Funding and Support for Secondary Education

Purpose

To affirm NASSP’s belief that federal funding of middle level and high school education is necessary to prepare students for postsecondary success, and to offer recommendations for federal policymakers to help improve schools and student achievement.

Issue

The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) made an unprecedented investment of over $101 billion in education. This groundbreaking effort represents a resounding agreement that federal support of education is both appropriate and desperately needed in these tough economic times.

At the same time, by encouraging states to use 40% of their school improvement allocation for middle level and high schools, ARRA highlights an issue that for far too long has challenged federal education funding.

Over the years, efforts at the state and federal levels have been appropriately placed on providing adequate funding for preschool and elementary education programs. Notably, the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) places much more emphasis on elementary than secondary schools and has effectively left the “S” out of “ESEA.” Such emphasis is primarily attributable to the belief that addressing educational needs early in a student’s life presents the best opportunity of success in school. Although NASSP accepts this premise, more resources need to be focused on middle level and high schools.

As evidence of this need, a 2007 report by the U.S. Department of Education found that despite educating 42% of the nation’s low-income middle level and high school students, in 2004–05 secondary schools received only 24% of funds under Title I of the ESEA, which provides the primary source of federal support for K–12 schools.

Middle level and high school students deserve to have access to the same high quality education that they receive in the early grades, and the failure to meet students’ needs in the latter years of their educational experience often translates into lower performance and higher drop-out rates. In addition, it lessens the likelihood that students will transition to higher education or successful careers.

NASSP Guiding Principles

  • Federal, state and local secondary school programs that are fully funded help all students graduate with the knowledge and skills needed for post-graduation success.
  • Well-educated citizens contribute significantly to a robust economy, national security, and a host of additional positive societal characteristics. It is essential and appropriate that federal resources be provided throughout the education continuum to ensure that all students become productive citizens.
  • Congress and state legislatures routinely approve laws that necessitate local compliance. To be effectively implemented, many of these statutes require adequate funding. The federal and state governments must provide appropriate resources to meet these mandates.
  • Public schools provide education to 90% of American citizens; therefore, state and federal funding for education must be targeted to public schools, especially those with the greatest need.

Recommendations

  • Initiate and fund federal, state, and local legislative initiatives that specifically address the educational needs of secondary school students.
  • Refrain from initiating state and federal initiatives that divert funding from public secondary schools to private sources.
  • Create a separate funding stream to improve student achievement at the middle and high school levels and turn around low-performing secondary schools.
  • Fully fund ESEA and IDEA at their authorized levels.
  • Authorize resources for a comprehensive literacy policy containing three distinct elements—early childhood, grades K–3, and middle grades and high school
  • Allocate at least five cents of every dollar in the federal budget to education in order to reflect a level of commitment commensurate with other important national priorities and to meet the educational needs of all students effectively
  • Encourage states and districts to allocate funds in accordance with the proportion of elementary, middle level, and high schools contained within their jurisdictions.

Resources

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Retrieved from www.ed.gov/policy/gen/leg/recovery/implementation.html

Stullich, S., Eisner, E., &McCrary, J. (2007). National Assessment of Title I, Final Report: Volume I: Implementation Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.

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Adopted June 11, 2002
Revised May 9, 2009