FR Doc E9-7995[Federal Register: April 8, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 66)]
[Notices]               
[Page 15949-15954]
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[DOCID:fr08ap09-44]      

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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

 
Striving Readers

    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 84.371A.
AGENCY: Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Department of 
Education.

ACTION: Notice of proposed priorities, requirements, definitions, and 
selection criteria.

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SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education 
proposes priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria 
for the Striving Readers program grant competition. The Assistant 
Secretary may use these priorities, requirements, definitions, and 
selection criteria for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2009 and later 
years. The Assistant Secretary intends to use the priorities, 
requirements, definitions, and selection criteria to provide Federal 
financial assistance to support the implementation and evaluation of 
intensive, supplemental literacy interventions for struggling readers.

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before May 8, 2009.

ADDRESSES: Address all comments about this notice to Marcia J. Kingman, 
U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 3E106, 
Washington, DC 20202-6400.
    If you prefer to send your comments by e-mail, use the following 
address: Marcia.Kingman@ed.gov. You must include the term ``Striving 
Readers--Comments on FY 2009 Proposed Priorities'' in the subject line 
of your electronic message.
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the 
Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Marcia J. Kingman. Telephone: (202) 
401-0003 or by e-mail: Marcia.Kingman@ed.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
    Invitation to Comment: We invite you to submit comments regarding 
this notice. To ensure that your comments have maximum effect in 
developing the

[[Page 15950]]

