[Federal Register: July 19, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 139)]


[Page 37871-37876]

From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



[[Page 37871]]


Part V





Department of Education








Office of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Office of

Vocational and Adult Education; Smaller Learning Communities Grant

Program; Notice


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Office of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Office of

Vocational and Adult Education--Smaller Learning Communities Grant


AGENCY: Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of proposed priorities, application requirements, and

selection criteria for fiscal year 2001.


SUMMARY: The Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Elementary and

Secondary Education and the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Vocational

and Adult Education announce proposed priorities, application

requirements, and selection criteria for the Smaller Learning

Communities (SLC) grant program for fiscal year FY 2001.

Estimated Available Funds: $125,000,000

Note: The Secretary is authorized to reserve $7,500,000 from

these funds for peer review, evaluation, technical assistance,

outreach, and product dissemination activities. These activities are

designed to support the local grants, evaluate the success of the

program, and help ensure the dissemination and replication of best

practices to schools nationwide.


DATES: We must receive your comments by August 20, 2001.

ADDRESSES: All comments concerning these proposed priorities,

application requirements, and selection criteria should be addressed to

Diane Austin, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Elementary and

Secondary Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Room 5C149, Washington,

DC 20202. Comments may be sent through the Internet at:

smallerlearningcommunities@ed.gov. You must include the term ``Smaller

Learning Communities Grant Program'' in the subject line of your

electronic message.

If you want to comment on the information collection requirements

you must send your comments to the Office of Management and Budget at

the address listed in the Paperwork Reduction Act section of this

preamble. You may also send a copy of these comments to the Department

representative named in this section.


Communities Grant Program, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland

Avenue, SW, Room 5C149, Washington, DC 20202-6200, (202) 260-1280. Fax:

(202) 260-8969. Email: smallerlearningcommunities@ed.gov. You may also

visit our website at: www.ed.gov/offices/OESE/SLCP. Individuals who use

the telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal

Information Relay Service (FIRS) 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 above.

Note: 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. 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.




The Smaller Learning Communities grant program is authorized under

section 10105 of part A of title X of the Elementary and Secondary

Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) (20 U.S.C. 8005). Title X, Part A

authorizes the Secretary to support nationally significant programs and

projects to: (1) Improve the quality of education; (2) assist all

students in meeting challenging State content standards; and (3)

contribute to achieving National Education Goals.

The purpose of the Smaller Learning Communities Program is to

support the implementation or expansion of small, safe, and successful

learning environments in large high schools through competitive grants

to local educational agencies (LEAs). LEAs may apply on behalf of large

high schools, including large high schools funded by the Bureau of

Indian Affairs (BIA schools). For the purposes of this program, a large

high school is defined as a school that includes grades 11 and 12 and

enrolls at least 1,000 students in grades 9 and above.

Strategies for recasting large schools as a set of small learning

communities are included in the Conference Report for the Consolidated

Appropriations Act, 2000 [Pub. L. 106-113, H.R. Conference Report No.

106-479, at 1240(1999)]. Such strategies include:

(1) Establishing small learning clusters, ``houses,'' career

academies, magnet schools, or other approaches to creating schools

within schools;

(2) Block scheduling;

(3) Personal adult advocates, teacher advisory systems, and other

mentoring strategies;

(4) Reducing teaching loads; and

(5) Other innovations designed to create a more personalized high

school experience for students and improve student achievement.

In FY 2000, Congress appropriated $45 million for the SLC program,

of which the Department awarded $42.3 million in support of 149 grants

to LEAs. The Secretary awarded 84 one-year planning grants and 65

three-year implementation grants. A total of 349 schools, serving over

450,000 students, benefited during the first year of the program. The

Secretary reserved the remaining $2,250,000 to fund national leadership


Congress appropriated $125 million for this program in fiscal year

2001. The Administration is not requesting funds for the Smaller

Learning Communities program in fiscal year 2002. Rather, the

Administration is proposing a new Choice and Innovation State Grants

program under which States and LEAs would have greater flexibility in

using funds for activities, such as the creation of smaller learning

communities, that will lend to educational reform and improvement.

