[Federal Register: February 22, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 35)]
[Page 8685-8688]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Office of Elementary and Secondary Education--Reading Excellence
Program; Notice of Proposed Priorities, Application Requirements, and
Selection Criteria for Fiscal Year 2000 and Subsequent Years

AGENCY: Department of Education.
SUMMARY: The Secretary proposes priorities, application requirements,
and selection criteria for fiscal year (FY) 2000 and, at the discretion
of the Secretary, for subsequent years. The Secretary takes this action
to focus Federal financial assistance on an identified need--children
in kindergarten to grade three.

DATES: Comments must be received by the Department March 23, 2000.

ADDRESSES: All comments concerning these proposed priorities,
application requirements, and selection criteria should be addressed to
Joseph Conaty, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW,
Room 5C141, Washington, DC 20202-6200. Comments may be sent through the
Internet: comments@ed.gov. You must include the term ``Reading
Excellence Program'' in the subject line of your electronic message.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Nancy Rhett, Reading Excellence
Program, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Room
5C141, Washington, DC 20202-6200, (202) 260-8228. Fax: (202) 260-8969.
Internet: http://www.ed.readingexcellence.gov. Individuals who use the
telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339.
    If you want to comment on the information collection requirements,
please send your comments to the Office of Information and Regulatory
Affairs, OMB, room 10235, New Executive Office Building, Washington, DC
20503; Attention: Desk Officer for U.S. Department of Education. You
may also send a copy of these comments to the Department of Education
representative named in the ADDRESSES section of this preamble.
    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 above.
    This notice does not solicit applications. A notice inviting
applications under this competition will be published in the Federal
Register concurrent with or following the publication of the final
priorities, application requirements, and selection criteria.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Reading Excellence Act (REA), Part C,
Title II of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA),
was enacted as Title VIII of the Labor-HHS-ED Appropriations Act of
1999 by Section 101(f) of Public Law 105-277, the Omnibus
Appropriations Act of FY 1999. Section 2253 of the REA authorizes a
Reading and Literacy Grant Program to State educational agencies
(SEAs). Grants are to be awarded on a competitive basis to eligible
SEAs, which in turn will make competitive subgrants to local
educational agencies (LEAs) for two types of activities: Local Reading
Improvement subgrants (LRI) and Tutorial Assistance (TAG) subgrants.
Section 2255 and Section 2256 of REA establish in detail the
eligibility requirements for LEAs for both subgrant programs. The
legislation also requires that each LRI subgrant must be large enough
to enable a grant recipient to operate a program for a 2-year period.
    Section 2253(c)(2)(C) of the legislation requires that a panel of
expert reviewers recommend applications for funding. Panels are
generally composed of a minimum of three reviewers. Panel reviewers
give each application a numerical score weighted against the selection
criteria. Each reviewer also makes a recommendation to fund or not to
fund the application.

    Note: We will announce the final priorities in a notice in the
Federal Register. We will determine the final priorities after
considering responses to this notice and other information available
to the Department. This notice does not preclude us from proposing
or funding additional priorities, subject to meeting applicable
rulemaking requirements.


    A key purpose of the Reading Excellence Act is to help every child
to be able to read independently by grade three using research-based
approaches to reading instruction. The proposed priorities are
necessary to focus available funds on projects that help students in
kindergarten through grade three to meet this objective and enable
teachers to meet the challenge.
    The proposed absolute priority is necessary to ensure that States
focus on providing services to the children during the early grades.

Absolute Priority

    Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(3) of EDGAR, the Secretary has the authority
to propose an absolute priority. The Secretary proposes that awards
under this competition be made only to applications that meet the
following absolute priority:
    Projects that exclusively fund, at the subgrant level, activities
to improve kindergarten through grade three reading instruction and
related early childhood, professional development, family literacy,
extended learning and tutorial activities.

Competitive Priority

    Section 2253(c)(2)(C) of REA requires that priority shall be given
to applications from SEAs whose States have modified, are modifying, or
provide an assurance that they will modify within 18 months after
receiving an REA grant the SEA's elementary school teacher
certification requirements. The modification must increase the training
and the methods of teaching reading required for certification as an
elementary school teacher to reflect scientifically based reading
research. However, nothing in the REA shall be construed to establish a
national system of teacher certification.
    The Secretary proposes to award up to 5 additional points to
applicants that meet this priority. Two points will be awarded to
applicants that provide an assurance only. To receive the additional
three points, the SEA must include detailed plans or implemented
changes that describe high quality teacher preparation that reflects
scientifically based reading research.

