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Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services; Overview Information; Research and Innovation To Improve Services and Results for Children With Disabilities-Center on Standards and Assessment Development; Notice Inviting Applications for New Awards for Fiscal Year (FY) 2004

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Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 84.324U

Dates: Applications Available: July 7, 2004.

Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: August 9, 2004.

Eligible Applicants: State educational agencies (SEAs); local educational agencies (LEAs); institutions of higher education (IHEs); other public agencies; nonprofit private organizations; outlying areas; freely associated States; and Indian tribes or tribal organizations.

Estimated Available Funds: $1,000,000.

Maximum Award: We will reject any application that proposes a budget exceeding $1,000,000 for a single budget period of 12 months. The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services may change the maximum amount through a notice published in the Federal Register.

Number of Awards: 1.

Note:

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

Project Period: Up to 60 months.

Full Text of Announcement

I. Funding Opportunity Description

Purpose of Program: The purpose of this program is to produce, and advance the use of, knowledge to improve the results of education and early intervention for infants, toddlers, and children with disabilities.

Priority: In accordance with 34 CFR 75.105(b)(2)(iv), this priority is from allowable activities specified in the statute (see sections 661(e)(2) and 672 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, as amended (IDEA)).

Absolute Priority: For FY 2004 this priority is an absolute priority. Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(3), we consider only applications that meet this priority.

This priority is:

Research and Innovation to Improve Services and Results for Children with Start Printed Page 40883Disabilities—Center on Standards and Assessment Development.

Background: Alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards present a number of challenges for States. For example, questions have arisen concerning the best methods for aligning alternate achievement standards with grade-level academic content standards, maximizing access to the general curriculum, developing and administering technically sound alternate assessments, and determining cut scores on assessments that reflect expectations that are high but attainable. Similarly, alternate assessments based on grade-level achievement standards present challenges, such as determining the degree to which such alternate assessments measure grade-level standards with equivalent rigor to the general assessments.

Failure to meet these challenges will have compliance implications both for the approval of State standards and assessments under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) (which must be approved by the 2005-2006 school year), and compliance with provisions of the IDEA regarding alternate assessments and access to the general curriculum. However, educational reform is not a static process, and States may continue to examine and improve their assessments and accountability systems beyond meeting the requirements of Federal laws. Thus, there will be a continued need for federally supported development and technical assistance to support States in identifying and implementing evidence-based best practices to ensure that alternate achievement standards and alternate assessments are technically sound and universally designed to be accessible for the widest possible range of students.

Priority: This priority supports one cooperative agreement for a center (Center) to support States in developing, implementing, and improving alternate achievement standards aligned to grade-level content standards, alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards, and alternate assessments based on grade-level achievement standards.

The Center's activities must have two phases, with phase one in years 1 and 2 of the project and phase two in years 3 through 5. Some activities occur in both phases. Required activities and their phases are as follows:

Activity 1—Phase 1: Convene and support expert work groups to summarize extant data and other information, identify and discuss critical issues, identify promising and best practices, and produce reports and recommendations on specific topics. During the first project year, the Center must convene an expert work group to produce guidelines and procedures aimed at ensuring the technical quality of alternate assessments. Additional required topics to be addressed by expert work groups during the first two project years include: Methodologies and principles for aligning alternate achievement standards with grade-level academic content standards; best practices for developing and administering alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards; and best practices for developing and administering alternate assessments based on grade-level achievement standards.

Activity 2—Phases 1 and 2: Convene on an annual basis an advisory committee representing key perspectives and stakeholder groups, including professionals working in special education, assessment, and Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended; and parents and individuals with disabilities. The primary purposes of this advisory committee are to review and advise on the plans for activities 3 through 5 and to provide liaison with significant stakeholder groups.

Activity 3—Phases 1 and 2: Coordinate with other technical assistance and dissemination resources to provide technical assistance and information to States in improving and implementing (1) alternate achievement standards aligned to grade-level achievement standards, (2) alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards and on grade-level achievement standards, and (3) approaches to using alternate assessments in improving educational outcomes and access to the general curriculum.

