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Notice

Applications for New Awards; Technical Assistance on State Data Collection-National Technical Assistance Center To Improve State Capacity To Collect, Report, Analyze, and Use Accurate Early Childhood IDEA Data

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AGENCY:

Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Department of Education.

ACTION:

Notice.

SUMMARY:

The mission of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) is to improve early childhood, educational, and employment outcomes and raise expectations for all people with disabilities, their families, their communities, and the Nation. As such, the Department of Education (Department) is issuing a notice inviting applications for new awards for fiscal year (FY) 2019 for a National Technical Assistance Center to Improve State Capacity to Collect, Report, Analyze, and Use Accurate Early Childhood IDEA Data, Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number 84.373Z. This notice relates to the approved information collection under OMB control number 1894-0006.

DATES:

Applications available: August 12, 2019.

Deadline for transmittal of applications: September 11, 2019.

Pre-application webinar information: No later than August 19, 2019, OSERS will post pre-recorded informational webinars designed to provide technical assistance (TA) to interested applicants.

Pre-application Q & A blog: No later than August 19, 2019, OSERS will open a blog where interested applicants may post questions about the application requirements for this competition and where OSERS will post answers to the questions received. OSERS will not respond to questions unrelated to the application requirements for this competition. The blog will remain open until September 3, 2019. After the blog closes, applicants should direct questions to the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

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 13, 2019 (84 FR 3768), and available at www.govinfo.gov/​content/​pkg/​FR-2019-02-13/​pdf/​2019-02206.pdf.

The pre-application webinars may be found at www2.ed.gov/​fund/​grant/​apply/​osep/​new-osep-grants.html.

The pre-application Q & A blog may be found at www2.ed.gov/​fund/​grant/​apply/​osep/​new-osep-grants.html.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Meredith Miceli, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Room 5141, Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC 20202-5076. Telephone: (202) 245-6028. Email: Meredith.Miceli@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.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Full Text of Announcement

I. Funding Opportunity Description

Purpose of Program: Section 616 of the IDEA requires States to submit to the Department, and make available to the public, a State performance plan (SPP) and an annual performance report (APR) with data on how each State implements both Parts B and C of the IDEA to improve outcomes for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities. Section 618 of the IDEA requires States to submit to the Department, and make available to the public, quantitative data on infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities who are receiving early intervention and special education services under IDEA. The purpose of the Technical Assistance on State Data Collection Program is to improve the capacity of States to meet IDEA data collection and reporting requirements under sections 616 and 618 of the IDEA. Funding for the program is authorized under section 611(c)(1) of IDEA, which gives the Secretary the authority to reserve up to 1/2 of 1 percent of the amounts appropriated under Part B for each fiscal year to provide TA activities, where needed, to improve the capacity of States to meet the data collection and reporting requirements under Parts B and C of IDEA. The maximum amount the Secretary may reserve under this set-aside for any fiscal year is $25,000,000, cumulatively adjusted by the rate of inflation. Section 616(i) of IDEA requires the Secretary to review the data collection and analysis capacity of States to ensure that data and information determined necessary for the implementation of section 616 of IDEA are collected, analyzed, and accurately reported to the Secretary. It also requires the Secretary to provide TA, where needed, to improve the capacity of States to meet the data collection requirements, which include the data collection and reporting requirements in sections 616 and 618 of IDEA. Additionally, Division H of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 gives the Secretary the authority to use funds reserved under section 611(c) to “carry out other services and activities to improve data collection, coordination, quality, and use under Parts B and C of the IDEA.” Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018; Div. H, Title III of Public Law 115-141; 132 Stat. 745 (2018).

Priority: This priority is from the notice of final priority and requirements for this program published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register.

Background: The purpose of this priority is to establish a TA center to provide TA to (1) improve States' capacity to collect, report, analyze, and use high-quality IDEA Part C early intervention data (including IDEA section 618 Part C data and section 616 Part C data) and IDEA Part B preschool special education data (limited to particular Part B preschool data elements required under IDEA sections 616); and (2) enhance, streamline, and integrate statewide, child-level early childhood data systems (including Part Start Printed Page 39820C and Part B preschool special education data systems) to address critical policy questions that will facilitate program improvement, improve compliance accountability, and improve outcomes or results for children served under Part C early intervention and Part B preschool special education programs.

