Title I

The Dept. of Ed’s Advice on Using Title I Funds for Preschool

April 25, 2012

School districts have always been allowed to use federal Title I funds to establish preschool programs for disadvantaged children, and in fact they can use these dollars to support children beginning at birth.  But because Title I is part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act ( ESEA), currently known as No Child Left Behind, it is most often used to fund K-12 programs. Some school district leaders may not even know that these funds can be used for programs before kindergarten or may be unsure about what is and is not allowed.

State NCLB Waiver Plans Lax on Subgroup Accountability

April 12, 2012

Under the accountability structure put in place by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), states are required to bring all of their students to proficiency in math and reading by 2014. Schools and districts are held accountable for the performance of students in particular “subgroups” as determined by race, socio-economic status, and participation in certain programs like special education. Because states aren’t going to achieve this goal, the Department of Education announced in November 2011 that states could apply to have the requirements waived if they proposed – and the Department accepted – alternative student performance plans.

Many have argued that the waivers are turning the original intent of NCLB on its head. States have submitted extremely complicated, opaque, and watered-down accountability measures. Look no further than the myriad ways states propose to measure schools by how student subgroups perform.

Colorado, Florida, and New Mexico are three interesting cases. Despite the Department’s guidance requiring states to include data from individual subgroups in their plans, Florida and New Mexico chose to forgo subgroups defined in NCLB and instead create one “low-performers” subgroup. Colorado, on the other hand, hews to NCLB subgroups and the Department’s guidance, but still makes key changes. Below we discuss how each state’s approved plan treats student subgroups.

Colorado uses subgroup performance in three components of its performance framework: what the state calls growth; growth (or achievement) gaps; and postsecondary- and workforce-readiness. The framework accounts both for growth that English Language Learners make in traditional categories, as well as improvement in their English skills as measured by the Colorado English Language Acquisition Proficiency Assessment (CELApro). The state also disaggregates graduation rates and scores on state math and reading tests by subgroup to determine the degree to which schools are effectively reducing the achievement gap. In total, subgroup performance makes up 37.5 percent in a school’s grade in Colorado. So, while Colorado may not give the same focus to subgroups as they received under NCLB, the state still provides substantial weight to the performance of traditionally high-needs students.

Florida more or less scraps the NCLB subgroup framework and focuses instead on the 25 percent of students showing the least improvement from year to year, as well as students deemed “at-risk.” At-risk students are those who enter high school below grade level based on their eighth grade Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores in reading and math. Although in theory this measure likely captures the performance of subgroups, it has the potential to mask the degree to which individual subgroups are struggling or succeeding.

The state uses test outcomes of the lowest-performing 25 percent of students in its measure. But the state further complicates the issue by choosing to focus on the graduation rates of at-risk students instead – a likely overlapping but different population of students. In total, at-risk and low-performing students make up about 18.75 percent of a school’s grade in Florida’s model. But the metric also includes the performance of “acceleration” students, accounting for 18.75 percent of a school’s grade, too. (Acceleration refers to the number of students who took assessments higher than their grade-level and the scores on those tests—the top performers at schools.) By including the performance of accelerated students in a school’s grade and giving it the same weight, the state essentially negates the impact of struggling students on those grades.

Similar to Florida, New Mexico does not include disaggregated subgroup data for student growth or graduation rates. Instead, the state accountability metric separately accounts for the performance on state math and reading tests of the top 75 percent and lowest 25 percent of students. And rather than accounting specifically for the graduation rates of low-performing students, New Mexico includes graduation rates both for students who graduate in four years and those who graduate in five years. In total, low-performing and high-performing students each account for 15 percent of a school’s grade, and five-year graduation rates make up four percent of the grade. New Mexico, too, seems to allow the performance of its top performers to overshadow that of its lowest-performers in its metric.

Why did the Department grant the waivers to these states even though some of them stopped disaggregating subgroups—the explicit goal of NCLB? Certainly, the Department needed to give states a way out of the current system. But did they throw the proverbial accountability “baby” out with the bathwater? Or did the sheer complexity of the state proposals, some over 500 pages, obscure the reality of the new accountability measures by making them appear more rigorous?

