FR Doc 2010-7255
[Federal Register: March 31, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 61)]
[Notices]               
[Page 16082-16088]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr31mr10-47]                           

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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

 
Smaller Learning Communities Program

    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 84.215L.
AGENCY: Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Department of 
Education.

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

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SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education 
proposes priorities, requirements, a definition, and selection criteria 
under the Smaller Learning Communities (SLC) program. The Assistant 
Secretary will use these priorities, requirements, definition, and 
selection criteria, in addition to any other previously established 
priorities and requirements, for a competition using fiscal year (FY) 
2009 funds and may use them in later years. We take this action to 
focus Federal financial assistance on an identified national need. We 
intend these priorities, requirements, definition, and selection 
criteria to enhance the effectiveness of SLC projects in improving 
academic achievement and helping to prepare students for postsecondary 
education and careers.

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before April 30, 2010.

ADDRESSES: Address all comments about the proposed priorities, 
requirements, definition, and selection criteria to Angela Hernandez-
Marshall, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., LBJ, 
Room 3E308, Washington, DC 20202-6200.
    If you prefer to send your comments through the Internet, use the 
following address: smallerlearningcommunities@ed.gov. You must include 
the term ``SLC Proposed Requirements'' in the subject line of your 
electronic message.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Angela Hernandez-Marshall. Telephone: 
(202) 205-1909 or by e-mail: smallerlearningcommunities@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: 
    Invitation to Comment: We invite you to submit comments regarding 
this notice. To ensure that your comments have maximum effect in 
developing the notice of final priorities, requirements, definition, 
and selection criteria, we urge you to identify clearly the specific 
proposed priority, requirement, definition, or selection criterion 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 the proposed 
priorities, requirements, definition, and selection criteria. 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 notice in room 3E308, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., 
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.
    Purpose of Program: The SLC program awards discretionary grants to 
local educational agencies (LEAs) to support the restructuring of large 
public high schools (i.e., schools with enrollments of 1,000 or more 
students) into smaller units for the purpose of improving academic 
achievement in large public high schools. These smaller units include 
freshman academies, multi-grade academies organized around career 
interests or other themes, ``houses'' in which small groups of students 
remain together throughout high school, and autonomous schools-within-
a-school. These structural changes are typically complemented by other 
personalization strategies, such as student advisories, family advocate 
systems, and mentoring programs.

    Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 7249.
    Applicable Program Regulations: (a) The Education Department 
General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) in

[[Page 16083]]

34 CFR parts 75, 77, 79, 80, 81, 82, 84, 85, 97, 98, and 99. (b) The 
final priority, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria 
published in the Federal Register on April 28, 2005 (70 FR 22233) (the 
2005 SLC NFP). (c) The notice of final priority, requirements, and 
selection criteria published in the Federal Register on May 18, 2007 
(72 FR 28426) (the 2007 SLC NFP).
    Background: Creating a more personalized learning experience for 
students has been a prominent part of high school improvement efforts 
in recent years. Several evaluations have found, generally, that the 
implementation of SLCs and complementary personalization strategies can 
reduce disruptive behavior, create a more orderly environment for 
learning, and increase student attendance and graduation rates (Lee and 
Smith 1995; Wasley et al., 2000; McMullan, Sipe, and Wolf, 1994; Quint, 
2006; National Research Council, 2004). Dropout Prevention: A Practice 
Guide, published in 2008 by the Institute of Education Sciences' What 
Works Clearinghouse, recommended that schools implement SLCs and other 
personalization strategies as part of a comprehensive approach to 
reducing the dropout rate (Institute of Education Sciences, 2008).
    However, evaluation data have not shown that these structural 
changes and personalization strategies, by themselves, improve student 
academic achievement and readiness for postsecondary education and 
careers. Student learning gains have been seen only in those schools 
that also have made considerable changes in curriculum and instruction 
(Bernstein, et al., 2005; Kahne, Sporte, et al., 2006; Quint, 2006; 
Rhodes, Smerdon, 2005). Similarly, some large comprehensive high 
schools that have not implemented SLCs have significantly increased 
student achievement in reading or mathematics and narrowed achievement 
gaps by implementing more rigorous courses, providing extra support to 
struggling students, and systematically using data to improve 
instruction (ACT, Inc. and the Education Trust, 2005; Billig, Jaime, et 
al., 2005; National Center for Educational Accountability, 2005; 
Robinson, et al., 2005).
    For these reasons, we are proposing priorities and selection 
criteria that are specifically intended to promote the close 
integration of SLC implementation with systematic efforts to improve 
curriculum and instruction. We also propose certain other requirements 
and a definition to clarify statutory provisions, improve the 
management of grant activities, facilitate the review of applications, 
and promote the equitable distribution of limited SLC grant funds.

