[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 58 (Wednesday, March 26, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 16778-16781]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-06730]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

[Docket No. ED-2013-OSERS-015]


Request for Information on the Use of Results Data in Making 
Determinations Under Sections 616(d)(2) and 642 of the Individuals With 
Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

AGENCY: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. 
Department of Education.

ACTION: Request for Information.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The U.S. Department of Education (Department) is requesting 
stakeholder input on how best to use results data (e.g., performance on 
assessments, graduation rates, and early childhood outcomes) in its 
accountability system under the IDEA. We believe that the Department 
must provide greater support to States' efforts to improve results for 
infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities (children with 
disabilities). We need to ensure that States focus not only on 
complying with provisions of the law, but also on improving results for 
children with disabilities.

DATES: Responses must be received by April 25, 2014.

ADDRESSES: Submit your comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal 
or via U.S. mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery. We will not 
accept comments by fax or by email or those submitted after the comment 
period. To ensure that we do not receive duplicate copies, please 
submit your comments only once. In addition, please include the Docket 
ID and the term ``IDEA Determinations including Results'' at the top of 
your comments.
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov to 
submit your comments electronically. Information on using 
Regulations.gov, including instructions for accessing agency documents, 
submitting comments, and viewing the docket, is available on the site 
under ``Are you new to this site?''
     Postal Mail, Commercial Delivery, or Hand Delivery: If you 
mail or deliver your comments, address them to Larry Ringer, Attention: 
IDEA Determinations RFI, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland 
Avenue SW., room 4032, Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC 20202-2600.
    Privacy Note: The Department's policy is to make all comments 
received from members of the public (including comments submitted by 
mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery) available for public 
viewing in their entirety on the Federal eRulemaking Portal at 
www.regulations.gov. Therefore, commenters should be careful to include 
in their comments only information that they wish to make publicly 
available on the Internet.
    Submission of Proprietary Information: Given the subject matter, 
some comments may include proprietary information as it relates to 
confidential commercial information. The Freedom of Information Act 
defines ``confidential commercial information'' as information the 
disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to cause substantial 
competitive harm. You may wish to request that we not disclose what you 
regard as confidential commercial information.
    To assist us in making a determination on your request, we 
encourage you to identify any specific information in your comments 
that you consider confidential commercial information. Please list the 
information by page and paragraph numbers.
    This Request for Information (RFI) is issued solely for information 
and planning purposes and is not a request for proposals (RFP), a 
notice inviting applications (NIA), or a promise to issue an RFP or 
NIA. This RFI does not commit the Department to contract for any supply 
or service whatsoever. Further, the Department is not now seeking 
proposals and will not accept unsolicited proposals. The Department 
will not pay for any information or administrative costs that you may 
incur in responding to this RFI.
    If you do not respond to this RFI, you may still apply for future 
contracts and grants. The Department posts RFPs on the Federal Business 
Opportunities Web

[[Page 16779]]

