States and districts that were early implementers of the supplemental services provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act increased their efficiency in delivering these services, but trouble spots remain, including low student participation rates in some districts and participation rates that neared or exceeded funding capacities in others, according to PSA case studies of nine districts in six states.
No Child Left Behind requires that supplemental services be provided for children from low-income families who are enrolled in Title I schools that have not made adequate yearly progress for three years or more. Districts are required to spend up to 20 percent of their Title I, Part A, allocation for this purpose if the demand for services warrants it.
Among the study's findings:
District funds earmarked for supplemental services varied from 2 percent in one district to 21 percent in another. Of these nine districts, four set aside less than 20 percent of their Title I allocation.
Three districts provided 86 percent or more of their eligible students with tutoring services and used the maximum amount they were required to spend on supplemental services. One of these districts exceeded its funding capacity to serve eligible students. In six districts, participation rates were between 13 and 62 percent of the students the districts could serve with the maximum required amount of funding.
In six districts, the number of students eligible for supplemental services surpassed the number the district could serve with the maximum required amount of funding.
Among the challenges that service providers encountered were irregular student attendance, particularly at the middle and high school levels.
All six states in the study had improved, refined, or expedited procedures for implementing supplemental services over the year before, increasing the number of supplemental services they provided. But monitoring service providers and evaluating their performance continued to be challenges.
District administrators continued streamlining their procedures for providing services. The nine case study districts spent an average of $1,408 per pupil for services in 2003-04. The five districts that were in two years of the study increased that expenditure by $300 over the year before. Districts became more adept at informing parents about the availability of services and contracting with service providers.
Overall, school districts made up a small proportion of all service providers. However, in two of the three districts where they were providers, districts served a significant number of students (49 percent in one district and 76 percent in the other). Of the 24 providers interviewed in the study, 15 hired only certified teachers to staff their programs. In general, school and district staff reported that providers were able to accommodate student needs.
While many parents reported receiving sufficient information about the services available to their children, others appeared to know little. Teacher and principal recommendations were their main guide in selecting services and providers. While some were satisfied, others reported receiving little benefit.
Data for this study were collected for the 2003-04 school year.