notice of final priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection 
criteria, we urge you to identify clearly the specific proposed 
priority, requirement, definition, or selection criterion your 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 the proposed 
priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria. 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 the proposed priorities, requirements, definitions, and 
selection criteria in room 3E106, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., Washington, 
DC, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., Washington, DC time, 
Monday through Friday of each week except Federal holidays.
    Assistance to Individuals with Disabilities in Reviewing the 
Rulemaking Record: On request we will provide an appropriate 
accommodation or auxiliary aid to an individual with a disability who 
needs assistance to review the comments or other documents in the 
public rulemaking record for this notice. If you want to schedule an 
appointment for this type of accommodation or auxiliary aid, please 
contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.
    Purpose of Program: The purpose of this program is to raise the 
reading levels of adolescent students in ESEA Title I-eligible schools 
with significant numbers of students reading below grade level and to 
build a strong, scientific research base for identifying and 
replicating strategies that improve adolescent literacy instruction. 
The program supports expanding existing adolescent literacy initiatives 
or creating new initiatives that provide intensive, supplemental 
literacy interventions for struggling readers.
    Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 6492.
    Applicable Program Regulations: The Education Department General 
Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) in 34 CFR parts 75, 77, 79, 80, 81, 
82, 84, 85, 86, 97, 98, and 99, as applicable.
    Proposed Priorities: This notice contains two proposed priorities.
    Proposed Priority 1--Supplemental Literacy Intervention for 
Struggling Readers in the Middle Grades:
    Background:
    One of the greatest obstacles to achieving President Obama's 
ambitious goal of regaining our Nation's global leadership in 
educational attainment is the inadequate literacy skills that too many 
young people bring with them as they enter high school. Without strong 
literacy skills, high school students cannot master the rigorous 
academic content they need to prepare for postsecondary education, 
careers, and active participation in our democracy. Students in the 
middle grades and in high school who have low-level reading skills also 
are at greater risk of dropping out of school.
    The Striving Readers program awards competitive grants to support 
the implementation and rigorous evaluation of promising adolescent 
literacy interventions intended to increase our understanding of how we 
can improve the literacy skills of adolescents most effectively. The 
Department awarded more than $24 million for the first eight grants 
under the program in March, 2006 and has supported continuation of 
those grants with an additional $88.6 million in subsequent years. 
These projects are now entering their third year and are serving more 
than 45,000 secondary school students annually, including 7,300 
adolescents who read two or more years below grade level. The 
Department released year-one implementation studies last year, and 
expects to release impact evaluations of the first two years of project 
implementation this summer.
    Focus on Supplemental Literacy Intervention for Struggling Readers:
    Each of the Striving Readers projects funded in FY 2006 supports 
both an intensive supplemental literacy intervention for struggling 
readers (students who read two or more years below grade level) and a 
schoolwide literacy initiative that includes literacy instruction in 
all content-area classes and is intended to improve the literacy skills 
of all students. In Proposed Priority 1, we are proposing to support 
projects that focus exclusively on the implementation of a supplemental 
literacy intervention for struggling readers. While teaching literacy 
in every content-area class is necessary if all students are to acquire 
high-level literacy skills--the complex set of skills that enables one 
to read critically, comprehend, reason, and write persuasively--
students with reading difficulties need support in addition to the 
support they receive in content-area classes. Struggling readers, 
through intense interventions that occur in a supplemental class, must 
have a real opportunity to catch up with their peers, graduate from 
high school, and secure a place in college and the workplace after 
graduation. Given limited available resources for this program, we 
believe that the primary focus of this priority should be the urgent 
needs of these adolescents.
    Under Proposed Priority 1, we also are proposing that projects 
address the needs of struggling readers by implementing a school-year-
long literacy intervention that supplements the regular English 
language arts instruction students receive and that delivers 
instruction exclusively or principally during the school day. Research 
indicates that an intensive, supplemental intervention of this kind is 
more likely to accelerate the development of grade-level literacy 
skills by struggling readers than are other strategies or approaches. 
Improving Adolescent Literacy: Effective Classroom and Intervention 
Practices, a practice guide published in 2008 by the Institute of 
Education Sciences' What Works Clearinghouse, found strong research 
evidence that students who have only partial mastery of the 
prerequisite knowledge and skills that are fundamental for reading at 
grade level need more intensive help than can be provided by teachers 
during English language arts or other classes (Institute of Education 
Sciences, 2008).
    Proposed Priority 1 would also require that this supplemental 
literacy intervention be research-based and include, at a minimum, a 
number of practices that many researchers in the field of adolescent 
literacy agree are critical to the effectiveness of a supplemental 
literacy intervention for struggling readers. These practices include 
the use of a reliable screening assessment to identify students with 
reading difficulties, a reliable diagnostic reading assessment to 
pinpoint students' instructional needs, explicit vocabulary 
instruction, direct and explicit comprehension strategy instruction, 
and content intended to improve student motivation and engagement in 
literacy learning (Institute of Education Sciences, 2008; Boardman, 
Roberts, Vaughn et al., 2008; Biancarosa and Snow, 2006).
    To meet Proposed Priority 1, the supplemental literacy intervention 
also must have been implemented in at least one school in the United 
States within the past five years. The purpose of this requirement is 
to ensure that the limited funds available for new awards are used to 
support interventions that are fully developed and that can be 
implemented by the schools included in the project without significant 
modification. While there is a need for greater investment in the 
development of new literacy interventions, at this time, the Department 
seeks to focus on replicating

[[Page 15951]]

