Systemwide Education Reform:

Federal Leadership Could Facilitate District-Level Efforts

HRD-93-97: Published: Apr 30, 1993. Publicly Released: Apr 30, 1993.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Linda G. Morra
(202) 512-7014
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on national systemwide educational reform, focusing on the similarities and differences between federal reform efforts and district reform experiences.

GAO found that: (1) local school districts reviewed are able to make curriculum, professional development, and assessment decisions because they have well-developed standards for student achievement at all grade levels, including requirements needed for graduation; (2) successful implementation of district educational reform depends on powerful leadership and vision, long-term commitment, technical assistance, additional funding, and strong support from teachers; (3) many large school districts often do not have leadership stability and experience financial and support difficulties; (4) increased federal and state leadership could facilitate district reform efforts to achieve higher standards; (5) although voluntary standards could help direct state and local reform efforts, they are not likely to result in widespread educational reform; (6) the federal government could help ensure that districts receive the technical assistance and professional development they need to develop high standards and make curriculum changes; and (7) the federal education reform strategy should consider reforms on a systemwide basis and balance the needs of local school districts to maintain control over educational standards and assessments.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Goals 2000, passed March 31, 1994, provides for the Department to disseminate about promising programs.

    Matter: Congress may wish to direct the Secretary of Education to disseminate information about: (1) promising district-level models of systemwide reform (standards, assessments, curricula) for other districts to use as a starting point, modifying them as necessary for local needs; and (2) supporting development of networks among districts implementing or seeking to implement systemwide reform.

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Goals 2000, passed March 31, 1994, has flexibility provisions incorporated for programs.

    Matter: Congress may wish to encourage district-level systemwide reform by enacting legislation to make existing federal categorical programs more conducive to systemwide reform. Many options exist for changing programs. Congress could allow waivers of program requirements or give priority for grants to applicants serving targeted groups in the context of systemwide reform. In making these or other changes, such as those recommended by recent studies of Chapter 1, provision should be made to ensure the needs of at-risk students are met.

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Goals 2000, passed March 31, 1994, ensured that technical assistance be provided to states and districts seeking to implement systematic reform.

    Matter: Congress may wish to encourage district-level systemwide reform by enacting legislation to ensure the availability of technical assistance and professional development to districts implementing or seeking to implement systemwide reform. Professional development here has a broad meaning, including training about reform, participation in developing the reform, and training in instructional techniques and use of new assessments.

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Goals 2000 passed March 31, 1994--legislation providing support for development of voluntary national and state content standards, with appropriate representatives developing the standards.

    Matter: Congress may wish to encourage district-level systemwide reform by enacting legislation supporting efforts to develop voluntary high national and state content standards and support development of exemplary assessment methods appropriate to those standards. Standards developed in a process that includes representatives of districts and schools, as well as state and national educators, may hold the most promise for being useful at the local level.

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Congress has directed the Department to study the function of research centers and labs--this study is being directed by the National Academy of Sciences.

    Matter: Congress may wish to direct the Secretary of Education to review the scope and functions of the federal research centers, laboratories, and technical assistance centers to determine the extent to which they could assist in systemwide reform efforts, particularly in setting standards, developing curriculum and assessment methods based on the new standards, and designing professional development.

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 12, 2016

Aug 8, 2016

Jun 15, 2016

May 19, 2016

May 17, 2016

Apr 11, 2016

Mar 16, 2016

Feb 8, 2016

Dec 14, 2015

Nov 30, 2015

Looking for more? Browse all our products here