FR Doc 04-3739
[Federal Register: February 20, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 34)]
[Page 7914-7919]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []
Download: PDF Version


RIN 1855-ZA06

Transition to Teaching

AGENCY: Office of Innovation and Improvement, Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of proposed priorities and requirements.


SUMMARY: The Deputy Under Secretary for Innovation and Improvement 
proposes two priorities under the Transition to Teaching program. The 
Deputy Under Secretary may use one or more of these priorities for 
competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2004 and later years. We take this 
action to focus Federal financial assistance on State efforts to create 
or expand alternative routes to teacher certification and district 
efforts to streamline teacher hiring systems and processes. We intend 
for the priorities to help States and districts under this program to 
lower barriers to certification and hiring and increase the number of 
highly qualified teachers who are recruited into teaching from 
nontraditional sources. The Deputy Under Secretary also proposes 
minimum requirements that are needed for efficient grant competitions 
for FY 2004 and future years, and to ensure that grantees focus their 
program funds on direct costs of their projects.

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before March 22, 2004.

ADDRESSES: Address all comments about these proposed priorities and 
requirements to Thelma Leenhouts, U.S. Department of Education, 400 
Maryland Avenue, SW., room 3C102, Washington, DC 20202-5942. If you 
prefer to send your comments through the Internet, use the following 

[[Page 7915]]

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Thelma Leenhouts. Telephone: (202) 
260-0223 or via Internet:
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you 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 under FOR FURTHER 


Invitation To Comment

    We invite you to submit comments regarding these proposed 
priorities and requirements. To ensure that your comments have maximum 
effect in developing the notice of final priorities and requirements, 
we urge you to identify clearly the specific proposed priority or 
requirement that each comment addresses.
    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 and requirements. 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 and requirements in room 
3C102, 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 
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 and requirements. If 
you want to schedule an appointment for this type of aid, please 
contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.


    All students need highly qualified and effective teachers if they 
are to meet their State's challenging academic content standards. 
Indeed, one of the pivotal components of the No Child Left Behind Act 
of 2001, Pub. L. 107-110 (NCLB), is the law's insistence that every 
student be taught by highly qualified teachers. With the beginning of 
the 2002-2003 school year, NCLB required that all newly hired teachers 
of core academic subjects who teach in Title I programs be highly 
qualified, and, by the end of the 2005-2006 school year, NCLB requires 
that all teachers of core academic subjects in all public schools be 
highly qualified. Both States and local districts face challenges in 
meeting these requirements. Some experience difficulty in hiring 
teachers in general or in specific subject areas. Others may have an 
adequate supply of teachers, but these teachers might not be highly 
    The Transition to Teaching program is designed to address these 
challenges by helping high-need schools operated by high-need local 
educational agencies (LEAs) secure and retain the highly qualified 
teachers that students in those schools need to help them achieve to 
challenging academic standards. It does so by encouraging the 
development and expansion of alternative pathways to teacher 
certification, and by supporting local programs that make use of these 
alternative pathways to recruit, hire, and retain highly qualified 
    Transition to Teaching projects (1) recruit as teachers talented 
mid-career professionals, recent college graduates who have not 
completed a teacher preparation program, and qualified school 
paraprofessionals, and (2) help these individuals to become 
successfully certified and licensed classroom teachers in high-need 
schools of high-need LEAs.
    In the most recent Transition to Teaching competition, the 
Department awarded 95 grants to national or regional, Statewide, and 
local projects to meet the needs of participating high-need LEAs for 
highly qualified teachers. However, little of these projects' efforts 
focus on the key role of States in developing or changing policies and 
implementing strategies that open up certification to talented, non-
traditional candidates. Nor do the projects' efforts focus on the role 
of high-need LEAs in streamlining their hiring systems, timelines, and 
policies in order to successfully recruit and hire highly qualified 
    Establishing these proposed priorities makes it possible to focus 
funds at both the State level, where decisions on teacher certification 
requirements are made, and at the district level, where responsibility 
for hiring resides. These proposed priorities for opening up 
certification through alternative pathways and for streamlining hiring 
practices are needed to address the NCLB highly qualified teacher 

Discussion of Proposed Priorities

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

    Note: 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 

    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)).


