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Testimony: 

Before the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary 
Education, Committee on Education and Labor, House of Representatives: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 

GAO: 

For Release on Delivery Expected at 9:30 a.m. EDT: 

Wednesday, April 18, 2007: 

No Child Left Behind Act: 

Education Actions May Help Improve Implementation and Evaluation of 
Supplemental Educational Services: 

Statement of Cornelia M. Ashby, Director: 
Education, Workforce, and Income Security Issues: 

GAO-07-738T: 

GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-07-738T, a report to Subcommittee on Early Childhood, 
Elementary, and Secondary Education, Committee on Education and Labor, 
House of Representatives 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA) requires districts with schools 
that receive Title I funds and that have not met state performance 
goals for 3 consecutive years to offer low-income students supplemental 
educational services (SES), such as tutoring. This testimony discusses 
early implementation of SES, including how (1) SES participation 
changed in recent years; (2) providers work with districts to deliver 
services; (3) states monitor and evaluate SES; and (4) the U.S. 
Department of Education (Education) monitors and supports SES 
implementation. 

This testimony is based on an August 2006 report (GAO-06-758) and also 
provides information on actions Education has taken that respond to our 
recommendations. For the report, GAO surveyed all states and a 
nationally representative sample of districts with schools required to 
offer SES, visited four school districts, and interviewed SES 
providers. 

What GAO Found: 

SES participation increased from 12 to 19 percent between school years 
2003-2004 and 2004-2005. District actions to increase participation 
have included greater efforts to notify parents. However, timely and 
effective notification of parents remains a challenge, as does 
attracting providers to serve certain areas and students, such as rural 
districts and students with disabilities. 

To promote improved student academic achievement and service delivery, 
SES providers took steps to align their curriculum with district 
instruction and communicate with teachers and parents. However, the 
extent of these efforts varied, as some providers did not have any 
contact with teachers in almost 40 percent of districts or with parents 
in about 30 percent of districts. Both providers and district officials 
experienced challenges related to contracting and coordination of 
service delivery. In part because SES is often delivered in school 
facilities, providers and district and school officials reported that 
greater involvement of schools can improve SES delivery. 

While statesí monitoring of district and provider efforts to implement 
SES had been limited in past years, more states reported conducting on-
site reviews and other monitoring activities during 2005-2006. 
Districts also increased their oversight role. However, many states 
continue to struggle with how to evaluate whether SES providers are 
improving student achievement. While a few states have completed 
evaluations, none provides a conclusive assessment of SES providersí 
effect on student academic achievement. 

Education conducts SES monitoring in part through policy oversight and 
compliance reviews of states and districts, and provides SES support 
through written guidance, grants, and technical assistance. Education 
monitoring found uneven implementation and compliance with SES 
provisions, and states and districts reported needing SES policy 
clarification and assistance in certain areas, such as evaluating SES. 
Many states also voiced interest in Educationís pilot programs that 
increase SES flexibility, including the recently expanded pilot 
allowing certain districts identified as in need of improvement to act 
as providers. Since GAOís report was published, Education has taken 
several actions to help improve SES implementation and monitoring, such 
as disseminating promising practices and guidance, and meeting with 
states, districts, and providers. 

What GAO Recommends: 

The GAO report recommended that Education clarify guidance and provide 
information on promising practices, consider expanding flexibility and 
clarifying state authority, and collect information on district SES 
expenditures and provide evaluation assistance. Education generally 
supported GAOís recommendations. 

[Hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-07-738T]. 

To view the full product including the scope and methodology, click on 
the link above. For more information, contact Cornelia Ashby at 
(202)512-7215 or ashbyc@gao.gov. 

[End of section] 

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee: 

I am pleased to be here today to present information from our August 
2006 report on early implementation of the supplemental educational 
services (SES) provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act 
(NCLBA).[Footnote 1] While our September testimony before the full 
committee provided an overview of that report,[Footnote 2] at your 
request, today I will expand on SES access and delivery; state and 
federal oversight of SES implementation and quality; and recent U.S. 
Department of Education (Education) actions to improve SES 
implementation. 

In school year 2006-2007, Title I of NCLBA--the most recent 
reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)-- 
provided $12.7 billion in federal funds to more than 50,000 public 
schools nationwide in order to improve the education of low-income 
students. When a school receiving Title I funds does not meet state 
performance goals designated under NCLBA for 2 years, the district must 
offer students the choice of transferring to another school in the 
district that is not in improvement status. When a school receiving 
Title I funds does not meet state NCLBA performance goals for 3 or more 
years, the district must offer SES to all of the low-income students 
enrolled in the school. SES includes tutoring and remediation that are 
provided outside of the regular school day by a state-approved 
provider, such as a for-profit company or a community-based 
organization. Districts with schools required to offer school choice 
and SES must set aside an amount equal to 20 percent of their Title I 
funds to provide choice-related transportation and SES for eligible 
students in these schools. 

While states set NCLBA performance goals and schools are judged on the 
performance of their students, responsibility for SES implementation is 
primarily shared by states and school districts. Specifically, states 
are responsible for reviewing provider applications to assess each 
provider's record of effectiveness and program design and approving, 
monitoring, and evaluating providers. Districts are responsible for 
notifying parents of their child's eligibility for SES and contracting 
with the state-approved providers that parents select for services. 

Although some districts were first required to offer SES in school year 
2002-2003, others did not have to offer SES until 2003-2004 or after, 
and therefore, states and districts are at different stages of 
implementing the SES provisions. My testimony today will focus on early 
implementation of SES. Specifically, I will discuss (1) how the 
proportion of eligible students receiving services has changed in 
recent years and actions that have been taken to increase 
participation; (2) how providers are working with districts and schools 
to provide services that increase student achievement; (3) the extent 
to which states and districts are monitoring and evaluating SES; and 
(4) how Education monitors state SES implementation and assists state 
and district efforts. 

