[Federal Register: February 15, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 31)]
[Page 7427-7430]
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Special Demonstration Programs--Model Demonstration Projects--
Improving the Postsecondary and Employment Outcomes of Youth With 

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

ACTION: Notice of proposed priority and definitions.


SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and 
Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) proposes a priority and definitions 
under the Special Demonstrations Program administered by the 
Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA). The Assistant Secretary 
may use the priority and definitions for competitions in fiscal year 
(FY) 2007 and later years. We take this action to focus Federal 
financial assistance on an identified area of national need. We intend 
the priority to improve the post-school and employment outcomes of 
youth with disabilities.

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before March 19, 2007.

ADDRESSES: Address all comments about the proposed priority and 
definitions to Edwin Powell, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland 
Avenue, SW., room 5038, Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC 20202-
2550. Telephone: (202) 245-7505 or by e-mail: edwin.powell@ed.gov.
    You must include the term ``Transition Priority'' in the subject 
line of your electronic message.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Edwin Powell. Telephone: (202) 245-
7505, or via Internet: edwin.powell@ed.gov.
    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 the proposed priority 
and definitions.
    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 the proposed priority 
and definitions. 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 
    During and after the comment period, you may inspect all public 
comments about the proposed priority and definitions in room 5038, 
Potomac Center Plaza, 550 12th 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 the proposed priority and definitions. If you 
want to schedule an appointment for this type of aid, please contact 
the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.


    Youth with disabilities face significant challenges both in the 
school environment and as they transition to adult life. National 
studies and reports have shown that, compared to their non-disabled 
peers, students with disabilities are less likely to receive a regular 
high school diploma; drop out twice as often; and enroll in and 
complete postsecondary education programs at half the rate; and, up to 
two years after leaving high school, about 4 in 10 youths with 
disabilities are employed as compared to 6 in 10 same-age out-of-school 
youth in the general population (National Center for Education 
Statistics, 2000; National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2), 
2005). These and other related findings on the secondary and 
postsecondary outcomes of youth with disabilities have spurred Federal 
and State efforts to improve transition policies and practices.
    The transition of youth with disabilities is a shared 

[[Page 7428]]

under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the 
Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (Rehabilitation Act). Primary 
responsibility for the transition of children with disabilities under 
IDEA rests with State educational agencies (SEAs). However, the State 
Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Services Program authorized under the 
Rehabilitation Act also has a key role facilitating the transition of 
youth with disabilities, including providing consultation and technical 
assistance to SEAs, participating in transition planning, identifying 
youth who are in need of VR services, and providing transition services 
to eligible individuals.
    Federal and State efforts to improve the post-school outcomes of 
youth with disabilities have resulted in some important gains over the 
past decade, including increases in graduation rates, enrollment in 
postsecondary education, and the number of youth entering the workforce 
(Office of Special Education Programs, Data Analysis System (DANS); 
Newman, 2005; Cameto and Levine, 2005). Despite these gains, far too 
many youth with disabilities continue to experience difficulties in 
achieving successful post-school outcomes (NLTS2, 2005).
    Complicating factors are that transition efforts involve 
coordination between many different parties and developing and 
implementing effective programs can be difficult. Interagency 
partnerships at the State and local level are needed to ensure 
effective agency collaboration, including coordination of policies and 
practices, sharing of knowledge, information, and other resources, and 
providing technical assistance and training. A State level interagency 
transition team can promote effective collaborative models, provide 
training and technical assistance across the State, and maintain 
communication and support for the transition community. Local community 
transition teams identify common goals and action plans, problem solve 
through interagency collaboration, create community-based options for 
students, seek funding, and implement action plans (Investing in the 
Transition of Youth with Disabilities to Productive Careers, Twenty-
Eighth Institute on Rehabilitation Issues, 2002).
    Although the scientifically-based research is limited, the 
literature indicates that there are a number of transition practices 
that, in addition to interagency collaboration, are associated with 
successful outcomes for youth with disabilities (Kohler, 1996; Benz, 
Lindstrom, and Yovanoff, 2000; National Collaborative on Workforce 
Disability for Youth, 2004). These practices include student-focused 
planning, career preparatory and pre-employment experiences, youth 
development activities, and enhancement of family involvement.
    As the primary Federal vehicle for assisting individuals with 
disabilities to obtain employment, the VR program is a critical link in 
assisting youths with disabilities to prepare for education, training, 
and employment opportunities beyond high school. VR professionals bring 
to the table valuable knowledge and expertise about the world of work 
and disability, including career planning, occupational trends and 
local employment opportunities, job-related education, training and 
skills, job seeking and retention skills, and accommodations. They also 
are knowledgeable about adult service systems and the range of benefits 
and resources available to assist individuals with disabilities. 
However, research shows that there is an ongoing gap between transition 
service needs and VR professional involvement in assisting students 
with disabilities during the transition years (NLTS2, 2005).
    Model transition programs that build on current collaborative State 
and local efforts and demonstrate the use of promising practices are 
needed to improve the postsecondary education and employment outcomes 
of youth with disabilities. These practices include the effective use 
of VR personnel in transition planning and the delivery of services.
    We will announce the final priority and definitions in a notice in 
the Federal Register. We will determine the final priority and 
definitions after considering responses to this notice and other 
information available to the Department. This notice does not preclude 
us from proposing or using other priorities and definitions, subject to 
meeting applicable rulemaking requirements.

