not anticipate every State will apply for E:\FR\FM\06AUR1.SGM 06AUR1 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 152 / Thursday, August 6, 2020 / Rules and Regulations funding under these priorities. However, we believe it would be shortsighted to deprive every State of the opportunity to seek out ways to meaningfully, and responsibly, reduce administrative burdens so that special education teachers and related services providers can devote more time and resources to supporting the needs of children with disabilities. We also acknowledge that the Department received no applications under other paperwork reduction initiatives in 2007, and only one application in 2019 that was not of sufficient quality to be funded. However, as noted in a 2016 GAO report, many States chose not to apply under the 2007 competition because they saw the application requirements as too burdensome and the funding level as too low to support the necessary additional staff to implement the projects.1 We had similar concerns regarding the 2019 competition and, as a result, solicited public comment on these requirements, and the most appropriate funding level for these projects, to ensure that we strike an appropriate balance that provides States with the opportunity to address this ongoing issue while ensuring appropriate supports and safeguards. Regarding the advent and effectiveness of technology in reducing administrative burdens, we acknowledge that such tools hold great promise for streamlining the paperwork process. However, as noted in the same GAO study, technology tools have helped ease burdens, but they have limitations. Our goal in these efforts is to help special education teachers, related services providers, and administrators complete the same forms more quickly, and to support States in strategically and purposefully considering whether the specific forms or all of the information they ask for are necessary in the first place. We agree with the commenters that noted that unnecessary paperwork continues to interfere with the ability of educators to provide high-quality services to children with disabilities and that the Department should continue to offer opportunities for States to address the stated purposes of the program. We agree with the commenters that certain administrative requirements that may seem unnecessary for educators or administrators may be vital to protecting the interests of children with disabilities. Within the notice, we clearly state that any waiver under 1 GAO–16–25 (Washington, DC: January 2016), available at: www.gao.gov/products/GAO-16-25. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:05 Aug 05, 2020 Jkt 250001 section 609 of IDEA may not affect the right of a child with a disability to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) or waive procedural safeguards under section 615 of IDEA or applicable civil rights requirements, and we require State applicants to describe how they will continue to guarantee these protections. Changes: None. Alignment between the proposed activities and requirements and the intended purposes. Comment: In response to our directed question about the extent to which the proposed activities and requirements were appropriate for States and whether alternatives existed that would accomplish the same purposes with less burden for States, the majority of commenters provided feedback about the proposed activities and proposed alternatives. Some commenters expressed concern that the proposed activities and requirements would undermine the rights and needs of children with disabilities and their families. One commenter noted that the proposed activities and requirements would help alleviate unmanageable caseloads and excessive paperwork among related services providers represented by the commenter’s professional association. Discussion: In 2004, Congress amended IDEA to provide an opportunity for States to identify ways to reduce paperwork burdens and other administrative duties that are directly associated with the requirements of IDEA Part B, in order to increase the time and resources available for instruction and other activities aimed at improving educational and functional results for children with disabilities. We agree with the commenter that reducing unnecessary paperwork burden will increase the time and resources available for instruction and other activities aimed at improving educational and functional results for children with disabilities. We agree with the commenters that we must ensure that the rights and needs of children with disabilities and their families are not undermined. We clearly state that the Secretary will not waive any statutory or regulatory provisions relating to procedural safeguards under section 615 of IDEA or applicable civil rights requirements and that waivers may not affect the right of a child with a disability to receive FAPE, consistent with section 609. We further propose, in the notice of proposed requirements and definition (NPR) for this program published in the Federal Register on June 5, 2020 (85 FR 34554), that the term ‘‘applicable civil PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 47657 rights requirements’’ includes, but is not limited to, the civil rights protections in the United States Constitution and the requirements of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended; Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990; and Age Discrimination Act of 1975. We also propose within the NPR that parents have the right to understand and consent to changes that affect their children’s education and that they may withdraw their consent at any time and for any reason. In short, we believe we have proposed sufficient protections to ensure States’ waiver proposals preserve the fundamental rights of children with disabilities and their families under IDEA. Changes: None. Comments regarding award sizes. Comment: None. Discussion: The Department did not receive any comments responding to our directed question regarding the appropriate size of awards for the proposed priorities. We intend to propose different ranges of award sizes under Priority 1 and Priority 2, and we do not intend to establish a maximum award size for the 2020 competition to ensure appropriate flexibility for States to develop meaningful and effective proposals. Changes: None. Priority 1: The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Paperwork Reduction Planning and Implementation Program—Planning Grants Comment: Most commenters expressed concern that the programmatic requirements did not include a specific requirement for applicants to provide quantitative data on the anticipated benefits of any potential reforms. The commenters recommended requiring that applicants submit data documenting anticipated benefits drawing from the performance of children with disabilities on the annual State assessments required by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) or the performance of children with disabilities on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), or both. The commenters also noted that improvement in performance on State assessments should be linked to the goals for children with disabilities articulated on the State’s approved ESSA State plan. Two commenters recommended that the final priority specify that States must continue to meet the data collection requirements of Part B of E:\FR\FM\06AUR1.SGM 06AUR1 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES 47658 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 152 / Thursday, August 6, 2020 / Rules and Regulations IDEA. In addition, one commenter recommended revising the final notice to specify that school districts or States shall not reduce important required data collection activities related to racial inequities in identification, eligibility, behavioral interventions, and school suspensions or expulsions. Further, most commenters recommended that the group of stakeholders involved in identifying target areas to reduce administrative burden should be expanded to include the State’s Parent Training and Information Center (PTI) and Community Parent Resource Centers (CPRC) funded under IDEA Part D, the State’s Protection and Advocacy agency, and disability advocacy organizations within each State. Similarly, two commenters recommended that the impact of administrative burdens should be identified through a consultative process with all affected stakeholder groups. Finally, one commenter recommended that the Department take steps to encourage States to apply for the planning grants under Priority 1 but cautioned that while the grant application process should be comprehensive, it should not be burdensome. Discussion: In Priority 1, we seek to provide the opportunity for States to identify ways to reduce paperwork burdens and other administrative duties that are directly associated with the requirements of IDEA Part B, in order to increase the time and resources available for instruction and other activities aimed at improving educational and functional results for children with disabilities. Regarding applicants providing quantitative data on the anticipated benefits of any potential reforms, under paragraph (c)(3) of the application requirements for Priority 2, we require applicants to describe strategies they will use for analyzing data and how data collected as part of this plan will be used to inform and improve service delivery over the course of the project and to refine the implementation project and evaluation plan, including subsequent data collection. Rather than being prescriptive regarding data sources, we believe it is preferable for applicants to propose a comprehensive evaluation plan under Priority 2, which would include a description of the data to be collected. The applicant’s proposed evaluation plans under Priority 2, including data sources, will be evaluated by a panel of subject-matter experts as part of the discretionary grant peer review process. We believe that peer reviewers, who will have expertise VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:05 Aug 05, 2020 Jkt 250001 in program evaluation, are in the best position to evaluate the extent to which the goals, objectives, and outcomes to be achieved by the proposed project are clearly specified and measurable. We agree with the commenter who recommended that the Department take steps to encourage States to apply for the planning grants under Priority 1, as well as the commenter’s caution that while the grant application process should be comprehensive, it should not be burdensome. The Department seeks to minimize burden in its grant competitions to the extent possible, and we will take appropriate measures to ensure that States are aware of the funding opportunity. We appreciate commenters’ concerns about whether States that receive grants under the proposed priorities will be required to continue to meet the data collection and reporting requirements under sections 616 and 618 of the IDEA. We intend to address this comment in the analysis of comments for the Final Requirements-Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Paperwork Reduction Waivers. To ensure that this issue is considered in planning grants under Priority 1, we are adding language to Priority 1 to ensure that the plan for a waiver proposal be consistent with the Final Requirements. Last, we agree with the commenters who recommended that the group of stakeholders involved in identifying target areas to reduce administrative burden should be expanded to include the State’s PTIs and CPRCs funded under IDEA Part D. However, while we acknowledge that a State may seek to involve the State’s Protection and Advocacy agency and disability advocacy organizations within the State, we believe it is more appropriate to leave their participation up to the State applicant. We believe that it is appropriate to add PTIs and CPRCs to the list of required stakeholders to involve, as PTIs and CPRCs are critical entities supported by IDEA Part D discretionary grant resources. Changes: Under the Programmatic Requirements for Priority 1, we have amended paragraph (b)(v) to reference the Final Requirements—The IDEA Paperwork Reduction Waiver and (a)(iv) by adding PTI and CPRC, if appropriate, representation to the list of parent stakeholders. Comments Regarding Priority 2: The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Paperwork Reduction Planning and Implementation Program—Implementation Grants Comment: Most commenters stated that the evaluation plan for States PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 receiving a waiver was insufficient to ensure that approved waivers would improve positive outcomes including educational and functional results for children with disabilities. Similar to comments they provided in response to Priority 1, the commenters recommended that applicants be required to provide quantitative data drawn from the performance of children with disabilities to demonstrate whether student achievement improved as a result of receiving a waiver. They also recommended that such data be based on data gathered through annual State assessments required by ESSA, the performance of children with disabilities on the NAEP, or both, and that improvement in performance on State assessments should be linked to the goals for children with disabilities articulated on the State’s approved ESSA State plan, if applicable. In addition, most commenters recommended limiting eligible applicants for paperwork reduction waivers to States that have received a ‘‘Meets Requirements’’ rating in their latest annual determination regarding their implementation