It remains to be seen if these new metrics will dramatically change states’ accountability outcomes. However, by allowing states to develop their own accountability systems, the Department likely enabled states to minimize the impact of low-income, limited English proficiency, and minority students on their school accountability measures. This could ultimately give schools an opportunity to ignore the needs of these students, defeating the purpose of federal funds specifically targeted to them.  

Examining the Impact of the All Children are Equal Act on District Title I Allocations

March 15, 2012

Late last month, Ed Money Watch wrote about the variation in Title I allocations in rural, urban, and suburban school districts. That analysis showed that rural school districts typically receive far less Title I funding per poor pupil than urban districts due to a variety of factors. This topic has been at the forefront of Elementary and Secondary Education Act (currently known as No Child Left Behind) reauthorization discussions as a broad base of constituents have banded together to encourage lawmakers to rewrite the Title I funding formulas. Our previous analysis unintentionally glossed over some  effects of the number weighting provision in the Title I formulas.

The Title I Targeted and Education Finance Inequity Grant formulas both include number weighting provisions that artificially inflate a district’s number of Title I eligible students to increase its share of funding. Districts with more Title I eligible students are weighted more than districts with fewer. Those weights are determined by brackets written into law. For example, districts with 691 or fewer Title I students (bracket 1) receive a weighting of 1 (meaning each Title I student counts as one student in the formulas), while districts with 35,515 or more Title I students (bracket 5) receive a weighting of 3 (meaning each student counts as three students). This benefits larger districts because they often serve higher numbers of Title I students even if those students make up a smaller proportion of their total populations. The table below shows the five number weighting brackets and the weights they receive under the formulas.

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Thanks to data from the Rural Schools and Community Trust, we are now able to present a far more detailed view of the potential effect of the proposed All Children are Equal Act (ACE), introduced by Rep. Glenn Thompson (D-PA) last year. If enacted, the bill  would phase out impact of the number weighting in the Title I formulas over a four year period. Below, we analyze data on how Title I allocations would change under the full implementation of ACE assuming all other factors (like number of Title I students) stay the same. And because locale type (urban, suburban, rural, and town) – used in our last analysis – doesn’t account for the actual size of each district’s Title I eligible population, here we instead examine the change in Title I spending by district number weighting bracket.  This provides us with a nuanced view of the impact of the ACE formula on districts in each bracket and allows us to determine whether the changes would truly benefit the districts with the highest proportions of low-income students.

For this analysis, we calculated the population-weighted average change in Title I allocations in both dollars and percentage per pupil under ACE (comparing actual 2011 allocations to projected 2015 allocations with phased-out number weighting) in each state by number weighting bracket. We also calculated the population-weighted average percentage of Title I-eligible students in districts in each bracket for each state.  Using these averages, we can better understand whether the shifts in Title I funding under ACE will truly provide more funding to the districts that need it most.

We find that districts in the first bracket – those with 691 or fewer Title I students – would see substantial increases in Title I allocations per poor pupil in almost all states. Districts in bracket 1 in Florida will see an average 16.5 percent ($174) increase – a compelling change given that those districts serve the second highest average proportion of Title I eligible students in the state (25.2 percent). Bracket 1 districts in Vermont will see the smallest increase at only 0.1 percent ($4) per Title I pupil on average.

Districts in bracket 2 in the vast majority of states (districts with between 296 and 2,262 Title I students) will also see large increases. Again, bracket 2 districts in Florida will experience the largest increase at 16.4 percent ($178) on average. But some bracket 2 districts will see decreases on average, particularly those in rural states like Wyoming, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

And because ACE will lessen the benefit of number weighting for large districts, districts in brackets 4 and 5 (with 7,852 or more Title I students) in most states will see large decreases in Title I allocations per poor student. In bracket 4, districts in Massachusetts will experience the largest average decrease at 13.6 percent ($314) per Title I pupil. This includes the Boston and Springfield, Massachusetts School Districts. Interestingly, some bracket 4 districts will see moderate average increases, including Flint and Grand Rapids in Michigan and Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania. However, each of these districts has rather high student poverty rates (35.0 percent on average in Michigan, for example), explaining why the phase-out of number weighting would not necessarily adversely affect their Title I allocations.