site (www.fbo.gov). The Department announces grant competitions in the 
Federal Register (www.gpo.gov/fdsys). It is your responsibility to 
monitor these sites to determine whether the Department issues an RFP 
or NIA after considering the information received in response to this 
RFI.
    The documents and information submitted in response to this RFI 
become the property of the U.S. Government and will not be returned.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Larry Ringer, U.S. Department of 
Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., room 4032, Potomac Center Plaza, 
Washington, DC 20202-2600. Telephone: (202) 245-7496.
    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.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    In the 2004 reauthorization of the IDEA, Congress recognized the 
importance of focusing on positive educational and early intervention 
outcomes for children with disabilities. IDEA requires the primary 
focus of Federal and State monitoring to be on: (1) Improving 
educational results and functional outcomes for all children with 
disabilities covered under the IDEA; and (2) ensuring that States meet 
the program requirements. In particular, Congress placed an emphasis on 
those requirements that are most closely related to improving 
educational and early intervention results for eligible children with 
disabilities.
    To date, however, the Department's primary focus of monitoring has 
been on States' compliance with substantive and procedural requirements 
and whether States showed improvement in the compliance data reported 
in their State Performance Plan/Annual Performance Reports (SPP/APRs). 
Unfortunately, we have not seen significant improvement in results for 
children with disabilities, e.g., performance on assessment, graduation 
rate, and early childhood outcomes.\1\ In order to improve results for 
children with disabilities, we need to balance the focus of our 
accountability system on both ensuring compliance and improving results 
for children with disabilities, consistent with the IDEA mandates 
described above.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ The SPPs/APRs for Part B and Part C include both compliance 
and results indicators. For Part B, the results indicators address 
graduation rates, drop-out rates, statewide assessment (percentage 
of districts meeting adequate yearly progress or annual measurable 
objectives for the disability subgroup, participation in 
assessments, and proficiency on assessments), significant 
discrepancy in suspension/expulsion rates, educational environments 
for school-aged and preschool, early childhood outcomes, parent 
participation, post-school outcomes, resolution sessions, and 
mediation. For Part C, the results indicators include service 
settings, early childhood outcomes, family outcomes, percentage of 
infants and toddlers receiving Part C services, resolution sessions, 
and mediation.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    To achieve this balance, the Department, through the Office of 
Special Education Programs (OSEP), a component of the Office of Special 
Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), is reconceptualizing its 
IDEA accountability system. This reconceptualized system, Results 
Driven Accountability (RDA), will support States in improving results 
for children with disabilities, while continuing to assist States in 
ensuring compliance with the IDEA's requirements.
    In redesigning its accountability system, OSEP is using the 
following core principles:
    1. The RDA system is being developed in partnership with our 
stakeholders.
    2. The RDA system is transparent and understandable to States and 
the general public, especially individuals with disabilities and their 
families.
    3. The RDA system drives improved outcomes for all children and 
youth with disabilities regardless of their age, disability, race/
ethnicity, language, gender, socioeconomic status, or location.
    4. The RDA system ensures the protection of the individual rights 
of each child or youth with a disability and their families, regardless 
of his/her age, disability, race/ethnicity, language, gender, 
socioeconomic status, or location.
    5. The RDA system includes differentiated incentives, supports, and 
interventions based on each State's unique strengths, progress, 
challenges, and needs.
    6. The RDA system encourages States to direct their resources to 
where they can have the greatest positive impact on outcomes and the 
protection of individual rights for all children and youth with 
disabilities, while minimizing State burden and duplication of effort.
    7. The RDA system is responsive to the needs and expectations of 
the ultimate consumers (i.e., children and youth with disabilities and 
their families).
    OSEP will implement the RDA in accordance with the IDEA 
requirements. OSEP's design for the RDA system includes three major 
components: (1) The State Performance Plan (SPP)/Annual Performance 
Report (APR); (2) annual State determinations; and (3) differentiated 
monitoring and support.
    As part of the first component, each State has, since 2005, had in 
place an SPP for IDEA Part B and an SPP for IDEA Part C, establishing 
measurable and rigorous targets for indicators under statutory priority 
areas, and those indicators include both compliance indicators and 
results indicators. Each State submits annually to the Secretary an APR 
for IDEA Part B and an APR for IDEA Part C, reporting on the State's 
progress in meeting those targets. On April 15, 2013, the Department 
published in the Federal Register two separate information collection 
notices proposing changes to the IDEA Part B and the IDEA Part C SPP/
APR for the period of Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2013 through FFY 2018 
(78 FR 22251 and 78 FR 22253, available at: www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-04-15/pdf/2013-08703.pdf and www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-04-15/pdf/2013-08705.pdf, respectively.
    In those notices, the Department proposed eliminating unnecessary 
reporting requirements, including the requirement that States report on 
improvement activities for each indicator. Instead, the Department 
proposed to include a new qualitative indicator, the State Systemic 
Improvement Plan (SSIP) in each State's SPP/APR for IDEA Part B and 
SPP/APR for IDEA Part C. This comprehensive improvement plan would 
include an analysis of relevant data and a plan, based on that data 
analysis, to focus on improving a State-selected educational or early 
intervention outcomes for children with disabilities in a way that is 
aligned with a State's efforts to improve outcomes for all children. In 
working to finalize the IDEA Part B and Part C SPP/APR information 
collections, the Department has considered all of the comments 
received.
    The second component of RDA is the annual State determination 
process. The Secretary has, since 2007, made annual State 
determinations based on information provided by a State in its SPP/APR, 
information obtained through monitoring visits, and any other publicly 
available information. The Secretary will continue, as required by 
IDEA, to make annual determinations; however, the Department is, as 
part of RDA, in the process of changing how it makes determinations to 
provide a greater focus on results. As required by the IDEA, in making 
determinations, the Secretary finds that a State, for IDEA Part B and 
for IDEA Part C:
    1. Meets the requirements and purposes of the IDEA;

