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Office of Innovation and Improvement

CHARTER SCHOOLS PROGRAM

June 3, 2005

The Charter School Program encourages state charter school associations, resource centers and charter authorizing agencies to collaborate with other eligible applicants such as Research organizations, institutions, agencies, institutions of higher education, or partnerships among such entities, or individuals, with the demonstrated ability or capacity to carry out the activities described in this notice.  An application from a consortium of eligible entities must include a consortium agreement

The purpose of the Comprehensive Centers program is to support the establishment of not fewer than 20 comprehensive technical assistance centers that provide technical assistance to States as States work to help districts and schools to close achievement gaps in core content areas and raise student achievement in schools, especially those in need of improvement (as defined by Section 1116(b), of the Elementary and Secondary Act, as amended (ESEA)) in implementing the school improvement provisions under section 1116 of ESEA.  One comprehensive center will be the Center for Innovation and Improvement This center will focus on effective systems and strategies to support States and districts as they (1) plan and administer school improvement programs, and (2) implement the key choice provisions of NCLB, including public school choice, supplemental educational services, charter schools, and equitable services for private school students. This center will inform and support Regional Centers as they work to raise the capacity of States to provide sustained technical assistance to, and help build infrastructure supports in, districts and schools.

In addition, the Center for Innovation and Improvement will also assist in expanding the number of high-quality charter schools available to students by focusing assistance on States, charter authorizers (including local school boards), and charter developers for the planning, implementation, and oversight of effective charter schools. The center will also assist States and districts in improving their implementation of the provisions in NCLB regarding the equitable participation of private school students and teachers.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Enid Simmons, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 3E307, Washington, DC 20202-6335. Telephone: (202) 401-0039 or by e-mail: [log in to unmask].


[Federal Register: June 3, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 106)]
[Notices]              
[Page 32583-32594]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr03jn05-47]                        

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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

 
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education; Overview
Information; Comprehensive Centers; Notice Inviting Applications for
New Awards for Fiscal Year 2005

    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 84.283B.

DATES: Applications Available: June 3, 2005.
    Deadline for Notice of Intent to Apply: June 23, 2005.
    Dates of Pre-Application Meetings: The Department will conduct
briefings on this competition via conference call to clarify the
purposes of the program and the selection criteria and process at 11
a.m. on each of the following dates: Applicants for Regional Centers
June 13 and 17; Applicants for Content Centers June 22 and 23. Please
e-mail Enid Simmons at [log in to unmask] to register for a call date
and time and obtain the conference call number and code.
    Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: July 18, 2005.
    Deadline for Intergovernmental Review: August 17, 2005.
    Eligible Applicants: Research organizations, institutions,
agencies, institutions of higher education, or partnerships among such
entities, or individuals, with the demonstrated ability or capacity to
carry out the activities described in this notice. An application from
a consortium of eligible entities must include a consortium agreement.
Letters of support do not meet the requirement for a consortium
agreement.

    Note: The Department will reject any application that does not
meet these eligibility requirements.

    Estimated Number of Awards: The Secretary intends to support 21
awards under this competition. Sixteen awards will support Regional
comprehensive centers (Regional Centers) to serve States within defined
geographic boundaries. The States and territories to be served by each
Regional Center are described in this notice under Absolute Priorities
for Regional Centers. Five awards will support Content comprehensive
centers (Content Centers), each having a specific content expertise and
focus, to support the work of the Regional Centers. These five Content
Centers are: the Center on Assessment and Accountability, the Center on
Instruction, the Center on Teacher Quality, the Center on Innovation
and Improvement, and the Center on High Schools. The functions and
activities for each of the five Content Centers are described in this
notice under Absolute Priorities for Content Centers.

    Note: The Educational Technical Assistance Act of 2002 (TA Act)
provides that the Secretary must ensure that not less than one
Comprehensive Center is established in each of the 10 geographic
regions served by the Regional Educational Laboratories. Note that
these regions differ, in some instances, from the Regional Centers
described in this notice. The Secretary will consider the location
of the proposed Regional Centers in the selection and negotiation of
cooperative agreements to ensure that this requirement of the law is
met.

    Estimated Available Funds: Eighteen of the 21 Centers proposed for
funding under this competition will be supported entirely with funds
from the Comprehensive Centers program, authorized under Title II of
the TA Act. Three of the 21 centers will be supported with funds
appropriated for the Comprehensive Centers program and the Special
Education Technical Assistance and Dissemination program, which is
authorized under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, as
amended (IDEA).
    The estimated available funds from the Comprehensive Centers
program for FY 2005 is $40 million. Of that amount, an estimated $35
million will be used to fund Regional Centers and $5 million will be
used to fund the Content Centers. FY 2005 funds will support awards for
the first budget period of the project, which is the first nine months
of the project period. Funding for the subsequent 12-month budget
periods for years two through five (FY 2006 through FY 2009) is
contingent on appropriation levels. For FY 2006, the President's
budget, if funded at the requested level, would provide approximately
$56.8 million for the Comprehensive Centers program.
    The estimated total funds from the Special Education Technical
Assistance and Dissemination program for FY 2005 is $3 million to
provide partial support for three of the Content Centers for the first
budget period of the project.
    Depending on appropriation levels, a total of up to $3 million from
the Special Education Technical Assistance

[[Page 32584]]

and Dissemination program will be available for awards to the co-funded
Content Centers in subsequent budget periods. The Department
anticipates that each program will provide approximately 50 percent of
the annual funding for the three co-funded Content Centers during the
first budget period of the project. The co-funded Content Centers will
be the Center on Instruction, the Center on Teacher Quality and the
Center on High Schools.
    Estimated Range of Awards: The estimated range of awards for
Regional Centers is $750,000 to $4,604,348 from FY 2005 funds for the
first budget period, covering the first 9 months of the project period.
Funding for each Regional Center was calculated by formula, based
equally on shares of population and poor children, ages 5-17 in the
States (including DC, Puerto Rico, and the Outlying Areas) served by
each Regional Center. Department estimates for awards to each Regional
Center are provided at: http://www.ed.gov/programs/newccp/index.html.

    The estimated range of awards for Content Centers is $1,000,000 to
$2,000,000 for the first budget period, which includes the first nine
months of the project period.
    Estimated Average Size of Awards: Regional Centers--$2,187,500 in
the first budget period (FY 2005) and approximately $2,895,313 in each
subsequent budget period; the three co-funded Content Centers--
$2,000,000 in the first budget period (FY 2005) and approximately
$2,500,000 in each subsequent budget period; the other two Content
Centers--$1,000,000 in the first budget period (FY 2005) and
approximately $1,500,000 in each subsequent budget period.

    Note: The Department is not bound by any estimates in this
notice.

    Project Period: Up to 60 months.
    Budget Period: Nine months for the first budget period only. Each
subsequent budget period will be 12 months.

