Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Advisory Committee
The SDFSCA State Grants Program
The SDFSCA State Grants Program is established under Title IV, Subpart I of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The program provides funds to State and Local Educational Agencies and Governors to support the implementation of programs and activities designed to prevent youth drug use and violence. Funds are awarded to State Educational Agencies (SEAs) and Governors based on a formula included in the statute. SEAs sub-grant funds to local school districts based on a statutory formula, whereas Governors award funds to community-based organizations and other entities on a competitive basis.
- Currently as implemented, what are the strengths of the SDFSCA State Grants Program? What are the elements of the State Grants Program that are working and addressing the needs of students and schools today?
- Is the SDFSCA State Grants Program working effectively to promote safe and drug-free schools across the country, specifically in rural, urban and suburban settings? What are the difficulties in determining the effectiveness of the program? Are there mechanisms that could be proposed that would help determine if programs being supported with SDFSCA State Grants Program funds are effective in meeting program purposes?
- Are there emerging issues facing students and schools today that the SDFSCA State Grant Program does not address and should they be addressed in the SDFSCA State Grants Program?
- The SDFSCA State Grants Program includes a focus on safety. Sec. 4114 (d)(7) states that recipients of the SDFSCA State Grants must have "a plan for keeping schools safe and drug-free" including, a "crisis management plan". Considering the Nation’s focus on emergency response and crisis planning is this language sufficient to address the concern for crisis management in our schools? Is further guidance or are other steps necessary to address this concern?
- Is the structure of the SDCFCA State Grants Program (awarding funds to the State Education Agency and the Governor), the most effective mechanism for the use of these funds?
- Is the balance between flexibility and accountability contained in the statute working? Could state and local flexibility be balanced with additional core requirements that would encourage LEAs to address specific issues?
- How can the tension between the Principles of Effectiveness provisions that require that funds be spent on research-based activities and the broad list of authorized activities (many of which lack a strong research base) be resolved?
Unsafe School Choice Option (USCO)
Section 9532 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act (20 U.S.C. 7912) requires that states establish and implement a statewide policy requiring that students attending a persistently dangerous public elementary or secondary school be allowed to attend a safe public school within their local educational agency (LEA). States, in consultation with a representative sample of LEAs, establish their own definition for a persistently dangerous school.
States were required to identify schools as persistently dangerous for the first time before the start of the 2003-2004 school year. To date, relatively few schools have been identified as persistently dangerous. A summary of the number of schools identified as persistently dangerous is included in the table below.
Schools Identified As Persistently Dangerous:
- Considering that there are over 100,000 schools in the United States and data reflects more than 150,000 serious violent crimes committed in schools annually, do these numbers accurately reflect the number of schools identified as persistently dangerous accurately reflect the safety of our nation's schools?
- Do the USCO provision, or provisions with a similar purpose (ensuring that no child is required to attend an unsafe school) adequately provide the authority, direction, and clarity for schools to be identified as persistently dangerous?
- What changes to USCO would be necessary to address the underlying purpose of the USCO provisions?
- Is there adequate guidance that enables schools and school districts to know what is expected of them regarding USCO and Persistently Dangerous identification? Are there actions that the Department of Education can currently take to improve the effectiveness, operation, or management of the USCO provisions?
Requirements for Data under NCLB
Section 4112 (c)(3) of the SDFSCA establishes a Uniform Management Information and Reporting System (UMIRS). The provisions require that information be collected and reported to the public concerning four different areas – (1) truancy rates (at the school building level); (2) frequency, seriousness, and incidence of violence and drug-related offenses resulting in suspensions and expulsions (at the school building level); (3) the types of curricula, programs, and services provided by recipients of SDFSCA State Grants program funds; and (4) incidence and prevalence, age of onset, perception of health risk and social disapproval of drug use and violence by youth in schools and communities.
Information about prevalence of alcohol and drug use and violent behavior is also collected by various federal agencies. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) regularly collect and disseminate information collected from nationally representative samples of students or youth related to the incidence and prevalence of alcohol and drug use or violent behavior.
- While a significant amount of information and data is regularly being collected at the national, state and local levels, there are significant concerns about data collection, reporting, and the use of data to manage youth drug and violence prevention programs.
- Is the amount of information being collected appropriate?
- Is the information being collected the "right" information to help the nation assess where it stands on issues related to youth drug use and violence prevention?
- Is the information being collected the "right" information to help federal, state and local officials manage youth drug use and violence prevention programs?
- Is there other data that could be collected that would be more useful or fill higher priority needs?
- Would a requirement that UMIRS be collected using standard definitions provide greater clarity and direction to schools and school districts? If so, which terms should be defined in a standard way?
- Are there activities that we can undertake to address concerns about the costs and burdens associated with data collection?