[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 35 (Monday, February 23, 2015)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 9414-9423]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-03502]


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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

34 CFR Chapter VI


Proposed Priorities, Requirements, Selection Criterion, and 
Definitions--First in the World Program

CFDA Numbers: 84.116F and 84.116X

AGENCY: Office of Postsecondary Education, Department of Education.

ACTION: Proposed priorities, requirements, selection criterion, and 
definitions.

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SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education proposes 
priorities, requirements, a selection criterion, and definitions under 
the First in the World (FITW) Program. The Assistant Secretary may use 
these priorities, requirements, selection criterion, and definitions 
for FITW competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2015 and later years. These 
priorities, requirements, selection criterion, and definitions would 
enable the Department to focus the FITW program on identified barriers 
to student success in postsecondary education and advance the program's 
purpose to build evidence for what works in postsecondary education 
through development, evaluation, and dissemination of innovative 
strategies to support students who are at risk of failure in persisting 
in and completing their postsecondary programs of study.

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before March 25, 2015.

ADDRESSES: Submit your comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal 
or via postal mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery. We will not 
accept comments submitted 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.
     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 the site?''
     Postal Mail, Commercial Delivery, or Hand Delivery: If you 
mail or deliver your comments about these proposed regulations, address 
them to Frank Frankfort, U.S. Department of Education, 1990 K Street 
NW., Room 6166, Washington, DC 20006.
    Privacy Note: The Department's policy is to make all comments 
received from members of the public 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.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Frank Frankfort. Telephone: (202) 502-
7513 or email: frank.frankfort@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.

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, requirements, selection 
criterion, and definitions, we urge you to identify clearly the 
specific proposed priority, requirement, selection criterion or 
definition 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, requirements, selection criterion, or 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 by accessing Regulations.gov. You may also 
inspect the comments in person in room 6164, 1990 K. St. NW., 
Washington, DC between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., 
Washington, DC time, Monday through Friday of each week except Federal 
holidays. Please contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT.
    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: Earning a postsecondary degree or credential is 
a prerequisite for the growing jobs of the new economy and the clearest 
pathway to the middle class. Average earnings of college graduates are 
almost twice as high as that of workers with only a high school diploma 
and, over this decade, employment in jobs requiring education beyond a 
high school diploma will grow more rapidly than employment in jobs that 
do not.\1\
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    \1\ Carnavale, A., Smith, N., Strohl, J., Help Wanted: 
Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018. 
Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, 2010.

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[[Page 9415]]

    But today, even though college enrollment has increased by 50 
percent since 1990, from almost 14 million students to almost 21 
million students, and despite the importance of a postsecondary 
education to financial security for American families and for the 
national economy to grow and remain competitive in the global economy, 
only 40 percent of Americans hold a postsecondary degree.\2\ While the 
vast majority of high school graduates from the wealthiest American 
families continue on to higher education, only half of high school 
graduates from the poorest families attend college.\3\ About 60 percent 
of students at four-year institutions earn a bachelor's degree within 
six years.\4\ For low-income students, the prospects are even worse as 
only 40 percent reach completion.\5\ Almost 37 million Americans report 
``some college, no degree'' as their highest level of education.\6\ Due 
to these outcomes, the U.S. has been outpaced internationally in higher 
education. In 1990, the U.S. ranked first in the world in four-year 
degree attainment among 25-34 year olds; in 2012, the U.S. ranked 
12th.\7\
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    \2\ National Center for Education Statistics. ``Total fall 
enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by 
attendance status, sex of student, and control of institution: 
Selected years, 1947 through 2012.'' Retrieved from: http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_303.10.asp.
    \3\ National Center for Education Statistics. ``Percentage of 
recent high school completers enrolled in 2-year and 4-year 
colleges, by income level: 1975 through 2012.'' Retrieved from: 
http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_302.30.asp.
    \4\ National Center for Education Statistics. ``Percentage 
distribution of first-time postsecondary students starting at 2- and 
4-year institutions during the 2003-04 academic year, by highest 
degree attained, enrollment status, and selected characteristics: 