Through their State Systemic Improvement Plans (SSIPs), States identify data-related needs to improve outcomes of infants, toddlers, and young children with disabilities. In 2017, 78 percent of Part C State programs reported concerns or limitations with the quality or availability of the data used to report progress or results for the SSIP. Additionally, States identified limits on data system capacity as a barrier to implementing (1) improvement plans, (2) activities to improve practices, and (3) evaluation plans. In the SSIPs submitted to the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) in 2017, States reported a need for TA related to SSIP evaluation in the following areas: data collection procedures, data analysis, local data use, State-identified measurable result (SIMR) data quality, and State data use.

In addition, States need to establish and implement effective early childhood data management and, where appropriate, data system integration policies and procedures to support program improvement, compliance accountability, and Federal and public reporting. Improved policies and procedures will allow States, where appropriate, to link or integrate child-level data in Part C data systems, Part B preschool special education data systems, other early learning program data systems, and statewide longitudinal data systems for school-aged children. Building robust early childhood integrated data systems (ECIDS) that include Part C early intervention data and Part B preschool special education data that can be used to respond to critical policy questions will facilitate program improvement and improve compliance accountability for Part C early intervention and Part B preschool special education programs. This level of integration will support States' efforts to implement data-driven decision-making for program improvement and compliance accountability and will help ensure that States report high-quality IDEA data to the Department and the public.

ECIDS could allow States to identify what works best to improve outcomes for young children in their State. For instance, ECIDS could allow States to determine which characteristics of services are related to better outcomes for children and families or the relationship between early childhood setting and early childhood outcomes. An ECIDS that includes data from across various early care and education programs could also provide data that would better inform efforts to improve child find activities in the State by identifying strong referral sources and those where more outreach may be needed. An ECIDS could also help States determine the other early care and education programs that young children with disabilities and their families are participating in, allowing States to maximize efficiency in the operation of the early intervention or early childhood special education program while maintaining or improving outcomes. For more information on the Department's vision of integrated early childhood data, see The Integration of Early Childhood Data: State Profiles and a Report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Education (2016) available at https://www2.ed.gov/​rschstat/​eval/​early-childhood-data/​integration-early-childhood-data.pdf.

However, there are challenges in integrating data systems. These challenges include protecting the personally identifiable information and privacy interests of children with disabilities and their families under applicable Federal and State laws, determining the appropriate policy questions that need answering, and identifying resources for developing interoperable systems. These challenges would benefit from the TA of experts. In addition, stakeholders, including parents of children with disabilities, need to be part of the discussion to determine the appropriate extent of integration.

This center will provide TA to improve the capacity of States to meet both their identified needs and data collection requirements by (1) improving early childhood data management and data system integration policies and procedures; (2) enhancing Part C section 616 and 618 data and Part B preschool special education data (e.g., preschool outcome indicators) collection processes to meet IDEA data reporting requirements; and (3) building and using robust ECIDS that include Part C early intervention data and Part B preschool special education data to respond to critical State-determined policy questions associated with program improvement and compliance accountability. This priority is designed to promote innovation and efficiency by funding a data center that will enhance, streamline, and integrate statewide, early childhood data systems.

TA on collecting, reporting, analyzing, and using the other Part B data required under sections 616 and 618 of IDEA will be provided through the National Technical Assistance Center to Improve State Capacity to Collect, Report, Analyze, and Use Accurate IDEA Part B Data competition, CFDA number 84.373Y, the priority for which is published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register.

This center will focus attention on an identified national need to provide technical assistance (TA) to improve the capacity of States to meet the data collection requirements under Parts C and B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This center will support States in collecting, reporting, and determining how to best analyze and use their data to establish and meet high expectations for each child with a disability and will customize its TA to meet each State's specific needs.

This priority aligns with two priorities from the Supplemental Priorities and Definitions for Discretionary Grant Programs, published in the Federal Register on March 2, 2018 (83 FR 9096): Priority 2: Promoting Innovation and Efficiency, Streamlining Education With an Increased Focus on Student Outcomes, and Providing Increased Value to Students and Taxpayers; and Priority 5: Meeting the Unique Needs of Students and Children With Disabilities and/or Those With Unique Gifts and Talents.

Projects under this program must be operated in a manner consistent with nondiscrimination requirements contained in the U.S. Constitution and the Federal civil rights laws.

Absolute Priority: For FY 2019 and any subsequent year in which we make awards from the list of unfunded applications from this competition, this priority is an absolute priority. Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(3), we consider only applications that meet this priority.

