Although small by Department of Education standards, the Eisenhower Mathematics and Science Education Program is the largest federal program for training elementary and secondary teachers in mathematics and science, and, thereby, addressing the fourth National Education Goal adopted by the President and the nation's governors in 1989: that, by the year 2000, U.S. students will be first in the world in science and mathematics achievement.
The program was established in 1984 and moved to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) in the 1988 reauthorization. The Eisenhower Program includes a small national program, as well as the state grant program, which was budgeted at $252.7 million in the Education Department's fiscal 1994 request.
While at least 16 federal agencies support some efforts to improve mathematics and science in the schools, only the National Science Foundation (NSF) is a comparable source of support ($276 million in fiscal 1992). All these agencies coordinate their efforts through the Committee on Education and Human Resources (CEHR) of the Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (FCCSET).
Teacher training consumes the bulk of Eisenhower program funding. The impact of that training is difficult to determine because of multiple influences on student performance. Funds for the state grant program are distributed according to a formula based on student populations and poverty levels. Seventy-five percent of a state's grant goes to the state education agency, which must allocate most of it to local school districts for teacher training (the other 25 percent goes to the state higher education program for competitive teacher training grants). The median amount of district-sponsored training that teachers received in school years 1985-86 through 1989-90 was six hours. In only one state was more than one-third of the training provided by the school districts in 1989-90 of significant duration: 100 percent of the training provided by the school districts in South Carolina was in the form of full-term courses. Experts are unanimous, however, in holding that short-term in-service training cannot bring about significant educational improvement.(1)
Management of the Eisenhower state program needs improvement. To begin with, applications are reviewed based on the presence of required assurances and the adequacy of the program plans; they are not reviewed for the effectiveness of the states' planned programs, nor is performance data from previously funded programs taken into account. No state application has ever been rejected. States are required to report annually on program activities, but Education's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that, after two years, many reports were still missing or unusable, many of the other reports were not responsive, and, in any case, the department had not analyzed the reports it had received. Program monitoring also needs improvement. A single program officer must attempt to conduct a site visit to all levels of the program in an entire state in one week or less. The average time between state reviews is 3.3 years; 19 states (including California and New York) had not been reviewed in four years; and 37 states had only been reviewed once in the history of the program, with no follow-up review to determine if any suggested corrective action had been taken. The site review instrument focuses on programmatic compliance, with no attention to student learning outcomes.(2)
Funding for school districts through the state program is spread so thin as to be inconsequential in many cases. In 1989-90, 17 percent of the nation's school districts did not apply for the Eisenhower grants for which they were eligible; 75 percent of these non- applicants would have received less than $1,000.(3) By fiscal 1992, when funding for the program had increased by 90 percent, the average grant was still only $3.4 million per state; in fiscal 1993, it was $3.5 million.(4)
An approach with some similarities to the Eisenhower state grant program is taken in Chapter 2 of Title 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. It was created by the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act of 1981. Rather than narrow categorical programs, the state and local programs part of Chapter 2 is intended to support a broad range of activities to improve the quality of elementary and secondary education. Among those activities is training and professional development for teachers and other education professionals. Funds are distributed by formula to the states and from the states to local education agencies. The average state award in fiscal 1993 was $8.3 million. The Education Department requested $415.5 million for the Chapter 2 state and local programs for fiscal 1994.(5)
In the 1993 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Eisenhower Math and Science Education State Grant Program should be combined with the state and local program under Chapter 2 of ESEA.
Funds should be combined to create a new Eisenhower Professional Development program, providing a more coherent national focus on teacher training and staff development in the context of state systemic reform plans submitted under the Goals 2000 legislation. Additional professional development funding should be leveraged by requiring as much as a 50 percent local matching of funds. Performance data should be collected only on a multiyear cycle from grantees, and that data should be aligned with identified student learning outcomes based ultimately on the National Education Standards currently being developed.
Eisenhower money would be focused within the framework of the National Education Goals as a concentrated investment with an expected return. A combined formula grant of this magnitude, with a focus on professional development, would complement the opportunities to learn standards and state systemic plans called for in Goals 2000.
This expanded new Eisenhower program would provide for a coordinated strategy of sustained training to provide teachers with the skills needed to teach to new standards and administrators who can create school reform for diverse groups of students. Comprehensive professional development plans, coordinated at the school level, would crystallize a unified professional development strategy to provide the staff renewal necessary to achieve the results defined by Goals 2000. The collection of performance data aligned with student learning outcomes would set the stage for eventually introducing incentives for improved student performance as a component of the funding formula.
At current appropriation levels, this recommendation would leverage a total of approximately $1.2 billion annually of sustained professional development targeted at achieving the National Education Goals. Integrating the two formula funding programs and focusing on systemic approaches to define results will reduce the costs of detailed and duplicative administration and compliance monitoring at the federal, state, and local levels. Because the recommendation would reallocate dollars, it would have no net fiscal impact on federal spending.
1. U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO), The Eisenhower Math and Science State Grant Program, GAO/HRD-93-95 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. General Accounting Office, November 1992), pp. 2-4, 23-24.
2. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General, "Management Improvement Report No. 92-09," Chicago, Illinois, May 19, 1992, pp. 3-6.
3. GAO, pp. 3, 6.
4. U.S. Department of Education, The Fiscal Year 1994 Budget: Summary and Background Information (Washington, D.C., 1993), p. 16.
5. Ibid., p. 15.
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