Spring 2009.'' Retrieved from: http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_326.40.asp.
    \5\ Id.
    \6\ U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey.
    \7\ Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development, 
Education at a Glance 2014.
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    Recognizing these factors, President Obama set a goal for the 
country that America will once again have the highest proportion of 
college graduates in the world. To support this national effort, the 
Administration has outlined a comprehensive agenda that includes 
expanding opportunity and increasing quality at all levels of 
education, from early learning through higher education. The FITW 
program is a key part of this agenda.
    Unlike in previous generations, adult learners, working students, 
part-time students, students from low-income backgrounds, students of 
color, and first-generation students now make up the majority of 
students in college.\8\ Ensuring that these students persist in and 
complete their postsecondary education is essential to meeting our 
nation's educational challenges. However, the traditional methods and 
practices of the country's higher education system have typically not 
been focused on ensuring successful outcomes for these students, and 
too little is known about what strategies are most effective for 
addressing key barriers that prevent these students from persisting and 
completing.
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    \8\ U.S. Department of Education. 2010. Profile of Undergraduate 
Students: 2007-08. National Center for Education Statistics: 2010-
205. Washington DC.
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    The FITW program addresses these problems by supporting the 
development of innovative solutions to persistent and widespread 
challenges in postsecondary education, particularly those that affect 
adult learners, working students, part-time students, students from 
low-income backgrounds, students of color, and first-generation 
students, and building evidence for what works in postsecondary 
education by testing the effectiveness of these strategies in improving 
student persistence and completion outcomes. Similar to the 
Department's Investing in Innovation Fund, which supports innovation 
and evidence building in elementary and secondary education, a key 
element of the FITW program is its multi-tier structure that links the 
amount of funding that an applicant may receive to the quality of 
evidence supporting the efficacy of the proposed project. Applicants 
proposing practices supported by limited evidence can receive 
relatively small grants (Development grants) that support the 
development and initial evaluation of innovative but untested 
strategies. Applicants proposing practices supported by evidence from 
rigorous evaluations can receive larger grants (Validation and Scale-up 
grants), in amounts commensurate to the level of supporting evidence, 
for implementation at greater scale to test whether initially 
successful strategies remain effective when adopted in varied locations 
and with large and diverse groups of students. This structure provides 
incentives for applicants to build evidence of effectiveness of their 
proposed projects and to address the barriers to serving large numbers 
of students within institutions and across systems, States, regions, or 
the country. Additionally, the Department is exploring ways to 
accelerate the progress of building evidence for effective strategies 
that improve college completion through rapid scaling by allowing 
larger awards in lower tiers for college and university systems and 
consortia that collaborate with leading experts to test and rigorously 
evaluate the most promising strategies at multiple sites.
    All FITW projects are required to use part of their budgets to 
conduct independent evaluations (as defined in this notice) of their 
projects. This ensures that projects funded under the FITW program 
contribute significantly to improving the information available to 
practitioners and policymakers about which practices work, for which 
types of students, and in what contexts.
    Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1138-1138d.
    Background: The proposed priorities, requirements, selection 
criterion, and definitions for the FITW program set forth in this 
notice would better enable the Department to achieve the purpose and 
goals of the FITW program by creating mechanisms to direct funding to 
priority areas of work that address the most important challenges in 
postsecondary education and, additionally, set evidence and evaluation 
requirements. There are currently no such program-specific priorities, 
requirements, selection criteria, or definitions for the FITW program.
    Proposed Priorities: This notice contains nine proposed priorities. 
In any grant competition under this program, the Secretary may use, 
individually or in combination, one or more of these priorities or 
subparts of these priorities, priorities from the final supplemental 
priorities and definitions for discretionary grant programs, published 
in the Federal Register on December 10, 2014 (79 FR 73425), and 
priorities based on the statutory requirements for the Fund for the 
Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE).
    Background: The proposed priorities correspond to what the 
Department believes are the greatest current challenges in 
postsecondary education and most important areas of work seeking to 
address barriers to postsecondary student success. As provided under 34 
CFR 75.105, these priorities may be used by the Department as absolute 
or competitive preference priorities in grant competitions for the FITW 
program in FY 2015 and later years to direct FITW funds to projects 
that address these identified challenges and areas of work. In 
addition, we may also use priorities from the Department's final 
supplemental priorities and definitions

