[Federal Register: July 19, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 139)]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
Department of Education
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Office of
Vocational and Adult Education; Smaller Learning Communities Grant
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
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:
firstname.lastname@example.org. You must include the term ``Smaller
Learning Communities Grant Program'' in the subject line of your
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.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Diane Austin, Smaller Learning
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: email@example.com. 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
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
(2) Block scheduling;
(3) Personal adult advocates, teacher advisory systems, and other
(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:
firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
(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
(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
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
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.
(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
(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
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
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
(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
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
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
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
Assistance to Individuals With Disabilities in Reviewing the Rulemaking
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 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]
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