FR Doc 03-19013
[Federal Register: July 25, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 143)]
[Page 44185-44188]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []

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Part IV

Department of Education


Special Demonstration Programs--Model Demonstrations To Improve the 
Literacy and Employment Outcomes of Individuals With Disabilities; 



RIN 1820-ZA29

Special Demonstration Programs--Model Demonstrations To Improve 
the Literacy and Employment Outcomes of Individuals With Disabilities

AGENCY: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, 
Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of proposed priorities.


SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education 
and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) proposes priorities under the 
Special Demonstration Programs. The Assistant Secretary may use these 
priorities in fiscal year (FY) 2003 and in later years. We take this 
action to focus attention on the adult literacy needs of individuals 
with disabilities pursuing employment under the State Vocational 
Rehabilitation Services Program. We intend that projects funded under 
these priorities will demonstrate that certain specific literacy 
services may raise the literacy levels and earnings of individuals with 
disabilities compared to individuals who receive the usual vocational 
rehabilitation (VR) services.

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before August 25, 2003.

ADDRESSES: Address all comments about these proposed priorities to 
Susan-Marie Marsh, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, 
SW., Switzer Building, room 3316, Washington, DC 20202-2641. If you 
prefer to send your comments through the Internet, use the following 
    You must include the term ``Model Demonstrations to Improve the 
Literacy and Employment Outcomes of Individuals With Disabilities'' in 
the subject line of your electronic message.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Susan-Marie Marsh. Telephone: (202) 
358-2796 or via Internet:
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may 
call the TDD number at (202) 205-8133.
    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 these proposed 
priorities. 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. 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 these proposed priorities in room 3038, Switzer 
Building, 330 C 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 holidays.

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

    This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in which 
we choose to use these proposed priorities, 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 follows:

    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 competitive priority (34 CFR 
75.105(c)(2)(i)); or (2) selecting an application that meets the 
competitive 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 
invitational priority a competitive or absolute preference over other 
applications (34 CFR 75.105(c)(1)).



    Preliminary data from the Longitudinal Study of the Vocational 
Rehabilitation Services Program suggest reading achievement levels are 
highly positively correlated with earnings. Data also indicate that VR 
agencies provide basic literacy services to only one percent of the VR 
population. As a result of these findings, the Rehabilitation Services 
Administration (RSA) is testing two instructional reading curricula: 
The Lindamood-Bell Language Program (LBLP) and the Wilson Reading 
System[reg] (WRS). Both curricula have proven effective with adults 
with disabilities. However, the impact of these curricula on the 
literacy skills of adults with disabilities has not been assessed, and 
neither curriculum has been studied in a VR setting by RSA. Thus, RSA 
is interested in testing the impact of each curriculum on the literacy 
of adults with disabilities against the traditional services provided 
by VR.
    Both curricula are phonics-based, but their instructional models 
differ. The WRS, based on the principles of Orton-Gillingham 
methodology, focuses on decoding and spelling for adults who have been 
unable to learn encoding and decoding through traditional basal 
methods, whole language, or other phonics programs and who require 
multisensory language instruction to master the phonological coding 
system of English. Teaching models of direct instruction with drill are 
implemented. The WRS Web site address is:
    The LBLP is used to develop students' cognitive and linguistic 
abilities in the areas of phonemic and orthographic awareness (symbol 
imagery) for decoding and spelling, and concept imagery for vocabulary 
development and oral and written language comprehension. The curriculum 
is student-driven, sequential, and constructivist-based, aimed at 
ultimately developing students' thinking or reasoning skills necessary 
for effective language processing (including reading), including all 
those areas predictive for reading success, including phonemic 
awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. All of 
LBLP's instructional approaches use a Socratic pedagogy whereby the 
teacher leads the

[[Page 44187]]

learner or learners in homogenous groups, via a series of 
diagnostically based questions toward the area or areas needing to be 
stimulated. Instruction is customized and relies heavily on appropriate 
assessments from the most basic linguistic units all the way through 
the higher level cognitive and linguistic functions including 
metacognition, critical thinking, language processing, and inferential 
thinking. Further information may be found on the Internet at the 
following Web site:
    An independent evaluator, selected after awards are made, will work 
with grantees to ensure that their projects are designed and 
implemented in a manner that will allow for rigorous evaluation, 
including the assignment of project participants into literacy 
intervention and control groups.

Proposed Priority--Model Demonstrations To Improve the Literacy Skills 
and Employment Outcomes of Individuals With Disabilities

    This priority supports projects that demonstrate the effect 
literacy services and instruction have on improving literacy skills of 
targeted groups of VR consumers and the effect on their employment and 
earnings outcomes. Projects must demonstrate how VR offices can 
effectively integrate literacy services into their service delivery 
systems and can best provide literacy services and instruction to a 
targeted group of VR consumers.


