On July 18, 2012, the Center on Education Policy (CEP) released a report on its study showing that federal stimulus funds saved education jobs and encouraged a common education reform agenda among states. The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provided approximately $840 billion in federal appropriations in an effort to stimulate the nation’s recessed economy. The stimulus included approximately $100 billion in appropriations for education programs, including the education of disadvantaged students and students with disabilities and new competitive grant programs to spur education reform and innovations. In addition to the ARRA funds, the 2010 Education Jobs Fund legislation allocated $10 billion to states and local education agencies (LEA) to save or create educators’ jobs. The CEP press release stated that “Federal stimulus funds appear to have blunted the effects of the economic downturn on the K-12 education sector. Although many districts still had to eliminate teaching and other key staff positions, our research indicates that the situation would have been worse without the stimulus funds.”
The CEP report, What Impact Did Education Stimulus Funds have on States and Schools? reflects the findings drawn from surveys of state and local officials conducted between December 2009 and February 2012. The report focuses on the $48.5 billion of the education stimulus funds that were allocated to the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF), primarily to stabilize state support for public schools and help recoup lost revenues. As a condition to receiving the funds, each state had to agree to four key education reform initiatives: (1) implement rigorous college- and career-ready standards and develop assessments aligned with those standards, (2) establish and use longitudinal data systems to track student progress, (3) increase teacher effectives and address inequities in the distribution of highly qualified teachers, and (4) apply effective interventions to turn around low-performing schools. In its conclusion, the report acknowledges that following through with education reform will be a challenge for many states and LEAs due to finances. “Key activities related to the ARRA reforms have not yet been implemented, and state education agencies in particular face ongoing funding problems that could slow their capacity to lead implementation of the ARRA reforms.” The full report is available on the CEP website www.cep-dc.org.
PCG Education offers state-of-the-art electronic data systems and expert professional consultants to assist states and LEAs in their education reform efforts.