    Note: This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in 
which we choose to use the 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 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)).


    The Assistant Secretary proposes this priority to support projects 
that demonstrate the use of promising practices of collaborative 
transition planning and service delivery in improving the postsecondary 
education and employment outcomes of youth with disabilities.
    In order to meet this priority, an applicant must --
    (1) Provide an assurance that the State has an interagency 
transition taskforce that provided input in the development of the 
application and that the interagency transition taskforce will--
    (a) Play an advisory role in the operation of the project;
    (b) Assist in the development of project goals;
    (c) Review project findings; and
    (d) Assist in the dissemination of project findings;
    (2) Demonstrate that the project for which it seeks funding will--
    (a) Implement a model transition program that is designed to 
improve post-school outcomes of students with disabilities through the 
use of local interagency transition teams and the implementation of a 
coordinated set of promising practices and strategies. The activities 
must be implemented at a minimum of two sites to be carried out in 
coordination with the applicable local educational agency (LEA) or 
    (b) Provide transition services to youth with disabilities, 
    (i) Individualized VR services to youth with disabilities who are 
eligible for such services consistent with 34 CFR 361.42; and
    (ii) Services to groups of youth with disabilities, through methods 
such as workshops and seminars, to support the transition of such 
youths to post-school and employment outcomes;
    (c) Provide training and technical assistance to LEAs and State VR 
personnel responsible for planning and providing transition services to 
students with disabilities;
    (d) Conduct outreach activities that assist in the identification 
of students with disabilities who are in need of VR services;
    (e) Analyze and use the secondary education and post-school outcome 

[[Page 7429]]

of youth with disabilities collected by the SEA and other relevant data 
to assist the project to improve transition services and post-school 
    (f) Conduct an evaluation of the project's performance, including 
an evaluation of the effectiveness of the practices and strategies 
implemented by the project in achieving project goals, particularly 
post-school outcomes;
    (3) Provide evidence that the LEAs responsible for providing 
transition services to children with disabilities under the IDEA in the 
local sites proposed by the applicant will participate in carrying out 
project activities (e.g., letter of support); and
    (4) Provide a description of--
    (a) The State interagency transition taskforce members, including 
their roles and responsibilities with respect to transition planning 
and the provision of services;
    (b) The local interagency team members, including their roles and 
responsibilities with respect to transition planning and the provision 
of services;
    (c) The coordinated set of promising practices that it proposes to 
provide, which, at a minimum, must include student-focused planning, 
career preparatory and pre-employment experiences, youth development 
activities, and practices to enhance family involvement;
    (d) The evaluation plan, including project goals, measurable 
objectives, and operational definitions and the data to be collected 
and how it will be analyzed. At a minimum these data must include: high 
school exit data (academic achievement and functional performance data, 
high school graduation outcomes, including type of diploma received); 
student's post-school goals; services provided; postsecondary education 
outcomes; employment outcomes (type of employment, wages and earnings, 
hours worked, weeks of employment); and public benefits received such 
as Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability 
Insurance; and
    (e) A plan for the systematic dissemination of project findings and 
knowledge gained that will assist State and local agencies in adapting 
or replicating the transition model carried out by the project.


