Definitions and Selection Criteria That Apply to Direct Grant Programs, 62609-62612 [2020-21745]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 193 / Monday, October 5, 2020 / Rules and Regulations § 9.15 Request for withdrawal or modification of guidance documents and significant guidance documents. officers or employees, or any other person. (a) Members of the public may request the withdrawal or modification of an existing guidance document or significant guidance document in the manner indicated on the Department’s guidance portal at https://www2.ed.gov/ policy/gen/guid/types-of-guidancedocuments.html. (b) The Department will respond to all requests in a timely manner, but no later than 90 calendar days after receipt of the request, to the extent practicable. (a) To rescind a significant guidance document, the Department will— (1) In consultation with OIRA, provide a period of public notice and comment of at least 30 calendar days with respect to the rescission, unless the rescission reflects statutory or regulatory changes or some other reason that does not involve an independent exercise of the Department’s policy-making discretion; (2) Submit the proposed rescission to OMB for review; and (3) Publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing the rescission. (b) The Department and its components may not cite, use, or rely on rescinded guidance documents or rescinded significant guidance documents, except to establish historical facts. Subpart D—Miscellaneous Provisions Policy updates and revisions. This part will be reviewed periodically to reflect improvements in the rulemaking process or changes in Administration policy. If Congress revises applicable laws or if the executive branch issues new Executive orders, Presidential memoranda, guidance, or implementing instructions governing Federal agency rulemaking, those changes will also be part of this review. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES § 9.18 This part is intended to improve the internal management of the Department. It is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States; its agencies or other entities, officers, or employees; or any other person. In addition, this part shall not be construed to create any right to judicial review involving the compliance or noncompliance with this part by the Department, its POCs, its 16:09 Oct 02, 2020 DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION 34 CFR Part 77 RIN 1875–AA16 Definitions and Selection Criteria That Apply to Direct Grant Programs Department of Education. Final rule; incorporation by reference. AGENCY: The Secretary is issuing this rule in order to update the versions of the What Works Clearinghouse Standards Handbook and What Works Clearinghouse Procedures Handbook incorporated by reference into the Department’s applicable regulations. DATES: Effective date: These regulations are effective October 5, 2020. Applicability date: These regulations are applicable for competitions announced on or after October 5, 2020. Incorporation by reference: The incorporation by reference of the What Works Clearinghouse Standards Handbook, Versions 4.0 and 4.1 and What Works Clearinghouse Procedures Handbook, Versions 4.0 and 4.1 is approved by the Director of the Federal Register as of October 5, 2020. The incorporation by reference of the other material in § 77.1 was approved by the Director of the Federal Register as of July 31, 2017. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jonathan Jacobson, U.S. Department of Education, 550 12th Street SW, PCP– 4158, Washington, DC 20202–5900. Telephone: (202) 245–7485. Email: jonathan.jacobson@ed.gov. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) or text telephone (TTY), call the Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1–800–877– 8339. SUMMARY: SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Disclaimer. VerDate Sep<11>2014 BILLING CODE 4000–01–P ACTION: § 9.16 Rescinded significant guidance documents. § 9.17 [FR Doc. 2020–20799 Filed 10–1–20; 4:15 pm] Jkt 253001 Final Regulatory Changes In these final regulations, we update relevant provisions of the Education Department General Administrative Regulations to include the current versions of the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) Standards Handbook and What Works Clearinghouse Procedures Handbook (the Handbooks). We also incorporate these Handbooks, which provide a detailed description of the standards and procedures of the WWC, by PO 00000 Frm 00065 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 62609 reference. The Handbooks are available to interested parties at https:// ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Handbooks. The Version 3.0 Handbook added reviewer guidance not included in the Version 2.1 Handbook, and described procedures for WWC practice guides, single study reviews, and quick reviews. More details are available at https:// ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Docs/ referenceresources/wwc_procedures_v3_ 0_standards_handbook_updates.pdf. The Version 4.0 Handbooks separated ‘‘procedures’’ for reviewing, reporting, and synthesizing study findings from ‘‘standards’’ of internal validity. They also removed the ‘‘pilot’’ designation from the standards for regression discontinuity designs (RDDs) and updated the WWC’s standards for ‘‘fuzzy’’ RDDs, complier average causal effects, cluster-level assignment studies, and studies with missing data. More details are available at https:// ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Docs/ referenceresources/wwc_handbook_ summary_v4.0.pdf. The Version 4.1 Handbooks removed the ‘‘pilot’’ designation from the WWC’s standards for single-case designs (SCDs) and added new procedures for estimating design-comparable effect sizes from SCD studies for synthesis with findings from group design studies. These Handbooks also removed the ‘‘substantively important’’ designation based on the magnitude of effect size reported in a study and revised WWC procedures for synthesizing findings across studies to use a meta-analytic approach rather than counting studies that found positive effects. More details are available at https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/ wwc/Docs/referenceresources/ WWCHandbookSummary-v4-1-508.pdf. The WWC is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Education’s (the Department’s) National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), which was established under the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002 (Title I of Pub. L. 107–279). The WWC is an important part of the Department’s strategy to use rigorous and relevant research, evaluation, and statistics to inform decisions in the field of education. The WWC provides critical assessments of scientific evidence on the effectiveness of education programs, policies, products, and practices (referred to as ‘‘interventions’’) and a range of publications and tools summarizing this evidence. The WWC meets the need for credible, succinct information by reviewing research studies; assessing the quality of the E:\FR\FM\05OCR1.SGM 05OCR1 62610 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 193 / Monday, October 5, 2020 / Rules and Regulations research; summarizing the evidence of the effectiveness of interventions on student outcomes and other outcomes related to education; and disseminating its findings broadly. In addition, we make other minor, technical updates to 34 CFR 77.1, to correct numbering and cross-references. 34 CFR Part 77 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES Section 77.1 Definitions That Apply to All Department Programs Current Regulations: Section 77.1(c) establishes definitions that, unless a statute or regulation provides otherwise, apply to the regulations in title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations and can be used in Department grant competitions. Final Regulations and Reasons: We are revising the definitions of ‘‘experimental study,’’ ‘‘moderate evidence,’’ ‘‘quasi-experimental design study,’’ and ‘‘strong evidence’’ to refer to Versions 4.0 and 4.1 of the Handbooks, in addition to the current references to Versions 2.1 and 3.0, following the publication of Version 4.0 in October 2017 and Version 4.1 in January 2020. We refer to Versions 2.1, 3.0, 4.0, and 4.1 so that applicants can cite practice guides, intervention reports, and study reviews that the WWC has prepared under those Handbook versions. We also are updating the definition of ‘‘What Works Clearinghouse Handbook (WWC Handbook)’’ to be ‘‘What Works Clearinghouse Handbooks (WWC Handbooks)’’ and to include Versions 4.0 and 4.1 of the Handbooks. This update will help ensure that future evidence reviews reflect the most recent standards and procedures used elsewhere by the WWC. Improvements included in the Version 4.0 and Version 4.1 WWC Handbooks are described at https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Docs/ referenceresources/wwc_handbook_ summary_v4.0.pdf and https:// ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Docs/ referenceresources/ WWCHandbookSummary-v4-1-508.pdf. In addition, this technical update will allow for a sufficient number of certified reviewers to conduct WWC reviews for Department grant competitions, since the WWC offers training and certification in Version 4.1 standards at https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/ OnlineTraining, and there are fewer reviewers certified in the older Version 3.0 standards where there is no longer training. Section 77.2 Reference Incorporation By Current Regulations: Section 77.2 incorporates Version 2.1 and 3.0 of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:09 Oct 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 What Works Clearinghouse Procedures and Standards Handbook by reference. Final Regulations and Reasons: For the reasons stated above, we are updating this section to incorporate the WWC Standards Handbook, Versions 4.0 and 4.1 and WWC Procedures Handbook, Versions 4.0 and 4.1 by reference as well. Waiver of Proposed Rulemaking and Delayed Effective Date Under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (5 U.S.C. 551 et seq.), the Department generally offers interested parties the opportunity to comment on proposed regulations. However, these regulations make technical changes only and do not establish substantive policy. The regulations are therefore exempt from notice and comment rulemaking under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(3)(B). The APA also generally requires that regulations be published at least 30 days before their effective date, unless the agency has good cause to implement its regulations sooner (5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3)). Again, because these final regulations are merely technical, there is good cause to make them effective on the day they are published. However, these technical changes will only apply to competitions announced on or after the date of the publication of this final rule. Executive Orders 12866, 13563, and 13771 Regulatory Impact Analysis Under Executive Order 12866, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) must determine 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. PO 00000 Frm 00066 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 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 regulation 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 proposed regulatory action is not significant, the requirements of Executive Order 13771 do not apply. Moreover, even if this were a significant regulatory action, Executive Order 13771 would not apply because it is a ‘‘transfer rule,’’ i.e., regulations that cause only income transfers between taxpayers and program beneficiaries, such as those regarding discretionary grant programs. We have also reviewed these regulations 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 on 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, 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 E:\FR\FM\05OCR1.SGM 05OCR1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 193 / Monday, October 5, 2020 / Rules and Regulations 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 regulations 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 an analysis of anticipated costs and benefits, the Department believes that these final regulations are 