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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

Applications for New Awards; Model Demonstration Projects on Promoting Reentry Success Through Continuity of Educational Opportunities

AGENCY: Office of Vocational and Adult Education, Department of Education.
ACTION: Notice.

Overview Information

Model Demonstration Projects on Promoting Reentry Success through Continuity of Educational Opportunities (PRSCEO) Notice inviting applications for new awards for fiscal year (FY) 2013.

DATES: Date of Pre-Application Meeting:December 10, 2012.

Deadline for Transmittal of Applications:December 26, 2012.

Full Text of AnnouncementI. Funding Opportunity Description

Purpose of Program:The purpose of the PRSCEO program is to demonstrate the benefits of implementing a reentry education model, as described in the U.S. Department of Education (Department) November 2012 publication entitled "A Reentry Education Model, Supporting Education and Career Advancement for Low-Skill Individuals in Corrections" (Reentry Education Model).1 This Reentry Education Model is focused on: (1) Supporting individuals, especially low-skilled adults, in their transition from correctional institutions2 into the community by strengthening and aligning educational services3 provided in those settings; (2) establishing a strong program infrastructure to support and improve education services in correctional institutions; (3) ensuring that education is well integrated into correctional institutions by making it a critical component of the intake andpre-release processes, and by aligning it with support and employment services; and (4) encouraging individuals in correctional institutions to identify and achieve education and career goals, recognizing that their education paths are not linear or uniform.

Background

More than 700,000 incarcerated individuals leave Federal and State prisons each year.4 Too many of these individuals do not reintegrate successfully into society; within 3 years of release, 4 out of 10 prisoners will have committed new crimes or violated the terms of their release and will be reincarcerated.5

This negative cycle of release and return costs States more than $50 billion annually.6 Moreover, the number of individuals cycling in and out of our Nation's prisons jeopardizes public safety and negatively affects those individuals' families and their communities. Approximately 2.7 million children have an incarcerated parent, and these children are more likely to be expelled or suspended from school than children without an incarcerated parent.7

Among the male U.S. population aged 20 to 34 without a high school credential, 1 in 3 black men, 1 in 8 white men, and 1 in 14 Hispanic men are incarcerated.8 Formerly incarcerated men earn approximately 40 percent less per year than those who have never been incarcerated.9 Unfortunately, many offenders are ill-equipped to break this cycle of reincarceration because they lack the education and workforce skills needed to succeed in the labor market and the cognitive skills (e.g., the ability to solve problems) needed to address the challenges of reentry.10 In fact, approximately 41 percent of Federal and State prisoners lack a high school credential, compared to 18 percent of the general population. Even fewer have completed any college coursework.11

Although most State and Federal prisons offer adult education and career and technical education programs, and some offer postsecondary education, participation in these programs has not kept pace with the growing prison population.12 Similarly, those under community supervision (parole or probation) often do not participate in education and training programs.13 Possible reasons for these low participation rates include lack of or limited access to programs, limited awareness of program opportunities, reductions in services because of State budget constraints, insufficient personal motivation, and competing demands (e.g., employment) that may take precedence over pursuing education.14 It is not surprising, therefore, that formerly incarcerated individuals cited education, job training, and employment as vital needs not generally met during incarceration or after release.15

Low-skilled individuals who move in and out of prison may not be able to access well-integrated and sequenced educational programs. Coordination and communication among educational programs and their partner related service providers, both inside and outside of correctional institutions, are essential to facilitating educational participation and progress. A lack of coordination and communication can result in such barriers as differing standardized assessments and curriculum and lack of articulation agreements, making student transfers from one program to another difficult. Other barriers to access to well-integrated and sequenced educational programs include:

* Misinterpretation of Federal and State privacy laws and insufficient links among data systems, making it difficult for programs to get a comprehensive picture of their students' backgrounds, avoid duplication of effort, and track outcomes.

* A perception among correctional officials (e.g., wardens, parole and probation officers, and court officials) and policymakers that individuals in the correctional institutions should not receive educational services; this, in turn, can make it difficult to require student participation and establish supportive education and reentry policies.

* Inadequate staff training, resulting in ineffective educational services.

* Limited funds, leading to long waiting lists for programs.

A growing body of evidence16 shows that providing offenders with education and training programs increases their employment opportunities, decreases their cognitive deficits, and helps reduce the likelihood of recidivism.17 More work is needed, however, to ensure that low-skilled individuals in correctional institutions have access to these services and can advance their education and employment prospects despite their correctional status.