This priority is:

National Technical Assistance Center to Improve State Capacity to Collect, Report, Analyze, and Use Accurate Early Childhood IDEA Data.

The purpose of this priority is to fund a cooperative agreement to establish and operate a National Technical Assistance Center to Improve State Capacity to Collect, Report, Analyze, and Use Accurate Early Childhood IDEA Data (Center).

The Center will focus on providing TA on collecting, reporting, analyzing, and using Part C data required under sections 616 and 618 of IDEA and Part Start Printed Page 39821B data on children with disabilities, ages 3 through 5, required under section 616 of IDEA for those indicators that are not solely based on IDEA section 618 data (e.g., Annual Performance Report (APR) Indicators B7 (Preschool Children with Improved Outcomes) and B12 (Transition Between Part C and Part B). The Center will provide TA to (1) improve States' capacity to collect, report, analyze, and use high-quality IDEA Part C data (including IDEA section 618 Part C data and IDEA section 616 Part C data) and IDEA Part B preschool special education data; and (2) enhance, streamline, and integrate statewide, child-level early childhood data systems (including Part C and Part B preschool special education data systems) to address critical policy questions that will facilitate program improvement, improve compliance accountability, and improve outcomes or results for children served under Part C and Part B preschool special education programs. These Part C early intervention and Part B preschool special education data systems must allow the States to (1) effectively and efficiently respond to all IDEA-related data submission requirements (e.g., Part C section 616 and 618 data and Part B preschool special education data); (2) respond to critical policy questions that will facilitate program improvement and compliance accountability; and (3) comply with applicable privacy requirements, including the confidentiality requirements under Parts B and C of IDEA, the Privacy Rule under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) (45 CFR part 160 and subparts A and E of part 164), and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. 1232g) and its regulations at 34 CFR part 99.

The Center must be designed to achieve, at a minimum, the following expected outcomes:

(a) Increased capacity of States to collect, report, analyze, and use high-quality IDEA Part C data (including IDEA section 616 Part C data and section 618 Part C data);

(b) Increased capacity of States to collect, report, analyze, and use high-quality IDEA Part B preschool special education data;

(c) Increased number of States that use their Part C early intervention and Part B preschool special education data system to answer critical State-determined policy questions to drive program improvement, improve results for children with disabilities, and improve compliance accountability;

(d) Increased number of States with integrated or linked Part C early intervention and Part B preschool special education data;

(e) Increased number of States that use linked or integrated early childhood data to improve programs and compliance accountability;

(f) Increased number of States with data system integration plans that allow for the linking of Part C and Part B preschool special education data as well as linking to other statewide longitudinal and early learning data systems and that comply with all applicable privacy laws;

(g) Increased capacity of States to implement and document Part C and Part B preschool special education data management policies and procedures and data system integration activities and to develop a sustainability plan to continue this data management and data system integration work in the future; and

(h) Increased capacity of States to address personnel training needs to meet the Part C and Part B preschool special education data collection and reporting requirements under sections 616 and 618 of IDEA through development of effective tools (e.g., training modules) and resources (e.g., new Part C Data Managers resources), as well as providing opportunities for in-person and virtual cross-State collaboration about Part C data (required under sections 616 and 618 of IDEA) and Part B preschool special education data collection and reporting requirements that States can use to train personnel in local programs and agencies.

Requirements: The following requirements are from the NFP.

Applicants must—

(a) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under “Significance,” how the proposed project will—

(1) Address State challenges associated with early childhood data management and data system integration, including implementing early childhood data system integration and improvements; enhancing and streamlining Part C early intervention and Part B preschool special education data systems to respond to critical policy questions; using ECIDS for program improvement and compliance accountability for Part C early intervention and Part B preschool special education programs; and reporting high-quality IDEA Part C data (including IDEA section 616 Part C data and section 618 Part C data) and IDEA Part B preschool special education data to the Department and the public. To meet this requirement the applicant must—

(i) Present applicable national, State, or local data demonstrating the challenges of States to implement effective early childhood data management policies and procedures and data system integration activities, including integrating early childhood data systems across IDEA programs, other early learning programs, and other educational programs for school-aged students; linking Part C and Part B preschool special education program data; and using their Part C and Part B preschool special education data systems to respond to critical State-determined policy questions for program improvement and compliance accountability;