    Note: As used in this notice, the terms smaller learning 
community and large high school have the meanings assigned to them 
in the 2005 SLC NFP.

    Proposed Priorities: This notice contains two proposed priorities. 
These proposed priorities would be in addition to the priority 
established in the 2007 SLC NFP (Preparing All Students to Succeed in 
Postsecondary Education and Careers).

Proposed Priority 1: Common Planning Time for Teachers

    Background: Providing teachers with regular and ongoing 
opportunities for structured collaboration and planning during or 
immediately following the school day is considered by many researchers 
and practitioners to be key to improving instruction and ensuring that 
students receive the academic and personal supports they need to 
achieve at high levels. For example, this practice is common among many 
high-performing schools, including, particularly, those with high 
concentrations of economically disadvantaged or low-achieving students 
(Mass Insight Education and Research Institute, 2007; Odden, 2007; 
Dyke, 2008; Herman, et al., 2008; Education Resource Strategies, 2009; 
Perlman and Redding, 2009; Strozier, 2009). In these high-performing 
schools, common planning time is used for a variety of activities, 
including the analysis of student work and outcome data, collaborative 
professional development and instructional coaching, and developing or 
coordinating the implementation of curricula and assessments. By 
providing teachers with regular and ongoing opportunities for 
collaboration, these schools also promote a strong sense of shared 
responsibility among teachers for improving student academic 
achievement (Louis and Marks, 1998; Symonds, 2004; Mass Insight 
Education and Research Institute, 2007; Silva, 2009).
    For these reasons, we propose a priority to allow grantees to use 
SLC funds to pay the necessary personnel and other costs associated 
with increasing common planning time for teachers. Under the proposed 
priority, applicants could, for example, propose to use grant funds to 
hire additional teachers, pay substitute teachers, or extend the school 
day in order to provide teachers with more time for common planning and 
collaboration.
    Under the proposed priority, we would not require that grantees 
increase common planning time for all teachers within a school. 
Instead, grantees could choose to focus on a single grade level, such 
as ninth grade, or on particular content areas.
    We believe that this proposed priority will help enhance the 
effectiveness of SLC projects in improving academic achievement and the 
preparation of students for postsecondary education and careers by 
ensuring that students receive the academic and personal supports they 
need to achieve.

Proposed Priority 1--Common Planning Time for Teachers

    This proposed priority would support projects that increase the 
amount of time regularly provided to teachers who share the same 
students or teach the same academic subject for common planning and 
collaboration during or immediately following the school day without 
decreasing the amount of time provided to teachers for individual 
planning and preparation. To meet this priority, the common planning 
time must be used for one or more of the following activities:
    (1) Structured examination of student work and outcome data.
    (2) Collaborative professional development and coaching, including 
classroom observation.
    (3) Identifying instructional and other interventions for 
struggling students.
    (4) Curriculum and assessment development.

