Skip to Content

We invite you to try out our new beta eCFR site at https://ecfr.federalregister.gov. We’ve made big changes to make the eCFR easier to use. Be sure to leave feedback using the 'Help' button on the bottom right of each page!

Notice

Applications for New Awards; State Personnel Development Grants

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

Document Statistics
Document page views are updated periodically throughout the day and are cumulative counts for this document. Counts are subject to sampling, reprocessing and revision (up or down) throughout the day.
Published Document

This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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 (NIA) for fiscal year (FY) 2020 for the State Personnel Development Grants (SPDG) program, Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number 84.323A. This notice relates to the approved information collection under OMB control number 1820-0028.

DATES:

Applications Available: July 29, 2020.

Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: September 10, 2020.

Pre-Application Webinar Information: No later than August 3, 2020, OSERS will post pre-recorded informational webinars designed to provide technical assistance to interested applicants. The webinars may be found at www2.ed.gov/​fund/​grant/​apply/​osep/​new-osep-grants.html.

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:

Jennifer Coffey, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Room 5161, Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC 20202-5076. Telephone: (202) 245-6673. Email: jennifer.coffey@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 this program is to assist State educational agencies (SEAs) in reforming and improving their systems for personnel preparation and professional development in early intervention, educational, and transition services in order to improve results for children with disabilities.

Priorities: This notice contains three absolute priorities. In accordance with 34 CFR 75.105(b)(2)(iv), Absolute Priority 1 is from the notice of final priorities and definitions published in the Federal Register on August 2, 2012 (77 FR 45944) (2012 NFP). Absolute Priority 2 is from sections 651 through 655 of IDEA, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Absolute Priority 3 is from the notice of final priority and definitions for this program published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register (2020 NFP).

Under this competition, Absolute Priority 3 constitutes its own funding category, and the Department intends to award one-third of the SPDG grants under this competition to grants under Absolute Priority 3 provided applications of sufficient quality are submitted. Applications will be rank ordered separately for Absolute Priority 3. Therefore, applicants must clearly identify if the proposed project addresses Absolute Priority 3.

Absolute Priorities: For FY 2020 and any subsequent year in which we make awards from the list of unfunded applications from this competition, these priorities are absolute priorities. Applicants must address Absolute Priorities 1 and 2. They may also choose to address Absolute Priority 3. Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(3), we consider only applications that meet all of the priorities that they choose to address.

These priorities are:

Absolute Priority 1: Effective and Efficient Delivery of Professional Development.

The Department establishes a priority to assist SEAs in reforming and Start Printed Page 45614improving their systems for personnel (as that term is defined in section 651(b) of IDEA) preparation and professional development of individuals providing early intervention, educational, and transition services in order to improve results for children with disabilities.

In order to meet this priority, an applicant must demonstrate in the SPDG State Plan it submits, as part of its application under section 653(a)(2) of IDEA, that its proposed project will—

(1) Use evidence-based professional development practices that will increase implementation of evidence-based practices and result in improved outcomes for children with disabilities;

(2) Provide ongoing assistance to personnel receiving SPDG-supported professional development that supports the implementation of evidence-based practices with fidelity (as defined in this notice); and

(3) Use technology to more efficiently and effectively provide ongoing professional development to personnel, including to personnel in rural areas and to other populations, such as personnel in urban or high-need local educational agencies (LEAs) (as defined in this notice).

Absolute Priority 2: State Personnel Development Grants.

Statutory Requirements. To meet this priority, an applicant must meet the following statutory requirements:

1. State Personnel Development Plan.

An applicant must submit a State Personnel Development Plan that identifies and addresses the State and local needs for the personnel preparation and professional development of personnel, as well as individuals who provide direct supplementary aids and services to children with disabilities, and that—

(a) Is designed to enable the State to meet the requirements of section 612(a)(14) of IDEA, as amended by the ESSA and section 635(a)(8) and (9) of IDEA;

(b) Is based on an assessment of State and local needs that identifies critical aspects and areas in need of improvement related to the preparation, ongoing training, and professional development of personnel who serve infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and children with disabilities within the State, including—

(1) Current and anticipated personnel vacancies and shortages; and

(2) The number of preservice and inservice programs;

(c) Is integrated and aligned, to the maximum extent possible, with State plans and activities under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA); the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended; and the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA);

