FR Doc E7-13142
[Federal Register: July 6, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 129)]
[Notices]               
[Page 37085-37088]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr06jy07-144]                                 

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Part II





Department of Education





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Technical Assistance on Data Collection--Technical Assistance Center 
for Data Collection, Analysis, and Use for Accountability in Special 
Education and Early Intervention; Notices


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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

 
Technical Assistance on Data Collection--Technical Assistance 
Center for Data Collection, Analysis, and Use for Accountability in 
Special Education and Early Intervention

AGENCY: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, 
Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of final priority and eligibility requirements.

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SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and 
Rehabilitative Services announces a funding priority and eligibility 
requirements under the Technical Assistance on State Data Collection 
program authorized under the Individuals with Disabilities Education 
Act (IDEA). The Assistant Secretary may use the priority and 
eligibility requirements for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2007 and 
later years. We take this action to focus attention on an identified 
national need to provide technical assistance to improve the capacity 
of States to meet data collection requirements relating to their 
implementation of section 616 of the IDEA.

DATES: Effective Date: This priority is effective August 6, 2006.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Campbell Brown, U.S. Department 
of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 4076, Potomac Center 
Plaza, Washington, DC 20202-2700. Telephone: (202) 245-7282 or via 
Internet: Scott.Brown@ed.gov.
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may 
call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1-800-877-8339.
    Individuals with disabilities may obtain this document in an 
alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer 
diskette) on request to the contact person listed under FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We published a notice of proposed priority 
and eligibility requirements (NPP) for this program in the Federal 
Register on January 26, 2007 (72 FR 3809). Under the Technical 
Assistance on State Data Collection program established under section 
616(i)(2) of the IDEA, we make awards to provide technical assistance 
to improve the capacity of States to meet the section 616 data 
collection requirements. In the NPP, we described our rationale for the 
priority and eligibility requirements proposed. This notice of final 
priority and eligibility requirements contains no changes from the NPP.

Analysis of Comments and Changes

    In response to the Secretary's invitation in the NPP, four parties 
submitted comments on the proposed priority. An analysis of the 
comments follows. We group major issues according to subject. 
Generally, we do not address technical and other minor and suggested 
changes that we are not allowed to make under the applicable statutory 
authority.
    Comment: Two commenters requested that the priority include 
activities that would improve a State's use of data to improve 
compliance with the IDEA, such as providing guidance to States in 
developing corrective action plans to remedy noncompliance. The 
commenters also suggested that the priority be more prescriptive about 
the data activities that the Center must provide.
    Discussion: Under section 616(i)(2) of the IDEA, funds must be used 
to improve the capacity of States to meet the section 616 data 
collection requirements. Therefore, activities aimed at improving a 
State's compliance with the IDEA are allowable only to the extent that 
the activities improve the capacity of a State to meet the section 616 
data requirements. For example, activities that help a State collect 
better section 616 data to demonstrate correction of noncompliance, or 
activities that help a State collect more accurate data through 
monitoring would be allowable. However, activities focused solely on 
correcting noncompliance or using data to improve program performance 
are not allowable.
    Paragraph (c) in the priority provides examples of activities that 
the Center may conduct to improve States' data quality. We do not agree 
that the priority should be more prescriptive about the types of 
activities that the Center must provide. Rather, we believe that the 
Center should have the flexibility to work with States and determine 
the activities that would be most appropriate, given each State's 
unique needs.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter requested that the priority place more 
emphasis on providing on-site technical assistance to States. Another 
commenter stated that more than 30 percent of the funds should be used 
to provide direct technical assistance to States.
    Discussion: This new priority combines functions previously 
performed by two different entities under separate awards. Prior to 
issuing this priority, the Department analyzed the past level of effort 
expended by these entities for activities under paragraph (c), as well 
as their level of effort for other activities covered by this priority. 
We then applied that ratio to establish the requirement that 30 percent 
of the funds in this priority be spent on providing on-site technical 
assistance. We believe the priority provides the Center with the 
flexibility to work with States and to determine the activities that 
would be most appropriate, given each State's unique needs. At the same 
time, we believe that if the priority placed more emphasis on on-site 
technical assistance, other critical activities outside of paragraph 
(c) would suffer.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter urged that applicants be required to 
describe the services they will provide directly and those that will be 
provided by subcontractors.
    Discussion: There is no requirement in this priority for applicants 
to contract with other organizations. It is up to applicants to 
describe in their applications the proposed services and key personnel. 
If an applicant chooses to contract with other organizations for 
certain activities, the activities of the contractors in support of the 
applicant should be described.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Center develop training 
modules on (a) Reporting data to the public in a manner that is easily 
understood and accessible and (b) involving stakeholders in States' 
exercise of general supervision responsibilities.
    Discussion: While we agree that stakeholder involvement and public 
reporting are important components of States' exercise of general 
supervision, they are not the focus of this priority. The funds 
supporting this priority can only be used to improve the capacity of 
States to meet the 616 data collection requirements.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter urged that the technical assistance 
activities listed in the priority include helping States (a) Provide 
public report cards and data collection reports that are easily 
understood by the public, and (b) involve stakeholders in decision 
making related to these reports and data. The commenter also 
recommended that the technical assistance activities include assisting 
States to form stakeholder groups that include families to guide 
activities related to a State's Performance Plan (SPP).
    Discussion: It is not clear how the activities proposed by the 
commenter will improve the capacity of the States to meet the section 
616 data collection

