The Federal Role in Education: Considerations for ESEA Reauthorization

Reading List: ESEA Reauthorization

Administration Proposals

As of March 11, the U.S. Department of Education had not released their proposal for the reauthorization of ESEA. However, the U.S. Department of Education’s 2011 fiscal year budget, speeches made by the administration, and certain news articles foreshadow the main components of the administration’s unreleased proposal. Therefore, we included the resources below to address the potential major issues of the administration’s proposal.

**Duncan, A. (2010 March 3). Building a stronger economy: Spurring reform and innovation in American education [transcript]. Washington, DC: House Committee on Education and Labor. Available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-111hhrg54738/html/CHRG-111hhrg54738.htm

This transcript of testimony Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently gave to the House Committee on Education and Labor focuses on both the administration’s 2011 budget request and the upcoming ESEA reauthorization. According to Secretary Duncan, goals in the reauthorization include improvements in college and career readiness, effective teachers and school leaders, aims to improve STEM education, and additional goals include comprehensive solutions that involve community programs to improve student outcomes. Other topics addressed were college access and completion, and improving outcomes for adult learners and people with disabilities.

U.S. Department of Education. (2010 February 1). Fiscal year 2011 justifications of appropriation estimates to the congress: Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act: overview. AND Fiscal year 2011 budget summary: Section IIIA elementary and secondary education. Washington, DC: Author. Available at http://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/budget11/justifications/a-eseaoverview.pdf

These summaries of the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed budget for ESEA in the 2011 fiscal year provide insight into some of the key principles of the administration’s yet-to-be-released ESEA reauthorization proposal. The proposed budget includes a potential total of $4 billion in new discretionary funding for the administration’s key priorities in the reauthorization, and focuses largely on: a) providing positive incentives and recognition of success, b) graduating every student college- and career-ready, and c) putting more effective teachers and leaders in every school. The summaries also highlight programs receiving funding that correspond to each of these priorities. The overview also diagrams programs that would be consolidated in the administration’s proposal.

Obama, B. (2010 February 22). Remarks by the President and the Vice President to the National Governors Association [transcript]. Washington, DC: The White House Office of the Press Secretary. Available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-and-Vice-President-to-the-National-Governors-Association/

This transcript of the remarks of President Obama and Vice President Biden delivered to the National Governor’s Association focuses on the economic and educational challenges facing the country and how the administration is addressing these issues through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the reauthorization of ESEA. The remarks in this speech that have drawn the most attention focus on President Obama’s plan as part of his reauthorization proposal to require states to adopt college and career-ready standards in reading and math as a condition of receiving access to Title I funds.

Robelen, E.W. (2010 February 26). Obama wants to consolidate curriculum programs. Education Week, 29(23), p. 6. Available at http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2010/03/03/23curriculum_ep.h29.html

This article discusses one aspect of the administration’s new budget plan to consolidate over a dozen discrete programs into three broader more competitive funds (literacy, STEM, and “well-rounded education”). The article summarizes the administration’s argument for consolidating the programs to create flexibility for states and districts and outlines the opposition’s arguments against the consolidation, including that consolidation would reduce funding for certain programs including teaching U.S. history, boosting arts education, and distributing books to children in poverty.

Sawchuk, S. (2010 March 2). Department unveils revamped rules for teacher-pay fund. Education Week, 29(24), pp. 19, 24. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2010/03/02/24tif.h29.html?qs=Department+unveils+revamped+rules+for+teacher-pay+fund

This article describes the U.S. Department of Education’s proposal for a revised Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF). TIF is a federal fund that pays districts and states (or partnerships between districts, state, and non profits) to institute teacher performance-based-pay systems in high poverty schools. The article discusses teacher unions’ previous wariness about the program as well as the administration’s proposed plans for a rigorous program evaluation to evaluate the program.

Outside Recommendations: General

The resources below comprise a variety of differing opinions regarding the reauthorization of ESEA from selected organizations. While this sampling does not encompass all recommendations for ESEA, it offers a sampling of the different voices and topics on this issue.

**Center on Education Policy. (2010 February). Better federal policies leading to better schools. Washington, DC: Author. Available at http://www.cep-dc.org/displayDocument.cfm?DocumentID=181

This brief contains recommendations from the Center on Education Policy for the reauthorization of ESEA. Based on a two-year study of current and past federal policies, the brief outlines five main principles for reshaping the federal role and ten recommendations for reauthorizing ESEA including the adoption of rigorous common standards, a transition from federal requirement for adequate yearly progress to systems for continuous improvement, a movement towards resource equity, and a higher priority on high school reform, among others.

Broader Bolder Approach to Education Campaign. (2010). Washington, DC: Author. Available at http://www.boldapproach.org/20090625-bba-accountability.pdf

The Broader Bolder Approach to Education Campaign, a bipartisan task force of national policy experts convened by the Economic Policy Institute, released two documents regarding the role of federal and state governments in improving education for all students, including:

School accountability: A broader bolder approach discusses ways to improve both federal and state accountability policies. The task force states that accountability systems should be accurate, transparent, comprehensive, goal-driven, and disaggregated. Additionally, the task force recommends expanding and further disaggregating the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) assessment, improving state accountability systems, providing federally approved and supported but state-designed comprehensive school and district inspections, and requiring states to intervene when necessary to improve conditions.