Proposed Priority 1--State Projects to Create or Expand and Implement 
Alternative Pathways to Teacher Certification

    This priority supports projects by a State educational agency (SEA) 
or a consortium of SEAs and the respective teacher certification agency 
of each State (if different from the SEA), over a project period of up 
to five years, to create or expand and implement alternative pathways 
to certification by conducting both of the following activities:
    (a) Create alternatives to the State's traditional certification 
requirements. States are encouraged to develop a variety of alternative 
pathways to certification as important options in their menu of State-
approved certification methods to ensure that all teachers are fully 
certified and highly

[[Page 7916]]

qualified. Alternative routes, such as competency-based approaches to 
certification, permit talented individuals interested in teaching to 
become fully certified as a result of rigorous assessments of their 
content and professional teaching competence. Alternate routes such as 
these provide viable options for attracting a diverse and talented 
teacher recruitment pool.
    (b) Use the alternative routes to recruit individuals from groups 
eligible to participate in the Transition to Teaching program. Funded 
projects also would, among other things, need to work with 
participating high-need LEAs to--
    (1) Increase the number and quality of mid-career changers, recent 
college graduates who have not majored in education, and qualified 
paraprofessionals recruited to teach high-need subjects (such as 
mathematics, science, and special education) in identified high-need 
LEAs (which may include LEAs that are charter schools), particularly 
those in urban and rural areas; and
    (2) Provide these newly hired teachers with the support they need 
to become certified and effective teachers who will choose to make 
teaching their new long-term profession.
    In particular, SEAs receiving project funds must--
    (i) Target for recruitment and rigorously screen candidates in 
areas where there are documented teacher shortages (e.g., mathematics, 
science, and special education);
    (ii) Place prospective teachers only in high-need schools operated 
by high-need LEAs;
    (iii) Prepare individuals for specific positions in specific LEAs 
and place them in these positions early in the training process;
    (iv) Ensure that recruited teachers receive the specific training 
they need to become fully certified or licensed teachers; and
    (v) Have recruited teachers participate in a well-supervised 
induction period that may include the support of experienced, trained 

Proposed Priority 2--District Projects to Streamline Teacher Hiring 
Systems, Timelines, and Processes

    This priority supports projects by one or more high-need local 
school districts, over a project period of five years, to streamline 
their hiring systems, timelines and processes. A participating district 
will need to conduct both of the following activities:
    (a) Examine its current hiring system, processes, and policies to 
identify the critical barriers to hiring highly qualified teachers. The 
lack of highly qualified teachers in most urban and rural districts has 
often been attributed to their difficulty in recruiting interested and 
qualified individuals. However, recent research indicates that the 
problem may not be one of recruitment but may stem from inefficient and 
untimely district hiring systems and processes. This is especially true 
in high-poverty districts and schools--the districts and schools the 
Transition to Teaching program is targeted to serve. Accordingly, the 
district would have to examine its current hiring processes and 
policies and, based upon that examination, identify the critical 
barriers to hiring highly qualified teachers.
    (b) Design and implement efforts to remove the identified barriers 
and put in place systems that streamline and revamp the hiring process. 
Districts are encouraged to create an efficient and timely applicant 
hiring process with a strong data tracking system and clear hiring 
goals. These efforts also will involve negotiating policy reforms that 
remove critical barriers, such as delayed notification of vacancies and 
seniority and retirement rules.
    Districts also would carry out the requirements of the Transition 
to Teaching program by recruiting nontraditional candidates, using the 
streamlined hiring system to hire them for teaching in high-need 
schools, working with them to achieve full State certification, and 
retaining them for at least three years.

Discussion of Proposed Requirements for the FY 2004 and Future Year 
Grant Competitions and Award of Funds

    In order to promote both a fair and efficient program competition 
and appropriate uses of Transition to Teaching program funds, the 
Deputy Under Secretary proposes the following requirements to govern 
grant competitions and awards in FY 2004 and later years. For the most 
part, these proposed requirements are the same as those that the 
Department announced in the Federal Register on June 17, 2002 (67 FR 
41221-41224) and successfully used for the FY 2002 Transition to 
Teaching program competition and grants awarded under it. The Notice 
Inviting Applications for New Awards for Fiscal Year 2002 on the 
Internet is available at the following site:

