No Child Left Behind Act:

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

GAO-07-738T: Published: Apr 18, 2007. Publicly Released: Apr 18, 2007.

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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.

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 states' 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 providers' 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 Education's 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 GAO's 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.

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