Education Transformation: Doing What Works in Education Reform

Eric Ulas

Center for American Progress
Glenda L. Partee
April 2010

This report, a product of the Center for American Progress’s Doing What Works project, takes a critical look at the implementation and funding of federal education policies and identifies programs that can be eliminated, consolidated, or restructured.

Partee credits the Obama administration for adopting a more targeted use of funding and offers a similar framework that puts heavy emphasis on flexibility, innovation, accountability, increased teacher quality, and common standards. She goes on to offer seven recommendations that can be used to make federal education programs more cost-effective and successful:

  1. Budgetary priorities should reflect the new education policy priorities.
  2. Narrow, low-impact programs should be eliminated.
  3. Outdated programs should be eliminated or updated.
  4. Programs should be better coordinated and sometimes consolidated.
  5. Programs should have clear goals.
  6. Results should drive funding decisions.
  7. Performance evaluation and transparency should be strengthened.

Utilizing this lens, the report identifies many education initiatives that have become too scattered or duplicative of other programs. A prime example is the Even Start early childhood and family literacy program, which has yielded little measurable results and is redundant with several dozen other federal programs.

Partee also pushes programs to be funded based on student need, rather than distributed by formula, which spreads money too thin to make an impact.

The recommendations offered up could certainly be translated to the state level, and should be of particular interest to Ohio policymakers, as the Buckeye State will need to re-examine the efficacy of all of its public programs when addressing an unprecedented budget crisis in the next biennium. You can find the report here.