(d) Describes a partnership agreement that is in effect for the period of the grant, which agreement must specify—

(1) The nature and extent of the partnership described in accordance with section 652(b) of IDEA and the respective roles of each member of the partnership, including, if applicable, an individual, entity, or agency other than the SEA that has the responsibility under State law for teacher preparation and certification; and

(2) How the SEA will work with other persons and organizations involved in, and concerned with, the education of children with disabilities, including the respective roles of each of the persons and organizations;

(e) Describes how the strategies and activities the SEA uses to address identified professional development and personnel needs will be coordinated with activities supported with other public resources (including funds provided under Part B and Part C of IDEA and retained for use at the State level for personnel and professional development purposes) and private resources;

(f) Describes how the SEA will align its personnel development plan with the plan and application submitted under sections 1111 and 2101(d), respectively, of the ESEA;

(g) Describes strategies the SEA will use to address the identified professional development and personnel needs and how such strategies will be implemented, including—

(1) A description of the programs and activities that will provide personnel with the knowledge and skills to meet the needs of, and improve the performance and achievement of, infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and children with disabilities; and

(2) How such strategies will be integrated, to the maximum extent possible, with other activities supported by grants funded under section 662 of IDEA, as amended by the ESSA;

(h) Provides an assurance that the SEA will provide technical assistance to LEAs to improve the quality of professional development available to meet the needs of personnel who serve children with disabilities;

(i) Provides an assurance that the SEA will provide technical assistance to entities that provide services to infants and toddlers with disabilities to improve the quality of professional development available to meet the needs of personnel serving those children;

(j) Describes how the SEA will recruit and retain teachers who meet the qualifications described in section 612(a)(14)(C) of IDEA, as amended by the ESSA, and other qualified personnel in geographic areas of greatest need;

(k) Describes the steps the SEA will take to ensure that economically disadvantaged and minority children are not taught at higher rates by teachers who do not meet the qualifications described in section 612(a)(14)(C) of IDEA, as amended by the ESSA; and

(l) Describes how the SEA will assess, on a regular basis, the extent to which the strategies implemented have been effective in meeting the performance goals described in section 612(a)(15) of IDEA, as amended by the ESSA.

2. Partnerships.

(a) Required Partners.

Applicants must establish a partnership with LEAs and other State agencies involved in, or concerned with, the education of children with disabilities, including—

(1) Not less than one institution of higher education (IHE); and

(2) The State agencies responsible for administering Part C of IDEA, early education, child care, and vocational rehabilitation programs.

(b) Other Partners.

An SEA must work in partnership with other persons and organizations involved in, and concerned with, the education of children with disabilities, which may include—

(1) The Governor;

(2) Parents of children with disabilities ages birth through 26;

(3) Parents of nondisabled children ages birth through 26;

(4) Individuals with disabilities;

(5) Parent training and information centers or community parent resource centers funded under sections 671 and 672 of IDEA, respectively;

(6) Community-based and other nonprofit organizations involved in the education and employment of individuals with disabilities;

(7) Personnel as defined in section 651(b) of IDEA;

(8) The State advisory panel established under Part B of IDEA;

(9) The State interagency coordinating council established under Part C of IDEA;

(10) Individuals knowledgeable about vocational education;

(11) The State agency for higher education;

(12) Public agencies with jurisdiction in the areas of health, mental health, social services, and juvenile justice;

(13) Other providers of professional development who work with infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and children with disabilities;Start Printed Page 45615

(14) Other individuals; and

(15) An individual, entity, or agency as a partner in accordance with section 652(b)(3) of IDEA, if State law assigns responsibility for teacher preparation and certification to an individual, entity, or agency other than the SEA.

3. Use of Funds.

(a) Professional Development Activities—Each SEA that receives a grant under this program must use the grant funds to support activities in accordance with the State's Personnel Development Plan, including one or more of the following:

(1) Carrying out programs that provide support to both special education and regular education teachers of children with disabilities and principals, such as programs that—

(i) Provide teacher mentoring, team teaching, reduced class schedules and caseloads, and intensive professional development;

(ii) Use standards or assessments for guiding beginning teachers that are consistent with challenging State academic achievement standards and with the requirements for professional development, as defined in section 8101 of the ESEA; and

(iii) Encourage collaborative and consultative models of providing early intervention, special education, and related services.

