Education Week - April 1, 2015 - 19
good is happening," he said, according
to Mr. Cross' 2004 book,
Political Education: National Policy
Comes of Age.
Sen. Kennedy's ideas were largely
kept from consideration in order to
secure swift passage of the legislation.
Instead, Congress added some
vague provisions around evaluation.
But nearly 40 years later,
similar views were championed by
his younger brother, Sen. Edward
M. Kennedy, D-Mass., when he was
helping to write the nclb law with
President George W. Bush.
Secretary Duncan continues to
see a place for the federal government
in ensuring that students get
access to an equitable and highquality
"It's an education law, but it's a
civil rights law. That is at the heart
of what this thing is," Mr. Duncan
said in an interview last week.
Sending billions of dollars in
new federal money out the door
with good intentions-but without
clear directions-meant the money
wasn't always spent on improving
student learning, however. Districts
built swimming pools, installed toilets,
and purchased audiovisual
equipment that sat around collecting
dust with money that President
Johnson had hoped would equalize
opportunity for the poorest children,
according to Mr. Cross' book.
And some districts were accused
by advocates of taking federal aid
and then failing to give minority
students the same opportunities as
those of white students, an obvious
affront to the goals of desegregation.
For instance, in Benton County,
Miss., Title I dollars were used at
a "white high school" for a summer
math and English program,
according to a 1969 report on the
program-titled "Is It Helping
Poor Children?: Title I of esea"-
by the National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People
and the Washington Research
Project. But at an all-black school,
the money paid for a homemaking
course for girls.
"We suspect these black girls are
being trained with Title I money to
become maids for the local population,"
the report's authors said.
Even as Congress was writing the
law, researchers were hard at work
on "Equality of Educational Opportunity"-better
known as the Coleman
Report-named after its lead
author, James S. Coleman, a Johns
Hopkins University sociologist,
which was released the year after
the bill passed. It showed that black
children started school behind their
white peers academically and never
really caught up.
The Coleman report "supported
the notion that the money should be
protected in its route to poor kids,"
said Edmund W. Gordon, a professor
emeritus of psychology at Yale
University and Teachers College,
Columbia University, and a longtime
scholar on racial achievement gaps.
He was on the advisory committee
that assisted in designing the Coleman
Congress, over the course of more
than half a dozen rewrites of the
esea, eventually tightened the reins.
Lawmakers required, for instance,
that Title I money be seen
as an extra, not a replacement, for
state and local aid. And they called
for Title I schools to get a amount
of state and local money comparable
to schools with more privileged
populations-a goal the nation is
still grappling with.
"It does seem as though the funding
disparities are an aspect of
equality of opportunity that really
hasn't [been] addressed," said Elizabeth
H. DeBray, a professor of education
administration and policy at
the University of Georgia College of
Education in Athens.
"The federal role has evolved into
something that's very focused on
adequate yearly progress and outcome
equity," she said. "There could
be a commensurate focus on those
things that make a difference with
respect to opportunity to learn."
Civil Rights Focus
Over the years, the law, primarily
aimed-at least rhetorically-at
combating poverty, has taken on
more of a civil rights flavor. The
nclb law, for example, requires
states to intervene in schools that
aren't getting good results with minority
students, even if the student
population as a whole is succeeding.
Discrimination and inequality
in schools may have decreased a
lot since the mid-1960s, but those
problems still persist, said Elizabeth
King, the director of education
policy at The Leadership Conference
for Civil and Human Rights, a
coalition in Washington.
"It looks different now. Maybe
[students are] not being trained to
be domestics, but ... when schools
dumb down assignments, when they
ask less of children than they are caU.S.
Department of Education established under
President Jimmy Carter. President Ronald
Reagan champions an update of the ESEA that
consolidates many programs into a single block
grant, but maintains Title I-rechristened
"Chapter 1"-as a separate program. The law
also cuts down on regulatory requirements for
districts and states. This renewal kicks off a period
of sluggish federal spending on K-12 education.
pable of, ... [students] aren't getting
everything they need to exercise the
rights that they are entitled to," Ms.
Meanwhile, the idea of sending
out federal money to schools has
become less controversial as Title
I aid has merged into the bloodstream
of school district finances.
These days, the money blankets
the nation's congressional districts-meaning
it wouldn't be easy
to scrap the law entirely.
The original esea passed with
only marginal gop help in the
House. But, by the time the law was
updated in 1978, it received broad
bipartisan support, according to
Presidents, Congress, and the Public
Schools: The Politics of Education
Reform, by Jack Jennings, who
served as an aide to Democrats on
the House education committee
from 1967 to 1994.
Still, objections to the federal
role in influencing K-12 policy have
dogged the law since initial passage.
Both President Ronald Reagan
and, later, gop Speaker of the
House Newt Gingrich made dismantling
the federal Education Department-established
more than a
decade after the esea's passage-a
talking point for conservatives. But
Democrats and moderate Republicans
stood in the way of doing so.
Still, under President Reagan,
the federal footprint in the esea
was rolled back for the first time. A
number of programs were combined
into a single block grant.
Then came A Nation at Risk, the
landmark 1983 report that warned
that the nation was slipping dangerously
behind its internationalcompetitors
in preparing students.
The report spurred a flurry of
state activity, ultimately giving rise
to the standards-based educationredesign
In 1989, the federal government
sought to become a partner
in those efforts. President George
H.W. Bush called a national education
summit in Charlottesville,
Va., which culminated in a promise
to set national education goals
and hold the country accountable,
somehow, for meeting them.
