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ERIC Number: ED533671
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Jul
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 9
What Impact Did Education Stimulus Funds Have on States and School Districts?
Rentner, Diane Stark; Usher, Alexandra
Center on Education Policy
To blunt the effects of the economic downturn that began in 2008, President Obama called for, and on February 13, 2009 the Congress passed, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). This federal economic stimulus package had three primary goals: to save and create jobs, to cultivate economic activity and long-term growth, and to increase accountability and transparency in government spending. Federal appropriations for the ARRA eventually totaled approximately $840 billion and were directed toward tax cuts, funding for entitlement programs, and investments in infrastructure, health, energy, education, and other programs. In the area of education, the Act provided economic stimulus funds to states for both K-12 public schools (the focus of this report) and postsecondary education institutions. ARRA also included additional fiscal year (FY) 2009 funding for the Title I program for disadvantaged children and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. In 2010, states and school districts received an additional $10 billion to save or create educators' jobs through the Education Jobs Fund legislation. The Center on Education Policy (CEP) at the George Washington University has tracked the use of ARRA and Education Jobs funds and the implementation of ARRA-related reforms since these laws were enacted. Between December 2009 and February 2012, CEP released six reports looking at the effects of the ARRA on K-12 education across the United States, all available at These six reports were based on survey responses of state and local officials charged with implementing the ARRA and Education Jobs programs. In particular, CEP surveyed state education agency (SEA) officials and governors' staff and conducted nationally representative surveys of school district officials, including superintendents, chief financial officers, and program directors. Responses to all of the surveys were kept anonymous to encourage frank answers. This summary report synthesizes findings across all six reports and distills themes and conclusions based on a retrospective look at the effects of ARRA on K-12 education. Several main conclusions can be drawn from CEP's surveys of officials on the front lines of implementing ARRA. First, ARRA funding helped to blunt the effects of the budget cuts in K-12 education faced by most school districts and many states. Second, the ARRA largely met its primary purpose of saving or creating K-12 teaching jobs and other education-related jobs. Third, in addition to saving jobs, ARRA has encouraged states to pursue a common reform agenda centered on the four assurances tied to the receipt of ARRA funds--namely, adopting rigorous standards and assessments, implementing statewide student data systems, enhancing teacher effectiveness, and improving low-performing schools. States and districts have used stimulus funding to implement these priorities and have made progress in carrying out many aspects of these four reforms. Even so, key activities related to the reforms have not yet been implemented, and in some cases budget cuts have led states and districts to slow or postpone action on the reforms. Fourth, the funding benefits of ARRA appear, to a large extent, to have bypassed state education agencies, which play a crucial role in implementing the ARRA and state reform agendas. Many SEAs report having experienced funding cuts and staffing reductions over the past few years, which have affected their capacity to improve K-12 education. The remainder of this report provides background on the ARRA and Education Jobs programs and highlights findings and themes about the impact of these programs.
Center on Education Policy. 2140 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Room 103, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 202-822-8065; Fax: 202-994-8859; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; Phi Delta Kappa International
Authoring Institution: Center on Education Policy
Identifiers - Location: United States
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009; Individuals with Disabilities Education Act