Proposed Priority 2: Persistently Lowest-Achieving Schools--Secondary 
Schools

    Background: The Secretary has established a goal of turning around, 
over the next five years, the 5,000 lowest-achieving schools nationwide 
as part of a comprehensive strategy for dramatically reducing the drop-
out rate, improving high school graduation rates, and increasing the 
number of students who graduate prepared for success in college and the 
workplace.
    The SLC program can be an important source of funding to support 
turnaround efforts in a State's persistently lowest-achieving high 
schools. For this reason, we propose to establish a priority for SLC 
projects that include one or more schools that have been identified by 
a State as a persistently lowest-achieving school.

Proposed Priority 2--Persistently Lowest-Achieving Schools--Secondary 
Schools

    This proposed priority would support SLC projects that include one 
or more schools that have been identified by a

[[Page 16084]]

State as a persistently lowest-achieving school.
    For the purpose of this priority, the term ``persistently lowest-
achieving school'' is defined as it is under the Department's State 
Fiscal Stabilization Fund Program (see 74 FR 58436, 58487), School 
Improvement Grants (see 74 FR 65618, 65652), and Race to the Top Fund 
(see 74 FR 59836, 59840).
    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 either 
(1) awarding additional points, depending on 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 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 
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.

    Note: These proposed requirements would be in addition to the 
application requirements required under title V, part D, subpart 4, 
section 5441(b) of the ESEA, and the following requirements 
established in the 2005 SLC NFP and the 2007 SLC NFP:


------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Requirement                            Notice
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Consortium Applications and Educational     2005 SLC NFP.
 Service Agencies.
Student Placement.........................  2005 SLC NFP.
Including All Students....................  2005 SLC NFP.
Indirect Costs............................  2007 SLC NFP.
Required Meetings Sponsored by the          2007 SLC NFP.
 Department.
Previous Grantees.........................  2007 SLC NFP.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Proposed Requirement 1--Budget and Performance Periods

    Background: In the 2007 SLC NFP, we established a requirement 
pursuant to which SLC grant funds were awarded in two increments over a 
60-month performance period: An initial award for the first 36 months 
of the performance period and a continuation award for the remaining 24 
months of the performance period. Through this Proposed Budget and 
Performance Periods requirement, we would reduce the duration of the 
initial award from 36 to 24 months and make continuation awards 
annually thereafter. We propose this change because making the initial 
award for a period of 24 months would give grantees until the end of 
the second school year after the award is made (i.e., the 2011-12 
school year) to implement all or most of the components of their 
projects and demonstrate substantial progress. As we do not expect to 
make new awards until after the start of the 2010-2011 school year, we 
recognize that grantees likely will need more than 12 months to 
implement their projects fully and demonstrate substantial progress. 
Further, we propose the change to 24 months, based on our belief that, 
an SLC grantee that requires more than an initial 24 months to show 
progress is likely experiencing significant management problems and may 
not merit continued funding. For similar reasons, we are proposing to 
make continuation awards annually after this initial 24 month budget 
period. SLC grantees should be able to demonstrate each year that they 
are continuing to make substantial progress in implementing their 
projects. In addition, making continuation awards on an annual basis 
will better ensure that SLC grantees do not receive more funds than 
they are able to expend to implement their projects. For a variety of 
reasons, some SLC grantees have been unable to expend all of the funds 
they requested at the time they submitted their applications. As a 
result, a number of SLC grantees have returned significant amounts of 
funds to the United States Treasury when their grants have ended.
    Proposed Budget and Performance Periods: Grantees will be awarded 
implementation grants for a period up to 60 months, with the initial 
award to provide funding for the first 24 months of the performance 
period. Funding for the remainder of the performance period will be 
made annually, contingent on the availability of funds and each 
grantee's substantial progress toward accomplishing the goals and 
objectives of the project as described in its approved application.
    In its application, the applicant must provide detailed, yearly 
budget information for the total grant period requested.