of IDEA. Discussion: We seek, consistent with section 609 of IDEA, to provide an opportunity for States to identify ways to reduce paperwork burdens and other administrative duties that are directly associated with the requirements of IDEA Part B in order to increase the time and resources available for instruction and other activities aimed at improving educational and functional results for children with disabilities. Regarding applicants providing quantitative data relying on the data sources identified by the commenters, under paragraph (c)(3) of the application requirements for Priority 2, we require applicants to describe strategies they will use for analyzing data and how data collected as part of the evaluation plan will be used to inform and improve service delivery over the course of the project and to refine the implementation project and evaluation plan, including subsequent data collection. Rather than being prescriptive regarding data sources, we believe it is preferable for applicants to propose a comprehensive evaluation plan. An applicant’s proposed evaluation plan under Priority 2, including data sources, will be evaluated by a panel of subject-matter experts with experience in program evaluation as part of the discretionary grant peer review process for Priority 2. We believe that peer reviewers with expertise in program evaluation are in the best position to evaluate the extent to which the goals, objectives, and outcomes to be achieved by the E:\FR\FM\06AUR1.SGM 06AUR1 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 152 / Thursday, August 6, 2020 / Rules and Regulations proposed project are clearly specified and measurable. Because section 609 of IDEA does not address eligibility for planning grants and because a State’s annual determination under section 616(d)(2)(A) of IDEA that it ‘‘meets requirements’’ could change from the period of application for a planning grant to the period when a waiver is sought, we do not believe that eligibility for planning grants should be limited to those States that are in ‘‘meets requirements.’’ Regarding eligibility standards for seeking waivers, these will be established in Final Requirements— The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Paperwork Reduction Waivers. We encourage States applying under Priority 1 that believe they may ultimately seek a waiver under section 609 to review and be mindful of those requirements. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter recommended revising Priority 2 to align with the requirement in Priority 1 that the implementation plan identify State and local statutory and regulatory requirements or policies, procedures, and practices that exceed IDEA Part B statutory and regulatory requirements and were considered for revision. Discussion: We agree with the commenter regarding the importance of identifying State and local requirements, policies, procedures, and practices that exceed IDEA statutory and regulatory requirements. However, this matter is already addressed in Priority 1 and in the NPR, which remains open for public comment. Those proposed requirements provide detailed information regarding what States are required to submit as part of their waiver request, including any State and local requirements they plan to waive that exceed IDEA requirements. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter recommended amending Priority 2 paragraph (c)(1)(v) to add language that includes the parent of the child to emphasize the importance of family engagement in the IEP Team process. Discussion: We agree with the commenter regarding the importance of parent and family engagement. The final notice has been revised to include the recommended language. Changes: We have revised paragraph (c)(1)(v) of the Programmatic Requirements for Priority 2 to include language that specifies the parent of the child. Other Comments Comment: One commenter recommended that the final priority VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:05 Aug 05, 2020 Jkt 250001 should specifically exclude any changes to a child’s IEP, triennial evaluations and reporting, and written communication to parents on student progress. Discussion: We understand the commenter’s concern. However, this comment is more germane to the NPR, which remains open for public comment. We will consider this recommendation as part of that rulemaking. In addition, we note that section 609 clearly states that waivers may not affect the right of a child with a disability to receive FAPE and that procedural safeguards under section 615 of IDEA and applicable civil rights requirements cannot be waived. The NPP also states that States are required to describe how they will continue to guarantee these protections. Further, the NPP requires applicants to describe how their application promotes collaboration between IEP Team members, which includes communicating with parents on their child’s progress. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department widely disseminate information on the benefits and outcomes of all State waivers that are granted. Discussion: We agree with the commenter and will make this information available. Section 609 of IDEA requires that the Secretary include in the annual report to Congress information related to the effectiveness of waivers granted, including any specific recommendations for broader implementation of such waivers in reducing the paperwork burden on teachers, principals, administrators, and related service providers and noninstructional time spent by teachers in complying with IDEA Part B requirements; enhancing longer-term educational planning; improving positive outcomes for children with disabilities; promoting collaboration between IEP Team members; and ensuring satisfaction of family members. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department coordinate with the Centers for Medicaid & Medicaid Services and the Children’s Health Insurance Program within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to reduce administrative burden of duplicative paperwork for school-based providers who utilize IDEA funds and bill Medicaid. In addition, the commenter recommended that the Department and HHS co-develop trainings and provide technical assistance for billing and payment administration of Medicaid services in schools to reduce paperwork PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 47659 burden with utilizing IDEA funds and billing Medicaid. Discussion: We understand the commenter’s concern, but this recommendation is beyond the scope of this notice. Further, the waiver program is intended to be specific to paperwork and administrative burdens resulting from IDEA requirements, not for those resulting from other Federal programs. Changes: None. Comments: None. Discussion: Upon further review, the Department recognized that the specific language included in the ‘‘Funding Eligibility Requirements’’ section of the NPP may unnecessarily limit the Department’s flexibility in using the priorities. Specifically, the proposed language did not contemplate a scenario in which the Department would, to reduce burdens for applicants and the Department, encourage applicants to propose projects that would address both Priority 1 and Priority 2. We have therefore revised the language in that section to: (1) Clarify that the requirement to obtain a waiver under section 609 applies to the receipt of funding, not eligibility; (2) add a new subparagraph (b)(2)(ii)(A) to clarify that grantees who have received funding under both priorities would, in the event they proposed a project to address both priorities, immediately be able to begin activities under Priority 2 upon receipt of a waiver from the Secretary; and (3) redesignate a portion of proposed paragraph (b)(2)(ii) as new subparagraph (b)(2)(ii)(B) and clarify that it applies to grantees who only received awards to address Priority 1. Changes: We have revised paragraph (1) under Funding Eligibility Requirement to clarify the requirement pertains to the receipt of funding, not eligibility. We have also revised paragraph (b)(2)(ii) to more specifically address applicants that received funding under only Priority 1 and those who received funding under Priorities 1 and 2. Comments Regarding Selection Criteria Comment: One commenter recommended multiple edits to the proposed selection criteria, deleting certain terms or phrases and inserting others. For example, the commenter recommended deleting references to ‘‘consumers’’ and referring instead to ‘‘educators, related service providers, teachers, principals and administrators.’’ Discussion: We agree with the commenter that we should replace the term ‘‘consumer’’ with the recommended text to clarify the relevant stakeholders. E:\FR\FM\06AUR1.SGM 06AUR1 47660 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 152 / Thursday, August 6, 2020 / Rules and Regulations Changes: We have revised paragraph (b)(2)(ii) of the selection criteria to consider the extent to which the proposed project encourages and is responsive to the involvement of parents, educators, related service providers, teachers, principals and administrators. Final Priority jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES Priority 1: The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Paperwork Reduction Planning and Implementation Program—Planning Grants The Department seeks to make awards to State educational agencies (SEAs) to assist them in identifying excessive paperwork and noninstructional time burdens on special education teachers, related services providers, and State and local administrators that do not assist in improving educational and functional results for children with disabilities (hereafter in the priority, ‘‘administrative burdens’’) and developing comprehensive plans to reduce them. These activities include conducting a comprehensive review of local, State, and Federal IDEA Part B requirements that lead to administrative burdens, as well as, at the discretion of the State, preparing IDEA Paperwork Reduction Waivers for submission to the Department. Planning projects funded by the Department must achieve, at a minimum, the following expected outcomes— • Identification of the particular sources and effects of administrative burdens on special education and other teachers, related services providers, and State and local administrators under IDEA Part B; and • A plan to reduce these administrative burdens. Under this priority, applicants must propose projects that meet the following programmatic requirements: (a) The project must meaningfully consult a diverse group of stakeholders on an ongoing basis to support the goals and objectives of the project. Such a group must include, at a minimum, representatives of the following groups: (i) Special education teachers and related services providers. (ii) Local special education administrators. (iii) Individuals with disabilities. (iv) Parents of children with disabilities, as defined in IDEA section 602(23), including representation of Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIs) and (if applicable) Community Parent Resource Centers (CPRCs). (v) The State Advisory Panel. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:05 Aug 05, 2020 Jkt 250001 (b) The project must prepare a plan that— (i) Identifies the State and local statutory and regulatory requirements or policies, procedures, and practices that exceed IDEA Part B statutory and regulatory requirements and were considered for revision; (ii) Describes the range of options available to the State in reducing administrative burdens, including any limitations on those options (e.g., statutory or regulatory requirements, judicial precedent); (iii) Establishes clear and achievable timelines for reducing administrative burdens; (iv) Identifies the anticipated benefits of any potential reforms, including likely beneficiaries, and the magnitude and scope of anticipated benefits, such as reductions in administrative burden hours and potential increases in the time and resources available for instruction and other activities intended to improve educational and functional results for children with disabilities; (v) Identifies any Federal IDEA Part B statutory or regulatory requirements for which a waiver may be sought under section 609 of IDEA, consistent with the requirements established in the Final Requirements—The IDEA Paperwork Reduction Waivers; and (vi) Describes the procedures the State will use to ensure that any waiver that may be sought in accordance with section 609 of IDEA will not— (A) Waive any statutory requirements of, or regulatory requirements relating to, applicable civil rights requirements or procedural safeguards under section 615 of IDEA; or (B) Affect the right of a child with a disability to receive FAPE under IDEA Part B. To be considered for funding under this priority, applicants must also meet the following application requirements. Each applicant must— (a) Demonstrate, in the narrative portion of the application under ‘‘Need for the project,’’ how the proposed project will identify administrative burdens. To meet this requirement, the applicant must describe what it believes to be— (1) The approximate current magnitude and scope of the administrative burdens to be addressed; (2) The approximate current number of special education teachers, related services providers, and State and local administrators affected by those burdens and the number of children with disabilities that they serve; and (3) The approximate current costs and benefits of those burdens on special education teachers, related services PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 