[Federal Register: August 6, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 151)]
[Notices]               
[Page 47573-47582]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr06au10-56]                                 

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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

 
Career and Technical Education Program--Promoting Rigorous Career 
and Technical Education Programs of Study

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 84.051C.

AGENCY: Office of Vocational and Adult Education, Department of 
Education.

ACTION: Notice of final priority, requirements, and selection criteria.

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SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education 
announces a final priority, requirements, and selection criteria for 
the Promoting Rigorous Career and Technical Education Programs of Study 
program. The Assistant Secretary may use this priority and these 
requirements and selection criteria for a competition using fiscal year 
(FY) 2009 funds and competitions in later years. We take this action to 
promote and improve State and local development and implementation of 
rigorous career and technical education (CTE) programs of study (POSs).

DATES: Effective Date: This priority and these requirements and 
selection criteria are effective September 7, 2010.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Laura Messenger, U.S. Department of 
Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 11028, Potomac Center Plaza, 
Washington, DC 20202-7241. Telephone: 202-245-7840 or by e-mail: 
laura.messenger@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: 
    Purpose of Program: The Promoting Rigorous Career and Technical 
Education Programs of Study program is authorized under section 
114(c)(1) of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 
2006 (the Act). Under this section, the Secretary is authorized to 
carry out research, development, dissemination, evaluation and 
assessment, capacity building, and technical assistance with regard to 
CTE programs under the Act. The purpose of this program is to use 10 
key components based on the ``Program of Study Design Framework''

[[Page 47574]]

(Framework) \1\ to promote and improve State and local development and 
implementation of CTE POSs that link secondary and postsecondary 
education, combine academic and career and technical education in a 
structured sequence of courses that progress from broad foundational 
skills to occupationally specific courses (e.g., the States' Career 
Clusters \2\), and offer students the opportunities to earn 
postsecondary credits for courses taken in high school that lead to a 
postsecondary credential, certificate, or degree.
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    \1\ The Framework is available on the Department's Perkins 
Collaborative Resource Network (PCRN) Web site at: 
http://cte.ed.gov/nationalinitiatives/rposdesignframework.cfm.
    \2\ Information regarding the Career Clusters may be accessed at 
the following Web site: http://www.careerclusters.org/index.php.

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    Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 2324(c)(1).

    On May 27, 2010, we published a notice of proposed priorities, 
requirements, and selection criteria (NPP) for this program in the 
Federal Register (75 FR 29732). That notice contained background 
information and our reasons for proposing the particular priority, 
requirements, and selection criteria for this program.
    There are differences between the NPP and this notice of final 
priority, requirements, and selection criteria (NFP) as discussed in 
the Analysis of Comments and Changes section elsewhere in this notice.
    Public Comment: In response to our invitation in the May 27, 2010 
NPP, 9 parties submitted comments.
    Generally, we do not address technical, editorial, 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, requirements, or selection criteria.
    Analysis of Comments and Changes: An analysis of the comments and 
of any changes we have made to the priority, requirements, or selection 
criteria since publication of the NPP follows.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that language be added to the 
selection criteria regarding professional development for teachers and 
administrators on the use of assessment data for POS program and 
instructional improvement.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenter and are revising the 
selection criteria accordingly. The use of valid and reliable technical 
skills assessments is one of the 10 Framework components required of 
funded POSs. Because the purpose of such assessments is to provide 
ongoing information on the extent to which students are attaining 
necessary knowledge and skills, we agree that administrators, teachers, 
and faculty would benefit from professional development on how to use 
assessment data for POS instructional and program improvement.
    Changes: We have revised selection criterion (a), State capacity to 
implement a rigorous program of study, by adding an additional sub-
criterion as paragraph (a)(3)(iii)(E) to clarify that applications will 
be evaluated, in part, based on the extent to which they propose 
professional development that will assist administrators, teachers, and 
faculty to use assessment data for POS program and instructional 
improvement.
    Comment: Several commenters stated that the secondary education 
component of a rigorous program of study should not be limited to 
providing only introductory, foundation level CTE courses and 
recommended that the POS secondary component also include programs that 
provide more occupationally specific content courses. Similarly, one 
commenter recommended that the State, in its approval or development of 
POSs, be allowed to determine the educational level at which 
occupational content is taught.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenters that additional 
flexibility is needed. While we believe it is important that POS course 
sequences progress from broad foundational knowledge and skills to more 
occupationally specific courses, it was not our intent to exclude 
effective POSs that, in addition to providing introductory, foundation 
courses at the secondary education level, may also provide 
occupationally specific courses at that level.
    Changes: We have revised the language in selection criterion (a), 
State capacity to implement a rigorous program of study, in paragraph 
(a)(3)(vi)(B) by removing references to the secondary and postsecondary 
levels in order to clarify that as part of a State's POS, introductory, 
foundation courses as well as occupationally specific courses may be 
provided at the secondary level.
    Comment: One commenter asked the Department to clarify whether 
States would be required to implement all 10 Framework components in 
order to qualify for a grant or if the goal of this program would be to 
provide an incentive for States to move toward adoption and 
implementation of the Framework.
    Discussion: We agree that the requirement to implement all 10 
Framework components needed to be clarified and have added language 
under the Selected program of study requirement to indicate that States 
must implement all 10 Framework components in order to qualify for a 
grant under this program.
    Changes: We have revised the Selected Program of Study requirement 
to clarify that, to be eligible for funding under this program, an 
applicant must demonstrate that it has selected for implementation a 
POS that is built and sustained with all of the 10 Framework 
components.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that, rather than requiring 
participating local education agencies (LEAs) to have all 10 Framework 
components in place by the beginning of year 2 of the project, 
participating LEAs only be required to have 8 of the 10 Framework 
components in place by the beginning of year 2 of the project and all 
10 Framework components in place by the end of year 2.
    Discussion: Under the Local Implementation requirement, the LEAs 
chosen for participation in the POS project must have the capacity to 
have all 10 Framework components in place either at the start of the 
POS project or no later than the beginning of year 2 of the project. 
This requirement is necessary because States receiving grant awards 
under this program are required to evaluate local implementation of 
their selected POSs and the effectiveness of each of the 10 Framework 
components, either at the start of the POS project or no later than 
beginning in year 2 of the project. We cannot extend the timetable for 
States because the design and implementation of the participating LEAs' 
POSs must be consistent with the 10 Framework components and we need 
three full years of data to assess the impact on students of 
participation in the POS. We will provide ongoing technical assistance 
throughout the project to ensure the rigor of all funded POSs and 
consistency in their design and implementation at the local level in 
order to collect three years of valid and reliable data on the 
effectiveness of POSs using the 10 Framework components.
    Changes: To clarify the timetable for implementation of the 10 
Framework components, we have added language to the Local 
Implementation requirement and to selection criterion (c), Local 
implementation plan, to reflect that the participating LEAs must have 
the capacity to implement the selected POS

