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Notice

Applications for New Awards; Technical Assistance on State Data Collection-IDEA Data Management Center

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Notice.

SUMMARY:

The Department of Education (Department) is issuing a notice inviting applications for new awards for fiscal year (FY) 2020 for an IDEA Data Management Center, Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number 84.373M. This Center will respond to State needs as States integrate their Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B data required to meet the data collection requirements in section 616 and section 618 of IDEA, including information collected through the IDEA State Supplemental Survey, into their longitudinal data systems. This will improve the capacity of States to collect, report, analyze, and use high-quality IDEA Part B data to establish and meet high expectations for each child with a disability. The Data Management Center will help States address challenges with data management procedures and data systems architecture and better meet current and future IDEA Part B data collection and reporting requirements. This notice relates to the approved information collection under OMB control number 1894-0006.

DATES:

Applications Available: July 8, 2020.

Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: August 24, 2020.

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.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Amy Bae, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Room 5016C, Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC 20202-5076. Telephone: (202) 245-8272. Email: Amy.Bae@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 Technical Assistance on State Data Collection program is to improve the capacity of States to meet IDEA data collection and reporting requirements. Funding for the program is authorized under section 611(c)(1) of IDEA, which gives the Secretary the authority to reserve not more than 1/2 of 1 percent of the amounts appropriated under Part B for each fiscal year to provide TA activities authorized under section 616(i), where needed, to improve the Start Printed Page 41013capacity 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 implementation of section 616 of IDEA are collected, analyzed, and accurately reported to the Secretary. It also requires the Secretary to provide TA (from funds reserved under section 611(c)), 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, the Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act, 2019 and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2019; and the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 give the Secretary authority to use funds reserved under section 611(c) to “administer and carry out other services and activities to improve data collection, coordination, quality, and use under parts B and C of the IDEA.” Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act, 2019 and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2019; Div. B, Title III of Public Law 115-245; 132 Stat. 3100 (2018). Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020; Div. A, Title III of Public Law 116-94; 133 Stat. 2590 (2019).

Priority: This priority is from the notice of final priority and requirements (NFP) 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 improve States' capacity to collect, report, analyze, and use high-quality IDEA Part B data (including IDEA section 618 Part B data and section 616 Part B data) by enhancing, streamlining, and integrating their IDEA Part B data into the State's longitudinal data systems.[1] The Data Management Center's work will comply with the privacy and confidentiality protections in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and IDEA. The Data Management Center will not provide the Department with access to child-level data and will further ensure that such data is de-identified, as defined in 34 CFR 99.31(b)(1).

A majority of States have State longitudinal data systems, but, until recently, very few of those systems integrated IDEA Part B data. Integrating State longitudinal data systems with IDEA Part B data is a complex issue. Specifically, in the IDEA State Supplemental Survey in school year (SY) 2015-16, only 18 of 60 Part B reporting entities responded that all their special education data was in their statewide longitudinal data system, rising to 23 Part B reporting entities in SY 2018-19. Therefore, many Part B reporting entities are still not integrating their IDEA Part B data with their States' longitudinal data systems. This lack of integration reduces States' ability both to make full use of their data and to meet changing reporting needs.

States are seeing the value of integrating IDEA Part B data into their State longitudinal data systems. Doing so allows States to standardize data collected across programs, assists in meeting Federal reporting requirements, provides additional information on the participation in other programs by children with disabilities, and supports program improvement.

Currently, most students with disabilities are educated in the same settings as students without disabilities; however, the majority of States continue to separate disability and special education related data from other data collected on students (e.g., demographics, assessment data). Some States are using separate data collections to meet the reporting requirements under sections 616 and 618 of IDEA (e.g., discipline, assessment, educational environments) rather than including all data elements needed for Federal reporting in their State longitudinal data systems. At the same time, various programs, districts, and State educational agencies (SEAs) are using different collection processes to gather data for their required data submissions, resulting in different degrees of reliability in the data collected.

These situations hinder the States' capacity both to collect and report valid and reliable data on children with disabilities to the Secretary and to the public, which is specifically required by IDEA sections 616(b)(2)(B)(i), 616(b)(2)(C)(ii), and 618(a), and to meet IDEA Part B data collection and reporting requirements under sections 616 and 618 of IDEA.

