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Notice

Applications for New Awards; Competitive Grants for State Assessments Program

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Department of Education.

ACTION:

Notice.

SUMMARY:

The Department of Education is issuing a notice inviting applications for fiscal year (FY) 2019 for the Competitive Grants for State Assessments program, Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number 84.368A.

DATES:

Applications Available: January 28, 2019.

Deadline for Notice of Intent To Apply: February 27, 2019.

Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: March 29, 2019.

Deadline for Intergovernmental Review: May 28, 2019.

ADDRESSES:

For the addresses for obtaining and submitting an application, please refer to our Common Instructions for Applicants to Department of Education Discretionary Grant Programs, published in the Federal Register on February 12, 2018 (83 FR 6003) and available at www.gpo.gov/​fdsys/​pkg/​FR-2018-02-12/​pdf/​2018-02558.pdf.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Donald Peasley, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Room 3E124, Washington, DC 20202-6132. Telephone: (202) 453-7982. Email: Donald.Peasley@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.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Full Text of Announcement

I. Funding Opportunity Description

Purpose of Program: The purpose of the Competitive Grants for State Assessments program is to enhance the quality of assessment instruments and assessment systems used by States for measuring the academic achievement of elementary and secondary school students.

Priorities: This competition includes six absolute priorities and two invitational priorities. The absolute priorities are from section 1203(b)(1) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESEA). The invitational priorities are from the Secretary's Final Supplemental Priorities and Definitions for Discretionary Grant Programs (Supplemental Priorities), published in the Federal Register on March 2, 2018 (83 FR 9096).

Absolute Priorities: For FY 2019 and any subsequent year in which we make awards from the list of unfunded Start Printed Page 421applications from this competition, these priorities are absolute priorities. Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(3) we consider only applications that meet one or more of these priorities. Eligible applicants must specify which absolute priority(ies) they are applying under.

These priorities are:

Absolute Priority 1: Developing or improving assessments for English learners, including assessments of English language proficiency as required under section 1111(b)(2)(G) of the ESEA and academic assessments in languages other than English to meet the State's obligations under section 1111(b)(2)(F) of the ESEA.

Absolute Priority 2: Developing or improving models to measure and assess student progress or student growth on State assessments under section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA and other assessments not required under section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA.

Absolute Priority 3: Developing or improving assessments for children with disabilities, including alternate assessments aligned to alternate academic achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities described in section 1111(b)(2)(D) of the ESEA, and using the principles of universal design for learning.

Absolute Priority 4: Allowing for collaboration with institutions of higher education, other research institutions, or other organizations to improve the quality, validity, and reliability of State academic assessments beyond the requirements for such assessments described in section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA.

Absolute Priority 5: Measuring student academic achievement using multiple measures of student academic achievement from multiple sources.

Absolute Priority 6: Evaluating student academic achievement through the development of comprehensive academic assessment instruments (such as performance and technology-based academic assessments, computer adaptive assessments, projects, or extended performance task assessments) that emphasize the mastery of standards and aligned competencies in a competency-based education model.

Invitational Priorities

For FY 2019 and any subsequent year in which we make awards from the list of unfunded applications from this competition, these priorities are invitational priorities. Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(1) we do not give an application that meets an invitational priority any preference over other applications.

The priorities are:

Promoting Literacy. Projects that are designed to address facilitating the accurate and timely use of data by educators to improve reading instruction and make informed decisions about how to help children or students build literacy skills while protecting student and family privacy.

Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math (STEM) Education, With a Particular Focus on Computer Science. Projects designed to improve student achievement or other educational outcomes in one or more of the following areas: Science, technology, engineering, math, or computer science (as defined in this notice).

Definitions: For FY 2019 and any subsequent year in which we make awards from the list of unfunded applications from this competition, the following definitions apply. The definitions of “English Learner”, “Child with a Disability” and “Universal Design for Learning” are from section 8101 of the ESEA (20 U.S.C. 7801). The definitions of “Demonstrates a rationale,” “Logic model,” “Project component,” and “Relevant outcome” are from 34 CFR 77.1. The definition of “computer science” is from the Supplemental Priorities.

