Consolidated State Performance Report For State Formula Grant Programs

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

Background of the Report

Introduction. This document contains the U.S. Department of Education's consolidated State performance instrument for state formula grant programs authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the Goals 2000: Educate America Act. Prepared in consultation with State officials, it includes all program reporting that the Department requires of States for academic year 1998-1999 under eight grant programs. The document also contains annual performance reporting requirements, for both academic years 1997-1998 and 1998-1999, regarding the progress States are making in implementing the consolidated state plans that all but one State educational agency (SEA) use as the basis for funding under most if not all of these programs.

Programs covered by this consolidated reporting instrument are:

NOTE: Many States also receive funds under ESEA Title I, Part B (Even Start) on the basis of consolidated State plans. However, the consolidated reporting instrument does not require reporting under this program because performance information needed for the Even Start program continues to be gathered through a national evaluation.

Reasons for Using Consolidated Reporting. Under the various state formula grant programs included in the ESEA (reauthorized in Title I of the Improving America's Schools Act), the Department of Education distributes approximately $10 billion to States and, through them, to local educational agencies and other subgrantees for purposes of improving the educational achievement of the nation's students. In implementing these programs, the reauthorized ESEA emphasizes the importance of cross-program coordination and integration of the ESEA programs into the education activities supported with state and local funds as keys to helping school communities improve teaching and learning.

To further emphasize the importance of focusing on the ESEA programs as a whole, the Department worked with States on a voluntary basis over the past few years to help them prepare consolidated program plans under authority of section 14302 of the ESEA as the basis for receiving program funds under the ESEA programs. As an alternative to preparing the individual program plans and application otherwise required by the ESEA, these consolidated plans focus on how the ESEA and other programs included in those plans can contribute, individually and collectively, to help the States and school districts achieve their education goals for all students. As of August 1998 all but one State receives funding, at its election, under most if not all ESEA formula grant programs, on the basis of consolidated plans.

However, until now reporting that the Department has required of all States on program performance, use of funds, and program beneficiaries has continued to be implemented on a program-by-program basis. This individual program reporting has seemed to many -- at the State and federal levels -- to be inconsistent with the focus of both the ESEA, in general, and consolidated State plans, in particular. Designing and implementing state ESEA programs on the basis of consolidated planning, coupled with existing program-by-program reporting, may hamper State efforts to increase the effectiveness of federal program funds through cross-program coordination and integration of the federal programs into State and local activities. In this regard, officials in a number of States and the Council of Chief State School Officers have urged the Department to develop a single reporting instrument that would (1) be aligned with ESEA consolidated plans, while (2) containing all of the reporting elements that are needed for purposes of reporting on individual formula grant programs.

Responding to these concerns and recommendations, the Department has prepared this initial consolidated State reporting instrument. Sustained public discussion is needed on how the reporting document can be further improved for future years. Yet this consolidated reporting instrument is an important first step in promoting a number of important objectives. Rather than retain the longstanding use of individual program reporting, it --

  1. Promotes coordinated data collection by including, in a single instrument, all of the annual performance information that the Department needs for those programs that may be included in a consolidated State plan;

  2. Reduces burden on SEAs by consolidating formerly separate reporting instruments into a single document; streamlining reporting requests for more efficient program administration; and eliminating duplication and unnecessary requests for information;

  3. Establishes a uniform date in the reporting year for the receipt of information, thereby enhancing State ability to coordinate data collection;

  4. Promotes public accountability for SEA implementation of consolidated State plans along with opportunities for reporting changes in those plans; and

  5. Establishes a framework for the further integration of programs under the coming reauthorization of the ESEA.

Securing Necessary Information on Program Performance and State "Results" -- An Iterative Process. As it must, this document continues to solicit information under individual programs that the Department needs to meet its administrative responsibilities. It also fills an important existing gap by having SEAs report on their implementation of consolidated State plans. State and district experience with this instrument during 1999 will help determine the extent to which these data elements will need to be revised for subsequent years.

In identifying information sought through this instrument, the Department has been mindful of its own requirement to present performance information to Congress, including those under the Government Performance and Result Act of 1993 (GPRA) and congressional mandates for the national assessment of Title I (section 1501), and evaluation of the federal impact on reform (section 14701) contained in the 1994 reauthorization of the ESEA. The Department submitted program performance indicator plans for all ESEA and Goals 2000 formula grant programs, along with its Fiscal Year 1999 annual plan, to Congress for the first time in February 1998. Several of the indicators in the plans would rely on the consolidated State performance reports to provide information on student performance, participation, and program implementation.

Determining the most effective and least burdensome ways to receive the information the Department needs for this reporting is not easy. By necessity, it is an iterative process that will require more consultation with the public. Hence, this reporting instrument is but an initial step toward an optimal design to track indicators of program performance. It is expected that reporting will change as the U.S. Department of Education and the States develop their capacities to elicit and use accurate and reliable information for monitoring, reporting, and improvement. The Department is eager to work with individual States and with multi-State organizations to support efforts to improve the quality, timeliness, and efficiency of information collection and use. Concerns with respondent burden and usefulness will continue to be a paramount concern as we work to provide the best possible performance to our ultimate customers -- students, parents and taxpayers across the country.

NOTE: Understanding that the current instrument is an interim measure for 1998 and 1999 only, and that substantial discussion is needed on the content of a reporting instrument for subsequent years, many State program officers urged the Department to maintain information requests that, to date, are a part of individual program reporting. These officials, expressing their own concerns and those of school district officials, stressed the importance of retaining continuity in existing State and local data collection systems while ultimate program reporting elements were still in flux. Except as needed to respond to the Department's own reporting requirements (see below), this instrument seeks to accommodate this recommendation.

Collaboration with SEAs, School Communities, and Others. This instrument for use for school years 1997-1998 and 1998-1999 incorporates many recommendations offered by officials of 26

State educational agencies, a focus group conducted in collaboration with the National Center for Education Statistics and the Council of Chief State School Officers and meetings with State program staff both regionally and nationally. The Department will continue collaborating with SEAs, school communities and others on ways to improve a consolidated reporting instrument that would be used for reporting on activities conducted during the 1999-2000 school year and beyond.

In addition the Department has contracted for a study to be conducted in the coming months of the feasibility of electronic filing. A number of States that use varying telecommunications procedures and formats have volunteered to participate in this study. The Department is committed to working with the contractor and SEAs so that, if possible, all States that choose to do so can electronically submit the consolidated reports due in December 1999.

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