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. Potential Costs and Benefits jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES Under Executive Order 12866, we have assessed the potential costs and benefits of this regulatory action and have determined that these regulations would not impose additional costs. We believe any additional costs imposed by these final regulations will be negligible, primarily because they reflect technical changes that do not impose additional burden on those submitting evidence for the Department to assess. Updating definitions in 34 CFR 77.1(c) to allow WWC reviews and reports reviewed under Versions 4.0 or 4.1 standards will expand the body of WWC-reviewed evidence available to inform decisionmakers. Evidence previously reviewed and reported by the WWC under Version 2.1 or Version 3.0 standards may still satisfy the requirements of strong or moderate evidence, provided all other aspects of those definitions are addressed. When the Department must review evidence that has not previously been rated by the WWC, using the most up-to-date WWC standards and recently trained and certified WWC reviewers will increase the integrity of the review process. We believe any costs will be significantly outweighed by the potential benefits of making necessary updates and ensuring that regulated parties are aware of and may refer to the current versions of the Handbooks. Regulatory Flexibility Act Certification The Regulatory Flexibility Act does not apply to this rulemaking because there is good cause to waive notice and comment under the APA. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:09 Oct 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 These regulations do not contain any information collection requirements. Intergovernmental Review This program is not subject to Executive Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79. 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 your search to documents published by the Department. List of Subjects in 34 CFR Part 77 Education, Grant programs-education, Incorporation by reference. Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education. For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Secretary amends part 77 of title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations as follows: PART 77—DEFINITIONS THAT APPLY TO DEPARTMENT REGULATIONS 1. The authority citation for part 77 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1221e–3 and 3474, unless otherwise noted. 2. Section 77.1 is amended by: a. In paragraph (b) introductory text, removing the words ‘‘title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations’’ and adding the words ‘‘subtitles A and B of this title’’ in their place. ■ b. In paragraph (c): ■ i. In the introductory text, adding the words ‘‘subtitles A and B of’’ before the words ‘‘this title’’. ■ ii. In the second sentence of the introductory text of the definition of ■ ■ PO 00000 Frm 00067 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 62611 ‘‘Experimental study’’, removing the word ‘‘Handbook’’ and adding in its place the word ‘‘Handbooks’’. ■ iii. In the definition of ‘‘Grant’’, redesignating paragraphs (1) through (4) as paragraphs (i) through (iv), respectively. ■ iv. In the definition of ‘‘Local educational agency’’, redesignating paragraphs (a) introductory text, (a)(1) and (2), (b), and (c) as paragraphs (i) introductory text, (i)(A) and (B), (ii), and (iii), respectively. ■ v. Revising the definition of ‘‘Moderate evidence’’. ■ vi. In the second sentence of the definition of ‘‘Quasi-experimental design study,’’ removing the word ‘‘Handbook’’ and adding in its place the word ‘‘Handbooks’’. ■ vii. In the definition of ‘‘Service function’’, redesignating paragraphs (a) introductory text, (a)(1)(i) and (ii), (a)(2), and (b), as paragraphs (i) introductory text, (i)(A)(1) and (2), (i)(B), and (ii), respectively. ■ viii. Revising the definitions of ‘‘Strong evidence’’ and ‘‘What Works Clearinghouse Handbook (WWC Handbook)’’. ■ c. Remove the parenthetical authority at the end of the section. The revisions read as follows: § 77.1 Definitions that apply to all Department programs. * * * * * (c) * * * Moderate evidence means that there is evidence of effectiveness of a key project component in improving a relevant outcome for a sample that overlaps with the populations or settings proposed to receive that component, based on a relevant finding from one of the following: (i) A practice guide prepared by the WWC using version 2.1, 3.0, 4.0, or 4.1 of the WWC Handbooks reporting a ‘‘strong evidence base’’ or ‘‘moderate evidence base’’ for the corresponding practice guide recommendation; (ii) An intervention report prepared by the WWC using version 2.1, 3.0, 4.0, or 4.1 of the WWC Handbooks reporting a ‘‘positive effect’’ or ‘‘potentially positive effect’’ on a relevant outcome based on a ‘‘medium to large’’ extent of evidence, with no reporting of a ‘‘negative effect’’ or ‘‘potentially negative effect’’ on a relevant outcome; or (iii) A single experimental study or quasi-experimental design study reviewed and reported by the WWC using version 2.1, 3.0, 4.0, or 4.1 of the WWC Handbooks, or otherwise assessed by the Department using version 4.1 of the WWC Handbooks, as appropriate, and that— E:\FR\FM\05OCR1.SGM 05OCR1 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES 62612 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 193 / Monday, October 5, 2020 / Rules and Regulations (A) Meets WWC standards with or without reservations; (B) Includes at least one statistically significant and positive (i.e., favorable) effect on a relevant outcome; (C) Includes no overriding statistically significant and negative effects on relevant outcomes reported in the study or in a corresponding WWC intervention report prepared under version 2.1, 3.0, 4.0, or 4.1 of the WWC Handbooks; and (D) Is based on a sample from more than one site (e.g., State, county, city, school district, or postsecondary campus) and includes at least 350 students or other individuals across sites. Multiple studies of the same project component that each meet requirements in paragraphs (iii)(A), (B), and (C) of this definition may together