Full Text of Announcement

I. Funding Opportunity Description

    Purpose of Program: The Comprehensive Centers program supports the
establishment of not fewer than 20 comprehensive technical assistance
centers that provide technical assistance to States as States work to
help districts and schools to close achievement gaps in core content
areas and raise student achievement in schools, especially those in
need of improvement (as defined by Section 1116(b), of the Elementary
and Secondary Act, as amended (ESEA)) in implementing the school
improvement provisions under section 1116 of ESEA.
    Centers established under this program will replace the existing
Comprehensive Regional Assistance Centers, the Regional Technology in
Education Consortia, the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse for
Mathematics and Science Education, and the Regional Mathematics and
Science Education Consortia.
    Background: The ESEA, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of
2001 (NCLB), holds States accountable for closing achievement gaps and
ensuring that all children, regardless of ethnicity, income, language
or disability, receive a high quality education and meet State academic
standards by 2013-2014.
    To that end, NCLB requires States to set standards for student
performance, implement statewide testing and accountability systems to
measure school and student performance toward achieving those
standards, adopt research-based instructional and program improvements
related to teaching and learning in the classroom, ensure that all
teachers in core subject areas are highly qualified, and improve or
ultimately restructure schools that are consistently low-performing.
    The comprehensive centers funded under this competition will begin
providing technical assistance at a time when States, districts, and
schools have accomplished much of the initial implementation of NCLB.
    The new centers funded under this competition will provide
intensive technical assistance in several areas that are key to success
in meeting NCLB goals. Recent assessments conducted to help determine
technical assistance priorities for the Comprehensive Centers program
indicate that States need assistance, for example, to implement school
improvement efforts to help meet school and district adequate yearly
progress requirements; to identify and adopt instructional and
assessment methods that have been proven effective through
scientifically based research, especially for students with special
needs; to design programs and strategies and allocate resources to
recruit, retain, and train talented teachers and school leaders; and to
enhance assessment and accountability systems.
    Because States have the primary responsibility for school
improvement efforts, these centers will focus their technical
assistance on States and on helping States increase their capacity to
provide sustained support to districts and schools as they implement
NCLB reforms.
    The new centers will serve as field agents for the Department to
further States' understanding of the provisions and purposes of NCLB
and related Federal programs and help them adopt proven approaches to
achieve the school improvement and student performance goals required
under NCLB. The centers will work closely with, and leverage the
resources of, other technical assistance providers and research
organizations, including the Regional Educational Laboratories, the
Special Education Technical Assistance Network, the Parental
Information and Resource Centers, the Equity Assistance Centers, the
Reading First National Technical Assistance Center, the Institute of
Education Sciences' research centers and its What Works Clearinghouse,
and other Federal, regional, and State entities and postsecondary
institutions, to gather and disseminate information and knowledge about
what works and to help States translate that knowledge into meaningful
practice.
    The approach to technical assistance delivery for the centers is
two-tiered: The Regional Centers will have the primary relationships
with, and provide services to, the States in their regions; in serving
their State clients, the Regional Centers will draw heavily on the
research-based information, products, guidance, and knowledge on key
NCLB topics supplied by the Content Centers.
    The Department intends to have substantial and sustained
involvement in the activities of each center funded under this
competition, including shaping grantee priorities, activities, and
major products to meet the purposes of this program. The Department
also intends to partner with the centers, particularly the Content
Centers, to convene national conferences to disseminate information and
resources about Departmental priorities related to NCLB. The details
and parameters of the Department's expectations and involvement with
each center funded under this competition will be included in the
Department's cooperative agreement with the grantee that receives an
award for that center under this competition.
    Regional Advisory Committees: To help inform the Secretary's
priorities for the centers funded under this competition, the Secretary
(in accordance with section 206 of the TA Act) established 10 Regional
Advisory Committees (RACs) charged with conducting education needs
assessments within the geographical regions served by the current
regional educational laboratories.
    The RACs conducted their needs assessments during the period from
December 2004 to March 2005 and

[[Page 32585]]

submitted their reports to the Secretary on March 31, 2005. The full
reports are available at: http://www.ed.gov/programs/newccp/index.html.

    Applicants for the centers are encouraged to consider the specific
priorities and recommendations contained in the RAC reports when
preparing their applications.
    Priorities: This competition contains three sets of absolute
priorities (Absolute Priorities for All Centers (priorities one and
two), Absolute Priorities for Regional Centers (priorities three
through six), and Absolute Priorities for Content Centers (priorities
seven through eleven)). We are establishing these absolute priorities
for the FY 2005 grant competition only, in accordance with section 437
(d)(1) of the General Education Provisions Act.
    Absolute Priorities: For FY 2005 these priorities are absolute
priorities.
    For Regional Center awards, under 34 CFR 75.105 (c)(3) we consider
only applications that meet the Absolute Priorities for All Centers
(priorities one and two) and Absolute Priorities for Regional Centers
(priorities three through six).
    For Content Center awards, under 34 CFR 75.105 (c)(3) we consider
only applications that meet the Absolute Priorities for All Centers
(priorities one and two) and one of the priorities under Absolute
Priorities for Content Centers (i.e., priorities 7, 8, 9, 10, or 11).

    Note: If an applicant wants to apply for funding for more than
one center, it must submit separate applications for each proposed
center.

Absolute Priorities for All Centers

    Priority 1--Focus on States. To meet this priority, applicants must
propose a plan of technical assistance specifically focused on helping
States implement the provisions of NCLB applicable to States, and
helping States build the capacity to help school districts and schools
implement NCLB provisions and programs.
    To the extent an applicant proposes to work with individual school
districts and schools, the applicant must propose a technical
assistance plan that only proposes work with districts and schools
where the effort--(a) Involves a high leverage strategy (i.e., reaches
a large number or proportion of schools, teachers, and administrators
needing the assistance within the State); (b) responds to a need
identified by the State; and (c) is planned and coordinated with the
State.

    Note: This priority does not support research, program
evaluation, or curriculum development. Thus, an applicant will not
satisfy this priority if it proposes a technical assistance plan
to--
    (a) Design or develop curricula or instructional materials for
use in classrooms or develop professional development programs where
proven models already exist; or
    (b) conduct basic research or program evaluations on behalf of
States or districts.

    Priority 2--Crosscutting Expertise. To meet this priority, an
applicant must demonstrate that proposed center staff has expertise on
several issues of crosscutting importance related to the delivery of
technical assistance in specific regions and content areas. These
issues are:
    (a) Proven strategies for addressing the needs of schools with
populations at risk of failure, especially children who have limited
proficiency in English, children with disabilities, and children from
economically disadvantaged families.
    (b) Effective uses of technology to improve instruction, and as an
efficient means of delivering technical assistance.
    (c) Implementing school improvement reforms within urban and rural
contexts.

Absolute Priorities for Regional Centers

    Background: Regional Centers must provide frontline assistance to
States to help them implement NCLB and other related Federal school
improvement programs and help increase State capacity to assist
districts and schools meet their student achievement goals. Regional
Centers must be embedded in regions and responsible for developing
strong relationships and partnerships within their regional community.
While Content Centers must focus almost entirely on specific content
areas, analyzing research, developing useful products and tools for
Regional Centers and other clients, the Regional Centers will be the
``on the ground'' providers to States.
    Drawing from the information and resources provided by the Content
Centers funded through this competition and other sources, the Regional
Centers must provide a program of technical assistance to States that
will enable them to among other things--
    (a) Assess the improvement needs of districts and schools and
assist them in developing solutions to address those needs;
    (b) build and sustain systemic support for district and school
improvement efforts to (i) close existing achievement gaps; and (ii)
adopt proven practices to improve instruction and achievement outcomes
for students in schools identified as in need of improvement; and
    (b) improve the tools and systems for school improvement and
accountability for the achievement outcomes.

Text of Priorities

    Priority 3--Location of Regional Centers. The Secretary will award
grants to establish 16 Regional Centers serving States and territories.
In order to meet the requirement of this priority, a proposed Regional
Center must serve one of the following regions:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Regional comprehensive center                    Region
------------------------------------------------------------------------
New England............................  Connecticut, Maine,
                                          Massachusetts, New Hampshire,
                                          Rhode Island, and Vermont.
New York...............................  New York.
Mid-Atlantic...........................  Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey,
                                          Pennsylvania, and Washington,
                                          DC.
Appalachia.............................  Kentucky, Tennessee, North
                                          Carolina, Virginia, and West
                                          Virginia.
Southeast..............................  Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi,
                                          Louisiana, and South Carolina.
Florida and Islands....................  Florida, Puerto Rico, and the
                                          Virgin Islands.
Great Lakes West.......................  Wisconsin and Illinois.
Great Lakes East.......................  Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio.
North Central..........................  North Dakota, South Dakota,
                                          Minnesota, Nebraska, and Iowa.
Mid-Continent..........................  Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and
                                          Missouri.
Texas..................................  Texas.
West/Southwest.........................  Nevada, Utah, Colorado,
                                          Arizona, and New Mexico.
California.............................  California.
Northwest..............................  Idaho, Montana, Oregon,
                                          Washington, and Wyoming.
Alaska.................................  Alaska.
Pacific................................  American Samoa, Commonwealth of
                                          the Northern Mariana Islands,
                                          Federated States of Micronesia
                                          (Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and
                                          Yap), Guam, Hawaii, Republic
                                          of the Marshall Islands, and
                                          the Republic of Palau.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Priority 4--Regional Technical Assistance Activities. To meet this
priority, the work of the proposed Regional Centers must involve
activities that address State technical assistance needs by--
    (a) Working closely with each State in its region on an ongoing
basis;
    (b) linking States with the resources of Content Centers,
Department staff, Regional Educational Laboratories, The What Works
Clearinghouse, and other entities that have, or may be able to,

