OSERS Seeks Public Comment on Proposed Rules to Implement Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

NOTICE: Comment Period is Now Closed.
(June 15, 2015 closing date)

The departments of Education and Labor announced recently that they are seeking comment on five Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRMs), proposing rules that would implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The act, signed by President Obama on July 22, 2014, is the first major reform to federal job training programs in more than 15 years. It’s designed to streamline and improve the coordination of employment and training services across federal agencies and strengthen collaboration with state and local partners to increase access to and opportunities for the employment, education, training, and support services for individuals to succeed in the labor market.

OSERS encourages comments on all proposed regulations, and is particularly interested in receiving comments in the following areas:

State VR Services program, State Supported Employment Services program, and provisions contained in new section 511 (Limitations on the Use of Subminimum Wages) that fall under the purview of ED
[Docket ID ED-2015-OSERS-0001]

  • Employment Outcome:
    • Definition of EMPLOYMENT OUTCOME in proposed §361.5(c)(15) would mean, with respect to an individual, entering, advancing in, or retaining full-time or, if appropriate, part-time competitive integrated employment, as defined in §361.5(c)(9) (including customized employment, self-employment, telecommuting, or business ownership), or supported employment, that is consistent with an individual’s unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice.
    • This definition would eliminate uncompensated outcomes, such as homemakers and unpaid family workers, from the scope of the definition for purposes of the VR program.
    • To allow agencies to complete the VR process for these individuals, we are considering a transition period of six months following the effective date of the final regulations to implement the proposed definition. We are particularly interested in receiving comment on the proposed six-month transition period.
    • We are interested in receiving comments about providing such a transition period.
  • Performance Accountability Measures:
    • In the ED—only NPRM, we propose to replace the current standards and indicators for the VR program under current §361.80 through §361.89 with a cross-reference in proposed §361.40 to the joint regulations for the common performance accountability measures.
    • We ask that you provide only comments specific to the VR program with respect to this section.
    • Any comments regarding the common performance measures or data requirement, applicable to all core programs, should be provided in connection with the relevant provisions of the joint proposed regulations.
  • Limitations on Use of Subminimum Wage: Proposed Educational Agencies Requirements:
    • Proposed §397.31 would prohibit a local educational agency or a State educational agency from entering into a contract with an entity that employs individuals at subminimum wage for the purpose of operating a program under which a youth with a disability is engaged in subminimum wage employment.
    • With regard to this proposed provision, the Secretary specifically seeks comments regarding the Department’s role and jurisdiction.

Provide your comments on docket ED-2015-OSERS-0001 at www.regulations.gov.

Unified and Combined State Plans, Performance Accountability, and the One-Stop System Joint Provision
[Docket ID ETA-2015-0002]

  • Performance Accountability Measures:
    • Section 116(b) of WIOA requires common performance accountability measures for the core programs of the workforce development system, including the VR program, which are set out in proposed joint regulations (Joint NPRM—Ed and DOL), which, once final, will reside in subpart E of 34 CFR 361. The joint NPRM can be found at the Federal Register (www.federalregister.gov).
    • Any comments regarding the common performance measures or data requirement, applicable to all core programs, should be provided in connection with the relevant provisions of the joint proposed regulations.
  • One-stop Delivery System:
    • As a required partner in the one-stop service delivery system, the designated State unit must satisfy all requirements set forth in proposed joint regulations (Joint NPRM—Ed and DOL), which, once final, will reside in subpart F of 34 CFR 361. The joint NPRM can be found at the Federal Register (www.federalregister.gov).
    • We ask that you submit any comments regarding the VR program’s role in the one-stop delivery system in conjunction with related provisions contained in the joint proposed regulations.

Provide your comments on docket ETA-2015-0002 at www.regulations.gov.

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act: Miscellaneous Program Changes
[Docket ID ED-2015-OSERS-0002]

  • Proposed §386.40(b)(1) (Long-term training program):
    • We have proposed to add the following: §386.40(b)(1)” allowing scholars who are in multi-year programs of study and who are currently employed or are seeking employment to start satisfying the service obligation after completion of at least one year of study. This provision would also prohibit scholars who do not complete the program of study from performing the service obligation, except for scholars who complete at least one year of a multi-year program.
    • We request specific comments on this proposal.”
  • Proposed §396.4(c) (Interpreter Training)
    • We propose to add the following definition in §396.4(c): “an individual who has a hearing impairment such that, in order to facilitate communication, the individual depends upon visual modes, such as sign language, speech reading, and gestures, or reading and writing, in addition to any other auditory information.”
    • We particularly encourage the public to comment on the appropriateness of this definition in the context of this program.

Provide your comments on docket ED-2015-OSERS-0002 at www.regulations.gov.

NOTICE: Comment Period is Now Closed.
(June 15, 2015 closing date)

Please visit www.regulations.gov to share your comments on these above, and all of the proposed rules, in accordance with the process outlined in the NPRMs. Comments to this OSERS blog are not accepted and have been turned off.

Any comments not received through the processes outlined in the NPRMs will NOT be considered by the department.

Posted by
Information Technology Specialist, U.S. Department of Education

IDEA Changes Lives — Look Who’s Going to College!

Think College! College Options for People with Intellectual Disabilities.