The Secretary intends to share program information and provide

grant-writing technical assistance on an as needed basis. Potential

applicants are encouraged to review the Frequently Asked Questions

section of the program's website at: www.ed.gov/offices/OESE/SLCP.

Written questions may be submitted through the Internet at:

smallerlearningcommunities@ed.gov. Details on any other outreach

activities will be included as part of the final application package

and posted on the program's website at the address listed above.


The goal of the Smaller Learning Communities program is to ensure

that high schools are safe, nurturing, and effective environments where

all students feel known, supported, and motivated to succeed in post

secondary education and chosen careers. The proposed priorities

authorize the Department to give preference to those applicants that

have the greatest need and the capacity to create more personalized

learning environments.

Competitive Priorities

Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(i), the Secretary proposes to give

preference to applications that meet one or both of the following two

competitive priorities. Where applicable, these points would be in

addition to any points the application earns under the selection

criteria for this year's grant competition.

[[Page 37873]]

Proposed Competitive Priority 1--Low-Performing Schools

The Secretary proposes to award up to five (5) additional points to

applicants that provide a comprehensive action plan for turning around

low-performing schools in their district. Low-performing schools can be

identified by local and State educational agencies under section 1116

of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. In addition, for the

purposes of this program, States and LEAs that have their own

established criteria for identifying low-performing schools may use

those criteria to meet the competitive priority.

To receive any points under this competitive priority, LEAs,

applying on behalf of a low-performing school(s), must provide evidence

of their schools' designation. The applicant's plan must reflect its

understanding of the research on effective strategies for turning

around low-performing schools and describe how the research has been

incorporated into its plan for creating a smaller learning community.

The application must also both include (1) a plan to build partnerships

with technical assistance providers, foundations, or other

organizations engaged in turning around low-performing schools; and (2)

document how the applicant will use other resources, particularly other

Federal resources, in its efforts to improve student achievement.

Proposed Competitive Priority 2-- Current Planning Grantees

The Secretary proposes to give preference to applicants that are

recipients of planning grants awarded in program year 2000 if they

provide evidence of the completion of an SLC implementation plan. LEAs

awarded planning grants must produce viable implementation plans. In

the case of otherwise evenly scored applicants, the competitive

preference shall be the deciding factor.

Application Requirements

A discussion of each proposed requirement follows:

A. Eligible Schools

We propose that to be considered for funding, LEAs must include the

name(s) of the eligible school(s) and the number of students enrolled

in each school. Enrollment must be based upon data from the current

school year or data from the most recently completed school year. LEAs

applying on behalf of schools that are being constructed and do not

have an active student enrollment at the time of application are not

eligible under this program.


While the legislation clearly addresses the requirements for

eligibility, it does not require LEAs to identify specifically the

schools that will benefit from a grant. We propose that each applicant

include enrollment data supporting the eligibility of each school. This

will enable the Department to determine if each school identified in an

application meets the proposed definition of a large high school.

B. Types of Grants

Since the Administration is not requesting funds for the Smaller

Learning Communities program in fiscal year 2002, the Secretary

proposes to award only implementation grants under this year's

competition. LEAs that have a developed plan in place are encouraged to

apply for an implementation grant. Further, LEAs with schools that have

existing smaller learning communities may apply for an implementation

grant if they wish to expand their SLC efforts. Implementation grants

will be funded for a three-year project period.

Note: Understanding the unique complexities of implementing a

``transformational'' program requiring changes in the nature of

instruction and school culture that impacts the physical design,

organization, curriculum, and teacher preparation, the Secretary

anticipates awarding the entire grant amount for implementation

projects at the time of the initial award. This will provide the

applicant with the capacity to carry out effectively the

comprehensive long-term activities involved in model development,

documentation, evaluation, and dissemination of products and

practices developed through the Federal grant.