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requirements. Activities directed solely at improving the reporting of 
data to the public or involving stakeholders in State activities would 
not be allowable activities under the priority.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the priority include a 
requirement for data sharing and collaboration with the National Center 
on Dispute Resolution and other technical assistance centers.
    Discussion: The purpose of this priority is to provide technical 
assistance to States to improve their data and data collection systems. 
Under the activities included in paragraph (a), the Center must develop 
and implement an annual strategic plan for technical assistance and 
dissemination to improve State-reported data. Collaborating with other 
technical assistance centers will likely be a component of the 
strategic plan. However, we believe it would be inappropriate to 
require data sharing and collaboration with any specific technical 
assistance center and therefore, decline to change the priority in the 
manner suggested by the commenter.
    Changes: None.

    Note: This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in 
which we choose to use this priority, we invite applications through 
a notice in the Federal Register. When inviting applications, we 
designate the priority as absolute, competitive preference, or 
invitational. 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 either 
(1) awarding additional points, depending on how well, or the extent 
to which, the application meets the competitive preference priority 
(34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(i)); or (2) selecting an application that meets 
the competitive preference 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 invitational 
priority. However, we do not give an application that meets the 
invitational priority a competitive or absolute preference over 
other applications (34 CFR 75.105(c)(1)).

Priority

Technical Assistance Center for Data Collection, Analysis, and Use for 
Accountability in Special Education and Early Intervention

