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Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act Offers a New Chance to Improve Education

Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act Offers a New Chance to Improve Education

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The Center for American Progress and the American Enterprise Institute offer joint recommendations on needed changes to Title I of the ESEA.
The Center for American Progress and the American Enterprise Institute offer joint recommendations on needed changes to Title I of the ESEA.

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Published by: Center for American Progress on Mar 01, 2012
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12/02/2012

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 American Enterprise Institutefor Public Policy Research
Tightening Up Title I 
Reauthorization o the Elementary andSecondary Education Act Ofers a NewChance to Improve Education
Joint Recommendations on Needed Changes to Title I
Raegen T. Miller
Center for American Progress
 Frederick M. Hess
American Enterprise Institute
 Cynthia G. Brown
Center for American Progress
 March 2012
AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE www.AEI.oRg
 
1American Enterprise Institute |Reauthorization o the Elementary and Secondary Education Act Oers a New Chance to Improve Education
Introduction
Te Elemenary and Secondary Educaion Ac, or ESEA, began as a componen o heGrea Sociey reorms o he 1960s. Seven reauhorizaions have changed he law inmyriad ways, bu perhaps never o such grea eec as wih he accounabiliy provisionso he mos recen reauhorizaion—he No Child Le Behind Ac o 2001, or NCLB.Because o No Child Le Behind he law is now equaed in he public mind wih heile I requiremen mandaing elaborae rameworks o school and disric accounabil-iy or suden achievemen in muliple academic subjecs, as measured by conroversialend-o-year ess.Te quesion o wheher and how o reshape he law’s accounabiliy requiremensdominaes curren debae around he reauhorizaion o ESEA, which is already over-due by hal a decade. On he one hand, he accounabiliy debae is exciing because iis inormed o an unprecedened exen by ne-grained daa and sophisicaed analy-ses. Bu on he oher hand, all he conenion surrounding accounabiliy hreaens opreven a number o oher imporan ile I requiremens rom receiving he share o policymakers’ atenion ha hey deserve.Recognizing his danger, he Cener or American Progress and Frederick Hess, direcoro educaion policy sudies or he American Enerprise Insiue, have collaboraed oraise he public prole o a suie o hugely imporan bu oen overlooked ile I provi-sions apar rom hose around accounabiliy or suden achievemen. oward his end we commissioned a se o seven papers rom expers on various aces o ile I. Eachpaper describes a problem and marshals exising knowledge o consruc a number o recommendaions or ederal policymakers. Tis brie deails hose recommendaions we joinly embrace and explains why.By design we chose no o wade ino undamenal quesions abou he ederal role inpublic educaion or he broader conours o a reormed ESEA. Tese opics would no be erile ground or agreemen. Insead, we have chosen o ocus on specic ways oimprove ESEA in he even ha ederal policymakers reauhorize he law relying largely on No Child Le Behind as a oundaion. Admitedly, our join recommendaions and he papers undergirding hem ocus onrequiremens ha are oen regarded as obscure, echnical, or oherwise unglamorous. And while i is cerainly rue ha No Child Le Behind’s accounabiliy sysem ges helion’s share o he atenion, we would argue ha hese seemingly mundane provisionsmay well prove more signican when i comes o wha goes on in America’s schoolsand school sysems day-o-day. Some requiremens are known inormally as “se-asides”
 
2American Enterprise Institute |Reauthorization o the Elementary and Secondary Education Act Oers a New Chance to Improve Education
and ohers as “caps.” Tese requiremens ensure ha minimum or maximum levels,respecively, o agencies’ ile I allocaions serve specic purposes. Fiscal requiremenslie a he hear o compliance regimes ha have grown up wih ESEA wih he nominalpurpose o ensuring ha ile I unds heed congressional inen. We did no ackle every se-aside, cap, or scal requiremen on he books, nor could we say enirely away rom he subjec o accounabiliy. Ye our projec provides anenry poin or a wide range o sakeholders, rom amilies served by ile I o chie sae school ocers o U.S. Deparmen o Educaion ocials. Moreover, our joinrecommendaions, i adoped, would enail momenous shis away rom “sandardoperaing procedure” in elemenary and secondary educaion. We’re cerain here’s alo o chew on here, beginning wih he ollowing jawbreaker.
Supplement, not supplant
Te supplemen-no-supplan, or SNS, requiremen aims o preven school disricsrom using ile I unds o ree up sae and local unds or purchasing goods and ser- vices hey would no oherwise have been able o aord or o provide ax relie. In heirpaper, “How he Supplemen-No-Supplan Requiremen Can Work Agains he Policy Goals o ile I,” atorneys Melissa Junge and Sheara Krvaric—ounders o he FederalEducaion Group, a rm ha helps cliens comply wih ederal regulaions—oerseveral opions or modiying his long-sanding requiremen. We embrace he opionha would make SNS amenable o innovaion while grealy reducing he burden o compliance. Te idea is o replace he primary es currenly in use wih a simpler, moreobjecive es, specically:
•
I disrics can documen ha he manner in which hey allocae sae and localresources o schools is “ile I neural,” hey should be clear o suspicion around sup-planing nonederal unds wih ile I dollars.Te neuraliy es does no arise ou o hin air. I’s rooed, as he auhors explain, in aes originally designed or schoolwide ile I programs. Bu he neuraliy es does rep-resen a major deparure rom he radiional cos-by-cos approach required o reuepresumpions o supplaning.Tis deparure makes sense o us or he ollowing hree reasons:
•
Firs, he cos-by-cos approach is inherenly hosile o innovaion. Each purchase o a good or service made wih ile I unds is mached wih an unobserved, counerac-ual speculaion abou wheher he purchase would have been made in he absence o ile I unds. Tus, he subjecive judgmens o sae audiors play a prominen role inSNS enorcemen, and i’s simply wrong o characerize SNS as a crisp scal require-

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