The Director shall enter into contracts with entities to establish a networked system of 10 regional educational laboratories that serve the needs of each region of the United States in accordance with the provisions of this section. The amount of assistance allocated to each laboratory by the Evaluation and Regional Assistance Commissioner shall reflect the number of local educational agencies and the number of school-age children within the region served by such laboratory, as well as the cost of providing services within the geographic area encompassed by the region.
The regions served by the regional educational laboratories shall be the 10 geographic regions served by the regional educational laboratories established under section 941(h) of the Educational Research, Development, Dissemination, and Improvement Act of 1994 (as such provision existed on the day before November 5, 2002).
The Director may enter into contracts under this section with 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 section, including regional entities that carried out activities under the Educational Research, Development, Dissemination, and Improvement Act of 1994 (as such Act existed on the day before November 5, 2002) and title XIII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (as such title existed on the day before January 8, 2002).
Each applicant desiring a contract under this section shall submit an application at such time, in such manner, and containing such information as the Director may reasonably require.
Each application submitted under paragraph (1) shall contain a 5-year plan for carrying out the activities described in this section in a manner that addresses the priorities established under section 9606 of this title and addresses the needs of all States (and to the extent practicable, of local educational agencies) within the region to be served by the regional educational laboratory, on an ongoing basis.
Before entering into a contract under this section, the Director shall design specific objectives and measurable indicators to be used to assess the particular programs or initiatives, and ongoing progress and performance, of the regional educational laboratories, in order to ensure that the educational needs of the region are being met and that the latest and best research and proven practices are being carried out as part of school improvement efforts.
The Evaluation and Regional Assistance Commissioner shall establish a system for technical and peer review to ensure that applied research activities, research-based reports, and products of the regional educational laboratories are consistent with the research standards described in section 9534 of this title and the evaluation standards adhered to pursuant to section 9563(a)(2)(A) of this title.
If a regional educational laboratory needs flexibility in order to meet the requirements of paragraph (1)(A)(i), the regional educational laboratory may select not more than 10 percent of the governing board from individuals outside those representatives nominated in accordance with paragraph (1)(A)(iii).
The Evaluation and Regional Assistance Commissioner shall provide for independent evaluations of each of the regional educational laboratories in carrying out the duties described in this section in the third year that such laboratory receives assistance under this section in accordance with the standards developed by the Evaluation and Regional Assistance Commissioner and approved by the Board and shall transmit the results of such evaluations to the relevant committees of Congress, the Board, and the appropriate regional educational laboratory governing board.
No regional educational laboratory receiving assistance under this section shall, by reason of the receipt of that assistance, be ineligible to receive any other assistance from the Department of Education as authorized by law or be prohibited from engaging in activities involving international projects or endeavors.
Each regional educational laboratory awarded a contract under this section shall participate in the advance payment system at the Department of Education.
In addition to activities authorized under this section, the Director is authorized to enter into contracts or agreements with a regional educational laboratory for the purpose of carrying out additional projects to enable such regional educational laboratory to assist in efforts to achieve State education goals and for other purposes.
Nothing in this section shall be construed to require any modifications in a regional educational laboratory contract in effect on the day before November 5, 2002.