(ii) Demonstrate knowledge of current educational and technical issues and policy initiatives relating to early childhood data management and data system integration, data use, data privacy, Part C IDEA sections 616 and 618 data, Part B preschool special education data, and Part C and Part B preschool special education data systems; and

(iii) Present information about the current level of implementation of integrating or linking Part C and Part B preschool special education data systems; integrating or linking Part C and/or Part B preschool special education data systems with other early learning data systems; using Part C and Part B preschool special education data systems to respond to critical State-determined policy questions; and collecting, reporting, analyzing, and using high-quality IDEA Part C data (including IDEA section 616 Part C data and section 618 Part C data) and IDEA Part B preschool special education data; and

(2) Improve early childhood data management policies and procedures and data system integration activities used to collect, report, and analyze high-quality Part C and Part B preschool special education data; to integrate or link Part C and Part B preschool special education data systems as well as integrate or link these data with data on children participating in other early learning programs and data on school-aged children; and to develop and use robust early childhood data systems to answer critical State-determined policy questions and indicate the likely magnitude or importance of the improvements.

(b) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under “Quality of project services,” how the proposed project will—

(1) Ensure equal access and treatment for members of groups that have traditionally been underrepresented Start Printed Page 39822based on race, color, national origin, gender, age, or disability. To meet this requirement, the applicant must describe how it will—

(i) Identify the needs of the intended recipients for TA and information; and

(ii) Ensure that products and services meet the needs of the intended recipients of the grant;

(2) Achieve its goals, objectives, and intended outcomes. To meet this requirement, the applicant must provide—

(i) Measurable intended project outcomes; and

(ii) In Appendix A, the logic model (as defined in 34 CFR 77.1) by which the proposed project will achieve its intended outcomes that depicts, at a minimum, the goals, activities, outputs, and intended outcomes of the proposed project;

(3) Use a conceptual framework (and provide a copy in Appendix A) to develop project plans and activities, describing any underlying concepts, assumptions, expectations, beliefs, or theories, as well as the presumed relationships or linkages among these variables, and any empirical support for this framework;

Note:

The following websites provide more information on logic models and conceptual frameworks: www.osepideasthatwork.org/​logicModel and www.osepideasthatwork.org/​resources-grantees/​program-areas/​ta-ta/​tad-project-logic-model-and-conceptual-framework.

(4) Be based on current research and make use of evidence-based [1] practices (EBPs). To meet this requirement, the applicant must describe—

(i) The current research on early childhood data management and data system integration, and related EBPs; and

(ii) How the proposed project will incorporate current research and EBPs in the development and delivery of its products and services;

(5) Develop products and provide services that are of high quality and sufficient intensity and duration to achieve the intended outcomes of the proposed project. To address this requirement, the applicant must describe—

(i) How it proposes to identify or develop the knowledge base on early childhood data management and data system integration;

(ii) Its proposed approach to universal, general TA,[2] which must identify the intended recipients, including the type and number of recipients, that will receive the products and services under this approach;

(iii) Its proposed approach to targeted, specialized TA,[3] which must identify—

(A) The intended recipients, including the type and number of recipients, that will receive the products and services under this approach;

(B) Its proposed approach to measure the readiness of potential TA recipients to work with the project, assessing, at a minimum, their current infrastructure, available resources, and ability to build capacity at the State and local levels; and

(C) The process by which the proposed project will collaborate with OSEP-funded centers and other federally funded TA centers to develop and implement a coordinated TA plan when they are involved in a State;

(iv) Its proposed approach to intensive, sustained TA [4] which must identify—

(A) The intended recipients, including the type and number of recipients, that will receive the products and services under this approach;

(B) Its proposed approach to addressing States' challenges associated with limited resources to engage in early childhood data system integration and enhancement activities that streamline the established Part C and Part B preschool special education data systems to respond to critical policy questions and to report high-quality IDEA data to the Department and the public, which should, at a minimum, include providing on-site consultants to the State lead agency (LA) or State educational agency (SEA) to—

(1) Model and document data management and data system integration policies, procedures, processes, and activities within the State;

(2) Develop and adapt tools and provide technical solutions to meet State-specific data needs; and

(3) Develop a sustainability plan for the State to continue the data management and data system integration work in the future;

(C) Its proposed approach to measure the readiness of the State LA and SEA personnel to work with the project, including their commitment to the initiative, alignment of the initiative to their needs, current infrastructure, available resources, and ability to build capacity at the State and local program and district levels;