[[Page 32586]]

design products and services tailored to State needs;
    (c) suggesting sources of appropriate service providers or
assistance for State activities that are not within the core mission of
the centers--including, for example, activities to address needs
related to curriculum development, designing school-level training
programs, or conducting basic research or impact evaluations;
    (d) assisting State efforts to build statewide systems of support
for districts and schools in need of improvement, partly by leveraging
the resources of Content Centers and other sources of scientifically-
based education research and high-quality technical assistance on
behalf of State and district clients;
    (e) working to identify, broker, leverage, and deliver information,
resources and services from the Content Centers and other sources that
focus on research-based knowledge of promising practices, including
assistance to States and districts on securing high-quality consultants
and experts to meet specific education needs;
    (f) convening, in partnership with Content Centers and others, as
appropriate, States and districts to receive training and information
on best practices and research-based improvement strategies;
    (g) providing guidance and training on implementation of
requirements under NCLB and other related Federal programs;
    (h) facilitating collaboration at the State level to align Federal,
State, district and school improvement programs and help States
understand and use the flexibility provided by NCLB to target resources
and programs to address the greatest needs; and
    (i) helping Content Centers to identify, document and disseminate
emerging promising practices by working with States to distill and
document the experiences of high-performing districts and schools.
    Priority 5--Knowledge and Expertise. To satisfy this priority, the
proposed Regional Center must demonstrate in-depth knowledge of
regional and local issues, conditions, and needs, particularly as those
relate to the roles and responsibilities of States, districts, and
schools in implementing the provisions of NCLB and other related
Federal programs. In addition, the proposed Regional Center must have
expertise in comprehensive planning, needs assessment, and State,
district, and school improvement processes.
    Priority 6--Coordination and Cooperation. To meet this priority,
the proposed Regional Center must create and maintain cooperative
working relationships with States in their region and other technical
assistance providers serving the region, including the Regional
Educational Laboratories, the Special Education Technical Assistance
Network, Parental Information and Resource Centers, Equity Assistance
Centers, the Reading First National Technical Assistance Center, and
other regional and State entities, including for example, regional
service providers and post-secondary institutions.
    Absolute Priorities for Content Centers: There are five priorities
under these Absolute Priorities for Content Centers. Each priority
corresponds to one of the Content Centers the Department intends to
fund through this competition (i.e., Priority 7--Center on Assessment
and Accountability, Priority 8--Center on Instruction, Priority 9--
Center on Teacher Quality, Priority 10--Center on Innovation and
Improvement, and Priority 11--Center on High Schools). To be eligible
to receive funding for a Content Center under this competition, an
applicant must meet the requirements of only one of the priorities in
this section.
    Together, the five Content Centers cover a spectrum of inter-
related school improvement and technical assistance areas. The Content
Centers will work closely with Regional Centers to provide technical
assistance to States.
    While Regional Centers will have the primary relationships to
States in their regions, Content Centers will supply much of the common
research-based information, products, guidance, analyses, and knowledge
on certain key NCLB topics that Regional Centers will use when working
with States.
    The purpose of having national level Content Centers is to avoid
duplication of efforts across centers in key NCLB areas and to ensure
depth of content knowledge in these areas.
    Because the Content Center focus areas cut across the school
improvement process, Content Centers will also connect and collaborate
with each other as a network and a central source of knowledge,
resources and tools that stakeholders can readily access to find
information and resources to address their needs in one or more of the
content areas covered by the five Content Centers.
    Content Centers will have in-depth knowledge of the content and
research related to the center's focus area; expertise in evaluating
existing resources and synthesizing information into a meaningful and
useful knowledge base; the ability to translate and communicate that
knowledge; and the ability to collaborate with other providers and
research institutions, broker resources and connect technical
assistance resources at a national level to identify and share the best
practices of States and districts.
    Content Centers will facilitate access to, and use of, existing
research and proven practice by analyzing, synthesizing, and
disseminating information on proven, promising and emerging practices
and strategies in the Center's focus area, as well as develop tools for
Regional Centers to use in providing assistance to States.
    In general, the Content Centers will, among other things--
    (a) Identify, organize, select and translate existing key research
knowledge pertaining to the Center's content-focus area and communicate
the information in ways that are highly relevant and highly useful to
State and local level policy makers and practitioners;
    (b) Benchmark State and district practices for implementing NCLB
provisions and school improvement interventions related to the center's
area of focus and identify promising approaches that can be shared with
States and districts;
    (c) Convene States and districts, researchers and other experts to
learn from each other about practical strategies for implementing NCLB
provisions and programs related to the Center's area of focus;
    (d) Train Regional Center staff on what is known about
scientifically valid practices and programs;
    (e) Collaborate with Regional Centers to address specific requests
for assistance from States within the regions;
    (f) Communicate to the field, including through national
conferences, Department guidance related to the center's content focus
and examples of workable strategies and systems for implementing
provisions and programs that have produced positive outcomes for
schools and students; and
    (g) Design needs assessment and data analysis tools that States and
districts can use to benchmark their own programs and progress.
    Priority 7--Center on Assessment and Accountability. Background:
The Assessment and Accountability Center will focus on State and school
district implementation of NCLB assessment and accountability
requirements, including support for administration of accountability
plans, and the design and administration of effective models,
strategies and tools for the following:
    (a) Implementing valid, standards-based testing and large scale
assessment programs, especially for students with

[[Page 32587]]

limited English proficiency and special education students, and using
classroom data designed to diagnose needs, guide instruction, and
regularly monitor progress.
    (b) Implementing data systems that support student assessment,
program accountability, reporting requirements, and school improvement
efforts.
    (b) Training data users, including State and district and policy
makers, program and school officials, administrators and classroom
teachers to use data effectively in making instructional and school
improvement decisions.
    Text of Priority: To meet this priority, an applicant must
demonstrate--
    (a) In-depth understanding of and the ability to apply that
understanding to testing, assessment and data systems issues
confronting States and districts as they design and manage statewide
accountability systems; and
    (b) In-depth knowledge and understanding of--
     The range of assessment models, methods and tests
available and their applicability for various testing purposes for
diverse learners, including, for example, English language learners and
students with disabilities;
     Test development, test reliability and validity issues for
different types of tests, and for measuring the academic progress of
diverse learners;
     Curriculum to test alignment issues and strategies;
     Methods, systems, and rubrics for scoring tests and
reporting the results; and
     How to interpret and use test results to inform decisions
about student progress and education practice.
    To meet the priority for the Assessment and Accountability Center,
an applicant also must demonstrate expertise in designing or helping
States and districts design data systems, establishing system
standards, policies and procedures, and implementing an integrated
assessment and accountability system that can yield real-time data to
inform on-going decisions about student and school performance and
program improvement. The center must work closely with other technical
assistance providers, including the National Center on Education
Outcomes and National Collaborative Center on Standards and Assessment
Development.
    Priority 8--Center on Instruction. Background: The Center on
Instruction will focus on helping States and districts evaluate and
select evidence-based interventions and practices to improve
instruction for students in the content areas of reading/literacy,
language arts, mathematics, and science, and English language
acquisition. The Center on Instruction will disseminate existing
research and information on proven instructional practices that work to
help schools and districts identified as in need of improvement to
improve the academic achievement of students from diverse backgrounds,
including economically disadvantaged students, students who are
receiving special education, students who have limited proficiency in
English, migrant students, and other students and groups of students
who are at risk of academic failure.
    Instructional practices must include interventions designed to
provide intensive support for students with disabilities, including
students with disabilities who need modified achievement standards as
described in ``Raising Achievement: A New Path for No Child Left
Behind'', which can be found at http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2005/04/04072005.html.