In summary, the SES participation rate increased from 12 to 19 percent 
of eligible students between school years 2003-2004 and 2004-2005. 
While districts have provided written information notifying parents of 
SES and taken other actions to encourage participation, challenges 
remain, such as notifying parents in a timely and effective manner. 
Regarding local SES implementation, while providers took steps to align 
their curriculum with district instruction and communicate with 
teachers and parents to promote improved student academic achievement, 
both providers and districts experienced contracting and coordination 
difficulties. In part because SES is often delivered in school 
facilities, providers as well as district and school officials reported 
that involvement of school administrators and teachers can improve SES 
delivery and coordination. Further, while state monitoring of SES had 
been limited, at the time of our review, more states reported taking or 
planning to take steps to monitor district and provider efforts to 
implement SES in school year 2005-2006 than had done so in 2004-2005. 
However, monitoring continues to be a challenge, and states also 
continue to struggle to develop meaningful evaluations of SES 
providers. Regarding federal oversight of SES implementation, although 
several Education offices monitor various aspects of SES activity 
across the country and provide support, states and districts reported 
needing additional assistance and flexibility with program 
implementation. 

Our August report made several recommendations to Education to help 
states and districts implement SES more effectively and use SES funding 
to provide services to the maximum number of students and to improve 
federal and state monitoring of SES. Education expressed appreciation 
for the report's recommendations and has made significant progress 
toward addressing some of them. 

Our prior report was based on a Web-based survey of SES coordinators in 
all 50 states, the District of Columbia (D.C.), and Puerto Rico, and a 
mail survey of SES coordinators in a nationally representative sample 
of districts with schools required to offer SES. Our district survey 
sample included all 21 districts required to offer SES with 100,000 or 
more total enrolled students. Seventy-seven percent of district SES 
coordinators, including all coordinators from districts with 100,000 or 
more enrolled students, and all state SES coordinators responded to the 
surveys. In addition, we conducted site visits to one school district 
in each of four states (Woodburn, Ore; Newark, N.J; Chicago, Ill; and 
Hamilton County, Tenn.) during which we interviewed state, district, 
and school officials. We also conducted interviews with 22 SES 
providers in our site visit districts and others. In addition, we spoke 
with staff at Education involved in SES oversight and implementation 
and reviewed Education's data on SES. In our surveys and other data 
collection efforts, we asked questions about SES implementation during 
specific school years; therefore, all years cited refer to school 
years. We conducted the review in accordance with generally accepted 
government auditing standards. 

Background: 

Enactment of NCLBA strengthened accountability by requiring states and 
schools to improve the academic performance of their students so that 
all students are proficient in reading and math by 2014. Under NCLBA, 
each state creates its own content standards, academic achievement 
tests, and proficiency levels, and establishes and implements adequate 
yearly progress (AYP) goals for districts and schools. Students in 
specified grades are tested annually to determine whether districts and 
schools are making AYP. 

Title I[Footnote 3] authorizes federal funds to help elementary and 
secondary schools establish and maintain programs that will improve the 
educational opportunities of economically disadvantaged children. Under 
NCLBA, districts are required to implement specific interventions in 
schools receiving federal Title I funds when they do not meet state AYP 
goals (see table 1). Students from low-income families who attend 
schools receiving Title I funds that have missed AYP goals for 3 
consecutive years are eligible for SES. Because some schools receiving 
Title I funds had not met state goals set under ESEA before the 
enactment of NCLBA, these schools were first required to offer SES in 
2002-2003, the first year of NCLBA implementation. 

Table 1: NCLBA Interventions for Schools Not Meeting Yearly Performance 
Goals over Time: 

Number of years school misses performance goals: First year missed; 
School status in the next year: N/A; NCLBA interventions for Title I 
schools: None. 

Number of years school misses performance goals: Second year missed; 
School status in the next year: Needs Improvement - First Year; 
NCLBA interventions for Title I schools: Required to offer school 
choice. 

Number of years school misses performance goals: Third year missed; 
School status in the next year: Needs Improvement - Second Year; 
NCLBA interventions for Title I schools: Required to offer school 
choice and SES[A]. 

Number of years school misses performance goals: Fourth year missed; 
School status in the next year: Corrective Action[B]; 
NCLBA interventions for Title I schools: Also required to offer school 
choice and SES[A]. 

Number of years school misses performance goals: Fifth year missed; 
School status in the next year: Planning for Restructuring[C]; 
NCLBA interventions for Title I schools: Also required to offer school 
choice and SES[A]. 

Number of years school misses performance goals: Sixth year missed; 
School status in the next year: Implementation of Restructuring; 
NCLBA interventions for Title I schools: Also required to offer school 
choice and SES. 

Source: GAO analysis of NCLBA. 

Note: N/A = not applicable. 

[A] Students who opt to transfer to another school in the district that 
is not in improvement status are not eligible to receive SES, as they 
are no longer in a school required to offer these services to its 
students. 

[B] Corrective action is a significant intervention in a school that is 
designed to remedy the school's persistent inability to make adequate 
progress toward all students becoming proficient in reading and 
mathematics. 

[C] Restructuring is a major reorganization of a school, involving 
fundamental reforms, such as significant changes in the school's 
staffing and governance. For example, some schools may be converted to 
charter schools during restructuring. 

[End of table] 

Under NCLBA, SES primarily include tutoring provided outside of the 
regular school day that is designed to increase the academic 
achievement of economically disadvantaged students in low-performing 
Title I schools. These services must consist of high-quality, research- 
based instruction that aligns with state educational standards and 
district curriculum. SES providers may include nonprofit entities, for- 
profit entities, school districts, public schools, public charter 
schools, private schools, public or private institutions of higher 
education, educational service agencies, and faith-based organizations. 
However, a district classified as needing improvement or in corrective 
action because it failed to meet state AYP goals for several years may 
not be an SES provider, though its schools that are not identified as 
needing improvement may provide services. In addition, individual 
teachers who work in a school or district identified as in need of 
improvement may be hired by any state-approved provider to serve as a 
tutor in its program. 