Proposed Requirement 2--Maximum Award Amounts and Number of Schools

    Background: In order to ensure that applicants have sufficient 
funding for the personnel expenditures likely needed to meet the 
requirements of Proposed Priority 1--Common Planning Time for Teachers 
(i.e., increasing the amount of time that teachers are provided 
regularly for common planning and collaboration), we are proposing to 
increase the maximum, 60-month award amounts per school by $750,000. 
Based on our informal consultations with LEA and school officials in 
different parts of the country, we believe that this additional 
$750,000 should be sufficient to support a significant increase in 
common planning time for teachers in at least one grade level of the 
school.
    In addition, we are proposing to reduce the number of schools that 
an LEA may apply on behalf of in a single application from eight to 
five because, in the past, many grantees have experienced great 
difficulties managing and overseeing project activities at more than 
five schools. In such cases, implementation progress has been slow and 
uneven and several grantees decided to remove one or more schools from 
their grants.
    Finally, through this requirement, we are proposing that 
applications requesting more funds than the maximum amounts specified 
for any school or for the total grant will not be read as part of the 
regular application process. In previous SLC competitions, some 
applicants requested more funds than the amount that we indicated would 
be available for a grant. These applications included activities that 
could only be implemented if the applicants received a funding amount 
that exceeded the maximum amount specified by the Department. This 
strategy put at a competitive disadvantage other applicants that 
requested funds within the Department's specified funding range and 
proposed a less extensive set of activities. For this reason, we 
propose to review only those applications that request an amount that 
does not exceed the maximum amounts specified for the grants.
    Proposed Maximum Award Amounts and Number of Schools: An eligible 
LEA may receive, on behalf of a single

[[Page 16085]]

school, up to $2,500,000 of SLC grant funds, depending upon student 
enrollment in the school, for the entire 60-month project period.
    The following chart provides the ranges of awards per high school 
size:

                         SLC Grant Award Ranges
------------------------------------------------------------------------
              Student enrollment                Award ranges per school
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1,000-2,000 Students.........................      $1,750,000-$2,000,000
2,001-3,000 Students.........................        1,750,000-2,250,000
3,001 and Up.................................        1,750,000-2,500,000
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    An LEA may include up to five schools in a single application for a 
SLC grant. Therefore, an LEA applying on behalf of a group of eligible 
schools would be able to receive up to $12,500,000 for its SLC grant.
    Applications requesting more funds than the maximum amounts 
specified for any school or for the total grant will not be read as 
part of the regular application process. However, if, after the 
Secretary selects applications to be funded, it appears that additional 
funds remain available, the Secretary has the option of reviewing 
applications that requested funds exceeding the maximum amounts 
specified. Under this requirement, if the Secretary chooses to fund any 
of the additional applications, selected applicants will be required to 
work with the Department to revise their proposed budgets to fit within 
the appropriate funding range.

