[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 72 (Friday, April 13, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 22306-22310]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-8974]


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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION


State Personnel Development Grants; Proposed Priorities and 
Definitions; CFDA Number 84.323A

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

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and 
Rehabilitative Services proposes priorities and definitions under the 
State Personnel Development Grants (SPDG) program. The Assistant 
Secretary may use one or

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more of these priorities and definitions for competitions in fiscal 
year (FY) 2012 and later years. We take this action to assist State 
educational agencies (SEAs) to make their systems of professional 
development more effective and efficient through the provision of 
evidence-based, ongoing professional development that uses technology 
to support the implementation of evidence-based practices.

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before May 14, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Address all comments about this notice to Jennifer Coffey, 
U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 4097, 
Potomac Center Plaza (PCP), Washington, DC 20202-2600.
    If you prefer to send your comments by email, use the following 
address: jennifer.coffey@ed.gov. You must include the term ``SPDG 
Priorities and Definitions'' in the subject line of your electronic 
message.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jennifer Coffey. Telephone: (202) 245-
6673.
    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:

Invitation to Comment

    We invite you to submit comments regarding this notice. To ensure 
that your comments have maximum effect in developing the notice of 
final priorities and definitions, we urge you to identify clearly the 
specific topic that each comment addresses.
    We invite you to assist us in complying with the specific 
requirements of Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 and their overall 
requirement of reducing regulatory burden that might result from these 
proposed priorities and definitions. Please let us know of any further 
ways we could reduce potential costs or increase potential benefits 
while preserving the effective and efficient administration of the 
program.
    During and after the comment period, you may inspect all public 
comments about this notice in room 4097, 550 12th Street SW., PCP, 
Washington, DC, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., Washington, 
DC time, Monday through Friday of each week except Federal holidays.
    Assistance to Individuals With Disabilities in Reviewing the 
Rulemaking Record: On request, we will provide an appropriate 
accommodation or auxiliary aid to an individual with a disability who 
needs assistance to review the comments or other documents in the 
public rulemaking record for this notice. If you want to schedule an 
appointment for this type of accommodation or auxiliary aid, please 
contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.
    Purpose of Program: The purpose of this program is to assist 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.
    Statutory Requirements: Applicants under the SPDG program must meet 
the statutory requirements in sections 651 through 654 of the 
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), including the 
application requirements in section 653 and the use of funds 
requirements in section 654. Because the priorities and definitions 
proposed in this notice would supplement these statutory requirements, 
applicants should familiarize themselves with the statutory 
requirements they must also meet to receive funding under this program.
    In addition, section 651(b) of the IDEA defines the term 
``personnel,'' as it is used in connection with the SPDG program. This 
definition would apply to the priorities in this notice as well. Under 
section 651(b) of the IDEA, the term ``personnel'' means special 
education teachers, regular education teachers, principals, 
administrators, related services personnel, paraprofessionals, and 
early intervention personnel serving infants, toddlers, preschoolers, 
or children with disabilities, except where a particular category of 
personnel, such as related services personnel, is identified.

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

Proposed Priorities

    This notice contains two proposed priorities.

Proposed Priority 1--Effective and Efficient Delivery of Professional 
Development

Background

    The purpose of the SPDG program is to assist SEAs in reforming and 
improving their systems for personnel preparation and professional 
development of individuals providing early intervention, educational, 
and transition services in order to improve results for children with 
disabilities. High-quality, comprehensive professional development 
programs are essential to ensure that the persons responsible for the 
early intervention of infants and toddlers, and the education, or 
transition of children with disabilities possess the skills and 
knowledge necessary to address the early intervention, educational, and 
related services needs of those infants and toddlers or children. 
Through this priority, we seek to support (a) Evidence-based (as 
defined in this notice) professional development for personnel serving 
infants, toddlers, preschoolers, or children with disabilities, (b) 
ongoing assistance to personnel in early intervention programs and 
local educational agencies (LEAs) receiving SPDG-supported professional 
development to implement evidence-based practices, and (c) using 
technology to more efficiently and effectively provide ongoing 
professional development to personnel.