    Text of Priority: To receive funding under this priority, the
proposed center must--
    (a) Disseminate guidance for policy makers and practitioners on how
to understand and interpret scientifically based research to evaluate
instructional strategies and programs and their application and
effectiveness in instructional practice;
    (b) On issues related to early reading/language arts instruction,
work closely with the Reading First National Technical Assistance
Center and act as a provider of knowledge and research, consistent with
that delivered to Reading First grantees;
    (c) Help identify and track proven, as well as promising and
emerging, practices around adolescent literacy; and
    (d) Focus on analyzing and disseminating information on practices
based on scientifically valid research and other promising practices in
math and science instruction.
    Staff of the proposed center must have extensive content knowledge
and understanding of emerging and promising practices that can be
shared with States and districts. Specifically, to meet this priority,
an applicant must demonstrate--
    (a) In-depth knowledge of instructional practices and strategies
that work to improve schools and the academic achievement of students
from diverse backgrounds, including economically disadvantaged
students, students who are receiving special education, students who
are limited English proficient, migrant students, and other students
and groups of students who are at risk of academic failure;
    (b) In-depth knowledge of evidence-based instructional
interventions and features that improve achievement, particularly in
reading and math, of students with disabilities, including students
with disabilities who need modified achievement standards (Features
that are extremely important for implementing, evaluating, and
sustaining effective instruction for students with disabilities include
intensity, duration, development of individual education plans, student
grouping, the use of data to measure progress and inform instruction,
and fidelity.);
    (c) In-depth knowledge of instructional practices that work to help
districts and schools identified as in need of improvement to improve
the academic achievement of students from diverse backgrounds; and
    (d) The ability to translate and communicate that knowledge in ways
that are meaningful and useful to the Content Center's Regional Center
clients and to education policy makers and practitioners.
    Finally, because a proportion of the funding for the Center on
Instruction comes from the Special Education Technical Assistance and
Dissemination program, to meet this priority, an applicant's plan of
activities must provide for a level of technical assistance benefiting
students with disabilities that is consistent with that proportion of
funding. Thus, for the first budget period (FY 2005), grantees must
target 50 percent of services to support technical assistance needs
related to identifying evidence-based interventions and practices that
work to improve instruction and academic achievement in the content
areas of reading/literacy, language arts, mathematics, and science for
students with disabilities. For subsequent years, applicants must
propose technical assistance benefiting students with disabilities that
is equivalent to $1 million per year.
    Priority 9--Center on Teacher Quality. Background: This center will
focus on helping Regional Centers and States to identify proven and
promising practices and strategies to meet a range of teacher quality
goals under NCLB, including: (a) Recruitment, retention and selection
of highly qualified teachers who have the greatest chance to succeed,
particularly in districts and schools identified as in need of
improvement; (b) support, induction, pay for performance/differentiated
compensation systems, and mentoring strategies and programs that may

[[Page 32588]]

increase the likelihood that highly qualified teachers will stay in
teaching, especially in high-need districts and schools and in rural
and urban settings; (c) expanding alternative routes to teacher
certification and transition into teaching (including programs for mid-
career professionals, paraprofessionals, and recent college graduates)
that have demonstrated a level of quality and intensity of training
necessary to produce teachers with the knowledge and skills needed to
be effective in meeting the needs of students at high risk of academic
failure, including students who with disabilities, students who are
limited English proficient and migrant students; (d) development and
administration of high-quality, intensive and sustained in-service
professional development programs to ensure that all teachers improve
and expand their content knowledge, teaching skills and success and
that school leaders have the knowledge and skill to support classroom
teachers and instructional and school improvements; and (e)
professional development programs and strategies to ensure that all
teachers are prepared to identify and address the diverse needs of
students in a classroom, particularly those students at risk of
academic failure.
    The Center on Teacher Quality will draw on existing knowledge and
resources, including research supported by the Department's Institute
of Education Sciences and teacher quality grant programs such as
Transition to Teaching, Troops to Teachers, Teaching American History,
and School Leadership programs.
    Text of Priority: To meet this priority, an applicant must
demonstrate--
    (a) In-depth knowledge of (i) what makes a highly qualified
teacher, with a particular focus on the teaching practices and
approaches that are linked to improvements in achievement for students
at risk of failure; (ii) the challenges, including systemic barriers,
States face in their efforts to recruit, select, train and retain
highly qualified teachers, particularly to teach in high-need and low-
performing districts and schools and in urban and rural settings; and
(iii) the available research-based strategies, practices and tools
available to address those challenges;
    (b) expertise in identifying effective alternative routes into
teaching and demonstrated knowledge of the various teacher
credentialing and certification practices currently being employed by
States; and
    (c) an understanding of the importance of principal leadership to
hiring and retaining high-quality teachers.
    Finally, because a proportion of the funding for this Center comes
from the Special Education Technical Assistance and Dissemination
program, to meet this priority, an applicant's plan of activities must
provide for a level of technical assistance benefiting students with
disabilities that is consistent with that proportion of funding. Thus,
for the first budget period (FY 2005), grantees must target 50 percent
of services to support technical assistance needs related to
identifying and disseminating research-based knowledge and models of
best practice to recruit, select, train and retain teachers with the
knowledge and skills needed to be effective in meeting the needs of
students who are receiving special education services. For subsequent
years, applicants must propose technical assistance benefiting students
with disabilities that is equivalent to $1 million per year.
    Priority 10--Center on Innovation and Improvement. Background: This
center will focus on effective systems and strategies to support States
and districts as they (1) plan and administer school improvement
programs, and (2) implement the key choice provisions of NCLB,
including public school choice, supplemental educational services,
charter schools, and equitable services for private school students.
This center will inform and support Regional Centers as they work to
raise the capacity of States to provide sustained technical assistance
to, and help build infrastructure supports in, districts and schools.
    To support States' and districts' plans and implementation of
school improvement programs, the Center on Innovation and Improvement
will work with Regional Centers and with the other Content Centers
funded under this competition to identify school improvement processes,
policies and practices for analyzing problems, building infrastructures
at the district and school levels, involving teachers and parents in
decision-making, and using Federal (especially Title I of ESEA), State
and local resources more effectively to support improved teaching and
learning for all students, including limited English proficient,
migrant, and disabled students.
    The center will also identify, analyze, and disseminate new and
emerging approaches to governance, resource management, decision
processes, personnel systems, and program coordination and alignment at
the district and school levels that will help make schools and
districts in need of improvement high performing.
    To address the key choice provisions of NCLB, the center will
assist States and districts with informing and empowering the neediest
parents about the public school choice provisions, and with building
capacity for public school choice, including through the development of
high-quality charter schools. The center will also assist States and
districts with implementing supplemental educational services by
supporting their efforts to increase students' access to these
services, to improve the quality of service providers, and to increase
the variety of provider options available to parents.
    The center will also assist in expanding the number of high-quality
charter schools available to students by focusing assistance on States,
charter authorizers (including local school boards), and charter
developers for the planning, implementation, and oversight of effective
charter schools. The center will also assist States and districts in
improving their implementation of the provisions in NCLB regarding the
equitable participation of private school students and teachers.
    Text of Priority: In order to satisfy this priority, applicants
must demonstrate in-depth knowledge of systemic reform and school
improvement strategies that work to help schools in need of improvement
close the achievement gap, as well as in-depth knowledge of the key
choice provisions of NCLB. Applicants must also demonstrate the ability
to translate and communicate that knowledge in ways that are meaningful
and useful to their Regional Center clients and to education policy
makers and practitioners.
    Priority 11--Center on High Schools. Background: The Center on High
Schools will focus on the comprehensive reform of high schools to
ensure that every student receives the knowledge, skills and support
they need to graduate from high school prepared to succeed in
postsecondary education and the workforce. The center will place
particular emphasis on identifying new and emerging strategies that
will benefit high schools consistently in need of improvement and
students who are at risk of academic failure.
    Text of Priority: To satisfy this priority for a Center on High
Schools, the proposed center must--
    (a) Identify new and emerging approaches, including those involving
district and State systemic reforms to improve and enhance the academic
performance of students in high schools;
    (b) identify, analyze and disseminate knowledge on strategies for:
(i) Instituting higher academic standards, more rigorous coursework
requirements, and assessment programs that align with

