FR Doc E6-12780
[Federal Register: August 7, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 151)]
[Page 44671-44673]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []
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Discretionary Grant Programs

AGENCY: Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of proposed priorities.


SUMMARY: The Secretary of Education proposes priorities that the 
Department of Education (Department) may use for any appropriate 
discretionary grant program in fiscal year (FY) 2007 and in FY 2008. We 
take this action to focus Federal financial assistance on expanding the 
number of programs and projects Department-wide that support activities 
in areas of greatest educational need. Although we expect that these 
priorities will have the greatest applicability to programs authorized 
by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (as amended by 
the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001), we are establishing the 
priorities on a Department-wide basis, so that Department offices can 
use one or more of these priorities in any discretionary grant 
competition, as appropriate.

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before September 6, 2006.

ADDRESSES: Address all comments about these proposed priorities to 
Margo K. Anderson, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, 
SW., Room 4W311, Washington, DC 20202-5910. If you prefer to send your 
comments through the Internet, use the following address:

    You must include the term ``Department Priorities'' in the subject 
line of your electronic message.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Margo Anderson. Telephone: (202) 205-
3010 or via Internet at
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may 
call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) 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. To ensure that your comments have maximum effect in 
developing the notice of final priorities, we urge you to identify the 
specific proposed priority 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. 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 
Department's programs.
    During and after the comment period, you may inspect all public 
comments about these proposed priorities in room 4W333, 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 

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 


    In the four years since the enactment of the No Child Left Behind 
Act of 2001, there have been significant changes in our educational 
system that provide a strong framework for reaching the goal that all 
students will be proficient in reading/language arts and mathematics by 
the year 2014. States have put in place rigorous new accountability 
systems and in this school year (2005-2006) administered reading and 
mathematics assessments covering all students in grades 3 to 8 and at 
least once for students in grades 10 to 12. By school year 2007-2008, 
States will be assessing students in science at least once in each of 
three grade spans (3-5, 6-9, 10-12). A focus on professional 
development and teacher qualifications is helping States to ensure that 
increasing numbers of students are being taught by highly qualified 
teachers. School districts are providing new support and assistance to 
schools in need of improvement, while making available public school 
choice and supplemental educational services options to eligible 
students who attend these schools.
    National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results for 
older students provide a reminder of the need to continue to emphasize 
high standards and accountability for all students, especially those in 
the higher grades. The 2005 NAEP math results for 8th graders, for 
example, are both illustrative and alarming: less than one-third of 8th 
graders, and just 13 percent of low-income 8th graders, scored at the 
proficient level or above. High school test scores in mathematics have 
barely budged since the 1970s, and according to the American College 
Testing, Inc. (ACT), less than half of high school graduates in 2005 
were ready for college-level math and science coursework.
    America's rapidly changing economy requires an educational system 
that is producing high school graduates with the skills needed to be 
successful in postsecondary education and the workforce. In addition to 
improving the academic achievement of students in mathematics and 
science, we must expand the number of Americans mastering foreign 
languages critical to national security and to our participation in the 
global economy. High schools must develop a larger pool of technically 
adept and numerically literate Americans, a continual supply of highly 
trained mathematicians, scientists, and engineers, and more students 
with higher levels of proficiency in critical-need languages. The 
Department believes that high-quality professional development for 
secondary school teachers is a critical part of the solution, because 
it can help ensure that these teachers have the content knowledge and 
expertise required to improve student achievement.
    Rigorous instruction, high standards, and accountability for 
results are helping to raise achievement in the early grades. Now 
America must complete the task. We must focus on improving the 
mathematics and science achievement of secondary school students, 
expanding foreign language learning to include critical-need languages, 
providing teachers with better training and support, helping districts 
improve all their schools, and ensuring that all students meet rigorous

[[Page 44672]]

State mathematics and science academic standards and graduate from high 
school. Student performance is not just an education issue; it is an 
economic issue, a civic issue, a social issue, and a national security 
    In addition to content-specific priorities, the Secretary is 
proposing a priority for collecting data to assess the effect of 
projects on the academic achievement of student participants relative 
to appropriate comparison or control groups. The Secretary believes 
that interventions must be designed to collect the best available data 
to determine the impact of the proposed intervention on student 
achievement and to inform future improvement efforts. Finally, to 
assist schools and districts in using data effectively, we are 
proposing a priority for projects that will help educators use 
information from State data systems to improve student achievement or 
other appropriate outcomes.

Discussion of Proposed Priorities

    We will announce the final priorities in a notice in the Federal 
Register. We will determine the final priorities after considering 
public comments on the proposed priorities and other information 
available to the Department. This notice does not preclude the 
Secretary from proposing 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 one or more of these proposed priorities, we 
invite applications for new awards under the applicable program 
through a notice in the Federal Register. When inviting applications 
we designate the priorities 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 preference 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)).


    The Secretary proposes priorities that the Department may use for 
discretionary grant competitions in FY 2007 and FY 2008, as 
appropriate. The Secretary intends that these priorities will allow 
program participants and the Department to focus limited Federal 
resources on areas of greatest educational need. The Secretary 
recognizes that some of the priorities will not be appropriate for 
particular programs.
    Proposed Priority 1--Mathematics. Projects that support activities 
to enable students to achieve proficiency or advanced proficiency in 
    Proposed Priority 2--Science. Projects that support activities to 
enable students to achieve proficiency or advanced proficiency in 
    Proposed Priority 3--Critical-Need Languages. Projects that support 
activities to enable students to achieve proficiency or advanced 
proficiency in one or more of the following less commonly taught 
languages: Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Russian, and languages in 
the Indic, Iranian, and Turkic language families.
    Proposed Priority 4--Secondary Schools. Projects that support 
activities and interventions aimed at improving the academic 
achievement of secondary school students who are at greatest risk of 
not meeting challenging State academic standards and not completing 
high school.
    Proposed Priority 5--Professional Development for Secondary School 
Teachers. Projects that support high-quality professional development 
for secondary school teachers to help these teachers improve student 
academic achievement.
    Proposed Priority 6--School Districts with Schools in Need of 
Improvement, Corrective Action, or Restructuring. Projects that help 
school districts implement academic and structural interventions in 
schools that have been identified for improvement, corrective action, 
or restructuring under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 
1965, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
    Proposed Priority 7--Student Achievement Data. Projects that 
collect pre- and post-intervention test data to assess the effect of 
the projects on the academic achievement of student participants 
relative to appropriate comparison or control groups.
    Proposed Priority 8--State Data Systems. Projects that help 
educators use information from State data systems to improve student 
achievement or other appropriate outcomes.

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 the Department's 
discretionary grant programs 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.

Executive Order 12372

    Some of the programs affected by these proposed priorities are 
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 
    This document provides early notification of our specific plans and 
actions for these programs.

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 does not apply.)

[[Page 44673]]

    Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1221e-3; 20 U.S.C. 6301 et. seq.

    Dated: August 1, 2006.
Margaret Spellings,
Secretary of Education.
[FR Doc. E6-12780 Filed 8-4-06; 8:45 am]