Evidence-Based Professional Development

    Professional development enables teachers to learn new and 
evidence-based practices and to master new skills (Wei, Darling-
Hammond, & Adamson, 2010). Professional development that emphasizes 
skill building and classroom practices can help teachers build 
competence that leads to the continued use of new and evidence-based 
practices (American Educational Research Association, 2005). There is 
evidence indicating that the following components of effective 
professional development can lead to more successful implementation of 
new practices: (1) Professional development participants, trainers, and 
coaches who have the prerequisite knowledge and skills; (2) effective 
training practices that are based on adult learning principles and that 
focus on building the skills of the participants; (3) ongoing coaching; 
(4) performance assessments; and (5) administrative support for 
implementation of the new practices (Boudah, Logan, & Greenwood, 2001; 
Fixsen, Naoom, Blase, Friedman, & Wallace, 2005; Fullan, 2005). For 
more information on these critical components of professional 
development, please visit www.signetwork.org/content_pages/205. In 
this priority, therefore, we propose to require SPDG projects to use 
evidence-based professional development practices, consistent with 
these components.

Ongoing Assistance That Supports Implementation

    A great deal of professional development may be necessary for 
personnel to feel competent in implementing a new practice--

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especially a practice that is complex (Cook et al., 2003; Gersten & 
Dimino, 2001; Slavin, 2004). Studies suggest that the more time 
teachers spend developing their knowledge and skills through evidence-
based professional development, the more significantly they change 
their practices (Louis & Marks, 1998; U.S. Department of Education, 
2001). Ongoing training, coaching, and other types of support are 
necessary for teachers to implement new evidence-based practices 
because although teachers receiving training may initially implement at 
least some of these practices, implementation rates can drop by 20 
percent to 60 percent one year after training (Wei, Darling-Hammond, & 
Adamson, 2010). In addition, when schools have high rates of staff 
turnover (as high as 50 percent for new teachers), ongoing professional 
development is a critical means of ensuring new staff have the 
necessary knowledge and skills to effectively implement educational 
programs (Elias, Zins, Graczyk, & Weissberg, 2003). Accordingly, 
through this proposed priority, we require SPDG projects to provide 
personnel receiving SPDG-supported professional development with 
ongoing assistance to support these personnel in implementing evidence-
based practices in the manner in which the practices are designed to be 
delivered.

Use of Technology

    Training and coaching for professional development participants is 
expensive; however, use of technology (e.g., bug-in-ear technology for 
coaching) has the potential to significantly reduce these costs 
(National Center for Academic Transformation, n.d.; Schlager, Farooq, 
Fusco, Schank, & Dwyer, 2009) and to reach more people more efficiently 
(Ludlow & Brannan, 2010). The use of technology to provide professional 
development is especially critical in rural areas, where attrition 
among personnel is high and there are limited training opportunities 
and resources (Johnson, Humphrey, & Allred, 2009; Menlove & Lignugaris/
Kraft, 2004). As professional development providers attempt to provide 
ongoing technical assistance instead of one-time training sessions and 
to reach personnel in rural areas, it will be critical for these 
professional development providers to capitalize on the capabilities 
offered by these newer technologies (Williams, Martin, & Hess, 2010). 
For this reason, this proposed priority requires SPDG projects to use 
technology to more efficiently and effectively provide ongoing 
professional development to personnel, including those in rural areas.

Proposed Priority

    The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services proposes a priority to assist SEAs in reforming and improving 
their systems for personnel (as that term is defined in section 651(b) 
of the 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 the IDEA that its proposed project will--
    (1) Use evidence-based (as defined in this notice) 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 LEAs (as defined in this notice).

