New GAO Study Examines U.S. DOE Assessment Challenges

The U.S. Department of Education provides billions of dollars in grants for programs to improve K–12 outcomes.

Do they work?

The U.S. Government Accountability Office found that DOE faces challenges determining whether these programs work. 

Specifically, problems persist with:

  • Oversight. For example, some program grant files were missing descriptions of what grantees achieved.
  • Data qualityEducation lacks assurance that some state-submitted data are accurate.
  • CapacityA lack of qualified staff has impacted monitoring. Education hasn’t updated hiring plans.
  • Study designMeasuring long-term outcomes can be difficult.

DOE has taken steps to mitigate these performance assessment challenges, and that could improve transparency and understanding about the extent to which the department’s K–12 programs are achieving their goals. Ongoing efforts to address challenges may prove particularly important given the changing education landscape under the Every Student Succeeds Act.