[[Page 9416]]

for discretionary grant programs, published in the Federal Register on 
December 10, 2014 (79 FR 73425) (Supplemental Priorities), as absolute 
or competitive preference priorities in the FITW program. Accordingly, 
we are not proposing priorities in this notice that are already 
included in the Supplemental Priorities.
    Establishing program-specific priorities would provide the 
Department the option to focus a particular year's FITW grant 
competition on any or all (or none) of the policy areas set forth in 
those priorities. For each year that new funds are available under the 
FITW program, the Department would determine which, if any, of the 
priorities to include in the grant competition.
    The proposed priorities are organized so that the Department has 
the flexibility to determine the area of focus for the priority. For 
example, with respect to Proposed Priority 1--Improving Success in 
Developmental Education, the Department could choose to include in a 
notice inviting applications a competitive preference priority for any 
type of project that seeks to improve outcomes in developmental 
education by using the broadest language in the priority:
     (Example) Competitive Preference Priority: Improving 
Success in Developmental Education--Projects designed to improve 
student success in developmental education or accelerate student 
progress into credit bearing postsecondary courses.
    Or, we could choose more specific language from the priority to 
target a particular aspect of developmental education reform by 
choosing to also include one of the subparts of Proposed Priority 1:
     (Example) Competitive Preference Priority: Improving 
Success in Developmental Education--Projects designed to improve 
student success in developmental education or accelerate student 
progress into credit bearing postsecondary courses through redesigning 
developmental education courses or programs through strategies such as 
contextualization of developmental coursework together with 
occupational or college-content coursework.
    We may also use priorities in combination with each other in a 
notice inviting applications. For example, a competitive preference 
priority for low cost, high impact strategies (Proposed Priority 6--
Implementing Low Cost-High Impact Strategies to Improve Student 
Outcomes) that influence non-cognitive factors (Supplemental Priority 
2-- Influencing the Development of Non-cognitive Factors) could be 
included as follows:
     (Example) Competitive Preference Priority: To meet this 
competitive preference priority, an applicant must meet both sections 
(A) and (B) of this priority.
    (A) Implementing Low Cost-High Impact Strategies to Improve Student 
Outcomes--Projects that use low cost tools or strategies, such as those 
that use technology, that result in a high impact on student outcomes.
    (B) Influencing the Development of Non-cognitive Factors--Projects 
that are designed to improve students' mastery of non-cognitive skills 
and behaviors (such as academic behaviors, academic mindset, 
perseverance, self-regulation, social and emotional skills, and 
approaches toward learning strategies) and enhance student motivation 
and engagement in learning.
    With respect to the proposed priorities, the Department is 
particularly interested in brief comments responding to the following 
questions:
     Do the proposed priorities sufficiently address the 
greatest challenges and barriers to postsecondary student success?
     Do the subparts for each proposed priority adequately 
capture the most promising aspects of the policy topic area of each 
priority?
    Proposed Priorities:
    The Assistant Secretary proposes the following priorities for this 
program. In any grant competition under this program, the Secretary may 
use, individually or in combination, one or more of these priorities or 
subparts of these priorities, priorities from the final supplemental 
priorities and definitions for discretionary grant programs, published 
in the Federal Register on December 10, 2014 (79 FR 73425), and 
priorities based on the statutory requirements for the Fund for the 
Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE).
    Proposed Priority 1--Improving Success in Developmental Education.
    Background: ``Developmental'' courses are instructional courses, 
typically non-credit bearing, designed for students deficient in the 
general competencies necessary for a regular postsecondary curriculum. 
The most common developmental courses to which beginning students are 
referred are math and reading/writing.\9\ It is estimated that almost 
one-third of all students take some form of developmental course.\10\ 
While participation rates vary widely across States and institution 
types, low-income, African-American, and Hispanic students are referred 
to developmental courses at much higher rates.11 12 13
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    \9\ http://ccrc.tc.columbia.edu/media/k2/attachments/referral-enrollment-completion-developmental.pdf.
    \10\ U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education 
Statistics, 2011-12 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study 
(NPSAS:12), Profile of Undergraduate Students 2011-12, Table 6.2. 
Report available at: http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2015/2015167.pdf.
    \11\ MDRC, Unlocking the Gate, June 2011. Article available at: 
http://www.mdrc.org/sites/default/files/full_595.pdf.
    \12\ Attewell, P. A., Lavin, D. E., Domina, T., & Levey, T. 
2006. New Evidence on College Remediation. The Journal of Higher 
Education. Article available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3838791.
    \13\ http://ccrc.tc.columbia.edu/media/k2/attachments/referral-enrollment-completion-developmental.pdf.
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    Developmental education is one of the leading barriers to 
postsecondary persistence and completion.\14\ Discouraged by the 
inability to enroll in courses that will allow them to earn credit and 
advance in their programs of study, many students never even enroll in 
the developmental courses to which they are referred.\15\ For those 
students that do enroll in developmental courses, the majority do not 
complete them, eventually dropping out of postsecondary education 
altogether.16 17 Promising new practices in developmental 
math education that have shown greater learning gains and success in 
credit-bearing coursework by students indicate that the traditional 
sequence, teaching, and content of developmental coursework has been 
ineffective in supporting student mastery of the material.
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    \14\ http://www.mdrc.org/sites/default/files/full_595.pdf.
    \15\ Complete College America. 2012. Remediation: Higher 
Education's Bridge to Nowhere. Report available at: http://www.completecollege.org/resources_and_reports/.
    \16\ Complete College America. 2012. Remediation: Higher 
Education's Bridge to Nowhere.
    \17\ Bailey, T. 2009. Challenge and Opportunity: Rethinking the 
Role and Function of Developmental Education in Community College. 
In New Directions for Community Colleges. (Available Article 
available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cc.352/pdf.
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    A number of institutions are making great effort to reform 
traditional developmental education with promising results that would 
benefit from more rigorous evaluation, in part to determine their 
effectiveness on student performance, persistence, and completion, but 
also to identify effective implementation strategies. Further, for the 
interventions that have produced evidence of positive impacts on 
student outcomes, almost none have been replicated and evaluated at 
scale.

