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Federal Education Programs » Rethinking the Federal Role

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The Policy and Politics of Rewriting the Nation's Main Education Law

Author(s): Jack Jennings
Published: December 12, 2010

This article, written by CEP President and CEO Jack Jennings, looks at the prospects for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education in the 112th Congress given the outcomes of the 2010 elections and the resulting divided government. The article appeared in the December 2010 Kappan magazine. 

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The Window is Closing on Sensible School Reform

Author(s): Jack Jennings
Published: March 2, 2010

This article, written by CEP President Jack Jennings, appeared in The Hill on March 2, 2010, and discusses the critical last chance that effective ESEA reauthorization now faces.

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Better Federal Policies Leading to Better Schools

Author(s): Nancy Kober, Jack Jennings, and Jody Peltason
Published: February 18, 2010

In February 2010, CEP issued its recommendations for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act). This document contains CEP's recommendations for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act. These recommendations are based on a two-year review of current and past federal policies and a wide range of research, including CEP's own comprehensive studies of NCLB and student achievement in all 50 states. In developing the recommendations, we also brought to bear our long-term experience with federal policies and consulted with numerous experts of varying backgrounds, including commissioning 11 papers on key issues. The document provides guidance for President Obama and the Congress in shaping the federal role in elementary and secondary education.

In developing these recommendations, CEP drew upon a series of commissioned papers, public forums and research compendium associated with their project Rethinking the Federal Role, as well as CEP's comprehensive studies of NCLB and our long-term experience with federal policies.

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View Commissioned Papers & Research Compendium

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Commissioned Papers for CEP's Project to Rethink the Federal Role in Elementary and Secondary Education

Author(s): CEP
Published: October 1, 2009

In 2008 and 2009, the Center on Education Policy (CEP) commissioned a series of major papers to assist in rethinking the federal role in elementary and secondary education. Authors were asked to review areas of activity in which the federal government has been involved over the past half century, determine the purposes of the federal programs, examine the evidence of their effect on education, and make recommendations for the future role of the federal government in public education. Each paper was peer-reviewed by individuals with diverse points of view on the issue. CEP also convened a series of public forums to discuss several of the papers and compiled a compendium of key studies on the No Child Left Behind Act.

In February 2010, CEP issued its recommendations for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act). In developing these recommendations, CEP drew upon these papers, forums, research compendium, as well as CEP's comprehensive studies of NCLB and our long-term experience with federal policies. The document, Better Federal Policies Leading to Better Schools, provides guidance for President Obama and the Congress in shaping the federal role in elementary and secondary education.

View the Compendium of Key Studies

Presented Papers:

"Federal Aid to Elementary and Secondary Education: Premises, Effects, and Major Lessons Learned" by Paul Manna, College of William and Mary

"Standards-Based Reform in the United States: History, Research, and Future Directions" by Laura S. Hamilton, Brian M. Stecher, and Kun Yuan, RAND Corp.

"The Role of Assessment in Federal Education Programs" by W. James Popham, University of California, Los Angeles

"Demographic Trends and the Federal Role in Education" by Harold Hodgkinson, Hodgkinson Associates, Ltd.

"The Federal Role in Education: Lessons from Australia, Germany, and Canada" by Chad R. Lykins and Stephen P. Heyneman, Vanderbilt University

"Advancing ECE2 Policy: Early Childhood Education (ECE) and its Quest for Excellence, Coherence, and Equity (ECE)" by Sharon L. Kagan and Jeanne L. Reid, Teachers College, Columbia University

"The Federal Role in Out-of-School Learning: After-School, Summer Learning, and Family Involvement as Critical Learning Supports" by Heather B. Weiss, Priscilla M. D. Little, Suzanne M. Bouffard, Sarah N. Deschenes, and Helen Janc Malone, Harvard Family Research Project

