[Federal Register: April 11, 1997 (Volume 62, Number 70)]
[Notices]               
[Page 18011-18014]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr11ap97_dat-142]


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Part IX

Department of Education

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Research in Education of Individuals With Disabilities Program; Notice 
of Final Priority and Notice Inviting Application for New Awards for FY


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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

 
Research in Education of Individuals with Disabilities Program

AGENCY: Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of final priority.

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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 1997 and subsequent years. The 
Secretary takes this action to focus Federal assistance on identified 
needs to improve results 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 May 12,1997.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information on this 
priority contact the U.S. Department of Education, 600 Independence 
Avenue, S.W., room 3317, Switzer Building, Washington, D.C. 20202-2641. 
The preferred method for requesting information is to FAX your request 
to: (202) 205-8717. Telephone: (202) 260-9182.
    Individuals who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) 
may call the TDD number: (202) 205-9860. Individuals with disabilities 
may obtain a copy of this notice in an alternate format (e.g. Braille, 
large print, audiotape, or computer diskette) by contacting the 
Department as listed above.

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 February 21, 1996, the Secretary published a notice of proposed 
priority for this program in the Federal Register (61 FR 6754-6755).
    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.

    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 
Register.

Analysis of Comments and Changes

    In response to the Secretary's invitation in the notice of proposed 
priority, five 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--Research Institutes to Accelerate Learning for Children With 
Disabilities With Curricular and Instructional Interventions

    Comment: Two commenters noted that minority students comprise a 
disproportionate number of special education students, and that as 
students advance in grades the performance gap between African 
Americans and their white counterparts increases. The commenter 
recommended that the priority require involvement of minority 
researchers either as staff of the project or require collaboration 
with minority institutions of higher education to ensure that the 
specific educational needs of minority group students with disabilities 
will be addressed by the research institute.
    Discussion: The priority, as written, requires research across 
multiple sites to represent organizational and demographic diversity, 
collaboration with experts and researchers in related subject matter 
and methodological fields, as appropriate. In addition, the selection 
criteria that will be used to evaluate applications include criteria 
for determining how the applicant will provide equal access and 
treatment for eligible project participants who are members of racial 
or ethnic minority groups; and the extent to which the applicant, as 
part of its nondiscriminatory employment practices, encourages 
applications for employment from persons who are members of racial or 
ethnic minority groups that have been traditionally underrepresented.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the priority address the 
needs of students with low-incidence disabilities as a main area of 
concern. Specifically, the commenter recommended the priority emphasize 
students with deafness, blindness, and physical disability, who also 
experience secondary and tertiary disabilities such as developmental 
disability, behavior disorder, and multiple disabilities.
    Discussion: The priority as written does not preclude an applicant 
from addressing the needs of students with low-incidence disabilities 
as a main area of concern. The Secretary prefers that the language of 
the priority be broad enough so that applicants may have the 
opportunity to propose and justify their particular project focus.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters recommended that the priority be broadened 
to include students with disabilities through the eighth grade to 
include more middle school students. One commenter noted that in many 
States, students enter middle schools in the 5th or 6th grade, thus the 
proposed limit of grade six may prevent school-wide intervention 
programs in some areas. Furthermore, the commenters stated that it may 
be useful to follow students in the upper middle school grades who have 
completed interventions in grades K-6.
    Discussion: The Secretary agrees with the commenters that it would 
be very useful to follow students in the upper middle school grades in 
addition to students in kindergarten through grade six. In order to 
accomplish this, the Secretary believes that the most beneficial 
approach would be to support two institutes instead of one. One 
institute would focus on curricular and instructional classroom based 
interventions that accelerate subject matter learning for children with 
disabilities in kindergarten through grade three, and the second 
institute would focus on grades four through eight.
    Changes: The title and priority has been revised to establish two 
research institutes to study curricular and instructional classroom 
based interventions that accelerate subject matter learning for 
children with disabilities and promote its sustained use by 
practitioners. One institute would study curricular and instructional 
classroom based interventions in kindergarten through grade three. The 
other institute would study curricular and instructional classroom 
based interventions in grades four through grade eight.

Priority

    Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(3) the Secretary gives an absolute 
preference to

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applications that meet the following priority. The Secretary will fund 
under this competition only applications that meet this absolute 
priority:

Absolute Priority--Research Institutes to Accelerate Learning for 
Children With Disabilities With Curricular and Instructional 
Interventions: Kindergarten Through Grade Three and Grade Four Through 
Grade Eight