providers, State and local administrators, and children with disabilities (e.g., teacher retention, planning time, transparency for families); (b) Demonstrate, in the narrative portion of the application under ‘‘Significance’’ how the proposed planning project will— (1) Develop a plan to reduce administrative burdens and produce meaningful and sustained change at the State or local level; and (2) Develop proposals for changes to, or waivers of, specific requirements, policies, procedures, or practices that will reduce administrative burdens in order to increase the time and resources available for instruction and other activities aimed at improving educational and functional results for children with disabilities; (c) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under ‘‘Quality of the project design,’’ how the proposed project will— (1) Meet the consultation requirements in paragraph (a) of the programmatic requirements of this priority, including, but not limited to, a proposed timeline for the consultation process, including a description of the methods of consultation (e.g., in-person meetings, conference calls, emails); (2) Identify local, State, or Federal IDEA Part B requirements, policies, procedures, or practices that may generate administrative burdens and may be reviewed by the project, including any proposed criteria for that review (e.g., frequency, complexity, number of staff affected, number of families affected); (3) Assess the extent to which specific sources of administrative burdens may affect educational and functional results for children with disabilities; and (4) Produce and make publicly available a plan that meets the requirements in paragraph (b) under the programmatic requirements of this priority and providing an opportunity for stakeholders enumerated in paragraph (a) of the programmatic requirements of this priority to comment on the plan; and (d) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under ‘‘Quality of the management plan,’’ how— (1) The proposed management plan will ensure that the project’s intended outcomes will be achieved on time and within budget. To address this requirement, the applicant must describe— (i) Clearly defined responsibilities for key project personnel, consultants, and subcontractors, as applicable; and E:\FR\FM\06AUR1.SGM 06AUR1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 152 / Thursday, August 6, 2020 / Rules and Regulations (ii) Timelines and milestones for accomplishing the project tasks, including the publication of the final plan on the State’s website within three months of the close of the project period; (2) Key project personnel and any consultants and subcontractors will be allocated and how these allocations are appropriate and adequate to achieve the project’s intended outcomes; and (3) The proposed project will benefit from a diversity of perspectives, including those of families, educators, TA providers, researchers, and policymakers, among others, in its development and operation. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES Priority 2: The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Paperwork Reduction Planning and Implementation Program— Implementation Grants Implementation grants provide funds for States to implement comprehensive plans to reduce administrative burdens submitted by the State and approved by the Secretary under section 609 of IDEA. This includes costs associated with developing products or materials that are part of comprehensive plans, such as creating information technology systems to automate paperwork, or creating new, streamlined paperwork to replace more time-consuming paperwork. To be considered for funding under this priority, an applicant must meet the following application requirements.2 Each applicant must— (a) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under ‘‘Quality of the project design,’’ how the proposed project will— (1) Disseminate information about changes in processes, practices, and procedures necessary to reduce administrative burdens to all special education teachers, related services providers, and State and local administrators affected by the State’s waiver under section 609 of IDEA (hereafter ‘‘affected staff’’), including— (i) The modes of communication the project will use; (ii) The frequency of communication; and (iii) The content of such communications; 2 For any State that receives a waiver of Federal IDEA Part B requirements, the Secretary will terminate the waiver if the Secretary determines that the State failed to appropriately implement its waiver, or the Secretary determines the State needs assistance in implementing IDEA requirements and the waiver has contributed to or caused such need for assistance. The Secretary will also terminate the waiver if the Secretary determines the State needs intervention in implementing IDEA requirements, or needs substantial intervention in implementing IDEA requirements. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:05 Aug 05, 2020 Jkt 250001 (2) Support the training of all affected staff regarding changes in processes, practices, and procedures necessary to reduce administrative burdens, including a description of the project’s intended means of providing this training; (b) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under ‘‘Quality of the management plan,’’ how— (1) The proposed management plan will ensure that the project’s intended outcomes will be achieved on time and within budget. To address this requirement, the applicant must describe— (i) Clearly defined responsibilities for key project personnel, consultants, and subcontractors, as applicable; and (ii) Timelines and milestones for accomplishing the project tasks; (2) Key project personnel and any consultants and subcontractors will be allocated and how these allocations are appropriate and adequate to achieve the project’s intended outcomes; and (3) The proposed project will benefit from a diversity of perspectives, including those of families, educators, TA providers, researchers, and policymakers, among others, in its development and operation; and (c) Include, in the narrative section of the application under ‘‘Quality of the project evaluation,’’ an evaluation plan for the implementation project. The evaluation plan must— (1) Articulate formative and summative evaluation questions for evaluating important processes and outcomes, including whether, and how effectively, the waiver— (i) Reduces paperwork burden on teachers, principals, administrators, and related services providers; (ii) Reduces non-instructional time spent by teachers in complying with IDEA Part B; (iii) Enhances longer-term educational planning; (iv) Improves positive outcomes, including educational and functional results, for children with disabilities; (v) Promotes collaboration between individualized education program (IEP) Team members, including the parents of the child; and (vi) Ensures satisfaction of family members of children with disabilities and teachers, principals, administrators, and related service providers; (2) Describe how progress in, and fidelity of, implementation, as well as project outcomes, will be measured to answer the evaluation questions; specify the measures and associated instruments or sources for data appropriate to the evaluation questions; PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 47661 and include information regarding reliability and validity of measures where appropriate; (3) Describe strategies for analyzing data and how data collected as part of this plan will be used to inform and improve service delivery over the course of the project and to refine the proposed implementation project and evaluation plan, including subsequent data collection; (4) Provide a timeline for conducting the evaluation and include staff assignments for completing the evaluation; and (5) Dedicate sufficient funds in each budget year to cover the costs of developing, refining, and implementing the evaluation plan. 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 Requirements: The Department establishes the following requirements for these priorities. We may apply one or more of these requirements in any year in which the program is in effect. Funding Eligibility Requirements: (a) In order to receive funding for an implementation grant an applicant must already have a waiver under section 609 of IDEA approved by the Secretary. (b) For an applicant that receives a grant under Priority 1— (1) That does not submit a waiver proposal to the Secretary under section 609 of IDEA within 12 months of the start of the project period, the grant will end after 12 months without opportunity for extension; E:\FR\FM\06AUR1.SGM 06AUR1 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES 47662 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 152 / Thursday, August 6, 2020 / Rules and Regulations (2) That submits a waiver proposal to the Secretary under section 609 of IDEA within 12 months of the start of the project period, the project period will, if applicable, be automatically extended for a period, not to exceed six months, during which the Secretary will consider the proposal. (i) While a State’s waiver proposal is under review, grantees may continue to access available remaining funds to conduct one or more of the following planning grant activities: (A) Responding to possible questions from the Department regarding the State’s proposal to obtain a waiver under section 609 of IDEA and the IDEA Paperwork Reduction Waivers. (B) Continuing to develop, or implement, planned activities to reduce administrative burdens. (ii) If the Secretary approves the State’s IDEA paperwork reduction waiver under section 609 of IDEA and (A) and The grantee received a grant under Priorities 1 2, the grantee may use remaining funds and additional funding obligated by the Department under this program to carry out activities under Priority 2. (B) The grantee only received a grant under Priority 1, the grantee may continue to access available remaining funds to ensure continuity of the project while applying for an implementation award under Priority 2. The project period for the grant under Priority 2 must end no later than 45 days after an award is made under Priority 2 without opportunity for extension. (iii) If the Secretary denies the State an IDEA paperwork reduction waiver under section 609 of IDEA, the project period will end no more than 30 days after the State’s receipt of the Secretary’s decision, without opportunity for extension. Final Selection Criteria: The Department establishes the following selection criteria for evaluating applications under this program. We may apply one or more of these criteria in any year in which this program is in effect. (a) Significance. (1) The Secretary considers the significance of the proposed project. (2) In determining the significance of the proposed project, the Secretary considers the likelihood that the proposed project will reduce administrative burdens and increase the time and resources available for instruction and other activities aimed at improving educational and functional results for children with disabilities. (b) Quality of the project design. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:05 Aug 05, 2020 Jkt 250001 (1) The Secretary considers the quality of the design of the proposed project. (2) In determining the quality of the design of the proposed project, the Secretary considers the following factors: (i) The extent to which the design of the proposed project will successfully reduce administrative burdens and increase the time and resources available for instruction and other activities aimed at improving educational and functional results for children with disabilities. (ii) The extent to which the proposed project encourages and is responsive to the involvement of parents, educators, related service providers, teachers, principals and administrators. (iii) The extent to which the goals, objectives, and outcomes to be achieved by the proposed project are clearly specified and measurable. (iv) The extent to which the design for implementing and evaluating the proposed project will result in information to guide possible replication of project activities or strategies, including information about the effectiveness of the approach or strategies employed by the project. (c) Quality of the management plan. (1) The Secretary considers the quality of the management plan for the proposed project. (2) In determining the quality of the management plan for the proposed project, the Secretary considers how the applicant will ensure that a diversity of perspectives is brought to bear in the operation of the proposed project, including those of parents, teachers, related services providers, school administrators, and others, as appropriate. This document 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 these priorities, requirements, and selection criteria, we invite applications through a notice in the Federal Register. Executive Orders 12866, 13563, and 13771 Regulatory Impact Analysis Under Executive Order 12866, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) determines whether this regulatory action is ‘‘significant’’ and, therefore, subject to the requirements of the Executive order and subject to review by OMB. Section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866 defines a PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 ‘‘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 not a significant regulatory action subject to review by OMB under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866. Under Executive Order 13771, for each new rule that the Department proposes for notice and comment or otherwise promulgates that is a significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866, and that imposes total costs greater than zero, it must identify two deregulatory actions. For Fiscal Year 2020, any new incremental costs associated with a new regulation must be fully offset by the elimination of existing costs through deregulatory actions. Because the final regulatory action is not significant, the requirements of Executive Order 13771 do not apply. 