Application Requirements

    A discussion of each proposed requirement follows.

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

    We propose that to be considered for funding, an application must
include a list of all eligible LEAs and the number of eligible schools,
and the number of children and teachers in the eligible schools at the
time the application is submitted. Successful applicants must provide a
list of eligible LEAs and schools at the time that subgrants are
    While the legislation clearly defines the requirements for
eligibility, it does not require the applicants to identify the
eligible LEAs or schools. We propose that each applicant include a list
of the eligible LEAs and the number of eligible schools, as well as the
number of children and teachers in each eligible school at the time
that the application is submitted. This will enable the panelists to
determine the likelihood that the requested funding amount will
sufficiently fund the number of proposed subgrants for two years and at
a level that will make a substantive improvement in reading instruction
and student outcomes. Successful applicants will be required to provide
an updated list of eligible LEAs and schools to the Department at the
time that subgrants are awarded.

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

    We propose that to be considered for funding, an application must
receive a majority recommendation from the panel of reviewers. Any
applications not receiving recommendations to be funded from a majority
of the review panel, regardless of the numerical score, will not be
    The legislation requires that the panel reviewers make a
recommendation for funding. The requirement that an application must
receive a recommendation for funding from a majority of the review
panel will ensure that only quality applications are funded.

[[Page 8687]]

Selection Criteria

    The Secretary proposes that the following selection criteria be
used to evaluate applications for new grants under this competition.
The maximum score for all of these criteria is 100 points. The maximum
score for each criterion or factor under that criterion is indicated in
the parentheses. There are not specific point totals for the
subcategories within each criterion.
(1) Understanding and commitment to effective reading instruction based
on scientifically based reading research. (15 points)
    In determining the State's understanding and commitment to
effective reading instruction based on scientifically based reading
research, the Secretary considers the following factors:
    (a) The extent to which the proposed project incorporates a deep
understanding of the scientifically based reading research literature
and how it applies in their State and local education systems.
    (b) The extent to which the scientific literature on reading is
implemented in proposed grant activities.
(2) Demonstration of Need. (10 points)
    In determining the need for the proposed project, the following
factors are included:
    Demographic and social data on the target population for this
program (children and families) and State efforts and initiatives in
reading, including current professional development activities related
to the teaching of reading and family literacy, standards and
assessments, and other related activities; and their relation, if any,
to findings from scientifically based reading research.
(3) Quality of local district and school activities. (35 points)
    In determining the quality of the services to be provided by local
activities, the Secretary considers the following factors:
    (a) How the proposed project would change classroom instruction in
schools under Local Reading Improvement subgrants. In particular, what
professional development activities would be implemented.
    (b) The extent to which the proposed activities support research
based classroom reading instruction (including extended learning such
as tutoring and summer programs, kindergarten transition, family
literacy/involvement, and use of technology).
    (c) The extent to which the proposed activities will improve
reading instruction for all children, including English language
learners and children with special needs.
    (d) The extent to which the Tutorial Assistance subgrant activities
of the proposed project reflect up-to-date knowledge of reading
research and effective practice.
(4) Quality of the plan for State leadership, oversight and evaluation.
(25 points)
    In determining the quality of the plan for State leadership,
oversight and evaluation, the Secretary considers the following
    (a) The adequacy of procedures for ensuring success under this
grant, including how the State will ensure that school activities will
use practices based on scientifically based reading research,
especially professional development activities for K-3 teachers.
    (b) The adequacy of the management plan to achieve the objectives
of the proposed project on time and within budget, including:

--Development of the reading and literacy partnership for overseeing
proposed grant activities;
--Guidance provided to eligible districts and schools for developing
--Subgrant processes and criteria; and
--Leadership, technical assistance, and monitoring activities for
subgrantees that ensure continuous improvement in reading.