[[Page 47575]]

and the 10 Framework components, either at the start of the POS project 
or no later than the beginning of year 2 of the project.
    Comment: Several commenters expressed concern that only a very 
small number of States currently have longitudinal data systems with 
the capacity to link and share data among education and employment 
systems. Some commenters stated that State longitudinal data systems 
are in relatively early stages of development and that several States 
face barriers regarding the collection of employment data based on a 
system requiring Social Security Numbers or some other unique student 
identifiers. One commenter recommended that we allow States to use 
alternative data collection methods that are capable of yielding the 
necessary data. Another commenter questioned whether the use of a 
longitudinal data system should be an eligibility requirement for the 
program, as the data collection period for the program may not be long 
enough to follow students through a full POS experience into employment 
for a sufficient period of time to allow a demonstration of impact. The 
commenter also cautioned that the POS concept should not be interpreted 
as a failure based on the lack of data, and/or misinterpretation or 
misrepresentation of data.
    Discussion: We agree that a lack of data should not be interpreted 
as failure of the POS concept, which is why States receiving grant 
awards under this program must have valid and reliable means of 
collecting data on a variety of outcomes for participating students. 
However, as we stated in the NPP, we expect the primary focus of this 
program to be on the evaluation of the impact of participation in a POS 
on enrolled students. As we also noted in the NPP, we recognize that 
States are at different stages in developing the capacity to link and 
share necessary information among data systems and we recognize that 
the development of statewide longitudinal data systems is a complex and 
costly process. To address our need for valid and reliable data while 
recognizing the States' need for flexibility in demonstrating how they 
would collect the necessary data, we are revising the Capacity of 
Statewide Longitudinal Data System requirement to clarify that States 
may use documented alternative valid and reliable methods for 
collecting student-level employment outcome data. We are also revising 
selection criteria (b), Capacity of statewide longitudinal data system, 
and (f), Evaluation, to reflect the change related to the collection of 
individual student employment outcome data.
    Changes: We have made the following changes to the requirements and 
selection criteria:
     We have revised paragraph (e) of the Capacity of Statewide 
Longitudinal Data System requirement to clarify that States may collect 
individual student employment outcome data using documented valid and 
reliable alternative methods such as surveys that have, at a minimum, a 
70 percent response rate.
     We have revised the Evaluation requirement to reflect that 
States are permitted to use any documented valid and reliable 
alternative method for collecting individual student employment outcome 
data.
     We have revised paragraph (b)(1)(v) of selection criterion 
(b), Capacity of statewide longitudinal data system, to indicate that, 
States may collect individual student employment outcome data using 
documented valid and reliable alternative methods such as surveys that 
have, at a minimum, a 70 percent response rate.
     We have revised paragraph (f)(4) of selection criterion 
(f), Evaluation, to indicate that States may use any documented valid 
and reliable alternative methods for collecting individual student 
employment outcome data.
    Comment: One commenter stated that the requirement that a State 
implement its selected POS in at least one urban, one suburban, and one 
rural LEA would be too restrictive because some States have only one 
LEA. Another commenter noted that in some instances, an entire State 
would be considered rural, which would make it difficult for the State 
to implement the selected POS in all three types of communities. 
Another commenter requested clarification as to whether one LEA would 
be required to implement the POS in all three types of communities--
urban, suburban, and rural.
    Discussion: It was not our intent to require each participating LEA 
to implement the selected POS in all three types of communities. We 
intended this requirement to apply to States, rather than LEAs, and are 
revising the requirement accordingly. We also recognize that there may 
be circumstances that preclude a State from implementing the selected 
POS in at least one urban, suburban, and rural community. In that 
regard, the requirement provides that to the extent feasible, the 
applicant must implement the POS in at least one of each of these types 
of communities. Where implementation of the POS in each of these types 
of communities is not feasible the applicant must describe those 
circumstances in its application.
    It was not our intent to exclude States that have a single LEA from 
eligibility under this program. We are revising the Local 
Implementation requirement to provide that States with a single LEA 
must implement the selected POS in at least three high schools, in 
concert with at least one of the LEA's postsecondary partners and that 
all requirements that apply to LEAs apply to the participating high 
schools and their postsecondary partners.
    Changes: We have revised the Local Implementation requirement to 
clarify that, to the extent feasible, the State, not the LEA, must 
implement the selected POS in at least one urban, one suburban, and one 
rural community and where circumstances preclude a State from serving 
at least one of each of these types of communities, the applicant must 
provide an explanation in its application. We have also provided in 
this requirement that States with a single LEA must implement the 
selected POS in at least three high schools, in concert with at least 
one of the LEA's postsecondary partners and that all requirements that 
apply to LEAs apply to the participating high schools in the single LEA 
and their postsecondary partners.
    We also have revised selection criterion (c), Local implementation 
plan, by modifying paragraph (2) and adding a new paragraph (6) to 
conform to these changes.
    Comment: Two commenters opposed the Existing Technical Skills 
Assessments requirement because of the high cost of developing such 
assessments. One commenter recommended that applicants be permitted to 
use a small percentage of the grant funds to promote the development of 
third-party assessments, if appropriate.
    Discussion: Because we recognize that assessment development can be 
both costly and time-consuming, we have retained the Existing Technical 
Skills Assessment requirement without change. The requirement is for 
use of technical skills assessments that are already in existence, not 
for the development or use of new assessments. Based on other comments 
we received on the NPP and other sources of information,\3\ which 
indicate that technical skill assessments are used by 45 States at the 
secondary level and 32 States at the postsecondary level, we have 
concluded that both reliable and

