[Federal Register: March 5, 1996 (Volume 61, Number 44)]
[Page 8809-8811]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

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Part IV

Department of Education


Research in Education of Individuals With Disabilities Program; Notices


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Research in Education of Individuals With Disabilities Program

AGENCY: Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of final priority.


SUMMARY: The Secretary announces a final priority for the Research in 
Education of Individuals with Disabilities Program. The Secretary may 
use this priority in Fiscal Year 1996 and subsequent years. The 
Secretary takes this action to focus Federal assistance on identified 
needs to improve outcomes for children with disabilities. This final 
priority is intended to ensure wide and effective use of program funds.

EFFECTIVE DATE: This priority takes effect on April 4, 1996.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Doris Andres, U.S. Department of 
Education, 600 Independence Avenue, S.W., Room 3526, Switzer Building, 
Washington, D.C. 20202-2641. Telephone: (202) 205-8125. Fax: (202) 205-
8105. Individuals who use a telecommunications device for the deaf 
(TDD) may call the TDD number: (202) 205-8953. Internet: Doris--

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Research in Education of Individuals 
with Disabilities Program, authorized by Part E of the Individuals with 
Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1441-1443), provides support: to 
advance and improve the knowledge base and improve the practice of 
professionals, parents, and others providing early intervention, 
special education, and related services--including professionals in 
regular education environments--to provide children with disabilities 
effective instruction and enable these children to learn successfully.
    On November 7, 1995, the Secretary published a notice of proposed 
priority for this program in the Federal Register (60 FR 56192-56193).
    This final priority supports the National Education Goals by 
improving understanding of how to enable children and youth with 
disabilities to reach higher levels of academic achievement.
    The publication of this priority does not preclude the Secretary 
from proposing additional priorities, nor does it limit the Secretary 
to funding only this priority, subject to meeting applicable rulemaking 
requirements. Funding of particular projects depends on the 
availability of funds, and the quality of the applications received. 
Further, FY 1996 priorities could be affected by enactment of 
legislation reauthorizing these programs.

    Note: This notice of final priority does not solicit 
applications. A notice inviting applications under this competition 
is published in a separate notice in this issue of the Federal 

Analysis of Comments and Changes

    In response to the Secretary's invitation in the notice of proposed 
priority, four parties submitted comments. An analysis of the comments 
and of the changes in the proposed priority follows. Technical and 
other minor changes--as well as suggested changes the Secretary is not 
legally authorized to make under the applicable statutory authority--
are not addressed.

Priority--Initial Career Awards

    Comment: Two commenters expressed concern about limiting the 
priority to researchers in the initial phases of their careers. One 
commenter opposed limiting the competition to one category of 
researcher given the limited amount of funding, if any, that may be 
available over the next few years for research. The commenter felt 
strongly that the priority should focus on the highest quality of 
research that will continue to move the field forward, irrespective of 
the status of the careers of the researchers. The commenter also 
suggested that the priority be changed to encourage applications from 
persons with disabilities and from professionals who have demonstrated 
success in service delivery. Another commenter felt the priority could 
penalize those researchers who have spent a few years outside academia 
in the ``real world'' of service systems and programmatic realities, 
before they define research lines of interest for their research 
    Discussion: The Department has a basic three pronged approach to 
develop the capacity of the special education research community. 
First, there is the Student-Initiated Research Projects priority (begun 
in 1974) that targets students at the post-secondary level to encourage 
students to pursue special education research. Second, the Initial 
Career Awards (ICA) competition (begun in 1990) is intended to bridge 
the gap between students and established researchers by providing 
support to individuals who are in the initial phases of their careers 
to initiate and develop promising lines of research. Third, the Field-
Initiated Research Projects competition (begun in 1964 and the oldest 
continuous source of Federal funding in education) provides support to 
researchers who may be associated with institutions of higher 
education, State and local educational agencies, and other public 
agencies and nonprofit private organizations. The Department believes 
this approach should be maintained because historically the students 
and beginning researchers have a difficult time competing against 
established researchers, and the Department believes it is important to 
encourage and support their participation to expand the special 
education research capacity into as broad a range as possible. The 
priority as written provides for the involvement of individuals with 
recognized professional expertise in the subject matter, and 
researchers with disabilities are encouraged to apply along with other 
eligible applicants.
    The Secretary agrees with the commenter that researchers who have 
spent a few years outside academia are deserving of support, and they 
are eligible to apply to the Field-Initiated Research Projects 
    Regarding the concern that there could be increasingly limited 
funding for research activities, the Secretary notes that final action 
on the 1996 appropriation is difficult to predict. Congress has not yet 
enacted a fiscal year 1996 appropriation for the Department of 
Education, and is considering proposals to eliminate or reduce funding 
in fiscal year 1996 for many of the discretionary grant programs 
administered by the Department for which the President requested funds. 
In order to ensure that the Department has the ability to award funds 
in the event they become available for programs for which funding is 
uncertain, the Department is proceeding with the publication of 
priorities and the conduct of planned competitions. The Department will 
make final decisions on the appropriate priorities and mix of awards 
for each program once a final appropriation is enacted.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters suggested other areas that proposals should 
focus on including: (1) Natural settings for infants and young 
children; (2) inclusive classrooms; (3) the effective utilization of 
technology and telecommunications; (4) students with disabilities 
meeting educational standards established for all students; (5) 
integrating students with disabilities with their nondisabled peers 
throughout their educational experience; and (6) effective transition 
planning so that individuals with disabilities successfully participate 
in postsecondary education and are employed in integrated work 