successful supplemental literary interventions in multiple schools.
    Focus on Students in the Middle Grades:
    Proposed Priority 1 would also focus on projects that serve 
struggling readers in any of grades 6 through 8 because research 
indicates that early and intense intervention in the middle grades is 
critical to putting students with below-grade-level literacy skills on 
a path to graduation when they enter high school (Balfanz, Herzog, and 
Mac Iver, 2007).
    The number of adolescents in the middle grades who need assistance 
with reading is alarming. Twenty-seven percent of eighth-grade students 
in the United States scored below basic in reading on the most recent 
National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Forty-two percent 
of eighth-grade students eligible for free- or reduced-price lunch 
scored below basic (National Center for Education Statistics, 2007). 
According to one estimate, approximately half of the students who enter 
a typical high-poverty, urban high school read at a sixth- or seventh-
grade level (Balfanz et al., 2002).
    When students enter high school with reading skills that are 
significantly below grade level, they are at great risk of dropping 
out, particularly during the ninth-grade year. One analysis of the 
school experiences and outcomes of students who were members of the 
Class of 2000 in Philadelphia found that more than three-quarters of 
the students who dropped out in ninth grade entered high school with 
reading skills that were one or more years below grade level. Fifty-
eight percent of these ninth-grade dropouts entered the ninth grade 
with reading skills that were three or more years below grade level 
(Neild and Balfanz, 2006). Similarly, an analysis of longitudinal 
student data for three large California districts found that more than 
sixty percent of students who scored ``far below basic'' on an eighth-
grade reading assessment dropped out before graduation (Kurlaender, 
Reardon, and Jackson, 2008).
    Proposed Priority 1--Supplemental Literacy Intervention for 
Struggling Readers in the Middle Grades:
    To be eligible for consideration under this priority, an applicant 
must propose to implement a supplemental literacy intervention during 
the second, third, and fourth years of the project period that--
    (a) Will be provided to struggling readers (as defined elsewhere in 
this notice) in any of grades 6 through 8 in no fewer than 5 eligible 
schools;
    (b) Supplements the regular English language arts instruction 
students receive;
    (c) Provides instruction exclusively or primarily during the 
regular school day, but that may be augmented by after-school 
instruction;
    (d) Is at least one full school year in duration;
    (e) Includes the use of a nationally normed, reliable, and valid 
screening reading assessment (as defined elsewhere in this notice) to 
identify struggling readers;
    (f) Includes the use of a nationally normed, reliable, and valid 
diagnostic reading assessment (as defined elsewhere in this notice) to 
pinpoint students' instructional needs;
    (g) Uses a research-based literacy model that is flexible enough to 
meet the varied needs of struggling readers, is intense enough to 
accelerate the development of literacy skills, and includes, at a 
minimum, the following practices:
    (1) Explicit vocabulary instruction.
    (2) Direct and explicit comprehension strategy instruction.
    (3) Opportunities for extended discussion of text meaning and 
interpretation.
    (4) Instruction in reading foundational skills, such as decoding 
and fluency (for students who need to be taught these skills).