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 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, E:\FR\FM\06AUR1.SGM 06AUR1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 152 / Thursday, August 6, 2020 / Rules and Regulations jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES 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, requirements and selection criteria 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 does not unduly interfere with State, local, and Tribal governments in the exercise of their governmental functions. In accordance with these Executive orders, the Department has assessed the potential costs and benefits, both quantitative and qualitative, of this regulatory action. The potential costs are those resulting from statutory requirements and those we have determined as necessary for administering the Department’s programs and activities. Discussion of Potential Costs and Benefits The Department believes that the costs associated with this final priority and requirements will be minimal, while the benefits are significant. The Department believes that this regulatory action does not impose significant costs on eligible entities. Participation in this program is voluntary, federal funds to support project activities are provided to successful applicants, and the costs imposed on applicants by this regulatory action will be limited to paperwork burden related to preparing an application. The benefits of implementing the program will VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:05 Aug 05, 2020 Jkt 250001 outweigh the costs incurred by applicants, and the costs of carrying out activities associated with the application will be paid for with program funds. For these reasons, we have determined that the costs of implementation will not be excessively burdensome for eligible applicants. Regulatory Alternatives Considered The Department believes that these final priorities, requirements and selection criteria are needed to administer the program effectively. Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 These final priorities, requirements and selection criteria contain collection requirements that are approved by OMB under OMB control number 1820–0028; the final priorities, requirements and selection criteria do not affect the currently approved data collection. Regulatory Flexibility Act Certification: The Secretary certifies that this final regulatory action would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Size Standards define proprietary institutions as small businesses if they are independently owned and operated, are not dominant in their field of operation, and have total annual revenue below $7,000,000. Nonprofit institutions are defined as small entities if they are independently owned and operated and not dominant in their field of operation. Public institutions are defined as small organizations if they are operated by a government overseeing a population below 50,000. The small entities that this final regulatory action will affect are SEAs. We believe that the costs imposed on an applicant by these final priorities, requirements and selection criteria will be limited to paperwork burden related to preparing an application and that the benefits of these final priorities, requirements and selection criteria will outweigh any costs incurred by the applicant. Participation in the IDEA Paperwork Reduction Planning and Implementation Program is voluntary. For this reason, these final priorities, requirements and selection criteria will impose no burden on small entities unless they applied for funding under the program. We expect that in determining whether to apply for Technical Assistance and Dissemination to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities program funds, an eligible entity will evaluate the requirements of preparing an application and any associated costs, and weigh them against the benefits PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 47663 likely to be achieved by receiving an IDEA Paperwork Reduction Planning and Implementation Program grant. An eligible entity will most likely apply only if it determines that the likely benefits exceed the costs of preparing an application. We believe that these final priorities, requirements and selection criteria will not impose any additional burden on a small entity applying for a grant than the entity would face in the absence of the final action. That is, the length of the applications those entities would submit in the absence of the final regulatory action and the time needed to prepare an application will likely be the same. This final regulatory action will not have a significant economic impact on a small entity once it receives a grant because it would be able to meet the costs of compliance using the funds provided under this program. Intergovernmental Review: This program is subject to Executive Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79. One of the objectives of the Executive order is to foster an intergovernmental partnership and a strengthened federalism. The Executive order relies on processes developed by State and local governments for coordination and review of proposed Federal financial assistance. This document provides early notification of our specific plans and actions for this program. Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this document in an accessible format (e.g., 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. You may access the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations at www.govinfo.gov. 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 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 E:\FR\FM\06AUR1.SGM 06AUR1 47664 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 152 / Thursday, August 6, 2020 / Rules and Regulations your search to documents published by the Department. Mark Schultz, Commissioner, Rehabilitation Services Administration. Delegated the authority to perform the functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. [FR Doc. 2020–17213 Filed 8–4–20; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 4000–01–P DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION 34 CFR Chapter III [Docket ID ED–2019–OSERS–0163] Final Priorities—Rehabilitation Training: Innovative Rehabilitation Training Program Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), Department of Education. ACTION: Final priorities. AGENCY: The Department of Education (Department) announces priorities under the Innovative Rehabilitation Training program, Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number 84.263D/E/F. The Department may use one or more of these priorities for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2020 and later years. We take this action to focus Federal financial assistance on an identified national need to improve the knowledge and skills of vocational rehabilitation (VR) personnel in providing VR services to individuals with disabilities and improve the Client Assistance Program (CAP) personnel in advising, informing, and advocating on behalf of VR participants and applicants with disabilities. DATES: Effective Date: These priorities are effective September 8, 2020. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Cassandra P. Shoffler, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Room 5122, Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC 20202–2800. Telephone: (202) 245–7827. Email: 84.263DEF@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. SUMMARY: jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Purpose of Program: The Innovative Rehabilitation Training program is designed to develop (a) new types of training programs for rehabilitation personnel and to demonstrate the effectiveness of these new types of training programs for rehabilitation personnel in providing rehabilitation VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:05 Aug 05, 2020 Jkt 250001 services to individuals with disabilities; (b) new and improved methods of training rehabilitation personnel so that there may be a more effective delivery of rehabilitation services to individuals with disabilities by designated State rehabilitation agencies and designated State rehabilitation units or other public or non-profit rehabilitation service agencies or organizations; and (c) new innovative training programs for VR professionals and paraprofessionals to have a 21st-century understanding of the evolving labor force and the needs of individuals with disabilities so they can more effectively provide VR services to individuals with disabilities. Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 709(c) and 772. Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR parts 385 and 387. We published a notice of proposed priorities (NPP) for this competition in the Federal Register on April 27, 2020 (85 FR 23266). The NPP contained background information and our reasons for proposing the particular priorities. There are some differences between Priority 1 in the NPP and the final Priority 1 adopted here, as discussed in the Analysis of Comments and Changes section of this document. The differences between the proposed and final Priority 2 and Priority 3 are minor editorial and technical corrections. We are not establishing Proposed Priority 4 as a final priority through this regulatory action. Proposed Priority 4 was also proposed for Department-wide use in the Secretary’s Administrative Priorities for Discretionary Grant Programs published in the Federal Register on November 29, 2019 (84 FR 65734). In order to ensure that the priority would be available for this competition, RSA proposed it in the NPP for this competition as well. The Secretary’s Final Administrative Priorities for Discretionary Grant Programs were published in the Federal Register on March 9, 2020 (85 FR 13640). Therefore, there is no need to adopt the priority again in this document. Public Comment: In response to our invitation in the NPP, 79 parties submitted comments on the proposed priorities. We group major issues according to subject. We discuss substantive issues under each of the priorities to which they pertain. Generally, we do not address technical and other minor changes, or suggested changes the law does not authorize us to make. In addition, we do not address general comments that raise concerns not directly related to the proposed priorities. PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Analysis of Comments and Changes: An analysis of the comments and of any changes in the priorities from the NPP follows. Priority 1—Innovative Rehabilitation Training Project, Client Assistance Program Comment: Some commenters expressed concern that the proposed priority would merge CAP training with academic programs for VR counselors and, thus, fail to meet the training needs of CAP professionals, whose knowledge, competencies, and goals are substantially different from those of VR counselors. These commenters’ concern is based on a statement in the NPP that indicated that the project must develop a new or substantially improved training program, including stand-alone modules to be incorporated into an existing academic degree program for educating VR counselors or other VR professionals and paraprofessionals. Discussion: The Department agrees that the CAP professionals’ competencies and goals are substantially different from those of VR counselors and that a combined academic program for both VR and CAP professionals would not meet the training needs of CAP professionals. This priority was not intended to create a merged academic program for both CAP and VR personnel. The CAP training program will continue to be a program geared to the professional needs and the required knowledge, skills, and competencies of CAP professionals. The established, standalone modules referenced in this document do not represent the entire CAP training program. The training program includes ad hoc training activities and ongoing technical assistance, in addition to the established, stand-alone modules. Some, but not all, of these stand-alone modules may be incorporated into existing VR academic degree programs, for example, to improve VR professionals’ and paraprofessionals’ understanding about the CAP program and the individuals the program serves. The majority of training activities are focused on the professional needs and required knowledge, skills, and competencies of CAP professionals. We are revising the priority to make this distinction clear. Changes: The Department added examples of innovative CAP training delivery methods and knowledge translation techniques in Priority 1. We added language to Priority 1 to: (1) Incorporate multiple references to the program’s focus on the training needs of CAP professionals as distinct from those of VR professionals; (2) specify that the E:\FR\FM\06AUR1.SGM 06AUR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 152 (Thursday, August 6, 2020)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 47656-47664]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-17213]