[[Page 32589]]

the performance requirements of college and work; (ii) ensuring that
teachers and school leaders are prepared to teach and lead to academic
excellence; (iii) instituting policies and programs to reduce the
incidence of dropouts and increase graduation rates; (iv) increasing
access to and improving the quality of education in the general
education curriculum for students with disabilities in high schools;
(v) involving parents in decisions about their child's high school
educational program and planning for the child's post-high school
future; (vi) adopting new approaches to governance, resource
management, decision processes, personnel systems, and program
coordination and alignment that may better facilitate and support high-
quality high school programs; (vii) facilitating better coordination
between K-12 programs and postsecondary institution requirements within
States; and (viii) helping States rethink how they might better use
Federal, State and local programs and resources for high schools.
    To meet this priority, an applicant must also demonstrate in-depth
understanding of: (a) The issues and challenges confronting high
schools and the current high school reform context; (b) current
research and practice regarding high school reform; (c) current
research and practice regarding increasing access to and improving the
quality of education in the general education curriculum for students
with disabilities in high schools; and (d) the State and district
systemic issues that need to be addressed to facilitate improvement in
student achievement in high schools.
    Finally, because a proportion of the funding for the center comes
from the Special Education Technical Assistance and Dissemination
program, to meet this priority, an applicant's plan of activities must
provide for a level of technical assistance benefiting students with
disabilities that is consistent with that proportion of funding. Thus,
for the first budget period (FY 2005), grantees must target 50 percent
of services to support technical assistance needs related to
identifying and disseminating new approaches for increasing access to
and improving the quality of education in the general education high
school curriculum for students receiving special education services.
For subsequent years, applicants must propose technical assistance
benefiting students with disabilities that is equivalent to $1 million
per year. The Center on High Schools will also be expected to
collaborate with the Department's National Dropout Prevention Center
for Students with Disabilities.

Additional Requirements

    1. Plan of Technical Assistance. All applicants under this
competition must submit as part of their application a 5-year plan of
technical assistance that describes the strategies and approaches the
applicant will use to carry out the activities of the proposed center
in a manner that addresses the statutory requirements of sections 203
through 207 of the TA Act, and the priorities and additional
requirements described in this notice.
    2. Focus on Districts and Schools that are High-Need and Identified
as in Need of Improvement. Applicants must demonstrate how the proposed
plan of technical assistance will give priority to helping States,
districts and schools build the capacity to develop and implement
programs targeted specifically to meet the educational needs of
students in school districts and schools with high percentages or
numbers of school-age children from low income families, including such
school districts and schools in rural and urban areas; and schools in
the region that have been identified for school improvement under
section 1116(b) of the ESEA.
    3. Focus on State/Regional Priorities. Applicants must tailor the
strategies and activities they propose to address the educational
priorities and related technical assistance needs of States. For
Regional Centers, the proposed plan of technical assistance must
reflect a thorough understanding of the technical assistance needs and
propose strategies that specifically address those needs for the
particular States the Regional Center will serve, considering: (a) The
educational goals and priorities of States to be served, including
major reform efforts underway; (b) the current status of States in
meeting the requirements and goals of NCLB; (c) the types of technical
assistance and related strategies that would help States, districts and
schools implement the programs and goals of NCLB and close existing
achievement gaps in the content areas; and (d) State and regional
student demographics and other contextual factors, such as urban and
rural locality. In the case of Content Centers, the proposed plan of
technical assistance should address the needs of States and regions
nationally.
    4. Allocation of Resources. Proposed technical assistance plans
must allocate resources to and within States and regions (or, for
Content Centers, across States and regions) in a manner that reflects
the need for assistance, taking into account such factors as the
proportion of economically disadvantaged students, the increased cost
burden of service delivery in areas of sparse populations, and any
special initiatives being undertaken by State, intermediate, local
educational agencies, or schools funded under the jurisdiction of the
Bureau of Indian Affairs, which may require special assistance from the
center.
    5. Coordination and Collaboration. Each applicant must describe in
its technical assistance plan how the proposed center will: (a)
Communicate regularly with the U.S. Department of Education, other
comprehensive centers, the Regional Educational Laboratories, State
educational agencies, and other technical assistance providers as
appropriate; and (b) how the proposed center will plan and coordinate
activities funded under this competition with the activities of those
other entities to leverage available knowledge and resources and avoid
duplicating efforts.
    6. Advisory Board. Each application must propose, as part of its
technical assistance plan, establishing an advisory board to advise the
proposed comprehensive center on: (a) The activities of the center
relating to its allocation of resources to and within each State in a
manner that reflects the need for assistance in accordance with section
203(d) of Title II of the TA Act; (b) strategies for monitoring and
addressing the educational needs of the region, on an ongoing basis;
(c) maintaining a high standard of quality in the performance of the
center's activities; and (d) carrying out the center's duties in a
manner that promotes progress toward improving student academic
achievement.
    The plan must detail the composition of the board by name and
affiliation in accordance with the requirements described in section
205 of the TA Act and in the application instructions found in the
application package. A letter of commitment from each proposed board
member must accompany the plan.
    7. Evaluation Plan. Each applicant must provide, as part of its
technical assistance plan, a plan to assess: (a) The needs of all
States served by the comprehensive center on an ongoing basis, and (b)
the progress and performance of the center in meeting the educational
needs of their clients. The plan must identify performance objectives
the project intends to achieve and performance measures for each
performance objective; explain the quantitative and qualitative methods
that will be used to collect, analyze, and

[[Page 32590]]

report performance data; and describe the methods that will be used to
monitor progress and make mid-course corrections, as appropriate.
    8. Project Meetings. For each center under this competition,
applicants must budget for--
    (a) The Project Director to attend a 2-day meeting in Washington,
DC at least once a year for each year of the project period; and
    (b) key staff to attend the following:
    (i) A 2-day post-award conference with Department officials at in
Washington, DC, to be held within 45 days from the grant award date.
The purpose of this conference will be to--
     Refine the grantee's technical assistance plan as
appropriate;
     Review with the grantee the Department's intentions
regarding the role of the grantee's center(s);
     Define how the grantee's center(s) and the Department will
work together as partners to accomplish the purposes of the grant;
     Establish lines of communication and feedback between
grantees and the Department; and
     Establish content for cooperative agreements; and
    (ii) A 1-day annual performance review with Department officials in
Washington, DC beginning one year after the post-award conference and
each year of the grant thereafter.
    Waiver of Proposed Rulemaking: Under the Administrative Procedure
Act (5 U.S.C. 553), the Department generally offers interested parties
the opportunity to comment on proposed priorities and other non-
statutory program requirements. Section 437(d)(1) of the General
Education Provisions Act (20 U.S.C. 1232 (d)(1)), however, allows the
Secretary to exempt from rulemaking requirements, regulations governing
the first competition under a new program authority. This is the first
competition for the new Comprehensive Centers program under Title II of
the TA Act and therefore qualifies for this exemption. In order to
ensure timely grant awards, the Secretary has decided to forego public
comment on the absolute priorities, selection criteria and non-
statutory requirements under section 437(d)(1). These absolute
priorities, selection criteria and non-statutory requirements will
apply to the FY 2005 grant competition only.

    Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 9602-9606.

    Applicable Regulations: The Education Department General
Administration Regulations (EDGAR) in 34 CFR parts 74, 75, 77, 79, 80,
81, 82, 84, 85, 86, 97, 98, and 99.

