FR Doc 06-9404
[Federal Register: November 27, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 227)]
[Page 68697-68706]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []

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Part III

Department of Education


 Special Education and Rehabilitative Services--Individuals with 
Disabilities Education Improvement Act; Comment and Recommendations on 
the Proposed Comprehensive Plan for Part D; Notice

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Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services--Proposed 
Comprehensive Plan for National Activities under Subparts 2 and 3, Part 
D of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, as amended by the 
Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA)

AGENCY: Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of request for comment and recommendations on the 
Proposed Comprehensive Plan for IDEA Part D National Activities.


SUMMARY: The Secretary of Education (Secretary) solicits comments and 
recommendations from the public prior to finalizing the comprehensive 
plan for national activities authorized under subparts 2 and 3, part D 
of IDEA (Comprehensive Plan or Plan). Pursuant to section 681(a) of 
IDEA, the Secretary is responsible for developing and implementing the 
Comprehensive Plan in order to enhance the provision of early 
intervention services, educational services, related services, and 
transitional services to children with disabilities under parts B and C 
of IDEA.

DATES: In order to be assured of consideration as we develop the final 
Comprehensive Plan, we must receive your comments on or before January 
11, 2007.

ADDRESSES: Address all comments about the proposed Comprehensive Plan 
to the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. 
Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., Potomac Center 
Plaza, room 4102, Washington, DC 20202-2641.
    If you prefer to send your comments through the Internet, use the 
following address:
    You must use the term ``Comments on IDEA Part D National Activities 
Comprehensive Plan'' in the subject line of your electronic message.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah Kuiken. Telephone: (202) 245-
    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 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We invite you to submit comments regarding 
any areas of the proposed Comprehensive Plan in which you believe 
changes are needed, either to clarify a provision or to facilitate its 
implementation. To ensure that your comments have maximum effect in 
developing the final Comprehensive Plan, we urge you to identify 
clearly the specific area of the Plan that each comment addresses and 
to arrange your comments in the same order as the proposed Plan.
    We encourage you to make your comments as specific as possible 
regarding the nature and scope of the action necessary to provide the 
clarifications you are seeking. Please specify how your your change 
will clarify or help to improve the Comprehensive Plan.
    Please also include the following with your comments and 
recommendations: A description of the area of your involvement in 
special education, regular education or early intervention, as well as 
your role, if any, in that area (e.g., parent, teacher, student, 
service provider, administrator, or researcher).
    During and after the comment period, you may inspect all public 
comments about the Comprehensive Plan at Potomac Center Plaza, 550 12th 
Street, SW., Washington, DC, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., 
Eastern time, Monday through Friday of each week except Federal 

Assistance to Individuals With Disabilities in Reviewing the Comments

    On request, we will supply an appropriate aid, such as a reader or 
print magnifier, to an individual with a disability who needs 
assistance to review the comments. If you want to schedule an 
appointment for this type of aid, please contact the person listed 

Comprehensive Plan

    The proposed Comprehensive Plan is published as an attachment to 
this notice.

Electronic Access to This Document

    You may review 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:

    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:

    Dated: November 15, 2006.
John H. Hager,
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

IDEA Part D National Activities Comprehensive Plan

Planning Requirements

    The national activities authorized under subparts 2 and 3, part D 
of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, as amended by the 
Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA) 
support States, school systems, and families in improving results for 
infants, toddlers, and children with disabilities. These improvements 
are achieved through a series of strategic investments in knowledge 
production and development, knowledge transfer and utilization, and 
knowledge implementation evaluation.
    In section 681(a) of IDEA, Congress directed the Secretary to 
develop and implement a comprehensive plan (Comprehensive Plan or Plan) 
for the national activities authorized under subparts 2 and 3, part D 
of IDEA (IDEA Part D National Activities) in order to enhance the 
provision of early intervention services, educational services, related 
services, and transitional services to children with disabilities under 
parts B and C of IDEA. To the extent practicable, the Plan must be 
coordinated with the plan developed pursuant to section 178(c) of the 
Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002. The Plan will be used by the 
Department of Education (Department) to ensure that the activities 
funded under subparts 2 and 3, part D of IDEA (Subparts 2 and 3) 
further the long-term program goals of Subparts 2 and 3 and benefit 
children of all ages with the full range of disabilities. To the extent 
possible, the Plan must include mechanisms to address early 
intervention, educational, related service, and transitional needs 
identified by State educational agencies (SEAs) in applications 
submitted for State personnel development grants under subpart 1, part 
D of IDEA as well as grants under Subparts 2 and 3.
    As the principal Federal agency administering IDEA, the 
Department's Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has been 
charged by the Secretary with coordinating the Plan's development and 
implementation. A

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summary of OSEP's comprehensive planning process follows.