    (5) Course content intended to improve student motivation and 
engagement in literacy learning.
    (6) Instruction in writing; and
    (h) Has been implemented in at least one school in the United 
States during the preceding five years.
    Proposed Priority 2--Rigorous and Independent Evaluation:
    Background:
    Under section 1502(b) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act 
of 1965 (ESEA), the Secretary is required to evaluate Striving Readers 
projects ``using rigorous methodological designs and techniques, 
including control groups and random assignment, to the extent feasible, 
to produce reliable evidence of effectiveness.'' Consequently, we are 
proposing a priority for applications that includes an evaluation plan 
that measures, through a randomized field trial, the effectiveness of 
the proposed supplemental literacy intervention in achieving desired 
outcomes.
    The statutory evaluation requirement coincides with the needs of 
the adolescent literacy field for better information about what works. 
School systems across the country are beginning to develop 
comprehensive literacy programs that extend elementary literacy 
instruction into middle and high schools, but there is little empirical 
data to support some of these secondary-level programs. And, although 
the marketplace is producing a wealth of ``off-the-shelf'' 
interventions for students with reading deficiencies, most of these 
interventions have not been subjected to rigorous evaluations.
    The critical need for a stronger research base on adolescent 
literacy necessitates that funded projects conduct careful, rigorous 
studies of the supplemental literacy interventions that will be 
implemented. Therefore, we have designed Proposed Priority 1 to be used 
in conjunction with Proposed Priority 2. Each project funded under 
Proposed Priority 1--Supplemental Literacy Intervention for Struggling 
Readers in the Middle Grades would be required to contract with an 
independent evaluator to conduct an experimental design evaluation and 
provide information and data for dissemination to the literacy 
community. The evaluation for each project must include at least 750 
struggling readers, the minimum sample required to detect approximately 
3-5 months of growth in reading achievement on standardized assessments 
for the typical student in grades 6 through 8. In addition, each 
project would be required to include at least 5 eligible schools. These 
schools may be part of a single local educational agency (LEA) or 
multiple LEAs. The Department plans to provide technical assistance to 
help grantees and their evaluation partners with evaluation design and 
implementation.
    Proposed Priority 2--Rigorous and Independent Evaluation:
    To be eligible for consideration under this priority, an applicant 
must propose to support a rigorous experimental evaluation of the 
effectiveness of the supplemental literacy intervention it implements 
under Priority 1 (Supplemental Literacy Intervention for Struggling 
Readers in the Middle Grades) during the second, third, and fourth 
years of the project that will--
    (a) Be carried out by an independent evaluator whose role in the 
project is limited solely to conducting the evaluation;
    (b) Use a random lottery to assign eligible struggling readers in 
each school in the project either to the supplemental literacy 
intervention or to other activities in which they would otherwise 
participate, such as a study hall, electives, or another activity that 
does not involve supplemental literacy instruction;
    (c) Include rigorous and appropriate procedures to monitor the 
integrity of