For this purpose the Department supported the development of the Reentry Education Model, which illustrates an education continuum for bridging the gap between prison- and community-based education and training programs.18 The goal of thisReentry Education Model is to ensure that individuals can gain the knowledge and skills they need to obtain long-term, living-wage employment and can transition successfully out of correctional institutions to other adult basic education or adult secondary education programs, postsecondary education, training programs, occupational training settings, or employment. It is based on a review of research studies and feedback from a panel of experts, including practitioners, administrators, and researchers in the fields of corrections and education. The Reentry Education Model, in addition to illustrating how educational service components should connect19 and be sequenced, includes detailed listings and discussions of the critical components of an educational continuum through the period of incarceration and reintegration.

Through this competition, which is carried out under part JJ of title I of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, 42 U.S.C. 3797dd(a)(3), the Secretary of Education will support the establishment and operation of projects that will test and demonstrate the benefits of using the Reentry Education Model, including implementation of the Reentry Education Model infrastructure elements.20 Grantees cannot effectively implement the Reentry Education Model without adequate infrastructure.21 Grantees may appropriately build their program infrastructure as part of the funded project. Because of the challenges associated with implementing many infrastructure elements in a short period of time, the Secretary will award competitive preference, as described in thePrioritiessection in this notice, to applicants that have portions of the Reentry Education Model infrastructure elements already in place for "strategic partnerships" and the "use of electronic data system." This will increase the likelihood that a grantee will promptly complete all infrastructure requirements and successfully demonstrate the effectiveness of the Reentry Education Model within the timeframe of the grant period.

Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA)-funded eligible agencies,22 providers,23 or providers of adult education and literacy services using funds provided by an AEFLA-funded eligible agency or provider, are eligible for awards through this competition. AEFLA provides grants to States to provide adult education and literacy activities, including programs for individuals in correctional institutions (20 U.S.C. 9222(a)(1) and 20 U.S.C. 9225(b)). The Department intends to use National Leadership Activities funds under 20 U.S.C. 9253 to provide technical assistance support for PRSCEO program grantees and for an independent evaluation of the PRSCEO program.

Priorities:This notice includes two absolute priorities and two competitive preference priorities. We are establishing these priorities for the FY 2013 grant competition, and any subsequent year in which we make awards from the list of unfunded applicants from this competition, in accordance with section 437(d)(1) of the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA), 20 U.S.C. 1232(d)(1).

Absolute Priorities:Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(3) we consider only applications that meet both of the absolute priorities.

Absolute Priority 1 is:

Model Demonstration Projects on Promoting Reentry Success Through Continuity of Educational Opportunities Based on the Reentry Education Model

To meet this priority, an applicant must--

(a) Propose a project that:

(1) Implements the Reentry Education Model, including all infrastructure elements, to promote education engagement and continuity for individuals during their reentry process spanning correctional institution settings and community settings; and

(2) Serves correctional institution residents (prisoners) and community correctional clients (e.g., parolees, probationers, or inmates in halfway house settings); and

(b) Implement a project plan (which must be included in the application) that:

(1) Identifies the partner entities described in paragraph (a)(3)(ii) of theApplication Requirementssection of this notice;

(2) Describes the process the applicant will use for developing an individual educational plan that addresses an individual student's needs; and

(3) Identifies formal tools of transition that the applicant will implement or has already implemented, including explicit interagency agreements that can facilitate the transition among educational programs and across correctional institution and community settings.

Absolute Priority 2 is:

Implementation of a Demonstration Program Based on the Reentry Education Model Using Adult Education and Family Literacy Act-Funded Programs

To meet this priority, an applicant must either be an AEFLA-funded eligible agency,24 an AEFLA-funded eligible provider,25 or a provider of adult education and literacy services with funds provided by an AEFLA-funded eligible agency or provider in the jurisdiction in which the services will be provided. Each applicant must submit a letter from the State agency administering AEFLA verifying that the applicant is an eligible agency or provider, or a provider of adult education and literacy services, as described in this priority, and has been an eligible agency or provider for at least one year prior to the submission of the application.

Competitive Preference Priorities

The Secretary is also establishing two competitive preference priorities for this competition. Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(i) the Department will award up to an additional five points for Competitive Preference Priority 1 and up to an additional five points for Competitive Preference Priority 2. Themaximum amount of points that an applicant can receive under these competitive preference priorities is 10 points, depending on how well the application meets these priorities.

Competitive Preference Priority 1 is:

Demonstrated Existence of Program Infrastructure Elements Contained in the Reentry Education Model: Strategic Partnerships

To meet this priority, an applicant must provide evidence of prior implementation of the infrastructure element26 "strategic partnerships" (at least one year prior to the date of application), which must include currently functioning agreements among partner entities as specified in the Reentry Education Model.