All 18 districts in bracket 5 (with 35,515 Title I students or more) in the nation would see decreases under ACE, with the largest in Los Angeles Unified School District in California at 13.7 percent ($241). Philadelphia public schools would see the largest decrease in dollar terms at $303 per Title I pupil. Clark County Public Schools in Nevada would see the smallest decrease at $50 per Title I pupil.

Given these findings, it appears that ACE would achieve the goal of its sponsors and advocates – generally, the smallest districts will see large increases in Title I funding per poor pupil while many of the largest districts will see decreases. But in some cases, these shifts in funding may hurt districts with both large numbers and large proportions of Title I students.

For example, in Connecticut, the state’s districts with the smallest Title I populations (bracket 1) would receive an average 8.2 percent ($94) increase in funding under ACE, while its largest— bracket 3 – districts (the state has no districts in bracket 4 or 5) would see a 6.4 percent ($130) decrease on average. But even though the bracket 3 districts will still get more Title I funds per pupil, $1,907 compared to $1,240 on average, they also have dramatically higher average concentrations of Title I students – 25.9 percent compared to 5.7 percent in bracket 1. Will Connecticut’s large districts truly be able to provide all of the necessary services to their low-income students with significantly reduced federal support?  A similar pattern is evident in other states like California, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

The ACE proposal has opened up the field for a real discussion on improvements to the Title I funding formulas. And it does succeed in bringing more equity to Title I funding per pupil, particularly for smaller districts. But it appears that the proposal as it stands (based on the data we have) could be problematic for large districts with high poverty concentrations; they stand to lose funding.

These findings illustrate the complexities of the current formulas and the unintended consequences they often have. At the same time, this new information should encourage lawmakers and stakeholders to continue to work at improving the formulas rather than settle for the status quo.

To download data for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, click here. Red shading denotes the bracket with the highest proportion of Title I students in each state.

Presentation on Early Learning in ESEA

March 12, 2012

Last week I spoke about the future of early learning in federal education policy at the annual policy symposium of the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies.

Early Learning in ESEA

March 12, 2012

On March 7, 2012, Laura Bornfreund presented at the annual policy symposium of the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies. The presentation highlights the current role of early learning in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the opportunity for an expanded role for early learning in the next reauthorization.

A Closer Look at Title I Funding in Urban versus Rural Districts

February 28, 2012

At Ed Money Watch, we have often encouraged Congress to consider changing the Title I funding formulas to more logically target disadvantaged students in states and school districts. That’s why we were glad to learn that today the House Committee on Education and the Workforce will likely vote on an amendment to the Student Success Act (HR 3989) that would change the Title I funding formula to more equitably fund rural school districts.

Known as the All Children are Equal (ACE) Act, Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson’s (R-PA) amendment would phase out the number weighting provision in the Title I funding formulas. Currently, number weighting directs disproportionately high Title I allocations to large school districts, even though they may have relatively low concentrations of students in poverty. Eliminating this provision would theoretically ensure that smaller districts with larger poverty concentrations – typically rural districts – receive a greater, more fair share of funding.

Organizations representing rural school districts, such as the Rural Schools and Community Trust, have long pushed to eliminate number weighting in the Title I formulas. A brief look at the data shows why.

To get a better sense of how Title I allocations vary by school district locale type – urban, suburban, town, and rural, as defined by the National Center for Education Statistics – Ed Money Watch went to the data the Federal Education Budget Project collects on Title I allocations by district.* In each state, we calculated the average 2010 Title I allocation per poor pupil (as defined by the Census poverty rate) weighted by the population of poor students by district locale type. The data exclude Hawaii and the District of Columbia, each of which has only a single school district. Wisconsin is also excluded from the analysis because the National Center for Education Statistics does not provide a locale type designation for school districts in the state. This average allocation gives us a better sense of how much more urban and suburban districts are getting than rural districts as result of number weighting and other provisions in the Title I formulas.

Our findings match expectations, for the most part. In all but six states, the federal funding formula provided urban districts with more Title I funding per poor pupil than rural school districts. In Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Michigan, urban districts received more than 50 percent more Title I funding per poor pupil than their rural counterparts. The funding formula provided urban districts in another 22 states with between 20 and 50 percent more Title I funding per poor pupil than rural districts in those states. The six states where rural districts received more per poor pupil than urban districts – Kentucky, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, and West Virginia – are both small and predominantly rural, potentially explaining why their rural districts fare so well. It is possible that the large number of rural districts in each state and the influence of the small state minimum may overcome the effects of number weighting. North and South Dakota are particular outliers – the funding formula provided their urban districts with 37.1 percent and 45.6 percent less Title I funding per poor pupil, respectively, than their rural districts.