That set the stage for the federalstate
collaboration on standards
and accountability that eventually
led to the changes embodied the
nclb law and initiatives such as the
Common Core State Standards.
PAGE 20 >
The law moves toward the expansion of
student testing and accountability that
will characterize later reauthorizations.
Districts are required to take an annual
look at the effectiveness of Chapter 1 by
examining student test scores. Schools
that don't make progress are required to
develop improvement plans.
Crucial Piece of Law
Still Tough to Assess
Title I impact on test scores unanswered
By Holly Yettick
Does Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act raise test
Fifty years after the passage of the law, this seemingly simple question
has remained unanswered as evaluation after evaluation has failed to
identify definitive or long-lasting impacts of the federal funding stream
aimed at improving the achievement of disadvantaged children.
And yet the program ticks along, to the tune of $14.4 billion in federal
grants to school districts this fiscal year, and some say its very existence
has improved the lot of disadvantaged children.
Title I is not the only funding source that is allocated on the basis of
priorities other than research evidence, according to Iris C. Rotberg, research
professor of education policy at the George Washington University,
who directed multiple national studies of Title I.
"I don't think studies are likely to lead to increased funding," she said.
"Nor do they determine how the funds are distributed. The level and
distribution of funds are political decisions."
The lack of definitive research evidence is in large part the direct result
of such decisions, which have led to the design of a program that resists
easy categorizations such as "effective" or "ineffective."
Although Title I aims to target students from low-income families,
more than 90 percent of school districts in the nation get at least some
of the funds. And they use them for purposes as disparate as class-size
reduction, extended learning time, professional development, and instructional
salaries. So researchers who try to address the age-old policy
question of whether the program "works" find themselves with the more
fundamental problem of how to clearly define the object of their analysis.
Adding to the complexity is the fact that federal revenue accounts for
only about 10 percent of U.S. school funding, making it difficult to tease
out the effects of Title I from the effects of much-larger state and local
In addition, the funds are not assigned randomly to certain districts or
states and withheld from others. So randomized controlled trials-the
standard research method in many scientific fields-are not feasible.
With many students and types of students benefitting from the funds,
it can be difficult to find an appropriate comparison group or to use statistics
to account for key differences between those who do and do not
"The question of whether Title I makes a difference in test scores cannot
be answered," Ms. Rotberg said. "One reason is that Title I is not an
educational program; it's a funding stream. Title I programs vary enormously
and, in addition, there are too many confounding variables to
make a generic comparison of these programs."
That is not to say that research has had no influence on Title I. For
instance, a 1969 study by the Washington Research Project and the
naacp Legal Defense and Educational Fund revealed that Title I funds
were being used to replace existing state and local revenue and to make
purchases tangential to classrooms, such as portable swimming pools.
Subsequent reauthorizations aimed to curtail such practices.
One of the most influential government evaluations also occurred
in the early years of the program, according to Christopher T. Cross,
who served as assistant secretary for educational research and improvement
at the U.S. Department of Education from 1989 to 1991
and was deputy assistant secretary in the old Department of Health,
PAGE 22 >
President George H.W. Bush and
nearly all the state governors meet in
Charlottesville, Va., for a summit on
public education. The meeting results
in a pledge to set national education
goals and helps fuel a federal-state
partnership in standards and
President Bill Clinton signs the Improving
America's Schools Act, a renewal of the esea that
calls for states to develop standards and aligned
tests for all students. Districts must single out
for improvement schools that are not making
"adequate yearly progress," but the law has a
much looser definition of ayp than the subsequent
No Child Left Behind version. And "Chapter 1"
goes back to being "Title I."
Continues on next page >
Education Week - April 1, 2015
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - April 1, 2015
K-12 Law’s Legacy Blend of Idealism, Policy Tensions
Testing Security Prompts Scrutiny Of Social Media
Virtual Spec. Ed. Is Evolving Option
Turnover at Top Can Leave Funders Wary
Education Week - April 1, 2015
News in Brief
New Studies Affirm Impact of Board-Certified Teachers
Blogs of the Week
Honored Educator Decries Current Climate for Teaching
‘Opt-Out’ Push Sparks Queries For Guidance
Texas Lawmakers Wrangle A Herd of Education Measures
A View From the Top As the Policy Clock Ticks
Blogs of the Week
TYRONE HOWARD: Decriminalizing School Discipline: Why Black Males Matter
THE ESEA AT 50: Perspectives From the Archives
REBECCA GIVENS ROLLAND: The Ticking Clock of American Education
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
MARILYN BURNS: What Reading Instruction Can Teach Us About Math Instruction
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - Education Week - April 1, 2015
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - 2
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - 3
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - News in Brief
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - Report Roundup
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - New Studies Affirm Impact of Board-Certified Teachers
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - Blogs of the Week
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - Honored Educator Decries Current Climate for Teaching
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - 9
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - 10
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - 11
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - 12
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - 13
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - 14
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - Texas Lawmakers Wrangle A Herd of Education Measures
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - Blogs of the Week
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - 17
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - 18
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - 19
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - 20
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - 21
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - 22
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - 23
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - THE ESEA AT 50: Perspectives From the Archives
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - REBECCA GIVENS ROLLAND: The Ticking Clock of American Education
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - Letters
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - 27
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - 29
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - 30
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - 31
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - MARILYN BURNS: What Reading Instruction Can Teach Us About Math Instruction
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - CT1
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - CT2
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - CT3
Education Week - April 1, 2015 - CT4