Planning Process

    Building on the implementation of earlier plans developed by the 
Department in accordance with part D of IDEA and the Government 
Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA), OSEP designed the IDEA part 
D Comprehensive Planning Process (Planning Process) to identify key 
issues that must be addressed to meet the critical needs of infants, 
toddlers, and children with disabilities and their families.
    In 2005, OSEP solicited assistance from an outside contractor, The 
Study Group Inc., to facilitate the Planning Process. The Study Group 
began work with OSEP on the Planning Process by engaging the expertise 
of a national workgroup comprised of individuals within and outside the 
Department. The workgroup included 20 members who represented IDEA Part 
D stakeholder groups and a broad range of expertise including: experts 
in designing, implementing, and evaluating the types of national 
activities called for in Subparts 2 and 3; experts knowledgeable about 
the operation of SEAs, local educational agencies (LEAs), and IDEA Part 
C lead agencies (LAs); and experts familiar with the needs and 
priorities of teachers, parents, administrators, early intervention 
personnel, related services personnel, and transition personnel. In 
addition staff from both OSEP and the National Center for Special 
Education Research participated in the process.
    The workgroup convened in Washington, DC, on October 3-4, 2005, to 
examine current and future efforts to improve results for children with 
disabilities across seven cross-cutting program outcomes that had been 
generated through prior IDEA and Department planning processes.
    This proposed Comprehensive Plan was informed by the work of the 
workgroup, the Department's internal long range planning process, and a 
review of the following information sources:
     State Annual Performance Reports (APRs) for parts B and C 
of IDEA.
     Personnel development activities conducted by States 
through State Personnel Development Grants (subpart 1, part D of IDEA).
     Transitional needs identified by SEAs in applications 
submitted for State personnel development grants under subpart 1, part 
D of IDEA as well as grants under Subparts 2 and 3.
     Long-term program goals and performance measures developed 
by OSEP for programs authorized under part D of IDEA.
     Topics and issues identified during OSEP's prior part D 
Comprehensive Planning Process in 2002.
     GPRA indicators and targets.
     State-reported data under section 618 of IDEA.
     Studies and evaluations supported under IDEA on a wide 
range of issues related to IDEA and its impact on States, districts, 
schools, and children with disabilities and their families.

The Scope of the Plan: Programs Authorized Under Subparts 2 and 3

    The purpose of the IDEA Part D National Activities is to improve 
early intervention, educational, related service, and transitional 
outcomes for children with disabilities. The Comprehensive Plan 
addresses the range of national programs authorized under Subparts 2 
and 3, such as teacher training and personnel development, technology 
and media services, parent training and information, and technical 
assistance and dissemination. The program areas authorized under 
Subparts 2 and 3 are described in the following sections.\1\

    \1\ Section 665 of IDEA, a new provision in the law, authorizes 
a program for Interim Alternative Educational Settings, Behavioral 
Supports, and Systemic School Interventions. Planning for this 
program, should Congress appropriate funds for it, is addressed 
under planning for the program outcomes and areas described in this 
Comprehensive Plan.

     Personnel Development to Improve Services and Results for 
Children with Disabilities. (IDEA, section 662) The personnel 
development activities supported under section 662 of IDEA assist 
States in meeting their responsibility to ensure the availability of 
highly qualified personnel to serve infants, toddlers and children with 
disabilities. Part D of IDEA authorizes support for pre-service and in-
service training targeting special educators, regular educators, 
administrators, and related services personnel. Personnel Development 
projects focus on supporting beginning special educators, training for 
the education of children with low-incidence disabilities, and 
leadership preparation.
     Technical Assistance, Demonstration Projects, 
Dissemination of Information, and Implementation of Scientifically 
Based Research. (IDEA, section 663) Technical assistance, model 
demonstrations, and dissemination are the primary vehicles under IDEA 
for putting up-to-date, scientifically based information into the hands 
of individuals and organizations serving children with disabilities. 
IDEA Part D funds support national centers and projects designed to 
improve services in such areas as: Addressing behavioral needs of 
students with disabilities; improving the alignment and development of 
valid and reliable assessments and alternate assessments; training 
personnel on how to address diverse student learning and performance 
characteristics; ensuring effective transitions between school and 
post-school settings for students with disabilities; and applying 
scientifically based research to the implementation of policy, 
procedures, practices, and training.
     Parent Training and Information Centers and Community 
Parent Resource Centers. (IDEA, sections 671 through 673) Parent 
Training and Information Centers and Community Parent Resource Centers 
provide information, technical assistance, and training to families of 
children with disabilities on child and parent rights under IDEA, the 
nature and needs of a child's disability, and effective communication 
with professionals serving children with disabilities.
     Technology Development, Demonstration, and Utilization; 
Media Services; and Instructional Materials. (IDEA, section 674) The 
technology and media-related activities supported under section 674 of 
IDEA promote the development, demonstration, and utilization of 
technology along with research on using technology to improve learning 
and provide access to the classroom for children with disabilities. 
Media services include captioning and video description that are 
appropriate for use in the classroom setting, for individuals who are 
hearing impaired, blind, or print disabled. Also funded under this 
authority is the National Instructional Materials Access Center 
(NIMAC), a new national center required by IDEA. The purpose of the 
NIMAC is to function as a national repository for National 
Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) files.
     Studies and Evaluation. (IDEA, section 664) Part D of IDEA 
authorizes a comprehensive program of national studies and evaluations 
to provide information on a wide range of issues related to IDEA and 
its impact on States, districts, schools, and children with 
disabilities and their families. Section 664 of IDEA requires a 
national assessment of special education to determine the effectiveness 
of IDEA; to provide timely information to the President, Congress, 
States, LEAs, and the public on how to implement IDEA more effectively; 
and to provide the President and Congress information that