    (1) Career preparatory and pre-employment experiences means 
experiences and activities to help students become prepared for a 
successful future in postsecondary education or employment including: 
Instruction in learning and study strategies; career education 
activities that assist the student to form and develop career 
aspirations and to make informed choices about careers; structured work 
experiences such as job shadowing, volunteer and community service, and 
on-the-job training experiences; and employment skills instruction such 
as work-related behaviors and skills training, job seeking skills, and 
occupation-specific vocational skill training.
    (2) State interagency transition taskforce means a group of 
individuals who meet on a regular basis to facilitate interagency 
collaboration and the coordination of practices and services to improve 
the transition of students with disabilities from secondary education 
to postsecondary education and employment, such as identifying and 
addressing systemic transition barriers; facilitating the coordination 
of transition policies, practices, and services within the State; 
providing technical assistance; and disseminating information on 
promising practices.
    (a) The group must, at a minimum, include one or more 
representatives of the State VR agency (including, where applicable, 
the State VR agency for the Blind), SEA, State Labor and Employment/
Workforce agency, Social Security Administration, State developmental 
disabilities agency, and the State mental health agency. The group must 
also include individuals to represent the perspectives of business and 
industry and transitioning youth with disabilities.
    (b) The group may also include representatives from other relevant 
entities such as the State Rehabilitation Council (if applicable in the 
State), State Independent Living Council, State Developmental 
Disabilities and Mental Health Planning Councils, postsecondary 
educational institutions, transition service providers, parents of 
transitioning youth with a disability, and other stakeholders.
    (3) Student-focused planning means activities designed to 
facilitate student participation, self-evaluation and self-
determination, including goal setting and decision making within the 
planning process. Examples of such activities include the 
identification of student interests and preferences; use of 
educational, career and psychological assessments in the development of 
postsecondary education, training, and vocational goals; career, 
vocational counseling, and guidance; VR participation at individualized 
education program (IEP) meetings; joint IEP and individualized plan for 
employment (IPE) planning meetings; and timely referrals to adult 
service providers.
    (4) Transition services, as defined in section (7)(37) of the 
Rehabilitation Act, means a coordinated set of activities for a 
student, designed within an outcome-oriented process, that promotes 
movement from school to post-school activities, including postsecondary 
education, vocational training, and integrated employment (including 
supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, 
independent living, or community participation. The coordinated set of 
activities must be based upon the individual student's needs, taking 
into account the students preferences and interests, and shall include 
instruction, community experiences, the development of employment and 
other post school adult living objectives, and when appropriate, 
acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational 
    (5) Youth development activities means activities that help 
students to control and direct their own lives based on informed 
decisions and to become self-sufficient and productive members of 
society such as learning to communicate their disability-related work 
support and accommodation needs and learning to find, request, and 
secure appropriate supports and reasonable accommodations in education, 
training and employment settings. Examples of youth development 
activities include: mentoring opportunities, training in life skills 
such as independent living skills, self-advocacy, and conflict 
resolution; exposure to personal leadership and youth development 
activities; and exposure to post-program supports.
    (6) Youth with disabilities means individuals with a disability as 
defined in paragraph (b) of the definition of ``individual with a 
disability'' in 34 CFR 373.4 who is between the ages of 16 and 22.


Benz, M.R., Lindstrom, L. & Yovanoff, P. (Summer 2000). Improving 
graduation and employment outcomes of students with disabilities: 
Predictive factors and student perspectives. Exceptional Children, 
66 (4), 509-29.

    Cameto, R., Levine, P. & Wagner, M. (November 2004). Transition 
Planning for Students with Disabilities: A Special Report from The 
National Longitudinal Transition Study-2. Prepared For: Office Of 
Special Education Programs, U.S. Department Of Education, SRI 
Project P11182. Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.
Institute on Rehabilitation Issues, 2002. Investing in the 
Transition of Youth with

[[Page 7430]]

Disabilities to Productive Careers Twenty-Eighth University of 
Arkansas Region VI Rehabilitation Continuing Education Program
Kohler, P.D. (1996) Taxonomy for Transition Programming: A Model for 
Planning, Organizing, and Evaluating Transition Education, Services, 
and Programs.
National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). (2002). Digest of 
education statistics, 2002. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of 
National Collaborative on Workforce Disability for Youth, Guideposts 
for Success, 2004.
National Collaborative on Workforce Disability for Youth. 
Definitions of Common Terms.
National Council on Disability, (May 2004). Improving Educational 
Outcomes for Students with Disabilities.
Wagner, M., Newman, L., Cameto, R., & Levine, P., (June 2005). 
Changes Over Time In The Early Post-school Outcomes Of Youth With 
Disabilities. A Report from The National Longitudinal Transition 
Study-2. Prepared For: Office Of Special Education Programs, U.S. 
Department Of Education, SRI Project P11182. Menlo Park, CA: SRI 
United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education 
Programs, Data Analysis System (DANS), 2006
Wagner, M., Newman, L., Cameto, R., Garza, N., & Levine, P. (April 
2005). After High School: A First Look At The Post-school 
Experiences Of Youth With Disabilities: A Report from The National 
Longitudinal Transition Study-2. Prepared For: Office Of Special 
Education Programs, U.S. Department Of Education, SRI Project 
P11182. Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.

Executive Order 12866

    This notice of proposed priority and definitions 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 
    The potential costs associated with the notice of proposed priority 
and definitions 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 priority, definitions, and 
application requirements we have determined that the benefits of the 
proposed priority and definitions 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

    The Assistant Secretary has determined that the cost to the Federal 
Government associated with this program will not exceed $2,250,000 in 
FY 2007. No other costs will result from the announcement of this 
proposed priority and definitions.
    The benefit of this proposed priority and definitions would be the 
establishment of model demonstration projects that will improve the 
postsecondary education and employment outcomes of students with 

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 373.

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. 
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    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://www.gpoaccess.gov/nara/index.html.

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 84.235U Special 
Projects and Demonstrations).

    Program Authority:  20 U.S.C. 773(b).

    Dated: February 8, 2007.
John H. Hager,
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
 [FR Doc. E7-2685 Filed 2-14-07; 8:45 am]