Elementary and Secondary Education Act: Potential Effects of Changing Comparability Requirements

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A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "For fiscal year 2010, Congress appropriated $14.5 billion for Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), which funds services to students in schools with high concentrations of students from low-income families. Title I, Part A includes several fiscal requirements, which are designed to prevent local school districts from using federal dollars to replace state and local education funding. One of these measures, Title I comparability, requires districts to provide services with state and local funds to Title I schools ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. January 28, 2011.

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Description

A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "For fiscal year 2010, Congress appropriated $14.5 billion for Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), which funds services to students in schools with high concentrations of students from low-income families. Title I, Part A includes several fiscal requirements, which are designed to prevent local school districts from using federal dollars to replace state and local education funding. One of these measures, Title I comparability, requires districts to provide services with state and local funds to Title I schools that are at least comparable to services provided in schools not served by Title I. State educational agencies monitor district compliance with Title I comparability requirements. Districts may comply with comparability requirements through one of several measures. Under Title I, districts are deemed to be in compliance with comparability requirements if they have established and implemented a districtwide salary schedule; a policy to ensure equivalence among schools in teachers, administrators, and other staff; and a policy to ensure equivalence among schools in the provision of curriculum materials and instructional supplies. Guidance from the U.S. Department of Education (Education) also allows districts to comply with requirements through several other measures, including student-teacher ratios (referred to in guidance as student-to-instructional-staff ratios) and expenditures per pupil. Under Title I, districts are precluded from including staff salary differentials for years of employment in determining comparability. Thus, actual teacher salaries may not be used in comparability calculations. An Education analysis of a nationally representative sample of school districts did not find a significant difference between Title I and non-Title I schools in state and local expenditures on personnel for the 2004-2005 school year. However, this study did not attempt to evaluate whether expenditures at Title I and non-Title I schools within the same district were different. Some other research shows that teachers at Title I schools in some districts have fewer years of experience and lower average salaries than teachers at non-Title I schools in the same district. As a result, Title I schools in these districts may receive less state and local funding per pupil than non-Title I schools. A bill was introduced in the prior session of Congress to require districts to demonstrate comparability using an expenditure-per-pupil measure that includes actual teacher salaries.4 Advocates believe that this kind of requirement would help eliminate any funding discrepancies between Title I and non-Title I schools due to lower teacher salaries at Title I schools and improve educational outcomes at Title I schools. This report addresses the following questions: (1) Which of the methods for demonstrating comparability are used by school districts in selected states and how does the chosen method affect resource allocation in selected school districts? (2) What have been Education's monitoring and audit findings for comparability? (3) What might be the benefits and drawbacks of requiring school districts to use an expenditure-per-student ratio that includes actual teacher salaries to demonstrate compliance with comparability requirements?"

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • January 28, 2011

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  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Elementary and Secondary Education Act: Potential Effects of Changing Comparability Requirements, report, January 28, 2011; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc299080/: accessed May 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.