    Absolute Priority: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education 
and Rehabilitative Services establishes a priority for the funding of a 
Technical Assistance Center for Data Collection, Analysis, and Use for 
Accountability in Special Education and Early Intervention (Center) to 
provide: (1) Technical assistance and information to States to help 
them provide high-quality data needed to implement parts B and C of the 
IDEA and improve their data collection infrastructures; and (2) 
assistance to the Department regarding these data collections. The 
Center's activities and products must include, but are not limited to, 
the following:
    (a) Develop and implement an annual strategic plan for technical 
assistance and dissemination to improve State-reported data. At the end 
of each year, the Center must prepare and submit to the Department a 
summary and evaluation of its technical assistance and dissemination 
activities for the year;
    (b) Design and conduct two national data managers' meetings each 
year of the project period, of approximately 100 participants each, to 
provide information and technical assistance to State Part B and C data 
managers. Both meetings must be held in the Washington, DC metropolitan 
area in facilities that are accessible to individuals with 
disabilities. The Center must arrange and pay for meeting rooms; 
honoraria and expenses for speakers; visual aids and print materials; 
and travel expenses, lodging, and per diem at government rates for one 
to two representatives from each State or reporting entity. The 
meetings must include both large-group and small-group sessions, as 
well as time for informal discussions. Topics for the meetings must 
include specific State-reported data problems identified during the 
year, methods of data collection and verification, updates on Federal 
reporting requirements, potential uses of data by States, and reports 
on other data collections specified by the Office of Special Education 
Programs (OSEP). Each meeting also must include a training session for 
new State data managers. After each meeting, the Center must prepare 
and disseminate a newsletter that summarizes meeting highlights and 
describes key presentations and handouts;
    (c) Provide technical assistance and information to States to 
improve State data quality through activities such as: (1) Developing 
data systems, including monitoring systems, that incorporate the 
collection and analysis of valid data to measure Statewide progress on 
State targets; (2) developing data systems, including monitoring 
systems, that incorporate the collection and analysis of valid data, to 
measure local progress on State targets; (3) interpreting and 
portraying data related to State targets, including data obtained 
through monitoring; (4) incorporating data analysis results into State 
and local strategies for improving performance under parts B and C; (5) 
developing and revising measurable and rigorous targets based on data 
and input from stakeholder groups, for State Performance Plans (SPPs); 
(6) collecting and disseminating valid and reliable assessment data 
relative to State achievement standards; (7) developing technically-
sound sampling plans for collecting valid and reliable data on SPP 
indicators that permit sampling; and (8) developing training modules 
for SEAs, State lead agencies, local educational agencies (LEAs) and 
early intervention service (EIS) programs that focus on collecting 
high-quality data;
    (d) Develop and distribute to States: (1) Annual updates of the 
part B and part C data dictionaries, data collection histories, and 
data fact sheets; (2) current State data system profiles describing the 
types of systems employed by States including their efforts to ensure 
collection of high-quality data; (3) analyses of data provided by 
States under sections 616 and 618 of the IDEA addressing the process by 
which a State collects, enters, and verifies data; (4) based on State-
reported data, a description and analysis of data trends relative to 
States' performance on their measurable and rigorous targets; (5) 
tables of annual State data organized to provide States with an 
enhanced perspective of their performance relative to other States; (6) 
data and other information for the Web site, http://www.IDEADATA.org; 

(7) analyses of part B and part C annual performance report data; (8) 
training modules for both State and local agencies that focus on 
collecting high-quality data; (9) documents, as needed by the 
Department, for meetings with the Education Information Management 
Advisory Committee (EIMAC), a standing committee of the Council of 
Chief State School Officers; (10) updated annual versions of the Early 
Intervention Data Handbook and supporting materials, as requested; (11) 
annual studies of extant data from other sources to analyze broad 
trends in the population characteristics of infants, toddlers, and 
children with disabilities, as requested by OSEP; and (12) other 
documents requested by the Department, including roughly five to seven 
ad hoc analyses per month;
    (e) Provide direct interaction with, and support to, States by 
mail, telephone, online communication, video, or on-site visits, 
including