    (c) The qualifications, including relevant training and experience,
of the key SEA staff responsible for managing the grant activities
described above.
    (d) The quality of the State's design, including student outcome
measures or indicators for grades K-3, subgrant (LRIs and TAGs) and
school implementation measures and indicators, a timeline for data
collection and reporting, provisions or feedback to districts and
identification of a qualified evaluator or inclusion of appropriate
    (e) The extent to which the proposed activities coordinate REA with
other State initiatives and programs including how the REA grant will
add to current State and local efforts.
(5) Adequacy of Resources. (15 points)
    In determining the adequacy of resources, the Secretary considers
the following factors:
    (a) The average and range of amounts proposed, including the
amounts per school/classroom, will provide sufficient resources to
accomplish the tasks of Local Reading Improvement and Tutorial
Assistance subgrants.
    (b) The budget provides sufficient detail and an appropriate level
of funding to accomplish the purposes of this grant.

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    This notice and the proposed application packet contain information
collection requirements. Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44
U.S.C. 3507(d)), the Department of Education has submitted a copy of
this notice and application package to the Office of Management and
Budget (OMB) for its review.

Collection of Information: Reading Excellence Program

    The Reading Excellence Program competitively awards grants to
States to improve reading. The SEA will subgrant to LEAs and support
activities that are designed to provide children with the skills needed
to learn once they enter school, teach every child to read by the end
of the third grade, and support teachers and other instructional staff
in their efforts to teach reading. Information in the application would
    (1) A description of the applicant's teacher certification
requirements and how they have been or will be modified.
    (2) Evidence that the SEA has the demographic and social data of
the target population and its impact upon the ability of the local
school districts to implement scientifically based reading activities.
    (3) The evaluation plan proposed to be used by the State to
determine student outcome.
    (4) The list of eligible LEAs and schools and the number of
teachers and students in those schools.
    All information is to be collected once only from each applicant.
Annual reporting and record keeping burden for this collection of
information is estimated to average 48 hours for each response for 39
respondents, including the time for reviewing instructions, searching
existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needs, and
completing and reviewing the collection of information.
    We consider your comments on this proposed collection of
information in--
    * Deciding whether the proposed collection is necessary for
the proper performance of our functions, including whether the
information will have practical use:
    * Evaluating the accuracy of our estimate of burden of the
proposed collection, including the validity of our methodology and
    * Enhancing the quality, usefulness, and clarity of the
information we collect; and

[[Page 8688]]

    * Minimizing the burden on those who must respond. This
includes exploring the use of appropriate automated, electronic,
mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms
of information technology; e.g., permitting electronic submission of
    OMB is required to make a decision concerning the collection of
information contained in this notice of proposed eligibility and
selection criteria between 30 and 60 days after publication of this
document in the Federal Register. Therefore to ensure that OMB gives
your comments full consideration, it is important that OMB receives the
comments within 30 days of publication. This does not affect the
deadline for your comments to us on the notice of proposed eligibility
and selection criteria.

Intergovernmental Review

    This program is subject to the requirements of Executive Order
12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR Part 79. The objective of the
executive order is to foster an intergovernmental partnership and a
strengthened federalism by relying on process developed by State and
local government for coordination and review of proposed Federal
    In accordance with this order, this document is intended to provide
early notification of the Department's specific plans and actions for
this program.

Invitation to Comment

    We invite you to submit comments regarding the rules proposed in
this notice. To ensure that your comments have the maximum effect in
developing the Secretary's final notice of priorities, application
requirements, and selection criteria we urge you to identify clearly
the specific section of this notice that each of your comments
addresses and to arrange your comments in the same order as the
sections appear in the notice.
    All comments submitted in response to this notice will be available
for public inspection, during and after the comment period, in Room
5C141, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, DC, between the hours of
8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Eastern time, Monday through Friday of each
week except Federal holidays.
    On request, the Department supplies an appropriate aid, such as a
reader or print magnifier, to an individual with a disability that
needs assistance to review the comments. An individual with a
disability may call (202) 205-8113 or (202) 260-9895. An individual who
uses a TDD may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-

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

Electronic Access to This Document:

    You may view this document, as well as all other Department of
Education documents published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe
Portable Document Format (PDF) on the Internet at either of the
following sites: http://ocfo.ed.gov.fedreg.htm; http://www.ed.gov/
news.html.To use the PDF file you must have the Adobe Acrobat Reader
Program with Search, which is available free at either of the preceding
sites. 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, D.C., area at (202) 512-1530.

    Note: The official version of this document is the document
published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the
official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal
Regulations is available on GPO Access at: http://access.gpo.gov/

    Catalogue of Federal Assistance Number: 84.338

    Dated: February 15, 2000.
Michael Cohen,
Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education.
[FR Doc. 00-4084 Filed 2-18-00; 8:45 am]