    Projects must assure cooperation with RSA and RSA's outside 
evaluator in meeting the evaluation needs of the project and RSA. 
Project cooperation with RSA's outside evaluator must include the 
    1. The assessment of all entering VR consumers in the designated 
project service area using brief methodologically acceptable screening 
instruments for learning disabilities and literacy levels to determine 
their eligibility for the project. The assessment does not include VR 
consumers with evidence of mental retardation in their case files.
    2. The assignment of approximately one-half of the eligible project 
participants into a literacy intervention group who would receive the 
additional services and benefits of the project and approximately one-
half of the project participants into a control group who would not 
receive projects services. However, no individual in the control group 
can be denied literacy services if his or her Individualized Plan for 
Employment (IPE) requires those services. Furthermore, those services 
may not be provided or paid for under these demonstration grants.
    3. The use of diagnostic tests and effective assessments of reading 
proficiency consistent with the procedures of RSA's outside evaluator.
    4. The administration of a pre- and post-test to project 
participants as directed by RSA's outside evaluator.


    An applicant for this competition must choose either the LBLP or 
the WRS for its curriculum and provide a rationale for its choice 
(e.g., the local adult literacy provider already uses WRS). However, an 
applicant may also choose to describe its capacity to use the other 
curriculum if it would be willing to substitute the alternative 
curriculum as its curriculum in order to enhance its ability to 
compete. RSA will select grantees in a manner to ensure that each 
curriculum intervention is adequately represented in the applications 
selected for funding.

Project Participants

    The following participant research criteria must be met:
    1. Projects must have a sufficient number of individuals in the 
control and experimental groups so that the effects of the literacy 
intervention can be adequately measured.
    2. Project participants must be eligible to receive VR services by 
the State VR agency and have, or be in the process of developing, an 
    3. All project participants (control and experimental groups) must 
be given an informed choice with respect to participation in the 
demonstration project consistent with the human subjects provisions as 
included in the application package.
    4. Project participants for the experimental and control groups 
must be selected using the requisite instrument. RSA requires use of 
the Learning Needs Screening Tool, a validated and public domain 
screener, which can be incorporated into the VR intake process. Copies 
of the screener as well as further information may be found on the 
Internet at the following Web site:

Use of Funds

    Funds may be used only for project costs and related activities and 
may not be used to supplant the cost of services ordinarily provided by 
the VR program. Related activities may include, but are not limited 
to--(1) counselor training or orientation, including counselor training 
on administration of literacy assessment instruments, (2) educational 
assessment and evaluation, (3) research expenses, (4) support services 
such as consumer transportation, childcare, and facilitation for 
attendance and retention, (5) instructional materials, (6) curriculum 
and instruction, (7) professional development for instructors and 
administrators, (8) assistive technology devices and services, (9) 
instructional technology, and (10) consultants.

Invitational Priority

    Within the priority for this competition, we are particularly 
interested in applications that meet the following invitational 
    Establishing partnerships with other organizations that can assist 
in carrying out their respective projects related to improving literacy 
and employability skills of adults with disabilities.
    These organizations might include Adult Education and Family 
Literacy (AEFL) programs, institutions of higher education, volunteer-
based literacy programs, community rehabilitation programs, nonprofit 
or for-profit vendors of literacy services, and other workforce 
agencies. Applicants under this invitational priority must meet the 
requirements in 34 CFR 75.127 through 75.129, which governs how 
partnerships and other groups of eligible parties may submit 
applications and conduct funded projects.
    Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(1) we do not give an application that meets 
the invitational priority a competitive or absolute preference over 
other applications.

Executive Order 12866

    This notice of proposed priorities has been reviewed in accordance 
with Executive Order 12866. Under the terms of the order, we have 
assessed the potential costs and benefits of this regulatory action.
    The potential costs associated with the notice of proposed 
priorities are those resulting from statutory requirements and those we 
have determined as necessary for administering this program effectively 
and efficiently.
    In assessing the potential costs and benefits--both quantitative 
and qualitative--of this notice of proposed priorities, we have 
determined that the benefits of the proposed priorities justify the 
    We have also determined that this regulatory action does not unduly 
interfere with State, local, and tribal governments in the exercise of 
their governmental functions.

[[Page 44188]]

Summary of Potential Costs and Benefits

    The Assistant Secretary has determined this project to be 
beneficial to the ongoing research and further assistance of VR 
customers. No other direct financial contribution is expected of the 

Intergovernmental Review

    This program is subject to Executive Order 12372 and the 
regulations in 34 CFR part 79. One of the objectives of the Executive 
order is to foster an intergovernmental partnership and a strengthened 
federalism. The Executive order relies on processes developed by State 
and local governments for coordination and review of proposed Federal 
financial assistance.
    This document provides early notification of our specific plans and 
actions for this program. Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR part 

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:

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 84.235P Special 
Demonstration Programs--Model Demonstration Projects to Improve the 
Literacy and Employment Outcomes of Individuals With Disabilities)

    Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 773(b).

    Dated: July 22, 2003.
Robert H. Pasternack,
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
[FR Doc. 03-19013 Filed 7-24-03; 8:45 am]