[Federal Register: April 18, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 75)]
[Notices]
[Page 20881-20884]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr18ap00-124]

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Part IV

Department of Education

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Reading Excellence Program; Notices

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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION


Reading Excellence Program

AGENCY: Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Department of
Education.

ACTION: Notice of final priorities, application requirements, and
selection criteria.

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SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for the Office of Elementary and
Secondary Education announces final priorities, application
requirements, and selection criteria under the Reading Excellence
Program. The Assistant Secretary is using these priorities, application
requirements, and selection criteria for competitions in fiscal year
2000 and may use them for future competitions. Grants are made to State
educational agencies (SEA) that will, in turn, award subgrants to local
educational agencies (LEAs) for two types of activities: Local Reading
Improvement subgrants (LRI) and Tutorial Assistance (TAG) subgrants.

EFFECTIVE DATE: These priorities, application requirements and
selection criteria are effective May 18, 2000.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Nancy Rhett, Reading Excellence
Program, U. S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Room
5C141, Washington, DC 20202-6200. Telephone: (202) 260-8228. Fax: (202)
260-8969. Internet:
http://www.reading_excellence@ed.gov
If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may call
the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339.
    Individuals with disabilities may obtain this document in an
alternate format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer
diskette) on request to the contact person in the preceding paragraph.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Reading Excellence Program is designed
to improve reading for children in high poverty schools and in schools
needing improvement by supporting research-based reading instruction
and tutoring. The Reading Excellence Act was authorized to carry out
the following purposes:
     Teach every child to read by the end of third grade.
    * Provide children in early childhood with the readiness
skills and support they need to learn to read once they enter school.
    * Expand the number of high quality family literacy
programs.
    * Provide early intervention to children who are at risk of
being identified for special education inappropriately.
    * Base instruction, including tutoring, on scientifically-
based reading research.

Public Comment

    In response to the Assistant Secretary's invitation in the notice
of proposed priorities, two parties submitted comments on the proposed
priorities and selection criteria. An analysis of the comments and of
the changes in the priorities since publication of the notice of
proposed priorities follows.
    We discuss substantive issues under the priority or criterion to
which they pertain. Generally, we do not address technical and other
minor changes and suggested changes the law does not authorize the
Assistant Secretary to make under the applicable statutory authority.

Analysis of Comments and Changes

General

    Comment: A commenter disagreed with the emphasis the notice places
on State leadership because there will not be adequate funds to carry
out State-level activities including extensive professional
development.
    Discussion: Although we understand the State's concerns about
insufficient funds for State-level activities, the amount available to
the State for administrative costs at the State level is set by
statute.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A commenter suggested that the notice should be amended to
focus on children who, in spite of excellent classroom instruction,
will need individualized instruction to supplement the classroom
reading program in order to successfully learn to read and write by the
end of third grade.
    Discussion: We are in full agreement that, in spite of research-
based instruction, some students will need additional instructional
support. However, strategies to address this need (extended learning
such as tutoring, summer programs and kindergarten transition) are
already required by the Reading Excellence Act. Schools must implement
them in addition to strategies for changing regular classroom
instruction.
    Changes: None.

Priorities

    Comment: A commenter proposed that the priorities be expanded to
include students who are most likely to be unsuccessful in their
classroom programs.
    Discussion: The Reading Excellence Act already requires schools to
address the needs of children at risk of failing in their classroom
programs. The primary focus of the REA program is to help disadvantaged
schools throughout the nation improve reading achievement, with early
intervention strategies being a key element of instructional support.
    Changes: None.

Absolute Priority

    Comment: A commenter suggested that tutorial activities be defined
to include tutorial activities that take place in the school by
certified teachers using research-based instruction, which is
documented as being effective over many replications of
implementations.
    Discussion: The Reading Excellence Act legislation requires that
additional support for children experiencing reading difficulties be
provided by supervised individuals, including tutors, who have been
appropriately trained using scientifically-based reading research.
There is no requirement for using certified teachers to provide this
additional support.
    Changes: None.

Application Requirements

    Comment: A commenter suggested that the required list of eligible
districts and schools is burdensome and unnecessary because the
Department has made it very clear that it is not the intent of the
Reading Excellence Program to fund every eligible school and district.
    Discussion: Although we do not wish to impose additional burden,
the submission of this information will enable the panelists to
determine the likelihood that the requested funding amount will
sufficiently fund the number of proposed subgrants for two years and at
a level that will make a substantive improvement in reading instruction
and student outcomes.
    Changes: None.