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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

34 CFR Chapter III

[Docket ID ED-2020-OSERS-0014]


Final Priorities, Requirements, and Selection Criteria--Technical 
Assistance and Dissemination To Improve Services and Results for 
Children With Disabilities--The Individuals With Disabilities Education 
Act (IDEA) Paperwork Reduction Planning and Implementation Program

AGENCY: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services 
(OSERS), Department of Education.

ACTION: Final priorities, requirements, and selection criteria.

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

SUMMARY: The Department of Education (Department) announces priorities, 
requirements, and selection criteria for the IDEA Paperwork Reduction 
Planning and Implementation Program, Catalog of Federal Domestic 
Assistance (CFDA) number 84.326F. The Department may select as many as 
15 States to receive support in planning for and implementing waivers 
of statutory requirements of, or regulatory requirements relating to, 
IDEA Part B to reduce excessive paperwork and noninstructional time 
burdens that do not assist in improving educational and functional 
results for children with disabilities. The Department may use these 
priorities, requirements, and selection criteria for competitions in 
fiscal year (FY) 2020 and later years. We take this action to focus 
attention on an identified national need to reduce paperwork burden 
associated with the requirements of IDEA Part B while preserving the 
rights of children with disabilities and promoting academic 
achievement.

DATES: These priorities, requirements, and selection criteria are 
effective September 8, 2020.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: David Egnor, U.S. Department of 
Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Room 5163, Potomac Center Plaza, 
Washington, DC 20202-5076. Telephone: (202) 245-7334. Email: 
[email protected].
    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:
    Purpose of Program: The purpose of the Technical Assistance and 
Dissemination to Improve Services and Results for Children with 
Disabilities Program is to promote academic achievement and to improve 
results for children with disabilities by providing technical 
assistance (TA), supporting model demonstration projects, disseminating 
useful information, and implementing activities that are supported by 
scientifically-based research.
    Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1408 and 1463.
    We published a notice of proposed priorities, requirements, and 
selection criteria (NPP) for this program in the Federal Register on 
May 29, 2020 (85 FR 32317). The NPP contained background information 
and our reasons for proposing these particular priorities, 
requirements, and selection criteria.
    There are minor substantive differences between the NPP and this 
notice. As discussed in the Analysis of Comments and Changes section of 
this document, these changes relate to instances where we believed 
further clarification regarding stakeholder participation was 
appropriate.
    Public Comment: In response to our invitation to comment in the 
NPP, six parties submitted comments on the proposed priorities, 
requirements, and selection criteria.
    Generally, we do not address technical and other minor changes. In 
addition, we do not address comments that raised concerns not directly 
related to the proposed priorities, requirements, and selection 
criteria.
    Analysis of Comments and Changes: An analysis of the comments and 
of any changes in the priorities, requirements, and selection criteria 
since publication of the NPP follows.
    The Department received comments on several specific topics, 
including whether the Department had established--(1) an identified 
national need to reduce the paperwork burden associated with the 
requirements of IDEA Part B while preserving the rights of children 
with disabilities and promoting academic achievement; (2) the 
appropriateness of using funds for the stated purposes; and (3) 
recommendations to address perceived limitations in proposed 
requirements regarding stakeholder engagement, data collection, and 
other matters. Each topic is addressed below.
    Whether there is an identified national need to reduce the 
paperwork burden associated with the requirements of IDEA Part B.
    Comment: Several commenters raised questions regarding the needs 
for the IDEA Paperwork Reduction Planning and Implementation Program, 
noting that no States had received awards as a result of two similar 
prior competitions in 2007 and 2019, which they argued signified that 
special education paperwork reduction was no longer a significant issue 
in the field. The same commenters also cited recent survey results 
indicating that special education teachers and administrators no longer 
identified special education paperwork burden as a major concern as it 
was perceived prior to the 2004 amendments to the Individuals with 
Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). They also noted that, since 2004, 
advancements in various technologies, such as computer-based 
individualized education programs (IEPs), have significantly reduced 
the amount of time that educators spend on completing special education 
paperwork.
    Two commenters expressed general support for seeking ways to reduce 
special education paperwork but cautioned that certain administrative 
requirements that may seem unnecessary for educators or administrators 
may be vital to protecting the interests of children with disabilities.
    Another commenter noted that IDEA paperwork and other 
administrative burdens interfered with the ability of related services 
providers, including members of their professional association, to 
provide high-quality services to children with disabilities.
    Discussion: We appreciate commenters' concerns about the extent to 
which they anticipate the proposed priorities would generate value for 
States. We acknowledge that, across States, the degree of 
administrative burdens may vary. As such, we do not anticipate every 
State will apply for

[[Page 47657]]

funding under these priorities. However, we believe it would be 
shortsighted to deprive every State of the opportunity to seek out ways 
to meaningfully, and responsibly, reduce administrative burdens so that 
special education teachers and related services providers can devote 
more time and resources to supporting the needs of children with 
disabilities.
    We also acknowledge that the Department received no applications 
under other paperwork reduction initiatives in 2007, and only one 
application in 2019 that was not of sufficient quality to be funded. 
However, as noted in a 2016 GAO report, many States chose not to apply 
under the 2007 competition because they saw the application 
requirements as too burdensome and the funding level as too low to 
support the necessary additional staff to implement the projects.\1\ We 
had similar concerns regarding the 2019 competition and, as a result, 
solicited public comment on these requirements, and the most 
appropriate funding level for these projects, to ensure that we strike 
an appropriate balance that provides States with the opportunity to 
address this ongoing issue while ensuring appropriate supports and 
safeguards.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ GAO-16-25 (Washington, DC: January 2016), available at: 
www.gao.gov/products/GAO-16-25.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Regarding the advent and effectiveness of technology in reducing 
administrative burdens, we acknowledge that such tools hold great 
promise for streamlining the paperwork process. However, as noted in 
the same GAO study, technology tools have helped ease burdens, but they 
have limitations. Our goal in these efforts is to help special 
education teachers, related services providers, and administrators 
complete the same forms more quickly, and to support States in 
strategically and purposefully considering whether the specific forms 
or all of the information they ask for are necessary in the first 
place.
    We agree with the commenters that noted that unnecessary paperwork 
continues to interfere with the ability of educators to provide high-
quality services to children with disabilities and that the Department 
should continue to offer opportunities for States to address the stated 
purposes of the program.
    We agree with the commenters that certain administrative 
requirements that may seem unnecessary for educators or administrators 
may be vital to protecting the interests of children with disabilities. 
Within the notice, we clearly state that any waiver under section 609 
of IDEA may not affect the right of a child with a disability to 
receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) or waive procedural 
safeguards under section 615 of IDEA or applicable civil rights 
requirements, and we require State applicants to describe how they will 
continue to guarantee these protections.
    Changes: None.
    Alignment between the proposed activities and requirements and the 
intended purposes.
    Comment: In response to our directed question about the extent to 
which the proposed activities and requirements were appropriate for 
States and whether alternatives existed that would accomplish the same 
purposes with less burden for States, the majority of commenters 
provided feedback about the proposed activities and proposed 
alternatives. Some commenters expressed concern that the proposed 
activities and requirements would undermine the rights and needs of 
children with disabilities and their families. One commenter noted that 
the proposed activities and requirements would help alleviate 
unmanageable caseloads and excessive paperwork among related services 
providers represented by the commenter's professional association.
    Discussion: In 2004, Congress amended IDEA to provide an 
opportunity for States to identify ways to reduce paperwork burdens and 
other administrative duties that are directly associated with the 
requirements of IDEA Part B, in order to increase the time and 
resources available for instruction and other activities aimed at 
improving educational and functional results for children with 
disabilities. We agree with the commenter that reducing unnecessary 
paperwork burden will increase the time and resources available for 
instruction and other activities aimed at improving educational and 
functional results for children with disabilities.
    We agree with the commenters that we must ensure that the rights 
and needs of children with disabilities and their families are not 
undermined. We clearly state that the Secretary will not waive any 
statutory or regulatory provisions relating to procedural safeguards 
under section 615 of IDEA or applicable civil rights requirements and 
that waivers may not affect the right of a child with a disability to 
receive FAPE, consistent with section 609. We further propose, in the 
notice of proposed requirements and definition (NPR) for this program 
published in the Federal Register on June 5, 2020 (85 FR 34554), that 
the term ``applicable civil rights requirements'' includes, but is not 
limited to, the civil rights protections in the United States 
Constitution and the requirements of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation 
Act of 1973, as amended; Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; 
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; Title II of the Americans 
with Disabilities Act of 1990; and Age Discrimination Act of 1975. We 
also propose within the NPR that parents have the right to understand 
and consent to changes that affect their children's education and that 
they may withdraw their consent at any time and for any reason. In 
short, we believe we have proposed sufficient protections to ensure 
States' waiver proposals preserve the fundamental rights of children 
with disabilities and their families under IDEA.
    Changes: None.
    Comments regarding award sizes.
    Comment: None.
    Discussion: The Department did not receive any comments responding 
to our directed question regarding the appropriate size of awards for 
the proposed priorities. We intend to propose different ranges of award 
sizes under Priority 1 and Priority 2, and we do not intend to 
establish a maximum award size for the 2020 competition to ensure 
appropriate flexibility for States to develop meaningful and effective 
proposals.
    Changes: None.