Child with a disability, as defined in section 602 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, means—

(A) A child—

(i) With intellectual disabilities, hearing impairments (including deafness), speech or language impairments, visual impairments (including blindness), serious emotional disturbance (referred to in the IDEA as “emotional disturbance”), orthopedic impairments, autism, traumatic brain injury, other health impairments, or specific learning disabilities; and

(ii) Who, by reason thereof, needs special education and related services.

(B) The term “child with a disability” for a child aged 3 through 9 (or any subset of that age range, including ages three through five), may, at the discretion of the State and the local educational agency, include a child—

(i) Experiencing developmental delays, as defined by the State and as measured by appropriate diagnostic instruments and procedures, in 1 or more of the following areas: Physical development; cognitive development; communication development; social or emotional development; or adaptive development; and

(ii) Who, by reason thereof, needs special education and related services.

Computer science means the study of computers and algorithmic processes and includes the study of computing principles and theories, computational thinking, computer hardware, software design, coding, analytics, and computer applications.

Computer science often includes computer programming or coding as a tool to create software, including applications, games, websites, and tools to manage or manipulate data; or development and management of computer hardware and the other electronics related to sharing, securing, and using digital information.

In addition to coding, the expanding field of computer science emphasizes computational thinking and interdisciplinary problem-solving to equip students with the skills and abilities necessary to apply computation in our digital world.

Computer science does not include using a computer for everyday activities, such as browsing the internet; use of tools like word processing, spreadsheets, or presentation software; or using computers in the study and exploration of unrelated subjects.

Demonstrates a rationale means a key project component included in the project's logic model is informed by research or evaluation findings that suggest the project component is likely to improve relevant outcomes.

English Learner, when used with respect to an individual, means an individual—

(A) Who is aged 3 through 21;

(B) Who is enrolled or preparing to enroll in an elementary school or secondary school;

(C)(i) Who was not born in the United States or whose native language is a language other than English;

(ii)(I) Who is a Native American or Alaska Native, or a native resident of the outlying areas; and

(II) Who comes from an environment where a language other than English has had a significant impact on the individual's level of English language proficiency; or

(iii) Who is migratory, whose native language is a language other than English, and who comes from an environment where a language other than English is dominant; and

(D) Whose difficulties in speaking, reading, writing, or understanding the English language may be sufficient to deny the individual—

(i) The ability to meet the challenging State academic standards;

(ii) The ability to successfully achieve in classrooms where the language of instruction is English; or

(iii) The opportunity to participate fully in society.

Logic model (also referred to as a theory of action) means a framework Start Printed Page 422that identifies key project components of the proposed project (i.e., the active “ingredients” that are hypothesized to be critical to achieving the relevant outcomes) and describes the theoretical and operational relationships among the key project components and relevant outcomes.

Project component means an activity, strategy, intervention, process, product, practice, or policy included in a project. Evidence may pertain to an individual project component or to a combination of project components (e.g., training teachers on instructional practices for English learners and follow-on coaching for these teachers).

Relevant outcome means the student outcome(s) or other outcome(s) the key project component is designed to improve, consistent with the specific goals of the program.

Universal Design for Learning, as defined under section 103 of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, means a scientifically valid framework for guiding educational practice that—

(a) Provides flexibility in the ways information is presented, in the ways students respond or demonstrate knowledge and skills, and in the ways students are engaged; and

(b) Reduces barriers in instruction, provides appropriate accommodations, supports, and challenges, and maintains high achievement expectations for all students, including students with disabilities and students who are limited English proficient.[1]

Program Authority: Section 1203(b)(1) of the ESEA (20 U.S.C. 6363(b)(1)).

Applicable Regulations: (a) The Education Department General Administrative Regulations in 34 CFR parts 75, 77, 79, 81, 82, 84, 86, 97, 98, and 99. (b) The Office of Management and Budget Guidelines to Agencies on Governmentwide Debarment and Suspension (Nonprocurement) in 2 CFR part 180, as adopted and amended as regulations of the Department in 2 CFR part 3485. (c) The Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards in 2 CFR part 200, as adopted and amended as regulations of the Department in 2 CFR part 3474. (d) The Supplemental Priorities.