[[Page 47576]]

validated third-party technical skills assessments based on industry 
standards, and State-developed technical skills assessments are in 
existence, and therefore, that applicants do not need a portion of the 
grant funds to develop new third-party assessments.
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    \3\ See the State profiles for CTE programs at: 
http://cte.ed.gov/stategrants/stateprofiles.cfm
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    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter inquired about the level of funding for the 
proposed grants and on the number of States that would be awarded 
grants under any competition under this program. Two commenters 
recommended that, at a minimum, grantees would need a five-year project 
period to follow students through a full POS experience and show 
impact. The five years would include two years of secondary education, 
two years of postsecondary education, and one year in the workplace.
    Discussion: Information regarding the estimated number of grants to 
be awarded, the estimated level of funding, and the length of the 
project period is in the notice inviting applications for this program 
that is published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register. We 
have established a four-year project period for this program because 
the Act is scheduled to expire in 2012. Subject to the availability of 
funds, we will use funds appropriated under the Act through FY 2012 to 
support initial and continuation grant awards to States selected for 
funding under this competition, for a total of four years. However, 
during year 4 of the project, we will assess the substantive progress 
made by the program grantees to determine appropriate next steps in our 
support of CTE POSs.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter questioned whether the postsecondary 
performance measurement data for these grants would include data on 
postsecondary CTE students who had entered the POSs in the years prior 
to the awarding of the grant.
    Discussion: The performance measures that are identified in the 
Evaluation requirement include a measure regarding postsecondary 
credential, certificate, or diploma attainment. Additionally, we will 
require grantees to collect baseline data on postsecondary students who 
have not had the benefit of participating in a POS aligned with the 10 
Framework components in order to compare the outcomes for those 
students with the outcomes for students who participate in a POS 
aligned with the 10 Framework components. We are revising the 
Evaluation requirement to make this clear. We will address this and 
other issues concerning evaluation and data collection under this 
program at the required Project Evaluation Design meeting in 
Washington, DC.
    Changes: We have revised the Evaluation requirement to specify that 
States will be required to collect baseline data on postsecondary 
students who have not had the benefit of participating in a POS aligned 
with the 10 Framework components.
    Comment: One commenter requested clarification as to how we would 
provide technical assistance to the funded States.
    Discussion: We will make awards under the Rigorous Programs of 
Study program under the terms of a cooperative agreement in order to 
maintain substantial involvement in the implementation of funded 
projects and to provide close Department oversight of project 
activities. In addition, we will provide technical assistance to States 
receiving grant awards for this program through the Project Evaluation 
Design meeting, annual POS grantee meetings, and the National Research 
Center for Career and Technical Education.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department provide 
funding to support a three-year study to determine the success of POS 
implementation at the pilot sites, including the effectiveness of the 
articulation agreements among secondary, two-year postsecondary, and 
four-year postsecondary institutions.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenter that such agreements are 
important for the successful implementation of POSs and articulation 
agreements--referred to in this notice as ``credit transfer 
agreements''--are among the 10 required Framework components that all 
participating LEAs must have in place when implementing their POSs. 
However, we do not intend to use funds under this competition to 
support a three-year study to determine the success of POS 
implementation at pilot sites, including the effectiveness of the 
articulation agreements among secondary, two-year postsecondary, and 
four-year postsecondary institutions. Rather the primary focus of this 
program is the evaluation of the impact of participation in a POS on 
enrolled students.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter stated that the Department should focus 
funding and accountability efforts on building a seamless POS program 
that covers kindergarten through a four-year postsecondary degree 
program.
    Discussion: Section 122(c)(1)(A) of the Act specifies that CTE POSs 
must--incorporate secondary and postsecondary elements; align secondary 
education with postsecondary education; offer secondary students the 
opportunity to earn postsecondary credits; and lead to a postsecondary 
credential, certificate, or degree. Because the requirements of the Act 
for CTE POSs reference only secondary and postsecondary education, this 
program focuses on POSs that encompass grades 9 through 16 and 
secondary education through postsecondary degree programs. Accordingly, 
we cannot expand the requirements for this program to include the 
elementary school grades.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter observed that two-year institutions 
sometimes establish geographic areas of services that are barriers to 
Statewide POS development, and such service areas should be eliminated.
    Discussion: The geographic areas that are served by community or 
technical colleges are not determined by the Department but, rather, by 
the States, the postsecondary institutions themselves, or both. The 
determination of which geographical area is to be served by which 
community or technical college is not one for the Department. It is a 
State matter.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department fund the 
development of POSs in technical areas aligned with economic trends and 
future innovative fields.
    Discussion: Applicants under this program have the flexibility to 
select a POS that the State has developed for an emerging field in 
response to labor market data and economic and workforce trends, so 
long as the selected POS is built and sustained with the 10 Framework 
components and so long as the LEAs chosen for participation in the POS 
project have all 10 Framework components in place to support the POS 
either at the start of the POS project or no later than the beginning 
of year 2 of the project.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that funding be provided for 
teachers and administrators to obtain real world exposure to the 
workplace, and to work collaboratively to align curricula to meet 
industry, two-year degree, and four-year degree requirements.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenter that it may be beneficial 
for teachers and administrators to obtain real world exposure to the 
workplace so