A district must set aside an amount equal to 20 percent of its Title I 
allocation to fund both SES and transportation for students who elect 
to attend other schools under school choice. After ensuring all 
eligible students have had adequate time to opt to transfer to another 
school or apply for SES, the district may reallocate any unused set- 
aside funds to other Title I activities. For each student receiving 
SES, a district must spend an amount equal to its Title I per-pupil 
allocation or the actual cost of provider services, whichever is 
less.[Footnote 4] 

Education oversees SES implementation by monitoring states and 
providing technical assistance and support. NCLBA, the Title I 
regulations, and SES guidance outline the roles and responsibilities 
states, school districts, service providers, and parents have in 
ensuring that eligible students receive additional academic assistance 
through SES (see table 2). 

Table 2: SES Stakeholder Roles and Responsibilities: 

Stakeholder: State; 
Roles and responsibilities: Set criteria and standards for approving 
providers; Identify, approve, and maintain public list of providers; 
Ensure that the list of approved providers includes organizations that 
are able to serve students with disabilities and limited English 
proficiency; Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of provider 
services; Monitor district SES implementation; Develop and use policy 
criteria for withdrawing providers from state-approved list, including 
if; 
* provider fails for 2 consecutive years to increase student 
proficiency relative to state academic content and achievement 
standards; 
* provider fails to adhere to applicable health, safety, and civil 
rights requirements. 

Stakeholder: School district; 
Roles and responsibilities: Provide an annual notice to parents, which 
must identify available providers; describe the enrollment process and 
timeline; describe the services, qualifications, and demonstrated 
effectiveness of each provider; and be easily understandable; Help 
parents choose a provider, if requested; Protect the privacy of 
students eligible for and receiving services; Calculate and establish 
the SES per pupil allocation if not determined by the state; Determine 
which students should receive services if more students apply for SES 
than can be served with available funds; Enter into contracts with 
providers; Ensure eligible students with disabilities and eligible 
students with limited English proficiency may participate in SES; At 
the discretion of the state, may be involved in collecting data from 
providers to assist state monitoring and evaluation activities. 

Stakeholder: Providers; 
Roles and responsibilities: Provide services in accordance with 
district agreements; Enable students to attain their individual 
achievement goals; Measure student progress and inform parents and 
teachers of progress made by students; Ensure non- disclosure of 
student data to the public; Provide services consistent with applicable 
health, safety, and civil rights laws; Provide services that are 
secular, neutral, and non-ideological. 

Stakeholder: Parents; 
Roles and responsibilities: Choose a provider from the state-approved 
list; Are encouraged to be actively involved in their child's SES 
program. 

Source: GAO, per P.L.107-110, 34 C.F.R. Part 200, or the U.S. 
Department of Education, Supplemental Educational Services Non- 
Regulatory Guidance, June 2005. 

[End of table] 

SES Participation Has Increased as Districts Have Taken Actions to Ease 
Access, but Challenges Remain: 

Nationally, the SES participation rate increased substantially from 12 
percent of eligible students receiving SES in 2003-2004 to 19 percent 
in 2004-2005. In addition, the number of students receiving services 
almost quadrupled between 2002-2003 and 2004-2005 from approximately 
117,000 to 430,000 students nationwide, based on the best available 
national data at the time of our work.[Footnote 5] This increase may be 
due in part to the increase in the number of schools required to offer 
SES over that time period. 

While approximately 1,000 of the over 14,000 districts nationwide were 
required to offer SES in 2004-2005, SES recipients were concentrated in 
a small group of large districts--56 percent of recipients attended 
school in the 21 districts required to offer SES with more than 100,000 
total enrolled students (see fig. 1). Further, about 20 percent of the 
districts required to offer SES in 2004-2005 had no students receiving 
services. A majority of these districts were rural or had a total 
enrollment of fewer than 2,500 students. 

Figure 1: School Districts Required to Offer SES in 2004-2005: 

[See PDF for image] 

Source: GAO> 

[End of figure] 

Many students receiving SES in 2004-2005 shared certain 
characteristics. For example, districts reported that most students 
receiving services were among the lower-achieving students in school. 
Further, over half of SES recipients were elementary school students in 
the majority of districts, and about 60 percent of schools required to 
offer SES in 2004-2005 were elementary schools.[Footnote 6] In some 
districts, the majority of SES recipients were African-American or 
Hispanic. In about 40 percent of districts, over half of SES recipients 
were African-American, and in about 30 percent of districts, over half 
of SES recipients were Hispanic. However, districts varied in the 
percentage of students with limited English proficiency receiving 
services, and students with disabilities made up less than 20 percent 
of students receiving services in about two-thirds of districts. 

In order to increase SES participation, districts have taken multiple 
actions. For example, in line with the federal statutory requirement 
that districts notify parents in an understandable format of the 
availability of SES, over 90 percent of districts provided written 
information in English, held individual meetings and/or phone 
conversations with parents, and encouraged school staff to talk with 
parents about SES. See table 3 for a list of district actions taken to 
encourage participation. 

Table 3: District Actions Taken to Encourage SES Participation (2005- 
2006): 

Action taken during the 2005-2006 school year: Provided written 
information in English to parents; 
Estimated percentage of districts: 99. 

Action taken during the 2005-2006 school year: Held individual meetings 
and/or phone conversations with interested parents; 
Estimated percentage of districts: 95. 

Action taken during the 2005-2006 school year: Encouraged principals, 
teachers, or other school staff to talk with parents; 
Estimated percentage of districts: 93. 