C. Award Ranges

For a three-year implementation grant, the Secretary proposes that

LEAs may request, on behalf of a single school, $250,000 to $500,000

per project. LEAs applying on behalf of a group of eligible schools may

request up to $2,500,000 per implementation grant. As this program is

designed to finance direct student services and local redesign and

improvement efforts, districts must stay within the minimum and maximum

school allocations when determining their group award request.

Therefore, in order to ensure sufficient implementation funds at the

local level, LEAs may not request funds for more than 10 schools under

a group application.

The chart below provides ranges for award requests under the

implementation grant:


Number of schools in LEA application Award ranges


One School..................................... $250,000-$500,000

Two Schools.................................... 500,000-1,000,000

Three Schools.................................. 750,000-1,500,000

Four Schools................................... 1,000,000-2,000,000

Five Schools................................... 1,250,000-2,500,000

Six Schools.................................... 1,500,000-2,500,000

Seven Schools.................................. 1,750,000-2,500,000

Eight Schools.................................. 2,000,000-2,500,000

Nine Schools................................... 2,250,000-2,500,000

Ten Schools.................................... 2,500,000


To ensure maximum flexibility and competitiveness, LEAs may submit

multiple applications targeting distinct schools within each

application. Schools that benefited from FY 2000 implementation awards

are not eligible to receive additional support under this competition.

The total amount an LEA may receive through any combination of awards

made under this program may not exceed 5 million.


By establishing grant award ranges and maximum LEA award amounts,

the Department will be able to fund a much larger number of grants,

ensure maximum geographic distribution, and encourage implementation of

a diverse range of SLC strategies. The proposed minimum and maximum

award amounts should provide sufficient funding for direct services to

students and for school-based implementation activities. The Department

determined these amounts in consultation with other Federal programs

and private organizations with experience in developing and

implementing SLCs. Applicants must be fully committed and prepared to

undertake the activities described in the application.

D. Page Limit for the Application Narrative

We strongly recommend that applicants limit the narrative section

of the application to the equivalent of no more than 25 double-spaced

pages using the following standards:

(1) A page is 8.5" x 11", on one side only;

(2) The page limit includes all narrative, titles, headings,

footnotes, quotations, references, and captions, as well as charts,

tables, figures, and graphs. Charts, tables, figures, and graphs may be


(3) The font should be 11-point or larger;

(4) The page limit does not apply to the Application for Federal

Education Assistance Form (424); the Budget information Form (ED 524)

and attached itemization of costs; any other required or supplementary

application forms and

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attachments to those forms; the assurances and certifications; or the

table of contents and the one page abstract which should precede the

narrative section and provide a short description of the project;

evidence of competitive priorities; or appendices;

(5) Appendices used should relate directly to the selection

criteria and project activities. Pages should be numbered.


In previous competitions successful applicants have demonstrated

that they can successfully describe their programs within this page


E. Reporting Requirements and Expected Outcomes

We propose that to be eligible for an implementation grant,

applicants must describe in their proposals for funding their:

(a) Project objectives;

(b) Measures of student outcomes and performance; and

(c) Indicators to gauge progress toward meeting project objectives.

In addition, the Secretary proposes to require that applicants for

implementation grants have, or will have, a data collection system with

the capacity to produce annual performance reports throughout the

project period of the grant. These reports will document the grantee's

yearly progress toward expected project objectives. The Secretary will

use these reports to measure the success of the grantee's project, as

well as the effects of the Department of Education's Smaller Learning

Communities grant program nationwide.

We also propose that applicants submit initial baseline data for

each student outcome measure described below. Baseline data should come

from either the current or previous school year. Applicants should

report this data as part of their narrative in accordance with the

evaluation selection criteria. Upon notification of award, grantees

will be required to submit student outcome data for three years

preceding the baseline year.

Required student outcome measures include:

I. Student Achievement.

(a) The number of students scoring at each proficiency level for

each subject measured by a State or district assessment in grades 9-12;


(b) The number of students taking the SAT and ACT, and their

average scores.