Proposed Priority 2--Targeting Teachers' Professional Development Needs 
Based on Student Growth

Background

    Effective teaching is a cornerstone of education reform 
(Whitehurst, 2002). To evaluate teacher effectiveness, an increasing 
number of SEAs and LEAs have begun examining data on growth in student 
achievement (Hanushek & Rivkin, 2010; Taylor & Tyler, 2011). In 
addition, these data are increasingly being used to identify 
professional development needs (Torgeson, Meadows, & Howard, 2011). 
Using student outcome data to identify the professional development 
needs of teachers can be a useful first step in helping teachers meet 
the needs of their students. This is important because many schools 
continue to struggle to meet their academic goals for children with 
disabilities, with little improvement nationally in the performance of 
students with disabilities on statewide assessments (Altman, Thurlow, & 
Vang, 2010). For this reason, we propose a priority for projects that 
are designed to provide teachers professional development that is 
targeted to meet their specific needs, as those needs are identified by 
teacher evaluation systems that take into account student growth (as 
defined in this notice) in determining performance levels. In FY 2012, 
we intend to use this proposed priority as a competitive preference 
priority.

Proposed Priority

    The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services proposes a priority for projects that are designed to provide 
teachers professional development that is targeted to meet their 
specific needs, as those needs are identified by teacher evaluation 
systems that take into account student growth (as defined in this 
notice) in determining performance levels.

Types of Priorities

    When inviting applications for a competition using one or more 
priorities, we designate the type of each priority as absolute, 
competitive preference, or invitational through a notice in the Federal 
Register. The effect of each type of priority follows:
    Absolute priority: Under an absolute priority, we consider only 
applications that meet the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(3)).
    Competitive preference priority: Under a competitive preference 
priority, we give competitive preference to an application by (1) 
awarding additional points, depending on the extent to which the 
application meets the competitive preference priority (34 CFR 
75.105(c)(2)(i)); or (2) selecting an application that meets the 
priority over an application of comparable merit that does not meet the 
priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(ii)).
    Invitational priority: Under an invitational priority, we are 
particularly interested in applications that meet the priority. 
However, we do not give an application that meets the priority a 
preference over other applications (34 CFR 75.105(c)(1)).

Proposed Definitions

Background

    We propose the following definitions of the terms evidence-based, 
fidelity, high-need local educational agency (LEA), student 
achievement, and student growth for use in the SPDG program. We propose 
these definitions to ensure that applicants have a clear understanding 
of how we are using these terms in the proposed priorities.

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To the extent appropriate, we propose to use definitions that we have 
used in other similar priorities. For example, the definitions of 
evidence-based, student achievement, and student growth are based on 
the definitions of terms defined in the Department's notice of final 
supplemental priorities and definitions for discretionary grant 
programs, published in the Federal Register on December 15, 2010 (75 FR 
78486), and corrected on May 12, 2011 (76 FR 27637). In addition, we 
propose to adopt the definition of high-need LEA that is used in the 
Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA). 
Finally, we have based the proposed definition of the term fidelity on 
a definition that is widely accepted in the field (Gresham, MacMillan, 
Boebe-Frankenberger, & Bocian, 2000).
    Proposed Definitions: The Assistant Secretary proposes the 
following definitions for this program. We may apply one or more of 
these definitions in any year in which this program is in effect.
    Evidence-based refers to practices for which there is strong 
evidence or moderate evidence of effectiveness.
    Fidelity means the delivery of instruction in the way in which it 
was designed to be delivered.
    High-need LEA means, in accordance with section 2102(3) of the 
Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (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 
9101(33) 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.
    Student achievement means--
    (a) For tested grades and subjects: (1) A student's score on the 
State's assessments under the ESEA; and, as appropriate, (2) other 
measures of student learning, such as those described in paragraph (b) 
of this definition, provided they are rigorous and comparable across 
schools.
    (b) For non-tested grades and subjects: alternative measures of 
student learning and performance, such as student scores on pre-tests 
and end-of-course tests; student performance on English language 
proficiency assessments; and other measures of student achievement that 
are rigorous and comparable across schools.
    Student growth means the change in student achievement (as defined 
in this notice) for an individual student between two or more points in 
time.