States with fragmented data systems are also more likely to have missing or duplicate data. For example, if a State collects and maintains data on disciplinary removals of students with disabilities in a special education data system but maintains data on the demographics of all students in another data system, the State may not be able to accurately match all data on disciplinary removals with the demographic data needed to meet IDEA Part B data collection and reporting requirements.

In addition, States with fragmented data systems often lack the capacity to cross-validate related data elements. For example, if the data on the type of statewide assessment in which students with disabilities participate is housed in one database and the grade in which students are enrolled is housed in another, the State may not be able to accurately match the assessment data to the grade-level data to meet the Federal reporting requirements, including IDEA Part B reporting requirements under sections 616 and 618 of IDEA.

Finally, the demand from States for support from the currently funded Data Management Center to assist them in integrating their IDEA Part B data within the States' longitudinal data system far exceeds the number of States that could be served by the current center. Ten States have received support from the current center while 28 additional States have indicated interest in integrating their IDEA Part B data with their State longitudinal data systems. In addition to the interest in integrating data, about 10 percent of States reported to the National Center for Education Statistics through the State longitudinal data program that they do not yet have non-ED Facts special education reporting and are interested in, or are working towards, this functionality. About one-third of States reported that they do not yet have IDEA Part B data integrated into their systems and are interested in or are working on developing this functionality.

In addition, this priority includes an indirect cost cap that is the lesser of the grantee's actual indirect costs as determined by the grantee's negotiated indirect cost rate agreement with its cognizant Federal agency and 40 percent of the grantee's modified total direct cost (MTDC) base. We believe this cap is appropriate as it maximizes the availability of funds for the primary TA purposes of this priority, which is to improve the capacity of States to meet the data collection and reporting requirements under Part B of IDEA and to ultimately benefit programs serving Start Printed Page 41014children with disabilities. The Department has done an analysis of the indirect cost rates for all current TA centers funded under the Technical Assistance and Dissemination and Technical Assistance on State Data Collection programs as well as other grantees that are large, midsize, and small businesses and small nonprofit organizations and has found that, in general, total indirect costs charged on these grants by these entities were at or below 35 percent of total direct costs (TDC). We recognize that, dependent on the structure of the investment and activities, the MTDC base could be much smaller than the TDC, which would imply a higher indirect cost rate than those calculated here. The Department arrived at a 40 percent rate to address some of that variation. This would account for a 12 percent variance between TDC and MTDC. However, we note that, in the absence of a cap, certain entities would likely charge indirect cost rates in excess of 40 percent of MTDC. Based on our analysis, it appears that those entities would likely be for-profit and nonprofit organizations, but these organizations appear to be outliers when compared to the majority of other large businesses as well as the entirety of the Office of Special Education Program's (OSEP's) grantees. Setting an indirect cost rate cap of 40 percent would be in line with the majority of applicants' existing negotiated rates with the cognizant Federal agency.

This priority aligns with two priorities from the Secretary's Final 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 Improving 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.

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

Absolute Priority: For FY 2020 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:

IDEA Data Management Center.

The purpose of this priority is to fund a cooperative agreement to establish and operate an IDEA Data Management Center (Data Management Center). The Data Management Center will respond to State needs as States integrate their IDEA Part B data required to meet the data collection requirements in section 616 and section 618 of IDEA, including information collected through the IDEA State Supplemental Survey, into their longitudinal data systems. This will improve the capacity of States to collect, report, analyze, and use high-quality IDEA Part B data to establish and meet high expectations for each child with a disability. The Data Management Center will help States address challenges with data management procedures and data systems architecture and better meet current and future IDEA Part B data collection and reporting requirements. The Data Management Center's work will comply with the privacy and confidentiality protections in FERPA and IDEA. The Data Management Center will not provide the Department with access to child-level data and will further ensure that such data is de-identified, as defined in 34 CFR 99.31(b)(1).

