Evaluation and Reform

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, Title I

by Milbrey Wallin McLaughlin

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This case study in policy research examines the role of evaluation in the governance and practice of federal education programs. It focuses on the experiences of ESEA Title I, the first major social legislation to require an evaluation of local projects undertaken with federal funds. Proponents of the evaluation requirement hoped that timely and objective information about Title I projects would reform not only the local governance and practice of education for poor children, but also federal management of education programs. State and local schoolmen, however, feared it would presage federal control of local education. Tension between proponents and opponents generated a mixture of reform, counterreform, demand, and compromise. This study provides some insights into the initiation, implementation, outcome, and impact of major Title I evaluation efforts from 1965 through 1972.

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