A broader bolder approach to education argues policymakers must adopt an expanded view of education that looks at the student as a whole and encourages relationship-building between education institutions and the community. This document lays out the four priorities: 1) continue to pursue school improvement efforts; 2) increase investment in developmentally appropriate and high-quality early childhood, preschool, and kindergarten education; 3) increase investment in health services; and 4) pay more attention to the time students spend out of school.

Citizen Schools, Citizens’ Commission on Civil Rights, Civic Builders, Colorado Succeeds, Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, & et al. (March 2010). Statement of principles: Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization 2010.[Open letter to President Obama]. Available at http://dfer.org/app/uploads/2010/04/Statement-of-Principles.ESEA-Reauthorization.final_.3.1.10-2.pdf

Fourteen organizations signed this letter to the administration, U.S. Senate, and the U.S. House of Representatives, outlining key recommendations for ESEA reauthorization that focus on accountability, transparency of public information, teachers and school leaders, interventions and incentives, and resource adequacy and equity. For example, the signatories recommend replacing the “highly qualified teacher” designation with a more specific definition that will prevent states from allowing poorly qualified and ineffective teachers to remain in the classroom.

Outside Recommendations: Human Capital

The New Teacher Project. (2010 February). How federal education policy can reverse the widget effect. Brooklyn, NY: Author. Available at http://tntp.org/assets/documents/TNTP_TitleII_Brief.pdf

This policy brief discusses recommendations for reallocating Title II funds—the federal funds that focus on teacher quality—to improve teacher effectiveness and, in turn, student outcomes. This brief, a follow-up to their study on “the widget effect” which focused on current ineffective teacher evaluation systems, recommends rerouting Title II funds from the current high-cost low-impact practice of reducing class sizes, to focus on teacher professional development, and effective teacher evaluations.

National Association of Elementary School Principals. (2010). NAESP’s recommendations for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Alexandria, VA: Author. Available at http://www.naesp.org/resources/1/Advocacy%20Page/ESEA%20recommendations%2010-09_board%20draft.pdf

These recommendations from the National Association of Elementary School Principals focus on ways reauthorization of ESEA can address accountability and leadership and meet the needs of the whole child. Specifically, the brief urges supplementing K-12 education with high quality early-childhood care and afterschool programs, and ensuring that schools hire adequate support personnel. The recommendations also focus on promoting educational equity by addressing the needs of the lowest-performing schools, and providing extra supports for special education students and English language learners. Finally, the document lays out recommendations for improving assessment and data use, and building and supporting effective school principals.

Outside Recommendations: Graduation Rates, Diversity, and Discipline

Civil Rights Project. (2010). Informing the debate: Recent civil rights research and the reauthorization of the ESEA. Los Angeles, CA: Author. Available at http://civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/legal-developments/policy-papers/informing-the-debate-recent-civil-rights-research-and-the-reauthorization-of-the-esea

On February 5, 2010 the Civil Rights Project held a policy briefing in Washington D.C to discussed the reauthorization of ESEA and the implications that findings regarding civil rights in education may have on the pending legislation. The three briefs below were presented during this meeting:

How the ESEA could help end the graduation rate crisis highlights how graduation rates are more problematic with minorities and students living in poverty. The brief lays out eight short recommendations for ESEA to alleviate the problem, such as targeting supports for middle schools that feed into high schools with low graduation rates as well as for the high schools themselves.

Federal education policy should promote diversity describes the growing resegregation problem in metropolitan schools and explains how and why racial isolation is harmful to students and educational settings. The brief also touches on teacher equity distributions and choice provisions as they relate to student and staff diversity. Lastly, the brief provides recommendations for improving diversity in schools, such as increasing federal funding for magnet schools and providing extra incentives for charter schools that voluntarily adopt magnet school diversity goals.

ESEA can ensure that discipline serves an educational mission discusses how focusing on discipline in ESEA can promote a better learning environment. Authors indicate that the increase of suspensions has seen a dramatic increase over the past 35 years for students of color. Zero tolerance policies and loss of instructional time may be contributing to the discipline problem. Additionally, the authors argue that the use of reporting this data is deficient for suspensions and expulsions. Therefore, the brief argues that ESEA should require annual public reporting of data on school discipline.

Forum for Education and Democracy (2008 April). Democracy at Risk: The Need for a New Federal Policy in Education (Executive Summary). Washington D.C.: Author. Not available online.

The article argues that state of education is, in part, due to inconsistent and shortsighted government policy. The article recommends that to turn this around, the federal government, through reauthorization of ESEA should: 1) invest in and create incentives for equitable access to high quality schools; 2) create intensive initiatives to develop high quality teachers; 3) develop a forward-looking agenda for educational research, innovation, and dissemination; and 4) engage and educate local communities so that they can become accountable for their local schools.

Outside Recommendations: Funding

Miller, R.T., & Brown, C.G. (2010 February). Bitter pill, better formula: Toward a single, fair, and equitable formula for ESEA Title I, Part A. Washington, DC: Center for American Progress. Available at http://americanprogress.org/issues/education/report/2010/02/03/7294/bitter-pill-better-formula/

The article describes the current Title I allocation formula and explains why the complicated formula is unfair. The authors highlight major political obstacles to funding Title I more fairly, but recommend that the federal government replace the existing formulas with a new, simpler, more transparent, and fairer formula. Lastly, the authors propose a new formula and explain the rationale behind it.

**This document is considered a priority reading.