The results are less clear-cut for suburban districts. The federal funding formula provided suburban districts in 25 states with more Title I funding per poor pupil than their rural counterparts.  Of the 22 states where rural districts received more Title I funding per pupil, rural districts in 5 states received more than 50 percent more than their suburban counterparts. In North and South Dakota, rural districts got more than twice as much Title I money per poor pupil than suburban districts. But again, these small, rural states likely have very few suburban districts.

Given this evidence, it is clear that urban districts in the vast majority of states fare far better per poor pupil than their rural counterparts. However, the urban advantage is much stronger in some states than others, suggesting that other provisions in the Title I funding formulas – like the small state minimums and state fiscal effort – alter the effect of number weighting. But the data also suggest that the number weighting in the funding formula does not benefit suburban districts as much as it does urban districts – in many states, rural districts receive more Title I funds per poor pupil than their suburban counterparts.

As the lawmakers on the House Education and Workforce Committee get set to vote on the All Children are Equal (ACE) Act, some might shy away from what will certainly be a complicated debate. But this pending formula fight is worth it.

Not only should Congress address how the current formula – which distributes over $14.5 billion in federal funding to districts annually – disadvantages rural districts with its number weighting provision, they should tackle other provisions in the formula that also skew Title I distributions to states and districts with smaller concentrations of poor students. 

Click here to see these data for all 50 states.

Click here to search for your district on the Federal Education Budget Project website.

*We downloaded the full dataset for K-12 districts (available here) and conducted the analysis in Stata.

A Closer Look at Small State Minimums in Federal Education Formulas

February 2, 2012

At Ed Money Watch we talk a lot about funding formulas for various federal grant programs. We’ve written about proposed changes to the ESEA Title II funding formula in the House Students Success Act, the need for improvements to the Title I formula, and even idiosyncrasies in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act formula. Congress has designed each of these formulas to account for factors such as population size and poverty rates or numbers when distributing federal funds to states and school districts. But another factor – something known as “small state minimums” – always seems to run roughshod over the intended target populations.

Small state minimums are intended to ensure that small states receive a basic level of funding under each federal grant. Often, the formula sets the minimum at a certain percentage of the total appropriation that Congress provides that year – like the 0.5 percent minimum in the Title II formula. The idea behind small state minimums has merit: just because some students live in small states doesn’t mean they are less deserving of equitable shares of federal funding. But do small state minimums always work as lawmakers intended? Or do they overcompensate and provide small states with disproportionate amounts of funding per student?

To answer this question, we compiled data on total student enrollment and total state Title I, IDEA, and Improving Teacher Quality State Grant allocations in 2010. We then computed the allocation per pupil for each state and ranked them. This analysis suggests that existing federal funding formulas for those programs do disproportionately benefit small states, though some formulas do so more than others.

The ten smallest states in the nation are the District of Columbia, Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Alaska, Montana, Rhode Island, and Hawaii, in that order. Their total enrollments range from a little over 69,000 to just over 180,000 in 2010. As expected, many of these states receive more in federal funding on a per pupil basis than their larger peers.

This is most consistently the case with Title II Improving Teacher Quality State Grants where the first nine smallest states receive nine largest allocations per pupil, in exact order of enrollment. This is because the formula ensures each state 0.5 percent of the total allocation, or just over $14 million in 2010. If the formula did not include small state minimums, each of these states would have received closer to $3 or $4 million under the program.  In fact, each of the small states receive dramatically more than the average allocation per pupil of $60. The District of Columbia received $202 per pupil, almost four times the national average.

Small states also fare well under the Title I formula, which should theoretically be driven by student poverty. DC, Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Rhode Island all rank in the top 10 in terms of Title I allocation per pupil. Of these states, only DC has a particularly high particularly high census poverty rate at 30.8 percent. The rest all fall in the bottom half of states in terms of poverty rates. These states received over $348 per pupil in Title I, and as much as $686, compared to the national average of $294.