"From PLATO to Podcasts: Fifty Years of Federal Involvement in Educational Technology" by Mathew Cherian, Graduate Student, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"National Efforts to Bring Reform to Scale in America’s High-Poverty Elementary and Secondary Schools: Outcomes and Implications" by Geoffrey D. Borman, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"Fifty Years of Federal Teacher Policy: An Appraisal" by Gary Sykes and Kenne Dibner, Michigan State University

"What the Federal Government Can Do to Improve High School Performance" by Russell W. Rumberger, University of California, Santa Barbara

Related Papers:

Two other papers that are informing this project to rethink the federal role in elementary and secondary education were developed in 2004 for a CEP forum on the No Child Left Behind Act.

"Ruminations Regarding NCLB'S Most Malignant Provision: Adequate Yearly Progress" by W. James Popham, University of California, Los Angeles

"Rethinking the No Child Left Behind Accountability System" by Robert L. Linn, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing, University of Colorado at Boulder

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Forums: Rethinking the Federal Role in Elementary and Secondary Education

Author(s): CEP
Published: October 6, 2008

In 2008, the Center on Education Policy undertook a project to rethink the federal role in elementary and secondary education. As a first step, CEP commissioned a series of papers on key issues, requiring the authors to provide evidence of the effects of various programs and initiatives, and to provide recommendations. Each paper was peer-reviewed by individuals with diverse points of view on the issue. Also, CEP convened a series of public forums in 2008 through 2009 to discuss several of the papers. We also compiled a compendium of key studies on the No Child Left Behind Act.

The result of these efforts formed a set of recommendations for the new President and Congress for shaping the federal role in elementary and secondary education.

FORUM 1: Oct 6, 2008 at the Dirksen Senate Office Building
Paul Manna of the College of William and Mary presented a paper on the history of the federal role in education.

FORUM 2: Nov 19, 2008, at the Rayburn House Office Building
Papers were presented by Heather Weiss of the Harvard Family Research Project and Sharon Lynn Kagan of Columbia University. Dr. Weiss's paper addresses the federal role in out of school learning. Dr. Kagan's paper is on early childhood education.

FORUM 3: Nov 20, 2008, at the Rayburn House Office Building
Laura S. Hamilton and Brian M. Stecher of the RAND Corporation presented their paper on standards-based education reform, and W. James Popham of the University of California at Los Angeles presented his paper on the role of assessments in federal education programs.

FORUM 4: Mar 5, 2009 at the Rayburn House Office Building (Rm 2261)
Authors Gary Sykes and Kenne Dibner discussed their paper on federal efforts to improve teaching.

FORUM 5: Apr 30, 2009 at the Capitol Visitor Center in the U.S. Capitol Building (Rooms 208/209 SVC)
CEP convened its fifth forum in this series to discuss the impact of the economic stimulus funds on the federal role in elementary and secondary education. Speakers included Jeff Simering of the Council of the Great City Schools; Mary Kusler of the American Association of School Administrators; Dane Linn of the National Governors Association; Deborah Rigsby of the National School Boards Association; and Gene Wilhoit of the Council of Chief State School Officers. Presenters addressed two questions: how are the education funds in the economic stimulus package now being spent, and will there be any effect on the future federal role in elementary and secondary education as a result of the stimulus package? View Forum Materials

FORUM 6: Jul 1, 2009 at the Dirksen Office Building (Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions hearing room)
Dr. Russell Rumberger of the University of California at Santa Barbara presented his paper on the federal role in improving high schools.

View the Commissioned Papers & Research Compendium

View Resulting Recommendations: "Better Federal Policies Leading to Improved Teaching"

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Reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965: Recommendations from the Center on Education Policy

Author(s): CEP
Published: August 28, 2007

Since the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was signed into law in 2002, the Center on Education Policy (CEP) has been monitoring the effects of this important national policy. This paper presents CEP’s recommendations for changes to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) as amended by NCLB. These recommendations grow out of the main findings of CEP’s research on the effects of NCLB.

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