Title I Program:

Stronger Accountability Needed for Performance of Disadvantaged Students

HEHS-00-89: Published: Jun 1, 2000. Publicly Released: Jun 1, 2000.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on: (1) Title I services at schoolwide and targeted assistance schools; (2) state efforts to hold schools and districts accountable for student achievement; and (3) research and evaluations of Title I and schoolwide programs.

GAO noted that: (1) both schoolwide and targeted assistance schools generally offered similar services, such as tutoring, and targeted additional services to students needing extra help; (2) however, schoolwide schools were generally more likely than targeted assistance schools to provide services such as extended day programs and often chose different methods of service delivery, such as moving students in and out of flexible groups as their achievement levels changed; (3) educators at the high-poverty schools GAO visited generally preferred the schoolwide approach because they believed that it allowed them to serve more students, facilitated faculty collaboration, and allowed them to deliver services more efficiently and effectively; (4) however, some principals and teachers cautioned that schools adopting the schoolwide approach need to be careful that low-achieving students still receive the extra help they may need to improve their academic performance; (5) many states have yet to take all the steps necessary to oversee program operations and hold districts and schools accountable for results; (6) states varied considerably in the frequency and focus of their efforts to monitor compliance with Title I requirements and to oversee program quality; (7) in addition, some states had collected extensive and detailed information on educational outcomes, but most states had substantially less information on educational outcomes and on disadvantaged students in general; (8) the majority of states had established criteria to determine whether schools and districts were performing satisfactorily; (9) however, these criteria were sometimes confusing or vague and were based solely on the performance of the student population as a whole, without reference to the achievement of specific subgroups of children, such as students from low-income families or students with limited English proficiency; (10) consequently, states are not yet in a position to ensure accountability for the educational outcomes of disadvantaged students, the children that remain central to the mission of the Title I program; (11) limited data and methodological problems have made it difficult to draw firm conclusions about whether Title I in general--and schoolwide programs in particular--are effective in improving educational outcomes; and (12) because schools and districts have considerable discretion in spending their Title I dollars and are not required to report the specific services provided, it has been difficult for researchers to isolate the effect of specific services.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Congress reauthorized the elementary and secondary education legislation in the "No Child Left Behind Act of 2001." In the legislation, Congress requires that states included in their definition of adequate yearly progress separate annual numerical objectives for all students and economically disadvantaged students, students from major racial and ethnic groups, students with disabilities, and students with limited English proficiency.

    Matter: To hold schools and districts accountable for improving the performance of disadvantaged students and to help educators, parents, and others discern whether achievement gaps between disadvantaged and nondisadvantaged students are closing, Congress may wish to consider requiring that states' criteria for progress, as expressed in their definitions of adequate yearly progress, apply specifically to disadvantaged children, as well as to the overall student population.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Education has reviewed possible options to improve its technical assistance activities and has facilitated state information exchange through a web site, Education site visits, and conferences.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Education should conduct additional activities to facilitate the exchange of information and the best practices among states so they can identify ways to improve the timeliness and specificity of their assessment data, the collection and reporting of disaggregated assessment data, and the clarity of their criteria for adequate yearly progress.

    Agency Affected: Department of Education

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Education has initiated these activities in conjunction with the formation of the Institute for Educational Studies and the development of an overall research plan. For example, they will undertake data collection to help link program characteristics to services and student outcomes.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Education should implement additional measures to improve research on the effectiveness of specific services in both schoolwide programs and targeted assistance schools. Such measures could include expanding and improving current data collection efforts so that comprehensive analyses could be conducted linking program characteristics to services and student outcomes, or developing an evaluation for a study or set of studies of educational services that would include national representation of both schoolwide and targeted assistance schools.

    Agency Affected: Department of Education


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