[[Page 47577]]

that teachers are better equipped to implement curricula that are 
aligned with industry and degree requirements. Paragraph (c) of the 
Selected Program of Study requirement provides for the POS to include 
sustained, intensive, and focused professional development 
opportunities for administrators, teachers, and faculty that foster POS 
design, implementation, and maintenance. An applicant is free to 
include in its proposal professional development that includes real-
world exposure to the workplace.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter asked if funding could be used to implement 
a selected POS in at least eight secondary, four postsecondary two-
year, and four postsecondary four-year pilot sites for a total of 16 
sites in a given State.
    Discussion: Under the Local Implementation requirement, States are 
required to implement the selected POS in at least three LEAs that 
contain high schools, in concert with at least one of the LEA's 
postsecondary partners. At a minimum, each of the three participating 
LEAs must implement the selected POS in at least one high school and in 
at least one postsecondary institution (either two-year or four-year). 
Because these are minimal requirements only, nothing would preclude an 
applicant from proposing to implement the selected POS in additional 
sites.
    We are revising the requirement to specify that an applicant's 
implementation of the selected POS must be in concert with ``at least 
one of'' rather than ``each of'' the LEA's postsecondary partners to 
clarify the minimum criteria for implementation of the POS at the 
secondary and postsecondary levels.
    Changes: We have revised the Local Implementation requirement to 
specify that implementation of the POS must be in concert with at least 
one of the LEA's postsecondary partners, i.e., at least one 
postsecondary institution (either two-year or four-year).
    Comment: One commenter expressed concern that small States may have 
insufficient State leadership funds to use to meet the 30 percent match 
specified in the competitive preference priority and so would be unable 
to compete for additional points under that priority.
    Discussion: While we agree with the commenter that some States may 
have insufficient State leadership matching funds, under the final 
priority, applicants may also choose to meet the priority by obtaining 
non-Federal private contributions, including in-kind contributions, 
such as facilities, equipment, supplies, services, and other resources, 
to make the 30 percent contribution.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter noted that, because some States do not 
administer their education programs under legislation but rather under 
administrative rules and regulations, such rules and regulations should 
be referenced in paragraph (a), Legislation, Resources, and Policies, 
under the Selected Program of Study proposed requirement.
    Discussion: We agree with the commenter and are revising paragraph 
(a) of the Selected Program of Study requirement regarding legislation 
and policies to include a reference to rules and regulations.
    Changes: We have revised paragraph (a) of the Selected Program of 
Study requirement, and paragraph (a)(3)(i) of selection criterion (a), 
State capacity to implement a rigorous program of study, to add 
references to rules and regulations.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that partnerships among 
secondary, postsecondary, and business and industry be a requirement 
for the design and implementation of CTE POSs.
    Discussion: Paragraph (b) under the Selected Program of Study 
requirement requires ongoing relationships among education, business, 
and other community stakeholders that support POS design, 
implementation, and maintenance. Because section 122(c)(1)(A) of the 
Act clearly describes POSs as encompassing both secondary and 
postsecondary education, we require both secondary and postsecondary 
education stakeholders, along with business and other community 
stakeholders to participate in the partnership. Further, it is the 
responsibility of the applicant to identify the specific members of the 
partnership and to describe the ongoing relationships among them.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: None.
    Discussion: In developing the NFP, we considered the various types 
of education community stakeholders that could support POS design, 
implementation, and maintenance in an ongoing partnership, as provided 
for in paragraph (b) of the Selected Program of Study requirement. 
Although we are not providing examples of specific education community 
stakeholders in the text of the requirement, we clarify here that 
education community stakeholders could include secondary and 
postsecondary public and private school officials.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter requested clarification regarding the 
performance measures for which States receiving grant awards under this 
program would be required to collect data.
    Discussion: States receiving grant awards under this program will 
be required to collect and report data annually on the seven 
performance measures required for this program that are listed under 
the Evaluation requirement.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter identified inconsistencies in wording 
between the Framework and the proposed requirements and selection 
criteria, and requested clarification.
    Discussion: Currently, several national associations, 
organizations, and States are using the Framework as a means of 
providing technical assistance or as a self-assessment tool. Because we 
used the 10 Framework components to develop the requirements and 
selection criteria for this program, we found it necessary to make 
several changes in wording to adapt it for that purpose. To maintain as 
much consistency as possible, we are revising the headings under the 
Selected Program of Study requirement to conform to those in the 
Framework.
    Changes: We have revised the headings under the Selected Program of 
Study final requirement to align them with the 10 Framework components.
    Comment: One commenter expressed concern that the POS Framework is 
being used as the only assessment tool for POSs and recommended that 
the Secretary permit other assessment tools to be used.
    Discussion: Under this program, we are requiring States receiving 
grant awards to use the 10 Framework components in order to ensure the 
rigor of funded POSs; to evaluate the effectiveness of each of the 10 
Framework components in each participating LEA; and to use a self-
assessment instrument based on the 10 Framework components as part of 
each State's project evaluation. However, nothing would preclude a 
grantee from using other appropriate assessments, in addition to the 
Framework, that would yield relevant information on the implementation 
and effectiveness of the selected POS.
    Changes: None.

Final Priority

Commitment to the Project

    The Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education 
establishes a priority for applications that propose to contribute 
funds from other sources to

[[Page 47578]]

the total cost of the project. To meet this priority, the applicant 
must propose a budget that describes how the State will contribute 30 
percent of the total cost of the project from other sources. For these 
purposes, the applicant may use--
    (a) State leadership funds awarded under section 111 of the Act and 
as specified in section 112(a)(1) of the Act;
    (b) Non-Federal contributions including in-kind contributions such 
as use of facilities, equipment, supplies, services, and other 
resources; or
    (c) A combination of State leadership funds and non-Federal 
contributions.
    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 
preference over other applications (34 CFR 75.105(c)(1)).