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will be useful in developing legislation to achieve the purposes of 
IDEA more effectively.\2\

    \2\ IDEA delegates to the Director of the Institute of Education 
Sciences (IES) responsibility to carry out most of section 664 of 
IDEA (Studies and Evaluation), including two legally mandated 
research activities, the ``Assessment of National Activities'', and 
a ``Study on Ensuring Accountability for Students Who Are Held to 
Alternate Assessment Standards.'' Other activities supported under 
the Studies and Evaluations program include the National 
Longitudinal Transition Study-2, and the Pre-Elementary Education 
Longitudinal Study. This comprehensive plan includes those 
activities delegated to IES under section 664 of IDEA, and 
coordination between OSEP and IES is discussed in the following 


    This proposed Comprehensive Plan is designed to ensure that the 
national activities funded under Subparts 2 and 3:
     Support the provisions of IDEA and benefit children of all 
ages with the full range of disabilities.
     Align with and support the full and successful 
implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) and the 
Secretary's initiatives. For further information on the Secretary's 
initiatives, please refer to:

     Address the Department requirements for long range program 
planning and accountability by furthering the long-term program goals 
of Subparts 2 and 3.
    The proposed Plan is organized around seven program outcomes that 
OSEP has identified as important for improving results for children 
with disabilities. These program outcomes also: connect to OSEP's IDEA 
program performance and accountability measures; relate to the needs of 
children of all ages and with all types of disabilities and are 
applicable to all programs authorized under Subparts 2 and 3; and 
relate to topics and issues that OSEP has supported through IDEA Part D 
National Activities in the past, but that require further investments. 
The seven program outcomes are:
     To the maximum extent appropriate, children with 
disabilities will receive high quality educational and early 
intervention services in natural settings with typically developing 
     Children with disabilities will be appropriately 
identified and served in a timely manner.
     Children with disabilities will demonstrate improved 
literacy, including early language, communication and numeracy skills.
     Children with disabilities will demonstrate improved 
social and behavioral skills.
     Students with disabilities will complete high school 
prepared for independent living and postsecondary education and/or 
competitive employment.
     All service providers, including special education 
teachers, paraprofessionals, related service personnel and early 
intervention personnel, will be qualified and possess the knowledge and 
skills to implement effective, research-based practices and 
     Family capacity will be enhanced.

Program Outcomes

    This section more fully describes each program outcome and the 
Department's proposed investment plans for the next 5 to 10 years for 
supporting, through the IDEA Part D National Activities, projects and 
activities that are designed to achieve these outcomes. Decisions 
regarding specific investments addressing these outcome areas will be 
made on an annual basis in accordance with the guidance and priorities 
of the Secretary. In addition, several outcome areas identified below 
in the context of improving results for children with disabilities are 
also addressed for all children under NCLB. Where appropriate, the 
funding and implementation of specific activities and projects will be 
coordinated with ongoing work in other offices throughout the 
Department that are addressing similar substantive areas for all 
students. Under each program outcome, we have included brief 
descriptions of possible approaches to achieve these outcomes.

Outcome 1: To the Maximum Extent Appropriate, Children With 
Disabilities Will Receive High Quality Educational and Early 
Intervention Services in Natural Settings With Typically Developing 

    This outcome relates to two key requirements of IDEA-- (1) That 
children with disabilities are provided a free appropriate public 
education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE), and (2) 
that infants and toddlers receiving early intervention services are 
provided those services in ``natural environments'', which for very 
young children could be a home or community setting. The LRE for a 
child varies with each child's individual needs. Some children may make 
progress in a regular classroom setting while others may need 
alternatives to a regular classroom. High quality educational services 
are critical to providing access to the general education curriculum 
for children with disabilities such that they have opportunities 
similar to their non-disabled peers to participate and demonstrate 
progress in that curriculum. Also included in this outcome area is the 
interaction between children with disabilities and their non-disabled 
peers. The emphasis is not on placement but whether children are 
spending their day in activities with nondisabled children.
    The Department intends to support IDEA Part D National Activities 
that address this outcome by supporting projects and activities that 
are designed to:
     Enhance the capacity of regular and special education to 
provide differentiated instruction across all age, academic, and 
functional levels of students. Differentiated instruction responds to 
the diversity present in today's regular education classrooms. It 
promotes a teacher's response to individual learner needs and is based 
on a student's readiness, interests, and learning profile (Tomlinson, 
2001). Differentiated instruction also motivates and engages students 
in the general education curriculum.
     Describe characteristics of successful interventions to 
optimize children's access to the general education curriculum or 
appropriate early childhood activities. Research that traces back more 
than two decades indicates that instructional strategies, such as 
presenting lessons in multiple formats and linking lessons to students' 
prior knowledge, can promote students' access to new knowledge 
(Gersten, Fuchs, Williams, and Baker, 2001; Deshler et al., 2001). 
Similarly, the use of other scientifically based practices, such as 
mnemonics and peer tutoring, has been shown to increase the amount of 
time students with disabilities spend engaged and learning. In the 
context of early childhood education, this outcome would focus on 
practices such as early literacy, motor skills, and social emotional 
     Assess the impact of participation in the general 
education curriculum on student academic performance and social and 
behavioral interactions. NCLB and IDEA work together to ensure that 
schools, districts, and States are held accountable for improving the 
achievement of all groups of students, including students with 
disabilities, each year. It is important to gather and analyze data on 
the ways in which we support participation of children with 
disabilities in the general education curriculum and how the different

