Cover: Federal Policy Options for Improving the Education of Low- Income Students

Federal Policy Options for Improving the Education of Low- Income Students

Volume II. Commentaries

Published 1993

by Iris Rotberg, Kelly Warner, Nancy L. Rizor


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These commentaries make up the second volume of a three part analysis of Chapter 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Act of 1965--the nation's $6.1 billion program for assisting "disadvantaged" students in primary and secondary schools. It draws on (1) a comprehensive review of existing evaluation data on Chapter 1, (2) invited commentaries by 91 policymakers, researchers, and educators (teachers, principals, and administrators) describing the strengths and shortcomings of Chapter 1, and (3) a commissioned study of federal options for school finance equalization. This volume provides the texts of the invited papers. The commentaries are presented exactly as submitted to RAND and have not undergone the customary RAND review procedures. The overall study describes a strategy for reformulating the program to encourage fundamental improvements in the quality of education available to low-income students. It concludes that Chapter 1 does not lead to fundamental educational improvements in low-income communities. While the program currently benefits selected groups of children, particularly by providing remedial instruction, it has virtually no effect on overall school quality. This is because Chapter 1, as currently funded, has not kept pace with the needs in either poor inner city or poor rural schools, and because the funds are widely disbursed. The study recommends three basic changes in federal policy: (1) revise the Chapter 1 funds distribution pattern to provide substantially greater aid per low-income child in the districts and schools with the most severe poverty-related problems; (2) reformulate Chapter 1 to encourage comprehensive improvements in low-income schools; and (3) provide fiscal incentives that will encourage states to narrow the gap between the expenditure levels of rich and poor school districts.

This report is part of the RAND monograph report series. The monograph/report was a product of RAND from 1993 to 2003. RAND monograph/reports presented major research findings that addressed the challenges facing the public and private sectors. They included executive summaries, technical documentation, and synthesis pieces.

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