Final Priorities and Definitions

    We will announce the final priorities and definitions in a notice 
in the Federal Register. We will determine the final priorities and 
definitions after considering responses to this notice and other 
information available to the Department. This notice does not preclude 
us from proposing additional priorities, requirements, definitions, or 
selection criteria, subject to meeting applicable rulemaking 
requirements.

    Note: This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in 
which we choose to use one or more of these priorities, we invite 
applications through a notice in the Federal Register.

Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

Regulatory Impact Analysis

    Under Executive Order 12866, the Secretary must determine whether 
this regulatory action is ``significant'' and, therefore, subject to 
the requirements of the Executive order and subject to review by the 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Section 3(f) of Executive Order 
12866 defines a ``significant regulatory action'' as an action likely 
to result in a rule that may--
    (1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more, 
or adversely affect a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, 
jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local or 
Tribal governments or communities in a material way (also referred to 
as an ``economically significant'' rule);
    (2) Create serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an 
action taken or planned by another agency;
    (3) Materially alter the budgetary impacts of entitlement grants, 
user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients 
thereof; or
    (4) Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal 
mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles stated in the 
Executive order.
    This proposed regulatory action is not a significant regulatory 
action subject to review by OMB under section 3(f) of Executive Order 
12866.
    We have also reviewed this regulatory action under Executive Order 
13563, which supplements and explicitly reaffirms the principles, 
structures, and definitions governing regulatory review established in 
Executive Order 12866. To the extent permitted by law, Executive Order 
13563 requires that an agency--
    (1) Propose or adopt regulations only on a reasoned determination 
that their benefits justify their costs (recognizing that some benefits 
and costs are difficult to quantify);
    (2) Tailor its regulations to impose the least burden on society, 
consistent with obtaining regulatory objectives and taking into 
account-- among other things and to the extent practicable--the costs 
of cumulative regulations;
    (3) In choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, select 
those approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential 
economic, environmental, public health and safety, and other 
advantages; distributive impacts; and equity);
    (4) To the extent feasible, specify performance objectives, rather 
than the behavior or manner of compliance a regulated entity must 
adopt; and
    (5) Identify and assess available alternatives to direct 
regulation, including economic incentives--such as user fees or 
marketable permits--to encourage the desired behavior, or provide 
information that enables the public to make choices.
    Executive Order 13563 also requires an agency ``to use the best 
available techniques to quantify anticipated present and future 
benefits and costs as accurately as possible.'' The Office of 
Information and Regulatory Affairs of OMB has emphasized that these 
techniques may include ``identifying changing future compliance costs 
that might result from technological innovation or anticipated 
behavioral changes.''
    We are taking this regulatory action only on a reasoned 
determination that its benefits justify its costs. In choosing among 
alternative regulatory approaches, we selected those approaches that 
maximize net benefits. Based on the analysis that follows, the 
Department believes that this regulatory action is consistent with the 
principles in Executive Order 13563.
    In accordance with both Executive orders, the Department has 
assessed the potential costs and benefits of this regulatory action. 
The potential costs associated with this regulatory action are those 
resulting from statutory requirements and those we have determined as 
necessary for administering the Department's programs and activities.
    We have also determined that this regulatory action does not unduly 
interfere with State, local, and Tribal governments in the exercise of 
their governmental functions.

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    Intergovernmental Review: This program is subject to Executive 
Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79. One of the 
objectives of the Executive order is to foster an intergovernmental 
partnership and a strengthened federalism. The Executive order relies 
on processes developed by State and local governments for coordination 
and review of proposed Federal financial assistance.
    This document provides early notification of our specific plans and 
actions for this program.
    Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this 
document 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. Free 
Internet access to the official edition of the Federal Registerand 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.

    Dated: April 10, 2012.
Alexa Posny,
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
[FR Doc. 2012-8974 Filed 4-12-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P