satisfy the requirement in this paragraph (iii)(D). * * * * * Strong evidence means that there is evidence of the effectiveness of a key project component in improving a relevant outcome for a sample that overlaps with the populations and settings proposed to receive that component, based on a relevant finding from one of the following: (i) A practice guide prepared by the WWC using version 2.1, 3.0, 4.0, or 4.1 of the WWC Handbooks reporting a ‘‘strong evidence base’’ for the corresponding practice guide recommendation; (ii) An intervention report prepared by the WWC using version 2.1, 3.0, 4.0, or 4.1 of the WWC Handbooks reporting a ‘‘positive effect’’ on a relevant outcome based on a ‘‘medium to large’’ extent of evidence, with no reporting of a ‘‘negative effect’’ or ‘‘potentially negative effect’’ on a relevant outcome; or (iii) A single experimental study reviewed and reported by the WWC using version 2.1, 3.0, 4.0, or 4.1 of the WWC Handbooks, or otherwise assessed by the Department using version 4.1 of the WWC Handbooks, as appropriate, and that— (A) Meets WWC standards without reservations; (B) Includes at least one statistically significant and positive (i.e., favorable) effect on a relevant outcome; (C) Includes no overriding statistically significant and negative effects on relevant outcomes reported in the study or in a corresponding WWC intervention report prepared under version 2.1, 3.0, 4.0, or 4.1 of the WWC Handbooks; and (D) Is based on a sample from more than one site (e.g., State, county, city, VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:09 Oct 02, 2020 Jkt 253001 school district, or postsecondary campus) and includes at least 350 students or other individuals across sites. Multiple studies of the same project component that each meet requirements in paragraphs (iii)(A), (B), and (C) of this definition may together satisfy the requirement in this paragraph (iii)(D). * * * * * What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) Handbooks (WWC Handbooks) means the standards and procedures set forth in the WWC Standards Handbook, Versions 4.0 or 4.1, and WWC Procedures Handbook, Versions 4.0 or 4.1, or in the WWC Procedures and Standards Handbook, Version 3.0 or Version 2.1 (all incorporated by reference, see § 77.2). Study findings eligible for review under WWC standards can meet WWC standards without reservations, meet WWC standards with reservations, or not meet WWC standards. WWC practice guides and intervention reports include findings from systematic reviews of evidence as described in the WWC Handbooks documentation. * * * * * ■ 3. Section 77.2 is amended by: ■ a. In paragraph (a): ■ i. In the second sentence, removing the word ‘‘below’’ and adding the words ‘‘in paragraph (b) of this section’’ in its place; and ■ ii. Revising the last sentence of the paragraph; and ■ b. Revising paragraph (b). The revisions read as follows: § 77.2 Incorporation by Reference. (a) * * * For information on the availability of this material at NARA, email fedreg.legal@nara.gov, or go to http://www.archives.gov/federalregister/cfr/ibr-locations.html. (b) Institute of Education Sciences, 550 12th Street SW, Washington, DC 20202, (202) 245–6940, http:// ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Handbooks. (1) What Works Clearinghouse Standards Handbook, Version 4.1, January 2020, IBR approved for § 77.1. (2) What Works Clearinghouse Procedures Handbook, Version 4.1, January 2020, IBR approved for § 77.1. (3) What Works Clearinghouse Standards Handbook, Version 4.0, October 2017, IBR approved for § 77.1. (4) What Works Clearinghouse Procedures Handbook, Version 4.0, October 2017, IBR approved for § 77.1. (5) What Works Clearinghouse Procedures and Standards Handbook, Version 3.0, March 2014, IBR approved for § 77.1. (6) What Works Clearinghouse Procedures and Standards Handbook, PO 00000 Frm 00068 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Version 2.1, September 2011, IBR approved for § 77.1. [FR Doc. 2020–21745 Filed 10–2–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000–01–P GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION 48 CFR Parts 515, 538, and 552 [GSAR Case 2020–G536; Docket No. GSA– GSAR–2020–0016; Sequence No. 1] General Services Administration Acquisition Regulation; Clause Number Corrections Office of Acquisition Policy, General Services Administration (GSA). ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: The General Services Administration (GSA) is issuing a technical amendment to the General Services Administration Acquisition Regulation (GSAR). This technical amendment updates the GSAR and the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) to reflect changes to clause renumbering that were erroneously omitted from GSAR Case 2013–G502, Federal Supply Schedule Contracting (Administrative Changes), which was published in the Federal Register. DATES: Effective: November 4, 2020. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Alexander Beyrent, GSA Acquisition Policy Division, at gsarpolicy@gsa.gov, for clarification of content. For information pertaining to status or publication schedules, contact the Regulatory Secretariat at 202–501–4755. Please cite GSAR Case 2020–G536. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: I. Background This is a technical amendment to the General Services Administration Acquisition Regulation (GSAR). As part of GSA’s regulatory reform efforts, GSA has been performing a comprehensive review of the requirements in the GSAR and has identified several instances where clause numbers need to be amended. II. Authority for This Rulemaking Title 40 of the United States Code (U.S.C.) Section 121 authorizes GSA to issue regulations, including the GSAR, to control the relationship between GSA and contractors. III. Discussion and Analysis Clause numbers are amended within the following GSAR sections: 515.408 Solicitation provisions and contract clauses; 538.272 MAS price reductions; E:\FR\FM\05OCR1.SGM 05OCR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 193 (Monday, October 5, 2020)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 62609-62612]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-21745]