IDEA Part B allocations are least influenced by the small state minimum provisions, but some effect is not all-together absent either. Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, Alaska, and Rhode Island each rank in the top 10 in allocations per pupil. Rhode Island has the highest rate of students participating in special education at 18.1 percent, so the high allocation it receives may be justifiable. But the rest of the states don’t fall among the top ten states with special education participants, even though they receive nearly $300 per pupil or more in IDEA funds compared to the national average of $233. Interestingly, DC, which is a small state and has a high percentage of special education students (16.3 percent) ranks only 21st in terms of IDEA Part B allocation.   

Clearly, small state minimums have a significant influence over how federal education funds are allocated to each state to the point where these small states are disproportionately benefiting from federal funds. This is not to say that Congress should eliminate the minimums entirely. But this analysis suggests that Congress should consider the implications of the minimums and perhaps readjust the formulas produce a more equitable distribution of funds. Just as students in small states deserve their fair share, so do students in large states.

Click here to view these data for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

New Census Estimates Show Increases in Student Poverty Across the Country

January 26, 2012

When the federal government distributes education funding via formulas, it typically takes several things into account. Chief among the data typically used are state- and school district-level poverty rates as determined through the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates the Census Bureau conducts annually. These poverty rate estimates show the percentage of children age 5-17 living in families with total income below the poverty rate. Recently, the Census Bureau made those estimates available for 2010, providing a unique look into how poverty rates have shifted as a result of the economic recession. Those data are now available on the Federal Education Budget Project’s website (Ed Money Watch’s parent initiative), http://febp.newamerica.net. Users can compare poverty rates over time and view them in tandem with data on federal funding, student achievement, and other demographics.

At the state level, the data show that poverty rates increased from 2009 to 2010 in all but two states – New Hampshire and Missouri. In both of those states, poverty rates decreased slightly. Nevada endured the largest poverty rate increase – 3.4 percentage points – to 19.2 percent in 2010. An additional 15 states saw increases of more than 2.0 percentage points from 2009 to 2010, including several large states such as California, Florida, and Pennsylvania. Nationally, the poverty rate increased from 18.2 percent to 19.8 percent.

At the district level, the data show much greater variability in poverty rates year to year. Of the nearly 14,000 school districts with data, over 9,100 saw increased poverty rates from 2009 to 2010, with an average increase of 3.9 percentage points. But nearly 700 districts saw increases of more than 10 percent from year to year, likely creating a significant increase in the number of students in need of additional services and support. Just over 4,300 districts experienced decreases in their poverty rates and nine districts saw no change at all.

What do these increased poverty rates mean for federal funding? Because most federal funding formulas – including those for Title I, Part A Education for the Disadvantaged Grants, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act grants to states, and Title II Improving Teacher Quality State Grants – take poverty into account, these substantial increases in poverty rates should mean increased allocations for many districts. These numbers are likely to be used to distribute grants for fiscal year 2012 because they provide the most recent data available. Though Congress did appropriate more funding for all three programs for 2012 compared to 2011, it probably won’t be enough to compensate for the demographic changes.  The relatively moderate funding increases may mean that many states and districts will not get sufficient additional federal funds to support the needs of their newly-eligible students, resulting in a tough budget year for the districts that saw large increases in students living in poverty from 2009 to 2010.

Check out the Federal Education Budget Project website to view the new student poverty data as well as new or updated data on state allocations for Title I, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and Impact Aid Basic Support Payments for fiscal years 2011 and 2012.

 

House ESEA Bill Would Lift Title I Spending Requirements

January 24, 2012

The recently-released House ESEA draft reauthorization bill makes substantial changes to the federal role in public education. Among other changes, the proposal significantly loosens requirements on how states and local school districts can spend education dollars. While more state and local control is a popular mantra, we would like to offer a few words of caution on a few provisions in the House bill. Mainly, these changes to existing law would essentially allow states and school districts to use federal funds previously intended to benefit specific, high-need populations however they see fit without requiring consistent state and local support.