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    Discussion: The Secretary concurs with the importance of the focus 
areas listed above.
    However, the priority as written does not preclude proposals on the 
suggested topics. The Secretary prefers that applicants be given 
flexibility to propose their particular area of inquiry, and believes 
it would be overly prescriptive to limit potential applicants to 
certain topics.
    Changes: None.


    Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(3) the Secretary gives an absolute 
preference to applications that meet the following priority. The 
Secretary will fund under this competition only applications that meet 
this absolute priority:

Absolute Priority--Initial Career Awards

    Background: There is a need to enable individuals in the initial 
phases of their careers to initiate and develop promising lines of 
research that would improve early intervention services for infants and 
toddlers, and special education for children and youth with 
disabilities. Support for research activities among individuals in the 
initial phases of their careers is intended to develop the capacity of 
the special education research community. This priority would address 
the additional need to provide support for a broad range of field-
initiated research projects--focusing on the special education and 
related services for children and youth with disabilities and early 
intervention for infants and toddlers--consistent with the purpose of 
the program as described in 34 CFR 324.1.
    Priority: The Secretary establishes an absolute priority for the 
purpose of awarding grants to eligible applicants for the support of 
individuals in the initial phases of their careers to initiate and 
develop promising lines of research consistent with the purposes of the 
program. For purposes of this priority, the initial phase of an 
individuals career is considered to be the first three years after 
completing a doctoral program and graduating (e.g., for fiscal year 
1996 awards, projects may support individuals who completed a doctoral 
program and graduated no earlier than the 1991-92 academic year).
    Projects must--
    (a) Pursue a line of inquiry that reflects a programmatic strand of 
research emanating either from theory or a conceptual framework. The 
line of research must be evidenced by a series of related questions 
that establish directions for designing future studies extending beyond 
the support of this award. The project is not intended to represent all 
inquiry related to the particular theory or conceptual framework; 
rather, it is expected to initiate a new line or advance an existing 
    (b) Include, in its design and conduct, sustained involvement with 
nationally recognized experts having substantive or methodological 
knowledge and expertise relevant to the proposed research. Experts do 
not have to be at the same institution or agency at which the project 
is located, but the interaction must be sufficient to develop the 
capacity of the researcher to pursue effectively the research into mid-
career activities. At least 50 percent of the researcher's time must be 
devoted to the project;
    (c) Prepare its procedures, findings, and conclusions in a manner 
that informs other interested researchers and is useful for advancing 
professional practice or improving programs and services to infants, 
toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities and their families; and
    (d) Disseminate project procedures, findings, and conclusions to 
appropriate research institutes and technical assistance providers.
    A project's budget must include funds to attend the two-day 
Research Project Directors' meeting to be held in Washington, D.C. each 
year of the project.
    Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR Part 324.

Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1441-1443.

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 84.023, Research in 
Education of Individuals with Disabilities Program)

    Dated: February 28, 1996.
Katherine D. Seelman,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
[FR Doc. 96-5056 Filed 3-4-96; 8:45 am]