II. Academic Rigor and Student Retention.

(a) The number of students who take courses for which they receive

both high school and college credit;

(b) The number of students completing high school; and

(c) The overall reported average daily attendance for October.

III. School Climate.

(a) The number of incidents of student violence, and of alcohol and

drug use;

(b) The number of expulsions, suspensions, or other serious

disciplinary actions; and

(c) The number of students involved in extracurricular activities.


Note: Percentages may be used in place of number of students

where appropriate.

F. Definitions

(a) Definitions in EDGAR--Definitions defined in 34 CFR 77.1 are

applicable to this program.

(b) Other definitions--The Secretary proposes that the following

definitions also apply to this program:

BIA school is a school operated or supported by the Bureau of

Indian Affairs.

A group of schools is two or more schools that each meet the

definition of a large high school.

A large high school is an entity that includes grades 11 and 12 and

has an enrollment of 1,000 or more students in grades 9 and above.

A low-performing school is a school identified by local and State

educational agencies under section 1116 of the Elementary and Secondary

Education Act. Under current law, any Title I school that has not made

``adequate yearly progress'' over two consecutive years is identified

by its LEA for improvement. In addition, for the purpose of this

program, States and LEAs that have established criteria for identifying

such schools may use their criteria to meet the competitive priority


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.

The Secretary proposes utilizing a peer review process in which

peer review panels will evaluate the applications using the selection

criteria and the associated point values. The Secretary intends to base

final funding decisions on the panel review ranking of applications and

an acceptable geographic balance between urban and rural grantees.

Implementation Grants

(a) Need for the project. (25 points)

In determining the need for the proposed project, the Secretary

considers the following factors:

(1) The description and documentation of the targeted schools' need

for the services provided and the need for the activities carried out

by the proposed project consistent with the social and educational

problems and issues generally associated with the impersonal nature of

large high schools. Need may consider factors such as: Enrollment;

attendance and drop-out rates; incidents of violence, drug and alcohol

use, and disciplinary actions; percentage of students who pass

graduation exams or local assessments, enroll in advanced level

courses, register for college entrance exams, and matriculate into

postsecondary institutions or training; percentage of students who have

limited English proficiency, who are migrant youth, who come from low-

income families, or are otherwise disadvantaged; the applicant's fiscal

capacity to fund programs described here without Federal assistance; or

other local need factors as described by the applicant.

(2) The nature and magnitude of specific gaps or weaknesses and the

extent to which those weaknesses in services, infrastructure, or

opportunities have been identified by the applicant and will be

addressed by the proposed project.

(b) Foundation for implementation. (15 points)

In determining the quality of the implementation plan for the

proposed project, the Secretary considers the extent to which the


(1) Documents the involvement and support of stakeholders both

within the school community (e.g., administrators, staff, students, and

parents) and within the greater community (e.g. representatives of

institutions of higher education, employers, workforce investment

boards, youth councils, and community-based organizations).

(2) Provides clear evidence of teacher involvement and support,

particularly of those teachers who will be affected directly by the

implementation plan.

(3) Uses research-based findings and outside technical assistance

in the proposed restructuring and in determining appropriate

strategy(ies) to be implemented.

(c) Feasibility and soundness of the plan. (35 points)

In determining the quality of the proposed project, the Secretary

considers the extent to which:

(1) The goals and objectives of the smaller learning communities

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correspond to identified needs and are written in terms of student

outcomes, including academic achievement.

(2) The curriculum and instructional practices within each smaller

learning community are aligned with its goals, theme, and emphases,

where they exist.

(3) The proposed smaller learning communities intervention(s) will

benefit all students in the school and enable them to reach challenging

State content standards and performance standards, ensuring their

successful completion of high school and preparation for postsecondary

education or a career.

(4) Professional development activities offered to teachers, non-

instructional school staff, and others are aligned with smaller

learning community goals.