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

(a) Increased capacity of States to integrate IDEA Part B data required under sections 616 and 618 of IDEA within their longitudinal data systems;

(b) Increased use of IDEA Part B data within States by developing products to allow States to report their special education data to various stakeholders (e.g., policymakers, school personnel, local and State school boards, local educational agency (LEA) administrators, researchers, charter school authorizers, parents and advocates, Indian Tribes and Tribal organizations) through their longitudinal data systems;

(c) Increased number of States that use data governance and data management procedures to increase their capacity to meet the IDEA Part B reporting requirements under sections 616 and 618 of IDEA;

(d) Increased capacity of States to utilize their State longitudinal data systems to collect, report, analyze, and use high-quality IDEA Part B data (including data required under sections 616 and 618 of IDEA); and

(e) Increased capacity of States to use their State longitudinal data systems to analyze high-quality data on the participation and outcomes of children with disabilities across various Federal programs (e.g., IDEA, Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA)) in order to improve IDEA programs and the outcomes of children with disabilities.

In addition, the Data Management Center must provide a range of targeted and general TA products and services for improving States' capacity to report high-quality IDEA Part B data required under sections 616 and 618 of IDEA through their State longitudinal data systems. Such TA should include, at a minimum—

(a) In partnership with the Department, supporting, as needed, the implementation of an existing open source electronic tool to assist States in building ED Facts data files and reports that can be submitted to the Department and made available to the public. The tool must utilize Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) and meet all States' needs associated with reporting the IDEA Part B data required under sections 616 and 618 of IDEA;

(b) Developing and implementing a plan to maintain the appropriate functionality of the open source electronic tool described in paragraph (a) as changes are made to data collections, reporting requirements, file specifications, and CEDS (such as links within the system to include TA products developed by other OSEP/Department-funded centers or contractors);

(c) Conducting TA on data governance to facilitate the use of the open source electronic tool and providing training to State staff to implement the open source electronic tool;

(d) Revising CEDS “Connections” [2] to calculate metrics needed to report the IDEA Part B data required under sections 616 and 618 of IDEA;

(e) Identifying other outputs (e.g., reports, Application Programming Interface, new innovations) of an open source electronic tool that can support reporting by States of IDEA Part B data to different stakeholder groups (e.g., LEAs, charter schools, legislative branch, parents);

(f) Supporting the inclusion of other OSEP/Department-funded TA centers' products within the open source electronic tool or building connections that allow the SEAs to pull IDEA Part B data efficiently into the other TA products;

(g) Supporting a user group of States that are using an open source electronic Start Printed Page 41015tool for reporting IDEA Part B data required under sections 616 and 618 of IDEA; and

(h) Developing products and presentations that include tools and solutions to challenges in data management procedures and data system architecture for reporting the IDEA Part B data required under sections 616 and 618 of IDEA.

Application Requirements: For FY 2020 and any subsequent year in which we make awards from the list of unfunded applications from this competition, the following application requirements from the NFP apply.

Applicants must—

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

(1) Address State challenges associated with State data management procedures, data systems architecture, and building ED Facts data files and reports for timely reporting of the IDEA Part B data to the Department and the public. To meet this requirement the applicant must—

(i) Present applicable national, State, or local data demonstrating the difficulties that States have encountered in the collection and submission of valid and reliable IDEA Part B data;

(ii) Demonstrate knowledge of current educational and technical issues and policy initiatives relating to IDEA Part B data collections and ED Facts file specifications for the IDEA Part B data collections; and

(iii) Present information about the current level of implementation of integrating IDEA Part B data within State longitudinal data systems and the reporting of high-quality IDEA Part B data to the Department and the public.

