FR Doc 2010-10183
[Federal Register: April 30, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 83)]
[Notices]               
[Page 22767-22769]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr30ap10-56]                               

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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

 
National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research 
(NIDRR)--Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers 
Program--Disability Rehabilitation Research Project (DRRP)--Transition 
to Employment

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 84.133A-1.

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

ACTION: Notice of final priority.

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SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and 
Rehabilitative Services announces a priority for the Disability and 
Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program administered by 
NIDRR. Specifically, this notice announces a priority for a DRRP on 
Transition to Employment. The Assistant Secretary may use this priority 
for a competition in fiscal year (FY) 2010 and later years. We take 
this action to focus research attention on areas of national need. We 
intend this priority to improve rehabilitation services and outcomes 
for individuals with disabilities.

EFFECTIVE DATE: This priority is effective June 1, 2010.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Marlene Spencer, U.S. Department of 
Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., Room 5133, Potomac Center Plaza 
(PCP), Washington, DC 20202-2700. Telephone: (202) 245-7532 or by e-
mail: marlene.spencer@ed.gov.
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the 
Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This notice of final priority is in concert 
with NIDRR's Final Long-Range Plan for FY 2005-2009 (Plan). The Plan, 
which was published in the Federal Register on February 15, 2006 (71 FR 
8165), can be accessed on the Internet at the following site: 
http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/nidrr/policy.html.
    Through the implementation of the Plan, NIDRR seeks to: (1) Improve 
the quality and utility of disability and rehabilitation research; (2) 
foster an exchange of expertise, information, and training to 
facilitate the advancement of knowledge and understanding of the unique 
needs of traditionally underserved populations; (3) determine best 
strategies and programs to improve rehabilitation outcomes for 
underserved populations; (4) identify research gaps; (5) identify 
mechanisms of integrating research and practice; and (6) disseminate 
findings.
    Purpose of Program:
    The purpose of the DRRP program is to improve the effectiveness of 
services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 
by developing methods, procedures, and rehabilitation technologies that 
advance a wide range of independent living and employment outcomes for 
individuals with disabilities, especially individuals with the most 
severe disabilities. DRRPs carry out one or more of the following types 
of activities, as specified and defined in 34 CFR 350.13 through 
350.19: Research, training, demonstration, development, dissemination, 
utilization, and technical assistance. An applicant for assistance 
under this program must demonstrate in its application how it will 
address, in whole or in part, the needs of individuals with 
disabilities from minority backgrounds (34 CFR 350.40(a)). The 
approaches an applicant may take to meet this requirement are found in 
34 CFR 350.40(b). In addition, NIDRR intends to require all DRRP 
applicants to meet the requirements of the General Disability and 
Rehabilitation Research Projects (DRRP) Requirements priority that it 
published in a notice of final priorities in the Federal Register on 
April 28, 2006 (71 FR 25472).
    Additional information on the DRRP program can be found at: 
http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/res-program.html#DRRP.
    Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 762(g) and 764(a).
    Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR part 350.
    We published a notice of proposed priority (NPP) for NIDRR's 
Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program in 
the Federal Register on December 29, 2009 (74 FR 68808). The NPP 
included a background statement that described our rationale for the 
priority proposed in that notice.
    There is one significant difference between the NPP and this notice 
of final priority (NFP) as discussed in the following section.
    Public Comment:
    In response to our invitation in the NPP, five parties submitted 
comments on the proposed priority. An analysis of the comments and of 
any changes in the priority since publication of the NPP follows.
    Generally, we do not address technical and other minor changes or 
suggested changes the law does not authorize us to make under the 
applicable statutory authority. In addition, we do not address general 
comments that raised concerns not directly related to the proposed 
priority.
    Analysis of Comments and Changes:
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the priority address the 
effect of State budget crises on transition programs.
    Discussion: Although the priority does not explicitly include a 
requirement for research on State finances, nothing in the priority 
precludes an applicant from proposing to examine the effect of this 
factor on transition programs and employment outcomes for youth with 
disabilities. However, NIDRR has no basis for requiring all applicants 
to focus on State finances. The peer review process will determine the 
merits of each proposal.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter asked how NIDRR envisions the relationship 
between this priority and other NIDRR-funded projects that address 
specific populations of youth with disabilities, and whether the 
priority requests a focus on different subpopulations or is inclusive 
of all youth with disabilities.
    Discussion: This priority focuses specifically on transition to 
employment, rather than on other aspects of transition, such as self-
determination or community participation. Accordingly, the target 
population for this priority is transition-age youth with disabilities 
who are at risk for poor employment outcomes, rather than all youth 
with disabilities. We note that under paragraph (b) of the priority, 
applicants must identify the specific at-risk group or groups of 
transition-age youth with disabilities