Competitive Preference Priority 2 is:

Demonstrated Existence of Program Infrastructure Elements Contained in the Reentry Education Model: Electronic Data System

To meet this priority, an applicant must provide evidence of the prior implementation (at least one year prior to date of application) of the infrastructure element,27 "electronic data system," which must include the capacity to capture student data, including educational level, educational goals, educational participation, and educational attainments. Such evidence may include samples of student record forms, redacted as appropriate to protect personally identifiable information or other data necessary to protect student privacy, procedural guidance, or other documentation demonstrating the availability of student data for individuals transitioning among program settings during the release process. In addition, the applicant must provide an assurance that the data are used to inform program improvement initiatives within the educational partner entities serving such students.

RequirementsApplication Requirements

The project plan submitted within the application must include:

(a) A description of how the applicant will implement or already has implemented the Reentry Education Model. Specifically the application must include a description of the following:

(1) The elements of the proposed project, including:

(i) A correctional institution student intake protocol that includes assessment, individual educational plan development, and the recording of information in a centralized, electronic data system;

(ii) Educational services with appropriate alignment and content, including basic educational services for low-skilled adults, within correctional facilities and within community-based educational programs for reentering formerly incarcerated or otherwise sanctioned individuals;

(iii) Strategies describing proven successful or promising practices for:

(A) Improving student outcomes in the attainment of educational achievement levels,

(B) Increasing the number of students completing their educational programs, and

(C) Increasing the number of students attaining their educational goals;28

(iv) Pre-release procedures and protocols to support the transition of students, including low-skilled students, from correctional institution educational programs to community-based educational programs; and

(v) Intake processes and procedures for the community-based educational services that include--

(A) Connecting incarcerated individuals with community-based services by starting the services in the correctional institution,

(B) Timely transfer of student data and educational plans, which are updated as necessary and appropriate, and

(C) A process of communication among all partner entities and with the individual students, including a point person for tracking individual progress to the extent practicable and for tracking students transferring to other adult basic education or adult secondary education programs, postsecondary education, training programs, or occupational training programs.

(2) Reentry Education Model infrastructure elements that the applicant will implement or already has implemented, which must include:

(i) Monetary and other resources,

(ii) Strategic partnerships,

(iii) Electronic data system,

(iv) Staff training,

(v) Reentry policies, and

(vi) Evaluation processes.29

(3) Implementation components, including--

(i) The methodology that the applicant will use for selecting partner entities;30

(ii) Identification of the partner entities, which

(A) Must include--

(I) One or more community-based educational service providers, at least one of which must offer adult basic education services or English literacy programs, and

(II) One or more correctional institution education program sites, at least one of which must offer adult basic education services or English literacy programs; and

(B) May include--

(I) One or more community colleges, or technical colleges,

(II) One or more occupational training providers,

(III) One or more community correction facilities or organizations, and

(IV) One or more intermediary prisoner reentry service providers, such as providers of mentoring programs.

(iii) For each partner entity selected in paragraphs (a)(3)(ii)(A) and (a)(3)(ii)(B), descriptions of--

(A) The populations served by the partner entity; and

(B) The expected contributions of the partner entity to the proposed project and the extent to which each partner entity has committed to the implementation and sustainability of the project.

(iv) Strategies for identifying and allocating human resources among the partner entities as needed to implement the proposed project;

(v) The applicant's approach to initial and ongoing personnel development or training for personnel involved in implementing the proposed project; and

(4) Sustainability components, including a plan for:

(i) Assessing the responsibilities for project maintenance and support among the partner entities at the participating project sites by the end of the project period in order to continue services after the project period ends; and

(ii) Continuing personnel training among the partner entities in order to build capacity to implement the Reentry Education Model during the grant project period and to ensure that the project is sustained after the grant project period ends.

(b) A detailed timeline for implementing the proposed project.

(c) A plan for collecting data that will be submitted as required by the Department to the Department'stechnical assistance provider and the Department's independent evaluator,31 in order to monitor the continuous progress of the applicant's program outcomes based on the Reentry Education Model. Such data, at a minimum, must include:

(1) The numbers of individuals who maintain educational participation while transitioning from and among correctional institutions, including to community correctional settings and other community-based educational programs; and

(2) The numbers of adults who acquire basic skills (including English language acquisition), complete secondary education, and transition to further education, training, or to work as indicated by attainment of educational functioning levels, attainment of high school credentials, enrollment in postsecondary education or training programs, and attainment of employment.