[[Page 15952]]

the random assignment of students, minimize crossover and contamination 
between the treatment and control groups, and monitor, document, and, 
where possible, minimize student attrition from the sample;
    (d) Measure outcomes of the supplemental literacy intervention 
using, at a minimum:
    (1) The reading/language arts assessment used by the State to 
determine whether a school has made adequate yearly progress under part 
A of title I of the ESEA.
    (2) A nationally normed, reliable, and valid outcome reading 
assessment (as defined elsewhere in this notice) that is closely 
aligned with the literacy skills targeted by the supplemental literacy 
intervention;
    (e) Use rigorous statistical models to analyze the impact of the 
supplemental literacy intervention on student achievement, including 
the use of students' prior-year test scores as a covariate in the model 
to improve statistical precision and also including appropriate 
statistical techniques for taking into account the clustering of 
students within schools;
    (f) Include an analysis of the fidelity of implementation of the 
critical features of the supplemental literacy intervention based on 
data collected by the evaluator;
    (g) Include measures designed to ensure that the evaluator obtains 
high response rates to all data collections;
    (h) Include no fewer than 750 struggling readers enrolled in no 
fewer than 5 schools in each year of the evaluation; and
    (i) Be designed to detect not less than a 0.10 standard deviation 
impact of the supplemental literacy intervention on student 
achievement, which represents approximately 3 to 5 months' growth in 
reading achievement on standardized assessments for the typical student 
in grades 6 through 8.
    Types of Priorities:
    When inviting applications for a competition using one or more 
priorities, we designate the type of each priority as absolute, 
competitive preference, or invitational through a notice in the Federal 
Register. 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 (1) 
awarding additional points, depending on 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 priority. 
However, we do not give an application that meets the priority a 
preference over other applications (34 CFR 75.105(c)(1)).
    Proposed Requirements:
    The Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education 
proposes the following requirements for this program. We may apply 
these requirements in any year in which this program is in effect.
    Proposed Eligibility Requirement:
    Background:
    Several State educational agencies have recently published 
comprehensive literacy plans that go beyond the traditional State focus 
on reading instruction in the early grades. These plans create policies 
and guidelines for extending literacy instruction into middle and high 
schools. In general, the new State plans acknowledge that improvements 
in adolescent literacy are the cornerstone for secondary-school reform 
and that those improvements must be accomplished through the teaching 
of literacy skills in all content-areas as well as through the 
provision of targeted, supplemental literacy interventions to 
struggling readers. To accomplish the mission embodied in those State 
plans, States are working with schools and districts to modify State 
literacy standards and assessments; to identify research-based literacy 
programs; to create cohorts of literacy coaches; to revise teacher 
preparation and training so that it includes education in content-based 
literacy strategies; to develop literacy professional development for 
in-service teachers; and to help improve the infrastructure of schools 
in order to better support literacy instruction.
    Recent American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) funds 
appropriated for Title I School Improvement Grants and for the State 
Fiscal Stabilization Fund are available as financial support for 
executing many of the components of State comprehensive literacy plans 
as well as for creating comprehensive plans in States that are just 
beginning to address adolescent literacy needs. We are proposing that 
within the larger effort of building State-wide programs that will 
improve literacy for all adolescents, the limited funds available 
through the Striving Readers program be used by States to target 
services to struggling readers.
    By proposing to limit eligibility to State educational agencies, we 
intend to partner with States, not only through the ARRA but also 
through these grants, to help States address the needs of struggling 
readers.
    Proposed Eligible Applicants: To be considered for an award under 
this competition, an applicant must be a State educational agency (SEA) 
that applies on behalf of itself and one or more LEAs that have 
governing authority over the eligible schools (as defined elsewhere in 
this notice) that the applicant proposes to include in the project.
    Proposed Application Requirements:
    Eligible Schools:
    Background:
    We are proposing that the applicant SEA submit, for each eligible 
school it intends to include in the project, certain eligibility 
information to ensure that reviewers can adequately judge the extent of 
the school's willingness to participate fully in the evaluation and 
implementation of the supplemental literacy intervention. As a part of 
this application requirement, we also would require each applicant to 
submit, for each eligible school it intends to include in its project, 
State assessment data to verify that a large enough group of struggling 
readers exists among enrolled students to ensure an adequate sample 
size for the evaluation.
    Eligible schools: To be considered for an award under this 
competition, an eligible applicant must include in its application the 
following with respect to each school it proposes to include in the 
project:
    (a) The school's name, location, and enrollment disaggregated by 
grade level for the 2008-09 school year.
    (b) State or other assessment data that demonstrate that, during 
each of the 2007-08 and 2008-09 school years, a minimum of 75 students 
enrolled in grades 6 through 8 in the school were struggling readers 
(as defined elsewhere in this notice).
    (c) Evidence that the school is eligible to receive funds under 
part A of title I of the ESEA, pursuant to section 1113 of the ESEA.
    (d) A letter from the superintendent of the LEA that has governing 
authority over the school and the principal of the school in which 
they--
    (1) Agree to implement the proposed supplemental literacy 
intervention during the 2010-11, 2011-12, and 2012-13 school years, 
adhering strictly to the design of the intervention;
    (2) Agree to allow eligible struggling readers to be randomly 
assigned (by lottery) to either the supplemental literacy intervention 
curriculum or to