Action taken during the 2005-2006 school year: Offered supplemental 
services in locations that are easily accessible to students after 
school (e.g., on or near the school campus); 
Estimated percentage of districts: 90. 

Action taken during the 2005-2006 school year: Offered SES at a variety 
of times (e.g., after school, weekends, summer break); 
Estimated percentage of districts: 79. 

Action taken during the 2005-2006 school year: Lengthened the period of 
time parents have to submit applications for SES; 
Estimated percentage of districts: 79. 

Action taken during the 2005-2006 school year: Held events where 
parents of eligible students can learn about providers; 
Estimated percentage of districts: 78. 

Action taken during the 2005-2006 school year: Provided written 
information in language(s) other than English about SES to parents; 
Estimated percentage of districts: 72. 

Action taken during the 2005-2006 school year: Made public 
announcements (e.g., television, billboards, newspaper ads, school 
newsletters); 
Estimated percentage of districts: 67. 

Action taken during the 2005-2006 school year: Worked with a local 
community partner to raise awareness of SES (e.g., Parent Information 
Resource Center); 
Estimated percentage of districts: 39. 

Action taken during the 2005-2006 school year: Provided or arranged for 
transportation of students receiving SES to off-site providers; 
Estimated percentage of districts: 33. 

Source: GAO analysis of district survey results. 

[End of table] 

Despite these promising approaches to encourage participation, 
notifying parents in a timely manner remains a challenge for some 
districts. An estimated 58 percent of districts did not notify parents 
that their children may be eligible to receive SES before the beginning 
of the 2005-2006 school year, which may be due in part to delays in 
states reporting which schools were identified for 
improvement.[Footnote 7] Effectively notifying parents is also a 
challenge for some districts. For example, officials in all four 
districts we visited reported difficulties contacting parents to inform 
them about SES in part because some families frequently move and do not 
always update their mailing addresses with districts. In addition, some 
providers we interviewed indicated that parental notification letters 
are confusing and poorly written or not accompanied by additional 
outreach. 

Another challenge to increasing SES participation is attracting more 
SES providers for certain areas and groups of students. Specifically, 
some rural districts surveyed indicated that no students received 
services last year because of a lack of providers in the area.[Footnote 
8] Ensuring there are providers to serve students with limited English 
proficiency or disabilities has also been a challenge for some 
districts. We estimate that there were not enough providers to meet the 
needs of students with limited English proficiency in one-third of 
districts and not enough providers to meet the needs of students with 
disabilities in one-quarter of districts. 

Providers Have Taken Steps to Deliver Quality Services, but Local 
Implementation Challenges Include Contracting and Coordination: 

To promote improved student academic achievement and service delivery, 
providers took steps to gather information on district curriculum and 
student needs. Specifically, providers aligned their curriculum with 
district instruction primarily by hiring district teachers and 
communicating with the teachers of participating students. However, 
when providers did not hire district teachers, the frequency of contact 
between tutors and teachers varied, and we estimate that some providers 
did not contact teachers in almost 40 percent of districts in 2004- 
2005. Regarding communication with parents, providers reported mailing 
information as well as meeting with parents over the phone and in- 
person to communicate information on student needs and progress; 
however, the frequency of communication with parents also varied. 
Specifically, we estimate that some providers did not contact parents 
in about 30 percent of districts in 2004-2005. Despite these 
communication challenges, an estimated 90 percent of districts 
indicated that their working relationships with providers during 2004- 
2005 were good, very good, or excellent. In addition, many of the 
providers we interviewed during our site visits also reported having 
positive working relationships with district officials. 

While providers have taken some steps to deliver quality services and 
establish positive relationships with districts, both providers and 
districts experienced contracting and coordination difficulties. 
Regarding contracting, some of the providers we interviewed said 
certain districts imposed burdensome contract requirements, limited the 
marketing they could do to parents and students, or restricted the use 
of school facilities. Districts also reported that contracting is a 
challenge. We estimate that negotiating contracts with providers was a 
moderate, great, or very great challenge in about 40 percent of 
districts nationwide. For example, district officials at three of the 
sites we visited expressed concern about their lack of authority to set 
parameters in provider contracts around costs and program design, such 
as tutor-to-student ratios and total hours of instruction. 
Specifically, Chicago, Ill., district officials expressed concern about 
the variation among providers in the hours of instruction and cost of 
services because the district does not have sufficient funds to serve 
all eligible students, and officials would like to maximize the number 
of students they can serve. 

Coordination of service delivery has also been a challenge for 
providers and districts, and sometimes these coordination difficulties 
have resulted in service delays. For example, services were delayed or 
withdrawn in certain schools in three of the districts we visited 
because not enough students signed up to meet the providers' enrollment 
targets and districts were not aware of these targets.[Footnote 9] 
Coordination difficulties also occurred during the enrollment process. 
Though districts are responsible for arranging SES for eligible 
students, in two districts we visited, both the district and providers 
sent enrollment forms to parents, which caused confusion among parents 
as well as additional work for the district staff processing the forms. 

In part because SES is often delivered in school facilities, providers 
and officials in the districts and schools we visited reported that 
involvement of school administrators and teachers can improve SES 
delivery and coordination. Although schools do not have federally 
defined responsibilities for administering SES, many officials said SES 
implementation is hindered when school officials are not involved. For 
example, some providers we interviewed said that a lack of involvement 
of school principals can make it difficult for them to coordinate with 
schools to encourage student participation. In addition, Illinois and 
Oregon school principals told us they found it difficult to manage 
afterschool activities because they didn't have sufficient authority to 
oversee SES tutors operating in their buildings at that time. While 
helping to administer the SES program adds additional administrative 
burden on schools, school officials in all four of the districts we 
visited said they welcomed a stronger or more clearly defined role. 