Proposed Requirement 3--Performance Indicators

    Background: While creating SLCs can appeal to teachers, students, 
and parents for many reasons, their fundamental purpose is to improve 
academic achievement and student success after high school. Therefore, 
it is important that assistance provided under the SLC program support 
and enhance the efforts of LEAs and schools to improve student academic 
achievement and preparation for and enrollment in postsecondary 
education.
    In order to ensure that SLC projects ultimately achieve these 
important outcomes, we must ensure that each funded SLC project 
measures its progress in improving student academic achievement and 
related outcomes. For this reason, we propose to continue to measure 
the progress of grantees using two indicators: (1) Student performance 
on reading/language arts and mathematics assessments and (2) high 
school graduation rates (these two indicators are reflected in 
paragraphs (1) and (2) of the Performance Indicators included in the 
2007 SLC NFP). These are the same indicators used by States to measure 
the progress of LEAs and high schools under Part A of Title I of the 
ESEA. We propose that performance objectives for these indicators equal 
or exceed the annual measurable objectives established by the State in 
its approved accountability plan for Part A of Title I of the ESEA. 
Because school-level data for these indicators are now available to the 
Department through using the EDEN Submission System (ESS), it is 
unnecessary for the Department to continue to collect them directly 
from grantees.
    We also propose to continue measuring the extent to which the 
graduates of each school included in an SLC grant enter postsecondary 
education in the semester following high school graduation. Because 
enrolling in postsecondary education is a nearly universal aspiration 
among high school students and their parents, we believe that this 
measurement continues to be useful and we believe that grantees should 
be held accountable for helping them achieve this goal. We propose that 
performance objectives for this indicator exceed the baseline level of 
performance and give particular emphasis to narrowing any gaps between 
students in general and economically disadvantaged students, students 
from major racial and ethnic groups, students with disabilities, and 
students with limited English proficiency. Because data for this 
indicator are not reported by SEAs through ESS (an electronic system 
that facilitates the efficient and timely transmission of data from 
SEAs to the Department), we propose to continue to require grantees to 
provide these data on an annual basis. We further propose to require 
grantees to use administrative records that document student enrollment 
in postsecondary education as the principal source of data for this 
indicator because these data are likely to be more accurate and less 
costly to obtain than information gathered through student and parent 
surveys. Because these administrative records may not provide data on 
all of a school's graduates (e.g., in the case of most State 
longitudinal databases, students who enroll in postsecondary education 
in another State), we propose to permit grantees to supplement the data 
obtained from administrative records with information gathered through 
surveys that are administered after high school graduation.
    Proposed Performance Indicators: Each applicant must identify in 
its application the following specific performance indicators as well 
as the annual performance objectives to be used for each of these 
indicators. Specifically, each applicant must use the following 
performance indicators to measure the progress of each school included 
in its application:
    (a) The percentage of students who score at or above the proficient 
level on the reading/language arts and mathematics assessments used by 
the State to determine whether a school has made adequate yearly 
progress under Part A of Title I of the ESEA, as well as these 
percentages disaggregated by subject matter and the following 
subgroups:
    (1) Major racial and ethnic groups.
    (2) Students with disabilities.
    (3) Students with limited English proficiency.
    (4) Economically disadvantaged students.
    (b) The school's graduation rate, as defined in the State's 
approved accountability plan for Part A of Title I of the ESEA, as well 
as the graduation rates for the following subgroups:
    (1) Major racial and ethnic groups.
    (2) Students with disabilities;
    (3) Students with limited English proficiency; and
    (4) Economically disadvantaged students; and
    (c) The percentage of all graduates who enroll in postsecondary 
education in the semester following high school graduation, as well as 
the percentage disaggregated by the following subgroups:
    (1) Major racial and ethnic groups.
    (2) Students with disabilities.
    (3) Students with limited English proficiency.
    (4) Economically disadvantaged students.
    Each applicant must identify in its application its performance 
objectives for each of these indicators for each year of the project 
period and provide baseline data for the third indicator (postsecondary 
enrollment). The Department will obtain baseline data for the first and 
second performance indicators (student performance on reading/language 
arts and mathematics assessments and the graduation rate) and data on 
the extent to which each school included in a grant achieves its annual 
performance objectives for each year of the project period from the 
data that are now reported to the Department by SEAs using the EDEN 
Submission System (ESS). Grantees are not required to provide these 
data.
    Each grantee must report to the Department annually on the extent 
to which each school in its grant achieves its performance objectives 
for the third proposed indicator (postsecondary enrollment).

[[Page 16086]]

    Finally, grantees must use administrative records maintained by 
State, national, or regional entities that already collect data on 
student enrollment in postsecondary education as the principal source 
of data for this performance indicator. These administrative records 
include, for example, data available through State longitudinal 
databases or other sources. Grantees may supplement these records with 
data collected through surveys administered to students or parents 
after graduation.