[[Page 15953]]

other activities in which they would otherwise participate, such as a 
study hall, electives, or other activity that does not involve 
supplemental reading instruction; and
    (3) Agree to participate in the evaluation, including in the 
evaluator's collection of data on student outcomes and program 
implementation.
    Proposed Logic Model and Assessment Requirements:
    Background:
    We are proposing to require applicants to include, in their 
applications, a logic model of the supplemental literacy intervention 
that will allow reviewers to evaluate the merits of the intervention 
and the relation between the intervention and student outcomes. We are 
also proposing that applicants identify in their applications the 
nationally normed, reliable, and valid screening, diagnostic, and 
outcome reading assessments that they will use as they implement and 
evaluate the effects of the supplemental literacy intervention.
    Supplemental literacy intervention Logic Model and Assessment 
Requirements: To be considered for an award under this competition, an 
applicant must include in its application the following evidence with 
respect to the supplemental literacy intervention it proposes to 
implement and evaluate:
    (a) Evidence that the supplemental literacy intervention has been 
implemented in at least one school in the United States during the 
preceding five years.
    (b) A one-page logic model that shows a clear, logical pathway 
leading from the project inputs and activities, through classroom 
instruction, to the expected impacts on students.
    (c) The nationally normed, reliable, and valid screening, 
diagnostic, and outcome reading assessments (as these reading 
assessments are defined elsewhere in this notice) of student literacy 
skills that the applicant would use to inform the identification of 
struggling readers and the content of their instruction.
    Proposed Definitions:
    Background:
    The Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education 
proposes several definitions that will help clarify the population of 
students eligible for services under this competition and the tools to 
be used to identify those eligible students. We may apply one or more 
of these definitions in any year in which this program is in effect.
    Diagnostic reading assessment means an assessment that is--
    (a) Valid, reliable, and based on scientifically based reading 
research; and
    (b) Used for the purpose of--
    (1) Identifying a child's specific areas of strength and weakness;
    (2) Determining any difficulties that a child may have in learning 
to read and the potential cause of such difficulties; and
    (3) Helping to determine possible reading intervention strategies 
and related special needs.
    Eligible school means a school that--
    (a) Is eligible to receive funds under part A of title I of the 
ESEA, pursuant to section 1113 of the ESEA;
    (b) Serves students in any of grades 6 through 8; and
    (c) Enrolled not fewer than 75 students in any of grades 6 through 
8 during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 school years whose reading skills were 
two or more years below grade level.
    Outcome reading assessment means an assessment that is--
    (a) Valid, reliable, and nationally normed;
    (b) Closely aligned with the literacy skills targeted by the 
supplemental literacy intervention; and
    (c) Used for the purpose of--
    (1) Measuring student reading achievement; and
    (2) Evaluating the effectiveness of the supplemental literacy 
intervention.
    Screening reading assessment means an assessment that is--
    (a) Valid, reliable, and based on scientifically based reading 
research; and
    (b) A brief procedure designed as a first step in identifying 
children who may be at high risk for delayed development or academic 
failure and in need of further diagnosis of their need for special 
services or additional literacy instruction.
    Struggling readers means readers who--
    (a) Have only partial mastery of the prerequisite knowledge and 
skills that are fundamental for reading at grade level;
    (b) Are reading two or more grades below grade level when measured 
on an initial screening reading assessment.
    Proposed Selection Criteria:
    Background:
    The purposes of the Striving Readers grant program are to improve 
the literacy skills of adolescent struggling readers and to help build 
a strong, scientific, research base for specific strategies that 
improve adolescent literacy skills. To support those purposes, we are 
proposing the following selection criteria that we believe will allow 
us to fund the most promising supplemental literacy interventions for 
struggling readers and that will ensure that the evaluations of those 
interventions meet the research community's highest standard and 
provide reliable findings that inform adolescent literacy practice.
    Proposed Selection Criteria:
    The Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education 
proposes the following selection criteria for evaluating an application 
under this program. We may apply one or more of these criteria in any 
year in which this program is in effect. In the notice inviting 
applications or the application package or both we will announce the 
maximum possible points assigned to each criterion.
    (a) Significance.
    (1) The potential contribution of the project to the development 
and advancement of theory, research, and practices in the field of 
adolescent literacy, including--
    (i) In the case of a supplemental literacy intervention that has 
not been evaluated through a large-scale experimental evaluation, the 
extent to which other empirical evidence (such as smaller-scale 
experimental or quasi-experimental studies of the effects of the 
intervention on student achievement) demonstrates that the intervention 
is likely to be effective in improving the reading skills of struggling 
readers; or
    (ii) In the case of a supplemental literacy intervention that has 
been evaluated by one or more large-scale experimental evaluations, the 
extent to which those evaluations provide evidence that demonstrates 
that the intervention is likely to be effective in improving the 
reading skills of struggling readers and that the proposed evaluation 
would increase substantially knowledge in the field of adolescent 
literacy, such as by studying the effectiveness of the intervention 
among a different population than studied in previous experimental 
evaluations or by using an improved evaluation design (such as one that 
has a marked increase in statistical power);
    (2) The extent to which the proposed supplemental literacy 
intervention can be replicated in a variety of settings without 
significant modifications.
    (b) Project Design.
    (1) The extent to which the supplemental literacy intervention uses 
a research-based literacy model that is flexible enough to meet the 
varied needs of struggling readers, is intense enough to accelerate the 
development of literacy skills, and that includes, at a minimum, the 
following practices:
    (i) Explicit vocabulary instruction;

[[Page 15954]]