[[Page 9417]]

    Proposed Priority 1--Improving Success in Developmental Education.
    Proposed Priority: The Secretary gives priority to:
    (a) Projects designed to improve student success in developmental 
education or accelerate student progress into credit bearing 
postsecondary courses; or,
    (b) Projects designed to improve student success in developmental 
education or accelerate student progress into credit bearing 
postsecondary courses through one or more of the following:
    (i) Identifying and treating academic needs prior to postsecondary 
enrollment, including while in middle or high school, through 
strategies such as partnerships between K-12 and postsecondary 
institutions;
    (ii) Diagnosing students' developmental education needs at the time 
of or after postsecondary enrollment, such as by developing 
alternatives to single measure placement strategies, and identifying 
specific content gaps in order to customize instruction to an 
individual student's needs;
    (iii) Offering alternative pathways in mathematics, such as non-
Algebra based coursework for non-math and science fields.
    (iv) Accelerating students' progress in completing developmental 
education, through strategies such as modularized, fast-tracked, or 
self-paced courses or placing students whose academic performance is 
one or more levels below that required for credit-bearing courses into 
credit-bearing courses with academic supports;
    (v) Redesigning developmental education courses or programs through 
strategies such as contextualization of developmental coursework 
together with occupational or college-content coursework;
    (vi) Integrating academic and other supports for students in 
developmental education.
    Proposed Priority 2--Improving Teaching and Learning.
    Background: A large percentage of students in postsecondary 
education struggle academically because they arrive to college 
unprepared for college-level coursework.\18\ These struggles make the 
prospect of dropping out more likely.\19\ Further, for students that do 
complete, the limited available information on learning proficiency 
suggests that too many students are lacking the critical thinking, 
analytical, and communication skills needed for the modern 
workforce.\20\ Some research indicates that as much as a third of 
students show no high-order cognitive learning gains over the course of 
their undergraduate educations.\21\
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    \18\ Xianglei Chen and others, Academic Preparation for College 
in the High School Senior Class of 2003-04: Education Longitudinal 
Study of 2002 (ELS: 2002), Base-year, 2002, First Follow-up, 2004, 
and High School Transcript Study, 2004 (Washington: U.S. Department 
of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, January 
2010); Jay Greene and Greg Foster, ``Public High School Graduation 
and College Readiness Rates in the United States,'' Working Paper 3 
(New York: Manhattan Institute, Center for Civic Information, 
Education, September 2003). Greene and Foster define being minimally 
``college ready'' as: graduating from high school, having taken four 
years of English, three years of mathematics, and two years of 
science, social science, and foreign language, and demonstrating 
basic literacy skills by scoring at least 265 points on the National 
Assessment of Educational Progress in reading.
    \19\ Eric Bettinger and Bridget Terry Long, ``Addressing the 
Needs of Under-Prepared College Students: Does College Remediation 
Work?'' Journal of Human Resources 44, no. 3 (2009); Brian Jacob and 
Lars Lefgren, ``Remedial Education and Student Achievement: A 
Regression-Discontinuity Analysis,'' Review of Economics and 
Statistics 86, no. 1 (2004): 226-44.
    \20\ Arum, Richard and Roksa, Josipa, Academically Adrift: 
Limited Learning on College Campuses (University of Chicago Press, 
January 2011).
    \21\ Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, ``Are Undergraduates 
Actually Learning Anything?'' Chronicle of Higher Education, January 
18, 2011. Retrieved from: http://chronicle.com/article/Are-Undergraduates-Actually/125979/.
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    These deficits are accompanied by a decline in productivity in 
higher education. Controlling for inflation, the cost of attending 
college has more than doubled over the past three decades.\22\
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    \22\ National Center for Education Statistics. ``Average 
undergraduate tuition and fees and room and board rates charged for 
full-time students in degree-granting institutions, by level and 
control of institution: 1969-70 through 2011-12.'' Retrieved from: 
http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d12/tables/dt12_381.asp.
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    Despite these challenges, which are felt more acutely by the types 
of students that now make up the majority of students enrolled in 
postsecondary education, adult learners, working students, part-time 
students, students from low-income backgrounds, students of color, and 
first-generation students, there has been little change in the methods 
of teaching and instruction, as well as how students experience 
learning in college. With some exceptions, the same degrees and other 
credentials are offered in the same way, by counting up the amount of 
hours students are taught. Methods of teaching have stayed largely 
static. Given the poor outcomes many students are experiencing, new 
approaches to teaching and learning, using new tools and strategies 
that can help customize learning to accommodate diverse learning 
styles, are needed at all levels of postsecondary education to improve 
accessibility and quality and reduce cost.
    Proposed Priority 2: Improving Teaching and Learning.
    The Secretary gives priority to:
    (a) Projects designed to improve teaching and learning; or,
    (b) Projects designed to improve teaching and learning through one 
or more of the following:
    (i) Instruction-level tools or strategies such as adaptive learning 
technology, educational games, personalized learning, active- or 
project-based learning, faculty-centered strategies that systematically 
improve the quality of teaching, or multi-disciplinary efforts focused 
on improving instructional experiences;
    (ii) Program-level strategies such as competency-based programs 
that are designed with faculty, industry, employer, and expert 
engagement, use rigorous methods to define competencies, and utilize 
externally validated assessments, online or blended programs, or joint 
offering of programs across institutions;
    (iii) Institution-level tools or strategies such as faculty-
centered strategies to improve teaching across an institution, use of 
open educational resources across, or tailoring academic content and 
delivery to serve the needs of non-traditional students.
    Proposed Priority 3--Improving Student Support Services.
    Background: Almost all secondary schools and institutions of higher 
education offer a diverse array of student support services to assist 
with college preparation, application and enrollment, financial aid, 
academic barriers and other issues related to access, persistence, and 
completion. The range of services and support is extensive, and include 
interventions both inside and outside the classroom and campus. Many of 
these services are also provided by outside organizations, including 
non-profits. Further, several of the Department's programs, including 
TRIO, GEAR UP, and the Aid for Institutional Development programs, 
provide funding for student and academic support services.
    However, few student support services strategies have been 
rigorously evaluated. Given the need to improve outcomes, particularly 
for adult learners, working students, part-time students, students from 
low-income backgrounds, students of color, and first-generation 
students, new and innovative approaches are needed, including those 
that are cost effective, so that a greater number of students can be 
served.

[[Page 9418]]

