Title I is a federally mandated program administered by the federal government to provide funds to local education agencies (LEAs) for individuals who are economically disadvantaged. According to the US Department of Education, in the 2009–2010 school year, approximately 21 million children in public and private schools received assistance through Title I programs. This article presents the history and applications of the Title I program in the United States. Additionally, this essay will discuss Title I programs in terms of proponents and critics, effectiveness, early intervention, and special education.
Keywords Economically Disadvantaged; Even Start; Head Start; Improving American's Schools Act of 1994 (IASA); Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); Limited English Proficient (LEP); Local Education Agencies (LEA); Low-Income Families; No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB); Socially Disadvantaged; Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA); War on Poverty
In the 1960s and 1970s, several programs were launched to assist children who were educationally at a disadvantage and living in poverty. According to Ornstein and Hunkins (1998), many of the programs developed by the reform movements targeted specific populations, educational strategies, educational settings, and policy. Ornstein and Hunkins (1998) further reported that President Johnson's administration began the practice of funding personnel and services that targeted the educational minority and economically disadvantaged under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
Title I is a federally mandated program administered by the federal government to provide funds to local education agencies (LEAs) for individuals who are economically disadvantaged. The majority of LEAs distribute funds to schools with the highest number of children from families who are low-income. According to the US Census Bureau in 2012, an individual making less than $11,720 per year or a family of four making less than $23,492 per year is considered to be below the poverty income level (Institute for Research and Poverty, 2013).
According to the US Department of Education, in the 2009–2010 school year, more than 56,000 public schools in the United States received Title I funds, with over 21 million children receiving assistance through Title I programs (US Department of Education, 2011). Three percent of these children were in preschool, 59 percent were in Kindergarten through fifth grade, 21 percent were in grades six through eight, and 17 percent were in grades nine through twelve. In 2011, the US. Department of Education provided approximately $14.5 billion in financial support for children in preschool through high school. Trends in high-poverty schools include the widening gap in achievement scores between high and low poverty schools as well as rising scores, particularly in math, in the highest poverty schools (US Department of Education, 2002).
The additional monies provided by Title I funds must focus on children who are at the most risk of failing the academic curriculum. However, if the school has more than 40 percent of children considered to be low income then the funds can be used school wide for all of the children in school. Statistics from the US Department of Education (2007) indicate that 60 percent of Title I funds provide school-wide assistance and 40 percent are targeted funds for specific programs.
Additionally, children enrolled in private schools can have access to Title I funds. According to the US Department of Education, approximately 1 percent of the children enrolled in private schools receive Title I assistance (US Department of Education, 2002).
Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was established by President Johnson's proposal of the Great Society, which lead to the introduction of legislation known as War on Poverty. The intent of the Great Society was recognition of the need for domestic programs to eliminate poverty and racial or social injustice by promoting equal opportunity for all citizens. The phrase "War on Poverty" was coined by Johnson in 1964 and was considered to be in response to the economic conditions of that era. In terms of education, the goal of Title I was to narrow the achievement gaps between middle class and poor children.
Borman (2000) stated that Title I was unparalleled in establishing a federal obligation to equal educational opportunity for all children. Since 1965, Title I of ESEA has been the primary federal financial resource for schools. As the primary compensatory education program in the United States, Title I aims to break the cycle of poverty by closing the achievement gap between poor and more advantaged peers (Borman, 2000; LeTendre, 1996; Ornstein & Hunkins, 1998; Ysseldyke, Betts, Thill, & Hannigan, 2004).
According to the US Department of Education, the purpose of Title I is to improve the educational opportunities of the disadvantaged by ensuring that all children have equal access to education and the skills to achieve proficiency in terms of state academic standards. The US Department of Education states that the intent of Tile I can be accomplished by holding educational systems at the local and state level accountable by:
• Having measurable outcomes;
• Meeting the educational needs of all children (i.e., children who are disabled, neglected, limited English proficient, etc.) in high poverty schools;
• Closing the achievement gap for high and low performing, minority and nonminority, and disadvantaged and advantaged students;
• Providing educational alternatives and resources to students in low performing schools;
• Providing teachers and schools with greater decision making authority to improve education standards;
• Allowing schools with a predominately high poverty level to opt to use resources school wide to design supplemental services or programs to enhance the educational services;
• Providing staff development financial assistance; coordinating services with other service agencies; and,
• Involving parents in the education process.
Through the provision of Title I funding, state and local education agencies can provide additional services to individuals from low-income families. The provision of services is a mechanism that allows all children the opportunity to receive quality educational services and be proficient on state assessment (US Department of Education, 2007). As stated earlier, if the poverty rate is above 40 percent at the individual school, the school may use Title I funds to provide school-wide programs for all students. If less than 40 percent of the school population is below poverty, then the school must use the funds to target activities to students who are at risk or who are failing the school curriculum or failing to meet the education standards. Additionally, the programs must be based on strategies that will improve student achievement and support parental involvement.
Reauthorizations of Title One
The ESEA has required local education agencies to provide services to eligible children, teachers, and parents enrolled in either public or private schools (Ornstein & Hunkins, 1998; Ysseldyke, Betts, Thill, & Hannigan, 2004). In 1994, ESEA was reauthorized as the Improving America's Schools Act of 1994 (IASA). The reauthorization maintained its original provision to provide services to those in poverty. However, the focus of the program was to provide school-wide reform measures instead of remedial-only services (Le Tendre, 1996). The movement toward school-wide research demonstrated that all children in a poverty school are negatively affected, not just the students who are living below the poverty level (Kopels, 1995; Le Tendre, 1996; Ratcliffe & Willard, 2006).
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) amended the ESEA to continue this mandate (Ratcliffe & Willard, 2006). As part of the accountability measures required by NCLB, states using Title I funding must develop timelines for increasing student performance and ways to increase parental involvement in education. For example, states are now required to publish achievement data by different groups (i.e., low income, disabilities) and make certain that students meet the state educational proficiency standards. Educational testing must occur every year in grades three to eight and once in grades ten to twelve (Ratcliffe & Willard, 2006; Ysseldyke, Betts, Thill, & Hannigan, 2004).
In terms of accountability, if a school that does not meet performance standards set by the state, a child’s parent or guardian is given the right to transfer the student to a higher performing school (Le Tendre, 1996; Ratcliffe & Willard, 2006). One of the requirements of NCLB is that highly qualified personnel must teach students, particularly the disadvantaged and disabled. Teachers must be qualified to teach in the academic area for which they are assigned. Schools are limited in the use of noncertified teachers in shortage areas such as special education.
Throughout the history of education, particularly in Title I programs, there has been limited longitudinal assessment of the effectiveness of the programs funded (Borman, 2000). However, in response to accountability demands, Congress has recognized and required a longitudinal assessment of the effectiveness of Title I.
Types of Programs Available through Title I
The different types of programs offered by Title I typically center around
• Smaller class size;
• Extensive professional development opportunities for staff;
• Parent/family training opportunities;
• Variety of teaching methods and materials in the classrooms; and,
• The use of cutting edge strategies and technology.
Additional services that may be available...
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