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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

34 CFR Part 77

RIN 1875-AA16


Definitions and Selection Criteria That Apply to Direct Grant 
Programs

AGENCY: Department of Education.

ACTION: Final rule; incorporation by reference.

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

SUMMARY: The Secretary is issuing this rule in order to update the 
versions of the What Works Clearinghouse Standards Handbook and What 
Works Clearinghouse Procedures Handbook incorporated by reference into 
the Department's applicable regulations.

DATES: Effective date: These regulations are effective October 5, 2020.
    Applicability date: These regulations are applicable for 
competitions announced on or after October 5, 2020.
    Incorporation by reference: The incorporation by reference of the 
What Works Clearinghouse Standards Handbook, Versions 4.0 and 4.1 and 
What Works Clearinghouse Procedures Handbook, Versions 4.0 and 4.1 is 
approved by the Director of the Federal Register as of October 5, 2020. 
The incorporation by reference of the other material in Sec.  77.1 was 
approved by the Director of the Federal Register as of July 31, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jonathan Jacobson, U.S. Department of 
Education, 550 12th Street SW, PCP-4158, Washington, DC 20202-5900. 
Telephone: (202) 245-7485. Email: [email protected].
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) or text 
telephone (TTY), call the Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1-
800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Final Regulatory Changes

    In these final regulations, we update relevant provisions of the 
Education Department General Administrative Regulations to include the 
current versions of the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) Standards 
Handbook and What Works Clearinghouse Procedures Handbook (the 
Handbooks). We also incorporate these Handbooks, which provide a 
detailed description of the standards and procedures of the WWC, by 
reference. The Handbooks are available to interested parties at https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Handbooks. The Version 3.0 Handbook added reviewer 
guidance not included in the Version 2.1 Handbook, and described 
procedures for WWC practice guides, single study reviews, and quick 
reviews. More details are available at https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Docs/referenceresources/wwc_procedures_v3_0_standards_handbook_updates.pdf. The Version 4.0 
Handbooks separated ``procedures'' for reviewing, reporting, and 
synthesizing study findings from ``standards'' of internal validity. 
They also removed the ``pilot'' designation from the standards for 
regression discontinuity designs (RDDs) and updated the WWC's standards 
for ``fuzzy'' RDDs, complier average causal effects, cluster-level 
assignment studies, and studies with missing data. More details are 
available at https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Docs/referenceresources/wwc_handbook_summary_v4.0.pdf. The Version 4.1 Handbooks removed the 
``pilot'' designation from the WWC's standards for single-case designs 
(SCDs) and added new procedures for estimating design-comparable effect 
sizes from SCD studies for synthesis with findings from group design 
studies. These Handbooks also removed the ``substantively important'' 
designation based on the magnitude of effect size reported in a study 
and revised WWC procedures for synthesizing findings across studies to 
use a meta-analytic approach rather than counting studies that found 
positive effects. More details are available at https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Docs/referenceresources/WWCHandbookSummary-v4-1-508.pdf.
    The WWC is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Education's (the 
Department's) National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional 
Assistance, within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), which was 
established under the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002 (Title I of 
Pub. L. 107-279). The WWC is an important part of the Department's 
strategy to use rigorous and relevant research, evaluation, and 
statistics to inform decisions in the field of education. The WWC 
provides critical assessments of scientific evidence on the 
effectiveness of education programs, policies, products, and practices 
(referred to as ``interventions'') and a range of publications and 
tools summarizing this evidence. The WWC meets the need for credible, 
succinct information by reviewing research studies; assessing the 
quality of the

