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

School Reform and Student Diversity - September 1995

9. Federal Influences

The federal government’s role at the exemplary schools was an important one that manifested itself in a number of ways. The federal government’s presence was felt at each of the exemplary sites and strengthened the school’s ability to provide high quality instruction for LEP students. Although the federal role was not always direct, the support it provided was evident. Exemplary schools that were particularly entrepreneurial were especially effective at finding and utilizing federal resources.

Finding #9.1 Schoolwide Chapter I. Federal Chapter I funds supported innovative curricular and instructional strategies as well as activities such as after-school tutoring, summer school, and parent outreach programs. The shift to schoolwide Chapter I funding contributed to more comprehensive and integrated programs and more efficient use of funds.

All of the study schools received Chapter I funds since they each served large populations of economically disadvantaged students. Chapter I funds supported some of the innovative curricular and instructional strategies at the case study sites. The schoolwide Chapter I program was especially important to those schools that were able to implement it because it allowed the schools to use Chapter I funding more comprehensively to support the schoolwide vision. At Del Norte Elementary School, the school’s high percentage of low-income students (85 percent eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch) made the school eligible to implement a school-wide Chapter I program. Del Norte used its Chapter I funds to implement several instructional strategies. Chapter I funding provided supplemental staffing for Enrichment Time--a block of time (each day or four days) during which all students, in small groups, participated in language arts enrichment activities. Del Norte’s Chapter I funds also supported after-school tutoring and extensive parent outreach programs.

Finding #9.2 Support for Research. The federal government’s sponsorship of research and development activities--e.g., NSF for science curriculum development--had a direct impact on the exemplary schools.

At the exemplary schools in our study, federal agencies were important sources of support for curriculum development, particularly in the area of science. A previous chapter (see Chapter 6), described the role and importance of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) funded research efforts aimed at improved science curriculum at four of the exemplary schools. Although NSF’s research efforts were not directed toward LEP students and although NSF funding typically was not to the exemplary schools, the impact on the schools and their curriculum was clear and direct. Similarly, funding for the Department of Education’s Eisenhower Mathematics and Science program which is directed to state education agencies and state agencies for higher education to improve the skill of teachers and the quality of instruction in science and mathematics is not directed toward LEP students. Nonetheless, Eisenhower funding provided in-depth training in science instruction and support for curriculum development for teachers at several of the schools in the pool of 15 schools from which the eight exemplary schools were selected. Horace Mann’s Project 2061 and Wiggs’ infusion of technology into the curriculum were both supported from federal efforts.

Finding #9.3 Nutrition Programs. Federal support for breakfast and lunch programs was critical at the exemplary schools.

The school breakfast and lunch programs were crucial at many of the exemplary schools. At several schools, a large percentage--up to 94 percent--of the school’s students were eligible for and participated in the schools’ federally-funded free and reduced-price lunch programs. School staff believed that for some of their students, the school breakfast and lunch provided the only meals of the day.

Finding #9.4 National Leadership. The federal government’s leadership in school reform efforts and in supporting research on innovative programs for LEP students was important to districts and schools.

While impact of national leadership could not be easily assessed, national dialogue linking states, professional associations, private foundations, corporate philanthropy, and universities in a broader discussion of goals and ways that schools can be involved to reach those goals appeared to indirectly impact the exemplary sites.

Federal leadership through Title VII has been an important force in the development of programs for LEP students. Title VII resources helped to leverage state funds and provided districts with a degree of spending flexibility. In several districts housing the exemplary schools, the resources allowed the district to focus program development efforts and supported staff development. Title VII funds also helped districts and states share with and learn from other districts. The training, assessment tools, curriculum, and dialogue that emanate from Title VII represent a contribution to the development of sound schooling for LEP students nationwide.

[8. State Support for the Exemplary Schools] [Table of Contents] [Assessment of the Outcomes of the Reform]