(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 based 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 services and products meet the needs of the intended recipients for TA and information;

(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 practices (EBPs).[3] To meet this requirement, the applicant must describe—

(i) The current research on data collection strategies, data management procedures, and data systems architecture; 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 States' data management processes and data systems architecture;

(ii) Its proposed approach to universal, general TA,[4] 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,[5] 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;

(C) Its proposed approach to prioritizing TA recipients with a primary focus on meeting the needs of Developing Capacity States; [6] and

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

(iv) Its proposed approach to intensive, sustained TA,[7] which must identify—

(A) The intended recipients, which must be Developing Capacity States, including the type and number of recipients, that will receive the products and services under this approach;

(B) Its proposed approach to address States' challenges associated with integrating IDEA Part B data within State longitudinal data systems and to report high-quality IDEA Part B data to the Department and the public, which should, at a minimum, include providing on-site consultants to SEAs to—

(1) Model and document data management and data system Start Printed Page 41016integration policies, procedures, processes, and activities within the State;

(2) Support the State's use of an open source electronic tool and provide technical solutions to meet State-specific data needs;

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

(4) Support the State's cybersecurity plan in collaboration, to the extent appropriate, with the Department's Student Privacy Policy Office and its Privacy Technical Assistance Center;

(C) Its proposed approach to measure the readiness of the SEAs 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 district levels;

(D) Its proposed plan to prioritize Developing Capacity States with the greatest need for intensive TA to receive products and services;

(E) Its proposed plan for assisting 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., 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 B data, as well as State data management procedures and data systems architecture for building ED Facts data files and reports for timely reporting of the IDEA Part B data to the Department and the public; and

(G) The process by which the proposed project will collaborate and coordinate with other OSEP-funded centers and other Department-funded TA investments, such as the Institute of Education Sciences/National Center for Education Statistics research and development investments, where appropriate, to develop and implement a coordinated TA plan; and

(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.[8] 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 State Performance Plan/Annual Performance Report (SPP/APR) and at the end of Year 2 for the review process; 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,” 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 how 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 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 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.Start Printed Page 41017

(f) Address the following application requirements:

(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' conference 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 five 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; and

(6) Budget to provide intensive, sustained TA to at least 25 States.

Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1411(c), 1416(i), 1418(c), 1442; the Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act, 2019 and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2019, Div. B, Title III of Public Law 115-245, 132 Stat. 3100 (2018); and Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, Div. A, Title III of Public Law 116-94, 133 Stat. 2590 (2019).

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 regulations for this program 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: $2,700,000.

Contingent upon the availability of funds and the quality of applications, we may make additional awards in FY 2021 from the list of unfunded applications from this competition.

Maximum Award: We will not make an award exceeding $2,700,000 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; LEAs, including public charter schools that are considered 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 General Requirements:

(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 2020.

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 Start Printed Page 41018list, 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 listed below:

(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 reflect 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 is 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 Start Printed Page 41019eligible 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 integrity 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 Modernization Act of 2010, 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 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 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).

The Department will also closely monitor the extent to which the products and services provided by the Center meet needs identified by stakeholders and may require the Center Start Printed Page 41020to report on such alignment in their annual and final performance reports.

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) on request to the program contact person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

Electronic Access to This Document: The official version of this document is the document published in the Federal Register. You may access the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations at www.govinfo.gov. At this site you can view this document, as well as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal Register, in text or Portable Document Format (PDF). To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at the site.

You may also access documents of the Department published in the Federal Register by using the article search feature at www.federalregister.gov. Specifically, through the advanced search feature at this site, you can limit your search to documents published by the Department.

Start Signature

Mark Schultz,

Commissioner, Rehabilitation Services Administration, Delegated the authority to perform the functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

Footnotes

1.  A State's longitudinal data system is a State-managed repository of longitudinal, linked, unit record data with connections across programs and sectors to support a comprehensive, integrated view of students, schools, and programs, and may also refer to other statewide data systems.

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2.  A Connection is a way of showing which CEDS data elements might be necessary for answering a data question. For users who have aligned their data systems to CEDS, States will be able to utilize these Connections via the Connect tool to see which data elements, in their own systems, would be needed to answer any data question.

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3.  For the purposes of this priority, “evidence-based practices” means practices that, at a minimum, demonstrate 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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4.  “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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5.  “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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6.  “Developing Capacity States” are defined as States that have a data system that does not include linkages between special education data and other early childhood and K-12 data. Projects funded under this focus area will focus on helping such States develop those linkages to allow for more accurate and efficient reporting, analysis, and use of IDEA Part B data.

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7.  “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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8.  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. 2020-14072 Filed 7-7-20; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4000-01-P