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Highlights

With the 2002 enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA), GAO was mandated to review the Troops-to-Teachers program, which provides financial assistance and counseling to help military personnel obtain their teacher licenses, especially in priority subject areas, such as math and science, and find employment in high-need districts and schools, as well as public charter schools. The U.S. Department of Education oversees the program, which received nearly $15 million in fiscal year 2004. This report identifies (1) the number and characteristics of program participants and factors affecting participation; (2) the recruitment and retention of participants in high-need districts and priority subject areas; and (3) the steps Education has taken to facilitate program management.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Education 1. To assist with the identification of eligible high-need schools and to help direct participants to them, the Secretary of Education should assess the reliability of the data the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) uses to determine a "large percentage" of students served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and periodically review existing guidance to ensure that the eligibility threshold related to the IDEA criterion reflects the changing conditions in schools.
Closed - Implemented
On June 1, 2006, the Secretary of Education wrote GAO to state that they had updated their data for the current fiscal year. Education now annually updates its definition of "large percentage" to reflect the US national average of IDEA recipients. Education uses the most recent data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics in the Digest of Educational Statistics that reflects changing school conditions. In particular, the National Center for Education Statistics annually publishes a table called "Number and percentage of children served under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Part B, by age group and state or jurisdiction" (accessible at http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d06/tables/dt06_050.asp). The column "Disabled students as a percent of public school enrollment" provides the national average, and Education provides this number to the program to use as its threshold for "large percentage."
Department of Education 2. To better link programs that serve the military population and that relate to teacher recruitment and retention overall, the Secretary of Education should consider reconvening teacher policy groups or otherwise developing a plan to coordinate the use of existing departmental resources and staff assigned to monitor similar programs.
Closed - Implemented
On June 1, 2006, the Secretary of Education wrote to GAO, stating that Education is now providing staff coverage of meetings across similar programs to encourage greater communication among program managers and program grantees.
Department of Education 3. To better exercise its discretion for grant-making to state placement offices and to ensure that budgets are created to reflect success in facilitating teacher placement, the Secretary of Education should consider data that DANTES collects on placement offices' cost per hire ratios, or develop other measures of efficiency, and take action when offices are deemed ineffective at helping participants find employment.
Closed - Implemented
On June 1, 2006, the Secretary of Education wrote GAO, stating that the department had developed an efficiency measure for the Troops-to-Teachers program to determine whether the allocation of resources across placement offices is efficient and proper. The department collected and reviewed 2005 efficiency data on its placement offices for this measure. According to the department's initial review, officials found that some offices could be combined. While they are continuing to discuss office closures, they are mindful of yielding greater efficiencies across operations.

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