Department of Education Uncertain About Effectiveness of Its Special Services Program

HRD-83-13: Published: Nov 12, 1982. Publicly Released: Dec 13, 1982.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Education's Special Services for Disadvantaged Students program.

Under the Special Services program, grants are awarded to postsecondary institutions which support projects for providing disadvantaged students with services such as tutoring, counseling, and special classes. GAO found that Education does not have any assurance that the program is achieving its goal of increasing the retention and graduation rates of disadvantaged postsecondary students. Projects are not always consistent with the program's goal, and Education has not adequately monitored projects to determine whether their objectives have been met. GAO found that site visits and project-prepared performance reports did not provide adequate data to assess performance. Further, even though the projects are required to report annually on the status of their operations, the reports neither compare actual performance with proposed objectives nor provide information on the academic status of students. GAO believes that such information would be useful in assessing how well the program's retention and graduation goals are being met and in identifying projects which have been successful in accomplishing their goals.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Education should require that: (1) project proposals contain measurable objectives consistent with the program goal of increasing retention and graduation rates; (2) project monitoring visits are conducted to determine whether projects are meeting proposed objectives; and (3) annual project performance reports include information on the academic performance of participating students and the status of all proposed objectives whether accomplished or not.

    Agency Affected: Department of Education


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