Disadvantaged Students: School Districts Have Used Title I Funds Primarily to Support Instruction

GAO-11-595 Published: Jul 15, 2011. Publicly Released: Jul 15, 2011.
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Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended, is the largest federal education funding source for kindergarten through grade 12. In fiscal year 2010, Congress appropriated $14.5 billion for Title I grants to school districts to improve educational programs in schools with high concentrations of students from lowincome families. ESEA includes accountability requirements for schools and districts that focus primarily on measuring academic outcomes rather than prescribing exactly how Title I funds are to be spent. ESEA, as amended, includes a mandate that requires GAO determine how selected districts expend Title I funds. In response, GAO addressed (1) how selected school districts spent their Title I funds and (2) what federal mechanisms are in place to oversee how Title I funds are used and what is known about the extent of noncompliance with relevant requirements. To do this, GAO visited a nongeneralizable sample of 12 school districts in 4 states and analyzed their Title I expenditures for the 2008-2009 school year. GAO also reviewed federal and local audit findings for a wider range of states and districts. Districts were selected based on criteria in the mandate including variation in size, student demographics, location, and economic conditions.

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