(D) Its proposed approach to prioritizing TA recipients with a primary focus on meeting the needs of States with known ongoing data quality issues, as measured by OSEP's review of the quality of the IDEA sections 616 and 618 data;

(E) Its proposed plan for assisting State LAs and SEAs to build or enhance training systems that include professional development based on adult learning principles and coaching;

(F) Its proposed plan for working with appropriate levels of the education system (e.g., State LAs, SEAs, regional TA providers, districts, local programs, families) to ensure that there is communication between each level and that there are systems in place to support the collection, reporting, analysis, and use of high-quality IDEA Part C data (including IDEA section 616 Part C data and section 618 Part C data) and IDEA Part B preschool special education data as well as early childhood data management and data system integration; and

(G) Its proposed plan for collaborating and coordinating with the National Technical Assistance Center to Improve State Capacity to Collect, Report, Analyze, and Use Accurate IDEA Part B Data, Department-funded TA investments, other federally funded TA investments, and Institute of Education Sciences/National Center for Education Statistics research and development investments, where appropriate, in order to align complementary work and jointly develop and implement products and services to meet the purposes of this Start Printed Page 39823priority and to develop and implement a coordinated TA plan when they are involved in a State;

(6) Develop products and implement services that maximize efficiency. To address this requirement, the applicant must describe—

(i) How the proposed project will use technology to achieve the intended project outcomes;

(ii) With whom the proposed project will collaborate and the intended outcomes of this collaboration; and

(iii) How the proposed project will use non-project resources to achieve the intended project outcomes.

(c) In the narrative section of the application under “Quality of the project evaluation,” include an evaluation plan for the project developed in consultation with and implemented by a third-party evaluator.[5] The evaluation plan must—

(1) Articulate formative and summative evaluation questions, including important process and outcome evaluation questions. These questions should be related to the project's proposed logic model required in paragraph (b)(2)(ii) of these requirements;

(2) Describe how progress in and fidelity of implementation, as well as project outcomes, will be measured to answer the evaluation questions. Specify the measures and associated instruments or sources for data appropriate to the evaluation questions. Include information regarding reliability and validity of measures where appropriate;

(3) Describe strategies for analyzing data and how data collected as part of this plan will be used to inform and improve service delivery over the course of the project and to refine the proposed logic model and evaluation plan, including subsequent data collection;

(4) Provide a timeline for conducting the evaluation and include staff assignments for completing the plan. The timeline must indicate that the data will be available annually for the APR; and

(5) Dedicate sufficient funds in each budget year to cover the costs of developing or refining the evaluation plan in consultation with a third-party evaluator, as well as the costs associated with the implementation of the evaluation plan by the third-party evaluator.

(d) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under “Adequacy of resources and quality of project personnel,” how—

(1) The proposed project will encourage applications for employment from persons who are members of groups that have traditionally been underrepresented based on race, color, national origin, gender, age, or disability, as appropriate;

(2) The proposed key project personnel, consultants, and subcontractors have the qualifications and experience to carry out the proposed activities and achieve the project's intended outcomes;

(3) The applicant and any key partners have adequate resources to carry out the proposed activities;

(4) The proposed costs are reasonable in relation to the anticipated results and benefits, and funds will be spent in a way that increases their efficiency and cost-effectiveness, including by reducing waste or achieving better outcomes; and

(5) The applicant will ensure that it will recover the lesser of: (A) Its actual indirect costs as determined by the grantee's negotiated indirect cost rate agreement with its cognizant Federal agency; and (B) 40 percent of its modified total direct cost (MTDC) base as defined in 2 CFR 200.68.

Note:

The MTDC is different from the total amount of the grant. Additionally, the MTDC is not the same as calculating a percentage of each or a specific expenditure category. If the grantee is billing based on the MTDC base, the grantee must make its MTDC documentation available to the program office and the Department's Indirect Cost Unit. If a grantee's allocable indirect costs exceed 40 percent of its MTDC costs as defined in 2 CFR 200.68, the grantee may not recoup the excess by shifting the cost to other grants or contracts with the U.S. Government, unless specifically authorized by legislation. The grantee must use non-Federal revenue sources to pay for such unrecovered costs.