(2) Encouraging and supporting the training of special education and regular education teachers and administrators to effectively use and integrate technology—

(i) Into curricula and instruction, including training to improve the ability to collect, manage, and analyze data to improve teaching, decision making, school improvement efforts, and accountability;

(ii) To enhance learning by children with disabilities; and

(iii) To effectively communicate with parents.

(3) Providing professional development activities

that—

(i) Improve the knowledge of special education and regular education teachers concerning—

(A) The academic and developmental or functional needs of students with disabilities; or

(B) Effective instructional strategies, methods, and skills, and the use of State academic content standards and student academic achievement standards, and State assessments, to improve teaching practices and student academic achievement;

(ii) Improve the knowledge of special education and regular education teachers and principals and, in appropriate cases, paraprofessionals, concerning effective instructional practices, and that—

(A) Provide training in how to teach and address the needs of children with different learning styles and children who are English learners;

(B) Involve collaborative groups of teachers, administrators, and, in appropriate cases, related services personnel;

(C) Provide training in methods of—

(I) Positive behavioral interventions and supports to improve student behavior in the classroom;

(II) Scientifically based reading instruction, including early literacy instruction;

(III) Early and appropriate interventions to identify and help children with disabilities;

(IV) Effective instruction for children with low-incidence disabilities;

(V) Successful transitioning to postsecondary opportunities; and

(VI) Classroom-based techniques to assist children prior to referral for special education;

(D) Provide training to enable personnel to work with and involve parents in their child's education, including parents of low income and children with disabilities who are English learners;

(E) Provide training for special education personnel and regular education personnel in planning, developing, and implementing effective and appropriate individualized education programs (IEPs); and

(F) Provide training to meet the needs of students with significant health, mobility, or behavioral needs prior to serving those students;

(iii) Train administrators, principals, and other relevant school personnel in conducting effective IEP meetings; and

(iv) Train early intervention, preschool, and related services providers, and other relevant school personnel in conducting effective individualized family service plan (IFSP) meetings.

(4) Developing and implementing initiatives to promote the recruitment and retention of special education teachers who meet the qualifications described in section 612(a)(14)(C) of IDEA, as amended by the ESSA, particularly initiatives that have proven effective in recruiting and retaining teachers who meet those qualifications, described in section 612(a)(14)(C) of IDEA, as amended by the ESSA, including programs that provide—

(i) Teacher mentoring from exemplary special education teachers, principals, or superintendents;

(ii) Induction and support for special education teachers during their first three years of employment as teachers; or

(iii) Incentives, including financial incentives, to retain special education teachers who have a record of success in helping students with disabilities.

(5) Carrying out programs and activities that are designed to improve the quality of personnel who serve children with disabilities, such as—

(i) Innovative professional development programs (which may be provided through partnerships with IHEs), including programs that train teachers and principals to integrate technology into curricula and instruction to improve teaching, learning, and technology literacy and that are consistent with the definition of professional development in section 8101 of the ESEA; and

(ii) The development and use of proven, cost effective strategies for the implementation of professional development activities, such as through the use of technology and distance learning.

(6) Carrying out programs and activities that are designed to improve the quality of early intervention personnel, including paraprofessionals and primary referral sources, such as—

(i) Professional development programs to improve the delivery of early intervention services;

(ii) Initiatives to promote the recruitment and retention of early intervention personnel; and

(iii) Interagency activities to ensure that early intervention personnel are adequately prepared and trained.

(b) Other Activities—Each SEA that receives a grant under this program must use the grant funds to support activities in accordance with the State's Personnel Development Plan, including one or more of the following:

(1) Reforming special education and regular education teacher certification (including re-certification) or licensing requirements to ensure that—

(i) Special education and regular education teachers have—

(A) The training and information necessary to address the full range of needs of children with disabilities across disability categories; and

(B) The necessary subject matter knowledge and teaching skills in the academic subjects that the teachers teach;

(ii) Special education and regular education teacher certification (including re-certification) or licensing requirements are aligned with challenging State academic content standards; and

(iii) Special education and regular education teachers have the subject Start Printed Page 45616matter knowledge and teaching skills, including technology literacy, necessary to help students with disabilities meet challenging State academic achievement standards.