    Note: The regulations in 34 CFR part 79 apply to all applicants
except federally recognized Indian tribes.


    Note: The regulations in 34 CFR part 86 apply to institutions of
higher education only.

II. Award Information

    Type of Award: Cooperative agreements.
    Estimated Number of Awards: The Secretary intends to support 21
awards under this competition. Sixteen awards will support Regional
Centers to serve States within defined geographic boundaries. The
States and territories to be served by each Regional Center are
described in this notice under Absolute Priorities for Regional
Centers. Five awards will support Content Centers, each having a
specific content expertise and focus, to support the work of the
Regional Centers. These five Content Centers are: The Center on
Assessment and Accountability, the Center on Instruction, the Center on
Teacher Quality, the Center on Innovation and Improvement, and the
Center on High Schools. The functions and activities for each of the
five Content Centers are described in this notice under Absolute
Priorities for Content Centers.

    Note: The TA Act provides that the Secretary must ensure that
not less than one Comprehensive Center is established in each of the
10 geographic regions served by the Regional Educational
Laboratories. Note that these regions differ, in some instances,
from the Regional Centers described in this notice. The Secretary
will consider the location of the proposed Regional Centers in the
selection and negotiation of cooperative agreements to ensure that
this requirement of the law is met.

    Estimated Available Funds: Eighteen of the 21 Centers proposed for
funding under this competition will be supported entirely with funds
from the Comprehensive Centers program, authorized under Title II of
the TA Act. Three of the 21 centers will be supported with funds
appropriated for the Comprehensive Centers program and the Special
Education Technical Assistance and Dissemination program, which is
authorized under IDEA.
    The estimated available funds from the Comprehensive Centers
program for FY 2005 is $40 million. Of that amount, an estimated $35
million will be used to fund Regional Centers and $5 million will be
used to fund the Content Centers. FY 2005 funds will support awards for
the first budget period of the project, which is the first nine months
of the project period. Funding for the subsequent 12-month budget
periods for years two through five (i.e. FY 2006 through FY 2009) is
contingent on appropriation levels. For FY 2006, the President's
budget, if funded at the requested level, would provide approximately
$56.8 million for the Comprehensive Centers program.
    The estimated total funds from the Special Education Technical
Assistance and Dissemination program for FY 2005 is $3 million to
provide partial support for three of the Content Centers for the first
budget period of the project.
    Depending on appropriation levels, a total of up to $3 million from
the Special Education Technical Assistance and Dissemination program
will be available for awards to the co-funded Content Centers in
subsequent budget periods. The Department anticipates that each program
will provide approximately 50 percent of the annual funding for the
three co-funded Content Centers during the first budget period of the
project. The co-funded Content Centers will be the Center on
Instruction, the Center on Teacher Quality and the Center on High
Schools.
    Estimated Range of Awards: The estimated range of awards for
Regional Centers is $750,000 to $4,604,348 from FY 2005 funds for the
first budget period, covering the first 9 months of the project period.
Funding for each Regional Center was calculated by formula, based
equally on shares of population and poor children, ages 5-17 in the
States (including DC, Puerto Rico, and the Outlying Areas) served by
each Regional Center. Department estimates for awards to each Regional
Center are provided at: http://www.ed.gov/programs/newccp/index.html.

    The estimated range of awards for Content Centers is $1,000,000 to
$2,000,000 for the first budget period, which includes the first nine
months of the project period.
    Estimated Average Size of Awards: Regional Centers--$2,187,500 in
the first budget period (FY 2005) and approximately $2,895,313 in each
subsequent budget period; the three co-funded Content Centers--
$2,000,000 in the first budget period (FY 2005) and approximately
$2,500,000 in each subsequent budget period; the other two Content
Centers--$1,000,000 in the first budget period (FY 2005) and
approximately $1,500,000 in each subsequent budget period.

    Note: The Department is not bound by any estimates in this
notice.

    Project Period: Up to 60 months.
    Budget Period: Nine months for the first budget period only. Each
subsequent budget period will be 12 months.

[[Page 32591]]

III. Eligibility Information

    1. Eligible Applicants: Research organizations, institutions,
agencies, institutions of higher education, or partnerships among such
entities, or individuals, with the demonstrated ability or capacity to
carry out the activities described in this notice. An application from
a consortium of eligible entities must include a consortium agreement.
Letters of support do not meet the requirement for a consortium
agreement.
    2. Cost Sharing or Matching: This competition does not involve cost
sharing or matching.

IV. Application and Submission Information

    1. Address to Request Application Package: You may obtain an
application package via the Internet or from the Education Publications
Center (ED Pubs). To obtain an application via the Internet, use the
following address: http://www.ed.gov/programs/newccp/index.html.

    To obtain a copy from ED Pubs, write or call the following:
Education Publications Center (ED Pubs), P.O. Box 1398, Jessup, MD
20794-1398. Telephone (toll free): 1-877-433-7827. FAX: (301) 470-1244.
If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may call
(toll free): 1-877-576-7734.
    You may also contact ED Pubs at its Web site: http://www.ed.gov/pubs/edpubs.html
; or you may contact ED Pubs at its e-mail address: [log in to unmask].

    If you request an application package from ED Pubs, be sure to
identify this competition as follows: CFDA number 84.283B.
    Individuals with disabilities may obtain a copy of the application
package in an alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print,
audiotape, or computer diskette) by contacting the program contact
person listed elsewhere in section VII of this notice.
    2. Content and Form of Application Submission: Requirements
concerning the content of the application, together with the forms you
must submit, are in the application package for this competition. If an
applicant is applying for more than one center, the applicant must
submit a separate application for each center. Notice of Intent to
Apply: In order to expedite the process for reviewing grant
applications, we strongly encourage each potential applicant to send a
notification of its intent to apply for funding to the following
address: [log in to unmask].
    In this notice, please indicate the comprehensive center(s) for
which you intend to apply. The notification of intent to apply for
funding is optional and should not include information regarding your
proposed application(s).
    Page Limit: Applicants are strongly encouraged to limit their
application to 150 pages.
    3. Submission Dates and Times: Applications Available: June 3,
2005.
    Deadline for Notice of Intent to Apply: June 23, 2005. Dates of
Pre-Application Meetings: The Department will conduct briefings on this
competition via conference call to clarify the purposes of the program
and the selection criteria and process at 11 AM on each of the
following dates: Applicants for Regional Centers June 13 and 17;
Applicants for Content Centers June 22 and 23. Please e-mail Enid
Simmons at [log in to unmask] to register for a call date and time and
obtain the conference call number and code.
    Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: July 18, 2005.
    Applications for grants under this competition must be submitted
electronically using the Electronic Grant Application System (e-
Application) available through the Department's e-Grants system. For
information (including dates and times) about how to submit your
application electronically or by mail or hand delivery if you qualify
for an exception to the electronic submission requirement, please refer
to section IV. 6.

    Note: We do not consider an application that does not comply
with the deadline requirements.

    Deadline for Intergovernmental Review: August 17, 2005.
    4. Intergovernmental Review: This program is subject to Executive
Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79. Information about
Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs under Executive Order
12372 is in the application package for this competition.
    5. Funding Restrictions: We reference regulations outlining funding
restrictions in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice.
    6. Other Submission Requirements: Applications for grants under
this competition must be submitted electronically, unless you qualify
for an exception to this requirement in accordance with the
instructions in this section.
    We will reject your application if you submit it in paper format
unless, as described elsewhere in this section, you qualify for one of
the exceptions to the electronic submission requirement and submit, no
later than two weeks before the application deadline date, a written
statement to the Department that you qualify for one of these
exceptions. Further information regarding calculation of the date that
is two weeks before the application deadline date is provided later in
this section under Exception to Electronic Submission Requirement.
    a. Electronic Submission of Applications. Applications for grants
under the new Comprehensive Center Competition CFDA Number 84.283B must
be submitted electronically using e-Application available through the
Department's e-Grants system, accessible through the e-Grants portal
page at: http://e-grants.ed.gov.