Final Requirements

    The Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education 
establishes the following requirements for this program. We may apply 
one or more of these requirements in any year in which this program is 
in effect.
    Selected Program of Study: To be eligible for funding an applicant 
is required to demonstrate that it has selected for implementation a 
State-developed or State-approved POS that is built and sustained with 
all of the following 10 Framework components:
    (a) Legislation and Policies: State and local legislation, rules 
and regulations, or administrative policies that promote POS 
development and implementation;
    (b) Partnerships: Ongoing relationships among education, business, 
and other community stakeholders that support POS design, 
implementation, and maintenance;
    (c) Professional Development: Sustained, intensive, and focused 
professional development opportunities for administrators, teachers, 
and faculty that foster POS design, implementation, and maintenance;
    (d) Accountability and Evaluation Systems: Accountability and 
evaluation systems and strategies that gather quantitative and 
qualitative data on both POS components and student outcomes in order 
to inform ongoing efforts to develop and implement POSs and to 
determine their effectiveness;
    (e) College- and Career-Readiness Standards: POS content standards 
that define what students are expected to know and be able to do to 
enter and advance in college, their careers, or both, and that include 
aligned academic and technical content;
    (f) Course Sequences: Course sequences within a POS that help 
students transition to postsecondary education without needing to 
duplicate classes or enroll in remedial courses.
    (g) Credit Transfer Agreements: Formal credit transfer agreements 
among secondary schools and postsecondary institutions;
    (h) Guidance Counseling and Career Advisement: Systems that provide 
career counseling and academic advisory services to help students make 
informed decisions about which POS to pursue;
    (i) Teaching and Learning Strategies: Innovative and creative 
instructional approaches that enable teachers to integrate academic and 
technical instruction and also enable students to apply academic and 
technical learning in their POS coursework; and
    (j) Technical Skills Assessments: Existing valid and reliable 
technical skills assessments that provide ongoing information on the 
extent to which students are attaining the necessary knowledge and 
skills for entry into and advancement in postsecondary education and 
careers in their chosen POS.
    Each of these 10 components of the Framework has unique sub-
components. The sub-components for each of the 10 Framework components 
are in paragraph (a)(3) of selection criterion (a), State capacity to 
implement a rigorous program of study. Each State and its participating 
LEAs must use all 10 Framework components, must use each of the sub-
components of the 10 Framework components that the State deems relevant 
to the selected POS, and must explain how it plans to support the 
selected POS using the relevant sub-components.
    Existing Technical Skills Assessments: Applicants must propose a 
project to implement a State-developed or State-approved POS for which 
valid and reliable technical skills assessments (either third-party 
industry-recognized assessments, or State-developed or State-approved 
technical skills assessments based on industry standards that grant 
high school or postsecondary credit, or both) have been developed.
    Local Implementation: The applicant must propose a project to 
implement the selected POS in at least three LEAs that contain high 
schools, in concert with at least one of the LEA's postsecondary 
partners, i.e., at least one postsecondary institution (either two-year 
or four-year). If a participating LEA contains more than one high 
school, the LEA must implement the selected POS in at least one of its 
high schools. To the extent feasible, the State must implement the 
selected POS in at least one urban, one suburban, and one rural 
community within the State, and where circumstances preclude a State 
from serving at least one of each of these types of communities, 
provide an explanation in its application. To be eligible for funding 
an applicant is required to demonstrate that the LEAs chosen for 
participation in the POS project have the capacity to have all 10 
Framework components in place either at the start of the POS project or 
no later than the beginning of year 2 of the project. The applicant 
must include a letter of commitment from each LEA, expressing its 
interest in participating in the project and its commitment to 
implement the selected POS as prescribed by the State in years 2 
through 4 of the project and to maintain constancy in the 
implementation of the selected POS. During year 1 of the project, CTE 
staff from the funded States must provide technical assistance to their 
participating LEAs in order to strengthen weak Framework components or 
incorporate missing components, so that all 10 Framework components are 
in place to support the POS when it is implemented at the LEA level. 
The participating LEAs must implement the selected POS during years 2 
through 4 of the project, beginning at the start of the academic year 
corresponding to year 2 of the project. The applicant must include a 
plan that describes how CTE State staff will continue to work closely 
with the LEAs throughout the project period, and provide technical 
assistance and support to ensure constancy in the implementation of the 
selected POS in the participating LEAs.
    Applicants in States that have a single LEA must implement the 
selected POS in at least three high schools, in concert

[[Page 47579]]