(2) Programs that establish, expand, or improve alternative routes for State certification of special education teachers for individuals with a baccalaureate or master's degree who meet the qualifications described in section 612(a)(14)(C)of IDEA, as amended by the ESSA, including mid-career professionals from other occupations, paraprofessionals, and recent college or university graduates with records of academic distinction who demonstrate the potential to become highly effective special education teachers.

(3) Teacher advancement initiatives for special education teachers that promote professional growth and emphasize multiple career paths (such as paths to becoming a career teacher, mentor teacher, or exemplary teacher) and pay differentiation.

(4) Developing and implementing mechanisms to assist LEAs and schools in effectively recruiting and retaining special education teachers who meet the qualifications described in section 612(a)(14)(C) of IDEA, as amended by the ESSA.

(5) Reforming tenure systems, implementing teacher testing for subject matter knowledge, and implementing teacher testing for State certification or licensure, consistent with title II of the HEA (20 U.S.C. 1021 et seq.).

(6) Funding projects to promote reciprocity of teacher certification or licensing between or among States for special education teachers, except that no reciprocity agreement developed under this absolute priority may lead to the weakening of any State teacher certification or licensing requirement.

(7) Assisting LEAs to serve children with disabilities through the development and use of proven, innovative strategies to deliver intensive professional development programs that are both cost effective and easily accessible, such as strategies that involve delivery through the use of technology, peer networks, and distance learning.

(8) Developing, or assisting LEAs in developing, merit-based performance systems and strategies that provide differential and bonus pay for special education teachers.

(9) Supporting activities that ensure that teachers are able to use challenging State academic content standards and student academic achievement standards, and State assessments for all children with disabilities, to improve instructional practices and improve the academic achievement of children with disabilities.

(10) When applicable, coordinating with, and expanding centers established under section 2113(c)(18) of the ESEA, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002, to benefit special education teachers.

(c) Contracts and Subgrants—An SEA that receives a grant under this program—

(1) Must award contracts or subgrants to LEAs, IHEs, parent training and information centers, or community parent resource centers, as appropriate, to carry out the State Personnel Development Plan; and

(2) May award contracts and subgrants to other public and private entities, including the lead agency under Part C of IDEA, to carry out the State plan.

(d) Use of Funds for Professional Development—An SEA that receives a grant under this program must use—

(1) Not less than 90 percent of the funds the SEA receives under the grant for any fiscal year for the Professional Development Activities described in paragraph (a); and

(2) Not more than 10 percent of the funds the SEA receives under the grant for any fiscal year for the Other Activities described in paragraph (b).

Absolute Priority 3: Choice in Professional Development.

Priority:

The purpose of this priority is to fund SPDG grants to SEAs that empower teachers and other personnel to select professional development activities that meet their individual needs to improve results for children with disabilities. States will meet the priority if they describe in their application how they will develop personalized professional development projects to carry out their State plan under section 653 of IDEA and implement professional development activities that are consistent with the use of funds provisions in section 654 of IDEA. This would be accomplished by using funds under the SPDG program for stipends or other mechanisms to provide personnel with choice in selecting professional development options that will count toward State or local professional development requirements, as appropriate, such as the number of hours personnel must fill or the competencies they must acquire to obtain or retain certification, and that are designed to meet their individual needs and thus improve results for children with disabilities.

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 apply.

Applicants must—

(a) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under “Significance,” how the proposed project will develop personalized professional development activities using stipends or other mechanisms that provide personnel choice in professional development options designed to meet their individual needs and count toward State or local professional development requirements and thus improve results for children with disabilities;

(b) Describe how the State will select the individual(s) or groups of personnel that will be provided with professional development options, including the extent to which applicants will prioritize selecting individuals or groups of personnel serving rural children with disabilities or disadvantaged children with disabilities, such as children from low-income families. If applicable, applicants should specify how they will prioritize personnel if demand for professional development among the individuals or groups of personnel that the applicant proposes to serve exceeds what available funds can support;

(c) Describe how the State will create a list of approved professional development options that meet the requirements of the SPDG program. This description should include how the applicant will engage with a range of stakeholders, including school administrators, personnel serving students with disabilities, families of students with disabilities and individuals with disabilities, and other State or local agencies serving individuals with disabilities, such as juvenile justice agencies, to determine which professional development options it will offer. Specifically, professional development options must—

