Cross-Cutting Guidance for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act - September 1996
A r c h i v e d I n f o r m a t i o n
Theme 5. Resources Targeted to Areas with Greatest Needs, in Amounts Sufficient to Make a Difference
A basic premise of standards-based reform is that one cannot choose between equity and excellence. Without excellence there will be no equity, since students will be denied the right to reach their potential and take advantage of opportunities; and without equitable access to quality education, an educational system can hardly be deemed excellent. ESEA contains several provisions to ensure equitable distribution of resources, equitable participation of private school students in federal programs, and equitable involvement of children with special needs in education reforms.
Targeting resources. Helping all children achieve to high standards entails additional funding targeted at the students most in need. Although the goal of greater targeting of resources was only partially fulfilled in the reauthorized ESEA, the law contains several important provisions to improve targeting. For example:
- Under Title I, Part A, funds are no longer allocated to the very wealthiest school districts. To be eligible, a district must have at least 10 children from low-income families and more than 2 percent poverty.
- Funds above the 1995 appropriation amount for Title I, Part A are to be allocated to local educational agencies as "targeted grants," which provide increased per-child amounts for districts with high numbers or percentages of children from low-income families. Districts must have at least 5 percent poverty to be eligible for targeted grants. To date this provision has not been activated.
- LEAs now allocate Title I, Part A funds to school buildings based on poverty, not educational need. Part A further ensures that funds flow to the most needy schools by requiring LEAs to serve all schools, including middle schools and high schools, with at least 75 percent poverty before serving lower-poverty schools of any grade span.
- The Migrant Education program now targets services to the most mobile children, who experience the most disruption in schooling. This is accomplished by limiting the population counted for funds allocation purposes to those who have moved within the last three years and by creating a priority for services to children whose education has been interrupted during the school year.
- In order to provide extra Title II Eisenhower Professional Development funds to needier schools and districts, States use the poverty-based Title I formula to distribute one-half of the Title II funds to LEAs. (The other half is distributed to LEAs based on numbers of students enrolled.)
- The Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act better concentrates resources on places hardest hit by violence and drugs. Half the funds allocated by formula to States and school districts are allocated on the basis of their Title I funding distribution. States also designate a limited number of high-need districts to receive 30 percent of local grant funds.
- Goals 2000 requires States to allocate at least half of their LEA grants to school districts with special needs, as indicated by high numbers or percentages of low-income children, low student achievement, or similar criteria.
Participation of private school children. Since the inception of the ESEA, private school children have been included in Title I and other programs. The 1994 amendments continue to require States and school districts to provide for equitable participation of private school children.
- The general provisions of ESEA Title XIV, as well as specific provisions of Title I and Title VI, vest States and school districts with responsibilities for ensuring participation of private school children in federal programs on an equitable basis. SEAs and LEAs must develop ESEA services in meaningful and timely consultation with private school officials. In cases where an SEA or LEA is prohibited by law from serving private school children, or has failed to do so, the Secretary of Education bypasses the agency and directly arranges services for private school children.
- Public agencies retain control of funds used to serve private school children. Services are delivered by public agency employees or through contracts between a public agency and an individual, agency, or organization. Educational services for both public and private school children must be secular, neutral, and nonideological. (For more details about private school participation issues for Title I, Part A, see the Title I Policy Guidance--Improving Basic Programs Operated by Local Educational Agencies, in particular the guidance on Providing Services to Eligible Private School Children.)
Promoting equity. Ensuring equity in teaching and learning for the children with the greatest educational needs is a primary goal of the ESEA. As the preceding sections illustrate, many federal programs--first and foremost Title I--focus on helping children with special needs participate in enriching educational programs and meet challenging standards. Other provisions of the ESEA also aim to promote equity in education.
- The Magnet Schools Assistance program furthers school desegregation by promoting development of new magnet schools and programs, which attract a diverse student body with a special curriculum. Revisions to this program encourage greater interaction between students participating in the magnet program and other students in the same school and advocate projects that serve a wider range of students than are currently participating.
- The IASA created a new section 427 of the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA), which requires State or local applicants for federal grants to describe the steps they will take to ensure that students, teachers, and other beneficiaries with special needs have equitable access to, and equal participation in, the programs or activities proposed in their applications. The aim is to overcome barriers to participation stemming from such factors as gender, race, color, national origin, disability, or age.
- ESEA fiscal and accountability provisions continue to ensure that federal programs reach the children with the greatest needs and provide participants with educational services beyond what they would otherwise receive. Some of the most important accountability provisions require that federal funds be used to supplement, and not supplant, funds from State and local sources, that States and school districts maintain their own levels of fiscal effort, and that LEAs provide comparable State-funded and locally funded services in schools receiving Title I funds. The Department has prepared an ESEA Compliance Supplement that contains guidance for audits of SEAs or LEAs. This document reviews the key provisions of ESEA for auditing purposes and describes the enhanced flexibility in the revised ESEA. (See Appendix B--Guidance Documents Issued by the U.S. Department of Education for ESEA, Goals 2000, and Related Programs.)
[Theme 4. Flexibility to Stimulate Local School-Based and District Initiative]