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approaches support improved outcomes for students with disabilities.
     Align student data collection, analysis, and reporting 
systems to be consistent with State accountability systems. IDEA Part D 
stakeholders are using validated innovations in assessment to collect 
and analyze data on students with disabilities, such as curriculum-
based measurement (CBM), which uses the frequent collection of data to 
help teachers make informed decisions about instruction. Aligning data 
that is collected at the classroom level with data collected for State 
accountability purposes will improve the quality of information that is 
available to assess the progress of students with disabilities at the 
individual, classroom, school, district and State levels.
     Identify uses of technology to enhance and monitor student 
participation in the general education curriculum or appropriate early 
childhood practices. The use of specially designed CBM technology, for 
example, has virtually eliminated the need for teachers to be involved 
in the mechanical and technical aspects of CBM assessment (Fuchs, 
Fuchs, McMaster, and Otalba 2003; Spicuzza et al., 2001). In addition, 
the use of classroom instruction that employs computer-aided 
instruction allows students to receive immediate feedback, and provides 
multiple ways of interacting with content.

Outcome 2: Children With Disabilities Will Be Appropriately Identified 
and Served in a Timely Manner

    This outcome focuses on the child find provisions in IDEA for all 
children across the age continuum, not only for very young children. 
The intent of this outcome is to improve early and appropriate 
identification of children with disabilities and the provision of 
timely and effective services to those children. The impact of 
inappropriate identification has resulted in disproportionate 
representation by race and ethnicity in some disability categories, and 
late and most likely under-identification of children in other 
categories (Klingner et al., 2005; Donovan and Cross, 2002; Losen and 
Reschly, 1998; Garcia and Ortiz, 1988).
    The Department intends to support IDEA Part D National Activities 
that address this outcome by supporting projects and activities that 
are designed to:
     Ensure a flexible early intervention system that promotes 
timely referral, evaluation, identification, and service delivery from 
birth through age 21. There is strong empirical evidence to suggest 
that early and timely intervention for the kindergarten through grade 3 
population, with continuous progress monitoring, will result in 
improved learning outcomes for at-risk students, and may ultimately 
reduce inappropriate referrals to, and enrollment in, special education 
(Foorman et al., 1998; Speece and Case 2001; Torgesen et al., 2001; 
Vaughn, Linan-Thompson, and Hickman, 2003; Vellutino, Scanlon, and 
Lyon, 2000; Kozleski, Sobel, and Taylor, 2003). While emphasis has been 
placed on identification of at-risk students at the elementary level, 
the current identification, evaluation, and service delivery system 
must respond to the needs of all learners from birth through age 21. In 
particular, the system must provide flexibility to enter and exit 
special education and collaborating agency services across disability 
and age spectrums.
     Disseminate evidence-based models of early identification 
and early intervening programs, including programs based on ``Response 
to Intervention'' (RTI). Both IDEA and NCLB support the use of multi-
tier systems of intervention options to provide high quality 
instruction and intervention that match children's needs. Dissemination 
of models of early intervention that are based on RTI, as well as other 
evidence-based models of intervention, is important because such 
dissemination will require researchers and technical assistance 
providers to identify core principles of the interventions and policy 
considerations, as well as the professional development needs across 
all systems of education (e.g., SEA, LEA) and institutions of higher 
     Enhance the ability of regular education, special 
education, and early childhood programs to collect, analyze, and report 
progress data for continuous, data-based decision-making. NCLB has 
focused attention on the importance of tracking student academic 
progress to assist in early identification of children with 
disabilities, inform instructional practice, and to demonstrate student 
progress. The delivery of technical assistance and dissemination of 
information is needed to assist regular educators, special educators, 
and early childhood personnel in differentiating the collection of and 
the analysis of data to inform instruction and improve early 
identification. Instructional and behavioral data need to be easily 
accessible to field practitioners. In order for data-driven decision-
making to occur, data collection and reporting systems across agencies 
need to be compatible and comprehensible to both users and receivers of 
the information.
     Implement personnel preparation programs for regular 
education, special education, and early childhood personnel with an 
emphasis on early intervention. Pre-service and in-service professional 
development opportunities and programs that provide the philosophical 
foundation for early interventions, including RTI and other evidence-
based systems of identification, evaluation, and service delivery, are 
needed. Field practitioners, both veteran and novice, require 
knowledge, skills, and technology to implement effective, research-
based practices and interventions.
     Address issues of inappropriate disproportionate 
representation of minority students in special education. While many 
States have documented disproportionate representation of minorities in 
special education, to date, there are few models or strategies that 
have proven effective in reducing inappropriate identification 
(Artiles, Rueda, Salazar, and Higareda, 2002; Donovan and Cross, 2002; 
Klingner et al., 2005; Oswald, Coutinho, Best, and Singh, 1999). 
Further exploration is needed to assist regular educators in 
differentiating instruction for all learners based on student need. 
Both regular and special educators need to become better skilled at 
using culturally free identification practices and interventions for 
students who are at-risk for school failure and, potentially, for being 
identified as needing special education.