    Proposed Priority 3: Improving Student Support Services.
    The Secretary gives priority to:
    (a) Projects designed to improve the supports or services provided 
to students prior to or during the students' enrollment in 
postsecondary education; or,
    (b) Projects designed to improve the supports or services provided 
to students prior to or during the students' enrollment in 
postsecondary education through one or more of the following:
    (i) Integrating student support services, including with academic 
advising and instruction;
    (ii) Individualizing or personalizing support services such as 
advising, coaching, tutoring, or mentoring to students and their 
identified needs using tools or strategies such as predictive analytics 
to identify students who may need specific supports, or behavioral 
interventions used to provide timely, relevant, and actionable 
information for students at critical points such as when they may be at 
risk of dropping out;
    (iii) Connecting students to resources or services other than those 
typically provided by postsecondary institutions, such as providing 
assistance in accessing government benefits, transportation assistance, 
medical, health, or nutritional resources and services, child care, 
housing, or legal services;
    (iv) Utilizing technology such as digital messaging to provide 
supports or services systematically.
    Proposed Priority 4--Developing and Using Assessments of Learning.
    Background: Learning assessment has shown promise as an effective 
instructional strategy to increase student success. While learning 
assessment, in the past, focused more on traditional testing, current 
assessment has expanded to assess not just what students know but also 
what they can do. Further, a knowledge-based economy requires 
assessment of higher-order thinking skills such as recall, analysis, 
comparison, inference, application, and evaluation. New forms of 
assessments must be developed for these purposes. Assessments are also 
needed to measure what is learned outside the classroom, such as 
through previous work experience.
    Proposed Priority 4: Developing and Using Assessments of Learning.
    The Secretary gives priority to:
    (a) Projects that support the development and use of externally 
validated assessments of student learning and stated learning goals; 
or,
    (b) Projects that support the development and use of externally 
validated assessments of student learning and stated learning goals 
through one or more of the following:
    (i) Alternative assessment tools or strategies such as micro- or 
competency-based assessments, assessments embedded in curriculum, or 
simulations, games, or other technology-based assessment approaches;
    (ii) Professional development or training of faculty on the 
approaches to developing, using, and interpreting assessments;
    (iii) Combining or sequencing assessments from multiple sources to 
strengthen diagnostic capabilities;
    (iv) Aligning assessments across sectors and institutions, such as 
across kindergarten through grade 12 and postsecondary education 
systems or across 2-year and 4-year institutions, to improve college-
readiness and content delivery;
    (v) Open-source assessments.
    Proposed Priority 5--Facilitating Pathways to Credentialing and 
Transfer.
    Background: Students obtain knowledge and skills through a variety 
of experiences and from a range of institutions and providers. Many 
postsecondary students attend more than one institution on their way to 
earning a certificate or degree. Although increasing numbers of States 
and educational institutions are entering into articulation agreements 
to facilitate credit transfer, too many students continue to lose time 
and incur additional expense due to lost credits when transferring 
between institutions. Further, many student learning experiences, such 
as learning that occurs through work experience or from non-traditional 
education providers, are simply not recognized.
    Alternate systems and methods of assessing, aggregating, and 
credentialing learning experiences are needed to help more students 
reach completion in accelerated timeframes. Additionally, new systems 
of portable, stackable postsecondary degrees and credentials along 
transparent career pathways must be designed and opportunities to 
obtain such degrees and credential must be expanded.
    Proposed Priority 5: Facilitating Pathways to Credentialing and 
Transfer. The Secretary gives priority to:
    (a) Projects designed to develop and implement systems and 
practices to capture and aggregate credit or other evidence of 
knowledge and skills towards postsecondary degrees or credentials; or,
    (b) Projects designed to develop and implement systems and 
practices to capture and aggregate credit or other evidence of 
knowledge and skills towards postsecondary degrees or credentials 
through one or more of the following:
    (i) Seamless transfer of credits between postsecondary 
institutions;
    (ii) Validation and transfer of credit for learning or learning 
experiences from non-institutional sources;
    (iii) Alternate credentialing or badging frameworks;
    (iv) Opportunities for students to earn college credits prior to 
postsecondary enrollment, such as through dual enrollment, dual degree, 
dual admission, or early college programs.
    Proposed Priority 6--Increasing the Effectiveness of Financial Aid.
    Background: The federal government, States, and institutions make a 
wide range of financial aid in the form of grants, loans, and tax 
credits available to students pursuing postsecondary education. 
Evidence shows that lowering the costs of college, the result of 
student aid, can improve access and completion.\23\ Indeed, since the 
adoption of the Higher Education Act almost 50 years ago, average aid 
per student has more than tripled, from $3,347 in 1971-72 to $12,455 in 
2010-11 (in constant 2010 dollars), while full-time equivalent 
enrollment has more than doubled, from about 6.2 million in 1971-72 to 
14.2 million in 2010-11.\24\
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    \23\ Dynarski, S.(2003). Does Aid Matter? Measuring the Effects 
of Student Aid on College Attendance and Completion. American 
Economic Review.
    \24\ Dynarski, S., & Scott-Clayton, J. (2013). Financial aid 
policy: Lessons from Research. The Future of Children. Postsecondary 
Education in the United States. Vol 23. No. 1.
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    But, this conclusion is not without exception. Due to the numerous 
types of aid that are available, the range of sources, and the detailed 
application process, the financial aid system is complex. This 
complexity may have the unintended effect of creating barriers to 
access, one of the very problems that financial aid is designed to 
address. Further, some types of aid may have a greater impact on 
outcomes than others, achievement incentives may help improve 
persistence and completion, and in the case of loans, levels of debt 
may influence student decisions. In general, the effectiveness of 
financial aid is impacted by a number of factors including the design 
and delivery of aid programs, the level of understanding by students 
and families of costs and availability of aid, and the ability of 
students and families to navigate the application process and make 
optimal decisions. New and innovative strategies and tools that address 
these realities to maximize the effectiveness of financial aid are 
needed.

[[Page 9419]]

    Proposed Priority 6: Increasing the Effectiveness of Financial Aid. 
The Secretary gives priority to:
    (a) Projects designed to improve the effectiveness of financial 
aid.
    (b) Projects designed to improve the effectiveness of financial aid 
through one or more of the following:
    (i) Counseling, advising, creation of information and resources, 
and other support activities on higher education financing and 
financial literacy delivered by financial aid offices or integrated 
with other support services provided by institutions, including on 
student loan repayment options such as income driven repayment plans 
and public service loan forgiveness and debt management;
    (ii) Personalized approaches to financial aid delivery, counseling, 
advising, and other support activities which may include early warning 
systems, use of predictive analytics, need based aid, emergency aid, or 
bonuses or other incentives for successful outcomes such as on-time 
academic progress and completion.

    Note:  As with any project supported by the FITW program, 
grantees may not disburse project funds under this priority to 
students for the purpose of providing student aid. FITW funds may be 
used to pay project costs such as costs for the design, 
administration, and evaluation of aid programs or financial aid 
strategies.