State and District SES Monitoring Is Increasing Though It Remains a 
Challenge, and Many States Continue to Struggle with Developing 
Evaluations: 

While monitoring of SES had been limited, more states reported taking 
steps to monitor both district and provider efforts to implement SES in 
2005-2006. For example, more states conducted or planned to conduct on- 
site reviews of districts and providers in 2005-2006 than had done so 
in 2004-2005. In addition to state efforts to monitor providers, 
districts have also taken a direct oversight role, and their monitoring 
activities similarly increased during this time. For example, while we 
estimate that less than half of districts collected information from 
parents, school staff, on-site reviews, and students to monitor 
providers in 2004-2005, 70 percent or more were collecting or planning 
to collect information from these sources in 2005-2006. 

States and districts both collected information on several aspects of 
SES programs, such as elements related to service delivery and use of 
funds, to monitor providers (see table 4). For example, 94 percent of 
states monitored or planned to monitor parent or student satisfaction 
with providers, and 93 percent of districts monitored or planned to 
monitor billing and payment for services and student attendance 
records. District assistance with monitoring is likely welcomed by 
states, as over two-thirds of states reported that on-site monitoring 
of providers has been a challenge. During our site visits, officials 
explained that both state and district capacity to implement SES is 
limited, because there is typically one staff person at each level 
coordinating all aspects of SES implementation, and sometimes that 
person may also oversee implementation of additional federal education 
programs. 

Table 4: Percentage of States and Districts That Reviewed Specified 
Program Elements to Monitor Providers in 2005-2006: 

Program element: Parent/student satisfaction with a provider; 
Percentage of states: Monitored: 27; 
Percentage of states: Planned to monitor: 67; 
Percentage of states: Monitored or planned to monitor: 94; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Monitored: 34; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Planned to monitor: 57; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Monitored or planned to monitor: 91. 

Program element: Provider communication with teachers and parents; 
Percentage of states: Monitored: 37; 
Percentage of states: Planned to monitor: 56; 
Percentage of states: Monitored or planned to monitor: 92; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Monitored: 46; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Planned to monitor: 43; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Monitored or planned to monitor: 89. 

Program element: Extent to which a provider's program, as enacted, 
reflects its program design, as outlined in its application to the 
state; 
Percentage of states: Monitored: 19; 
Percentage of states: Planned to monitor: 73; 
Percentage of states: Monitored or planned to monitor: 92; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Monitored: 30; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Planned to monitor: 41; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Monitored or planned to monitor: 70. 

Program element: Evidence of meeting academic achievement goals as 
stated on student learning plan; 
Percentage of states: Monitored: 23; 
Percentage of states: Planned to monitor: 65; 
Percentage of states: Monitored or planned to monitor: 88; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Monitored: 28; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Planned to monitor: 60; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Monitored or planned to monitor: 88. 

Program element: Evidence of improved student achievement based on any 
statewide assessment; 
Percentage of states: Monitored: 15; 
Percentage of states: Planned to monitor: 71; 
Percentage of states: Monitored or planned to monitor: 87; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Monitored: 26; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Planned to monitor: 65; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Monitored or planned to monitor: 91. 

Program element: Alignment of provider curriculum with district/school 
curriculum or instruction; 
Percentage of states: Monitored: 25; 
Percentage of states: Planned to monitor: 62; 
Percentage of states: Monitored or planned to monitor: 87; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Monitored: 35; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Planned to monitor: 39; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Monitored or planned to monitor: 74. 

Program element: Student attendance records; 
Percentage of states: Monitored: 27; 
Percentage of states: Planned to monitor: 56; 
Percentage of states: Monitored or planned to monitor: 83; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Monitored: 67; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Planned to monitor: 25; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Monitored or planned to monitor: 93. 

Program element: Evidence of improved student achievement based on 
provider assessments; 
Percentage of states: Monitored: 27; 
Percentage of states: Planned to monitor: 56; 
Percentage of states: Monitored or planned to monitor: 83; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Monitored: 39; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Planned to monitor: 52; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Monitored or planned to monitor: 91. 

Program element: Protection of student privacy; 
Percentage of states: Monitored: 33; 
Percentage of states: Planned to monitor: 50; 
Percentage of states: Monitored or planned to monitor: 83; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Monitored: 55; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Planned to monitor: 28; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Monitored or planned to monitor: 82. 

Program element: Adherence to applicable health, safety, and civil 
rights laws; Percentage of states: Monitored: 29; Percentage of states: 
Planned to monitor: 48; Percentage of states: Monitored or planned to 
monitor: 77; [Empty]; Estimated percentage of districts: Monitored: 48; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Planned to monitor: 26; Estimated 
percentage of districts: Monitored or planned to monitor: 74. 

Program element: Provider financial stability (e.g., audits, financial 
statements); 
Percentage of states: Monitored: 31; 
Percentage of states: Planned to monitor: 42; 
Percentage of states: Monitored or planned to monitor: 73;
Estimated percentage of districts: Monitored: N/ A; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Planned to monitor: N/A; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Monitored or planned to monitor: N/ 
A. 

Program element: Evidence of improved student achievement based on 
grades, promotion, and/or graduation; 
Percentage of states: Monitored: 12; 
Percentage of states: Planned to monitor: 58; 
Percentage of states: Monitored or planned to monitor: 69; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Monitored: 23; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Planned to monitor: 57; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Monitored or planned to monitor: 80. 

Program element: Billing and payment for services; 
Percentage of states: Monitored: N/A; 
Percentage of states: Planned to monitor: N/A; 
Percentage of states: Monitored or planned to monitor: N/A; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Monitored: 72; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Planned to monitor: 21; 
Estimated percentage of districts: Monitored or planned to monitor: 93. 

Source: GAO. 

Note: The percentage of states that did not review or plan to review 
these program elements to monitor providers in 2005-2006 and the 
percentage of states that did not answer these survey questions are not 
shown in this table. In addition, we did not ask states if they 
monitored billing and payment for services, and we did not ask 
districts if they monitored provider financial stability. 