Proposed Requirement 4--School Report Cards

    Background: In the 2005 SLC NFP, we established a requirement for 
the SLC program pursuant to which applicants were required to include 
school report cards with their applications to verify the accuracy of 
the student achievement they reported. This requirement created a 
significant paperwork burden for many applicants because, in some 
States and LEAs, school report cards are expansive, extending over 10 
to 20 pages. With school-level student achievement data now available 
to the Department through ESS, it is no longer necessary to require 
applicants to provide school report cards to verify the accuracy of the 
student achievement data they report in their applications.
    Proposed School Report Cards Requirement: No applicant is required 
to include in its application any report card for the schools included 
in its application.

Proposed Requirement 5--Evidence of Eligibility

    Background: We propose to require each applicant to provide, along 
with its application, the name of, and other identifying information 
about, each school included in its application and evidence of each 
such school's enrollment during the current or most recently completed 
school year. This information is necessary so that the Department can 
verify that each of the schools in the applicant's application meets 
the program's eligibility requirements. We propose to require that 
evidence of enrollment consist of information reported by the LEA to 
the SEA or produced by the SEA so that there is no ambiguity for 
applicants about the evidence that they must submit to establish school 
eligibility.
    Proposed Evidence of Eligibility Requirement: LEAs, including 
schools funded by the Bureau of Indian Education and educational 
service agencies, applying on behalf of large public high schools, are 
eligible to apply for a grant. We will not accept applications from 
LEAs applying on behalf of schools that are being constructed and do 
not have an active student enrollment at the time of application. LEAs 
may apply on behalf of no more than five schools. Along with its 
application, each applicant must provide, for each school included in 
its application:
    (a) The school's name, postal mailing address, and the 12-digit 
identification number assigned the school by the National Center for 
Education Statistics; and
    (b) Evidence that, during the current school year or the most 
recently completed school year, the school is a large public high 
school (i.e., an entity that includes grades 11 and 12 and has an 
enrollment of 1,000 or more students in grades 9 and above (see 
Definitions in 2005 SLC NFP) and, thus, is eligible to receive 
assistance under this program.
    To meet this requirement, the enrollment figures provided in the 
evidence must be based upon data from the current school year or the 
most recently completed school year. In addition, this evidence must 
include a copy of either:
    (a) The form or report that the LEA submits to the SEA to report 
the school's student enrollment (or student membership, as it is 
sometimes described) on or around October 1 of each year.
    (b) A document provided by the SEA that identifies the school's 
enrollment on or around October 1 of each year.

Proposed Requirement 6--Evaluation

    Background: In the 2005 SLC NFP, we established requirements that 
each SLC grantee support an independent, formative evaluation of its 
project that reported its findings to the grantee (i.e., its LEA) on 
not less than an annual basis. Each grantee was required to provide 
each annual evaluation report to the Department at the same time it 
reported annually on its progress in implementing its project. The 
purpose of this requirement was to provide the project director and 
other LEA and school personnel information that would be useful in 
gauging the project's progress and identifying areas for improvement. 
The Department also provided grantees with technical assistance 
materials to help them secure qualified evaluators and evaluations that 
would produce information to more effectively manage their projects. 
After carefully reviewing the annual evaluation reports that have been 
submitted by grantees since FY 2006, we have concluded that, generally, 
this requirement has not achieved its intended purpose. For the most 
part, grantees have not chosen to commission evaluations that provide 
them with useful implementation information or have not used the 
information provided by these evaluations to improve their management 
of their projects. Instead, many grantees have commissioned evaluations 
chiefly to comply with our requirement. Given the often considerable 
cost of these evaluations and their limited usefulness to grantees, we 
believe it would be prudent to cease to require grantees to commission 
them. A grantee may still choose to use grant funds to support a 
project evaluation if the evaluation is related clearly to the goals of 
the project and necessary for the proper and efficient performance and 
administration of the grant award.
    Proposed Evaluation Requirement: We propose to eliminate the 
requirement established by the 2005 SLC NFP that each applicant provide 
assurances that it will support an evaluation of the project that will 
produce an annual report for each year of the performance period.

