[Federal Register: January 22, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 14)]
[Page 2864-2866]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Program of Research on Reading Comprehension

AGENCY: Office of Educational Research and Improvement, Department of 

ACTION: Notice of proposed priority.


SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary proposes a priority for a Program of 
Research on Reading Comprehension. The Assistant Secretary may use this 
priority for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2002 and in later fiscal 
years. We take this action to build a scientific foundation for 
educational practice by supporting rigorous research on reading 
comprehension. We intend this priority to produce research findings 
that will change instructional practice and promote academic 

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before February 21, 2002.

ADDRESSES: Address all comments about this proposed priority to Anne P. 
Sweet or Rita Foy Moss, U.S. Department of Education, 555 New Jersey 
Avenue, NW., room 513, Washington, DC 20208-5573. You can fax your 
comments to (202) 219-2135. If you prefer to send your comments through 
the Internet, use one of the following addresses: anne.sweet@ed.gov or 

Telephone: (202) 219-2079.
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may 

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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 under FOR FURTHER 


Invitation to Comment

    We invite you to submit comments regarding this proposed priority. 
We also 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 this proposed 
priority. Please let us know of any further opportunities we should 
take to reduce potential costs or increase potential benefits while 
preserving the effective and efficient administration of the program.
    During and after the comment period, you may inspect all public 
comments about this proposed priority in room 510, 555 New Jersey 
Avenue, NW., 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 
Rulemaking Record

    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 this proposed priority. If you want to schedule 
an appointment for this type of aid, please contact the person listed 


    The Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI), 
authorized under Title IX of Public Law 103-227, (20 U.S.C. 6001 et 
seq.) supports research and development activities designed to provide 
essential knowledge for the improvement of education. Although 
significant advances have been made in knowledge about early reading 
skills, much less is known about reading comprehension. The Secretary 
believes that reading comprehension is necessary for academic 
achievement in virtually all school subjects and for economic self-
sufficiency in cognitively demanding job environments. Thus, improving 
reading comprehension in this country, and providing all members of 
society with equal opportunities to attain a high level of literacy, 
require a focused program of educational research. Knowledge gained 
from such educational research can help guide the national investment 
in education and support local and State reform efforts. Because this 
targeted program of research focuses on an enduring problem of 
practice, it will be the primary mechanism for pursuing new knowledge 
about reading comprehension. Research grant awards can be made to 
institutions of higher education, regional education laboratories, 
public and private organizations, institutions, and individuals, or a 
consortium thereof. The Secretary invites comments on the priority 
described in this notice.
    Prior to this announcement, OERI reviewed the Report of the 
National Reading Panel (2000) and the RAND Reading Study Group Report 
(2001) to identify the most needed reading research and development 
activities. Following this review, OERI prepared this notice of 
proposed priority, recognizing that critical frontiers for reading 
research, such as deriving empirically-grounded theories of 
comprehension development and reading instruction across the full range 
of ages and grades, have barely been broached in the research 
literature. OERI's Program of Research on Reading Comprehension (PRRC) 
is intended to expand scientific knowledge of how students develop 
proficient levels of reading comprehension, how reading comprehension 
can be taught most optimally, and how reading comprehension can be 
assessed in ways that reflect as well as advance our current 
understanding of reading comprehension and its development. An 
overarching goal of the program is to obtain converging empirical 
evidence on the development and assessment of comprehension that 
coheres with scientifically supported theories of the processes 
involved in reading comprehension. A further purpose is to provide a 
scientific foundation for approaches to comprehension instruction that 
allow students to achieve proficient levels of comprehension across a 
range of texts and subjects. The Secretary encourages review of the 
proposed priority by all interested parties.
    We will announce the final priority in a notice in the Federal 
Register. We will determine the final priority 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 

    Note: This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in 
which we choose to use this proposed priority, we invite 
applications through a notice in the Federal Register. When inviting 
applications we designate the priority as absolute, competitive 
preference, or invitational. The effect of each type of priority 
    Absolute priority: Under an absolute priority we consider only 
applications that meet the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(3)).
    Competitive preference priority: Under a competitive preference 
priority we give competitive preference to an application by either 
(1) awarding additional points, depending on how well or the extent 
to which the application meets the priority (34 CFR 
75.105(c)(2)(i)); or (2) selecting an application that meets the 
priority over an application of comparable merit that does not meet 
the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(ii)).
    Invitational priority: Under an invitational priority we are 
particularly interested in applications that meet the invitational 
priority. However, we do not give an application that meets the 
priority a competitive or absolute preference over other 
applications (34 CFR 75.105(c)(1)).


Program of Research on Reading Comprehension

    Applicants must propose research that is focused on one or more of 
three areas of inquiry:
    1. Developmental patterns of students' reading comprehension;
    2. Instructional interventions for reading comprehension; or
    3. Measures of reading comprehension that reflect empirically 
justified dimensions, distinguish reader differences, and are sensitive 
to instructional goals.
    Furthermore, research must be motivated by a specific conceptual 
framework and relevant prior empirical evidence, both of which must be 
clearly articulated in the proposal. The research must have the 
potential to advance fundamental scientific knowledge that bears on the 
solution of important educational problems. The proposal must indicate 
method and why the approach taken optimally addresses the research 
question. Any approach must incorporate a valid inference process that 
allows generalization beyond the study participants. Proposals must 
indicate which of the following approaches is to be used:
    1. Experiment (control group; randomized assignment--both 
    2. Quasi-experiment (comparison group, stratified random 
assignment, groups comparable at pretest, statistical adjustment for 
    3. Correlational study (simple, multiple/logistic regression, 

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equation modeling, hierarchical linear modeling).
    4. Other quantitative (e.g., simulation).
    5. Descriptive study using qualitative techniques (e.g., 
ethnographic methods; focus groups; classroom observations; case 
studies; single subject designs).
    The design of studies must be clear: Independent and dependent, or 
predictor and criterion, variables should be distinguished. Proposed 
research is expected to employ the most sophisticated level of design 
and analysis that is appropriate to the research question. For research 
questions that cannot be answered using a randomized assignment 
experimental design, the proposal must spell out the reasons why such a 
design is not applicable and why it would not represent a superior 
approach. Thus, applicants must propose to conduct rigorous studies 
that are scientifically sound, relevant, timely, and ultimately useful 
to practitioners and policy makers. The Secretary intends to expend a 
total of $5 million during FY 2002 on grant applications. Funding this 
priority will depend on the availability of funds, the nature of the 
final priority, and the quality of applications received.

Post-Award Requirements

    The Secretary established the following post-award requirements 
consistent with the OERI's program regulations at 34 CFR part 700 and 
the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) at 
34 CFR 75.720. Recipients of a research award must:
    1. Provide OERI with information about the research project and 
products and other appropriate research information so that OERI can 
monitor progress and maintain its inventory of funded research 
projects. This information must be provided through media that include 
an electronic network;
    2. At the end of the award period, synthesize the findings and 
advances in knowledge that resulted from research conducted and 
describe the potential impact on the improvement of reading 
comprehension instruction.

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://

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number (84.305G) Program of 
Research on Reading Comprehension)

    Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 6031.

    Dated: January 15, 2002.
Grover J. Whitehurst,
Assistant Secretary for Educational Research and Improvement.
[FR Doc. 02-1480 Filed 1-18-02; 8:45 am]