One Waiver You Can Count On

June 17, 2011 | By Thompson Education | Post a Comment

(This post is excerpted from Title I-Derland, Thompson’s blog on federal K-12 education and was written by Chuck Edwards, senior executive director for Thompson’s education products.) By all accounts, a prime candidate for one of Arne Duncan’s planned waivers is the professional development set-aside under Title I.

NCLB requires any school in improvement to devote 10 percent of its Title I grant to professional development. Likewise, any school district in improvement has to reserve 10 percent of its grant (including amounts reserved by schools in improvement) for the same purpose.

Because the constant ratcheting up of student achievement targets is throwing more and more schools into improvement, the percentage of national Title I funding going to PD and other set-asides is rising as well, sucking more and more money out of student services. Some argue there is a surfeit of dollars going to PD, not all of it effective.

Teachers, of course, are on the “sharp end” of the education system, and the better trained they are, the better they can teach. But, as one state director told me last year, “There is only so much PD you can do.”

And it should not be forgotten that there is another large pot of federal dollars earmarked exclusively for PD. Title II of NCLB will provide $2.5 billion for professional development this year, a respectable chunk of change even when compared to the $14.5 billion appropriation for Title I. Although the Title II funds are available to all schools, not just Title I schools, the law specifically encourages use of Title II funds to meet Title I needs.

A waiver of the PD set-aside was one of those specifically invited by ED last year to avoid stuffing too much stimulus money into set-asides rather than regular student services. I would be very surprised if this doesn’t appear on the waiver list again.

Photo credit: alex012

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