Selection Criterion--Understanding and Commitment to Effective Reading
Instruction Based on Scientifically Based Reading Research

    Comment: A commenter suggested that we add an additional item under
this criterion that the literature review and application of the
scientifically based reading research include attention to children at
risk by requiring individualized instruction beyond that given in the
normal classroom setting.
    Discussion: The Reading Excellence Act requires schools to serve
all children, including those that need extra support, and schools may
use a variety of strategies to achieve this. It would be inappropriate
to emphasize a

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specific approach to meeting the needs of a limited group of children.
    Changes: None.

Selection Criterion--Quality of Local District and School Activities

    Comment: A commenter suggested that item (3)(c) be revised to say
that the proposed activities to improve reading instruction will also
attend to children whose level of achievement indicates that they will
need individualized tutorial support to be proficient readers and
writers by the end of third grade along with English language learners
and children with special needs.
    Discussion: We agree with the clarification added to this criterion
by the commenter, but we do not wish to emphasize a specific approach
for intervention.
    Changes: The comment is addressed by changing item (3)(c) to
evaluate the extent to which the proposed activities will improve
reading instruction for all children, including English language
learners, children with special needs, and children whose level of
achievement indicates that they will need additional instructional
support.

Selection Criterion--Quality of the Plan for State Leadership,
Oversight, and Evaluation

    Comment: A commenter suggested revising item (4)(e) to include the
development of comprehensive early literacy programs in every school in
the coordination between REA and current State and local efforts.
    Discussion: We agree with highlighting coordination with
comprehensive early literacy programs. However, we do not want to limit
the coordination to such efforts because of the need for states to
coordinate with non-school programs such as family literacy.
    Changes: The comment is addressed by changing item (4)(e) under
selection criterion, Quality of the plan for State leadership,
oversight and evaluation, to evaluate the extent to which the proposed
activities coordinate REA with other State initiatives and programs,
including how the REA grant will add to current State and local efforts
such as comprehensive early literacy programs.

Collection of Information

    Comment: A commenter recommended emphasizing ``every child'' so
that applicants will be required to address the children who will, in
spite of excellent classroom instruction, still need additional
instructional support to be successful readers by the end of third
grade.
    Discussion: Applicants are expected to show throughout their
proposals their ability and intention to serve every child and to
describe specific interventions that will be used.
    Changes: None

Supplementary Information-Discussion Of Priorities

    Note: This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in
which the Assistant Secretary chooses to use these priorities, we
invite applications through a notice in the Federal Register.

Priorities

Absolute Priority
    Under this priority the Assistant Secretary gives an absolute
preference to SEAs that exclusively fund, at the subgrant level,
activities to improve kindergarten through grade three reading
instruction and related early childhood, professional development,
family literacy, extended learning and tutorial activities.
Competitive Priority
    Section 2253(c)(2)(C) of the Reading Excellence Act requires that
priority be given to SEAs whose States have modified, are modifying, or
provide an assurance that they will modify their elementary school
teacher certification requirements within 18 months after receiving an
REA grant. The modification must increase the training and the methods
of teaching reading required for certification as an elementary school
teacher to reflect scientifically-based reading research. However,
nothing in the REA may be construed to establish a national system of
teacher certification.
    The Assistant Secretary will award up to 5 additional points to
applicants that meet this priority. Two points will be awarded to
applicants that provide an assurance only. To receive the additional
three points, the SEA must include detailed plans or have implemented
changes that describe high quality teacher preparation that reflects
scientifically-based reading research.

Application Requirements

    The Assistant Secretary announces the following application
requirements:

A. Eligible LEAS and Schools (Sec. 2255 and Sec. 2256)

    To be considered for funding, an application must include a list of
all eligible LEAs and the number of eligible schools, and the number of
children and teachers in the eligible schools at the time the
application is submitted. Successful applicants must provide a list of
eligible LEAs and schools at the time that subgrants are awarded.

B. Funding Recommendations (Sec. 2253(c)(2)(C))

    To be considered for funding, an application must receive a
majority recommendation from the panel of reviewers. Any applications
not receiving recommendations to be funded from a majority of the
review panel, regardless of the numerical score, will not be
considered.