II. Award Information

Type of Award: Discretionary grants.

Estimated Available Funds: $17,622,000.

Contingent upon the availability of funds and the quality of applications, we may make additional awards in subsequent years from the list of unfunded applications from this competition.

Estimated Range of Awards: $1,000,000 to $4,000,000 total over a 48-month project period.

Estimated Average Size of Awards: $2,500,000.

Estimated Number of Awards: 4-8.

Note:

The Department is not bound by any estimates in this notice. The Department will not make an award for less than the amount specified in section 1203(b)(1)(C) of the ESEA.

Project Period: Up to 48 months.

III. Eligibility Information

1. Eligible Applicants: State educational agencies (SEAs), as defined in section 8101(49) of the ESEA, of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and consortia of such SEAs.

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

3. Subgrantees: A grantee under this competition may not award subgrants to entities to directly carry out project activities described in its application.

4. Other: An application from a consortium of SEAs must designate one SEA as the fiscal agent.

IV. Application and Submission Information

1. Application Submission Instructions: For information on how to submit an application please refer to our Common Instructions for Applicants to Department of Education Discretionary Grant Programs, published in the Federal Register on February 12, 2018 (83 FR 6003) and available at www.gpo.gov/​fdsys/​pkg/​FR-2018-02-12/​pdf/​2018-02558.pdf.

2. Submission of Proprietary Information: Given the types of projects that may be proposed in applications for the Competitive Grants for State Assessment, your application may include business information that you consider proprietary. In 34 CFR 5.11 we define “business information” and describe the process we use in determining whether any of that information is proprietary and, thus, protected from disclosure under Exemption 4 of the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552, as amended). Because we plan to make all application materials public, you may wish to request confidentiality of business information.

Consistent with Executive Order 12600, please designate in your application any information that you believe is exempt from disclosure under Exemption 4. In the appropriate Appendix section of your application, under “Other Attachments Form,” please list the page number or numbers on which we can find this information. For additional information please see 34 CFR 5.11(c).

3. Intergovernmental Review: This competition is subject to Executive Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79. Information about Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs under Executive Order 12372 is in the application package for this competition.

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

5. Recommended Page Limit: The project narrative is where you, the applicant, address the selection criteria that reviewers use to evaluate your application. We recommend that you (1) limit the application narrative to the equivalent of no more than 65 pages and (2) use 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).
  • Use one of the following fonts: Times New Roman, Courier, Courier New, or Arial.

The recommended page limit applies to the project narrative, including the table of contents, which must include a discussion of how the application meets one or more of the absolute priorities; and how well the application addresses each of the selection criteria. The recommended page limit also applies to any attachments to the project narrative other than the items mentioned in Part 6 of the application package, including the references/bibliography. In other words, we recommend that the entirety of the project narrative, including the aforementioned discussion and any attachments to the project narrative, be limited to the equivalent of no more than 65 pages. The only allowable attachments other than those included in the project narrative are outlined in Part 6, “Other Attachments Forms,” in the application package.

The recommended 65-page limit, or its equivalent, does not apply to the following sections of an application: Part 1 (including the response regarding research activities involving human Start Printed Page 423subjects); Part 2 (budget information); Part 3 (two-page project abstract); Part 5 (the budget narrative); Part 6 (memoranda of understanding or other binding agreement, if applicable; copy of applicant's indirect cost rate agreement; letters of commitment and support from collaborating SEAs and organizations; other attachments forms, including, if applicable, references/bibliography for the project narrative and individual résumés for project director(s) and key personnel); and Part 7 (standard assurances and certifications). Applicants are encouraged to limit each résumé to no more than five pages.

In addition, you must not use hyperlinks in an application. Reviewers will be instructed not to follow hyperlinks if included. Applicants are encouraged to submit applications that meet the page limit following the standards outlined in this section rather than submitting applications that are the equivalent of the page limit applying other standards.