Outcome 3: Children With Disabilities Will Demonstrate Improved 
Literacy, Including Early Language, Communication and Numeracy Skills

    This outcome focuses on the development of literacy and numeracy 
skills by children with disabilities across all age groups. In both 
literacy and numeracy, the skill range should cover pre- and early 
learning skills to more advanced skills. The goal for students with 
disabilities, age 6 through 21, is to meet challenging standards as 
determined by State assessments, using accommodations, as appropriate. 
For young children, the goal is for functional outcomes to improve. The 
use of technology, media and instructional materials will be considered 
in each of the projects and activities described below.
    The Department intends to support IDEA Part D National Activities 
that address this outcome by supporting projects and activities that 
are designed to:

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     Focus on improving middle and high school literacy. At 
higher grade levels, literacy skills become increasingly important for 
accessing the general education curriculum. Students with disabilities 
who do not receive sufficient literacy instruction at younger ages risk 
falling even further behind as they grow older, both in their literacy 
skills and in their ability to master other academic content areas. 
Accordingly, there is a need for evidence-based literacy instruction, 
for students with disabilities, to be widely used across middle and 
high school grades.
     Improve the quality and usefulness of student performance 
data measurement systems for students with disabilities. Student 
performance data can help teachers, administrators, and parents 
appropriately monitor a student's progress in developing literacy 
skills. For example, these data can help pinpoint a student's strengths 
and weaknesses. High quality performance measurement data systems also 
can facilitate teachers' ability to modify instruction as needed to 
meet the needs of students with disabilities.
     Disseminate and implement promising practices that promote 
literacy and numeracy across the school curriculum and across 
environments (e.g., early childhood settings, home, and community). 
Literacy and numeracy are important basic skills that affect the 
ability of students to succeed in all content areas and all 
environments. Whether a child is learning history, mathematics, or 
other subjects, the child's literacy and numeracy are essential to 
ensuring the child's success in the classroom, in early childhood 
settings, at home, or in the community.
     Encourage implementation of RTI as an instructional 
practice in regular education environments. The most recent 
reauthorization of IDEA allows the use of RTI strategies to identify 
children with learning disabilities. The RTI model is based upon 
evidence that many of the problems that lead to special education 
referral (e.g., lack of progress in literacy development) can best be 
addressed in regular education environments, prior to, and perhaps in 
lieu of, a special education referral. The RTI approach is intended to 
encourage practitioners to intervene early for all children who are 
considered academically at-risk.

Outcome 4: Children With Disabilities Will Demonstrate Improved Social 
and Behavioral Skills