    The only exceptions concern (1) a proposal, discussed in the 
section Application content, that would require each applicant to 
include in its application a statement that each participating LEA 
will, rather than intends to, hire project participants, assuming that 
it has positions to fill and is satisfied that the participants are 
qualified to teach these subjects, and (2) a proposal discussed in the 
section Participant eligibility, which is needed to close a loophole 
that has permitted some grantees to recruit existing teachers into 
their projects.
    1. Application content. Section 2313(d)(2)(C) of the Elementary and 
Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA), requires applicants 
to describe in their applications how they will use the funds received 
to recruit and retain individuals to teach in high-need schools 
operated by high-need LEAs. In addition, section 2313(i) of the ESEA 
requires that individuals who participate in training provided under 
this program serve in a high-need school operated by a high-need LEA 
for at least three years. In this regard, an implicit purpose of this 
program and the ESEA as a whole is to help ensure that all students are 
able to achieve to high standards, principally in the core academic 
subjects defined in section 9101(11) of the ESEA. To ensure that all 
grantees properly implement their projects, we propose that each 
applicant would need to include information in its application, as the 
Secretary may require, that confirms that it (if it is an LEA), or each 
LEA with which it will work--
    (a) Is a high-need LEA;
    (b) Has identified for the grantee the high-need subjects for which 
teachers are needed; and
    (c) Will hire individuals recruited through the project to meet the 
LEA's teaching needs, assuming that the LEA still has positions to fill 
and is satisfied that the individuals are qualified to teach those 
    2. Definitions.
    High-need LEA. Section 2102(3) of the ESEA defines ``high-need 
LEA'' to mean an LEA that--
    (a)(1) Serves not fewer than 10,000 children from families with 
incomes below the poverty line, or (2) for which not less than 20 
percent of the children served by the LEA are from families with 
incomes below the poverty line; and
    (b) For which there is (1) a high percentage of teachers not 
teaching in the academic subjects or grade levels the teachers were 
trained to teach, or (2) a high percentage of teachers with emergency, 
provisional, or temporary certification or licensing.
    We are proposing that an applicant (or a grantee should the grantee 
wish to add an LEA to a Transition to Teaching project after receiving 
a grant award) would need to demonstrate to the

[[Page 7917]]