6. Notice of Intent to Apply: We will be able to develop a more efficient process for reviewing grant applications if we have a better understanding of the number of applicants that intend to apply for funding under this competition. Therefore, we strongly encourage each potential applicant to notify us of their intent to submit an application for funding. This notification should be brief, and identify the SEA applicant and, if applicable, the SEA that it will designate as the fiscal agent for an award (in the case of consortia applicants). Submit this notification by email to Donald.Peasley@ed.gov with “Intent to Apply” in the email subject line or mail to Donald Peasley, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Room 3E124, Washington, DC 20202-6132. Applicants that do not provide this notification may still apply for funding.

V. Application Review Information

1. Selection Criteria: The selection criteria for this competition are from 34 CFR 75.210. We will award up to 105 points to an application under the selection criteria; the total possible points for each selection criterion are noted in parentheses.

(a) Need for project (up to 10 points). The Secretary considers the need for the proposed project. In determining the need for the proposed project, the Secretary considers the extent to which specific gaps or weaknesses in services, infrastructure, or opportunities have been identified and will be addressed by the proposed project, including the nature and magnitude of those gaps or weaknesses.

(b) Significance (up to 10 points). The Secretary considers the significance of the proposed project. In determining the significance of the proposed project, the Secretary considers the extent to which the proposed project is likely to build local capacity to provide, improve, or expand services that address the needs of the target population.

(c) Quality of the project design (up to 20 points). The Secretary considers the quality of the design of the proposed project. In determining the quality of the design of the proposed project, the Secretary considers the following factors:

(1) The extent to which the goals, objectives, and outcomes to be achieved by the proposed project are clearly specified and measurable. (5 points)

(2) The extent to which the proposed project will establish linkages with other appropriate agencies and organizations providing services to the target population. (5 points)

(3) The extent to which the proposed project is part of a comprehensive effort to improve teaching and learning and support rigorous academic standards for students. (5 points)

(4) The extent to which the proposed project demonstrates a rationale (as defined in this notice). (5 points)

(d) Quality of project services (up to 25 points). The Secretary considers the quality of the services to be provided by the proposed project. In determining the quality of the services to be provided by the proposed project, the Secretary considers the quality and sufficiency of strategies for ensuring equal access and treatment for eligible project participants who are members of groups that have traditionally been underrepresented based on race, color, national origin, gender, age, or disability. (10 points)

In addition, the Secretary considers:

(1) The extent to which the services to be provided by the proposed project are appropriate to the needs of the intended recipients or beneficiaries of those services. (10 points)

(2) The extent to which the training or professional development services to be provided by the proposed project are of sufficient quality, intensity, and duration to lead to improvements in practice among the recipients of those services. (5 points)

(e) Adequacy of resources (up to 10 points). The Secretary considers the adequacy of resources for the proposed project. In determining the adequacy of resources for the proposed project, the Secretary considers the extent to which the costs are reasonable in relation to the number of persons to be served and to the anticipated results and benefits.

(f) Quality of the management plan (up to 20 points). The Secretary considers the quality of the management plan for the proposed project. In determining the quality of the management plan for the proposed project, the Secretary considers:

(1) The adequacy of the management plan to achieve the objectives of the proposed project on time and within budget, including clearly defined responsibilities, timelines, and milestones for accomplishing project tasks. (5 points)

(2) The extent to which the time commitments of the project director and principal investigator and other key project personnel are appropriate and adequate to meet the objectives of the proposed project. (10 points)

(g) Quality of the project evaluation (up to 10 points). The Secretary considers the quality of the evaluation to be conducted of the proposed project. In determining the quality of the evaluation, the Secretary considers the extent to which the methods of evaluation will provide performance feedback and permit periodic assessment of progress toward achieving intended outcomes.

2. Review and Selection Process: We remind potential applicants that in reviewing applications in any discretionary grant competition, the Secretary may consider, under 34 CFR 75.217(d)(3), the past performance of the applicant in carrying out a previous award, such as the applicant's use of funds, achievement of project objectives, and compliance with grant conditions. The Secretary may also consider whether the applicant failed to submit a timely performance report or submitted a report of unacceptable quality.

In addition, in making a competitive grant award, the Secretary requires various assurances, including those applicable to Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities receiving Federal financial assistance from the Department of Education (34 CFR 100.4, 104.5, 106.4, 108.8, and 110.23).