    Proposed Priority 7--Implementing Low Cost-High Impact Strategies 
To Improve Student Outcomes.
    Background: Given the limited resources of secondary schools, 
institutions of higher education, and other relevant stakeholders, the 
cost effectiveness of any intervention designed to improve student 
outcomes is of primary importance. In recent years, numerous 
institutions, researchers, and others have begun testing interventions 
that are relatively low cost but have the ability to have a high impact 
on student outcomes. Many of these interventions minimize cost through 
the use of technology, such as digital messaging. Others incorporate 
low cost approaches, such as non-cognitive interventions. We are 
particularly interested in effective low cost interventions because 
even institutions with limited resources would be able to scale such 
strategies to impact large numbers of students, and, such 
interventions, particularly those that use technology, are often easily 
replicable. This proposed priority could be used in combination with 
other priorities.
    Proposed Priority 7: Implementing Low Cost-High Impact Strategies 
To Improve Student Outcomes. The Secretary gives priority to projects 
that use low cost tools or strategies, such as those that use 
technology, that result in a high impact on student outcomes.
    Proposed Priority 8--Improving Postsecondary Student Outcomes at 
Minority-Serving Institutions.
    Background: Minority-serving institutions (MSIs) (as defined in 
this notice), including Historically Black Colleges and Universities 
(HBCUs), enroll a significant and disproportionate share of students 
from low-income backgrounds, students of color, and first-generation 
students. As the goal of the FITW program is to identify strategies 
that work in improving the postsecondary outcomes of these students, 
and because, in some cases, MSIs face unique challenges, it is 
important that the FITW program supports projects at MSIs. Accordingly, 
the Department proposes this priority to prioritize projects at MSIs. 
This proposed priority could be used as an absolute priority to set 
aside a specific amount of funds to support projects at MSIs, or to 
give competitive preference points to applicants that are MSIs. The 
lead applicant under this proposed priority must be an MSI.
    Proposed Priority 8: Improving Postsecondary Student Outcomes at 
Minority-Serving Institutions. The Secretary gives priority to projects 
designed to improve student outcomes at Minority-Serving Institutions 
(as defined in this notice).
    Proposed Priority 9--Systems and Consortia Focused on Large-Scale 
Impact.
    Background: The Department is including this proposed priority to 
encourage the formation of college consortia and systems that can 
collaborate with leading experts to implement promising strategies that 
address key barriers to completion. This would allow applicants to 
increase the number of students participating in or impacted by a 
project and would allow for development, testing, and robust evaluation 
of projects at multiple sites whose results could be more rapidly 
generalized and applied to other institutions. While Validation and 
Scale-up projects would be designed to serve relatively larger numbers 
of students across multiple institutions, Development projects may be 
more limited in scope so long as they have the sample size necessary to 
meet the proposed requirements for evaluation design described below. 
Encouraging greater collaboration with other institutions and partners 
would enable postsecondary institutions and systems to expand the 
number of students served by a project, more rapidly improve the 
quality and applicability of the evidence produced from the required 
evaluations, and encourage efforts in the field to work across networks 
to share emergent effective practices across the higher education 
enterprise.
    Proposed Priority 9: Systems and Consortia Focused on Large-Scale 
Impact. The Secretary gives priority to projects that involve consortia 
of institutions, including across a college or university system, and 
partnerships with leading experts that are implemented at multiple 
sites with large sample sizes to allow for more rapid development, 
evaluation, and scaling of practices determined to be effective.
    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 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 Requirements, Selection Criterion, and Definitions:
    This notice contains eight proposed requirements, one proposed 
selection criterion, and three proposed definitions.
    Background: The proposed requirements, selection criterion, and 
definitions would allow the Department to set the eligibility, 
evidence, and evaluation expectations for grant recipients under the 
FITW program. We may also use requirements, selection criteria, or 
definitions from 34 CFR parts 75 and 77 and other sections of the 
Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR). 
Accordingly, we are not proposing requirements, selection criteria, and 
definitions in this notice that are already included in EDGAR.

[[Page 9420]]

