On the same day President Barack Obama announced details of the administration’s No Child Left Behind Act waiver package at a White House event, his Department of Education quietly extended the deadline for collecting and reporting data on the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, a central part of the federal economic-stimulus program.
The stabilization fund provided about $40 billion in education aid as part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to states to help them prop up their budgets amid the effects of the recession. It came with stiff data-reporting requirements, such as the number of teachers rated at each performance level in the state evaluation system.
The deadline to collect and report the information originally was Sept. 30. The new deadline is Jan. 31, 2012.
States also can seek more time on three especially challenging data elements: creating a longitudinal-data system that satisfies the 12 components of the America COMPETES Act, reporting the number of high school graduates who enroll in college, and reporting the number who earn a year’s worth of college credit within two years. If approved, states can have until Dec. 31 of next year to meet those requirements.
For good measure, the Education Department has put states on notice that if they fail to hit the new deadlines, it may take enforcement action, including asking for some stabilization fund money back. In addition, the department warned it may consider any infraction when awarding future discretionary-grant money. (There’s still $700 million in Race to the Top money to be awarded as part of an early-learning competition, and a second pot for the runners-up from last year’s contest.)
The department found that 43 states were having trouble satisfying at least one of the reporting requirements.
States have found compliance especially vexing in areas related to higher education, such as the number of high school graduates who enroll in college. In fact, the department, in its new rules, also gives states an alternative way to report that information, given the difficulty in tracking students who enroll in private or out-of-state colleges.
A version of this article appeared in the October 05, 2011 edition of Education Week as States Get Breather on ARRA Reporting