FR Doc E9-30670[Federal Register: December 29, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 248)]
[Notices]               
[Page 68808-68811]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr29de09-67]                           

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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

 
National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research 
(NIDRR)--Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers 
Program--Disability Rehabilitation Research Project (DRRP)--Transition 
to Employment

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 84.133A-1.

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

ACTION: Notice of proposed priority for a DRRP.

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[[Page 68809]]

SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and 
Rehabilitative Services proposes a priority for the Disability and 
Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program administered by 
NIDRR. Specifically, this notice proposes a priority for a DRRP. The 
Assistant Secretary may use this priority for a competition in fiscal 
year (FY) 2010 and later years. We take this action to focus research 
attention on areas of national need. We intend this priority to improve 
rehabilitation services and outcomes for individuals with disabilities.

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before January 28, 2010.

ADDRESSES: Address all comments about this proposed priority to Donna 
Nangle, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 
6029, Potomac Center Plaza (PCP), Washington, DC 20202-2700.
    If you prefer to send your comments by e-mail, use the following 
address: donna.nangle@ed.gov. You must include the term ``Proposed 
Priority for a DRRP on Transition to Employment'' in the subject line 
of your electronic message.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Donna Nangle. Telephone: (202) 245-
7462 or by e-mail: donna.nangle@ed.gov.
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the 
Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This notice of proposed priority is in 
concert with NIDRR's Final Long-Range Plan for FY 2005-2009 (Plan). The 
Plan, which was published in the Federal Register on February 15, 2006 
(71 FR 8165), can be accessed on the Internet at the following site: 
www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/nidrr/policy.html.
    Through the implementation of the Plan, NIDRR seeks to: (1) Improve 
the quality and utility of disability and rehabilitation research; (2) 
foster an exchange of expertise, information, and training to 
facilitate the advancement of knowledge and understanding of the unique 
needs of traditionally underserved populations; (3) determine best 
strategies and programs to improve rehabilitation outcomes for 
underserved populations; (4) identify research gaps; (5) identify 
mechanisms of integrating research and practice; and (6) disseminate 
findings.
    This notice proposes a priority that NIDRR intends to use for DRRP 
competitions in FY 2010 and possibly later years. However, nothing 
precludes NIDRR from publishing additional priorities, if needed. 
Furthermore, NIDRR is under no obligation to make an award for this 
priority. The decision to make an award will be based on the quality of 
applications received and available funding.
    Invitation to Comment:
    We invite you to submit comments regarding this proposed priority. 
To ensure that your comments have maximum effect in developing the 
notice of final priority, we urge you to identify clearly the specific 
topic 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 this proposed 
priority. Please let us know of any further ways we could 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 this proposed priority in room 6029, 550 12th Street, 
SW., Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC, between the hours of 8:30 
a.m. and 4:00 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.

DRRP Program

    Purpose of Program: The purpose of the DRRP program is to improve 
the effectiveness of services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act 
of 1973, as amended, by developing methods, procedures, and 
rehabilitation technologies that advance a wide range of independent 
living and employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities, 
especially individuals with the most severe disabilities. DRRPs carry 
out one or more of the following types of activities, as specified and 
defined in 34 CFR 350.13 through 350.19: research, training, 
demonstration, development, dissemination, utilization, and technical 
assistance. An applicant for assistance under this program must 
demonstrate in its application how it will address, in whole or in 
part, the needs of individuals with disabilities from minority 
backgrounds (34 CFR 350.40(a)). The approaches an applicant may take to 
meet this requirement are found in 34 CFR 350.40(b). In addition, NIDRR 
intends to require all DRRP applicants to meet the requirements of the 
General Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects (DRRP) 
Requirements priority that it published in a notice of final priorities 
in the Federal Register on April 28, 2006 (71 FR 25472).
    Additional information on the DRRP program can be found at: 
http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/res-program.html#DRRP.
    Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 762(g) and 764(a).
    Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR part 350.
    Proposed Priority: This notice contains one proposed priority.
    Transition to Employment.
    Background:
    Only 43 percent of youth with disabilities are employed during the 
period immediately after high school compared to 63 percent of their 
peers without disabilities (Wagner et al., 2005). In addition, certain 
populations of youth with disabilities are at an even greater risk of 
experiencing poor employment outcomes, such as populations who are 
African-American, younger, or female (Coutinho et al., 2006; Cameto et 
al., 2003; Fabian, 2007; Wagner et al., 2005, 2006; Wells et al., 
2003). The type of disability is also related to the employment 
outcomes for youth with disabilities (Cameto et al., 2003; Wagner et 
al., 2005, 2006; Wells et al., 2003). Relative to the general 
population of youth with disabilities, youth with disabilities from 
disadvantaged backgrounds (e.g., poverty, foster care, involvement in 
the juvenile justice system) are at even greater risk of poor 
employment outcomes (Cameto et al., 2003; National Council on 
Disability, 2008; Wagner et al., 2005, 2006; Wells et al., 2003).
    Studies of promising practices for transition-age youth with 
disabilities suggest that facilitators of successful employment 
outcomes include, but are not limited to: increasing collaboration and 
coordination among providers serving these youth (Flannery et al., 
2007; Oertle & Trach, 2007; Wittenburg et al., 2002), encouraging youth 
participation in the workforce during the high school years (Fabian, 
2007; Wittenburg & Maag, 2002), encouraging participation in 
postsecondary education (Flannery et al., 2007; Weathers et al., 2007), 
providing work-specific and community participation support (Garcia-
Iriarte et al., 2007), and