Priority 1: The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 
Paperwork Reduction Planning and Implementation Program--Planning 
Grants

    Comment: Most commenters expressed concern that the programmatic 
requirements did not include a specific requirement for applicants to 
provide quantitative data on the anticipated benefits of any potential 
reforms. The commenters recommended requiring that applicants submit 
data documenting anticipated benefits drawing from the performance of 
children with disabilities on the annual State assessments required by 
the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) or the performance of children 
with disabilities on the National Assessment of Educational Progress 
(NAEP), or both. The commenters also noted that improvement in 
performance on State assessments should be linked to the goals for 
children with disabilities articulated on the State's approved ESSA 
State plan.
    Two commenters recommended that the final priority specify that 
States must continue to meet the data collection requirements of Part B 
of

[[Page 47658]]

IDEA. In addition, one commenter recommended revising the final notice 
to specify that school districts or States shall not reduce important 
required data collection activities related to racial inequities in 
identification, eligibility, behavioral interventions, and school 
suspensions or expulsions.
    Further, most commenters recommended that the group of stakeholders 
involved in identifying target areas to reduce administrative burden 
should be expanded to include the State's Parent Training and 
Information Center (PTI) and Community Parent Resource Centers (CPRC) 
funded under IDEA Part D, the State's Protection and Advocacy agency, 
and disability advocacy organizations within each State. Similarly, two 
commenters recommended that the impact of administrative burdens should 
be identified through a consultative process with all affected 
stakeholder groups.
    Finally, one commenter recommended that the Department take steps 
to encourage States to apply for the planning grants under Priority 1 
but cautioned that while the grant application process should be 
comprehensive, it should not be burdensome.
    Discussion: In Priority 1, we seek to provide the opportunity for 
States to identify ways to reduce paperwork burdens and other 
administrative duties that are directly associated with the 
requirements of IDEA Part B, in order to increase the time and 
resources available for instruction and other activities aimed at 
improving educational and functional results for children with 
disabilities. Regarding applicants providing quantitative data on the 
anticipated benefits of any potential reforms, under paragraph (c)(3) 
of the application requirements for Priority 2, we require applicants 
to describe strategies they will use for analyzing data and how data 
collected as part of this plan will be used to inform and improve 
service delivery over the course of the project and to refine the 
implementation project and evaluation plan, including subsequent data 
collection. Rather than being prescriptive regarding data sources, we 
believe it is preferable for applicants to propose a comprehensive 
evaluation plan under Priority 2, which would include a description of 
the data to be collected. The applicant's proposed evaluation plans 
under Priority 2, including data sources, will be evaluated by a panel 
of subject-matter experts as part of the discretionary grant peer 
review process. We believe that peer reviewers, who will have expertise 
in program evaluation, are in the best position to evaluate the extent 
to which the goals, objectives, and outcomes to be achieved by the 
proposed project are clearly specified and measurable.
    We agree with the commenter who recommended that the Department 
take steps to encourage States to apply for the planning grants under 
Priority 1, as well as the commenter's caution that while the grant 
application process should be comprehensive, it should not be 
burdensome. The Department seeks to minimize burden in its grant 
competitions to the extent possible, and we will take appropriate 
measures to ensure that States are aware of the funding opportunity.
    We appreciate commenters' concerns about whether States that 
receive grants under the proposed priorities will be required to 
continue to meet the data collection and reporting requirements under 
sections 616 and 618 of the IDEA. We intend to address this comment in 
the analysis of comments for the Final Requirements-Individuals With 
Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Paperwork Reduction Waivers. To 
ensure that this issue is considered in planning grants under Priority 
1, we are adding language to Priority 1 to ensure that the plan for a 
waiver proposal be consistent with the Final Requirements.
    Last, we agree with the commenters who recommended that the group 
of stakeholders involved in identifying target areas to reduce 
administrative burden should be expanded to include the State's PTIs 
and CPRCs funded under IDEA Part D. However, while we acknowledge that 
a State may seek to involve the State's Protection and Advocacy agency 
and disability advocacy organizations within the State, we believe it 
is more appropriate to leave their participation up to the State 
applicant. We believe that it is appropriate to add PTIs and CPRCs to 
the list of required stakeholders to involve, as PTIs and CPRCs are 
critical entities supported by IDEA Part D discretionary grant 
resources.
    Changes: Under the Programmatic Requirements for Priority 1, we 
have amended paragraph (b)(v) to reference the Final Requirements--The 
IDEA Paperwork Reduction Waiver and (a)(iv) by adding PTI and CPRC, if 
appropriate, representation to the list of parent stakeholders.

Comments Regarding Priority 2: The Individuals With Disabilities 
Education Act (IDEA) Paperwork Reduction Planning and Implementation 
Program--Implementation Grants

    Comment: Most commenters stated that the evaluation plan for States 
receiving a waiver was insufficient to ensure that approved waivers 
would improve positive outcomes including educational and functional 
results for children with disabilities. Similar to comments they 
provided in response to Priority 1, the commenters recommended that 
applicants be required to provide quantitative data drawn from the 
performance of children with disabilities to demonstrate whether 
student achievement improved as a result of receiving a waiver. They 
also recommended that such data be based on data gathered through 
annual State assessments required by ESSA, the performance of children 
with disabilities on the NAEP, or both, and that improvement in 
performance on State assessments should be linked to the goals for 
children with disabilities articulated on the State's approved ESSA 
State plan, if applicable.
    In addition, most commenters recommended limiting eligible 
applicants for paperwork reduction waivers to States that have received 
a ``Meets Requirements'' rating in their latest annual determination 
regarding their implementation of IDEA.
    Discussion: We seek, consistent with section 609 of IDEA, to 
provide an opportunity for States to identify ways to reduce paperwork 
burdens and other administrative duties that are directly associated 
with the requirements of IDEA Part B in order to increase the time and 
resources available for instruction and other activities aimed at 
improving educational and functional results for children with 
disabilities. Regarding applicants providing quantitative data relying 
on the data sources identified by the commenters, under paragraph 
(c)(3) of the application requirements for Priority 2, we require 
applicants to describe strategies they will use for analyzing data and 
how data collected as part of the evaluation plan will be used to 
inform and improve service delivery over the course of the project and 
to refine the implementation project and evaluation plan, including 
subsequent data collection. Rather than being prescriptive regarding 
data sources, we believe it is preferable for applicants to propose a 
comprehensive evaluation plan. An applicant's proposed evaluation plan 
under Priority 2, including data sources, will be evaluated by a panel 
of subject-matter experts with experience in program evaluation as part 
of the discretionary grant peer review process for Priority 2. We 
believe that peer reviewers with expertise in program evaluation are in 
the best position to evaluate the extent to which the goals, 
objectives, and outcomes to be achieved by the

[[Page 47659]]

proposed project are clearly specified and measurable.
    Because section 609 of IDEA does not address eligibility for 
planning grants and because a State's annual determination under 
section 616(d)(2)(A) of IDEA that it ``meets requirements'' could 
change from the period of application for a planning grant to the 
period when a waiver is sought, we do not believe that eligibility for 
planning grants should be limited to those States that are in ``meets 
requirements.'' Regarding eligibility standards for seeking waivers, 
these will be established in Final Requirements--The Individuals With 
Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Paperwork Reduction Waivers. We 
encourage States applying under Priority 1 that believe they may 
ultimately seek a waiver under section 609 to review and be mindful of 
those requirements.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended revising Priority 2 to align 
with the requirement in Priority 1 that the implementation plan 
identify State and local statutory and regulatory requirements or 
policies, procedures, and practices that exceed IDEA Part B statutory 
and regulatory requirements and were considered for revision.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenter regarding the importance of 
identifying State and local requirements, policies, procedures, and 
practices that exceed IDEA statutory and regulatory requirements. 
However, this matter is already addressed in Priority 1 and in the NPR, 
which remains open for public comment. Those proposed requirements 
provide detailed information regarding what States are required to 
submit as part of their waiver request, including any State and local 
requirements they plan to waive that exceed IDEA requirements.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended amending Priority 2 paragraph 
(c)(1)(v) to add language that includes the parent of the child to 
emphasize the importance of family engagement in the IEP Team process.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenter regarding the importance of 
parent and family engagement. The final notice has been revised to 
include the recommended language.
    Changes: We have revised paragraph (c)(1)(v) of the Programmatic 
Requirements for Priority 2 to include language that specifies the 
parent of the child.

Other Comments

    Comment: One commenter recommended that the final priority should 
specifically exclude any changes to a child's IEP, triennial 
evaluations and reporting, and written communication to parents on 
student progress.
    Discussion: We understand the commenter's concern. However, this 
comment is more germane to the NPR, which remains open for public 
comment. We will consider this recommendation as part of that 
rulemaking. In addition, we note that section 609 clearly states that 
waivers may not affect the right of a child with a disability to 
receive FAPE and that procedural safeguards under section 615 of IDEA 
and applicable civil rights requirements cannot be waived. The NPP also 
states that States are required to describe how they will continue to 
guarantee these protections. Further, the NPP requires applicants to 
describe how their application promotes collaboration between IEP Team 
members, which includes communicating with parents on their child's 
progress.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department widely 
disseminate information on the benefits and outcomes of all State 
waivers that are granted.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenter and will make this 
information available. Section 609 of IDEA requires that the Secretary 
include in the annual report to Congress information related to the 
effectiveness of waivers granted, including any specific 
recommendations for broader implementation of such waivers in reducing 
the paperwork burden on teachers, principals, administrators, and 
related service providers and noninstructional time spent by teachers 
in complying with IDEA Part B requirements; enhancing longer-term 
educational planning; improving positive outcomes for children with 
disabilities; promoting collaboration between IEP Team members; and 
ensuring satisfaction of family members.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department coordinate 
with the Centers for Medicaid & Medicaid Services and the Children's 
Health Insurance Program within the U.S. Department of Health and Human 
Services (HHS) to reduce administrative burden of duplicative paperwork 
for school-based providers who utilize IDEA funds and bill Medicaid. In 
addition, the commenter recommended that the Department and HHS co-
develop trainings and provide technical assistance for billing and 
payment administration of Medicaid services in schools to reduce 
paperwork burden with utilizing IDEA funds and billing Medicaid.
    Discussion: We understand the commenter's concern, but this 
recommendation is beyond the scope of this notice. Further, the waiver 
program is intended to be specific to paperwork and administrative 
burdens resulting from IDEA requirements, not for those resulting from 
other Federal programs.
    Changes: None.
    Comments: None.
    Discussion: Upon further review, the Department recognized that the 
specific language included in the ``Funding Eligibility Requirements'' 
section of the NPP may unnecessarily limit the Department's flexibility 
in using the priorities. Specifically, the proposed language did not 
contemplate a scenario in which the Department would, to reduce burdens 
for applicants and the Department, encourage applicants to propose 
projects that would address both Priority 1 and Priority 2. We have 
therefore revised the language in that section to: (1) Clarify that the 
requirement to obtain a waiver under section 609 applies to the receipt 
of funding, not eligibility; (2) add a new subparagraph (b)(2)(ii)(A) 
to clarify that grantees who have received funding under both 
priorities would, in the event they proposed a project to address both 
priorities, immediately be able to begin activities under Priority 2 
upon receipt of a waiver from the Secretary; and (3) redesignate a 
portion of proposed paragraph (b)(2)(ii) as new subparagraph 
(b)(2)(ii)(B) and clarify that it applies to grantees who only received 
awards to address Priority 1.
    Changes: We have revised paragraph (1) under Funding Eligibility 
Requirement to clarify the requirement pertains to the receipt of 
funding, not eligibility. We have also revised paragraph (b)(2)(ii) to 
more specifically address applicants that received funding under only 
Priority 1 and those who received funding under Priorities 1 and 2.