Activity 4—Phase 2: Conduct research on the characteristics of alternate achievement standards and alternate assessments implemented in States, and their impact on student learning and access to the general curriculum.

Activity 5—Phase 2: Conduct development and demonstration projects with a small number of States on improving and implementing (a) alternate achievement standards aligned to grade-level achievement standards, (b) alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards and on grade-level achievement standards, and (c) approaches to using alternate assessments in improving educational outcomes and access to the general curriculum. To the extent possible, States should be selected to be broadly representative of size, socio-cultural factors, educational system characteristics, etc. Applicants are encouraged to provide evidence of potential State cooperation in these activities.

Additional Activities—Phases 1 and 2: (a) Maintain regular communication with staff of the U.S. Department of Education to obtain input and approval of project plans.

(b) Budget for a two-day Project Directors' meeting in Washington, DC during each year of the project.

(c) If the project has a Web site, include relevant information and documents in an accessible form on the project's Web site.

Fourth and Fifth Years of Project

In deciding whether to continue this project for the fourth and fifth years, the Secretary will consider the requirements of 34 CFR 75.253(a), and in addition—

(a) The recommendation of a review team consisting of experts selected by the Secretary which review will be conducted during the last half of the project's second year in Washington, DC. Projects must budget for the travel associated with this one-day intensive review;

(b) The timeliness and effectiveness with which all requirements of the negotiated cooperative agreement have been or are being met by the Center; and

(c) The degree to which the project's design and methodology demonstrates the potential for advancing significant new knowledge.

Waiver of Proposed Rulemaking

Under the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 553) the Department generally offers interested parties the opportunity to comment on proposed priorities. However, section 661(e)(2) of the IDEA makes the public comment requirements inapplicable to the priorities in this notice.

Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1461, 1472.

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

Note:

The regulations in 34 CFR part 86 apply to IHEs only.

II. Award Information

Type of Award: Cooperative Agreement.

Available Funds: $1,000,000.

Maximum Award: We will reject any application that proposes a budget exceeding $1,000,000 for a single budget period of 12 months. The Assistant Start Printed Page 40884Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services may change the maximum amount through a notice published in the Federal Register.

Number of Awards: 1.

Note:

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

Project Period: Up to 60 months.

III. Eligibility Information

1. Eligible Applicants: SEAs; LEAs; IHEs; other public agencies; nonprofit private organizations; outlying areas; freely associated States; and Indian tribes or tribal organizations.

2. Cost Sharing or Matching: This competition does not involve cost sharing or matching.

3. Other: General Requirements— (a) The projects funded under this notice must make positive efforts to employ and advance in employment qualified individuals with disabilities (see section 606 of the IDEA).

(b) Applicants and grant recipients funded under this notice must involve individuals with disabilities or parents of individuals with disabilities in planning, implementing, and evaluating the projects (see section 661(f)(1)(A) of the IDEA).

IV. Application and Submission Information

1. Address to Request Application Package: Education Publications Center (ED Pubs), P.O. Box 1398, Jessup, MD 20794-1398. Telephone (toll free): 1-877-433-7827. FAX: (301) 470-1244. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may call (toll free): 1-877-576-7734.

You may also contact ED Pubs at its Web site: www.ed.gov/​pubs/​edpubs.html or you may contact ED Pubs at its e-mail address: edpubs@inet.ed.gov.

If you request an application from ED Pubs, be sure to identify this competition as follows: CFDA number 84.324U.

Individuals with disabilities may obtain a copy of the application package in an alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer diskette) by contacting the Grants and Contracts Services Team listed under For Further Information Contact in section VII of this notice.