(5) The applicant provides a rationale for--

Identifying grade levels and ages of students to be served

by the smaller learning community; and

The methods and timetable for placing students in the

smaller learning community. Note: Students are not to be placed

according to ability, performance, or any other measure of merit. The

Department expects that all students will benefit from the SLC


(6) The management plan appears capable of achieving the objectives

of the proposed project on time and within budget, including:

The past experience, training, and clearly defined

responsibilities of personnel who have key roles in carrying out the

project; and

The timelines and milestones for accomplishing project


(d) Quality of the project evaluation. (15 points)

In determining the quality of the evaluation to be conducted of the

proposed project, the Secretary considers whether the applicant has

designed an effective method for:

(1) Collecting student performance data, including:

Required annual performance reports;

Baseline data (refer to ``Reporting Requirements and

Expected Outcomes''), and data for three years preceding the baseline

(the latter due upon award); and

Monitoring and understanding changes in student outcomes

for continuous improvement.

(2) Describing, on an annual basis, the progress towards

implementing smaller learning communities and implementing related

program changes undertaken to make the smaller learning communities

safe and successful. This information will be reported in the Annual

Performance Report.

(3) Disseminating best practices and products designed under this


(e) Adequacy of resources. (10 points)

In determining the adequacy of resources for the proposed project,

the Secretary considers the extent to which:

(1) State, local, foundation, and other Federal funds will be used

to support the implementation of the plan.

(2) The applicant will limit equipment, administrative costs, and

other purchases in order to maximize the amount spent on delivery of

services to students.

(3) The applicant demonstrates a commitment to sustaining the

project beyond the period covered by the Federal grant.

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

This notice contains 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 to OMB for its review.

The time required to complete this information collection is

estimated to average sixty-five (65) hours per response, including the

time to review instructions, search existing data resources, gather and

maintain the data needed, and complete and review the information


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: Lauren Wittenberg. You may also send a copy of these

comments to the Department representative named in the ADDRESSES

section of this preamble.

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 the burden of

the proposed collection, including the validity of our methodology and


Enhancing the quality, usefulness, and clarity of the

information we collect; and

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 priorities,

requirements, 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 proposed


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 processes 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 these proposed

priorities, proposed selection criteria, and proposed application

requirements. 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 that you clearly identify

the specific section of this notice that each of your comments

addresses and arrange your comments in the same order as the sections

appear in the notice.

We invite you to assist us in complying with the specific

requirements of Executive Order 12866 and its overall requirement of

reducing regulatory burden that might result from these proposed

priorities, selection criteria, application requirements, and guidance.

Please let us know of any further opportunities that we should take to

reduce potential costs or increase potential benefits while preserving

the effective and efficient administration of the program. 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 p.m., Eastern time, Monday through Friday of each week excluding

Federal holidays.

Assistance to Individuals With Disabilities in Reviewing the Rulemaking


On request, we will supply an appropriate aid, such as a reader or

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print magnifier, to an individual with a disability who needs

assistance to review the comments or other documents in the public

rulemaking record for these proposed priorities and proposed selection

criteria. If you would like to schedule an appointment for this type of

aid, you may call (202) 205-8113 or (202) 260-9895. If you use a TDD,

you may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at (800) 877-


Electronic Access to This Document

You may view this document, as well as all other Department of

Education documents published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe

Portable Document Format (PDF) on the Internet at the following site:


To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available

free at this site. If you have questions about using PDF, call the U.S.

Government Printing Office (GPO), toll free, at 1-888-293-6498; or in

the Washington DC area at (202) 512-1530.

Note: The official version of this document is the document

published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the

official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal

Regulations is available on GPO Access at: http://access.gpo.gov/


(Catalogue of Federal Assistance Number: 84.215L Smaller Learning

Communities Grant Program)


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

Dated: July 13, 2001.

Thomas M. Corwin,

Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary


Robert D. Muller,

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education.

[FR Doc. 01-18073 Filed 7-18-01; 8:45 am]