Background
    The consequences of failing to learn are serious. Lack of learning 
in one domain reduces an individual's capacity to benefit from 
educational experience. Failure establishes a self-perpetuating cycle 
and negatively affects the individual's disposition toward lifelong 
learning, employment, and contribution to society. Most children with 
disabilities face challenges to learning. These challenges are 
amplified as calls are made for higher standards to be achieved by all 
students, including children with disabilities, and as more children 
with disabilities are educated in general education classrooms.
    Evidence from the National Longitudinal Transition Study indicates 
children with disabilities are not learning subject matter content. An 
urgency exists to develop powerful curricular and instructional 
interventions that maximize rates of development, promote generalized 
learning, and reduce discrepancies between their performance and that 
of their peers.
    Intervention research has demonstrated that children with 
disabilities possess the potential to learn, participate, and 
contribute in school, home, community, and work place. Research on 
instructional interventions for children with disabilities has been the 
hallmark of special education research. For example, research on direct 
instruction, behavioral management interventions, learning strategies, 
peer mediated learning, and reciprocal teaching has led to improvements 
in professional practice.
    Yet, single solution interventions are insufficient for teaching 
children with disabilities complex subject matter content. In many 
instances, these interventions are content free. Moreover, little 
empirical evidence is available on the context of the classroom for 
supporting the implementation of these solutions.

Priority

    The Secretary establishes an absolute priority for the purpose of 
establishing two research institutes to study curricular and 
instructional classroom based interventions that accelerate subject 
matter learning for children with disabilities and promote its 
sustained use by practitioners. One institute will be established to 
study curricular and instructional classroom based interventions that 
accelerate subject matter learning in kindergarten through grade three. 
Another institute will be established to study curricular and 
instructional classroom based interventions that accelerate subject 
matter learning in grade four through grade eight.
    Both institutes must examine--
    (1) The effectiveness of the intervention for children with 
disabilities; and
    (2) The classroom context that supports the implementation of the 
interventions that produce and sustain positive learning outcomes for 
children with disabilities, including such factors as classroom groups; 
classroom and cross-classroom management strategies; curriculum design 
principles; classroom settings; instructional materials; amount of time 
on task; integration into the curriculum; and teacher actions, skills, 
and attitudes.
    The research may include, but need not be limited to, studying 
classroom based exemplars and models, designing and implementing 
interventions, and collecting student and teacher data from exemplars, 
using a rich array of research methods to reach the intended goals of 
this priority and as articulated by the proposed research hypotheses.
    Both the Kindergarten through Grade Three Research Institute, and 
the Grade Four through Grade Eight Research Institute must--
    (a) Design and conduct a strategic program of research that focuses 
on helping students with disabilities learn subject matter content in 
critical areas such as reading and math, and builds upon the existing 
research knowledge for teaching children with disabilities;
    (b) Design and conduct a strategic program of research across 
multiple sites to represent organizational and demographic diversity;
    (c) Collect, analyze, and communicate student outcome data and 
supporting context data, and multiple outcome data for teachers, 
parents, and administrators, as appropriate;
    (d) Collaborate with other research institutes supported under the 
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and experts and researchers 
in related subject matter and methodological fields, as appropriate for 
the program of research, to design and conduct the strategic program of 
research;
    (e) Collaborate with communication specialists and professional and 
advocacy organizations to ensure that findings are prepared in formats 
that are useable for specific audiences such as teachers, 
administrators, and other service providers;
    (f) Develop linkages with Education Department technical assistance 
providers to communicate research findings and distribute products;
    (g) Provide training and research opportunities for a limited 
number of graduate students including students who are from 
traditionally underrepresented groups; and
    (h) Meet with the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) 
project officer in the first four months of the project to review the 
program of research and communication approaches.
    The project must budget for two trips annually to Washington, D.C. 
for: (1) A two-day Research Project Directors' meeting; and (2) another 
meeting to meet and collaborate with the OSEP project officer.
    Under this priority, The Secretary will make two awards:
    (a) One award for a Research Institute to Accelerate Learning for 
Children with Disabilities with Curricular and Instructional 
Interventions in Kindergarten through Grade Three; and
    (b) One award for a Research Institute to Accelerate Learning for 
Children with Disabilities with Curricular and Instructional 
Interventions in Grade Four through Grade Eight.
    Both awards will be for cooperative agreements with project periods 
of up to 60 months subject to the requirements of 34 CFR 75.253(a) for 
continuation awards. In determining whether to continue the institutes 
for the fourth and fifth years of the project periods, the Secretary, 
in addition to the requirements of 34 CFR 75.253(a), will consider--
    (1) The recommendation of a review team for each institute 
consisting of three experts selected by the Secretary. The services of 
the review teams, including a two-day site visit to the institutes are 
to be performed during the last half of each institute's second year 
and may be included in that year's evaluation required under 34 CFR 
75.590. Costs associated with the services to be performed by the 
review teams must also be included in each institute's budget for year 
two. These costs are estimated to be approximately $4,000 for each 
institute;
    (2) The timeliness and effectiveness with which all requirements of 
the negotiated cooperative agreement have

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been or are being met by each institute; and
    (3) The degree to which each institute's research designs and 
methodologies demonstrate the potential for advancing significant new 
knowledge.
    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: April 8, 1997.
Judith E. Heumann,
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
[FR Doc. 97-9401 Filed 4-10-97; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P