(d) A description of the project's logic model, consistent with the Reentry Education Model,32 and a plan to collect data on the following system outputs:

(1) Changes to policies, procedures, or data collection systems, and

(2) Changes related to student information or record sharing, referrals for services, educational services, assessments, and transition planning.

(e) A proposed budget that includes estimates of the costs of:

(1) Implementing the proposed project, including but not limited to--

(i) Personnel, and

(ii) The various components of the proposed project; and

(2) Attendance of up to two attendees at a required one-and-one-half-day meeting in Washington, DC.

(f) A description of the applicant's formative evaluation plan, consistent with the proposed project's logic model, and consistent with the Reentry Education Model and student data collection plan, that:

(1) Includes information on how these data described in paragraph (c) will be reviewed by the project staff prior to finalizing data collection plans and again prior to submitting those data to the Department (consistent with the timeline in this section), and how they will be used during the course of the project to adjust the project or its implementation in order to enhance the project's outcomes, generalizability, and potential for sustainability; and

(2) Includes, as appropriate, periodic collection of student and system data in addition to other data relating to fidelity of implementation, stakeholder acceptability, and the types of facilities in which the services are provided (e.g., correctional institution, community center, library).

General Requirements

To meet the general requirements of this proposed competition, each applicant must propose to conduct the following activities:

(a) Commit to work with the Department's independent evaluator33 to--

(1) Measure the fidelity of implementation of the Reentry Education Model; and

(2) Collect and assess the stakeholders' (e.g., service providers, teachers, case workers, program administrators, clients) feedback on the efficacy of the Reentry Education Model components, processes, and outcomes.

(b) Participate in program activities and collaborative efforts among grantees, Department staff, and the Department-identified technical assistance provider to disseminate Reentry Education Model information to such entities as adult education providers, correctional institutions, community-based organizations, community colleges, professional organizations, and other entities identified by the Department.

(c) Communicate and collaborate on an ongoing basis with Department-funded or other Department-designated projects in order to share information on successful strategies and challenges of the Reentry Education Model implementation across correctional and community settings.

(d) Maintain ongoing telephone and email communication with the Department project officer and the administrators of other projects funded under this competition.

(e) Submit data, when and as specified by the Department, to the independent evaluator designated by the Department in order to evaluate the Reentry Education Model.

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 requirements and priorities. Section 437(d)(1) of GEPA, however, allows the Secretary to exempt from rulemaking requirements regulations governing the first grant competition under a new or substantially revised program authority. This is the first grant competition for this program under part JJ of title I of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, 42 U.S.C. 3797dd(a)(3) and therefore qualifies for this exemption. In order to ensure timely grant awards, the Secretary has decided to forgo public comment on the priorities and other requirements under section 437(d)(1) of GEPA. These priorities and other requirements will apply to the FY 2013 grant competition and any subsequent year in which we make awards from the list of unfunded applicants from this competition.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John Linton, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 11021, PCP, Washington, DC 20202. Telephone: (202) 245-6592 or by email:John.Linton@ed.gov;or Zina Watkins, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 11020, PCP, Washington, DC 20202. Telephone: (202) 245-6197 or by email:Zina.Watkins@ed.gov.

If you use a TDD or TTY, call the FRS, toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.

VIII. Other Information

Accessible Format:Individuals with disabilities can obtain this document in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, audiotape, or compact disc) on request to the contact persons listed underFOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACTin section VII of this notice.

Electronic Access to This Document:The official version of this document is the document published in theFederal Register. Free Internet access to the official edition of theFederal Registerand the Code of Federal Regulations is available via the Federal Digital System at:www.gpo.gov/fdsys.At this site you can view this document, as well as all other documents of this Department published in theFederal Register,in text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at the site.

You may also access documents of the Department published in theFederal Registerby using the article search feature at:www.federalregister.gov. Specifically, through the advanced search feature at this site, you can limit your search to documents published by the Department.

Dated: November 14, 2012. Daniel J. Miller, Executive Officer, Delegated Authority to Perform the Functions and Duties of the Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education.
ACTION: 35The applicable population consists of all adults who passed the GED tests or earned a secondary credential while enrolled in adult education, or have a secondary credential at entry, or are enrolledin a class specifically designed for transitioning to postsecondary education who exit during the program year. Entry into postsecondary education or training can occur any time from the time of exit through the end of the following program year. A transition class is a class that has a specific purpose to prepare students for entry into postsecondary education, training or an apprenticeship program.