[End of table] 

Although states are beginning to increase monitoring of SES 
implementation, many continue to struggle with developing evaluations 
to determine whether SES providers are improving student achievement. 
Specifically, over three-fourths of states reported that determining 
sufficient academic progress of students, having the time and knowledge 
to analyze SES data, and developing data systems to track SES 
information have been challenges to evaluating SES providers. Although 
states are required to withdraw approval from providers that fail to 
increase student academic achievement for 2 years, at the time of our 
survey in early 2006, only New Mexico and Tennessee had drafted or 
completed evaluation reports assessing how all SES providers serving 
students in their states impacted student academic 
achievement.[Footnote 10] However, because of the limitations of these 
two evaluations, neither provided a conclusive assessment of SES 
providers' effect on student academic achievement. 

Likely because of states' struggle to complete SES evaluations, states 
did not report that they had withdrawn approval from providers because 
their programs were determined to be ineffective at increasing student 
academic achievement.[Footnote 11] Rather, although over 40 percent of 
states reported that they had withdrawn approval from some providers, 
they most frequently reported withdrawing provider approval because the 
provider was a school or district that had entered needs improvement 
status, the provider asked to be removed from the state-approved 
provider list, or because of provider financial impropriety. 

Several Education Offices Oversee SES Implementation, but States and 
Districts Reported Needing Additional Assistance and Flexibility: 

Several offices within Education monitor various aspects of SES 
activity across the country and provide support, but states and 
districts reported needing additional assistance and flexibility with 
SES implementation. Education conducts SES monitoring in part through 
reviews of policy issues brought to the department's attention and 
structured compliance reviews of states and districts, and provides SES 
support through guidance, grants, research, and technical assistance. 
The Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII) and the Office of 
Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) are primarily responsible for 
monitoring and supporting SES implementation, while the Office of 
Inspector General (OIG), Policy Program and Studies Service, and Faith- 
Based and Community Initiatives also contribute to these efforts (see 
fig. 2). 

Figure 2: U.S. Department of Education Offices Monitoring and 
Supporting SES: 

[See PDF for image] 

Source: GAO analysis. 

Note: This figure reflects the coordination of Education's offices 
rather than the statutory reporting relationships. 

[End of figure] 

Specifically, OII leads SES policy development and provides strategic 
direction, and its staff also primarily monitor SES policy issues 
through "desk monitoring," which involves review of SES-related 
research and media reports. In addition to these activities, OII also 
conducts more intensive monitoring of specific SES implementation 
challenges when states, districts, and providers bring them to 
Education's attention. Regarding other support for SES implementation, 
OII has provided SES implementation assistance in part through 
presentations at conferences and grants to external organizations. For 
example, OII funded the Supplemental Educational Services Quality 
Center (SESQC), which provided technical assistance to states and 
districts until its grant period ended in December 2005. OII is also 
responsible for coordinating the publication of the non-regulatory SES 
guidance. Since 2002, OII has coordinated four versions of this 
guidance, each updated to address ongoing challenges with SES 
implementation. 

OESE, which oversees and supports NCLBA implementation, is involved in 
monitoring SES implementation through its overall monitoring of state 
compliance with Title I and NCLBA. To monitor Title I, OESE staff visit 
state departments of education and selected districts within each state 
to interview officials and review relevant documents. Following these 
visits, OESE issues reports to each state outlining any instances of 
Title I noncompliance, including those related to SES, and actions 
needed to comply with regulations. OESE also monitors SES through its 
oversight of the collection of state NCLBA data, including data on SES, 
in the annual Consolidated State Performance Report (CSPR). To support 
SES implementation, OESE funded the Comprehensive Centers Program 
through grants that established technical assistance centers across the 
country to help low-performing schools and districts close achievement 
gaps and meet the goals of NCLBA. Of these, the Center on Innovation 
and Improvement provides support to states and districts on SES and 
other Education programs. 

Through its SES monitoring efforts, Education has found that 
implementation of the SES provisions has been uneven throughout the 
country. Consequently, in May 2006, the department issued a policy 
letter announcing plans to take significant enforcement actions, such 
as withholding federal funds, placing conditions on Title I grants, or 
entering into compliance agreements with states. Related to this, an 
Education official reported that the department placed conditions on 
California's Title I grant because of compliance issues with SES and 
school choice implementation. In addition, to gather more information 
that will allow the department to take future enforcement actions, the 
department revised its Title I monitoring protocols and added 
additional monitoring related to SES and school choice. Beginning in 
the spring of 2007, the department is conducting additional Title I 
monitoring visits to states and districts targeted at assessing SES and 
school choice implementation efforts. Seven states were selected for 
the targeted monitoring based on Education's previous monitoring 
findings and high percentages of schools in need of improvement. In 
addition to the seven selected states, beginning this year, all states 
that Education visits as part of its regular Title I monitoring cycle 
will receive additional SES-and school choice-specific monitoring. 
Specifically, the department plans to visit additional districts in 
each state and interview SES providers to obtain greater detail on SES 
and school choice implementation. 

While Education's policy letter and monitoring actions reflect the 
department's concern that SES implementation has been uneven throughout 
the country, many states and districts reported needing clearer 
guidance or additional assistance with certain SES provisions to 
improve implementation. Specifically, 85 percent of states and an 
estimated 70 percent of districts needed additional assistance with 
methods for evaluating SES, and over 60 percent of both groups also 
needed assistance with developing data systems. Many districts also 
needed more information on provider quality and effectiveness. Although 
OESE and OIG monitoring results have also continually indicated that 
states and districts struggle with SES evaluation, at the time of our 
report, Education had not yet provided comprehensive assistance in this 
area, and during our site visits, officials mentioned that they have 
been relying on other states, organizations, or individuals for 
evaluation assistance. 