    The Department may award three types of grants under this program: 
``Development'' grants, ``Validation'' grants, and ``Scale-up'' grants. 
These grants differ in terms of the level of prior evidence of 
effectiveness required for consideration of funding, the level of scale 
the funded project should reach, and, consequently, the amount of 
funding available to support the project. We provide an overview to 
clarify our expectations for each grant type:
    (1) Development grants provide funding to support the development 
or testing of processes, products, strategies, or practices that are 
supported by relatively less evidence, likely strong theory (as defined 
in 34 CFR 77.1(c)) or evidence of promise (as defined in 34 CFR 
77.1(c)), and whose efficacy should be systematically studied. 
Development grants would support new or substantially more effective 
practices for addressing widely shared challenges. Development projects 
are novel and significant nationally, not projects that simply 
implement existing practices in additional locations or support needs 
that are primarily local in nature.
    All Development grantees must evaluate the effectiveness of the 
project at the level of scale required in the notice inviting 
applications under which they applied.
    (2) Validation grants provide funding to expand projects supported 
by greater evidence than would be required for a development grant, 
likely moderate evidence of effectiveness (as defined in 34 CFR 
77.1(c)), to multiple sites such as multiple institutions. Validation 
grants must further assess the effectiveness of the FITW-supported 
practice through a rigorous evaluation, with particular focus on the 
populations for and the contexts in which the practice is most 
effective. We expect and consider it appropriate that each applicant 
would propose to use the Validation funding to build its capacity to 
deliver the FITW-supported practice, particularly early in the funding 
period, to successfully reach the level of scale proposed in its 
application. Additionally, we expect each applicant to address any 
specific barriers to the growth or scaling of the organization or 
practice (including barriers related to cost-effectiveness) in order to 
deliver the FITW-supported practice at the proposed level of scale and 
provide strategies to address these barriers as part of its proposed 
scaling plan.
    All Validation grantees must evaluate the effectiveness of the 
practice that the supported project implements and expands. We expect 
that these evaluations would be conducted in a variety of contexts and 
for a variety of students, would identify the core elements of the 
practice, and would codify the practices to support adoption or 
replication by the applicant and other entities.
    (3) Scale-up grants provide funding to expand projects supported by 
greater evidence than would be required for Development or Validation 
grants, likely strong evidence of effectiveness (as defined in 34 CFR 
77.1(c)), and to a larger number of sites than would be required for a 
Development or Validation grant, such as across a system of 
institutions, across institutions in a State, a region, or nationally, 
or across institutions in a labor market sector. In addition to 
improving outcomes for an increasing number of high-need students, 
Scale-up grants will generate information about the students and 
contexts for which a practice is most effective. We expect that Scale-
up grants would increase practitioners' and policymakers' understanding 
of strategies that allow organizations or practices to expand quickly 
and efficiently while maintaining their effectiveness.
    Similar to Validation grants, all Scale-up grantees must evaluate 
the effectiveness of the FITW-supported practice that the project 
implements and expands; this is particularly important in instances in 
which the proposed project includes changing the FITW-supported 
practice in order to more efficiently reach the proposed level of scale 
(for example, by developing technology-enabled training tools). The 
evaluation of a Scale-up grant must identify the core elements of, and 
codify, the FITW-supported practice that the project implements to 
support adoption or replication by other entities. We also expect that 
evaluations of Scale-up grants would be conducted in a variety of 
contexts and for a variety of students in order to determine the 
context(s) and population(s) for which the FITW-supported practice is 
most effective.
    With respect to the proposed requirements, selection criterion, and 
definitions, the Department is particularly interested in brief 
comments responding to the following questions:
     Are there a sufficient number of postsecondary strategies 
or interventions addressing important challenges in postsecondary 
education that are supported by moderate evidence of effectiveness (as 
defined in 34 CFR 77.1(c)), the likely evidence standard requirement 
that would be assigned by the Department to a competition for 
Validation grants, to warrant making Validation grants available in the 
FY 2015 FITW grant competition? The Department encourages commenters 
responding to this question to provide citations or links to any 
studies they believe would meet the moderate evidence of effectiveness 
standard.
     Are there a sufficient number of postsecondary strategies 
or interventions addressing important challenges in postsecondary 
education that are supported by strong evidence of effectiveness (as 
defined in 34 CFR 77.1(c)), the likely evidence standard requirement 
that would be assigned by the Department to a competition for Scale-up 
grants, to warrant making Scale-up grants available in the FY 2015 FITW 
grant competition? The Department encourages commenters responding to 
this question to provide citations or links to any studies they believe 
would meet the strong evidence of effectiveness standard.
     Which of the proposed priorities should be included as 
absolute or competitive preference priorities in the FY 2015 FITW 
program grant competition?
    Proposed Requirements:
    The Assistant Secretary proposes the following requirements for 
this program. We may apply one or more of these requirements in any 
year in which this program is in effect.
    1. Innovations that Improve Outcomes for High-Need Students: The 
Secretary may require that--
    (a) Grantees must implement projects designed to improve outcomes 
of high-need students (as defined in this notice) in postsecondary 
education; or,
    (b) Grantees must implement projects designed to improve one or 
more of the following outcomes of high-need students (as defined in 
this notice) in postsecondary education:
    (i) Persistence;
    (ii) Academic progress;
    (iii) Time to degree; or,
    (iv) Completion.
    2. Eligibility: The Secretary may make grants to, or enter into 
contracts with, one or more of the following:

    (a) A public or private non-profit institution of higher 
education, a public or private non-profit institution, or 
combinations of such institutions; or,
    (b) A public or private non-profit agency.

    The Secretary will announce the eligible applicants in the NIA.

    Note:  Section 741 of the HEA provides that, under the FIPSE, 
the Secretary is authorized to make grants to, or enter into 
contracts with, institutions of higher education, combinations of 
such institutions, and other public and private nonprofit 
institutions and agencies. The requirement for eligibility simply 
restates these statutory

[[Page 9421]]

provisions. In any grant competition under this program, the 
Department could choose to allow applications from one or more of 
the eligible entities, including public or private non-profit 
educational institutions that are not institutions of higher 
education as defined under the HEA and public agencies or third 
party non-profit organizations or entities.