[[Page 68810]]

involving employers in transition programs (Fabian, 2007; Garcia-
Iriarte et al., 2007; Rutkowski et al., 2006). Some of these practices, 
such as youth participation in the workplace during high school and 
employer participation in transition programs, have been developed 
primarily for particular high-risk groups such as minority youth from 
urban areas (e.g., Fabian, 2007; Garcia-Iriarte et al., 2007).
    Many of the promising practices suggested by this research have 
been incorporated into projects supported by the U.S. Department of 
Education. Some projects involving promising practices, such as inter-
agency collaboration, exposure to work experience, and community-based 
training, have been implemented by State vocational rehabilitation 
agencies (U.S. Department of Education, 2009). Promising practices like 
these and others (e.g., student-focused planning, family involvement, 
youth development activities) are also the focus of several current 
demonstration projects funded by the Rehabilitation Services 
Administration of the U.S. Department of Education (2007).
    Despite these efforts, there is still little scientifically based 
research demonstrating the efficacy of many of these practices and 
interventions in improving employment outcomes for transition-age youth 
with disabilities, particularly for those transition-age youth with 
disabilities who are at increased risk for poor employment outcomes. 
The knowledge gained from the identification and evaluation of 
effective interventions will provide policymakers and practitioners 
with the evidence they need to justify a broad application of promising 
practices in vocational rehabilitation and educational settings.
    References:
    Cameto, R., Marder, C., Wagner, M., & Cardoso, D. (2003). Youth 
employment. NLTS2 Data Brief: A report from the National Longitudinal 
Transition Study-2, 2, pp. 1-5.
    Coutinho, M.J., Owald, D.P., & Best, A.M. (2006). Differences in 
outcomes for female and male students in special education. Career 
Development for Exceptional Individuals, 29, 48-59.
    Fabian, E.S. (2007). Urban youth with disabilities: Factors 
affecting transition employment. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, 
50, pp. 130-138.
    Flannery, K.B., Slovic, R., Benz, M.R., & Levine, E. (2007). 
Priorities and changing practices: Vocational rehabilitation and 
community colleges improving workforce development programs for people 
with disabilities. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 27, 141-151.
    Garcia-Iriarte, E., Balcazar, F., & Taylor-Ritzler, T. (2007). 
Analysis of case managers' support of youth with disabilities 
transitioning from school to work. Journal of Vocational 
Rehabilitation, 26, 129-140.
    National Council on Disability. (2008). The Rehabilitation Act: 
Outcomes for transition-age youth. See 
www.ncd.gov/newsroom/publications/2008/publications.htm.
    Oertle, K.M., & Trach, J.S. (2007). Interagency collaboration: The 
importance of rehabilitation professionals' involvement in transition. 
Journal of Rehabilitation, 73, 36-44.
    Rutkowski, S., Daston, M., Van Kuiken, D., & Richle, E. (2006). 
Project SEARCH: A demand-side model of high school transition. Journal 
of Vocational Rehabilitation, 25, 85-96.
    U.S. Department of Education (2007). Notice inviting applications. 
Federal Register, 72 FR 36682-36685.
    U.S. Department of Education (2009). RSA: Promising practices for 
basic VR agencies helping transition age youth. Washington, DC: 
Department of Education. See 
http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/rehab/promising-practices/transition-age/index.html.
    Wagner, M., Newman, L., Cameto, R., Garza, N., & Levine, P. (2005). 
After high school: A first look at the postschool experiences of youth 
with disabilities. A report from the National Longitudinal Transition 
Study-2 (NLTS2). Menlo Park, CA: SRI International. Available at 
http://www.nlts2.org/reports/2005_04/nlts2_report_2005_04_complete.pdf.
    Wagner, M., Newman, L., Cameto, R., Levine, P., & Garza, N. (2006). 
An overview of findings from Wave 2 of the National Longitudinal 
Transition Study-2 (NLTS2). Menlo Park, CA: SRI International. See 
http://www.nlts2.org/reports/2006_08/nlts2_report_2006_08_complete.pdf.
    Weathers, R.R., Walter, G., Schley, S., Hennessey, J., Hemmeter, 
J., & Burkhauser, R.V. (2007). How postsecondary education improves 
adult outcomes for Supplemental Security Income children with severe 
hearing impairments. Social Security Bulletin, 67, 101-131.
    Wells, T., Sandefur, G.D., & Hogan, D.P. (2003). What happens after 
the high school years among younger persons with disabilities? Social 
Forces, 82, 803-832.
    Wittenburg, D.C., Golden, T., & Fishman, M. (2002). Transition 
options for youth with disabilities: An overview of the programs and 
policies that affect transition from school. Journal of Vocational 
Rehabilitation, 17, 195-206.
    Wittenburg, D.C., & Maag, E. (2002). School to where? A literature 
review on economic outcomes of youth with disabilities. Journal of 
Vocational Rehabilitation, 17, 265-280.
    Proposed Priority:
    The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services proposes a priority for a Disability and Rehabilitation 
Research Project (DRRP) on Transition to Employment. The purpose of 
this priority is to identify and evaluate promising practices that will 
facilitate job entry and career development for transition-age youth 
with disabilities who are at risk for poor employment outcomes.
    A number of factors can affect employment outcomes for this 
population, including demographic characteristics (e.g., race/
ethnicity, age), disability characteristics (e.g., disability type) and 
disadvantaged background (e.g., poverty, foster care, involvement in 
the juvenile justice system). The DRRP must build upon the current 
research literature and ongoing implementation and demonstration of 
promising practices in the field of transition to employment.
    Under this priority, the DRRP must be designed to contribute to the 
following outcomes:
    (a) New knowledge of promising employment-focused transition 
practices for transition-age youth with disabilities who are at risk 
for poor employment outcomes. The DRRP must contribute to this outcome 
by conducting research to identify such practices. These practices may 
include, but are not limited to: work experience during the secondary 
school years; involvement of employers in the design and implementation 
of the transition program; supported employment; and increased 
coordination among schools, State vocational rehabilitation programs, 
or other programs serving transition-age youth with disabilities.
    (b) New knowledge regarding the effectiveness of employment-focused 
transition practices for transition-age youth with disabilities at risk 
for poor employment outcomes. The DRRP must contribute to this outcome 
by implementing and evaluating at least one promising practice 
identified under paragraph (a) for a particular at-risk group of 
transition-age youth with disabilities. In evaluating the promising 
practice or practices, the DRRP must use scientifically based research, 
as defined in section 9101(37) of the Elementary and Secondary 
Education Act of 1965, as amended (20 U.S.C. 7801(37)). Applicants must 
identify the specific at-risk group or groups of transition-age youth 
with disabilities they propose to