(e) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under “Quality of the management plan,” how—

(1) The proposed management plan will ensure that the project's intended outcomes will be achieved on time and within budget. To address this requirement, the applicant must describe—

(i) Clearly defined responsibilities for key project personnel, consultants, and subcontractors, as applicable; and

(ii) Timelines and milestones for accomplishing the project tasks;

(2) Key project personnel and any consultants and subcontractors will be allocated to the project and how these allocations are appropriate and adequate to achieve the project's intended outcomes;

(3) The proposed management plan will ensure that the products and services provided are of high quality, relevant, and useful to recipients; and

(4) The proposed project will benefit from a diversity of perspectives, including those of families, educators, TA providers, researchers, and policy makers, among others, in its development and operation.

(f) Address the following application requirements. The applicant must—

(1) Include, in Appendix A, personnel-loading charts and timelines, as applicable, to illustrate the management plan described in the narrative;

(2) Include, in the budget, attendance at the following:

(i) A one and one-half day kick-off meeting in Washington, DC, after receipt of the award, and an annual planning meeting in Washington, DC, with the OSEP project officer and other relevant staff during each subsequent year of the project period.

Note:

Within 30 days of receipt of the award, a post-award teleconference must be held between the OSEP project officer and the grantee's project director or other authorized representative;

(ii) A two and one-half-day project directors' meeting in Washington, DC, during each year of the project period; and

(iii) Three annual two-day trips to attend Department briefings, Department-sponsored conferences, and other meetings, as requested by OSEP;

(3) Include, in the budget, a line item for an annual set-aside of 5 percent of the grant amount to support emerging needs that are consistent with the proposed project's intended outcomes, as those needs are identified in consultation with, and approved by, the OSEP project officer. With approval from the OSEP project officer, the project must reallocate any remaining funds from this annual set-aside no later than the end of the third quarter of each budget period;

(4) Maintain a high-quality website, with an easy-to-navigate design, that meets government or industry-recognized standards for accessibility;

(5) Include, in Appendix A, an assurance to assist OSEP with the transfer of pertinent resources and products and to maintain the continuity of services to States during the transition to this new award period and at the end of this award period, as appropriate; andStart Printed Page 39824

(6) Budget at least 50 percent of the grant award for providing targeted and intensive TA to States.

Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1411(c), 1416(i), 1418(c), 1442, and the Department of Education Appropriations Act, 2018; Div. H, Title III of Public Law 115-141, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018; 132 Stat. 745 (2018).

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 program regulations in 34 CFR 300.702. (e) The NFP.

Note:

The regulations in 34 CFR part 79 apply to all applicants except federally recognized Indian Tribes.

Note:

The regulations in 34 CFR part 86 apply to institutions of higher education (IHEs) only.

II. Award Information

Type of Award: Cooperative agreement.

Estimated Available Funds: $6,500,000.

Contingent upon the availability of funds and the quality of applications, we may make additional awards in FY 2020 from the list of unfunded applications from this competition.

Maximum Award: We will not make an award exceeding $6,500,000 for a single budget period of 12 months.

Estimated 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; local educational agencies (LEAs), including public charter schools that operate as LEAs under State law; IHEs; other public agencies; private nonprofit organizations; freely associated States and outlying areas; Indian Tribes or Tribal organizations; and for-profit organizations.

2. Cost Sharing or Matching: This program 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. Under 34 CFR 75.708(e), a grantee may contract for supplies, equipment, and other services in accordance with 2 CFR part 200.

4. Other: (a) Recipients of funding under this competition must make positive efforts to employ and advance in employment qualified individuals with disabilities (see section 606 of IDEA).

(b) Applicants for, and recipients of, funding must, with respect to the aspects of their proposed project relating to the absolute priority, involve individuals with disabilities, or parents of individuals with disabilities ages birth through 26, in planning, implementing, and evaluating the project (see section 682(a)(1)(A) of IDEA).

IV. Application and Submission Information

1. Application Submission Instructions: Applicants are required to follow the Common Instructions for Applicants to Department of Education Discretionary Grant Programs, published in the Federal Register on February 13, 2019 (84 FR 3768), and available at www.govinfo.gov/​content/​pkg/​FR-2019-02-13/​pdf/​2019-02206.pdf, which contain requirements and information on how to submit an application.

2. Intergovernmental Review: This competition is subject to Executive Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79. However, under 34 CFR 79.8(a), we waive intergovernmental review in order to make an award by the end of FY 2019.

