Problems and Needed Improvements in Evaluating Office of Education Programs

HRD-76-165: Published: Sep 8, 1977. Publicly Released: Sep 8, 1977.

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A review was conducted to determine the effectiveness of federally supported education evaluations, primarily those concerning elementary and secondary education programs, in order to obtain objective data for allocating resources and in deciding whether or not programs should be continued or modified. Questionnaires were sent to education agencies in all States and the District of Columbia and to a statistical sample of local school districts to obtain State and local agencies' views on Federal education program evaluations. Federal, State, and local education agencies frequently use standardized norm-referenced achievement tests to measure the effect of Federal education programs.

The Office of Education's evaluation studies can better serve Congress by having them timed to coincide with the legislative cycle and by more frequent briefings of congressional committee staffs. The Office Education needs to make a better effort to set forth specific qualitative and quantitative program objectives in order to provide a clear basis for program evaluation. The usefulness of the State and local evaluation reports needs improvements in the areas of: relevance of reports to policy issues, data completeness and comparability, and report timeliness. If the reporting systems based on aggregated local agency data are to be effective, standardization of data collection efforts is needed. Educators and test experts disagree on the use of standardized norm-referenced tests versus criterion-referenced tests. More research may be needed on criterion-referenced tests and on how to reduce racial, sexual, and cultural biases in standardized tests.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare should direct the Office Education to: (1) emphasize congressional information needs when planning, implementing, and reporting on evaluation studies; (2) seek agreement with Congress on the specific program objectives to be used for evaluations as well as acceptable evaluation data and measures for each program to be evaluated; and (3) improve the implementation of evaluation results by giving greater attention and priority to procedures such as the issuance of policy implication memoranda designed to assure implementation of those results. The Office Education should review the types of State or local program evaluation information collected on programs authorized by titles I and VII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to determine if it is realistic to serve Federal, State, and local levels with aggregated data based on local agency evaluation reports.

    Agency Affected:

 

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