Comments Regarding Selection Criteria

    Comment: One commenter recommended multiple edits to the proposed 
selection criteria, deleting certain terms or phrases and inserting 
others. For example, the commenter recommended deleting references to 
``consumers'' and referring instead to ``educators, related service 
providers, teachers, principals and administrators.''
    Discussion: We agree with the commenter that we should replace the 
term ``consumer'' with the recommended text to clarify the relevant 
stakeholders.

[[Page 47660]]

    Changes: We have revised paragraph (b)(2)(ii) of the selection 
criteria to consider the extent to which the proposed project 
encourages and is responsive to the involvement of parents, educators, 
related service providers, teachers, principals and administrators.

Final Priority

Priority 1: The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 
Paperwork Reduction Planning and Implementation Program--Planning 
Grants

    The Department seeks to make awards to State educational agencies 
(SEAs) to assist them in identifying excessive paperwork and 
noninstructional time burdens on special education teachers, related 
services providers, and State and local administrators that do not 
assist in improving educational and functional results for children 
with disabilities (hereafter in the priority, ``administrative 
burdens'') and developing comprehensive plans to reduce them. These 
activities include conducting a comprehensive review of local, State, 
and Federal IDEA Part B requirements that lead to administrative 
burdens, as well as, at the discretion of the State, preparing IDEA 
Paperwork Reduction Waivers for submission to the Department.
    Planning projects funded by the Department must achieve, at a 
minimum, the following expected outcomes--
     Identification of the particular sources and effects of 
administrative burdens on special education and other teachers, related 
services providers, and State and local administrators under IDEA Part 
B; and
     A plan to reduce these administrative burdens.
    Under this priority, applicants must propose projects that meet the 
following programmatic requirements:
    (a) The project must meaningfully consult a diverse group of 
stakeholders on an ongoing basis to support the goals and objectives of 
the project. Such a group must include, at a minimum, representatives 
of the following groups:
    (i) Special education teachers and related services providers.
    (ii) Local special education administrators.
    (iii) Individuals with disabilities.
    (iv) Parents of children with disabilities, as defined in IDEA 
section 602(23), including representation of Parent Training and 
Information Centers (PTIs) and (if applicable) Community Parent 
Resource Centers (CPRCs).
    (v) The State Advisory Panel.
    (b) The project must prepare a plan that--
    (i) Identifies the State and local statutory and regulatory 
requirements or policies, procedures, and practices that exceed IDEA 
Part B statutory and regulatory requirements and were considered for 
revision;
    (ii) Describes the range of options available to the State in 
reducing administrative burdens, including any limitations on those 
options (e.g., statutory or regulatory requirements, judicial 
precedent);
    (iii) Establishes clear and achievable timelines for reducing 
administrative burdens;
    (iv) Identifies the anticipated benefits of any potential reforms, 
including likely beneficiaries, and the magnitude and scope of 
anticipated benefits, such as reductions in administrative burden hours 
and potential increases in the time and resources available for 
instruction and other activities intended to improve educational and 
functional results for children with disabilities;
    (v) Identifies any Federal IDEA Part B statutory or regulatory 
requirements for which a waiver may be sought under section 609 of 
IDEA, consistent with the requirements established in the Final 
Requirements--The IDEA Paperwork Reduction Waivers; and
    (vi) Describes the procedures the State will use to ensure that any 
waiver that may be sought in accordance with section 609 of IDEA will 
not--
    (A) Waive any statutory requirements of, or regulatory requirements 
relating to, applicable civil rights requirements or procedural 
safeguards under section 615 of IDEA; or
    (B) Affect the right of a child with a disability to receive FAPE 
under IDEA Part B.
    To be considered for funding under this priority, applicants must 
also meet the following application requirements. Each applicant must--
    (a) Demonstrate, in the narrative portion of the application under 
``Need for the project,'' how the proposed project will identify 
administrative burdens. To meet this requirement, the applicant must 
describe what it believes to be--
    (1) The approximate current magnitude and scope of the 
administrative burdens to be addressed;
    (2) The approximate current number of special education teachers, 
related services providers, and State and local administrators affected 
by those burdens and the number of children with disabilities that they 
serve; and
    (3) The approximate current costs and benefits of those burdens on 
special education teachers, related services providers, State and local 
administrators, and children with disabilities (e.g., teacher 
retention, planning time, transparency for families);
    (b) Demonstrate, in the narrative portion of the application under 
``Significance'' how the proposed planning project will--
    (1) Develop a plan to reduce administrative burdens and produce 
meaningful and sustained change at the State or local level; and
    (2) Develop proposals for changes to, or waivers of, specific 
requirements, policies, procedures, or practices that will reduce 
administrative burdens in order to increase the time and resources 
available for instruction and other activities aimed at improving 
educational and functional results for children with disabilities;
    (c) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under 
``Quality of the project design,'' how the proposed project will--
    (1) Meet the consultation requirements in paragraph (a) of the 
programmatic requirements of this priority, including, but not limited 
to, a proposed timeline for the consultation process, including a 
description of the methods of consultation (e.g., in-person meetings, 
conference calls, emails);
    (2) Identify local, State, or Federal IDEA Part B requirements, 
policies, procedures, or practices that may generate administrative 
burdens and may be reviewed by the project, including any proposed 
criteria for that review (e.g., frequency, complexity, number of staff 
affected, number of families affected);
    (3) Assess the extent to which specific sources of administrative 
burdens may affect educational and functional results for children with 
disabilities; and
    (4) Produce and make publicly available a plan that meets the 
requirements in paragraph (b) under the programmatic requirements of 
this priority and providing an opportunity for stakeholders enumerated 
in paragraph (a) of the programmatic requirements of this priority to 
comment on the plan; and
    (d) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under 
``Quality of the management plan,'' how--
    (1) The proposed management plan will ensure that the project's 
intended outcomes will be achieved on time and within budget. To 
address this requirement, the applicant must describe--
    (i) Clearly defined responsibilities for key project personnel, 
consultants, and subcontractors, as applicable; and

[[Page 47661]]

    (ii) Timelines and milestones for accomplishing the project tasks, 
including the publication of the final plan on the State's website 
within three months of the close of the project period;
    (2) Key project personnel and any consultants and subcontractors 
will be allocated and how these allocations are appropriate and 
adequate to achieve the project's intended outcomes; and
    (3) The proposed project will benefit from a diversity of 
perspectives, including those of families, educators, TA providers, 
researchers, and policymakers, among others, in its development and 
operation.

Priority 2: The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 
Paperwork Reduction Planning and Implementation Program--Implementation 
Grants

    Implementation grants provide funds for States to implement 
comprehensive plans to reduce administrative burdens submitted by the 
State and approved by the Secretary under section 609 of IDEA. This 
includes costs associated with developing products or materials that 
are part of comprehensive plans, such as creating information 
technology systems to automate paperwork, or creating new, streamlined 
paperwork to replace more time-consuming paperwork.
    To be considered for funding under this priority, an applicant must 
meet the following application requirements.\2\ Each applicant must--
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ For any State that receives a waiver of Federal IDEA Part B 
requirements, the Secretary will terminate the waiver if the 
Secretary determines that the State failed to appropriately 
implement its waiver, or the Secretary determines the State needs 
assistance in implementing IDEA requirements and the waiver has 
contributed to or caused such need for assistance. The Secretary 
will also terminate the waiver if the Secretary determines the State 
needs intervention in implementing IDEA requirements, or needs 
substantial intervention in implementing IDEA requirements.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (a) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under 
``Quality of the project design,'' how the proposed project will--
    (1) Disseminate information about changes in processes, practices, 
and procedures necessary to reduce administrative burdens to all 
special education teachers, related services providers, and State and 
local administrators affected by the State's waiver under section 609 
of IDEA (hereafter ``affected staff''), including--
    (i) The modes of communication the project will use;
    (ii) The frequency of communication; and
    (iii) The content of such communications;
    (2) Support the training of all affected staff regarding changes in 
processes, practices, and procedures necessary to reduce administrative 
burdens, including a description of the project's intended means of 
providing this training;
    (b) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under 
``Quality of the management plan,'' how--
    (1) The proposed management plan will ensure that the project's 
intended outcomes will be achieved on time and within budget. To 
address this requirement, the applicant must describe--
    (i) Clearly defined responsibilities for key project personnel, 
consultants, and subcontractors, as applicable; and
    (ii) Timelines and milestones for accomplishing the project tasks;
    (2) Key project personnel and any consultants and subcontractors 
will be allocated and how these allocations are appropriate and 
adequate to achieve the project's intended outcomes; and
    (3) The proposed project will benefit from a diversity of 
perspectives, including those of families, educators, TA providers, 
researchers, and policymakers, among others, in its development and 
operation; and
    (c) Include, in the narrative section of the application under 
``Quality of the project evaluation,'' an evaluation plan for the 
implementation project. The evaluation plan must--
    (1) Articulate formative and summative evaluation questions for 
evaluating important processes and outcomes, including whether, and how 
effectively, the waiver--
    (i) Reduces paperwork burden on teachers, principals, 
administrators, and related services providers;
    (ii) Reduces non-instructional time spent by teachers in complying 
with IDEA Part B;
    (iii) Enhances longer-term educational planning;
    (iv) Improves positive outcomes, including educational and 
functional results, for children with disabilities;
    (v) Promotes collaboration between individualized education program 
(IEP) Team members, including the parents of the child; and
    (vi) Ensures satisfaction of family members of children with 
disabilities and teachers, principals, administrators, and related 
service providers;
    (2) Describe how progress in, and fidelity of, implementation, as 
well as project outcomes, will be measured to answer the evaluation 
questions; specify the measures and associated instruments or sources 
for data appropriate to the evaluation questions; and include 
information regarding reliability and validity of measures where 
appropriate;
    (3) Describe strategies for analyzing data and how data collected 
as part of this plan will be used to inform and improve service 
delivery over the course of the project and to refine the proposed 
implementation project and evaluation plan, including subsequent data 
collection;
    (4) Provide a timeline for conducting the evaluation and include 
staff assignments for completing the evaluation; and
    (5) Dedicate sufficient funds in each budget year to cover the 
costs of developing, refining, and implementing the evaluation plan.