[[Page 22768]]

they propose to study, provide evidence that the selected population or 
populations are, in fact, at risk for poor employment outcomes, and 
explain how the proposed practices are expected to address the needs of 
the population or populations.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter asked NIDRR to elaborate on the definition 
of disability for purposes of this priority (e.g., whether the priority 
should focus on individuals with disabilities who have received 
services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 
individuals who are considered to have a disability under the Americans 
with Disabilities Act, or individuals with disabilities who are 
eligible for the vocational rehabilitation program).
    Discussion: The Rehabilitation Act (Section 7(20)(B)) defines 
``individual with a disability,'' with respect to this program, as any 
person who ``(i) has a physical or mental impairment which 
substantially limits one or more of such person's major life 
activities; (ii) has a record of such an impairment; or (iii) is 
regarded as having such an impairment.'' Within the broad constraints 
of this definition, applicants have the flexibility to specify their 
target population for the purposes of their proposed projects.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter questioned the relationship between the 
research activities to be conducted under paragraph (a) and the 
research activities to be conducted under paragraph (b) of the 
priority. The commenter asked whether proposals should determine the 
promising practice(s) to be studied under paragraph (b) before all of 
the research conducted under paragraph (a) has been completed.
    Discussion: Paragraph (a) of the priority requires the applicant to 
conduct research to identify promising employment-focused practices for 
transition-age youth with disabilities. Paragraph (b) requires the 
applicant to conduct research to determine the effectiveness of 
promising transition practices, using at least one of the promising 
practices identified in paragraph (a). NIDRR acknowledges the 
difficulty involved in planning to meet the requirements in paragraph 
(b) before the research activities proposed for paragraph (a) are 
completed, and therefore will change paragraph (b) to make clear that 
it is not necessary for an applicant to fully delineate the range of 
promising practices under paragraph (a) before planning the research 
under paragraph (b).
    Changes: NIDRR has revised the priority to remove the reference to 
paragraph (a) in paragraph (b) of the priority to clarify that the 
promising practices evaluated under paragraph (b) are not wholly 
dependent on the results of research conducted by the applicant under 
paragraph (a).
    Comment: One commenter asked how NIDRR defines employment outcomes 
for the target population. Another commenter asked whether the research 
projects funded under this priority should demonstrate effects on 
direct employment outcomes or on outcomes related to the employability 
of the target population.
    Discussion: There is a wide variety of valid definitions and 
measures of employment outcomes, many of which would be precluded if 
NIDRR specified those measures and outcomes in the priority. Therefore, 
NIDRR is not providing a definition of employment outcome nor is it 
specifying the types of employment outcomes an applicant should use. 
Instead, NIDRR encourages applicants to use definitions and outcome 
measures that are appropriate to the research projects being proposed. 
The peer review process will determine the merits of each application.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the priority focus on 
effective practices and interventions for individuals who are deaf-
blind.
    Discussion: Paragraph (b) of the priority requires applicants to 
identify the specific at-risk group or groups of transition-age youth 
with disabilities they propose to study, provide evidence that the 
selected population or populations are, in fact, at risk for poor 
employment outcomes, and explain how the proposed practices are 
expected to address the needs of the population or populations. 
Provided an applicant meets these requirements, it is not limited in 
the characteristics of the subpopulations it may identify and therefore 
could choose to include youth who are deaf-blind in its proposed 
project.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter encouraged NIDRR to recognize organized 
recreational and competitive sports programs for youth with 
disabilities as a promising practice in helping to address poor 
employment outcomes among transition-age youth with disabilities.
    Discussion: Paragraph (a) of the priority specifies that the 
research conducted under this priority should generate new knowledge of 
promising transition practices, and paragraph (b) requires research on 
the effectiveness of transition practices for a particular 
subpopulation of transition-age youth with disabilities who are at risk 
for poor employment outcomes. The language in the priority does not 
specify the type of practices to be investigated. Therefore, the 
priority does not preclude an applicant from investigating the effects 
of recreational and competitive sports programs on employment outcomes 
for transition-age youth at risk for poor employment outcomes. However, 
NIDRR has no basis for requiring all applicants to conduct research on 
such programs. The peer review process will determine the merits of 
each application.
    Changes: None.
    Final Priority:
    The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services announces a priority for a Disability and Rehabilitation 
Research Project (DRRP) on Transition to Employment. The purpose of 
this priority is to identify and evaluate promising practices that will 
facilitate job entry and career development for transition-age youth 
with disabilities who are at risk for poor employment outcomes.
    A number of factors can affect employment outcomes for this 
population, including demographic characteristics (e.g., race/
ethnicity, age), disability characteristics (e.g., disability type) and 
disadvantaged background (e.g., poverty, foster care, involvement in 
the juvenile justice system). The DRRP must build upon the current 
research literature and ongoing implementation and demonstration of 
promising practices in the field of transition to employment.
    Under this priority, the DRRP must be designed to contribute to the 
following outcomes:
    (a) New knowledge of promising employment-focused transition 
practices for transition-age youth with disabilities who are at risk 
for poor employment outcomes. The DRRP must contribute to this outcome 
by conducting research to identify such practices. These practices may 
include, but are not limited to: work experience during the secondary 
school years; involvement of employers in the design and implementation 
of the transition program; supported employment; and increased 
coordination among schools, State vocational rehabilitation (VR) 
programs, or other programs serving transition-age youth with 
disabilities.
    (b) New knowledge regarding the effectiveness of employment-focused 
transition practices for transition-age youth with disabilities at risk 
for poor employment outcomes. The DRRP must contribute to this outcome 
by implementing and evaluating at least one promising practice for a 
particular