    While completing your electronic application, you will be entering
data online that will be saved into a database. You may not e-mail an
electronic copy of a grant application to us.
    Please note the following:
     You must complete the electronic submission of your grant
application by 4:30 p.m., Washington, DC time, on the application
deadline date. The e-Application system will not accept an application
for this competition after 4:30 p.m., Washington, DC time, on the
application deadline date. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you do
not wait until the application deadline date to begin the application
process.
     The regular hours of operation of the e-Grants Web site
are 6 a.m. Monday until 7 p.m. Wednesday; and 6 a.m. Thursday until
midnight Saturday, Washington, DC time. Please note that the system is
unavailable on Sundays, and between 7 p.m. on Wednesdays and 6 a.m. on
Thursdays, Washington, DC time, for maintenance. Any modifications to
these hours are posted on the e-Grants Web site.
     You will not receive additional point value because you
submit your application in electronic format, nor will we penalize you
if you qualify for an exception to the electronic submission
requirement, as described elsewhere in this section, and submit your
application in paper format.
     You must submit all documents electronically, including
the Application for Federal Education Assistance (ED 424), Budget
Information--Non-Construction Programs (ED 524), and all necessary
assurances and certifications.
     Any narrative sections of your application must be
attached as files in a .DOC (document), .RTF (rich text), or .PDF
(Portable Document) format.
     Your electronic application must comply with any page
limit requirements described in this notice.

[[Page 32592]]

     Prior to submitting your electronic application, you may
wish to print a copy of it for your records.
     After you electronically submit your application, you will
receive an automatic acknowledgment that will include a PR/Award number
(an identifying number unique to your application).
     Within three working days after submitting your electronic
application, fax a signed copy of the ED 424 to the Application Control
Center after following these steps:
    (1) Print ED 424 from e-Application.
    (2) The applicant's Authorizing Representative must sign this form.
    (3) Place the PR/Award number in the upper right hand corner of the
hard-copy signature page of the ED 424.
    (4) Fax the signed ED 424 to the Application Control Center at
(202) 245-6272.
     We may request that you provide us original signatures on
other forms at a later date.
    Application Deadline Date Extension in Case of e-Application System
Unavailability: If you are prevented from electronically submitting
your application on the application deadline date because the e-
Application system is unavailable, we will grant you an extension of
one business day in order to transmit your application electronically,
by mail, or by hand delivery. We will grant this extension if--
    (1) You are a registered user of e-Application and you have
initiated an electronic application for this competition; and,
    (2) (a) The e-Application system is unavailable for 60 minutes or
more between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Washington, DC time,
on the application deadline date; or (b) The e-Application system is
unavailable for any period of time between 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.,
Washington, DC time, on the application deadline date.
    We must acknowledge and confirm these periods of unavailability
before granting you an extension. To request this extension or to
confirm our acknowledgment of any system unavailability, you may
contact either: (1) The person listed elsewhere in this notice under
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT (see VII. Agency Contact) or (2) the e-
Grants help desk at 1-888-336-8930. If the system is down and therefore
the application deadline is extended, an e-mail will be sent to all
registered users who have initiated an e-Application. Extensions
referred to in this section apply only to the unavailability of the
Department's e-Application system.
    Exception to Electronic Submission Requirement: You qualify for an
exception to the electronic submission requirement, and may submit your
application in paper format, if you are unable to submit an application
through the e-Application system because--
     You do not have access to the Internet; or
     You do not have the capacity to upload large documents to
the Department's e-Application system; and
     No later than two weeks before the application deadline
date (14 calendar days or, if the fourteenth calendar day before the
application deadline date falls on a Federal holiday, the next business
day following the Federal holiday), you mail or fax a written statement
to the Department, explaining which of the two grounds for an exception
prevent you from using the Internet to submit your application. If you
mail your written statement to the Department, it must be postmarked no
later than two weeks before the application deadline date. If you fax
your written statement to the Department, we must receive the faxed
statement no later than two weeks before the application deadline date.
    Address and mail or fax your statement to: Enid Simmons, U.S.
Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 3E307,
Washington, DC 20202. FAX: (202) 250-5870.
    Your paper application must be submitted in accordance with the
mail or hand delivery instructions described in this notice.
    b. Submission of Paper Applications by Mail. If you qualify for an
exception to the electronic submission requirement, you may mail
(through the U.S. Postal Service or a commercial carrier) your
application to the Department. You must mail the original and two
copies of your application, on or before the application deadline date,
to the Department at the applicable following address: By mail through
the U.S. Postal Service: U.S. Department of Education, Application
Control Center, Attention: CFDA Number 84.283B, 400 Maryland Avenue,
SW., Washington, DC 20202-4260; or By mail through a commercial
carrier: U.S. Department of Education, Application Control Center--Stop
4260, Attention: (CFDA Number 84.283B), 7100 Old Landover Road,
Landover, MD 20785-1506.
    Regardless of which address you use, you must show proof of mailing
consisting of one of the following:
    (1) A legibly dated U.S. Postal Service postmark,
    (2) A legible mail receipt with the date of mailing stamped by the
U.S. Postal Service,
    (3) A dated shipping label, invoice, or receipt from a commercial
carrier, or
    (4) Any other proof of mailing acceptable to the Secretary of the
U.S. Department of Education.
    If you mail your application through the U.S. Postal Service, we do
not accept either of the following as proof of mailing:
    (1) A private metered postmark, or
    (2) A mail receipt that is not dated by the U.S. Postal Service.
    If your application is postmarked after the application deadline
date, we will not consider your application.

    Note: The U.S. Postal Service does not uniformly provide a dated
postmark. Before relying on this method, you should check with your
local post office.

    c. Submission of Paper Applications by Hand Delivery. If you
qualify for an exception to electronic submission requirement, you (or
a courier service) may deliver your paper application to the Department
by hand. You must deliver the original and two copies of your
application, by hand, on or before the application deadline date, to
the Department at the following address: U.S. Department of Education,
Application Control Center, Attention: (CFDA Number 84.283B), 550 12th
Street, SW., Room 7041, Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC 20202-
4260.
    The Application Control Center accepts hand deliveries daily
between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Washington, DC time, except Saturdays,
Sundays, and Federal holidays. Note for Mail or Hand Delivery of Paper
Applications: If you mail or hand deliver your application to the
Department:
    (1) You must indicate on the envelope and--if not provided by the
Department--in Item 4 of the ED 424 the CFDA number--and suffix letter,
if any--of the competition under which you are submitting your
application.
    (2) The Application Control Center will mail a grant application
receipt acknowledgment to you. If you do not receive the grant
application receipt acknowledgment within 15 business days from the
application deadline date, you should call the U.S. Department of
Education Application Control Center at (202) 245-6288.

V. Application Review Information

    1. Selection Criteria: We will use the following selection criteria
to evaluate applications under this competition. The maximum score for
each criterion is indicated in parentheses with the criterion. The
maximum number of points an application may earn based on the selection
criteria is 100 points.
    a. Need for the Center (10 points). In determining the need for the
proposed

