During fiscal year 1995, the Department produced its first comprehensive strategic plan. The plan reflects the Department's efforts to restructure the Federal role in education, focus on performance, streamline and reduce the number of programs, and improve internal Department management. Including performance measures in the strategic plan holds the Department accountable for results.
Strategic Plan Priorities
The Department's mission is "to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation." Developing the next generation of Americans and the world's leaders is a clear national objective. The cornerstone of the future is a sound educational system that meets the far-reaching needs of all Americans, from elementary education through postsecondary and adult literacy and special needs. Department programs must be targeted and focused to assist state and local governments to carry out their educational responsibilities. To achieve this vision, the Department has established four strategic plan priorities.
The following table shows how programs were funded in the 1995 budget.
Department Programs Support America's Priorities for Learning
|Major Programs||Budget ($ in millions)||% of Budget|
|Elementary & Secondary - Title I||$7,228||21.7%|
|Federal Family Education Loans||5,321||16.0%|
|Vocational and Adult Education||1,388||4.2%|
|Direct Student Loans||1,105||3.3%|
|Safe and Drug Free Schools||466||1.4%|
|Research, Statistics & Improvement||324||1.0%|
|School to Work||123||0.4%|
|Total Fiscal Year 1995 Budget||$33,274||100.0%|
|Note: Program budgets represent funding Congress appropriated and will not necessarily match the expenses reported in the financial statements, since a program may not spend all funds during the year of appropriation. Because of rounding, details may not add to totals.|
During fiscal year 1995, the Department began to set in place performance measures as an integral part of its strategic planning process in order to reform programs and the way in which it does business. The strategic plan includes goals, priorities, objectives, and performance indicators. Development of quantitative performance indicators is an ongoing process. To date, the Department has developed performance measures tied to objectives and priorities as defined in the strategic plan.
A sample performance indicator is included in the following discussion of each strategic plan priority. These, with the other defined indicators in the strategic plan, will be used to measure how the Department is performing in relation to defined objectives. Future accountability reports will include the actual performance the Department achieves in meeting the goals and objectives.
Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act supports the education of over 6 million disadvantaged children in more than 50,000 schools nationwide--about half the public schools in the country. The majority of the Department's support for this program is directed in the form of basic grants toward areas where high levels of poverty have contributed to low academic achievement. This program has improved the basic reading and mathematics skills of disadvantaged children in school districts across the country and helped close the learning gap between those children and more advantaged students.
Special Education programs assist over 5 million children with disabilities from birth through age 21 in meeting their developmental and educational needs. The Department's special education programs, delivered mostly in grants, assist states in providing early intervention services to infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities in order that they ultimately achieve full integration and enjoy equal opportunity and access to education and employment.
Rehabilitation Services and Disability Research programs provide assistance to one million adults with disabilities, most of them severe, in achieving successful employment outcomes and independent living. About 200,000 individuals with disabilities are placed each year in jobs in the competitive labor market or become self-employed. The Department administers these programs mostly through grants to states. States, in turn, develop, implement, and coordinate comprehensive programs of vocational rehabilitation and independent living for individuals with disabilities.
Vocational Education programs support training activities at both the secondary and postsecondary levels in accordance with state-developed plans. Adult Education programs provide assistance to approximately 4 million educationally disadvantaged adults to achieve literacy, certification of high school equivalency, and English language proficiency.
The Department's Impact Aid program provides assistance to states and local communities for whom Federal activities may present a hardship. The presence of a military base or Federal ownership of a significant proportion of local property, for example, may undercut the local tax base that ordinarily serves as the principal source of school funding. Impact Aid is intended to replace this lost revenue.
Priority #1: Sample Performance MeasureThe number of schools actively working to enable students to reach high academic standards will increase each year. The targets for school year 1996-1997, is for as many as 20,000 individuals schools (about one quarter of the schools in the country) to actively participate in locally developed reform. For school year 1998-99 the target is 60,000 schools.
Professional Development funds support locally-guided teacher training in the core academic subjects. This investment is intended to ensure that teachers are prepared to teach to the high academic standards that states are now developing.
The Safe and Drug Free Schools program responds to the continuing crisis of violence and drugs in our schools by supporting comprehensive school- and community-based drug abuse and violence prevention programs. This program helps school districts to design programs to meet their own unique needs.
The Goals 2000: Educate America Act helps parents, teachers, and community leaders improve their own schools. This program provides great flexibility to schools, school districts and states to develop and implement actions locally.
The Research, Statistics and Dissemination functions are just as important now as they were at the time of the Department's inception. This area has historically assisted educators and academics who look to the Department for guidance and leadership on a national level.
President Clinton made the development of a comprehensive school-to-work system for American youth one of the major goals of his administration. With bipartisan support in Congress, the School-to-Work Opportunities Act was signed into law May 4, 1994. A historic partnership between the Departments of Education and Labor is promoting the creation of comprehensive systems in every state.
The Department funded the School-to-Work program at $123 million in fiscal year 1995. While the funding level accounted for less than one percent of the Department's total appropriation for the fiscal year, the intent is to provide seed money to support school-to-work initiatives at the local level.
Priority #2: Sample Performance MeasureBy Fall 1996, at least 10,000 employers will participate in School-to-Work systems, by Fall 2000, at least 50,000 employers will be participating.
The Pell Grant program is the largest part of Federal student financial assistance. In fiscal year 1995, more than 4 million students received grants averaging more than $1,500. Most recipients of Pell Grants are from families earning less then $20,000 a year.
Two major student loan programs account for most of the remainder of the Department's support for postsecondary education. The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program lends funds directly to college students. The direct loan program reduces bureaucracy and cuts out the "middlemen" in the student loan process while providing better service to students and schools. Various independent studies commissioned by the Department on Direct Loan participants concluded that both students and school administrators overwhelmingly approve of the Direct Loan Program. The program offers borrowers a variety of repayment options including standard repayment, graduated repayment, and income contingency repayment options. The income contingency repayment option enables borrowers to consider lower-paying public careers such as teaching and law enforcement. The second major student loan program is the Federal Family Education Loan Program, which since 1965 has guaranteed loans made to students by private lenders.
Together, these two loan programs currently make over $26 billion in loans to about 6.5 million postsecondary students and their families. Loan funds for the Direct Loan Program are provided by the U.S. Treasury. Private capital is used in the Federal Family Education Loan Program. Currently, over 80% of all student loans are repaid on schedule.
The Department's Campus Based programs provide assistance to institutions which enables them to provide students grants and low interest loans on the basis of need. Higher Education programs support development and strengthening of programs at institutions and direct grants and fellowships to students in a variety of programs.
Priority #3: Sample Performance MeasureCustomer satisfaction with the student aid delivery system as a whole and with its component parts will increase significantly.
The Department has been aggressive in streamlining its services, reducing regulations, consolidating and eliminating programs, and lowering the student loan default rate.
The Department has supported and proposed legislation, or made policy changes which would save $16.7 billion between fiscal year 1995 and fiscal year 2000. These activities include reforms in postsecondary education lending, elimination and consolidation of education programs, and a substantial reduction in personnel. All of these cost-saving measures are under way and have already reaped benefits.
Priority #4: Sample Performance MeasureBy 1997, the number of steps in the discretionary grant process will be reduced by 50% and the time to process grants reduced by 25%