U.S. Department of Education: Promoting Educational Excellence for all Americans

A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

Fiscal Year 2009 Budget Summary — February 4, 2008

Section I. Summary of the 2009 Budget

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was based on a simple premise and a big idea. The premise was that when Federal taxpayers invest in education, they should expect results in return for that investment. The big idea was that all children can learn or, more specifically, that all students should be proficient in reading and math by 2014. NCLB called for comprehensive reforms to reach this national goal, including strong assessment and accountability systems, a highly qualified teacher in every classroom, more choices for students and parents, a new emphasis on school improvement, and the use of research-based instructional practices.

President Bush and the Congress delivered on the promise of new investment in education, as funding for NCLB programs rose from $17.4 billion in fiscal year 2001 to $24.4 billion in fiscal year 2008, an increase of $7 billion or 40 percent. States and school districts have used these new resources to put in place the strong accountability systems required by NCLB, and the hard work of teachers and students across the country has helped reverse a decade of stagnation in student achievement and make real progress toward ensuring that all students are proficient in reading and math. The results of the 2007 National Assessment of Educational Progress confirmed that student achievement levels are at all-time highs and that the biggest gains are being made by African-American and Hispanic students.

Now it is time for Congress and the Nation to renew this historic commitment to America's children by reauthorizing and strengthening No Child Left Behind. The Administration has developed a comprehensive reauthorization proposal and is committed to working again with a bipartisan Congress to learn from the experience of the past six years and make the changes and improvements that will merit even greater commitment to our Nation's schools.

This vertical bar graph shows the annual change in ED discretionary appropriations from $42.2 billion in FY 2001 to $59.2 billion in FY 2009.

The 2009 request builds on President Bush's legacy of successful education reform by supporting programs and policies from pre-kindergarten through postgraduate study that have produced results for both students and taxpayers.

For 2009, the President is requesting $59.2 billion in discretionary appropriations for the Department of Education, the same as the 2008 level, and an increase of $17.0 billion, or 40 percent, in discretionary appropriations for the Department since fiscal year 2001.

Key priorities in the 2009 budget include the following:

The 2009 request for the Department of Education supports these priorities while also proposing significant mandatory and discretionary savings that are essential to meeting the President's goal of eliminating the deficit by 2012. For example, the discretionary request includes the proposed elimination or consolidation of 47 programs for a total savings of almost $3.3 billion. In addition, the request eliminates 759 earmarked projects totaling an estimated $328 million. On the mandatory side, the request would save nearly $6 billion over 5 years by recalling Perkins Loans revolving funds and by making changes in certain loan repayment provisions of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007.

Total Department of Education Appropriations
(in billions of dollars)

  2007 2008 2009
Discretionary $57.5 $59.2 $59.2
Mandatory 10.4 9.4 5.7



Most education funding is discretionary. It is called "discretionary" because Congress has the discretion to make decisions about how much to appropriate annually for each program within the limits established by authorizing legislation. Other funding is called "mandatory" because the authorizing legislation itself establishes a fixed funding level or a method for calculating automatic appropriations without further Congressional action. The largest mandatory programs in the Department's budget are Federally subsidized loans for postsecondary students, the costs of which are estimated based on assumptions about interest rates, lender fees, repayments, defaults, and collections. Other education programs funded in whole or in part through mandatory appropriations include Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants, Academic Competitiveness Grants, Pell Grants, and certain programs in the Higher Education account.

An additional factor affecting the display of discretionary appropriations in Federal budget documents is the use of "advance" appropriations, a method of funding that makes budget authority available in the fiscal year after it is appropriated. Examples of Department programs that receive advance appropriations include Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies and IDEA Part B Grants to States. As a result of advance appropriations, some materials published by the Office of Management and Budget for the fiscal year 2009 President's request will show a 2008 discretionary budget authority total of $57.2 billion for the Department of Education, instead of the $59.2 billion figure shown above. This is because the 2008 total above includes $2 billion in advance funding that will be counted for scoring purposes in 2009.

Federal funding makes up about 8.9 percent of the estimated $626 billion that America is spending on elementary and secondary education during the 2007-08 school year. The relatively small size of the Federal investment in education dictates an emphasis on supporting promising, research-based programs that have the potential to leverage more effectively the much larger State and local share of national education spending to bring about real improvement in student achievement. This is the primary goal, for example, of the strong State accountability systems required by No Child Left Behind and the research-based approach of Reading First. Under the President's request, funding for NCLB programs would rise by $127 million in fiscal year 2009, from $24.4 billion to more than $24.5 billion, for a total increase of $7.2 billion, or 41 percent, since NCLB was enacted in 2001.

The $59.2 billion discretionary request for 2009 is focused on the following areas.


A critical goal of the Administration's NCLB reauthorization proposal is to maintain the strong accountability systems that States have put into place over the past six years, with a particular emphasis on ensuring that all students are proficient in reading and mathematics by 2014. The Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies program serves as the foundation of this effort, with essential contributions from related programs in the areas of school improvement, assessment, and data collection:


Expanding choice for students in low-performing schools is a core component of NCLB, as reflected in the public school choice and supplemental educational services requirements for schools identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring. However, the effectiveness of these options has been limited in many States and school districts by capacity constraints within public school systems and, increasingly, the availability of funding to serve all eligible students. For example, according to the Consolidated State Performance Report for the 2006-07 school year, just 2.2 percent of eligible students transferred under Title I public school choice provisions, and only 14.5 percent of eligible students obtained supplemental educational services. The 2009 request would help address this problem through the following two new initiatives:


No Child Left Behind emphasized the importance of ensuring that there is a highly qualified teacher in every classroom. Six years later, recruiting, training, and rewarding effective teachers remains a high priority, particularly as increasing numbers of States and school districts experiment with incentives aimed at rewarding our best teachers for their performance and attracting them to our most challenging schools. The 2009 request would support these efforts through the following:


No Child Left Behind sparked a new focus on the use of research-based instructional practices and curricula, especially as part of efforts to turn around low-performing, high- poverty schools. The first program to do this on a large scale was the Reading First State Grants program, which requires the use of research-based instructional programs and which has demonstrated positive results in helping young children learn to read. The 2009 request reaffirms the Administration's support for a strong Reading First program while promoting the expansion of similar programs.