2. Content and Form of Application Submission: Requirements concerning the content of an application, together with the forms you must submit, are in the application package for this competition. Page Limit: The application narrative (Part III of the application) is where you, the applicant, address the selection criteria that reviewers use to evaluate your application. You must limit Part III to the equivalent of no more than 70 pages, using the following standards:

  • A “page” is 8.5″ x 11″, on one side only, with 1″ margins at the top, bottom, and both sides.
  • Double space (no more than three lines per vertical inch) all text in the application narrative, including titles, headings, footnotes, quotations, references, and captions, as well as all text in charts, tables, figures, and graphs.
  • Use a font that is either 12-point or larger or no smaller than 10 pitch (characters per inch).

The page limit does not apply to Part I, the cover sheet; Part II, the budget section, including the narrative budget justification; Part IV, the assurances and certifications; or the one-page abstract, the resumes, the bibliography, the references, or the letters of support. However, you must include all of the application narrative in Part III.

We will reject your application if—

  • You apply these standards and exceed the page limit; or
  • You apply other standards and exceed the equivalent of the page limit.

3. Submission Dates and Times:

Applications Available: July 7, 2004.

Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: August 9, 2004. The dates and times for the transmittal of applications by mail or by hand (including a courier service or commercial carrier) are in the application package for this competition. The application package also specifies the hours of operation of the e-Application Web site.

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

4. Intergovernmental Review: This program is not subject to Executive Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79.

5. Funding Restrictions: We reference regulations outlining funding restrictions in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice.

6. Other Submission Requirements: Instructions and requirements for the transmittal of applications by mail or by hand (including a courier service or commercial carrier) are in the application package for this competition.

Application Procedures:

Note:

Some of the procedures in these instructions for transmitting applications differ from those in EDGAR (34 CFR 75.102). Under the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 553) the Department generally offers interested parties the opportunity to comment on proposed regulations. However, these amendments make procedural changes only and do not establish new substantive policy. Therefore, under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(A), the Secretary has determined that proposed rulemaking is not required.

Pilot Project for Electronic Submission of Applications: We are continuing to expand our pilot project for electronic submission of applications to include additional formula grant programs and additional discretionary grant competitions. The Special Education—Research and Innovation to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities Program—Center on Standards and Assessment Development competition—CFDA Number 84.324U is one of the competitions included in this project. If you are an applicant under the Special Education—Research and Innovation to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities Program—Center on Standards and Assessment Development competition, you may submit your application to us in either electronic or paper format.

The pilot project involves the use of the Electronic Grant Application System (e-Application). If you use e-Application, you will be entering data online while completing your application. You may not e-mail an electronic copy of a grant application to us. If you participate in this voluntary pilot project by submitting an application electronically, the data you enter online will be saved into a database. We request your participation in e-Application. We shall continue to evaluate its success and solicit suggestions for its improvement.

If you participate in e-Application, please note the following:

  • Your participation is voluntary.
  • When you enter the e-Application system, you will find information about its hours of operation. We strongly recommend that you do not wait until the application deadline date to initiate an e-Application package.
  • You will not receive additional point value because you submit a grant application in electronic format, nor will we penalize you if you submit an application in paper format.
  • You may submit all documents electronically, including the Application for Federal Education Assistance (ED 424), Budget Information—Non-Construction Programs (ED 524), and all necessary assurances and certifications.
  • Your e-Application must comply with any page limit requirements described in this notice.
  • After you electronically submit your application, you will receive an Start Printed Page 40885automatic acknowledgement, which will include a PR/Award number (an identifying number unique to your application).
  • Within three working days after submitting your electronic application, fax a signed copy of the Application for Federal Education Assistance (ED 424) to the Application Control Center after following these steps:

1. Print ED 424 from e-Application.

2. The institution's Authorizing Representative must sign this form.

3. Place the PR/Award number in the upper right hand corner of the hard copy signature page of the ED 424.

4. Fax the signed ED 424 to the Application Control Center at (202) 245-6272.

  • We may request that you give us original signatures on other forms at a later date.