[[Page 68811]]

study, provide evidence that the selected population or populations 
are, in fact, at risk for poor employment outcomes, and explain how the 
proposed practices are expected to address the needs of the population 
or populations.
    (c) Enhancement of the knowledge base of policy makers, State VR 
personnel, and personnel of other programs serving transition-age youth 
with disabilities. The DRRP must contribute to this outcome by 
conducting targeted dissemination of results from research conducted 
under paragraphs (a), and (b).
     In addition, through coordination with the NIDRR Project 
Officer, the DRRP should contribute to this outcome by:
    (1) Collaborating with relevant technical assistance grantees from 
the Rehabilitation Services Administration, such as the Technical 
Assistance and Continuing Education (TACE) Centers; and
    (2) Collaborating with relevant technical assistance Grantees from 
the Office of Special Education Programs, such as the National 
Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center.
    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)).
    Final Priority: We will announce the final priority in a notice in 
the Federal Register. We will determine the final priority 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 this priority, 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 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 priority justify the costs.
    Discussion of costs and benefits:
    The benefits of the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects 
and Centers Programs have been well established over the years in that 
similar projects have been completed successfully. This proposed 
priority will generate new knowledge about transition to employment for 
youth with disabilities, through research, development, dissemination, 
utilization, or technical assistance projects.
    Another benefit of this proposed priority is that the establishment 
of a new DRRP will improve the lives of individuals with disabilities. 
The new DRRP will generate, disseminate, and promote the use of new 
information about transition to employment for youth with disabilities. 
This information will improve the options for youth with disabilities 
as they transition into adulthood and employment activities.

Intergovernmental Review

    This program is not subject to Executive Order 12372 and the 
regulations in 34 CFR part 79.
    Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this 
document in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, 
audiotape, or computer diskette) by contacting the Grants and Contracts 
Services Team, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., 
room 5075, PCP, Washington, DC 20202-2550. Telephone: (202) 245-7363. 
If you use a TDD, call the FRS, toll- free, at 1-800-877-8339.
    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: www.ed.gov/news/fedregister.
    To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available 
free at this site.

    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.


    Dated: December 21, 2009.
Alexa Posny,
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
[FR Doc. E9-30670 Filed 12-28-09; 8:45 am]

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