US Department of Education Principal Office Functional Statements
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

Office of Academic Improvement

The Office of Academic Improvement (OAI) administers a portfolio of formula and discretionary grant programs that total over $1.6 billion per year. These programs, authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 as amended, include the following:

  • 21st Century Community Learning Centers (ESEA Title IV, Part B)
  • Comprehensive Reform Quality Initiatives (ESEA Title I, Part F), including the National Clearinghouse on Comprehensive School Reform
  • Improving Literacy Through School Libraries (ESEA Title I, Part B, Subpart 4)
  • Mathematics and Science Partnerships (ESEA Title II, Part B) and Mathematics and Science Initiative
  • Native Hawaiian Education (ESEA Title VII, Part B)
  • Alaska Native Education (ESEA Title VII, Part C)
  • Javits Gifted and Talented (ESEA Title V, Part D)
  • Hurricane Educator Assistance Program (P.L. 110-28)
  • Immediate Aid to Restart School Operations (HERA, P.L. 109-148)
  • Smaller Learning Communities  (ESEA Title V, Part D)
  • School Dropout Prevention  (ESEA Title I, Part H) High School Graduation Initiative
  • Advanced Placement  (ESEA Title I, Part G)
  • Reading First (ESEA Title I, Part E)
  • Striving Readers Adolescent Literacy (ESEA Title I, Part E)
  • Gulf Coast Recovery (P.L. 111-117)

These programs provide financial assistance to State and local educational agencies, institutions of higher education, community and faith-based organizations, and other entities for activities focused on the improvement of student achievement.  OAI programs improve student achievement through a variety of strategies designed to: strengthen the quality of elementary and secondary education, including through after-school programs; validate and disseminate information on new approaches for improving educational results; and provide high-quality educational opportunities to at-risk students, such as Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native children and youth. 

The administration of these programs includes the development of legislative proposals; the formulation of regulations, non-regulatory guidance, and policies; the formulation of program and operational budgets; the establishment of management goals and priorities; the provision of leadership and technical assistance to the education community on issues addressed by the programs (including through partnerships with private foundations and other non-governmental entities); the design and conduct of grant competitions; program monitoring; and technical assistance and guidance to grant recipients to promote program success and ensure compliance with statutory requirements.

OAI is headed by a Director who reports directly to the Assistant Secretary and/or the respective Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and advises the Assistant Secretary, Deputy Assistant Secretaries, and other top officials of the Department on policy and administrative issues related to programs in the office.

OAI is divided into two Groups:

Academic Improvement Group is responsible for the management of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) program, Math-Science Partnerships, Javits Gifted and Talented, the Improving Literacy through School Libraries Program, the Alaska Native Education Program, Native Hawaiian Education Program, Reading First, and Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy programs. These programs focus on improving academic achievement during the school day and by extending learning into the after-school hours, extending high quality instruction to special need-groups, and expanding literacy services through improved school libraries.

High School Group is responsible for improving the quality of educational programs and services for middle and high school students through the Smaller Learning Communities, Advanced Placement, Advanced Placement Test Fee, School Dropout Prevention, Striving Readers Adolescent Literacy, and Comprehensive School Reform Quality Initiatives programs.  The program group administers direct grants that:  increase the participation of students attending high poverty schools in both pre-Advanced Placement and Advanced Placement courses and tests; support the implementation of smaller learning communities in large public high schools; support effective, sustainable, and coordinated dropout prevention and reentry programs in high schools; and improve the reading skills of middle and high school-aged students who are reading below grade level.

OAI’s Office of the Director also has responsibility for special projects, performance, and administration, and has staff members whose work assignments cut across the entire unit.  This staff administers two formula programs - the Immediate Aid to Restart School Operations (Restart) and the Hurricane Educator Assistance Program (HEAP).  Both Restart and HEAP are grant programs that provide funding to the states impacted by Hurricanes Rita and Katrina.  The grant funds never expire and are for the specific purpose of helping schools rebuild and reopen.  This office also administers the Gulf Coast Recovery Program. 

In administering its assigned programs, OAI establishes cooperative relationships with other Departmental Principal Offices and with other Federal agencies, and governmental and nongovernmental organizations as appropriate.  For example, OAI administers the Mathematics and Science Partnerships program cooperatively with the National Science Foundation and carries out joint activities in support of 21st Century Community Learning Centers with one or more private foundations.


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Last Modified: 10/01/2014