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

4. Recommended 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. We recommend that you (1) limit the application narrative to no more than 70 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, reference citations, and captions, as well as all text in charts, tables, figures, graphs, and screen shots.
  • Use a font that is 12 point or larger.
  • Use one of the following fonts: Times New Roman, Courier, Courier New, or Arial.

The recommended 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 abstract (follow the guidance provided in the application package for completing the abstract), the table of contents, the list of priority requirements, the resumes, the reference list, the letters of support, or the appendices. However, the recommended page limit does apply to all of the application narrative, including all text in charts, tables, figures, graphs, and screen shots.

V. Application Review Information

1. Selection Criteria: The selection criteria for this competition are from 34 CFR 75.210 and are as follows:

(a) Significance (10 points).

(1) The Secretary considers the significance of the proposed project.

(2) In determining the significance of the proposed project, the Secretary considers the following factors:

(i) 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.

(ii) The importance or magnitude of the results or outcomes likely to be attained by the proposed project.

(b) Quality of project services (35 points).

(1) The Secretary considers the quality of the services to be provided by the proposed project.

(2) 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.

(3) In addition, the Secretary considers the following factors:

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

(ii) The extent to which there is a conceptual framework underlying the proposed research or demonstration activities and the quality of that framework.

(iii) The extent to which the services to be provided by the proposed project Start Printed Page 39825reflect up-to-date knowledge from research and effective practice.

(iv) 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.

(v) The extent to which the TA services to be provided by the proposed project involve the use of efficient strategies, including the use of technology, as appropriate, and the leveraging of non-project resources.

(vi) The adequacy of mechanisms for ensuring high-quality products and services from the proposed project.

(c) Quality of the project evaluation (15 points).

(1) The Secretary considers the quality of the evaluation to be conducted of the proposed project.

(2) In determining the quality of the evaluation, the Secretary considers the following factors:

(i) The extent to which the methods of evaluation are thorough, feasible, and appropriate to the goals, objectives, and outcomes of the proposed project.

(ii) The extent to which the methods of evaluation provide for examining the effectiveness of project implementation strategies.

(iii) The extent to which the methods of evaluation will provide performance feedback and permit periodic assessment of progress toward achieving intended outcomes.

(iv) The extent to which the methods of evaluation include the use of objective performance measures that are clearly related to the intended outcomes of the project and will produce quantitative and qualitative data to the extent possible.

(d) Adequacy of resources and quality of project personnel (15 points).

(1) The Secretary considers the adequacy of resources for the proposed project and the quality of the personnel who will carry out the proposed project.

(2) In determining the quality of project personnel, the Secretary considers the extent to which the applicant encourages applications for employment from persons who are members of groups that have traditionally been underrepresented based on race, color, national origin, gender, age, or disability.

(3) In addition, the Secretary considers the following factors:

(i) The qualifications, including relevant training and experience, of the project director or principal investigator.

(ii) The qualifications, including relevant training and experience, of key project personnel.

(iii) The qualifications, including relevant training and experience, of project consultants or subcontractors.

(iv) The qualifications, including relevant training, experience, and independence, of the evaluator.

(v) The adequacy of support, including facilities, equipment, supplies, and other resources, from the applicant organization or the lead applicant organization.

(vi) The relevance and demonstrated commitment of each partner in the proposed project to the implementation and success of the project.

(vii) The extent to which the budget is adequate to support the proposed project.

(viii) The extent to which the costs are reasonable in relation to the objectives, design, and potential significance of the proposed project.

(e) Quality of the management plan (25 points).

(1) The Secretary considers the quality of the management plan for the proposed project.

(2) In determining the quality of the management plan for the proposed project, the Secretary considers the following factors:

(i) 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.

(ii) 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.

(iii) The adequacy of mechanisms for ensuring high-quality products and services from the proposed project.

(iv) How the applicant will ensure that a diversity of perspectives are brought to bear in the operation of the proposed project, including those of parents, teachers, the business community, a variety of disciplinary and professional fields, recipients or beneficiaries of services, or others, as appropriate.

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 (34 CFR 100.4, 104.5, 106.4, 108.8, and 110.23).