[[Page 62610]]

research; summarizing the evidence of the effectiveness of 
interventions on student outcomes and other outcomes related to 
education; and disseminating its findings broadly.
    In addition, we make other minor, technical updates to 34 CFR 77.1, 
to correct numbering and cross-references.

34 CFR Part 77

Section 77.1 Definitions That Apply to All Department Programs

    Current Regulations: Section 77.1(c) establishes definitions that, 
unless a statute or regulation provides otherwise, apply to the 
regulations in title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations and can be 
used in Department grant competitions.
    Final Regulations and Reasons: We are revising the definitions of 
``experimental study,'' ``moderate evidence,'' ``quasi-experimental 
design study,'' and ``strong evidence'' to refer to Versions 4.0 and 
4.1 of the Handbooks, in addition to the current references to Versions 
2.1 and 3.0, following the publication of Version 4.0 in October 2017 
and Version 4.1 in January 2020. We refer to Versions 2.1, 3.0, 4.0, 
and 4.1 so that applicants can cite practice guides, intervention 
reports, and study reviews that the WWC has prepared under those 
Handbook versions. We also are updating the definition of ``What Works 
Clearinghouse Handbook (WWC Handbook)'' to be ``What Works 
Clearinghouse Handbooks (WWC Handbooks)'' and to include Versions 4.0 
and 4.1 of the Handbooks.
    This update will help ensure that future evidence reviews reflect 
the most recent standards and procedures used elsewhere by the WWC. 
Improvements included in the Version 4.0 and Version 4.1 WWC Handbooks 
are described at https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Docs/referenceresources/wwc_handbook_summary_v4.0.pdf and https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Docs/referenceresources/WWCHandbookSummary-v4-1-508.pdf. In addition, this 
technical update will allow for a sufficient number of certified 
reviewers to conduct WWC reviews for Department grant competitions, 
since the WWC offers training and certification in Version 4.1 
standards at https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/OnlineTraining, and there are 
fewer reviewers certified in the older Version 3.0 standards where 
there is no longer training.

Section 77.2 Incorporation By Reference

    Current Regulations: Section 77.2 incorporates Version 2.1 and 3.0 
of the What Works Clearinghouse Procedures and Standards Handbook by 
reference.
    Final Regulations and Reasons: For the reasons stated above, we are 
updating this section to incorporate the WWC Standards Handbook, 
Versions 4.0 and 4.1 and WWC Procedures Handbook, Versions 4.0 and 4.1 
by reference as well.

Waiver of Proposed Rulemaking and Delayed Effective Date

    Under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (5 U.S.C. 551 et 
seq.), the Department generally offers interested parties the 
opportunity to comment on proposed regulations. However, these 
regulations make technical changes only and do not establish 
substantive policy. The regulations are therefore exempt from notice 
and comment rulemaking under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(3)(B).
    The APA also generally requires that regulations be published at 
least 30 days before their effective date, unless the agency has good 
cause to implement its regulations sooner (5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3)). Again, 
because these final regulations are merely technical, there is good 
cause to make them effective on the day they are published. However, 
these technical changes will only apply to competitions announced on or 
after the date of the publication of this final rule.

Executive Orders 12866, 13563, and 13771

Regulatory Impact Analysis

    Under Executive Order 12866, the Office of Management and Budget 
(OMB) must determine 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 regulation 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 
proposed regulatory action is not significant, the requirements of 
Executive Order 13771 do not apply. Moreover, even if this were a 
significant regulatory action, Executive Order 13771 would not apply 
because it is a ``transfer rule,'' i.e., regulations that cause only 
income transfers between taxpayers and program beneficiaries, such as 
those regarding discretionary grant programs.
    We have also reviewed these regulations 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 on 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, 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

[[Page 62611]]

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 regulations 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 an analysis of anticipated costs 
and benefits, the Department believes that these final regulations are 
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.