    (ii) Direct and explicit comprehension strategy instruction;
    (iii) Opportunities for extended discussion of text meaning and 
interpretation;
    (iv) Instruction in reading foundational skills, such as decoding 
and fluency (for students who need to be taught these skills);
    (v) Course content designed to improve student motivation and 
engagement in literacy learning; and
    (vi) Instruction in writing.
    (2) The extent to which the professional development model proposed 
for the project has sufficient intensity (in terms of the number of 
hours or days).
    (3) The extent to which the provider of the professional 
development identified in the application has the appropriate 
experience and knowledge to provide high-quality professional 
development.
    (4) The extent to which the proposed project uses nationally 
normed, valid, and reliable screening reading assessments for screening 
struggling readers and for diagnosing individual student needs.
    (c) Project Evaluation.
    (1) The extent to which the evaluation plan includes data from the 
reading/English language arts assessment used by the State to measure 
adequate yearly progress under part A of title I of the ESEA and from a 
second, evaluator-administered, nationally normed, reliable, and valid 
measure of student reading achievement that is closely aligned with the 
goals of the intervention;
    (2) The extent to which the evaluation plan describes an objective 
and appropriate method for the independent evaluator to conduct random 
assignment of students to treatment and control conditions; rigorous 
and appropriate methods for monitoring the integrity of random 
assignment and for minimizing crossover and contamination between the 
treatment and control groups; and rigorous and appropriate methods for 
monitoring, documenting, and, where possible, minimizing, student 
attrition from the sample;
    (3) The extent to which the evaluation plan includes a clear, well-
documented, and rigorous method for measuring the fidelity of 
implementation of the critical features of the intervention;
    (4) The extent to which the evaluation plan describes rigorous 
statistical procedures for the analysis of the data that will be 
collected, including:
    (i) A clear discussion of the relationship between hypotheses, 
measures, and independent and dependent variables.
    (ii) Appropriate statistical techniques for taking into account the 
clustering of students within schools.
    (iii) The use of data on students' achievement in prior years as a 
covariate to improve statistical precision.
    (iv) In the case of qualitative data analyses, the use of 
appropriate and rigorous methods to index, summarize, and interpret 
data;
    (5) The extent to which the independent evaluator identified in the 
application has experience in conducting scientifically based reading 
research and in designing and conducting experimental evaluations; and
    (6) The extent to which the proposed budget allocates sufficient 
funds to carry out a high-quality evaluation of the proposed project.
    Final priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection 
criteria:
    We will announce the final priorities, requirements, definitions, 
and selection criteria in a notice in the Federal Register. We will 
determine the final priorities, requirements, definitions, and 
selection criteria after considering responses to this notice and other 
information available to the Department. This notice does not preclude 
us from proposing additional priorities, requirements, definitions, or 
selection criteria, 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 priorities, 
requirements, definitions, and selection criteria, we invite 
applications through a notice in the Federal Register.

    Executive Order 12866: This notice 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 proposed regulatory 
action.
    The potential costs associated with this proposed regulatory action 
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 proposed regulatory action, we have determined 
that the benefits of the proposed priorities, requirements, 
definitions, and selection criteria justify the costs.
    We have determined, also, that this proposed regulatory action does 
not unduly interfere with State, local, and tribal governments in the 
exercise of their governmental functions.
    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.
    Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this 
document in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, 
audiotape, or computer diskette) on request to the program contact 
person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.
    Electronic Access to This Document: You can view this document, as 
well as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal 
Register, in text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) on the 
Internet at the following site: http://www.ed.gov/news/fedregister.
    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://www.gpoaccess.gov/nara/index.html.

    Delegation of Authority: The Secretary of Education has delegated 
authority to Joseph C. Conaty, Director, Academic Improvement and 
Teacher Quality Programs for the Office of Elementary and Secondary 
Education, to perform the functions of the Assistant Secretary for 
Elementary and Secondary Education.

    Dated: April 3, 2009.
Joseph C. Conaty,
Director, Academic Improvement and Teacher Quality Programs.
[FR Doc. E9-7995 Filed 4-7-09; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4000-01-P