3. Risk Assessment and Specific Conditions: Consistent with 2 CFR 200.205, before awarding grants under this competition the Department conducts a review of the risks posed by applicants. Under 2 CFR 3474.10, the Secretary may impose specific conditions and, in appropriate circumstances, high-risk conditions on a grant if the applicant or grantee is not financially stable; has a history of unsatisfactory performance; has a Start Printed Page 424financial or other management system that does not meet the standards in 2 CFR part 200, subpart D; has not fulfilled the conditions of a prior grant; or is otherwise not responsible.

4. Integrity and Performance System: If you are selected under this competition to receive an award that over the course of the project period may exceed the simplified acquisition threshold (currently $150,000), under 2 CFR 200.205(a)(2), we must make a judgment about your integrity, business ethics, and record of performance under Federal awards—that is, the risk posed by you as an applicant—before we make an award. In doing so, we must consider any information about you that is in the integrity and performance system (currently referred to as the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS)), accessible through SAM. You may review and comment on any information about yourself that a Federal agency previously entered and that is currently in FAPIIS.

Please note that, if the total value of your currently active grants, cooperative agreements, and procurement contracts from the Federal Government exceeds $10,000,000, the reporting requirements in 2 CFR part 200, appendix XII, require you to report certain integrity information to FAPIIS semiannually. Please review the requirements in 2 CFR part 200, appendix XII, if this grant plus all the other Federal funds you receive exceed $10,000,000.

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); or we may send you an email containing a link to access an electronic version of your GAN. We may notify you informally, also.

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. Open Licensing Requirements: Unless an exception applies, if you are awarded a grant under this competition, you will be required to openly license to the public grant deliverables created in whole, or in part, with Department grant funds. When the deliverable consists of modifications to pre-existing works, the license extends only to those modifications that can be separately identified and only to the extent that open licensing is permitted under the terms of any licenses or other legal restrictions on the use of pre-existing works. Additionally, a grantee or subgrantee that is awarded competitive grant funds must have a plan to disseminate these public grant deliverables. This dissemination plan can be developed and submitted after your application has been reviewed and selected for funding. For additional information on the open licensing requirements please refer to 2 CFR 3474.20.

4. Reporting: (a) If you apply for a grant under this competition, you must ensure that you have in place the necessary processes and systems to comply with the reporting requirements in 2 CFR part 170 should you receive funding under the competition. This does not apply if you have an exception under 2 CFR 170.110(b).

(b) 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 multiyear award, you must submit an annual performance report that provides the most current performance and financial expenditure information as directed by the Secretary under 34 CFR 75.118. The Secretary may also require more frequent performance reports under 34 CFR 75.720(c). For specific requirements on reporting, please go to www.ed.gov/​fund/​grant/​apply/​appforms/​appforms.html.

(c) Under 34 CFR 75.250(b), the Secretary may provide a grantee with additional funding for data collection analysis and reporting. In this case the Secretary establishes a data collection period.

5. Performance Measures: Under the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, the Department has developed three measures to evaluate the overall effectiveness of the Competitive Assessment Grant program:

(1) The percentage of grantees, for each grant cycle, that demonstrate significant progress towards improving, developing, or implementing a new model for measuring the achievement of students.

(2) The percentage of grantees, for each grant cycle, that demonstrate collaboration with institutions of higher education, other research institutions, or other organizations to develop or improve state assessments.

(3) The percentage of grantees that, at least three times during the period of their grants, make available to SEA staff in non-participating States and to assessment researchers information on findings resulting from the Competitive Grants for State Assessments program through presentations at national conferences, publications in refereed journals, or other products disseminated to the assessment community.

Grantees will be expected to include in their interim and final performance reports information about the accomplishments of their projects.

VII. Other Information

Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this document and a copy of the application package 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 via the Federal Digital System at: www.gpo.gov/​fdsys. At this site you can view this document, as well as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal Register, in text or 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.

Start Signature

Dated: January 22, 2019.

Frank Brogan,

Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

Footnotes

1.  For purposes of this notice, English learner and limited English proficient have the same meaning.

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[FR Doc. 2019-00217 Filed 1-25-19; 8:45 am]

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