    3. Types of FITW grants: Awards may be made for Development grants, 
Validation grants, and Scale-up grants. The Secretary will announce the 
type of grants that applicants may apply for in the NIA.
    4. Evidence and Sample Size Standards: To be eligible for an 
award--
    (a) An application for a Development grant must be supported by one 
of the following:
    (i) Evidence of promise (as defined in 34 CFR 77.1(c));
    (ii) Strong theory (as defined in 34 CFR 77.1(c)); or
    (iii) Evidence of promise or strong theory.
    The Secretary will announce in the notice inviting applications 
which evidence standard will apply to a Development grant in a given 
competition. Under (a)(iii), applicants must identify whether their 
application is supported by evidence of promise or strong theory.
    (b) An application for a Validation grant must be supported by 
moderate evidence of effectiveness (as defined in 34 CFR 77.1(c)).
    (c) An application for a Scale-up grant must be supported by strong 
evidence of effectiveness (as defined in 34 CFR 77.1(c)).
    (d) The Secretary may require that an application for a Development 
grant, Validation grant, or Scale-up grant must be supported by one or 
more of the following levels of sample size:
    (i) Large sample (as defined in 34 CFR 77.1(c));
    (ii) Multi-site sample (as defined in 34 CFR 77.1(c)), such as at 
multiple institutions; or
    (iii) Scaled multi-site sample, such as across a system of 
institutions, across institutions in a State, a region, or nationally, 
or across institutions in a labor market sector.
    The Secretary will announce in the NIA which sample size standards 
will apply to each type of FITW grant (Development, Validation, or 
Scale-up) that is available.
    (e) Where evidence of promise, moderate evidence of effectiveness, 
or strong evidence of effectiveness is required to receive a grant, an 
applicant's project must propose to implement the core aspects of the 
process, product, strategy, or practice from their supporting study as 
closely as possible. Where modifications to a cited process, product, 
strategy, or practice will be made to account for student or 
institutional characteristics, resource limitations, or other special 
factors or to address deficiencies identified by the cited study, the 
applicant must provide a justification or basis for the modifications. 
Modifications may not be proposed to the core aspects of any cited 
process, product, strategy, or practice.
    5. Evaluation:
    (a) The grantee must conduct an Independent Evaluation (as defined 
in this notice) of its project. The evaluation must estimate the impact 
of the FITW-supported practice (as implemented at the proposed level of 
scale) on a relevant outcome (as defined in 34 CFR 77.1(c)).
    (b) The evaluation design for a Development grant, Validation 
grant, or Scale-up grant must meet one or either of the following 
standards:
    (i) What Works Clearing Standards without reservations (as defined 
in 34 CFR 77.1(c)); or
    (ii) What Works Clearinghouse Standards with reservations (as 
defined in 34 CFR 77.1(c)).
    The Secretary will announce in the NIA the evaluation standard(s) 
that will apply to each type of FITW grant (Development, Validation, or 
Scale-up) that is available.
    (c) The grantee must make broadly available digitally and free of 
charge, through formal (e.g., peer-reviewed journals) or informal 
(e.g., newsletters) mechanisms, the results of any evaluations it 
conducts of its funded activities. The grantee must also ensure that 
the data from its evaluation are made available to third-party 
researchers consistent with applicable privacy requirements.
    (d) The grantee and its independent evaluator must agree to 
cooperate on an ongoing basis with any technical assistance provided by 
the Department or its contractor, including any technical assistance 
provided to ensure that the evaluation design meets the required 
evaluation standards, and comply with the requirements of any 
evaluation of the program conducted by the Department. This includes 
providing to the Department, within 100 days of a grant award, an 
updated comprehensive evaluation plan in a format and using such tools 
as the Department may require. Grantees must update this evaluation 
plan at least annually to reflect any changes to the evaluation and 
provide the updated evaluation plan to the Department. All of these 
updates must be consistent with the scope and objectives of the 
approved application.
    6. Funding Categories: An applicant will be considered for an award 
only for the type of FITW grant (Development, Validation, and Scale-up) 
for which it applies. An applicant may not submit an application for 
the same proposed project under more than one type of grant.
    7. Limit on Grant Awards: The Secretary may choose to deny the 
award of a grant to an applicant if the applicant already holds an 
active FITW grant from a previous FITW competition or, if awarded, 
would result in the applicant receiving more than one FITW grant in the 
same year.
    8. Management Plan: Within 100 days of a grant award, the grantee 
must provide an updated comprehensive management plan for the approved 
project in a format and using such tools as the Department may require. 
This management plan must include detailed information about 
implementation of the first year of the grant, including key 
milestones, staffing details, and other information that the Department 
may require. It must also include a complete list of performance 
metrics, including baseline measures and annual targets. The grantee 
must update this management plan at least annually to reflect 
implementation of subsequent years of the project and provide the 
updated management plan to the Department.
    Proposed Selection Criterion:
    The Assistant Secretary proposes the following selection criterion 
for evaluating an application under this program. We may apply this 
criterion or any of the selection criteria from 34 CFR part 75 in any 
year in which this program is in effect. In the notice inviting 
applications, the application package, or both, we will announce the 
maximum points assigned to each selection criteria.
    1. Collaborations: The extent to which the proposed project is 
designed to engage individuals or entities with expertise, experience, 
and knowledge regarding the project's activities, such as postsecondary 
institutions, non-profit organizations, experts, academics, and 
practitioners.

    Note:  This proposed selection criterion--Collaborations--would 
assess the extent to which applicants collaborate with knowledgeable 
or experienced parties in designing and implementing their projects. 
It is intended to encourage such collaboration in order to increase 
the quality of an application and project. The purpose of the 
Collaborations selection criterion is distinct from the purpose of 
Proposed Priority 8--Implementing Partnerships Focused on

[[Page 9422]]

Large-scale Impact, which focuses on increasing impact. The proposed 
selection criterion for Collaborations would not assess scope of 
impact. Rather, it would determine whether an applicant has engaged 
relevant third party experts in designing the project.

    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.
    1. High-need student means a student at risk of education failure 
or otherwise in need of special assistance and support such as adult 
learners, working students, part-time students, students from low-
income backgrounds, students of color, first-generation students, and 
students who are English learners.
    2. Independent evaluation means an evaluation that is designed and 
carried out independent of and external to the grantee, but in 
coordination with, any employees of the grantee who develop a process, 
product, strategy, or practice and are implementing it.
    3. Minority-serving institution means an institution that is 
eligible to receive assistance under sections 316 through 320 of part A 
of Title III, under part B of Title III, or under Title V of the HEA.
    Final Priorities, Requirements, Selection Criterion, and 
Definitions:
    We will announce the final priorities, requirements, selection 
criterion, and definitions in a notice in the Federal Register. We will 
determine the final priorities, requirements, selection criterion, 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, 
requirements, selection criterion, and definitions, 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 proposed 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 issuing these proposed priorities, requirements, selection 
criterion, and definitions only upon a reasoned determination that 
their benefits would justify their costs. In choosing among alternative 
regulatory approaches, we selected those approaches that would 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.
    We also have determined that this regulatory action would not 
unduly interfere with State, local, and tribal governments in the 
exercise of their governmental functions.
    In accordance with both Executive orders, the Department has 
assessed the potential costs and benefits, both quantitative and 
qualitative, of this regulatory action. The potential costs are those 
resulting from statutory requirements and those we have determined as 
necessary for administering the Department's programs and activities.
    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 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

[[Page 9423]]

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: February 13, 2015.
Ted Mitchell,
Under Secretary.
[FR Doc. 2015-03502 Filed 2-20-15; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P