In addition, several states commented through our survey that they also 
needed additional guidance on managing costs and fees, implementing SES 
in rural areas, and handling provider complaints. During three of our 
site visits, officials also expressed some concern about the lack of 
clarity in the SES guidance with regard to student eligibility 
requirements and how to craft a parental SES notification letter that 
is both complete and easy for parents to understand. Specifically, 
though Education's monitoring reports have found many states and 
districts to be non-compliant with the federal requirement that 
district SES parental notification letters include several specific 
elements,[Footnote 12] Education's SES guidance provides a sample that 
does not clearly specify all of the key elements required by SES law 
and regulations. Furthermore, a few state and district officials 
commented that, when followed, the SES regulations yield a letter that 
is unreasonably long and complex. 

Many states and districts expressed interest in the flexibility offered 
through two pilot programs that Education implemented during 2005-2006. 
The department designed these pilots to increase the number of eligible 
students receiving SES and to generate additional information about the 
effect of SES on student academic achievement. For example, several 
state and district SES coordinators expressed interest in Education's 
pilot program that allowed two districts in needs improvement status to 
act as SES providers. As a condition of the pilot, these districts 
agreed to expand student access to SES and collect achievement data to 
determine SES program effectiveness. The other SES pilot allowed four 
districts in Virginia to offer SES instead of school choice in schools 
that have missed state performance goals for 2 years and are in their 
first year of needs improvement. During our site visits and through our 
surveys, many states and districts expressed interest in adjusting the 
order of the SES and school choice interventions (see table 5). In line 
with interest in increased flexibility with the order of these 
interventions, Education announced in May 2006 that it was expanding 
this pilot for 2006-2007. 

Table 5: State and District Opinion on the Ordering of School Choice 
and SES: 

In percent: Order of school choice and SES: SES should precede school 
choice; 
States: 48; 
District: 62. 

In percent: Order of school choice and SES: Both school choice and SES 
should be offered at the same time; 
States: 27; 
District: 15. 

In percent: Order of school choice and SES: School choice should 
precede SES; 
States: 15; 
District: 23. 

Source: GAO. 

Note: 10 percent of states did not respond or were not sure. In 
addition, district percentages are estimates. 

[End of table] 

Prior Recommendations: 

Our August report recommended that Education clarify guidance and 
provide additional assistance to states and districts to help them 
comply with the federal requirements for parental notification letters 
and ensure that letters are easy for parents to understand, collect and 
disseminate information on promising practices used by districts to 
attract providers for certain areas and groups, and collaborate with 
school officials to coordinate local SES implementation. In addition, 
we recommended that Education consider expanding its current SES pilot 
program allowing selected districts in need of improvement to serve as 
providers and clarify state authority to set parameters around service 
design and costs. Finally, we also recommended that Education require 
states to collect and submit information on the amount spent by 
districts to provide SES and the percentage of districts' Title I funds 
that this amount represents and provide states with technical 
assistance and additional guidance on how to evaluate the effect of SES 
on student academic achievement. 

In written comments on the report, Education expressed appreciation for 
our recommendations, and the department has since made significant 
progress toward addressing some of them. Specifically, Education has 
taken a variety of steps that address our recommendations focused on 
increased dissemination of promising practices related to parental 
notification, attracting providers for certain areas and student 
groups, and improved local coordination. For example, between November 
2006 and March 2007, Education staff conducted an outreach tour focused 
on school choice and SES during which they met with state and district 
officials, providers, and parents in 14 large school districts around 
the country. Education staff met with these groups in each district, 
and participants discussed issues including parental outreach, parental 
notification, serving special student populations, and local 
coordination. The department plans to disseminate information collected 
through the outreach tour by publishing a handbook that shares 
strategies on informing parents and implementing SES and school choice. 
In addition, officials indicated that they plan to convene a national 
meeting during the summer of 2007 to share the handbook with state and 
district SES and school choice coordinators and discuss effective 
implementation. In addition to the tour, Education directed the Center 
on Innovation and Improvement to focus on providing assistance related 
to parental outreach during school year 2006-2007. Consequently, in the 
fall of 2006, the center began providing examples of related materials, 
such as documents that states and districts have used to notify parents 
of services, through its Web site. The center also plans to provide 
assistance and guidance on parental outreach to four states that 
requested assistance starting before the end of the current school year 
and continuing into school year 2007-2008. 

Education has also taken some actions that address our recommendations 
targeted at improving state and district use of SES funding to provide 
services to the maximum number of students. Specifically, the 
department extended and expanded its pilot program to allow four 
districts in need of improvement to serve as SES providers for the 2006-
2007 school year. As we noted in our report, allowing districts to act 
as providers may ease student access to SES for rural districts that do 
not have providers located nearby and allow more students to 
participate in SES because district costs to provide services are 
sometimes lower than other providers' costs. While we suggested in our 
other recommendation that Education could clarify how states can set 
parameters around provider program design and costs by providing 
written guidance on these issues, according to department officials, 
Education has instead addressed state questions on these issues on a 
case-by-case basis. 

Concerning our recommendations to improve federal and state monitoring 
of SES, Education officials reported that beginning with the 2006-2007 
school year all states are required to submit information to the 
department on the amount of funds spent by districts to provide SES. 
The department has also taken action to provide states with technical 
assistance and guidance on how to evaluate the effect of SES on student 
academic achievement. Specifically, Education directed the Center on 
Innovation and Improvement to focus on SES evaluation assistance during 
school year 2006-2007. To that end, the center issued an updated 
version of the guidebook on SES evaluation in November 2006, and it 
plans to provide technical assistance before the end of the current 
school year to sixteen states that requested such assistance. 

Mr. Chairman, this completes my prepared statement. I would be happy to 
respond to any questions you or other members of the subcommittee may 
have. 