    Documentation of the nature of the relationship between improved 
social and behavioral skills and improved academic outcomes is emerging 
(Warren et al., 2004; Brooks, Todd, Tofflemoyer, and Horner, 2003). All 
children require some level of social and behavioral support. While 
most children will respond to a systematic school-wide model that 
provides social and behavioral support, others will require more 
intensive levels of support and intervention to achieve improved 
educational outcomes.
    The Department intends to support IDEA Part D National Activities 
that address this outcome by supporting projects and activities that 
are designed to:
     Develop positive measures to assess social and emotional 
growth and development. Positive behavioral interventions and supports 
have contributed to improvements in student behavior (Sugai et al., 
2000). While existing measures have emphasized behavioral difficulties, 
office discipline referral, suspensions, and expulsions, future 
measures should include assessments of pro-social behaviors, including 
students' social and emotional growth and development, social 
inclusion, and self-determination.
     Implement early identification and intervention systems to 
promote positive social and emotional behaviors. Research, training, 
technical assistance and technology projects and activities supported 
under the IDEA Part D National Activities have demonstrated the 
effectiveness of early intervention systems that promote school-wide 
use of positive behavioral interventions and supports (Stormont, Lewis, 
and Beckner, 2005). There is a need for continued work in these areas 
in order to support further implementation of proven practices for 
early intervention. In particular, there is a need to emphasize the 
implementation of early identification systems that focus on children 
ages birth through nine.
     Design protocols to measure increased academic engagement 
resulting from improved social and behavioral skills. Recent studies 
are demonstrating a positive relationship between improved behavior and 
improved academic achievement. Protocols must be designed to assess the 
relationship between student behavior, academic relevance and rigor, 
and increased academic engagement.
     Increase the collaboration and interaction among schools, 
families, and social service agencies in the design and implementation 
of behavioral support systems. Parent training and information centers 
funded under subpart 3 of part D of IDEA have facilitated the delivery 
of information on behavioral supports to parents. In order to maximize 
improved behavioral outcomes for children, additional work is needed 
for the design and implementation of behavioral support systems that 
benefit from effective collaboration and shared decision-making among 
schools, families, and social service agencies.
     Support enhanced school leadership in the design and 
delivery of school-wide student behavioral support systems. School 
leadership is a key factor in school-wide change and the effective 
implementation of school-wide behavioral supports (OSEP Center on 
Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, University of Oregon, 
2002). While nearly half of the States currently require elementary 
principals to have knowledge in behavioral supports in order to be 
certified, there is a need for projects that support leadership 
development and provide school leaders with the necessary knowledge and 
skills to design and deliver school-wide behavioral supports.

Outcome 5: Students With Disabilities Will Complete High School 
Prepared for Independent Living and Postsecondary Education and/or 
Competitive Employment

    For some years, OSEP has attempted to ensure that secondary school 
students with disabilities complete high school prepared for 
independent living and postsecondary education and/or competitive 
employment. OSEP has monitored this outcome by reviewing changes in the 
graduation rate and the dropout rate of students with disabilities. 
While trends for both of these indicators have demonstrated movement in 
the right direction, there is a need for more work in this area (Lehr 
et al., 2004; Thurlow, Sinclair, and Johnson, 2002; Wagner, Newman, 
Cameto, and Levine, 2005).
    The Department intends to support IDEA Part D National Activities 
that address this outcome by supporting projects and activities that 
are designed to:
     Develop a broad range of performance measures to assess 
student transition outcomes. The measures typically used to assess 
outcomes for transition-aged students are graduation and dropout rates. 
These data alone do not provide a complete picture of successful 
transition outcomes. It is important to continue to identify and 
collect longitudinal information that describes the status of 
individuals with disabilities after they exit school. Expanded 
performance measures include participation in postsecondary education, 
employment, wages and benefits, and independent living status.

[[Page 68703]]

     Support and disseminate model programs of evidence-based 
success in meeting the needs of transition-aged students and their 
families. The knowledge base about successful transition of students 
with disabilities from secondary school to postsecondary environments 
has grown considerably over the past two decades. Research confirms the 
value of well-designed, well-coordinated transition activities 
involving schools, students, families, and community and adult service 
agencies while also documenting the constant need for further 
improvement in transition services and supports (Lehr et al., 2004; 
National Center on Secondary Education and Transition, 2005). Improved 
transition services and student outcomes are dependent upon the 
identification and dissemination of effective strategies, models, and 
information that will assist parents and professionals in the 
transition decision-making process.
     Promote programs that include both academic achievement 
skills attainment (graduation/school completion) and, as needed, the 
skills necessary to participate in employment and community living. 
With an emphasis on academic achievement and high stakes testing, 
schools are finding it difficult to provide students with disabilities 
with programs and services that support employment and career 
development as well as other skills that enhance independence and 
community living and participation (National Longitudinal Study, 1993; 
Bremer, Kachgal, and Schoeller, 2003; Johnson, Thurlow, Cosio, and 
Bremer, 2005; National Center on Secondary Education and Transition, 
February, 2004). Programs that support academic and community and 
employment skills are especially important for students with more 
significant cognitive disabilities because these students typically 
need formal training and skill development at the secondary level in 
order to attain employment and live more independently.
     Increase collaboration among stakeholder agencies for 
long-term postsecondary success, including continuing education, 
employment, independent living, and community participation. Research 
on evidence-based practices confirms that effective transition planning 
and services for students with disabilities exiting high school depend 
on cooperative linkages between schools and other human service and 
community agencies (Johnson et al., 2002; Crane and Mooney, 2005). 
Successful interagency agreements for transition planning and services 
require clear descriptions of the responsibilities of, and strategies 
and methods used by, schools and other agencies that support transition 
activities and promote success in postsecondary environments.
     Promote early student and family involvement in transition 
planning with an emphasis on self-determination. Too many students and 
families report that a ``lack of information'' about postsecondary 
opportunities, including continuing education and community and adult 
services, restricts meaningful involvement in the transition planning 
for post-school opportunities, as required by IDEA (National Center on 
Secondary Education and Transition, January, 2004; Hasazi et al., 
2005). Providing students and families with vital information early in 
the transition planning process supports informed decision-making and 
promotes self-determination and self-advocacy.