Department that each LEA that would participate in the project 
satisfies the definition of high-need LEA. The applicant (or grantee) 
would need to do so on the basis of the most recent data available in 
the year in which the Department would approve the LEA's participation 
in the project. In this regard, we propose the following for each of 
these two components of the definition--
     For component (a) of ``high-need LEA,'' the only 
consistent available data for all LEAs that reflect the statutory 
requirement for use of the total number or percentage of individuals 
age 5-17 from families below the poverty line are data from the U.S. 
Census Bureau. Therefore, we propose to require that the eligibility of 
an LEA as a ``high-need LEA'' under component (a) be determined on the 
basis of the most recent satisfactory Census Bureau data, and we would 
identify the year of these data to be used in any announcement of a 
program competition for awards in FY 2004 and future years. (We will 
provide further information on this subject in the application package 
for this program that will be available for each competition. This 
information will include the Internet web site where one may obtain the 
LEA poverty data that the Census Bureau reports, and the kinds of 
poverty data the Department will accept for any LEA that is not 
included on this Internet Web site.)
     For component (b)(1) of the definition of 
``high-need LEA,'' we interpret this phrase ``not teaching in the 
academic subjects or grade levels that the teachers were trained to 
teach'' as equivalent to ``a high percentage of teachers teaching out 
of field.'' The Department does not have available to it suitable data 
with which to define what a high percentage would be. Therefore, LEAs 
that rely on component (b)(1) would need to demonstrate to the 
Department's satisfaction that they have a high percentage of teachers 
teaching out of field. The Department would review this aspect of an 
LEA's proposed eligibility on a case-by-case basis. To avoid 
uncertainty, an LEA might choose instead to try to meet this 
eligibility test under component (b)(2).
     For component (b)(2) of ``high-need LEA,'' the 
best data available to the Department on the percentage of teachers 
with emergency, provisional, or temporary certification or licensing 
come from the reports on the quality of teacher preparation that States 
annually provide to the Department in October of each year under 
section 207 of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA). In 
these reports, States provide the percentage of teachers in their LEAs 
teaching on waivers, both on a statewide basis and in high-poverty 
LEAs. The most recently available data, which were included in the 
October 2002 State reports, indicate that the national average of 
teachers on waivers in high-poverty LEAs is eight (8) percent.
    Based on information in these reports, we would publish the most 
current national percentage of uncertified teachers in high-poverty 
LEAs in any announcement of a program competition for awards in FY 2004 
and future years. To satisfy component (b)(2) of the definition of 
high-need LEA, an LEA would need to be able to confirm that, at the 
time it would participate in a Transition to Teaching project, it has 
at least the percentage of uncertified teachers as the Department 
announces is a ``high percentage'' based on the most currently 
available HEA section 207 State reports.
    High-need subject. For purposes of the Transition to Teaching 
program, we propose that a high-need subject means English, reading or 
language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and 
government, economics, arts, history, geography, special education, and 
English as a second language (ESL). These subjects include the ``core 
academic subjects'' specified in section 9101(11) of the ESEA and the 
subjects of special education and ESL. We propose to include these two 
additional subjects because of the particular need that many high-need 
LEAs have for teachers in these two areas who can help students with 
disabilities and English language learners to become proficient in the 
ESEA core academic subjects.
    High-need SEA. Section 2313(c) of the ESEA requires the Department 
to give priority in awarding grants under the program to applications 
from ``a partnership or consortium that includes a high-need State 
educational agency or local educational agency.'' However, the ESEA 
does not define the term high-need SEA. As was the case for the FY 2002 
competition, for purposes of this priority we propose to define a high-
need SEA as an SEA of a State that includes at least one high-need LEA. 
While our definition of this term might enable all SEAs to be 
considered high-need SEAs, given the proposed requirement that all 
applications identify the high-need LEA that would participate in the 
project, any project that includes one of these LEAs as a partner would 
already be eligible to receive this statutory priority. Hence, we see 
little value in proposing a more narrow definition of high-need SEA.
    3. Application review process. Section 2313(b) of the ESEA provides 
that an eligible applicant for a Transition to Teaching grant must be--
    (a) An SEA;
    (b) A high-need LEA;
    (c) A for-profit or nonprofit organization that has a proven record 
of effectively recruiting and retaining highly qualified teachers, in a 
partnership with a high-need LEA or with an SEA;
    (d) An institution of higher education (IHE), in a partnership with 
a high-need LEA or with an SEA;
    (e) A regional consortium of SEAs; or
    (f) A consortium of high-need LEAs.
    Given the wide variety of entities that may apply for grants under 
this program, the Department expects the scope of proposed recruitment, 
training, and placement efforts to vary widely. For example, a 
nonprofit organization might propose activities in various communities 
throughout the nation, an SEA might propose activities to be conducted 
on a statewide basis, and an LEA might propose activities that would 
focus on its own teaching needs. It is likely that if applications from 
these various entities were reviewed in a single application pool, 
reviewers would have difficulty evaluating the relative merits of the 
projects. In addition, the Department is interested in supporting 
projects of different types that can serve as potential models of 
recruitment, training, and retention through alternative routes to 
teaching. Given these factors, and in order to evaluate fairly the 
relative merits of applications proposing projects of such widely 
varied scope, we propose to review applications in FY 2004 and later 
years as we did in the FY 2002 program competition--in three different 
applicant pools, depending on whether the LEAs to benefit from the 
project are located--
    (a) In more than one State;
    (b) Statewide or in more than one area of a State; or
    (c) In a single area of a State.
    When the Department announces a competition, it will provide an 
estimate of the number and size of awards to be made from applications 
in each category. However, the Department would reserve the right to 
adjust these estimates based on the number of high-quality applications 
in each pool and as a whole, without regard to the relative scores of 
applications in each of the three applicant pools.
    Finally, because of the variety of entities that could apply for 
grants under this competition, it is possible that an LEA might be the 
recipient of services under both (1) its own

[[Page 7918]]

