Greater Use of Exemplary Education Programs Could Improve Education for Disadvantaged Children

HRD-81-65: Published: Sep 15, 1981. Publicly Released: Sep 15, 1981.

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A review was made of the efforts by the Department of Education to promote the adoption of exemplary programs by local school districts to improve reading projects that are conducted under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Since the primary mechanism of the Department of Education for disseminating information on exemplary Elementary and Secondary Education Act projects and for helping local school districts to implement such projects is the National Diffusion Network, GAO specifically reviewed the Network's performance in accomplishing its mission.

In its review, GAO found that, although many of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reading projects are improving the academic achievements of educationally disadvantaged students, some projects are not successful and should be improved. Presently, the services provided under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act are discontinued for most students while they are still far behind their peers in academic achievement. A comparison of the accomplishments of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act projects with the reported capabilities of the Network's exemplary projects indicated that many school districts could improve their services by adopting exemplary projects. However, GAO found that, without adequate Federal and State emphasis on project quality, relatively few local school districts have sought to improve their Elementary and Secondary Education Act projects by adopting exemplary projects since local officials are not convinced that exemplary projects are better than their own. A contributing factor to this attitude is that limited data were available on the capabilities and accomplishments of the Network's exemplary projects. In fact, the limited amount of data available about exemplary project results and the Network's poor reporting requirements hampered Network officials' assessment of the Network's impact on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act program.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Education should make sure that the Network's developer-demonstrators determine whether the projects have been installed correctly and are functioning properly.

    Agency Affected: Department of Education

  2. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Education should make sure that the Network's developer-demonstrators provide accurate data on the number of adoptions and the schools affected.

    Agency Affected: Department of Education

  3. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Education should direct the Network to provide complete, comparable, and current information about the capabilities of the Network's exemplary projects, including: (1) their impact on scholastic achievement, student behavior, and sustained growth; (2) their costs; and (3) the results of past adoptions by other schools.

    Agency Affected: Department of Education

  4. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Education should advise State education agencies to encourage local school officials to use Network assistance in improving ineffective and inefficient title I Elementary and Secondary Education Act projects.

    Agency Affected: Department of Education

  5. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Education should direct State education agencies to (1) assess the validity of procedures used by local school districts to evaluate their title I Elementary and Secondary Education Act projects, (2) prescribe corrective measures where evaluation procedures are inadequate, and (3) help local school officials use evaluations for detecting and correcting project weaknesses.

    Agency Affected: Department of Education

  6. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Education should expand Education's monitoring efforts for assessing whether State education agencies are (1) meeting their responsibilities to evaluate the effectiveness of local title I Elementary and Secondary Education Act projects, and (2) helping local school districts to improve their title I Elementary and Secondary Education Act projects.

    Agency Affected: Department of Education

  7. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Education should provide substantially increased guidance and technical assistance to State and local school officials in developing criteria for assessing the effectiveness of title I Elementary and Secondary Education Act projects.

    Agency Affected: Department of Education

  8. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Education should make sure that the Network's developer-demonstrators provide for additional implementation assistance where needed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Education

 

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