(1) Use evidence-based (as defined in this notice) professional development methods that will increase implementation of evidence-based practices and result in improved outcomes for children with disabilities;

(2) Include ongoing assistance that supports the implementation of evidence-based practices with fidelity (as defined in this notice); and

(3) Use technology to more efficiently and effectively provide ongoing professional development to personnel, including to personnel in rural areas and in urban or high-need local Start Printed Page 45617educational agencies (LEAs) (as defined in this notice);

(d) If applicable, describe the steps that personnel would need to take to request professional development options not already on a list of approved professional development options, the justification that personnel would need to provide to demonstrate how the selected options would improve results for children with disabilities, and how personnel would be notified if their request was approved or disapproved in writing and within 14 days; and

(e) Describe—

(1) The extent to which the proposed project will use professional development practices supported by evidence to support the attainment of identified competencies;

(2) How improvement in implementation of SPDG-supported practices over time will be demonstrated by participants in SPDG professional development activities;

(3) The extent to which the proposed project will use SPDG professional development funds to provide activities designed to sustain the use of SPDG-supported practices;

(4) How the proposed project will determine whether special education teachers who meet the qualifications described in section 612(a)(14)(C) of IDEA, as amended by the ESSA, that have participated in SPDG-supported special education teacher retention activities remain as special education teachers two years after their initial participation in these activities; and

(5) How the proposed project will assess whether and to what extent the project improves outcomes for children with disabilities.

Additional SPDG Requirements

Projects funded under this program must—

(a) Budget for a three-day project directors' meeting in Washington, DC, during each year of the project;

(b) Budget $4,000 annually for support of the SPDG Program website currently administered by the University of Oregon (www.signetwork.org); and

(c) If a project receiving assistance under this program authority maintains a website, include relevant information and documents in a form that meets a government or industry-recognized standard for accessibility.

Definitions:

The following definitions apply to this competition. We provide the source of the definitions in parentheses.

Evidence-based means the proposed project component is supported by one or more of strong evidence, moderate evidence, and promising evidence. (34 CFR 77.1)

Experimental study means a study that is designed to compare outcomes between two groups of individuals (such as students) that are otherwise equivalent except for their assignment to either a treatment group receiving a project component or a control group that does not. Randomized controlled trials, regression discontinuity design studies, and single-case design studies are the specific types of experimental studies that, depending on their design and implementation (e.g., sample attrition in randomized controlled trials and regression discontinuity design studies), can meet What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) standards without reservations as described in the WWC Handbook (version 3.0):

(i) A randomized controlled trial employs random assignment of, for example, students, teachers, classrooms, or schools to receive the project component being evaluated (the treatment group) or not to receive the project component (the control group).

(ii) A regression discontinuity design study assigns the project component being evaluated using a measured variable (e.g., assigning students reading below a cutoff score to tutoring or developmental education classes) and controls for that variable in the analysis of outcomes.

(iii) A single-case design study uses observations of a single case (e.g., a student eligible for a behavioral intervention) over time in the absence and presence of a controlled treatment manipulation to determine whether the outcome is systematically related to the treatment. (34 CFR 77.1)

Fidelity means the delivery of instruction in the way in which it was designed to be delivered. (77 FR 45944)

High-need LEA means, in accordance with section 2102(3) of the ESEA, an LEA—

(a) That serves not fewer than 10,000 children from families with incomes below the poverty line (as that term is defined in section 8101(41) of the ESEA), or for which not less than 20 percent of the children served by the LEA are from families with incomes below the poverty line; and

(b) For which there is (1) a high percentage of teachers not teaching in the academic subjects or grade levels that the teachers were trained to teach, or (2) a high percentage of teachers with emergency, provisional, or temporary certification or licensing.

Lead agency means the agency designated by the State's Governor under section 635(a)(10) of IDEA and 34 CFR 303.120 that receives funds under section 643 of IDEA to administer the State's responsibilities under part C of IDEA. (34 CFR 303.22)

Local educational agency (LEA) means a public board of education or other public authority legally constituted within a State for either administrative control or direction of, or to perform a service function for, public elementary schools or secondary schools in a city, county, township, school district, or other political subdivision of a State, or for such combination of school districts or counties as are recognized in a State as an administrative agency for its public elementary schools or secondary schools. (Section 602(19) of IDEA (20 U.S.C. 1401(19)))