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providing customized technical assistance. The Center also must 
participate in the semi-annual EIMAC meetings and other meetings, as 
requested by the Department;
    (f) Assist States to provide high-quality data to the Department's 
EDFacts system. The Center must log in data, check data for 
completeness and errors or anomalies, communicate with States to 
resolve any errors or anomalies, and prepare data notes on any 
unresolved problems. The Center also must provide monthly and annual 
data status reports to OSEP, including all data notes related to data 
reported through EDFacts;
    (g) Assist the Department with developing forms for collecting data 
not submitted through EDFacts, such as data related to part C of the 
IDEA. The Center also must prepare forms clearance packages for 
submission to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). At the 
direction of OSEP, the Center must prepare responses to public comments 
received on proposed information collection packages and revise the 
forms, if necessary. As directed by OSEP, the Center must take the 
following steps in developing a new data collection form: (1) Convene a 
task force of State representatives, relevant stakeholders, and 
Department personnel; (2) prepare a draft form based on the task force 
recommendations; (3) pilot test the draft form; (4) revise the form as 
necessary; and (5) prepare the OMB clearance forms;
    (h) Conduct an annual assessment of the operations and processes to 
collect section 618 data from States and make specific recommendations 
to OSEP to improve, enhance, or redesign current processes to meet the 
Department's needs for data collections in EDFacts. The annual study 
must consider the availability of new Internet and other technologies 
to collect and report data, as well as any new data needs;
    (i) Establish, maintain, and meet at least annually with a national 
advisory group that will be responsible for providing annual feedback 
on the plans, activities, and accomplishments of the Center;
    (j) Maintain ongoing communication with the OSEP Project Officer, 
including monthly conference calls. The Center must budget for a three-
day Project Directors' meeting in Washington, DC during each year of 
the project, plus ten additional two-day trips annually to Washington, 
DC to attend national meetings and to meet with the OSEP Project 
Officer and other funded projects for purposes of cross-project 
collaboration and information exchange;
    (k) Budget five percent of the award amount annually to support 
emerging needs as identified jointly through consultation with the OSEP 
project officer; and
    (l) If the project maintains a Web site, include relevant 
information and documents in a format that meets a government or 
industry-recognized standard for accessibility.

    Note: In each budget period of 12 months, approximately 30 
percent of the effort under this priority must be devoted to 
activities and products described in paragraph (c) of the priority 
(technical assistance and information to States), and approximately 
70 percent of the effort must be devoted to the remaining activities 
described in the priority.

Fourth and Fifth Years of the Project

    In deciding whether to continue funding the Center for the fourth 
and fifth years, the Secretary will consider the requirements of 34 CFR 
75.253(a), and in addition--
    (1) The recommendation of a review team consisting of experts 
selected by the Secretary, which review will be conducted in 
Washington, DC during the last half of the project's second year. The 
Center must budget for travel expenses associated with this one-day 
intensive review;
    (2) The timeliness and effectiveness with which all requirements of 
the negotiated cooperative agreement have been, or are being, met by 
the Center; and
    (3) Evidence of the degree to which the Center's activities have 
contributed to improvements in the quality of State-reported data.

Eligibility Requirements

    The following entities are eligible for funding under this program: 
Public and private agencies and organizations, including for-profit and 
non-profit agencies and organizations.

Executive Order 12866

    This notice of final priority and eligibility requirements has been 
reviewed in accordance with Executive Order 12866. Under the terms of 
the order, we have assessed the potential costs and benefits of this 
regulatory action.
    The potential costs associated with this regulatory action are 
those resulting from statutory requirements and those we have 
determined as necessary for administering this program effectively and 
efficiently.
    In assessing the potential costs and benefits--both quantitative 
and qualitative--of this regulatory action, we have determined that the 
benefits of the regulatory action justify the costs.
    We also have determined that this regulatory action does not unduly 
interfere with State, local, and tribal governments in the exercise of 
their governmental functions.

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 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 the following site: 
http://www.ed.gov/news/fedregister.

    To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available 
free at this site. If you have questions about using 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://www.gpoaccess.gov/nara/index.htm.


(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 84.373Y Technical 
Assistance on Data Collection--Technical Assistance Center for Data 
Collection, Analysis, and Use for Accountability in Special 
Education and Early Intervention)

    Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1411(c) and 1416(i)(2).

    Dated: June 29, 2007.
Jennifer Sheehy,
Director of Policy and Planning for Special Education and 
Rehabilitative Services.
 [FR Doc. E7-13142 Filed 7-5-07; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4000-01-P