Students who receive special education services, including those with cognitive and intellectual disabilities, are attending college in record numbers, an achievement that few people would have thought possible before the passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1975. As we approach the 40th anniversary of IDEA, we can reflect not only on the impact that it has had on individual lives but the benefits to society that come from having a workforce of students who are college and career ready. IDEA provides supports to students who now attend elementary through high school with their siblings and same age peers with the expectation that they will continue to do so in post-secondary settings. Four-year colleges, community colleges, and career and technical education centers have risen to the challenge by providing supports and accommodations so that students can not only attend, but thrive in post-secondary settings. Learn what attending college means to these students and watch the four minute trailer, below, for Think College’s full 27-minute movie, Rethinking College.

For more information about college and post-secondary opportunities for students with disabilities visit The Association on Higher Education and Disability and Think College.

OSERS Avatar -- OSERS: Inclusion, Equity and Opportunity
Posted by
Marsha Goldberg is an Education Program Specialist in the Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education.

How Disability.gov Can Help Students with Disabilities Succeed in & out of the Classroom

By the Disability.gov Team

Disability.gov logo

All students rely on lessons learned in the classroom to prepare for their transition to adulthood, whether that means entering the workforce or continuing their studies in college or at a vocational school. Thanks to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, children with disabilities today have greater access to quality education and accommodations to help them learn and succeed in and out of school.

Contributing to this success is Disability.gov, the federal government website for information on disability programs and services across the nation. Through the site, students with disabilities, parents, guardians, educators and others are connected to valuable resources on education, such as accommodations and supports in the classroom, individualized education programs (IEPs) and teaching strategies. Furthermore, since Disability.gov is a directory of resources, visitors can find information on other topics like benefits, employment, health, housing and technology, to name just a few. All of the site’s resources are carefully chosen from the federal government, state and local government agencies and nonprofit organizations to make sure visitors get information that is both helpful and easy to understand.

Disability.gov’s Guides to Information

Disability.gov also provides 14 guides on popular topics, which allow visitors to view as much or as little information on a given subject as they choose. For example, high school students with disabilities and families may want to read Disability.gov’s Guide to Student Transition Planning. The transition process prepares students with disabilities for life after high school graduation. Through this guide, you can learn about options after high school, including planning for college or a technical school, vocational rehabilitation and job training programs and laws that protect students’ educational rights.

For students who are currently attending or heading to college, financial aid is just as important as an acceptance letter. Disability.gov’s Guide to Student Financial Aid provides information on scholarships, grants, federal work-study programs and student loans. Visitors can also find out about state financial aid programs and how to apply for federal financial aid. Once they are ready to graduate, Disability.gov’s Guide to Employment has information on conducting a job search, applying for federal employment and getting help writing a resume and preparing for interviews.

These are just a few of the many ways Disability.gov enables quick and easy access to helpful information and resources. You may also want to visit the “Youth” section of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy’s website for five Guideposts for Success – What All Youth Need to Successfully Transition into Adulthood.

We invite you to share this information with family and friends, and visit Disability.gov to get started. You can also subscribe to email alerts, read the Disability Connection newsletter or follow the site on Facebook, Twitter and Disability.Blog.

OSERS is glad to highlight Disability.gov and all of the great work they do!
Check out a recent blog by an OSERS grantee, Benetech, that was featured on Disability.gov!

Posted by
Information Technology Specialist, U.S. Department of Education

Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRMs) Related to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)

We are pleased to inform you that today, Thursday, April 2, 2015, five notices of proposed rulemaking (NPRMs) related to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), enacted on July 22, 2014, were made available for public inspection on the Federal Register Public Inspection Web site at https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection.

The five NPRMs include:

  • Joint NPRM—The U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Labor (DOL) developed a joint NPRM to implement jointly-administered activities under title I of WIOA regarding Unified and Combined State Plans, performance accountability, and the one-stop system. The joint NPRM applies to all core programs, including the State Vocational Rehabilitation Services and the Adult Education programs.
  • DOL-only NPRM—This NPRM will implement changes made to the adult, dislocated worker, and youth programs authorized under title I of WIOA.

Three ED-only NPRMs:

  • Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA)—This NPRM will implement changes to programs authorized under AEFLA, which is contained in title II of WIOA.
  • Rehabilitation Act of 1973—Two NPRMs will implement changes made to the programs authorized under the Rehabilitation Act, which is contained in title IV of WIOA, as well as new provisions added:
    • State Vocational Rehabilitation Services program and the State Supported Employment Services program, as well as new provisions in Section 511(Limitations on the Use of Subminimum Wages); and
    • All other Rehabilitation Act programs administered by ED—Client Assistance, American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Protection and Advocacy of Individual Rights, Independent Living Services for Older Individuals Who Are Blind programs, and the discretionary grant programs authorized under title III of the Rehabilitation Act.

The NPRMs will be published in the Federal Register soon, at which time the official 60-day comment period will begin. Until the time of publication, the NPRMs are available for unofficial viewing only. You may use this time to become familiar with the content of the NPRMs and to begin to prepare your comments for submission after publication and during the 60-day comment period.

Once the NPRMs are published in the Federal Register and the 60-day public comment period begins, you can submit your written comments online through Regulations.gov at: www.regulations.gov. At this website, you will also find instructions for accessing agency documents, submitting comments, and viewing the docket. You may also submit hard copy comments via postal mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery. Each NPRM contains specific instructions for submitting hard copy comments related to that proposed regulations in that particular NPRM in the “Addresses” section.

Posted by
Information Technology Specialist, U.S. Department of Education