Application Deadline Date Extension in Case of System Unavailability: If you elect to participate in the e-Application pilot for the Special Education—Research and Innovation to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities Program—Center on Standards and Assessment Development competition and you are prevented from submitting your application on the application deadline date because the e-Application system is unavailable, we will grant you an extension of one business day in order to transmit your application electronically, by mail, or by hand delivery. We will grant this extension if—

1. You are a registered user of e-Application, and you have initiated an e-Application for this competition; and

2. (a) The e-Application system is unavailable for 60 minutes or more between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Washington, DC time, on the application deadline date; or

(b) The e-Application system is unavailable for any period of time during the last hour of operation (that is, for any period of time between 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., Washington, DC time) on the application deadline date.

We must acknowledge and confirm these periods of unavailability before granting you an extension. To request this extension or to confirm our acknowledgement of any system unavailability, you may contact either (1) the person listed elsewhere in this notice under For Further Information Contact (see VII. Agency Contact) or (2) the e-GRANTS help desk at 1-888-336-8930.

You may access the electronic grant application for the Special Education—Research and Innovation to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities Program—Center on Standards and Assessment Development competition at: http://e-grants.ed.gov.

V. Application Review Information

Selection Criteria: The selection criteria for this competition are listed in 34 CFR 75.210 of EDGAR. The specific selection criteria to be used for this competition are in the application package.

VI. Award Administration Information

1. Award Notices: If your application is successful, we notify your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators and send you a Grant Award Notification (GAN). We may also notify you informally.

If your application is not evaluated or not selected for funding, we notify you.

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements: We identify administrative and national policy requirements in the application package and reference these and other requirements in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice.

We reference the regulations outlining the terms and conditions of an award in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice and include these and other specific conditions in the GAN. The GAN also incorporates your approved application as part of your binding commitments under the grant.

3. Reporting: At the end of your project period, you must submit a final performance report, including financial information, as directed by the Secretary. If you receive a multi-year award, you must submit an annual performance report that provides the most current performance and financial expenditure information as specified by the Secretary in 34 CFR 75.118.

4. Performance Measures: Under the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA), the Department is currently developing indicators and measures that will yield information on various aspects of the quality of the Research and Innovation to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities program. Included in these indicators and measures will be those that assess the quality and relevance of newly funded research projects. Two indicators will address the quality of new projects. First, an external panel of eminent senior scientists will review the quality of a randomly selected sample of newly funded research applications, and the percentage of new projects that are deemed to be of high quality will be determined. Second, because much of the Department's work focuses on questions of effectiveness, newly funded applications will be evaluated to identify those that address causal questions and then to determine what percentage of those projects use randomized field trials to answer the causal questions. To evaluate the relevance of newly funded research projects, a panel of experienced education practitioners and administrators will review descriptions of a randomly selected sample of newly funded projects and rate the degree to which the projects are relevant to practice.

Other indicators and measures are still under development in areas such as the quality of project products and long-term impact. Data on these measures will be collected from the projects funded under this notice. Grantees will also be required to report information on their projects' performance in annual reports to the Department (EDGAR, 34 CFR 75.590).

We will notify grantees of the performance measures once they are developed.

VII. Agency Contact

For Further Information Contact: Dave Malouf, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., Room 4078, Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC 20202-2550. Telephone: (202) 245-7427.

If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339.

Individuals with disabilities may obtain this document in an alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer diskette) on request by contacting the following office: The Grants and Contracts Services Team, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC 20202-2550. Telephone: (202) 205-8207.

VIII. Other Information

Electronic Access to This Document: You may view this document, as well as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) on the Internet at the following site: www.ed.gov/​news/​fedregister.

To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at this site. If you have questions about using PDF, call the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), toll free, at 1-888-293-6498; or in the Washington, DC, area at (202) 512-1530.

Note:

The official version of this document is the document published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code Start Printed Page 40886of Federal Regulations is available on GPO Access at: www.gpoaccess.gov/​nara/​index.html.

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Dated: June 30, 2004.

Troy R. Justesen,

Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

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[FR Doc. 04-15408 Filed 7-6-04; 8:45 am]

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