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 Requirements: The Department establishes the following 
requirements for these priorities. We may apply one or more of these 
requirements in any year in which the program is in effect.
    Funding Eligibility Requirements:
    (a) In order to receive funding for an implementation grant an 
applicant must already have a waiver under section 609 of IDEA approved 
by the Secretary.
    (b) For an applicant that receives a grant under Priority 1--
    (1) That does not submit a waiver proposal to the Secretary under 
section 609 of IDEA within 12 months of the start of the project 
period, the grant will end after 12 months without opportunity for 
extension;

[[Page 47662]]

    (2) That submits a waiver proposal to the Secretary under section 
609 of IDEA within 12 months of the start of the project period, the 
project period will, if applicable, be automatically extended for a 
period, not to exceed six months, during which the Secretary will 
consider the proposal.
    (i) While a State's waiver proposal is under review, grantees may 
continue to access available remaining funds to conduct one or more of 
the following planning grant activities:
    (A) Responding to possible questions from the Department regarding 
the State's proposal to obtain a waiver under section 609 of IDEA and 
the IDEA Paperwork Reduction Waivers.
    (B) Continuing to develop, or implement, planned activities to 
reduce administrative burdens.
    (ii) If the Secretary approves the State's IDEA paperwork reduction 
waiver under section 609 of IDEA and
    (A) and The grantee received a grant under Priorities 1 2, the 
grantee may use remaining funds and additional funding obligated by the 
Department under this program to carry out activities under Priority 2.
    (B) The grantee only received a grant under Priority 1, the grantee 
may continue to access available remaining funds to ensure continuity 
of the project while applying for an implementation award under 
Priority 2. The project period for the grant under Priority 2 must end 
no later than 45 days after an award is made under Priority 2 without 
opportunity for extension.
    (iii) If the Secretary denies the State an IDEA paperwork reduction 
waiver under section 609 of IDEA, the project period will end no more 
than 30 days after the State's receipt of the Secretary's decision, 
without opportunity for extension.
    Final Selection Criteria:
    The Department establishes the following selection criteria for 
evaluating applications under this program. We may apply one or more of 
these criteria in any year in which this program is in effect.
    (a) Significance.
    (1) The Secretary considers the significance of the proposed 
project.
    (2) In determining the significance of the proposed project, the 
Secretary considers the likelihood that the proposed project will 
reduce administrative burdens and increase the time and resources 
available for instruction and other activities aimed at improving 
educational and functional results for children with disabilities.
    (b) Quality of the project design.
    (1) The Secretary considers the quality of the design of the 
proposed project.
    (2) In determining the quality of the design of the proposed 
project, the Secretary considers the following factors:
    (i) The extent to which the design of the proposed project will 
successfully reduce administrative burdens and increase the time and 
resources available for instruction and other activities aimed at 
improving educational and functional results for children with 
disabilities.
    (ii) The extent to which the proposed project encourages and is 
responsive to the involvement of parents, educators, related service 
providers, teachers, principals and administrators.
    (iii) The extent to which the goals, objectives, and outcomes to be 
achieved by the proposed project are clearly specified and measurable.
    (iv) The extent to which the design for implementing and evaluating 
the proposed project will result in information to guide possible 
replication of project activities or strategies, including information 
about the effectiveness of the approach or strategies employed by the 
project.
    (c) Quality of the management plan.
    (1) The Secretary considers the quality of the management plan for 
the proposed project.
    (2) In determining the quality of the management plan for the 
proposed project, the Secretary considers how the applicant will ensure 
that a diversity of perspectives is brought to bear in the operation of 
the proposed project, including those of parents, teachers, related 
services providers, school administrators, and others, as appropriate.
    This document 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 these priorities, requirements, and selection 
criteria, we invite applications through a notice in the Federal 
Register.

Executive Orders 12866, 13563, and 13771

Regulatory Impact Analysis

    Under Executive Order 12866, the Office of Management and Budget 
(OMB) determines whether this regulatory action is ``significant'' and, 
therefore, subject to the requirements of the Executive order and 
subject to review by 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 not a significant regulatory action 
subject to review by OMB under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866.
    Under Executive Order 13771, for each new rule that the Department 
proposes for notice and comment or otherwise promulgates that is a 
significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866, and that 
imposes total costs greater than zero, it must identify two 
deregulatory actions. For Fiscal Year 2020, any new incremental costs 
associated with a new regulation must be fully offset by the 
elimination of existing costs through deregulatory actions. Because the 
final regulatory action is not significant, the requirements of 
Executive Order 13771 do not apply.
    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 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,

[[Page 47663]]

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, requirements and selection 
criteria 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 does not unduly 
interfere with State, local, and Tribal governments in the exercise of 
their governmental functions.
    In accordance with these Executive orders, the Department has 
assessed the potential costs and benefits, both quantitative and 
qualitative, of this regulatory action. The potential costs are those 
resulting from statutory requirements and those we have determined as 
necessary for administering the Department's programs and activities.

Discussion of Potential Costs and Benefits

    The Department believes that the costs associated with this final 
priority and requirements will be minimal, while the benefits are 
significant. The Department believes that this regulatory action does 
not impose significant costs on eligible entities. Participation in 
this program is voluntary, federal funds to support project activities 
are provided to successful applicants, and the costs imposed on 
applicants by this regulatory action will be limited to paperwork 
burden related to preparing an application. The benefits of 
implementing the program will outweigh the costs incurred by 
applicants, and the costs of carrying out activities associated with 
the application will be paid for with program funds. For these reasons, 
we have determined that the costs of implementation will not be 
excessively burdensome for eligible applicants.

Regulatory Alternatives Considered

    The Department believes that these final priorities, requirements 
and selection criteria are needed to administer the program 
effectively.

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    These final priorities, requirements and selection criteria contain 
collection requirements that are approved by OMB under OMB control 
number 1820-0028; the final priorities, requirements and selection 
criteria do not affect the currently approved data collection.
    Regulatory Flexibility Act Certification: The Secretary certifies 
that this final regulatory action would not have a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small entities. The U.S. Small 
Business Administration (SBA) Size Standards define proprietary 
institutions as small businesses if they are independently owned and 
operated, are not dominant in their field of operation, and have total 
annual revenue below $7,000,000. Nonprofit institutions are defined as 
small entities if they are independently owned and operated and not 
dominant in their field of operation. Public institutions are defined 
as small organizations if they are operated by a government overseeing 
a population below 50,000.
    The small entities that this final regulatory action will affect 
are SEAs. We believe that the costs imposed on an applicant by these 
final priorities, requirements and selection criteria will be limited 
to paperwork burden related to preparing an application and that the 
benefits of these final priorities, requirements and selection criteria 
will outweigh any costs incurred by the applicant.
    Participation in the IDEA Paperwork Reduction Planning and 
Implementation Program is voluntary. For this reason, these final 
priorities, requirements and selection criteria will impose no burden 
on small entities unless they applied for funding under the program. We 
expect that in determining whether to apply for Technical Assistance 
and Dissemination to Improve Services and Results for Children with 
Disabilities program funds, an eligible entity will evaluate the 
requirements of preparing an application and any associated costs, and 
weigh them against the benefits likely to be achieved by receiving an 
IDEA Paperwork Reduction Planning and Implementation Program grant. An 
eligible entity will most likely apply only if it determines that the 
likely benefits exceed the costs of preparing an application.
    We believe that these final priorities, requirements and selection 
criteria will not impose any additional burden on a small entity 
applying for a grant than the entity would face in the absence of the 
final action. That is, the length of the applications those entities 
would submit in the absence of the final regulatory action and the time 
needed to prepare an application will likely be the same.
    This final regulatory action will not have a significant economic 
impact on a small entity once it receives a grant because it would be 
able to meet the costs of compliance using the funds provided under 
this program.
    Intergovernmental Review: This program is subject to Executive 
Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79. One of the 
objectives of the Executive order is to foster an intergovernmental 
partnership and a strengthened federalism. The Executive order relies 
on processes developed by State and local governments for coordination 
and review of proposed Federal financial assistance.
    This document provides early notification of our specific plans and 
actions for this program.
    Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this 
document in an accessible format (e.g., 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. You may 
access the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of 
Federal Regulations at www.govinfo.gov. 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 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

[[Page 47664]]

your search to documents published by the Department.

Mark Schultz,
Commissioner, Rehabilitation Services Administration. Delegated the 
authority to perform the functions and duties of the Assistant 
Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services.
[FR Doc. 2020-17213 Filed 8-4-20; 11:15 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P