Lack of Funding Plagues Middle, Upper Grades in U.S. Education

A new report from the Alliance for Excellent Education shows that the majority of PreK-12 federal funding is for birth to fifth grade ($26 billion) compared to grades 6-8 ($2.5 billion) and grades 9-12 ($3.1 billion). At the higher education level, funding rises again to $31.1 billion. The report, Never Too Late: Why ESEA Must Fill the Missing Middle, does acknowledge that graduation rates have risen over the past decade. However, the authors contend that if the stagnant funding for grades 6-12 continues and low-performing schools don’t have help in turning around, the U.S. will cease making progress on the goal to have every student college- and career-ready.

“The federal government has made strong, worthwhile investments in the bookends of education—early education and postsecondary education—but it missed the middle,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia, in a press release. “Investments in the early grades and postsecondary education should be maintained, but to ensure these investments receive the greatest returns and translate into more students graduating from high school, the federal government must devote more attention to middle and high schools as it works to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, currently known as No Child Left Behind.”

Requested ESEA Reauthorization Goals

  • Include dedicated funding for school turnaround that is focused on a state’s lowest-performing schools.
  • Implement evidence-based, comprehensive reform among high schools that fail to graduate one-third of their students (i.e., high schools with graduation rates at or below 67 percent).
  • Address gaps in achievement and high school graduation rates within state accountability policy. ESEA must require states to implement interventions in high schools where one or more student subgroups miss one or more state-set performance targets for two or more years.
  • Authorize funding for “next-generation high schools” that will implement new models for school turnaround in the lowest performing schools, expose students to the workforce, and provide students with college credit while in high school.
  • Target new funding under Title I, Part A, to high schools in order to address the “missing middle.”

Read Never Too Late: Why ESEA Must Fill the Missing Middle from the Alliance for Excellent Education (May 2015).

For more on the state and federal policies impacting the learning resource industry, check out the 2015 Content in Context conferencefrom the AAP PreK-12 Learning Group.