[[Page 16780]]

    2. Needs assistance in implementing the requirements of the IDEA 
(``needs assistance'');
    3. Needs intervention in implementing the requirements of the IDEA 
(``needs intervention''); or
    4. Needs substantial intervention in implementing the requirements 
of the IDEA (``needs substantial intervention'').
    When a State is determined to be in ``needs assistance'' for two or 
more consecutive years, ``needs intervention'' for three or more 
consecutive years, or ``needs substantial intervention'', the Secretary 
takes enforcement action and has discretion to determine the specific 
type of enforcement action(s) to take.
    Consistent with our authority in sections 616(d)(2) and 642 of the 
IDEA, in 2013, OSEP began redesigning the annual determinations 
process. In calendar year 2007 (the first year that the Department made 
determinations under the IDEA) through calendar year 2013, the 
Department primarily based its determinations on data provided in 
response to compliance indicators.\2\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ These compliance indicators include, for IDEA Part B: 
Noncompliance related to suspension and expulsion, disproportionate 
representation of racial and ethnic groups in special education and 
related services, and in specific disability categories, that is the 
result of inappropriate identification, timely initial evaluations, 
timely transition from IDEA Part C to IDEA Part B, secondary 
transition requirements, and timely correction of noncompliance. For 
Part C, they include: Timely initiation of early intervention 
services, timely evaluation, assessment and individualized family 
service plan meetings, timely transitions from Part C, and timely 
correction of noncompliance.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In 2013, OSEP continued to make determinations based on compliance 
data, but for the first time used a Compliance Matrix that provided a 
better accounting of the totality of the State's compliance data. The 
Compliance Matrix utilizes a score, ranging from zero to two points, 
for each of the compliance indicators and for several other factors 
related to compliance (see ``How the Department Made Determinations'' 
at http://www2.ed.gov/fund/data/report/idea/sppapr.html). Using the 
cumulative possible number of points as the denominator, and using the 
actual points the State received in the scoring under these factors as 
the numerator, the Compliance Matrix reflected a percentage score that 
the Department used to make each State's 2013 determination. OSEP made 
this revision to ensure that, unlike the determinations made in prior 
years, a State would not be determined to ``need intervention'' based 
solely on low performance under, or the lack of valid and reliable data 
for, a single IDEA indicator. As noted above, this approach took into 
account the totality of a State's compliance and provided transparency 
about how we reached each State's determination. We recognize, however, 
that while this matrix approach was an improvement in the 
determinations process, we also need to include results data as a 
significant part of the determinations process.
    For 2014, OSEP will, consistent with our authority in sections 
616(d)(2) and 642 of the IDEA, include a Results Matrix, similar, and 
in addition, to the Compliance Matrix, to focus on both compliance and 
results data in the annual determination process. Relevant data 
reported by States and other publicly available data will be reflected 
in the matrices, with each data element receiving a score between zero 
and two and then combining all of the points from both matrices. Using 
the cumulative possible number of points from both matrices as the 
denominator, and using the total number of actual points the State 
received in the scoring under the individual factors as the numerator, 
the State's 2014 determination will be based on the percentage score 
from both matrices.
    OSEP will take enforcement actions under Part B and Part C of the 
IDEA based on those underlying compliance data, results data, or a 
combination of the two. However, in the first two years of using 
results data in determinations, OSEP does not plan to take enforcement 
action based on results data under either IDEA Part B or C that would 
have fiscal consequences for a State. (While the Department must take 
one of the statutorily-specified enforcement actions with States that 
are ``Needs Assistance'' for two or more consecutive years, or ``Needs 
Intervention'' for three or more consecutive years, the Department has 
discretion in choosing among specified enforcement actions, which 
include actions that do not have fiscal consequences.)
    We are considering using the following results data \3\ in making 
determinations, including examining a State's progress over time:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \3\ The State must not report to the public or the Secretary any 
information on performance that would result in the disclosure of 
personally identifiable information about individual children. See 
IDEA section 616(b)(2)(C)(iii). Therefore, OSERS will not use 
personally identifiable data when making determinations.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    1. For Part B, data related to:
    a. Participation in and proficiency on assessments (reported 
publicly through either statewide assessments or the National 
Assessment of Educational Progress) in reading/language arts and math,
    b. Rates of students graduating with a regular diploma and/or
    c. Postschool outcomes.
    2. For Part C, data related to:
    a. Early childhood outcomes, and/or
    b. Family outcomes.
    The third component of RDA is differentiated monitoring and 
support. In implementing differentiated monitoring and support, OSEP 
will use results data and other information about a State to determine 
the appropriate intensity, focus, and nature of the oversight and 
support that each State will receive as part of RDA. In providing 
differentiated support, OSEP will consider each State's need in 
relation to the development and implementation of its SSIP.