[[Page 32593]]

center, the Secretary considers the following:
    (i) The extent to which the proposed plan of technical assistance
presents strategies that address the priority technical assistance
needs of States as evidenced by in-depth knowledge and understanding
of--
    (A) In the case of Content Centers, data and evidence on State and
district technical assistance needs and demands related to standards
and accountability, teacher quality, innovation and improvement,
instruction, or high school reform;
    (B) For Regional Centers, the specific educational goals and
priorities of the States to be served by the center, including relevant
major reform efforts underway;
    (C) For Regional Centers, the status of States in meeting the
requirements of NCLB, including the number and proportion of districts
and schools in need of improvement within each State, the number and
proportion of students not meeting State standards in the reading and
mathematics; and
    (D) For Regional Centers, applicable State and, regional
demographics and other contextual factors and their relevance for the
purposes, goals, and challenges for implementing the provisions of
NCLB.
    (ii) For both Regional and Content Centers, the likelihood that
activities of the proposed center will result in products and services
that are of high quality, high relevance, and high usefulness to
clients.
    b. Significance (10 points). In determining the significance of the
proposed center, the Secretary considers the following:
    (i) The extent to which the proposed technical assistance plan
presents an approach that will likely result in systems change or
improvement at the State or district levels.
    (ii) The potential contribution of the center proposal to increase
knowledge or understanding of effective strategies.
    (iii) The importance of outcomes likely to be attained by the
proposed center, especially improvements in teaching and student
achievement.
    c. Quality of the Project Design (25 points). In determining the
quality of the design of the proposed center, the Secretary will
consider the following factors:
    (i) The extent to which the application proposes an exceptional
approach for carrying out the purposes and activities for the center
for which the applicant is applying.
    (ii) The extent to which the application proposes high-leverage
approaches that focus assistance at the State level and on helping
States build capacity to support district and school improvement and
programs.
    (iii) The extent to which the proposed technical assistance plan
reflects in-depth knowledge and understanding of NCLB, as well as
supporting regulations and guidance pertinent to carrying out the
purposes and activities of the center for which the applicant is
applying.
    (iv) The extent to which the proposed technical assistance plan
reflects in-depth knowledge and understanding of available
scientifically valid, research-based and/or evidence-based practices to
improve student achievement and close achievement gaps and demonstrates
knowledge of and access to reliable sources for obtaining such
knowledge on an ongoing basis.
    (v) The extent to which the proposed technical assistance plan
reflects in-depth knowledge and understanding of current scientifically
valid, research-based and/or evidence-based technical assistance
methods and practices.
    d. Quality of Project Personnel and Adequacy of Grantee Resources
(25 points). In determining the quality of project personnel, the
Secretary considers the extent to which the applicant encourages
applications for employment from persons who are members of groups that
have traditionally been underrepresented based on race, color, national
origin, gender, age, or disability.
    In addition, the Secretary will consider the following factors
under this criterion:
    (i) The extent to which the application presents evidence of
professional preparation and successful prior experience of the center
director and other key staff, including sub-grantees and key
consultants and partners that would indicate that each has the
knowledge, skills and ability to successfully carry out the
responsibilities they are assigned. For example, the extent to which
the application presents evidence of:
    (A) In the case of Content Centers, (1) in-depth knowledge of
content and research in the proposed center's focus area, particularly
those practices and approaches that are linked to improvements in
achievement for students at risk of failure, including students from
low-income families, students who have limited English proficiency,
students with disabilities, and migrant students; (2) the ability to
translate and communicate that knowledge; and (3) the demonstrated
ability to collaborate with other providers and research institutions,
broker relationships, and connect stakeholders at a regional and/or
national level, as appropriate, to identify and share best practices.
    (B) In the case of Regional Centers, expertise and demonstrated
successful experience assisting States with comprehensive planning,
needs assessments and implementing school improvement programs and
processes, with a particular focus on improving outcomes for students
at risk of failure, including students from low-income families,
disabled students, students with limited proficiency in English, and
migrant students.
    (ii) The extent to which proposed center staff have expertise using
technology to deliver technical assistance and implementing school
improvement reforms within urban and rural contexts.
    (iii) The extent to which the applicant has demonstrated experience
providing technical assistance and professional development in reading,
mathematics, science and technology, especially in schools and
districts identified as in need of improvement.
    (iv) The extent to which the applicant has prior relevant
experience operating a project of the scope required for the purposes
of the center being proposed.
    (v) The extent to which the application proposes an advisory board
membership in accordance with the requirements of the TA Act and
includes reasonable assurance of their commitment to serve on the
board. The extent to which the resources and plans for the board's
operation are reasonable and cost-efficient.
    (vi) The adequacy of resources for the proposed project, including
facilities and equipment, to successfully carry out the purposes and
activities of the proposed project.
    e. Quality of the Management Plan (20 points). In determining the
quality of the management plan for the proposed project, the Secretary
will consider the following factors:
    (i) The extent to which resources are allocated within the region
in a manner that reflects the need for assistance.
    (ii) The adequacy of the management plan to achieve the objectives
of the project on time and within budget, including clearly defined
responsibilities, timelines, and milestones for accomplishing project
tasks.
    (iii) The extent to which the time commitments of the project
director and other key project personnel are appropriate and adequate
to meet the objectives of the proposed project.
    (iv) The adequacy of procedures for ensuring feedback on
performance measures and continuous improvement in the operation of the
proposed project.

[[Page 32594]]

    (v) The extent to which the application proposes exceptional,
innovative and workable approaches and plans to--
    (A) Communicate on an ongoing basis with other comprehensive
centers, as appropriate, the Regional Educational Laboratories, the
client State educational agencies and other technical assistance
providers serving the region; and
    (B) Coordinate the plans and activities funded by this grant with
the plans and activities of the State and other agencies, in order to
leverage resources, avoid duplications and otherwise maximize the
effectiveness of services; and make effective use of available
technologies to widely disseminate information about proven practices.
    f. Quality of the Project Evaluation (10 points). In determining
the quality of the evaluation plan, the Secretary will consider the
following factors:
    (i) The extent to which the performance goals and objectives for
the project are clearly specified and measurable in terms of the
project activities to be accomplished and their stated outcomes for
clients.
    (ii) The extent to which the methods for monitoring performance and
evaluating the effectiveness of project strategies in terms of outcomes
for clients are thorough, feasible, and appropriate to the goals,
objectives, and outcomes of the proposed project.
    (iii) The extent to which the methods of evaluation will provide
continuous performance feedback and permit the continuous assessment of
progress toward achieving intended outcomes.
    (iv) The extent to which the applicant demonstrates a strong
capacity to provide reliable data on performance measures.

VI. Award Administration Information

    1. Award Notices: If your application is successful, we notify your
U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators and send you a Grant Award
Notification (GAN). We may also notify you informally.
    If your application is not evaluated or not selected for funding,
we will notify you.
    2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements: We identify
administrative and national policy requirements in the application
package and reference these and other requirements in the Applicable
Regulations section of this notice.
    We reference the regulations outlining the terms and conditions of
an award in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice and
include these and other specific conditions in the GAN. The GAN also
incorporates your approved application as part of your binding
commitments under the grant.
    3. Reporting: At the end of your project, you must submit a final
performance report, including financial information, as directed by the
Secretary. If you receive a multi-year award, you must submit an annual
performance report that provides the most current performance and
financial expenditure information as specified by the Secretary in 34
CFR 75.118.
    4. Performance Measures: To evaluate the overall success of the
Comprehensive Center Program, beginning in FY 2006, the Department will
use three performance measures to assess the quality, relevance, and
usefulness of center activities funded under this competition. These
new measures, adapted from a set of common measures developed to help
assess performance across the Department's technical assistance
programs, are: (1) The percentage of technical assistance services that
are deemed to be of high quality by an independent review panel of
expert stakeholders; (2) the percentage of technical assistance
services that are deemed to be of high relevance to educational policy
or practice by an independent review panel of qualified practitioners;
and (3) the percentage of technical assistance services that are deemed
to be of high usefulness to educational policy or practice by target
audiences.
    All grantees will be expected to submit, as part of their
performance report, quantitative data documenting their progress with
regard to these performance measures. The Department will provide
information to grantees about the independent panels conducting the
review, the review process, and the definitions and criteria that will
be used to evaluate quality, relevance and usefulness.

VII. Agency Contact

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Enid Simmons, U.S. Department of
Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 3E307, Washington, DC 20202-
6335. Telephone: (202) 401-0039 or by e-mail: [log in to unmask].
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may
call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1-800-877-8339.
    Individuals with disabilities may obtain this document in an
alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer
diskette) on request to the program contact person listed in this
section.

VIII. Other Information

    Electronic Access to This Document: You may 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.



    Dated: May 31, 2005.
Raymond Simon,
Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education.
[FR Doc. 05-11097 Filed 6-2-05; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4000-01-P

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