Overall, more than three-fourths of States and two-thirds of districts with Reading First grants reported that the program's assessment and instructional programs were important causes of gains in student achievement.


A signal achievement of No Child Left Behind was a new focus on the academic achievement of groups with special needs, such as students with disabilities and limited English proficient (LEP) students. NCLB calls for holding school districts and schools accountable for ensuring that these students reach the same high standards as other students. While the Administration has provided limited flexibility in this area, such as for students with the most severe cognitive disabilities and newly arrived LEP students, the following requests for 2009 reflect the Administration's continuing commitment to the 2014 proficiency goal for students with disabilities and other students with special needs.


In 2009 the Department of Education will administer nearly $95 billion in new grants, loans, and work-study assistance to help almost 11 million students and their families pay for college. These grant and loan programs will help millions of Americans obtain the benefits of postsecondary education and play a vital role in strengthening our Nation by providing advanced training for today's global economy. The total includes almost $19 billion in Pell Grants to nearly 5.8 million students, or 186,000 more recipients than the 2008 level, and increases the maximum award by $69, to $4,800. The request also would increase the average Pell Grant to $3,154—the highest level ever and the first time the average Pell Grant has exceeded $3,000.

This text box states that Pell Grants total funding is up $10.1 billion, or 116 percent; recipients are up 1.5 million, or 33 percent; and the maximum award is up $1,050, or 28 percent.

Most Federal postsecondary student aid is delivered through guaranteed and direct student loans, which are expected to total $75 billion in new loans in 2009. The 2009 request provides new discretionary resources for student aid in the following areas:


In addition to student financial assistance, the Administration's fiscal year 2009 request provides support for a variety of activities designed to improve access to, and success in, postsecondary education, including increases for initiatives that would benefit adult and non-traditional students. In both areas, the request proposes targeted increases to help non-traditional students—including individuals already in the workforce—pursue postsecondary education and upgrade their skills. Highlights include the following:


As part of the President's Management Agenda, the Administration developed the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) to assess and improve program performance and achieve better results. Each program receives scores for program purpose and design, strategic planning, program management, and program results, as well as an overall rating of Effective, Moderately Effective, Adequate, Ineffective, or Results Not Demonstrated (RND).

This pie chart shows that 3.2 percent of the 2009 ED Request is for programs rated Effective, 28.7 percent is for programs rated Moderately Effective, 56.4 percent is for programs rated Adequate, 0.5 percent is for programs rated Ineffective, 8.5 percent is for programs rated Results Not Demonstrated, and 2.7 percent is for programs that have not received a PART rating.

In 2007, the Department assessed 4 programs for the first time and reassessed 3 programs, bringing the number of currently funded programs assessed using the PART since 2002 to 91. Of these, the Administration has rated 5 programs Effective, 7 programs Moderately Effective, 29 programs Adequate, 4 programs Ineffective, and 46 programs RND. Key results of the 2007 PART process included an Effective rating for the IES Research, Development, and Dissemination program and Adequate ratings for three programs that received RND ratings in prior years: Child Care Access Means Parents in School, Neglected and Delinquent State Agency program, and Indian Education Grants to Local Educational Agencies.

A rating of RND typically identifies a lack of long-term goals, annual performance measures, or reliable data—management issues that often can be addressed by ED internally, though program statutes sometimes contribute to the problem because they do not include clear and measurable objectives, results-based accountability mechanisms, or authority to gather reliable data on program outcomes. The Department works to improve the effectiveness of its programs to the extent possible under current law and also works with the Congress on accountability and data quality issues when statutes are reauthorized. One recent advance was the full implementation of EDFacts, a centralized information management system for K-12 education programs. EDFacts is streamlining the collection of timely, accurate program performance data while facilitating the analysis and use of such data to improve program management.

The PART also contributes to the decision-making required by the President's goal of eliminating the deficit by 2012, helping to ensure that limited resources are targeted toward those programs and activities most likely to achieve positive results.

In general, this means investments will continue to be made in programs receiving a PART rating of Effective, Moderately Effective, or Adequate, while most programs rated Ineffective will be proposed for elimination or reform. For programs rated RND, the Administration will generally support continued funding if the programs are likely to demonstrate results in the future. However, the Administration will propose the termination of RND programs that unnecessarily duplicate other activities or suffer from such major flaws in design or execution that they are unlikely to demonstrate improved performance in the future.

For the year ending on September 30, 2007, the Department's program performance and improvement efforts achieved "green" ratings for all four quarters on the President's Management Scorecard. This accomplishment reflects the successful development of efficiency measures for all programs that have undergone a PART assessment, the completion of marginal cost analyses of three programs, and ongoing improvement efforts in all programs evaluated with the PART. With the publication of the President's Budget, the Department has completed the PART for programs covering 98 percent of its budget, including $480 million associated with small programs for which the Department was not required to conduct a PART assessment.


Table of contents  Elementary and Secondary Education


For further information contact the ED Budget Service.

This page last modified—February 4, 2008 (mjj).