Potential Costs and Benefits

    Under Executive Order 12866, we have assessed the potential costs 
and benefits of this regulatory action and have determined that these 
regulations would not impose additional costs. We believe any 
additional costs imposed by these final regulations will be negligible, 
primarily because they reflect technical changes that do not impose 
additional burden on those submitting evidence for the Department to 
assess. Updating definitions in 34 CFR 77.1(c) to allow WWC reviews and 
reports reviewed under Versions 4.0 or 4.1 standards will expand the 
body of WWC-reviewed evidence available to inform decision-makers. 
Evidence previously reviewed and reported by the WWC under Version 2.1 
or Version 3.0 standards may still satisfy the requirements of strong 
or moderate evidence, provided all other aspects of those definitions 
are addressed. When the Department must review evidence that has not 
previously been rated by the WWC, using the most up-to-date WWC 
standards and recently trained and certified WWC reviewers will 
increase the integrity of the review process. We believe any costs will 
be significantly outweighed by the potential benefits of making 
necessary updates and ensuring that regulated parties are aware of and 
may refer to the current versions of the Handbooks.

Regulatory Flexibility Act Certification

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act does not apply to this rulemaking 
because there is good cause to waive notice and comment under the APA.

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    These regulations do not contain any information collection 
requirements.

Intergovernmental Review

    This program is not subject to Executive Order 12372 and the 
regulations in 34 CFR part 79.
    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 your search to documents published 
by the Department.

List of Subjects in 34 CFR Part 77

    Education, Grant programs-education, Incorporation by reference.

Betsy DeVos,
Secretary of Education.

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Secretary amends 
part 77 of title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations as follows:

PART 77--DEFINITIONS THAT APPLY TO DEPARTMENT REGULATIONS

0
1. The authority citation for part 77 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1221e-3 and 3474, unless otherwise noted.


0
2. Section 77.1 is amended by:
0
a. In paragraph (b) introductory text, removing the words ``title 34 of 
the Code of Federal Regulations'' and adding the words ``subtitles A 
and B of this title'' in their place.
0
b. In paragraph (c):
0
i. In the introductory text, adding the words ``subtitles A and B of'' 
before the words ``this title''.
0
ii. In the second sentence of the introductory text of the definition 
of ``Experimental study'', removing the word ``Handbook'' and adding in 
its place the word ``Handbooks''.
0
iii. In the definition of ``Grant'', redesignating paragraphs (1) 
through (4) as paragraphs (i) through (iv), respectively.
0
iv. In the definition of ``Local educational agency'', redesignating 
paragraphs (a) introductory text, (a)(1) and (2), (b), and (c) as 
paragraphs (i) introductory text, (i)(A) and (B), (ii), and (iii), 
respectively.
0
v. Revising the definition of ``Moderate evidence''.
0
vi. In the second sentence of the definition of ``Quasi-experimental 
design study,'' removing the word ``Handbook'' and adding in its place 
the word ``Handbooks''.
0
vii. In the definition of ``Service function'', redesignating 
paragraphs (a) introductory text, (a)(1)(i) and (ii), (a)(2), and (b), 
as paragraphs (i) introductory text, (i)(A)(1) and (2), (i)(B), and 
(ii), respectively.
0
viii. Revising the definitions of ``Strong evidence'' and ``What Works 
Clearinghouse Handbook (WWC Handbook)''.
0
c. Remove the parenthetical authority at the end of the section.
    The revisions read as follows:


Sec.  77.1  Definitions that apply to all Department programs.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    Moderate evidence means that there is evidence of effectiveness of 
a key project component in improving a relevant outcome for a sample 
that overlaps with the populations or settings proposed to receive that 
component, based on a relevant finding from one of the following:
    (i) A practice guide prepared by the WWC using version 2.1, 3.0, 
4.0, or 4.1 of the WWC Handbooks reporting a ``strong evidence base'' 
or ``moderate evidence base'' for the corresponding practice guide 
recommendation;
    (ii) An intervention report prepared by the WWC using version 2.1, 
3.0, 4.0, or 4.1 of the WWC Handbooks reporting a ``positive effect'' 
or ``potentially positive effect'' on a relevant outcome based on a 
``medium to large'' extent of evidence, with no reporting of a 
``negative effect'' or ``potentially negative effect'' on a relevant 
outcome; or
    (iii) A single experimental study or quasi-experimental design 
study reviewed and reported by the WWC using version 2.1, 3.0, 4.0, or 
4.1 of the WWC Handbooks, or otherwise assessed by the Department using 
version 4.1 of the WWC Handbooks, as appropriate, and that--

[[Page 62612]]