application and (2) the application of the SEA of the State in which 
the LEA is located, an educational service agency that is a high-need 
LEA, or a nonprofit organization. In this event, should those 
applications propose duplicative activities the Department would offer 
the LEA a choice of receiving its own grant award or participating in 
the other entity's project. Should the LEA choose to receive its own 
award, the Department would adjust the other entity's grant award 
    4. Participant eligibility. Section 2312(1) provides that an 
individual is eligible to participate in the Transition to Teaching 
program if the individual (a) has substantial, demonstrable career 
experience, including as a highly qualified paraprofessional, or (b) is 
a graduate of an IHE who--
    (a) Has graduated not more than three years before applying to join 
a Transition to Teaching project in order to become a teacher; and
    (b) In the case of an individual wishing to teach in a secondary 
school, has completed an academic major (or courses totaling an 
equivalent number of credit hours) in the core academic subject that 
the individual will teach.
    The purpose of the Transition to Teaching program is to provide 
financial support to enable grantees to recruit individuals from their 
non-teaching positions and, through alternative routes to State 
certification, help high-need LEAs to hire and retain them as teachers 
of high-need subjects. Indeed, section 2313(d)(2)(E) requires each 
application to describe how the proposed project will increase the 
number of highly qualified teachers teaching high-need academic 
subjects (in high-need schools operated by high-need LEAs). Consistent 
with this provision and the program's overall purpose, we propose that 
individuals who already have State teacher certification or licenses, 
or who are teaching on a provisional, temporary, or emergency license 
prior to recruitment into the program, not be eligible to participate 
in Transition to Teaching projects.
    The Department did not adopt this requirement for the FY 2002 
competition because, when we announced that competition, we did not 
believe that this clarification was necessary. However, a number of 
existing grantees have recruited some project participants from this 
group of teachers--typically individuals not yet certified or certified 
teachers desiring to change their area of certification or endorsement. 
While the statute does not literally prohibit this practice, for 
reasons we offer in the preceding paragraph, we are proposing to 
clarify that those awarded Transition to Teaching grants in FY 2004 or 
future competitions may not recruit these individuals into the program.
    5. Evaluation and accountability. Section 2314 of the ESEA requires 
grantees to submit to the Department and to the Congress interim and 
final reports at the end of the third and fifth years of the grant 
period, respectively. Subparagraph (b) of this section provides that 
these reports must contain the results of the grantee's interim and 
final evaluations, which must describe the extent to which high-need 
LEAs that received funds through the grant have met their goals 
relating to teacher recruitment and retention as described in the 
project application.
    However, while each funded project must promote the recruitment and 
retention of new teachers in specific identified LEAs, eligible grant 
recipients are not limited to LEAs. Therefore, it is possible that one 
or more funded projects will not provide funding to participating LEAs. 
In order that all project evaluations provide relevant information on 
the extent to which the project is meeting these LEA goals, we propose 
that the interim and final evaluations would need to describe the 
extent to which LEAs that either receive program funds or otherwise 
participate in funded projects have met their teacher recruitment and 
retention goals.
    6. Limitation on indirect costs. The success of the Transition to 
Teaching Program depends upon how well grantees and the high-need LEAs 
with which they work recruit, hire, train, and retain highly qualified 
individuals from other professions and backgrounds to become teachers 
in high-need subjects. If the program is to achieve its purpose, we 
need to ensure that all appropriated funds are used as effectively as 
possible. To do so, we believe it is necessary to place a reasonable 
limitation on the amount of program funds that grant recipients may use 
to reimburse themselves for the indirect costs of program activities. 
Therefore, we propose to place a reasonable limit on the indirect cost 
rate that all grantees and other recipients of program funds would be 
able to use in determining the amount of indirect costs they may charge 
to their Transition to Teaching awards. As was the case for grants 
awarded under the FY 2002 competition, this limit would be the lesser 
of eight percent or the recipient's negotiated restricted indirect cost 
    For reasons we have offered in a limited number of other 
competitive grant programs that focus on improving teacher quality, we 
believe that a similar limitation on a recipient's indirect costs is 
necessary here to ensure that Transition to Teaching program funds are 
used to secure the new teachers that Congress intended. See, e.g., the 
discussion of (1) 34 CFR 611.61, as proposed, that governs the Teacher 
Quality Enhancement Grants program authorized by Title II, part A of 
the HEA (65 FR 6936, 6940 (February 11, 2000)), and (2) requirements 
for the FY 2002 grants competition under the School Leadership program 
authorized by Title II, part A, subpart 5 of the ESEA (67 FR 36159, 
36162 (May 23, 2002)), and under this Transition to Teaching program 
(67 FR 41223-24 (June 17, 2002)).

Executive Order 12866

    This notice of proposed priorities and requirements 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 and requirements 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 and 
requirements, we have determined that the benefits of the proposed 
priorities and requirements justify the costs.
    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.
    Summary of potential costs and benefits:
    Elsewhere in this notice we discuss the potential costs and 
benefits of these proposed priorities and requirements under 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.

[[Page 7919]]

Electronic Access to This Document

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Regulations is available on GPO Access at:

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 84.350 Transition to 

    Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 4683 et seq.

    Dated: February 13, 2004.
Nina Shokraii Rees,
Deputy Under Secretary for Innovation and Improvement.
[FR Doc. 04-3739 Filed 2-19-04; 8:45 am]