Proposed Requirement 7--Grant Award Administration

    Background: The responsibilities of a project director for an SLC 
grant include coordinating grant activities to ensure that they are 
carried out on time and within budget, overseeing the fiscal management 
of the project, and fulfilling performance reporting and other 
requirements established by the Department. We propose to establish a 
minimum time commitment for this position to ensure that the project 
director has sufficient time to carry out these responsibilities. In 
our experience, many of the grants in which the time commitment of the 
project director was less than the minimum we are proposing have 
experienced significant implementation delays. In some cases, these 
grant recipients were unable to implement key elements of their 
approved applications. We note that under our proposal, applicants 
could continue to include the salary and other costs of the project 
director in their proposed budgets.
    Proposed Grant Award Administration: Grantees must designate a 
single project director who will be principally responsible for 
overseeing the implementation of the proposed project and communicating 
with the Department.
    Each grantee must ensure that its designated project director--for 
a grant that includes one school--be not less than fifty percent of a 
full-time equivalent (FTE) position and that the time commitment of a 
project director

[[Page 16087]]

for a grant that includes more than one school be not less than one 
FTE.

Proposed Requirement 8--Use of Funds for Equipment

    Background: While we recognize that equipment can be an effective 
tool for enhancing instruction and improving student achievement and is 
essential to carrying out a variety of administrative activities, 
numerous other sources of funds are available to LEAs and schools to 
acquire equipment. We, therefore, propose to limit the use of SLC grant 
funds for the purchase or use of equipment in order to focus grant 
funds on the personnel, technical assistance, professional development 
and other costs related to implementing significant structural and 
instructional reforms that will improve student academic achievement 
and preparation for postsecondary education.
    Proposed Use of Funds for Equipment Requirement: For each budget 
period of the grant award, a grantee may not use more than one percent 
of the total grant award for the acquisition of equipment (as that term 
is defined in this notice).
    Proposed Definition:
    Background: We are proposing to define the term equipment because 
we propose to limit the use of SLC grant funds for the purchase of 
equipment elsewhere in this notice. Under Office of Management and 
Budget Circular A-87, Cost Principles for State, Local, and Indian 
Tribal Governments, an item is considered to be ``equipment'' if, among 
other things, it is nonexpendable, tangible personal property having a 
useful life of more than one year and has an acquisition cost which 
equals or exceeds the lesser of the capitalization level established by 
the governmental unit for financial statement purposes, or $5,000. We 
are proposing to reduce the acquisition cost threshold to the lesser of 
the capitalization level established by the governmental unit for 
financial statement purposes or $500 in order to include laptop and 
desktop computers, printers, and other office and classroom equipment 
that some SLC grantees have sought to purchase with grant funds.
    Proposed Definition:
    In addition to the definitions set out in the authorizing statute, 
34 CFR 77.1, and the 2005 SLC NFP, we propose that the following 
definition also apply to this program:
    Equipment means an article of nonexpendable, tangible personal 
property that has a useful life of more than one year and that has an 
acquisition cost which equals or exceeds the lesser of the 
capitalization level established by the governmental unit for financial 
statement purposes, or $500. It includes, but is not limited to, office 
equipment and furnishings, modular offices, telephone networks, 
information technology equipment and systems, air conditioning 
equipment, reproduction and printing equipment, and motor vehicles.
    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. These proposed selection 
criteria are intended to replace the selection criteria established for 
the SLC program in the 2005 SLC NFP and the 2007 SLC NFP.
    In the notice inviting applications or the application package or 
both we will announce the maximum possible points assigned to each 
criterion.
    (a) Quality of the Project Design. In determining the quality of 
the design of the proposed project, we will consider the extent to 
which--
    (1) Teachers, school administrators, parents, and community 
stakeholders support the proposed project and have been and will 
continue to be involved in its development and implementation;
    (2) The applicant has carried out sufficient planning and 
preparatory activities to enable it to implement the proposed project 
during the school year in which the grant award will be made;
    (3) School administrators, teachers, and other school employees 
will receive effective, ongoing technical assistance and professional 
development in implementing structural and instructional reforms and 
providing effective instruction; and
    (4) The applicant demonstrates that the proposed project is aligned 
with and advances a coordinated, district-wide strategy to improve 
student academic achievement and preparation for postsecondary 
education and careers without need for remediation.
    (b) Quality of Project Services. In determining the quality of the 
services to be provided by the proposed project, we will consider the 
extent to which the proposed project is likely to be effective in--
    (1) Creating an environment in which multiple teachers and other 
adults within the school know the needs, interests, and aspirations of 
each student well, closely monitor each student's progress, and provide 
the academic and other support each student needs to succeed;
    (2) Equipping all students with the reading/English language arts, 
mathematics, and science knowledge and skills they need to succeed in 
postsecondary education and careers without need for remediation;
    (3) Helping students who enter high school with reading/English 
language arts or mathematics skills that are significantly below grade-
level to ``catch up'' and attain, maintain and exceed proficiency by 
providing supplemental instruction and supports to these students 
during the ninth grade and, to the extent necessary, in later grades;
    (4) Increasing the amount of time regularly provided to teachers 
for common planning and collaboration during or immediately following 
the school day, without decreasing the amount of time provided to 
teachers for individual planning and preparation;
    (5) Ensuring, through technical assistance, professional 
development, and other means, that teachers use opportunities for 
common planning and collaboration effectively to improve instruction 
and student academic achievement;
    (6) Increasing the participation of students, particularly low-
income students, in Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or 
dual credit courses (such as dual enrollment or early college programs) 
that offer students the opportunity to earn simultaneously both high 
school and college credit; and
    (7) Increasing the percentage of students who enter postsecondary 
education in the semester following high school graduation by 
delivering comprehensive guidance and academic advising to students and 
their parents that includes assistance in selecting courses and 
planning a program of study that will provide the academic preparation 
needed to succeed in postsecondary education, early and ongoing college 
awareness and planning activities, and help in identifying and applying 
for financial aid for postsecondary education.
    (c) Support for Implementation. In determining the adequacy of the 
support the applicant will provide for implementation of the proposed 
project, we will consider the extent to which--
    (1) The management plan is likely to achieve the objectives of the 
proposed project on time and within budget and includes clearly defined 
responsibilities and detailed timelines and milestones for 
accomplishing project tasks; and
    (2) The project director and other key personnel are qualified and 
have sufficient authority to carry out their responsibilities, and 
their time commitments are appropriate and adequate to implement the 
SLC project effectively.
    (d) Need for the Project. In determining the need for the proposed