Project component means an activity, strategy, intervention, process, product, practice, or policy included in a project. Evidence may pertain to an individual project component or to a combination of project components (e.g., training teachers on instructional practices for English learners and follow-on coaching for these teachers). (34 CFR 77.1)

Promising evidence means that there is evidence of the effectiveness of a key project component in improving a relevant outcome, based on a relevant finding from one of the following—

(i) A practice guide prepared by WWC reporting a “strong evidence base” or “moderate evidence base” for the corresponding practice guide recommendation;

(ii) An intervention report prepared by the WWC reporting a “positive effect” or “potentially positive effect” on a relevant outcome with no reporting of a “negative effect” or “potentially negative effect” on a relevant outcome; or

(iii) A single study assessed by the Department, as appropriate, that—

(A) Is an experimental study, a quasi-experimental design study, or a well-designed and well-implemented correlational study with statistical controls for selection bias (e.g., a study using regression methods to account for differences between a treatment group and a comparison group); and

(B) Includes at least one statistically significant and positive (i.e., favorable) effect on a relevant outcome. (34 CFR 77.1)

Quasi-experimental design study means a study using a design that attempts to approximate an experimental study by identifying a comparison group that is similar to the treatment group in important respects. This type of study, depending on design and implementation (e.g., establishment of baseline equivalence of the groups being compared), can meet WWC Start Printed Page 45618standards with reservations, but cannot meet WWC standards without reservations, as described in the WWC Handbook. (34 CFR 77.1)

Relevant outcome means the student outcome(s) or other outcome(s) the key project component is designed to improve, consistent with the specific goals of the program. (34 CFR 77.1)

State educational agency means the State board of education or other agency or officer primarily responsible for the State supervision of public elementary schools and secondary schools, or, if there is no such officer or agency, an officer or agency designated by the Governor or by State law. (Section 602(32) of IDEA (20 U.S.C. 1401(32)))

Strong evidence means that there is evidence of the effectiveness of a key project component in improving a relevant outcome for a sample that overlaps with the populations and settings proposed to receive that component, based on a relevant finding from one of the following—

(i) A practice guide prepared by the WWC using version 2.1 or 3.0 of the WWC Handbook reporting a “strong evidence base” for the corresponding practice guide recommendation;

(ii) An intervention report prepared by the WWC using version 2.1 or 3.0 of the WWC Handbook reporting a “positive effect” on a relevant outcome based on a “medium to large” extent of evidence, with no reporting of a “negative effect” or “potentially negative effect” on a relevant outcome; or

(iii) A single experimental study reviewed and reported by the WWC using version 2.1 or 3.0 of the WWC Handbook, or otherwise assessed by the Department using version 3.0 of the WWC Handbook, as appropriate, and that—

(A) Meets WWC standards without reservations;

(B) Includes at least one statistically significant and positive (i.e., favorable) effect on a relevant outcome;

(C) Includes no overriding statistically significant and negative effects on relevant outcomes reported in the study or in a corresponding WWC intervention report prepared under version 2.1 or 3.0 of the WWC Handbook; and

(D) Is based on a sample from more than one site (e.g., State, county, city, school district, or postsecondary campus) and includes at least 350 students or other individuals across sites. Multiple studies of the same project component that each meet requirements in paragraphs (iii)(A), (B), and (C) of this definition may together satisfy this requirement. (34 CFR 77.1)

What Works Clearinghouse Handbook (WWC Handbook) means the standards and procedures set forth in the WWC Procedures and Standards Handbook, Version 3.0 or Version 2.1 (incorporated by reference, see 34 CFR 77.2). Study findings eligible for review under WWC standards can meet WWC standards without reservations, meet WWC standards with reservations, or not meet WWC standards. WWC practice guides and intervention reports include findings from systematic reviews of evidence as described in the Handbook documentation. (34 CFR 77.1)

Note:

The What Works Clearinghouse Procedures and Standards Handbook (Version 3.0), as well as the more recent What Works Clearinghouse Handbooks released in October 2017 (Version 4.0) and January 2020 (Version 4.1), are available at https://ies.ed.gov/​ncee/​wwc/​Handbooks.

Start Authority

Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1451-1455.

End Authority

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 2012 NFP. (e) The 2020 NFP.

Note:

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

Note:

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

II. Award Information

Type of Award: Discretionary grants.

Estimated Available Funds: $11,727,418.

