Sneak Preview: ED Plans To Amend Professional Development Regs

Jerry Ashworth
October 25, 2019 at 07:22:23 ET
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(The following was excerpted from a recent article in the Federal Grants Development Handbook.) The Department of Education (ED) is proposing to amend the regulations for its Indian Professional Development program (CFDA 84.299B) to include new language detailing applicant requirements under the program, and to require program participants, after completing their training as teachers or administrators, to work in local educational agencies (LEAs) that serve a “high proportion” of Indian tribal students.

The Indian Professional Development program, which was authorized under title VI of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (Pub. L. 89-10), as amended, is designed to prepare and train individuals from Indian tribes to serve as teachers and school administrators. Individuals trained under this program must perform work related to their training that benefits the Indian tribal community (i.e., the payback obligation requirement), or repay the assistance received. Regulations overseeing the program are provided in the Code of Federal Regulations at 34 C.F.R. Part 263. ED now proposes to revise these regulations to implement changes under section 6122 of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) (Pub. L. 114-95).

Defined Terminology

Section 6122 of the ESSA requires program applicants to describe how they will use grant funds to train teachers or principals to work in LEAs that serve a high proportion of Indian students (termed in the proposed rule as “qualified employment”), although it does not define what constitutes a “high proportion.” Current program regulations require grant recipients to provide “induction services” (now defined in the proposed rule as “services provided after participants complete their training program and during their first, second or third year of teaching) in schools with a “significant” Indian population, although the term “significant” is not defined. In the proposed rule in the Oct. 11 Federal Register, ED sought to establish a definition of an “LEA that serves a high proportion of Indian students,” explaining that this is an LEA with either: (1) a high proportion of Indian students in the LEA as compared to other LEAs in the state; or (2) a high proportion of Indian students in the school in which the participant works, even if the LEA as a whole does not have a high proportion of Indian students.

“We propose to define an ‘LEA that serves a high proportion of Indian students’ broadly in order to maximize the number of LEAs that would qualify under this definition,” ED explained. “This proposed definition, informed by tribal consultation feedback, would allow us to consider whether an LEA’s student body population has a high proportion relative to the Indian population in the grantee’s state, as opposed to a nationwide comparison using a strict percentage. It would also permit a comparison of whether the school in which the participant works has a high percentage of Indian students compared to other LEAs in the state.” ED further explained that this approach would “mitigate the potential for perceived ‘competition’ between urban and rural areas, address the need for serving Indian students in states where few to no schools have high percentages of Indian student populations, and would still adhere to the intent of this requirement.”

(The full version of this story has now been made available to all for a limited time here.)

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