[[Page 16088]]

project, we will consider the extent to which the applicant has 
identified specific gaps and weaknesses in the preparation of all 
students for postsecondary education and careers without need for 
remediation, the nature and magnitude of those gaps and weaknesses, and 
the extent to which the proposed project will address those gaps and 
weaknesses effectively.

Final Priorities, Requirements, Definition, and Selection Criteria

    We will announce the final priorities, requirements, definition, 
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, and 
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, definition, 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 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, definition, 
and selection criteria justify the costs.
    We have determined, also, that this regulatory action does not 
unduly interfere with State, local, and tribal governments in the 
exercise of their governmental functions.
    Discussion of Costs and Benefits: Elsewhere in this notice we 
discuss the potential costs and benefits, both quantitative and 
qualitative, of the proposed priorities, requirements, definition, and 
selection criteria under the background sections to the Priorities, 
Requirements, Definition, and Selection Criteria.

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA)

    Certain sections of the proposed priorities, requirements, 
definition, and selection criteria for the SLC grant program contain 
changes to information collection requirements already approved by the 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under OMB control number 1810-
0676 (1890-0001). We will be publishing a separate notice in the 
Federal Register requesting comments on these changes.
    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 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.

    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: March 26, 2010.
Thelma Mel[eacute]ndez de Santa Ana,
Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education.
[FR Doc. 2010-7255 Filed 3-30-10; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P