    (A) Meets WWC standards with or without reservations;
    (B) Includes at least one statistically significant and positive 
(i.e., favorable) effect on a relevant outcome;
    (C) Includes no overriding statistically significant and negative 
effects on relevant outcomes reported in the study or in a 
corresponding WWC intervention report prepared under version 2.1, 3.0, 
4.0, or 4.1 of the WWC Handbooks; and
    (D) Is based on a sample from more than one site (e.g., State, 
county, city, school district, or postsecondary campus) and includes at 
least 350 students or other individuals across sites. Multiple studies 
of the same project component that each meet requirements in paragraphs 
(iii)(A), (B), and (C) of this definition may together satisfy the 
requirement in this paragraph (iii)(D).
* * * * *
    Strong evidence means that there is evidence of the effectiveness 
of a key project component in improving a relevant outcome for a sample 
that overlaps with the populations and settings proposed to receive 
that component, based on a relevant finding from one of the following:
    (i) A practice guide prepared by the WWC using version 2.1, 3.0, 
4.0, or 4.1 of the WWC Handbooks reporting a ``strong evidence base'' 
for the corresponding practice guide recommendation;
    (ii) An intervention report prepared by the WWC using version 2.1, 
3.0, 4.0, or 4.1 of the WWC Handbooks reporting a ``positive effect'' 
on a relevant outcome based on a ``medium to large'' extent of 
evidence, with no reporting of a ``negative effect'' or ``potentially 
negative effect'' on a relevant outcome; or
    (iii) A single experimental study reviewed and reported by the WWC 
using version 2.1, 3.0, 4.0, or 4.1 of the WWC Handbooks, or otherwise 
assessed by the Department using version 4.1 of the WWC Handbooks, as 
appropriate, and that--
    (A) Meets WWC standards without reservations;
    (B) Includes at least one statistically significant and positive 
(i.e., favorable) effect on a relevant outcome;
    (C) Includes no overriding statistically significant and negative 
effects on relevant outcomes reported in the study or in a 
corresponding WWC intervention report prepared under version 2.1, 3.0, 
4.0, or 4.1 of the WWC Handbooks; and
    (D) Is based on a sample from more than one site (e.g., State, 
county, city, school district, or postsecondary campus) and includes at 
least 350 students or other individuals across sites. Multiple studies 
of the same project component that each meet requirements in paragraphs 
(iii)(A), (B), and (C) of this definition may together satisfy the 
requirement in this paragraph (iii)(D).
* * * * *
    What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) Handbooks (WWC Handbooks) means the 
standards and procedures set forth in the WWC Standards Handbook, 
Versions 4.0 or 4.1, and WWC Procedures Handbook, Versions 4.0 or 4.1, 
or in the WWC Procedures and Standards Handbook, Version 3.0 or Version 
2.1 (all incorporated by reference, see Sec.  77.2). Study findings 
eligible for review under WWC standards can meet WWC standards without 
reservations, meet WWC standards with reservations, or not meet WWC 
standards. WWC practice guides and intervention reports include 
findings from systematic reviews of evidence as described in the WWC 
Handbooks documentation.
* * * * *

0
3. Section 77.2 is amended by:
0
a. In paragraph (a):
0
i. In the second sentence, removing the word ``below'' and adding the 
words ``in paragraph (b) of this section'' in its place; and
0
ii. Revising the last sentence of the paragraph; and
0
b. Revising paragraph (b).
    The revisions read as follows:


Sec.  77.2  Incorporation by Reference.

    (a) * * * For information on the availability of this material at 
NARA, email [email protected], or go to http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/cfr/ibr-locations.html.
    (b) Institute of Education Sciences, 550 12th Street SW, 
Washington, DC 20202, (202) 245-6940, http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Handbooks.
    (1) What Works Clearinghouse Standards Handbook, Version 4.1, 
January 2020, IBR approved for Sec.  77.1.
    (2) What Works Clearinghouse Procedures Handbook, Version 4.1, 
January 2020, IBR approved for Sec.  77.1.
    (3) What Works Clearinghouse Standards Handbook, Version 4.0, 
October 2017, IBR approved for Sec.  77.1.
    (4) What Works Clearinghouse Procedures Handbook, Version 4.0, 
October 2017, IBR approved for Sec.  77.1.
    (5) What Works Clearinghouse Procedures and Standards Handbook, 
Version 3.0, March 2014, IBR approved for Sec.  77.1.
    (6) What Works Clearinghouse Procedures and Standards Handbook, 
Version 2.1, September 2011, IBR approved for Sec.  77.1.

[FR Doc. 2020-21745 Filed 10-2-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P