NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Federal Compliance Works against Education Policy Goals

July 29, 2011

While the federal government spends billions of dollars every year on federal education programs, federal policymakers and education advocates often lament that these programs do not achieve their intended results -- specifically, increasing student academic achievement, say Melissa Junge and Sheara Krvaric, cofounders of Federal Education Group PLLC, an education law and consulting firm in Washington, D.C.

To address this problem, policymakers and advocates typically debate the merits and drawbacks of broad federal education policies and various educational approaches, without examining the underlying federal compliance framework that directly impacts whether and how these policies can be carried out by states and school districts.  Reforming little-known and little-understood federal compliance rules could lead to far better educational outcomes than broad changes in federal policy alone.  Addressing these rules will improve conditions so schools and school districts can successfully implement programs that will raise student achievement.

Key points Junge and Krvaric make in their study:

  • Federal fiscal compliance rules can stifle innovation and hinder federal education programs from achieving their goals.
  • States have authority and responsibility over how federal education programs are implemented and must repay federal money if districts spend funds incorrectly; thus, states often impose more restrictive rules than federal law requires.
  • Congress and education policymakers should clarify and streamline these compliance requirements so schools can focus less on compliance and more on raising student achievement.

Source: Melissa Junge and Sheara Krvaric, "Federal Compliance Works against Education Policy Goals," American Enterprise Institute, July 2011.

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