[[Page 22769]]

at-risk group of transition-age youth with disabilities. In evaluating 
the promising practice or practices, the DRRP must use scientifically 
based research, as defined in section 9101(37) of the Elementary and 
Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (20 U.S.C. 7801(37)). 
Applicants must identify the specific at-risk group or groups of 
transition-age youth with disabilities they propose to study, provide 
evidence that the selected population or populations are, in fact, at 
risk for poor employment outcomes, and explain how the proposed 
practices are expected to address the needs of the population or 
populations.
    (c) Enhancement of the knowledge base of policy makers, State VR 
personnel, and personnel of other programs serving transition-age youth 
with disabilities. The DRRP must contribute to this outcome by 
conducting targeted dissemination of results from research conducted 
under paragraphs (a) and (b).
     In addition, through coordination with the NIDRR Project 
Officer, the DRRP must contribute to this outcome by:
    (1) Collaborating with relevant technical assistance grantees from 
the Rehabilitation Services Administration, such as the Technical 
Assistance and Continuing Education (TACE) Centers; and
    (2) Collaborating with relevant technical assistance grantees from 
the Office of Special Education Programs, such as the National 
Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center.
    Types of Priorities:
    When inviting applications for a competition using one or more 
priorities, we designate the type of each priority as absolute, 
competitive preference, or invitational through a notice in the Federal 
Register. 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 (1) 
awarding additional points, depending on the extent to which the 
application meets the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(i)); or (2) 
selecting an application that meets the 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 priority. 
However, we do not give an application that meets the priority a 
preference over other applications (34 CFR 75.105(c)(1)).

    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.

    Executive Order 12866: This notice 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 final 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 final regulatory action, we have determined 
that the benefits of the final priority justify the costs.
    Discussion of costs and benefits:
    The benefits of the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects 
and Centers Programs have been well established over the years in that 
similar projects have been completed successfully. This final priority 
will generate new knowledge about transition to employment for youth 
with disabilities, through research, development, dissemination, 
utilization, or technical assistance projects.
    Another benefit of this final priority is that the establishment of 
a new DRRP will improve the lives of individuals with disabilities. The 
new DRRP will generate, disseminate, and promote the use of new 
information about transition to employment for youth with disabilities. 
This information will improve the options for youth with disabilities 
as they transition into adulthood and employment activities.
    Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this 
document in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, 
audiotape, or computer diskette) by contacting the Grants and Contracts 
Services Team, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., 
room 5075, PCP, Washington, DC 20202-2550. Telephone: (202) 245-7363. 
If you use a TDD, call the FRS, toll-free, at 1-800-877-8339.
    Electronic Access to This Document: You can view this document, as 
well as all other documents of this Department 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.

    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.html.


    Dated: April 27, 2010.
Alexa Posny,
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
[FR Doc. 2010-10183 Filed 4-29-10; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P