3. Additional Review and Selection Process Factors: In the past, the Department has had difficulty finding peer reviewers for certain competitions because so many individuals who are eligible to serve as peer reviewers have conflicts of interest. The standing panel requirements under section 682(b) of IDEA also have placed additional constraints on the availability of reviewers. Therefore, the Department has determined that for some discretionary grant competitions, applications may be separated into two or more groups and ranked and selected for funding within specific groups. This procedure will make it easier for the Department to find peer reviewers by ensuring that greater numbers of individuals who are eligible to serve as reviewers for any particular group of applicants will not have conflicts of interest. It also will increase the quality, independence, and fairness of the review process, while permitting panel members to review applications under discretionary grant competitions for which they also have submitted applications.

4. 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 financial 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.

5. 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 $250,000), 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 Start Printed Page 39826integrity and performance system (currently referred to as the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS)), accessible through the System for Award Management. 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 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.

5. Performance Measures: Under the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, the Department has established a set of performance measures that are designed to yield information on various aspects of the effectiveness and quality of the Technical Assistance on State Data Collection program. These measures are:

  • Program Performance Measure #1: The percentage of technical assistance and dissemination products and services deemed to be of high quality by an independent review panel of experts qualified or individuals with appropriate expertise to review the substantive content of the products and services.
  • Program Performance Measure #2: The percentage of technical assistance and dissemination products and services deemed by an independent review panel of qualified experts or members of the target audiences to be of high relevance to educational and early intervention policy or practice.
  • Program Performance Measure #3: The percentage of all technical assistance and dissemination products and services deemed by an independent review panel of qualified experts or members of the target audiences to be useful in improving educational or early intervention policy or practice.
  • Program Performance Measure #4: The cost efficiency of the Technical Assistance on State Data Collection Program includes the percentage of milestones achieved in the current annual performance report period and the percentage of funds spent during the current fiscal year.

The measures apply to projects funded under this competition, and grantees are required to submit data on these measures as directed by OSEP.

Grantees will be required to report information on their project's performance in annual and final performance reports to the Department (34 CFR 75.590).

6. Continuation Awards: In making a continuation award under 34 CFR 75.253, the Secretary considers, among other things: Whether a grantee has made substantial progress in achieving the goals and objectives of the project; whether the grantee has expended funds in a manner that is consistent with its approved application and budget; and, if the Secretary has established performance measurement requirements, the performance targets in the grantee's approved application.

In making a continuation award, the Secretary also considers whether the grantee is operating in compliance with the assurances in its approved application, including those applicable to Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities receiving Federal financial assistance from the Department (34 CFR 100.4, 104.5, 106.4, 108.8, and 110.23).

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) by contacting the Management Support Services Team, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Room 5081A, Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC 20202-5076. Telephone: (202) 245-7363. If you use a TDD or a TTY, call the FRS, toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.

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.

Start Printed Page 39827

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

Johnny W. Collett,

Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

Footnotes

1.  For the purposes of this priority, “evidence-based” means the proposed project component is supported, at a minimum, by evidence that demonstrates a rationale (as defined in 34 CFR 77.1), where 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.

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2.  “Universal, general TA” means TA and information provided to independent users through their own initiative, resulting in minimal interaction with TA center staff and including one-time, invited or offered conference presentations by TA center staff. This category of TA also includes information or products, such as newsletters, guidebooks, or research syntheses, downloaded from the TA center's website by independent users. Brief communications by TA center staff with recipients, either by telephone or email, are also considered universal, general TA.

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3.  “Targeted, specialized TA” means TA services based on needs common to multiple recipients and not extensively individualized. A relationship is established between the TA recipient and one or more TA center staff. This category of TA includes one-time, labor-intensive events, such as facilitating strategic planning or hosting regional or national conferences. It can also include episodic, less labor-intensive events that extend over a period of time, such as facilitating a series of conference calls on single or multiple topics that are designed around the needs of the recipients. Facilitating communities of practice can also be considered targeted, specialized TA.

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4.  “Intensive, sustained TA” means TA services often provided on-site and requiring a stable, ongoing relationship between the TA center staff and the TA recipient. “TA services” are defined as negotiated series of activities designed to reach a valued outcome. This category of TA should result in changes to policy, program, practice, or operations that support increased recipient capacity or improved outcomes at one or more systems levels.

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5.  A “third-party” evaluator is an independent and impartial program evaluator who is contracted by the grantee to conduct an objective evaluation of the project. This evaluator must not have participated in the development or implementation of any project activities, except for the evaluation activities, nor have any financial interest in the outcome of the evaluation.

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[FR Doc. 2019-17217 Filed 8-7-19; 4:15 pm]

BILLING CODE 4000-01-P