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Target Chapter 1 Aid to Neediest, Report Urges

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WASHINGTON--The federal government should double funding for the Chapter 1 program and target it narrowly to the neediest schools and students, two RAND Corporation researchers assert in a report released last week.

They also said the compensatory-education program should support more schoolwide projects--in which the money is used to upgrade the entire school, rather than to benefit only eligible students--and should be supplemented by a separate aid program designed to stimulate education-funding equalization within states.

The two researchers, Iris C. Rotberg and James J. Harvey, are the latest to weigh in on the impending reauthorization of Chapter 1. (See commentary, page 40.)

Their report, "Federal Policy Options for Improving the Education of Low-Income Students,'' echoes recommendations made by other educators and researchers, as well as the Clinton Administration's reauthorization proposal, which was released earlier this month. (See related story, this page.)

Two accompanying volumes compile 91 monographs on the program and address federal options for encouraging finance equalization.

The RAND authors propose shifting aid to the neediest areas--and eliminating eligibility criteria that effectively penalize schools where achievement improves--by distributing all funds based solely on the percentage of low-income children in a district.

If the annual Chapter 1 appropriation--$6.1 billion in fiscal 1993--were increased to $9.1 billion, schoolwide projects could be funded in all schools with at least 75 percent poor children, while other schools received funding at fiscal 1993 levels, the report said. Increasing appropriations to $12.3 billion would fund such projects in schools with 60 percent poor children.

Copies of the study are available for $15 each from RAND, 1700 Main St., P.O. Box 2138, Santa Monica, Calif., 90407-2138; (310) 451-7002. Ask for document MR-209-LE.--M.P.

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