with at least one of the LEA's postsecondary partners, i.e., at least 
one postsecondary institution (either two-year or four-year). To the 
extent feasible, the participating three high schools must represent 
urban, suburban, and rural communities and, where circumstances 
preclude a State from serving at least one of each of these types of 
communities in its three participating high schools, the State must 
provide an explanation in its application. All requirements that apply 
to LEAs in this notice would apply to the participating high schools 
and their postsecondary partner(s).
    Evaluation: Applicants must propose to conduct an annual evaluation 
of the project to assess the constancy of the implementation of the 
selected POS in the participating LEAs and the effectiveness of each of 
the 10 Framework components. To ensure consistency of implementation 
across the selected LEAs, CTE staff from the funded States must use a 
self-assessment instrument based on the 10 Framework components as part 
of the grant's project evaluation.
    Applicants must also use student outcome data to assess the 
progress of students enrolled in each selected POS. To ensure 
consistency across the funded States, State staff must attend a POS 
Evaluation Design meeting in Washington, DC, following their receipt of 
the grant award, to discuss and possibly refine the grantee self-
assessment tools related to the 10 Framework components that are 
developed by the grantees, and to work with OVAE and with each other to 
develop a plan for the States' use of student outcome data to assess 
the progress of students enrolled in each selected POS. This meeting 
will address evaluation and data collection issues, such as, student 
definitions; the number of students to be selected and the method of 
student selection to be followed; strategies for comparing outcomes for 
students who participate in the POS to other students who do not; the 
identification of potential comparison groups through the States' 
longitudinal data systems, including any documented valid and reliable 
alternative method of collecting individual student employment outcome 
data; and the timing of reporting. After the meeting, we will include 
the agreed-upon plan for the State's use of the student outcome data as 
an addendum to each grantee's cooperative agreement.
    In addition to requiring applicants to use student outcome data to 
assess the progress of students enrolled in each selected POS, the 
State must collect baseline data on postsecondary students who have not 
had the benefit of participating in a POS aligned with the 10 Framework 
components in order to compare the outcomes for those students with the 
outcomes for students who participate in a POS aligned with the 10 
Framework components. The State must also collect and report data 
annually on the following seven performance measures, which are based 
on the indicators of performance required under section 113(b) (State 
Performance Measures) and section 203(e) (Tech Prep Indicators of 
Performance and Accountability) of the Act:
    (a) Secondary school completion. The percentage of secondary 
students participating in the POS supported by the grant award who earn 
a high school diploma.
    (b) Technical skills attainment. The percentage of secondary 
students participating in the POS supported by the grant award who 
attain technical skills.
    (c) Earned postsecondary credit during high school. The percentage 
of secondary students participating in the POS supported by the grant 
award who earn postsecondary credit.
    (d) Enrollment in postsecondary education. The percentage of 
secondary students participating in the POS supported by the grant 
award who enroll in postsecondary education by the fall following high 
school graduation.
    (e) Enrollment in postsecondary education in a field or major 
related to the secondary POS. The percentage of secondary students 
participating in the POS supported by the grant award who enroll in a 
postsecondary education program in a field or major related to the 
participant's secondary POS.
    (f) Need for developmental course work in postsecondary education. 
The percentage of secondary students participating in the POS supported 
by the grant award who enroll in one or more postsecondary education 
developmental courses.
    (g) Postsecondary credential, certificate, or diploma attainment. 
The percentage of secondary students participating in the POS supported 
by the grant award who attain an industry-recognized credential, 
certificate, or associate's degree, within two years following 
enrollment in postsecondary education.
    Capacity of Statewide Longitudinal Data System: Applicants must 
propose the use of a longitudinal data system that has the capacity to 
link and share data among systems housing different types of data, in 
order to collect valid and reliable data on the required performance 
measures identified in the Evaluation requirement. The longitudinal 
data system must contain, at a minimum, the elements listed below, 
which elements are consistent with section 6401(e)(2)(D) of the America 
COMPETES Act (Pub. L. 110-69):
    (a) Statewide unique student identifiers;
    (b) Student-level enrollment data;
    (c) Student-level course completion (transcript) data;
    (d) The ability to match student-level secondary and postsecondary 
data;
    (e) The ability to match student-level data to employment outcome 
data, using--
    (1) Unemployment Insurance (UI) wage records, or
    (2) Documented valid and reliable alternative methods such as 
surveys that have, at a minimum, a 70 percent response rate;
    (f) A State data audit plan to verify that the education data are 
valid and reliable; and
    (g) An assurance that the use of data will be consistent with the 
requirements and protections contained in the Family Educational Rights 
and Privacy Act (FERPA).
    Dissemination: Applicants must propose to implement a dissemination 
plan for the project. The plan must include the development and 
maintenance of a project Web page for posting project materials, such 
as: Materials describing the State's process for approving POSs 
submitted by local recipients of funds; curricula developed for the 
selected POS; technical assistance materials provided to the 
participating LEAs and to other local recipients of funds, if 
applicable; professional development materials; materials describing 
evaluation results, including performance data on the required 
performance measures based on the indicators of performance; and other 
materials containing practical information that would be useful to 
other States in their efforts to implement and evaluate POSs. 
Applicants must also participate in POS activities sponsored by the 
Department, such as annual POS grantee meetings in which grantees 
describe the progress of their projects and discuss common issues, 
strategies, and models of best practices; OVAE/POS grantee 
presentations at the States' Annual National Career Clusters 
Institutes; OVAE/POS grantee presentations at annual NASDCTEc meetings; 
and presentations at OVAE-sponsored data quality meetings.
    Cooperative Agreement: We plan to make each award to grantees under 
this

[[Page 47580]]

program under the terms of a cooperative agreement. We expect to work 
closely with the funded States to maintain substantial involvement in 
project implementation, and to provide oversight on project activities 
by working collaboratively to develop a plan for the use of student 
outcome data, reviewing and approving project activities, reviewing and 
approving one stage of work before the grantee can begin a subsequent 
stage during the project period, and halting an activity if it is not 
consistent with the program requirements.

