US: crisis measures cause educational reforms

Nieuws | de redactie
20 juli 2012 | Obama’s Recovery and Reinvestment Act has dampened the effects of the economic crisis on the education sector, according to research of the George Washington University. More so: it laid the ground for educational reforms.

Education stimulus funds largely met the goal of saving orcreating jobs for K-12 teachers (kindergarten to 12thgrade, that is children from 6-19 years old) and other educationpersonnel, according to a summary of three years of survey researchby the Center on Education Policy  at the George WashingtonUniversity (CEP). However, ongoing state budget shortfalls haveslowed state implementation of education reforms tied to thereceipt of stimulus money under the American Recovery andReinvestment Act (ARRA). 

Eliminate teaching staff 

“Federal stimulus funds appear to have blunted the effects ofthe economic downturn on the K-12 education sector,” said MariaFerguson, CEP’s executive director. “Although many districts stillhad to eliminate teaching and other key staff positions, ourresearch indicates that the situation would have been worse withoutthe stimulus funds.” 

The CEP report, What Impact Did Education StimulusFunds Have on States and Schools?, summarizes the effects ofthe ARRA on K-12 education after three years of implementation.Findings are drawn from surveys, conducted between December 2009and February 2012, of state and local officials charged withimplementing the ARRA and Education Jobs programs and werepreviously described in six previous CEP reports on ARRA. 

Side effects of crisis measures 

In 2010, about 70 percent of the nation’s school districts usedState Fiscal Stabilization funding, the largest pot of ARRAeducation money, to save or create jobs for teachers and otherschool personnel, CEP found. In 2011, a vast majority of the statessurveyed by CEP also reported that ARRA and Education Jobs fundshad saved teaching jobs and other district and school-levelpositions in their state. In addition, the majority of districtsreceiving ARRA supplemental funds for the federal Title I andIndividuals with Disabilities Education Act programs reported usingat least some of those funds to save or create jobs. 

The report also finds that the stimulus funds had a side effectof laying the groundwork for a common reform agenda among thestates. As a condition of receiving stimulus funds, states had toassure that they would take action on certain reform-relatedactivities, including:

  • Making progress toward implementing rigorous standards andassessments;
  • Establishing and using statewide data systems to trackstudents’ progress from preschool to college or careers;
  • Increasing teacher effectiveness; and 
  • Providing support to turn around low-performingschools.   

Funding and reforms

States participating in CEP’s surveys consistently indicatedthat they were taking action on these four reform areas, but by2011 few states had fully implemented the reforms.  Further,in states and districts facing budget cuts, progress on the fourreforms has slowed.

“Given that nearly 84 percent of nation’s school districtsreported funding cuts for the school year that just ended, parentsand students may not see the full benefits of these reforms untillocal economic conditions improve,” said Alexandra Usher, CEP’ssenior research assistant and co-author of the report.  


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