Context for Responses and Information Requested

    Throughout the process of developing RDA, the Department has both 
provided information to the public, and sought input from interested 
stakeholders, consistent with the core principles outlined above. We 
have sought input from stakeholders in a variety of ways, including:
    1. Blog posts on the Department's Web site inviting input from the 
public on a variety of topics including the Core Principles and one 
approach for using results data in determinations (http://www.ed.gov/blog/2012/07/results-driven-accountability-effort/);
    2. Meetings and conference calls with stakeholders, including State 
personnel, child and family advocacy groups, professional 
organizations, researchers, and technical assistance providers to 
solicit input regarding the opportunities and barriers related to 
shifting to a more results focused monitoring; and
    3. Working with the National Center on Educational Outcomes and the 
Center on Early Childhood Outcomes to examine options for what results 
data to consider in making determinations, and how to use those data as 
part of the determinations process.
    The Assistant Secretary for OSERS invites States, local educational 
agencies (LEAs), early intervention service (EIS) programs and 
providers, parents, and other stakeholders to provide input on how the 
Department should use results data, in combination with compliance 
data, to make determinations under section 616(d)(2) and 642 of the 
IDEA in 2014 and subsequent years. We are particularly interested in 
feedback on the following:
    1. How should the Department use results data such as assessment 
data, graduation data and/or postschool outcomes data in making 
determinations under Part B of the

[[Page 16781]]

IDEA? For any suggestion, please explain why and how the Department 
could use the data in a valid, reliable, and equitable manner in making 
determinations.
    2. How should the Department use results data such as early 
childhood outcomes data and/or family outcomes data in making 
determinations under Part C of the IDEA? For any suggestion, please 
explain why and how the Department could use the data in a valid, 
reliable, and equitable manner in making determinations.
    3. Are there any additional or different types of results data, 
including data on assessments to measure proficiency in reading/
language arts and math, or other results data that the Department 
should/could consider using in the IDEA Part B determinations process? 
For any suggestion, please explain why and how the Department could use 
the data in a valid, reliable, and equitable manner in making 
determinations.
    4. Are there any additional or different types of results data that 
the Department should/could consider using in the IDEA Part C 
determinations process? For any suggestion, please explain why and how 
the Department could use the data in a valid, reliable, and equitable 
manner in making determinations.
    To ensure better results for children with disabilities, the 
Department expects all components of the RDA system to be aligned with 
States' efforts to improve outcomes for all children with and without 
disabilities. To meet this goal, we encourage stakeholders to provide 
suggestions for using results data in a manner that is equitable and 
transparent. You may provide comments in any convenient format (i.e., 
bullet points, charts, graphs, paragraphs, etc.) and may also provide 
relevant information that is not responsive to a particular question 
but may nevertheless be helpful.
    Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this 
document in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, 
audiotape, or compact disc) upon 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. Free 
Internet access to the official edition of the Federal Register and the 
Code of Federal Regulations is available via the Federal Digital System 
at: www.gpo.gov/fdsys. At this site you can view this document, as well 
as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal 
Register, in text or Adobe 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.

    Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1416 and 1442.

    Dated: March 20, 2014.
Michael K. Yudin,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services.
[FR Doc. 2014-06730 Filed 3-25-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P