States are hungry for education money from the federal government even though it covers only seven percent of the overall cost of running the nation's schools. But a memo from the US Department of Education (DOE) says only 17 states have fully met the requirements for the largest slice of the federal education pie: Title 1 funding.
Title 1, a provision of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) which went into effect on July 1, 1995, provides money to help educate poor children. Ninety-two percent of the nation's schools districts, and 48,000 schools get Title 1 grants, according to the Education Department.
Testing is a big part of the reason why most states haven't met Title 1 requirements. When the law was passed, states were given five years to establish learning standards, create a test system to determine if students met the standards and hold schools and school districts responsible for student performance.
The states that have met the federal requirements are: Delaware, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia. Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas and Washington.
Three states have entered administrative agreements that effectively bring them into compliance. DOE has given 14 states more time to finish meeting the requirements, and 16 states are still under review.
"It isn't an easy process and it can't be done overnight. It is evolutionary and the step by step process of putting together assessments aligned with state level and federal requirements is pretty time consuming," said David Griffith, a spokesman for the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE).
States that have failed to comply either didn't include students with limited English language or students with learning disabilities in the statewide testing. Some states failed to break down the test scores by race, gender and income. Eleven states are still setting up the standards-based reforms, and haven't added a high school test another requirement - to their program, according to a DOE memo sent to Chief State School Officers (http://www.ed.gov/offices/OESE/saa/chiefmcjan.html).
DOE considers Title 1 so vital that states need to meet the requirements for Title 1 in order to qualify for the coveted Ed Flex program. Ed Flex allow states to waive some of the red tape associated with federal funds, and try new approaches to teaching students.
So far, six states have Ed Flex status. They are Delaware, Kansas, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oregon and Pennsylvania. Another six have applied.