Final Selection Criteria

    The Assistant Secretary establishes the following selection 
criteria for evaluating an application under a POS competition. We may 
apply one or more of these criteria in any year in which we hold a 
competition under this program. In the notice inviting applications 
published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register, in the 
application package, or in both, we announce the maximum possible 
points assigned to each criterion.
    (a) State capacity to implement a rigorous program of study: In 
determining the applicant's capacity to implement a rigorous POS, we 
review each application to determine the extent to which:
    (1) The applicant proposes to build on existing State initiatives 
and partnerships in implementing the proposed project.
    (2) The applicant selects a POS that will provide training leading 
to high-growth, high-demand, or high-wage occupations as determined 
through analysis of the national, State, or local labor market.
    (3) The applicant provides evidence that it has selected a State-
developed or State-approved POS that is built and sustained with the 10 
Framework components identified in paragraphs (i) through (x); that it 
has identified which of the sub-components from among those listed 
under each Framework component are relevant to the selected POS; and 
that it plans to use those relevant sub-components in its POS and 
explains how it proposes to do so.
    (i) State and local legislation, rules and regulations, or 
administrative policies that promote POS development and 
implementation, such as--
    (A) The allocation of State or local funding (and other non-Federal 
resources) designed to promote POS development and long-term 
sustainability;
    (B) The use of established, formal procedures for the design, 
implementation, and continuous improvement of POSs;
    (C) Adherence to policies that ensure opportunities for any 
interested secondary student to participate in a POS; and
    (D) The use of individual graduation or career plans for 
participating students.
    (ii) Ongoing relationships among education, business, and other 
community stakeholders that support POS design, implementation, and 
maintenance, such as by--
    (A) Using written memoranda that specify the roles and 
responsibilities of partnership members;
    (B) Conducting ongoing analyses of economic and workforce trends to 
identify POSs that should be created, expanded, or, if appropriate, 
discontinued;
    (C) Linking POS development to existing initiatives that promote 
workforce and economic development; and
    (D) Identifying, validating, and updating technical and workforce 
readiness skills to be taught within POSs.
    (iii) Sustained, intensive, and focused professional development 
opportunities for administrators, teachers, and faculty that foster POS 
design, implementation, and maintenance, and that--
    (A) Support the alignment of academic and technical curriculum 
within the POS from grade to grade (within grades 9 through 12) and 
from secondary to postsecondary education;
    (B) Support the development of integrated academic and CTE 
curriculum and instruction within the POS;
    (C) Ensure that teachers and faculty have the necessary content 
knowledge to align and integrate curriculum and instruction within the 
POS;
    (D) Foster innovative teaching and learning strategies within the 
POS; and
    (E) Assist administrators, teachers, and faculty to use assessment 
data for POS program and instructional improvement.
    (iv) Accountability and evaluation systems and strategies that 
gather quantitative and qualitative data on all 10 Framework components 
as well as on student outcomes to inform ongoing efforts to develop and 
implement POSs and to determine their effectiveness, and that--
    (A) Yield valid and reliable data on key student outcomes 
(indicators of performance) referenced in the Act and other relevant 
Federal and State legislation; and
    (B) Provide timely data to inform ongoing efforts to develop, 
implement, evaluate, and improve the effectiveness of POSs.
    (v) POS content standards that define what students are expected to 
know and be able to do to enter and advance in college, their careers, 
or both, and that include aligned academic and technical content, and 
that--
    (A) Are developed and continually validated in collaboration with 
secondary, postsecondary, and industry partners;
    (B) Incorporate essential knowledge and skills that students must 
master regardless of their chosen career area or POS;
    (C) Provide the same rigorous knowledge and skills in reading or 
language arts and in mathematics that employers and colleges expect of 
high school graduates; and
    (D) To the extent practicable, are internationally benchmarked so 
that students are prepared to succeed in a global economy.
    (vi) Course sequences within a POS that help students transition to 
postsecondary education without the need to duplicate classes or enroll 
in remedial courses, as evidenced by--
    (A) Course sequence plans that map out recommended academic and 
career and technical courses for the POS;
    (B) Course sequence plans that begin with introductory courses that 
provide broad foundational knowledge and skills common across all POSs 
and then progress to more occupationally specific courses that provide 
the knowledge and skills required for entry into and advancement in the 
selected POS; and
    (C) Opportunities for students to earn postsecondary credit for 
coursework taken during high school.
    (vii) Formal credit transfer agreements among secondary schools and 
postsecondary institutions that--
    (A) Provide a systematic, seamless process for students to earn 
college credit for postsecondary courses taken in high school, transfer 
high school credit to any two- or four-year institution in the State 
that offers the POS, and transfer credit earned at a two-year college 
to any other two- or four-year institution in the State that offers the 
POS;
    (B) Record college credit earned by high school students on their 
high school transcripts at the time the credit is earned so that they 
can transfer seamlessly into the college portion of the POS without the 
need for additional paperwork or petitioning for credit; and
    (C) Describe the expectations and requirements for teacher and 
faculty qualifications, course prerequisites, postsecondary entry 
requirements, locations of courses, tuition

[[Page 47581]]