  1. First, the bill would move several existing programs to Title I, Part A of the law. These programs, which provide specific funding streams to local school districts for services for migrant students, neglected and delinquent students, English language learners, rural students, and Indian education, would be moved to the same section that funds grants for low-income students. Currently, these programs are authorized and funded under various titles and subparts of NCLB separate from Title I, Part A. This change would enable Congress to provide a single appropriation for all Title I, Part A programs, blurring the lines between funding for the programs. Under the bill these five programs would total 9.0 percent of the annual Title I Part A allocation, which would be set at $16.7 billion for 2013.

    At the same time, the bill includes a “flexibility” provision that would allow states and school districts to merge funds from these five programs, as well as set-asides for state administration and school improvement, and use them for any purposes covered by those programs or Title I, Part A Education for the disadvantaged. Under current law, states and districts are only allowed to transfer up to 50 percent of funds allocated under the Education Technology program (which is not funded in current law), the Safe and Drug-Free Schools program, and the school choice program into their Title I, Part A accounts. The five programs listed in the proposed flexibility provision are not included in any current flexibility provisions. Under the House proposal, states would have to notify the U.S. Department of Education and school districts would have to notify their state agencies if they intend to use any of the funding streams for alternative purposes. However, the proposal does not explicitly require states or districts to report how they repurposed the funds, what they were used for, or what programs or services were eliminated due to the flexibility.

    By allowing states and districts to merge funds from several funding streams targeted for specific high-need populations, the House bill would give them license to overlook the needs of some students in exchange for others. While giving state and district leaders more autonomy and control over federal funds to tailor services to their students’ needs is important, these specialized federal programs exist to serve students that are typically ignored.

  2. Next, the House bill would allow any school that receives Title I, Part A funds to provide school-wide services, regardless of the percentage of students living below the poverty line, at that school. Currently, the No Child Left Behind Act only allows schools with poverty rates over 40 percent to use their Title I funds to provide school-wide services. This program is based on the assumption that all students at schools with such high poverty rates would benefit from additional services. In contrast, schools with poverty rates below 40 percent can use their Title I funds to implement interventions and services targeted just to eligible low-income students. Although the proposal would maintain the separate Targeted program, it seems unlikely that schools would opt to continue targeted programs when they could spread the funds among their whole population.

    By eliminating the poverty threshold for school-wide programs, the bill would allow schools with relatively small low-income populations to use their Title I, Part A funds to provide services to their entire student population, the majority of which would not otherwise be eligible for interventions or additional services. Those schools would no longer have to provide targeted services to just their high-need students, meaning these students could get lost or overlooked in the shift.

  3. Finally, as we’ve written before, the House bill would eliminate the maintenance of effort provision of Title I, allowing state and local governments to cut per pupil or overall funding for education for districts but remain eligible for Title I funding. Current law allows a local school district to receive Title I Part A funds in an upcoming year only if state and local governments provided the district with at least 90 percent of the funding (per pupil or overall) that they provided in the preceding year. In other words, a district that received $8,000 per pupil in 2010 in state and local funds, must have received at least $7,200 per pupil (90 percent of $8,000) in 2011 to receive Title I funds in 2012.

    Assuming that states and local governments would take advantage of this change and cut their education funding, federal funds could begin to account for a much higher percentage of per pupil education funding (currently around 10 percent). It is somewhat ironic that lawmakers that typically support limiting the federal role in education would support a bill that has the potential to increase the percentage of education spending the federal government supplies while allowing state and local governments to cut their own spending.

Each of these changes would have a great impact on how states and school districts are held accountable for the use of federal Title I funds. But all together they would allow states and school districts to dramatically change how they use federal funds for education, practically turning Title I into an all-purpose block grant. These changes, in the name of local control, could make the nation's highest-need students more vulnerable than ever.

Apples and Oranges: Comparing the House and Senate ESEA Proposals

January 24, 2012

Both the House and Senate are currently considering proposals to reauthorize No Child Left Behind, the 2001 iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It is unlikely that either of these will actually become law; the Senate education committee’s comprehensive bill and the House education committee’s package of five bills have little in common and, in the House’s case, no bipartisan support, leaving few opportunities for compromise. It’s worth taking a close look at the proposals on the table, however, to get a feel for how each Congressional delegation is thinking about education policy. The bills take different paths in several areas, and below we highlight five: early learning, federal funding, school improvement, teacher and leader quality, and the future of Race to the Top and the Obama administration’s other education reform grant programs.

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