A Blueprint for Reform
The Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
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Additional Cross-Cutting Priorities

Throughout this proposal, we have sought to redefine the federal role in education: shifting from a focus merely on compliance to allowing state and local innovation to flourish, rewarding success, and fostering supportive and collaborative relationships with states, districts, and nonprofit partners. There are several cross-cutting changes we are proposing in order to allow local innovations to lead the way and to support the development, identification, and scaling-up of strategies that are working.

A New Approach

  • Increasing flexibility in return for improved outcomes.
  • Expanding programs, projects, and strategies that show results.
  • Focusing on key priorities across programs.

Flexibility for Success

A re-envisioned federal role means giving states and districts additional flexibility in how they spend federal dollars as long as they are continuing to focus on what matters most—improving outcomes for students. States and districts will be allowed to use most federal administrative funds and reservations flexibly to build their own capacity to support reform and improvement. Most districts will also be allowed to spend more ESEA program funds flexibly, as long as they continue to comply with the conditions associated with those funds and are improving student outcomes.

Growing Success

Where grantees are successfully improving outcomes for students, we should not only reward them, but replicate their successful practices. For each competitive program in this proposal, grantees that are significantly improving outcomes will be eligible for both continuation funds and additional funds to expand their strategies to additional students, schools, districts, or states. This will ensure that federal funds flow to projects that are successfully serving students.

Evaluation and Building the Knowledge Base

To foster ongoing improvement of ESEA programs and to advance knowledge in the field, investments are needed in data analysis and evaluation at the federal, state, and local levels. Consequently, this proposal encourages federal, state, and local levels to work together to use data for continuous improvement, test innovative ideas, evaluate and replicate promising approaches, and scale up what strong research evidence suggests works across all ESEA programs. In addition, a new evaluation authority will authorize rigorous, objective evaluations of ESEA programs, policies, and practices and support performance measurement of those programs. The Secretary will submit to Congress a biennial plan on ESEA evaluation and performance measurement and will establish an independent panel that advises on the plan.

Cross-Cutting Priorities

There are some priorities that are relevant in numerous areas of education reform. We may apply specific priorities across programs, as appropriate, including priorities for:

  1. Technology. Technology, effectively and thoughtfully deployed, can improve how schools work, how teachers teach, and how students learn. Priority may be given to programs, projects, or strategies that leverage digital information or communications technology to accomplish the stated goals of the grant.

  2. Evidence. As evidence develops in new areas, funding should be devoted to the areas with the most evidence of effectiveness in improving outcomes for students. Priority may be given to programs, projects, or strategies on the strength of their evidentiary base.

  3. Efficiency. Particularly in the current economic situation, it is important to do more with fewer resources. Priority may be given to programs, projects, or strategies that are designed to significantly increase efficiency in the use of resources to improve student outcomes.

  4. Supporting English Learners and Students With Disabilities. Schools, districts, and states must be held responsible for educating all students, including English Learners and students with disabilities, to high standards, but more work could be done to develop and scale up effective strategies for these students. Priority may be given to programs, projects, or strategies that are designed to specifically improve the performance of English Learners or students with disabilities.

  5. Supporting Rural and Other High-Need Areas. In new competitive programs, we will be putting in place appropriate strategies to ensure that rural districts and other high-need districts are not disadvantaged and are able to receive the funding they need to help students succeed. Priority may be given to programs or projects designed to serve rural and other high-need areas.

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Last Modified: 05/27/2011