Nationwide, the country spent $632 billion on on public elementary and secondary schools in the 2010-2011 school year (the latest year for which I could find data). That's nearly 4% of the US GDP and 10% of total U.S government spending (including federal, state and local).
Here's where the 2013-2014 California money came from, in billions of dollars. Other states have similar proportions between federal and state/local funds:
For this post I'm going to concentrate on the strings attached to the Federal funds.
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA 1965)
No Child Left Behind (NCLB 2002)
- States must establish state standards (sometimes known as core standards) for achievement in English Language Arts (ELA), Mathematics, and Science. Most states also include standards for Social Studies and other subjects.
- States must test all students in grades 3 through 8 and again in either grade 11 or 12 to measure progress in ELA and Math.
- At a minimum, states must test students in science three times. Once in grades 3-5, once in grades 6-9, and once in grades 10-12.
- The testing results for each school should show Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) toward having all students meeting or exceeding state standards by the 2013-2014 school year.
Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)
- Year 1: No intervention.
- Year 2: Develop an improvement plan, provide students the option to transfer to other schools including paying for the transportation to get there, and prescribed uses of Title I funds.
- Year 3: Must continue year 2 interventions plus and also provide tutoring and/or after school programs from a state-appointed provider.
- Year 4: Must continue year 2 and 3 interventions plus one or more of the following: Replace responsible staff'; Implement a new curriculum; Decrease a school's management authority; Appoint an external expert to advise the school; or Restructure the internal organization of the school.
- Year 5: Shut down or completely restructure the school.
The Way Forward
- Preserve and strengthen state standards, encourage but don't require alignment of standards between states.
- Preserve regular assessment of student achievement with an increasing emphasis on Depth of Knowledge.
- Accelerate the shift from seat-time measures to direct measures of competency for the granting of secondary school credit.
- Encourage the transition from periodic testing events to continuous assessment of student skills (curriculum-embedded assessment) with frequent and rapid feedback to students, teachers and parents.
- Clarify the difference between standards and curriculum and establish a framework for public review of both standards and curriculum. Require schools to report the origin of curricular materials on public websites and on every worksheet or assignment.
- Sustain the concept of interventions for schools not achieving AYP goals while shifting to more practical and supportive remedies than those in NCLB.