Outcome 6: All Service Providers Including Special Education Teachers, 
Paraprofessionals, Related Service Personnel and Early Intervention 
Personnel Will Be Qualified, and Possess the Knowledge and Skills to 
Implement Effective, Research-Based Practices and Interventions

    This outcome is intended to focus on ensuring that the individuals 
who are responsible for serving children with disabilities and 
implementing IDEA are appropriately and adequately trained and have the 
necessary content knowledge and skills. Under the highly qualified 
requirements contained in IDEA, all special education teachers must be 
fully certified as special education teachers. Additionally, special 
education teachers who teach core academic subjects are required to 
meet the requirements for highly qualified teachers under NCLB, except 
as provided under IDEA. These requirements do not apply to IDEA Part C 
providers. OSEP has a long history of supporting evidence-based 
training programs for special education, early intervention, and 
related service personnel. Historically, Federal investments in 
training programs have been targeted in two key areas: (1) Addressing 
critical, on-going shortages in the supply of qualified personnel; and 
(2) addressing the need for high quality training programs that are 
capable of training personnel who are knowledgeable and skilled in 
evidence-based practices to improve results for children with 
    The Department intends to support IDEA Part D National Activities 
that address this outcome by supporting projects and activities that 
are designed to:
     Develop and disseminate model programs that enhance the 
knowledge and skills of special education, related service and early 
intervention providers across disabilities and age, grade, and content 
areas. Model strategies, such as programs involving nationally 
disseminated evidence-based training modules and beginning teacher 
mentor and induction models, have been linked to improvements in the 
preparation of special education teachers. Institutions of higher 
education responsible for preparing teachers need resources and 
information on the best available evidence and strategies that are 
linked to improved outcomes for children with disabilities. These types 
of model programs and strategies would also be beneficial to regular 
education training programs in assisting those teachers in meeting 
their instructional responsibility for children with disabilities.
     Identify the characteristics of quality pre-service 
programs that prepare special and regular education teachers and early 
childhood providers to best serve students with disabilities. Pre-
service programs must recognize that special and regular education 
teachers and early childhood providers are responsible for the 
instruction of individuals with diverse needs, backgrounds, and 
learning styles. Continued improvement in the pre-service preparation 
of teachers requires identification of program characteristics that 
promote instructional and behavioral skills consistent with the 
requirements for highly qualified teachers.
     Investigate and validate alternative routes to teacher 
certification. The increased demand for teachers, and particularly 
special education teachers, has renewed interest in alternative 
certification mechanisms. On-line instruction and other innovative 
approaches are providing opportunities for students from non-
traditional backgrounds to seek teacher certification. While 
alternative certification programs may be necessary to help States 
address existing shortages in the supply of qualified personnel, it is 
essential to establish and maintain rigorous outcome standards for the 
graduates of these programs.
     Develop an effective infrastructure that responds to the 
changing needs of teachers and school leaders, including the provision 
of technical assistance, innovative pre-service programs, and the use 
of technology to address professional development needs. The 
professional preparation and development of instructional and 
leadership personnel serving students

[[Page 68704]]

with disabilities must be considered ongoing rather than terminal. 
Continuing high quality, evidence-based technical assistance and 
professional development programs and supports enable instructional and 
leadership personnel to meet the changing needs of students and 
families and to take full advantage of new technologies that may enable 
them to serve students with disabilities more effectively.
     Enhance recruitment and retention practices to ensure a 
qualified work force. School districts list a shortage of qualified 
applicants as the greatest barrier to obtaining qualified special 
education teachers (Billingsley and McLeskey, 2004; Billingsley, 2004; 
McLeskey, Tyler, and Flippin, 2004; Carlson et al., 2002). Effective 
recruitment and retention practices are critical to securing and 
maintaining a qualified workforce. More than one-third of special 
education teachers are either undecided about how long they are likely 
to remain in teaching, or do not plan to continue teaching in special 
education until they retire (Carlson et al., 2002). Accordingly, more 
work must be done to identify the factors that attract individuals to 
the field of special education as well as the rewards and incentives 
that will enable school districts to retain skilled teachers, related 
service personnel, and school leaders.

