Section 203(a) of the Education Technical Assistance Act of 2002 (ETAA) (P.L. 107-279) authorizes the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education (ED or the Department) to award not fewer than 20 grants to establish Comprehensive Centers.
Section 203(f) explains that the Comprehensive Centers will support dissemination and technical assistance by providing training, professional development, and technical assistance regarding: (1) the administration and implementation of programs under the enactment of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) (P.L. 114-95), the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) (P.L. 107-110), as amended, (2) the use of scientifically valid teaching methods and assessment tools in core academic subjects, English language acquisition, and education technology, and (3) the facilitation of communication between education experts, school officials, teachers, parents, and librarians, as appropriate; providing information for improving academic achievement, closing achievement gaps, and encouraging and sustaining school improvement; and developing teacher and school leader in service and preservice training models that illustrate best practices in the use of technology in different content areas.
Section 206(a) of the Act directs the Secretary to establish one Regional Advisory Committee (RAC) for each of the ten geographic regions of the Regional Educational Laboratories (RELs). In order to prepare the priorities for the upcoming Comprehensive Center Competition, Section 206(d) explains that each RAC will: (1) assess the educational needs within the region; (2) seek input from chief executive officers of States, chief State school officers, educators, and parents (including through a process of open hearings) within the region on the educational needs and how those needs would be most effectively addressed; and (3) submit the needs assessments to the Secretary. Section 207 directs the Secretary to take into account the regional educational needs assessments and other relevant regional surveys of educational needs, to the extent the Secretary deems appropriate, in establishing priorities for the work of the new Comprehensive Centers and RELs.
Each RAC is to be comprised of no more than 25 members with balanced representation of States in the region and may include individuals representing State education agencies (SEAs); local educational agencies (LEAs), including rural and urban LEAs; institutions of higher education, including individuals representing university-based research on education and university-based research on subjects other than education; parents; practicing educators, including classroom teachers, principals, administrators, school board members, and other local school officials; business; and researchers (Section 206(b)(1) and (b)(2)).
The process for the RACs in 2016 is different from the process used to convene the RACs in prior years. Specifically, the Department will not seek consensus recommendations and instead will seek the technical advice of each individual RAC member.
In 2016, the Department will seek input regarding recommendations from individual committee members.