reimbursement, and the credit transfer process.
    (viii) Systems that provide career counseling and academic advisory 
services to help students make informed decisions about which POS to 
pursue and that--
    (A) Are based on State or local guidance and counseling standards, 
such as the National Career Development Guidelines;
    (B) Ensure that guidance counselors and academic advisors have 
access to up-to-date information about POS offerings to aid students in 
their decision-making;
    (C) Offer information and tools to help students learn about 
postsecondary education and career options, including about the 
prerequisites for particular POSs;
    (D) Provide resources for students to identify career interests and 
aptitudes and to select an appropriate POS;
    (E) Provide information and resources for parents, including 
workshops on college and financial aid applications, on helping their 
children prepare for college and careers; and
    (F) Provide Web-based resources and tools for obtaining student 
financial assistance.
    (ix) Innovative and creative instructional approaches that enable 
teachers to integrate academic and technical instruction and also 
enable students to apply academic and technical learning in their POS 
coursework, as evidenced by--
    (A) Interdisciplinary teaching teams of academic and career and 
technical secondary teachers or postsecondary faculty;
    (B) The use of contextualized work-based, project-based, and 
problem-based learning approaches; and
    (C) The use of teaching strategies that foster team-building, 
critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills.
    (x) Existing valid and reliable technical skills assessments that 
provide ongoing information on the extent to which students are 
attaining the necessary knowledge and skills for entry into and 
advancement in postsecondary education and careers in their chosen POS 
and that--
    (A) Are either third-party assessments recognized by industry or 
are technical skills assessments developed or approved by the State 
that are based on industry standards;
    (B) Measure student attainment of technical skill proficiencies at 
multiple points during a POS;
    (C) Incorporate, to the greatest extent possible, performance-based 
assessment items through which students must demonstrate the 
application of their knowledge and skills; and
    (D) Result in the awarding of secondary credit, postsecondary 
credit, or special designation on a student's high school diploma.
    (b) Capacity of statewide longitudinal data system: In determining 
the State's capacity to collect longitudinal data on a variety of 
secondary, postsecondary, and employment outcomes for individual 
students in order to assess the progress of students enrolled in the 
selected POS, we review each application to determine the extent to 
which:
    (1) The State's longitudinal data system contains, at a minimum, 
the following elements--
    (i) Statewide unique student identifiers;
    (ii) Student-level enrollment data;
    (iii) Student-level course completion (transcript) data;
    (iv) The ability to match student-level secondary and postsecondary 
data;
    (v) The ability to match student-level data with employment outcome 
data, using--
    (A) Unemployment Insurance (UI) wage records; or
    (B) Documented valid and reliable alternative methods such as 
surveys that have, at a minimum, a 70 percent response rate; and
    (vi) A State data audit plan to verify that the education data are 
valid and reliable.
    (2) The applicant provides evidence that project staff will be able 
to work cooperatively with State data specialists and to access the 
student outcome data needed to meet annual evaluation and reporting 
requirements for the POS project.
    (c) Local implementation plan: In determining the quality of the 
plan for local implementation of the selected POS, we review each 
application to determine the extent to which--
    (1) The applicant identifies each of the LEAs it has selected for 
local implementation of the POS and provides evidence of each LEA's 
capacity to implement the selected POS and the 10 Framework components, 
either at the start of the POS project or no later than the beginning 
of year 2 of the project, as well as the estimated number of students 
who would participate in the POS in years 2 through 4 of the project, 
by grade level;
    (2) To the extent feasible, the participating LEAs represent urban, 
suburban, and rural communities, and where circumstances preclude a 
State from serving at least one of each of these types of communities, 
the State has provided an explanation in its application;
    (3) For participating LEAs prepared to incorporate all 10 elements 
of the Framework in years 2 through 4 of the project, the applicant 
includes a letter of commitment from each LEA, expressing its interest 
in participating in the project and its commitment to implementing the 
selected POS as prescribed by the State in years 2 through 4 of the 
project and to maintain constancy in the implementation of the selected 
POS;
    (4) For participating LEAs that do not have all 10 Framework 
components in place at the start of the project, the applicant outlines 
the specific actions it will take to ensure that weak or missing 
Framework components are strengthened or created so that all 10 
Framework components are in place at those LEAs and the LEAs are ready 
to implement the POS by the beginning of the academic year 
corresponding to year 2 of the project;
    (5) The applicant outlines a plan to provide ongoing oversight and 
technical assistance to the participating LEAs throughout the project 
period, to ensure constancy in the implementation of the selected POS 
across the participating LEAs; and
    (6) An applicant in a State that has a single LEA outlines a plan--
    (i) To implement the selected POS in at least three high schools, 
in concert with at least one of the LEA's postsecondary partners, i.e., 
at least one postsecondary institution (either two-year or four-year); 
and
    (ii) To the extent feasible, the participating three high schools 
represent urban, suburban, and rural communities and, where 
circumstances preclude a State from serving at least one of each of 
these types of communities in its three participating high schools, the 
State has provided an explanation in its application.
    (d) Project management. In determining the quality of the 
management plan for the proposed project, we review each application to 
determine the extent to which--
    (1) The management plan incorporates, at a minimum, each of the 
requirements included in this notice and identifies specific and 
measurable objectives and tasks to be undertaken to accomplish each 
project activity;
    (2) The management plan assigns responsibility for the 
accomplishment of project tasks to specific partners or project 
personnel and provides timelines that will result in the timely 
completion of all required project activities within each phase of the 
project;

[[Page 47582]]

    (3) The Project Director and other key personnel clearly have the 
professional qualifications and experience necessary to implement their 
assigned project tasks; and
    (4) The time commitments of the Project Director, key personnel, 
and partners are appropriate to the tasks assigned.
    (e) Adequacy of resources. In determining the adequacy of resources 
for the proposed project, we consider the following factors:
    (1) The adequacy of support to be provided (i.e., facilities, 
equipment, supplies, or other resources) by participating agencies and 
institutions at the State and local levels.
    (2) Whether the budget is appropriate and the costs are reasonable 
in relation to the objectives and design of the proposed project.
    (f) Evaluation: In determining the quality of the proposed project 
evaluation, we review each application to determine the extent to 
which--
    (1) The proposed project evaluation is feasible and appropriate for 
evaluating the constancy of the implementation of the selected POS by 
the participating LEAs in years 2 through 4 of the project;
    (2) The proposed evaluation is feasible and appropriate for 
evaluating the effectiveness of each of the 10 Framework components in 
each LEA;
    (3) The proposed evaluation will be conducted by individuals or 
entities that possess the necessary background and expertise in project 
evaluation; and
    (4) The applicant expresses its commitment to participate in the 
Department's Evaluation Design Meeting and has included suggestions 
regarding the use of student outcome data that it would be able to 
access through the State's longitudinal data system, including any 
documented valid and reliable alternative methods for collecting 
individual student employment outcome data, to assess the progress of 
students enrolled in the POS.
    This notice does not preclude us from proposing additional 
priorities, requirements, definitions, or selection criteria, subject 
to meeting applicable rulemaking requirements.

    Note:  This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in 
which we choose to use one or more of these priorities, 
requirements, and selection criteria, 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 final 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, requirements, and selection 
criteria justify the costs. This action would provide additional 
resources to States to help them implement an existing statutory 
requirement under the Act, the implementation of programs of study at 
the State and local levels.
    We have determined, also, that this final 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 proposed Federal financial assistance.
    This document provides early notification of our specific plans and 
actions for this program.
    Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this 
document in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, 
audiotape, or computer diskette) on request to the program contact 
person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.
    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: August 3, 2010.
Brenda Dann-Messier,
Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education.
[FR Doc. 2010-19487 Filed 8-5-10; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P