Special Report
Federal

Stimulus Aid’s State-Level Impact Seen Mixed

By Michele McNeil — December 03, 2009 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

What’s more, according to a new report by the Center on Education Policy, more than half the states report that their capacity to carry out stimulus-related education changes is a “major problem.”

In the report released today, the Washington-based center offers a glimpse into how states and school districts are implementing the education pieces of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed by Congress in February.

The report, titled “An Early Look at the Economic Stimulus Package and the Public Schools,” is the first installment in a three-year research project the nonprofit research and policy group is conducting on the impact of the stimulus law. The report mirrors anecdotal evidence and stimulus-reporting data that show the program so far is mostly bolstering state budgets, while the impact on education improvement is less clear.

The roughly $100 billion in education aid to be doled out under the larger stimulus package is supposed to be focused on four key reform areas, or “assurances,” states had to make to qualify for a significant portion of the money. Those areas are teacher quality; data systems and the use of data; standards and assessments; and turnarounds of the lowest-performing schools.

Jack Jennings, the president of the Center on Education Policy, said, “Schools and the federal government seem to have a common reform agenda for education.”

Uneven Progress

Data from 44 states and the District of Columbia show that states are farther along in making progress in the areas of data and of standards and assessments than in the other “assurance” areas.

Thirty-three states, for example, said they were considering adopting the “common core” standards in mathematics and English/language arts being developed under an effort spearheaded by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Although 48 states have signed on to that initiative, the CEP report found that of the 44 states plus D.C. that responded, seven states were undecided about whether to adopt them, and that two of the 45 respondents said they weren’t considering adopting the standards.

The report notes that movement in those areas already was under way before the stimulus package was passed. In addition, those two areas generally involve straightforward, state-level policy changes.

See a state-by-state breakdown of funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The two areas where states reported they were having the most difficulty—teacher quality and low-performing schools—are more complicated and much more dependent on local school districts, schools of education, and other groups, Mr. Jennings points out.

The report also suggests that states are relying on traditional strategies to make educational improvements. In the area of teacher quality, for example, 30 states reported that they planned to use stimulus funds for professional development.

The question is whether federal Department of Education officials, who are in charge of the Race to the Top competition, will want to see bolder reforms, said Mr. Jennings, a former longtime aide to Democrats on the education committee of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Forty-one of the respondents said their states were planning to apply for Race to the Top grants. At the same time, 24 states reported that state capacity limits were a “major problem” in making progress in the four reform areas. Mr. Jennings said that budget cuts in departments of education were at least partly responsible for such capacity issues.

And all 45 of the responding states said they had problems with the multiple or inconsistent reporting requirements imposed by the stimulus package.

Those states that said they planned to sit out the Race to the Top competition are not disclosed in the report. The states completed the survey anonymously because of the “highly political” nature of the stimulus package and the need for honest responses, Mr. Jennings said. Separately, Washington state officials have said they will not apply in the first round of competition.

The overwhelming interest in Race to the Top, despite all of the demanding requirements, can be attributed at least in part to the dire budget conditions facing states. “States badly need the money,” Mr. Jennings said.

The report reiterates what many other reports and organizations have found: State finances are expected to get worse. Fourteen states said they expected funding for K-12 education to decrease this fiscal year, compared with fiscal 2009.

A version of this article appeared in the December 09, 2009 edition of Education Week as Stimulus Aid’s State-Level Impact Seen Mixed


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal How a Big Federal Spending Package Could Affect School Meals and Student Poverty Counts
Legislation to expand access to free school meals highlights a persistent concern: how to improve the ways we identify students in poverty.
6 min read
Food service assistant Brenda Bartee, rear, gives students breakfast, Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021, during the first day of school at Washington Elementary School in Riviera Beach, Fla.
Food service assistant Brenda Bartee, rear, gives students breakfast, last month on the first day of school at Washington Elementary School in Riviera Beach, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP
Federal Feds to Probe Whether Texas Ban on School Mask Mandates Violates Disability Rights Laws
The Education Department has already opened investigations in six other states that ban universal school mask requirements.
2 min read
A staff member holds the door open for kids on the first day of school at Goodwin Frazier Elementary School in New Braunfels, Texas on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020.
A staff member holds the door open at Goodwin Frazier Elementary School in New Braunfels, Texas in 2020. This year, Texas has prohibited school districts from requiring all students to wear masks.
Mikala Compton/Herald-Zeitung via AP
Federal New Federal Team to Work on Puerto Rico School Improvement, Oversight
The Puerto Rico Education Sustainability Team will focus on creating better learning environments and improving financial management.
3 min read
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits the Emilio Delgado School in Corozal on June 30, 2021 during a visit to Puerto Rico.
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits the Emilio Delgado School in Corozal on June 30, 2021 during a visit to Puerto Rico.
Teresa Canino Rivera/GDA via AP
Federal Pandemic Tests Limits of Cardona's Collaborative Approach as Education Secretary
He's sought the image of a veteran educator among former peers, but COVID has forced him to take a tough stance toward some state leaders.
10 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter speak to Mia Arias, 10, during their visit to P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 in New York.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter speak to Mia Arias, 10, during a visit to P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school, last month.
Brittainy Newman/AP