Outcome 7: Family Capacity will be Enhanced

    This outcome focuses on enhancing family capacity in areas such as: 
Knowing their rights under IDEA and how to advocate for their children; 
understanding their children's strengths, abilities, and special needs; 
helping their children develop and learn; having access to support 
systems; and having access to desired services, programs, and 
activities in their communities.
    The Department intends to support IDEA Part D National Activities 
that address this outcome by supporting projects and activities that 
are designed to:
     Ensure that parents and families across the socio-economic 
and cultural spectrum have access to and understand information that 
will support their involvement in all decisions about their child. 
Outreach is necessary to ensure that all families are aware of and have 
access to usable and timely resources to inform and empower decision-
making about their child. Targeted outreach is needed to ensure the 
inclusion of underserved families as defined in IDEA, including low 
income parents, parents of limited English proficient children, and 
parents with disabilities.
     Assist parents and families in becoming better consumers 
of supports and services. Families play a critical role in the 
education of their children. Children benefit when their parents and 
other family members are informed and actively engaged consumers of the 
educational supports and services provided to children with 
disabilities. With additional information and training, more parents 
can more fully participate in the education of their children.
     Enhance the capacity of underserved parents and families 
to become decision-makers in their child's current and future 
educational, home and community environments. There is a need to 
enhance the capacity of underserved families to become active decision-
makers regarding their child's education. For example, underserved 
families need support in readily accessing information about proven 
practices relating to their child's education. These families also need 
support in determining which evidence-based educational and early 
intervention practices are most appropriate for their child.
     Promote the development of school leadership that 
emphasizes the creation and maintenance of positive school environments 
that welcome and support diversity. School leadership is a key factor 
in school-wide change. Leadership development should, therefore, 
emphasize the creation of positive school environments that welcome 
     Promote partnerships between parent organizations and 
OSEP's Research-to-Practice initiatives. OSEP has facilitated 
partnerships between parent organizations and projects supported under 
part D of IDEA. Such partnerships should continue to be facilitated, 
including by providing support for products and programs developed for 
parents, enabling them to more fully participate in improving their 
child's early intervention and educational experiences. Ongoing efforts 
will ensure scientifically based practices and other resources are 
timely and available to families in a usable format.

Comprehensive Plan Implementation

    OSEP, as the principal Federal agency administering IDEA, will 
implement the Comprehensive Plan by pursuing long-term research-to-
practice efforts for each program authorized under Subparts 2 and 3. 
Funded projects and activities will take full advantage of the more 
than 25 years of Federal support for research and innovation, 
demonstrations, personnel preparation, technology and media, and 
technical assistance and dissemination that has built an important 
knowledge base for improving results for children with disabilities.
    OSEP will capitalize and extend the accomplishments of the projects 
it has supported in the past by supporting new projects that organize 
and transfer knowledge to practice using one or a combination of the 
programs authorized under part D of IDEA. Given resource limitations 
and the current state of knowledge relevant to any investment 
direction, OSEP will identify specific projects and activities that:
     Take advantage of the Department's current activities 
targeted toward specific outcomes.
     Optimally combine activities authorized under several 
types of IDEA Part D programs, including technical assistance, 
dissemination, personnel preparation, technology and media, and parent 
training and information.
     Reflect the Department's internal planning efforts and 
immediate needs of States and other IDEA stakeholders.
     Leverage OSEP's ability to draw attention to the 
substantive area addressed by the project or activity from other 
Federal, State, local, and private agencies and organizations.
     Have the greatest potential to contribute to improved 
results for children with disabilities in the next decade.

Coordination With the National Center for Special Education Research

    OSEP has coordinated during the planning and preparation of this 
Plan and will continue to coordinate, as directed by section 681(a)(1) 
of IDEA, the implementation of this Plan with the National Center for 
Special Education Research (NCSER) in the Institute of Education 
Sciences (IES).
    In addition, with the award of a design contract, NCSER has 
launched an independent assessment to ascertain what progress has been 
made in the implementation of IDEA. This review will permit the NCSER 
to take inventory of the national studies conducted previously, the 
data sources, and the research questions addressed, and prepare an 
informed set of research questions and proposed study designs for 
further studies and evaluations authorized by section 664 of IDEA.
    IES also will continue to support existing studies, including 
child-based longitudinal research, and initiate new studies designed to 
evaluate and support the implementation of IDEA. As such, IES will 
continue to fund rigorous

[[Page 68705]]

evaluations of policy and practice under IDEA, including an examination 
of the quality of States' monitoring practices, a study of States' 
implementation of alternate assessments and their use and effectiveness 
in appropriately measuring student progress, an impact evaluation of 
the State Pilot Projects for Multi-Year IEPs and Paperwork Reduction 
authorized under IDEA, and an evaluation of the IDEA Personnel 
Development program.

Commitment to Quality Implementation

    OSEP will continue to seek the opinions of consumers and research, 
training, technology, and technical assistance experts on the 
Department's progress in implementing the Comprehensive Plan. Also, as 
part of its annual GPRA responsibilities, OSEP will evaluate the 
quality of activities supported under the Comprehensive Plan. OSEP has 
developed a set of long-range goals and annual objectives and 
indicators that it will use to monitor and ensure quality 
implementation of the Plan. These goals, objectives and indicators are 
available can be viewed at:

Next Steps

    After OSEP completes its review of the comments received in 
response to the notice in the Federal Register requesting comments and 
recommendations on the proposed Comprehensive Plan, OSEP will finalize 
the Comprehensive Plan and provide outreach to inform IDEA Part D 
stakeholders about the final Plan.


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[FR Doc. 06-9404 Filed 11-24-06; 8:45 am]