Selection Criteria

    The Assistant Secretary announces that the following selection
criteria will be used to evaluate applications for new grants under
this competition. The maximum score for all of these criteria is 100
points. The maximum score for each criterion is indicated in the
parentheses. There are no specific point totals for the subcategories
within each criterion.
    (1) Understanding and commitment to effective reading instruction
based on scientifically-based reading research. (15 points)
    In determining the State's understanding and commitment to
effective reading instruction based on scientifically-based reading
research, the Secretary considers the following factors:
    (a) The extent to which the proposed project incorporates a deep
understanding of the scientifically-based reading research literature
and how it applies in their State and local education systems.
    (b) The extent to which the scientific literature on reading is
implemented in proposed grant activities.
    (2) Demonstration of need. (10 points)
    In determining the need for the proposed project, the following
factors are included:
    Demographic and social data on the target population for this
program (children and families) and State efforts and initiatives in
reading, including current professional development activities related
to the teaching of reading and family literacy, standards and
assessments, and other related activities; and their relation, if any,
to findings from scientifically-based reading research.
    (3) Quality of local district and school activities. (35 points)
    In determining the quality of the services to be provided by local
activities, the Secretary considers the following factors:
    (a) How the proposed project would change classroom instruction in
schools under Local Reading Improvement subgrants. In particular, what

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professional development activities would be implemented.
    (b) The extent to which the proposed activities support research-
based classroom reading instruction (including extended learning such
as tutoring and summer programs, kindergarten transition, and family
literacy/involvement).
    (c) The extent to which the proposed activities will improve
reading instruction for all children, including English language
learners, children with special needs, and children whose level of
achievement indicates that they will need additional instructional
support.
    (d) The extent to which the Tutorial Assistance subgrant activities
of the proposed project reflect up-to-date knowledge of reading
research and effective practice.
    (4) Quality of the plan for State leadership, oversight and
evaluation. (25 points)
    In determining the quality of the plan for State leadership,
oversight and evaluation, the Secretary considers the following
factors:
    (a) The adequacy of procedures for ensuring success under this
grant, including how the State will ensure that school activities will
use practices based on scientifically-based reading research,
especially professional development activities for K-3 teachers.
    (b) The adequacy of the management plan to achieve the objectives
of the proposed project on time and within budget, including:
    * Development of the reading and literacy partnership for
overseeing proposed grant activities;
    * Guidance provided to eligible districts and schools for
developing applications;
    * Subgrant processes and criteria; and
    * Leadership, technical assistance, and monitoring
activities for subgrantees that ensure continuous improvement in
reading.
    (c) The qualifications, including relevant training and experience,
of the key SEA staff responsible for managing the grant activities
described above.
    (d) The quality of the State's evaluation design, including student
outcome measures or indicators for grades K-3, subgrant (Local Reading
Improvement and Tutorial Assistance) and school implementation measures
and indicators, a timeline for data collection and reporting,
provisions for feedback to districts, and identification of a qualified
evaluator or inclusion of appropriate criteria.
    (e) The extent to which the proposed activities coordinate REA with
other State initiatives and programs, including how the REA grant will
add to current State and local efforts such as comprehensive early
literacy programs.
    (5) Adequacy of resources. (15 points)
    In determining the adequacy of resources, the Secretary considers
the following factors:
    (a) The extent to which the average and range of amounts proposed,
including the amounts per school, that will provide sufficient
resources to accomplish the tasks of Local Reading Improvement and
Tutorial Assistance subgrants.
    (b) The budget provides sufficient detail and an appropriate level
of funding to accomplish the purposes of this grant.

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.

Electronic Access to This Document

    You may view this document, as well as all other Department of
Education documents published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe
Portable Document Format (PDF) on the Internet at either of the
following sites:

http://ocfo.ed.gov/fedreg.htm
http://www.ed.gov/news.html

To use the PDF you must have the Adobe Acrobat Reader Program, which is
available free at either of the preceding sites. If you have questions
about using the PDF, call the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO),
toll free at 1-888-293-6498; or in the Washington, DC, area at (202)
512-1530.

    Note: 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 on GPO Access at:

http://access.gpo.gov/nara/index.html

(Catalog of Federal Assistance Number: 84.338 Reading Excellence
Program

    Program Authority:  20 U.S.C. 6661 et seq.

    Dated: April 12, 2000.
Michael Cohen,
Assistant Secretary for Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.
[FR Doc. 00-9641 Filed 4-13-00; 1:32 pm]
BILLING CODE 4001-01-P