Remedial Education:

Modifying Chapter 1 Formula Would Target More Funds to Those Most in Need

HRD-92-16: Published: Jul 28, 1992. Publicly Released: Jul 28, 1992.

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Carlotta C. Joyner
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Chapter 1 program established to fund supplementary remedial education services for low-achieving students in poverty areas, focusing on whether: (1) modifications to the Chapter 1 funding formula would improve the targeting of program funds; (2) the Chapter 1 formula adequately reflects the cost of providing education services; and (3) more current information than census data is available for determining the distribution of Chapter 1 funds.

GAO found that: (1) the measure of need for Chapter 1 services results in an underestimate of children in need of services in areas with large numbers of poor children; (2) the measure of need for services is inappropriate for schools with high numbers of poor children, since those schools have disproportionately more low-achieving students than schools with fewer children in poverty; (3) for counties with relatively high numbers of poor children, the Chapter 1 formula overestimates the amount of funding allocated per child in need; (4) urban high-need counties generally receive less funding per low-achieving child than rural and mixed high-need counties; (5) the Chapter 1 funding formula does not account for variations in county or state fiscal capacities, which could acutely affect highly impoverished urban and rural counties that have the fewest resources to provide educational services; (6) if used in fiscal year 1990, a funding formula similar to the illustrated formula would have increased Chapter 1 allocations to high-need counties and those with less ability to pay at the expense of those with relatively less need; (7) under the illustrative formula, Chapter 1 allocations to high-need, low-income counties would have increased, on average, from $653 to $958 per child in need, reducing allocations to counties with less need or higher abilities to pay; (8) most of the poverty data used to determine Chapter 1 allocations come from the decennial census; and (9) children aged 5 to 17 in families with incomes below the poverty level make up 95 percent of the 8.1 million children used to allocate basic grants, but those data are not updated.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When authorizing this program as part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in October 1994, Congress targeted additional funds to counties with high numbers of poor children.

    Matter: Congress should revise the Chapter 1 formula to reflect the greater need of counties with high numbers of poor children and grant additional assistance to those counties with relatively less ability to fund remedial education.

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Legislation enacted in the 103rd Congress (Public Law 103-382) did not adopt the recommendation, and there is little likelihood that other legislation will be introduced until the law is reauthorized in 5 years.

    Matter: Congress, in conjunction with the Secretary of Education, should develop a cost factor that better reflects educational cost differences among states and school districts.


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