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.

Estimated Range of Awards: $500,000-$2,100,000 (for the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico). In the case of outlying areas (United States Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands), awards will be not less than $80,000.

Note:

We will set the amount of each award after considering—

(1) The amount of funds available for making the grants;

(2) The relative population of the State or outlying area;

(3) The types of activities proposed by the State or outlying area;

(4) The alignment of proposed activities with section 612(a)(14) of IDEA, as amended by the ESSA;

(5) The alignment of proposed activities with State plans and applications submitted under sections 1111 and 2101(d), respectively, of the ESEA; and

(6) The use, as appropriate, of research and instruction supported by evidence.

Estimated Average Size of Awards: $900,000 excluding the outlying areas.

Estimated Number of Awards: 11.

Note:

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

Project Period: Not less than one year and not more than five years.

III. Eligibility Information

1. Eligible Applicants: An SEA of one of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or an outlying area (United States Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands).

Note:

Public Law 95-134, which permits the consolidation of grants to the outlying areas, does not apply to funds received under this competition.

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 Absolute Priorities 2 and 3, 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 Start Printed Page 45619follow 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 awards 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 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 (20 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 the proposed project is part of a comprehensive effort to improve teaching and learning and support rigorous academic standards for students.

(ii) 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.

(iii) 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.

(iv) The likelihood that the proposed project will result in system change or improvement.

(b) Quality of the project design (25 points).

(1) The Secretary considers the quality of the design of the proposed project.

(2) In determining the quality of the design of the proposed project, 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 the design of the proposed project is appropriate to, and will successfully address, the needs of the target population or other identified needs.

(iii) The extent to which the services to be provided by the proposed project involve the collaboration of appropriate partners for maximizing the effectiveness of project services.

(iv) The extent to which the design of the proposed project reflects up-to-date knowledge from research and effective practice.

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

(c) Quality of the project personnel (10 points).

(1) The Secretary considers 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.

(d) Adequacy of resources and management plan (20 points).

(1) The Secretary considers the adequacy of resources and management plan for the proposed project.

(2) In determining the adequacy of resources for the proposed project, the Secretary considers the following factors:

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

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

(iii) 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.

(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.

(v) The potential for continued support of the project after Federal funding ends, including, as appropriate, the demonstrated commitment of appropriate entities to such support.

(e) Quality of the project evaluation (25 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 are appropriate to the context within which the project operates.

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

(iv) The extent to which the methods of evaluation include the use of Start Printed Page 45620objective performance measures that are clearly related to the intended outcomes of the project and will produce quantitative and qualitative data to the extent possible.

(v) The extent to which the evaluation will provide guidance about effective strategies suitable for replication or testing in other settings.

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

(vii) The extent to which the evaluation plan clearly articulates the key project components, mediators, and outcomes, as well as a measurable threshold for acceptable implementation.

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 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 or subgrantee that is awarded competitive grant funds must have a plan to disseminate these public grant deliverables. This dissemination plan can be developed and submitted after your application has been reviewed and selected for funding. For additional information on the open licensing requirements please refer to 2 CFR 3474.20.

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

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

5. Performance Measures: Under the Government Performance Results Modernization Act of 2010, the Department has established a set of performance measures, including long-term measures, that are designed to Start Printed Page 45621yield information on various aspects of the effectiveness and quality of the SPDG Program. These measures assess the extent to which—

  • Projects use professional development practices supported by evidence to support the attainment of identified competencies;
  • Participants in SPDG professional development demonstrate improvement in implementation of SPDG-supported practices over time;
  • Projects use SPDG professional development funds to provide activities designed to sustain the use of SPDG-supported practices;
  • Special education teachers who meet the qualifications described in section 612(a)(14)(C) of IDEA, as amended by the ESSA, and who have participated in SPDG-supported special education teacher retention activities remain as special education teachers two years after their initial participation in these activities; and
  • Projects improve outcomes for children with disabilities.

Each grantee funded under this competition must collect and annually report data related to its performance on these measures in the project's annual and final performance report to the Department in accordance with section 653(d) of IDEA and 34 CFR 75.590. Applicants should discuss in the application narrative how they propose to collect performance data for these measures.

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

[FR Doc. 2020-16549 Filed 7-27-20; 4:15 pm]

BILLING CODE 4000-01-P