GAO Contacts: 

For further information regarding this testimony, please contact me at 
(202) 512-7215. Individuals making key contributions to this testimony 
include Bryon Gordon, Rachel Frisk, and David Perkins. 

[End of section] 

Related GAO Products: 

No Child Left Behind Act: Education Assistance Could Help States Better 
Measure Progress of Students with Limited English Proficiency. GAO-07- 
646T. Washington, D.C.: March 23, 2007. 

No Child Left Behind Act: Education Actions Needed to Improve 
Implementation and Evaluation of Supplemental Educational Services. GAO-
06-1121T. Washington, D.C.: September 21, 2006. 

No Child Left Behind Act: Education Actions Needed to Improve Local 
Implementation and State Evaluation of Supplemental Educational 
Services. GAO-06-758. Washington, D.C.: August 4, 2006. 

No Child Left Behind Act: Assistance from Education Could Help States 
Better Measure Progress of Students with Limited English Proficiency. 
GAO-06-815. Washington, D.C.: July 26, 2006. 

No Child Left Behind Act: States Face Challenges Measuring Academic 
Growth That Education's Initiatives May Help Address. GAO-06-661. 
Washington, D.C.: July 17, 2006. 

No Child Left Behind Act: Most Students with Disabilities Participated 
in Statewide Assessments, but Inclusion Options Could Be Improved. GAO- 
05-618. Washington, D.C.: July 20, 2005: 

No Child Left Behind Act: Education Needs to Provide Additional 
Technical Assistance and Conduct Implementation Studies for School 
Choice Provision. GAO-05-7. Washington, D.C.: December 10, 2004. 

No Child Left Behind Act: Improvements Needed in Education's Process 
for Tracking States' Implementation of Key Provisions. GAO-04-734. 
Washington, D.C.: September 30, 2004. 

No Child Left Behind Act: Additional Assistance and Research on 
Effective Strategies Would Help Small Rural Districts. GAO-04-909. 
Washington, D.C.: September 23, 2004. 

Disadvantaged Students: Fiscal Oversight of Title I Could Be Improved. 
GAO-03-377. Washington, D.C.: February 28, 2003. 

Title I Funding: Poor Children Benefit Though Funding Per Poor Child 
Differs. GAO-02-242. Washington, D.C.: January 31, 2002. 

FOOTNOTES 

[1] GAO, No Child Left Behind Act: Education Actions Needed to Improve 
Local Implementation and State Evaluation of Supplemental Educational 
Services, GAO-06-758 (Washington, D.C.: Aug. 4, 2006). 

[2] GAO, No Child Left Behind Act: Education Actions Needed to Improve 
Implementation and Evaluation of Supplemental Educational Services, GAO-
06-1121T (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 21, 2007). 

[3] In this testimony, we refer to Title I, Part A of ESEA as "Title 
I." Other Parts of Title I (Parts B, C, and D) are targeted at specific 
populations or purposes and are commonly referred to by their program 
names, such as Even Start. 

[4] A state or each of its districts calculates the Title I per pupil 
allocation by dividing the district's total Title I, Part A allocation 
by the number of children residing within the district aged 5 to17 who 
are from families below the poverty level, as determined by the most 
recent Census Bureau estimates from the Department of Commerce. 

[5] Certain states did not submit SES recipient information to 
Education through their NCLBA Consolidated State Performance Reports 
for all years. Specifically, 2002-2003 data from Kansas and North 
Dakota, 2003-2004 data from Pennsylvania, and 2004-2005 data from New 
Jersey are not included in our estimates. In addition, 2002-2003 data 
from New York only include information from New York City. Further, 
Education did not collect data on the number of students eligible for 
SES in 2002-2003, and therefore, an estimate of the SES participation 
rate is unavailable for that year. 

[6] Many of the district estimates included in this paragraph have a 
margin of error that exceeds plus or minus 8 percentage points. See 
table 9 in appendix I of GAO-06-758 for more information. 

[7] GAO previously reported that some states have difficulty notifying 
schools of their status in meeting proficiency goals in a timely 
fashion in part because of the time involved in identifying and 
correcting errors in student assessment data. See GAO, No Child Left 
Behind Act: Improvements Needed in Education's Process for Tracking 
States' Implementation of Key Provisions, GAO-04-734 (Washington, D.C.: 
Sept. 30, 2004). 

[8] GAO previously reported that geographic isolation created 
difficulties for rural districts in implementing SES. Specifically, 
rural district officials stated that traveling long distances to meet 
providers was not a viable option and use of online providers was 
challenging in some small rural districts where it was difficult to 
establish and maintain Internet service. See GAO, No Child Left Behind 
Act: Additional Assistance and Research on Effective Strategies Would 
Help Small Rural Districts, GAO-04-909 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 23, 
2004). 

[9] In addition to our analysis, the Center on Education Policy case 
studies also found that in some cases, approved providers that 
initially expressed interest in serving a certain district later 
decided not to provide services because too few students enrolled. See 
the Center on Education Policy, From the Capital to the Classroom, Year 
4 of the No Child Left Behind Act (Washington, D.C.: March 2006). 

[10] At the time of our survey, several additional states, including 
Louisiana and Pennsylvania, were in the process of drafting an SES 
evaluation report that would assess the impact of SES providers serving 
students in their states, but the reports were not yet available to the 
public. 

[11] Only one state reported withdrawing approval from one of its 
providers because that provider's program was generally ineffective. 
However, this provider's program was found to be ineffective because 
the provider did not deliver services to all of the students it 
enrolled. This state also indicated that it had not yet completed an 
evaluation of SES's effect on student academic achievement. 

[12] OIG found all six of the states it visited during its audits of 
state SES implementation to be deficient with respect to parent 
notifications. In addition, in our analysis of the 40 OESE Title I 
state monitoring reports publicly issued as of June 2006, we found that 
OESE cited 9 of the states it had visited for SES noncompliance with 
respect to district parent notifications. 

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