Flexible Funding Supports State and Local Education Reform
HEHS-99-10: Published: Nov 16, 1998. Publicly Released: Nov 16, 1998.
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Goals 2000 Program, focusing on determining how: (1) its funds have been spent at both the state and local levels, including the levels of funding for developing standards and assessments as well as health education; and (2) state and local officials view Goals 2000 as a means to promote education reform efforts.
GAO noted that: (1) Goals 2000 funds are being used to support a broad range of education reform activities at the state and local levels; (2) grants to states in the 4 fiscal years (FY) that GAO reviewed ranged from $370,000 to Wyoming in FY 1994 to $54.7 million to California in FY 1997; (3) over the 4-year period reviewed, Goals 2000 funds have been broadly disseminated: more than one-third of the 14,367 school districts nationwide that provide instructional services have received at least one Goals 2000 subgrant funded with fiscal years 1994 through 1997 funds; (4) state-retained funds were spent primarily for personnel, contracting services, and consultants involved in fund related activities; (5) districts used Goals 2000 subgrant funds to pay for education reform initiatives centered around several major categories: local education reform; professional development; and technology acquisition and training; (6) other uses included preservice training for college students who plan on becoming teachers; the development of education standards and assessments; and crosscutting and other activities; (7) most states had begun their state education reform efforts prior to receiving Goals 2000 funds, thus Goals 2000 funds have generally served as an additional resource for ongoing state reform efforts; (8) the districts' Goals 2000 activities appear to be aligned with state education reform initiatives; (9) many state officials reported that Goals 2000 has been a significant factor in promoting their education reform efforts and, in several cases, was a catalyst for some aspect of the state's reform movement; (10) state and local officials said that Goals 2000 funding provided valuable assistance and that, without this funding, some reform efforts would not have been accomplished so quickly if at all; (11) state officials told GAO they supported the flexible funding design of the Goals 2000 state grants program as a way of helping them reach their own state's education reform goals, and the program was achieving its purpose of supporting systemic education reform in states and districts; (12) a number of state officials noted that Congress' discussions about combining Goals 2000 funding with other federal funding in block grant approach caused them concern, as they believe the increased flexibility of a block grant could increase the risk that the funds would not be spent on education reform; (13) however, Goals 2000 appears to be accomplishing what Congress intended; and (14) it is providing an additional and flexible funding source to promote coordinated improvements to state and local education systems.