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No Child Left Behind: A Desktop Reference
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Title I--Improving The Academic Achievement Of The Disadvantaged
Improving Basic Programs Operated by Local Educational Agencies (I-A)

Purpose

Title I, Part A, is intended to help ensure that all children have the opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach proficiency on challenging state academic standards and assessments. Less than one-third (29 percent) of all fourth-grade students performed at or above the proficient level on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in reading in 2000. The percentage of students reaching proficiency was even lower for low-income students (13 percent), African Americans (10 percent),Hispanics (13 percent), students with disabilities (8 percent), and students with limited English proficiency (3 percent).

As the largest federal program supporting elementary and secondary education (funded at $10.4 billion in FY 2002), Title I targets these resources to the districts and schools where the needs are greatest. Schools with poverty rates of 50 percent or higher received 73 percent of Title I funds in the 1997-98 school year, and nearly all (96 percent) of the highest-poverty schools (those with 75 percent or more low-income students) received Title I funds.

Title I provides flexible funding that may be used to provide additional instructional staff, professional development, extended-time programs, and other strategies for raising student achievement in high-poverty schools. The program focuses on promoting schoolwide reform in high-poverty schools and ensuring students' access to scientifically based instructional strategies and challenging academic content. Title I provisions provide a mechanism for holding states, school districts, and schools accountable for improving the academic achievement of all students and turning around low-performing schools, while providing alternatives to students in such schools to enable those students to receive a high-quality education.

WHAT'S NEW--The No Child Left Behind Act

Focuses on What Works

  • Requires that Title I funds be used only for effective educational practices. Title I schoolwide and targeted assistance programs are required to use effective methods and instructional strategies that are grounded in scientifically based research. School improvement plans, professional development, and technical assistance that districts provide to low-performing schools must be based on strategies that have a proven record of effectiveness.
  • Requires states to develop plans with annual measurable objectives that will ensure that all teachers teaching in core academic subjects are highly qualified by the end of the 2005-06 school year.
  • Requires local school districts to ensure that all Title I teachers in core academic subjects hired after the first day of the 2002-03 school year are "highly qualified." For new teachers, this means being certified by the state (including alternative routes to state certification), holding at least a bachelor's degree, and demonstrating subject area competency.
  • Strengthens corrective action (required after two years of school improvement) to include actions more likely to bring about meaningful change at the school, such as replacing school staff responsible for the continued failure to make adequate yearly progress, implementing a new curriculum, and reorganizing the school internally.
  • Mandates the fundamental restructuring of any school that fails to improve over an extended period of time, including reopening the school as a charter school or turning over school operations either to the state or to a private company with a demonstrated record of effectiveness.
  • Strengthens paraprofessional requirements to include two years of postsecondary education or, for an applicant with a high school diploma, the demonstration of necessary skills on a formal state or local academic assessment. All new hires must meet these requirements, and existing paraprofessionals have four years to comply with them.
  • Emphasizes that paraprofessionals may not provide instructional support services except under the direct supervision of a teacher.

Reduces Bureaucracy and Increases Flexibility

  • Expands eligibility for schoolwide programs. The poverty threshold for schoolwide programs, which enable schools to use Title I funds to raise the achievement of at-risk students by improving the quality of instruction throughout the school, has been lowered from 50 percent to 40 percent.

Increases Accountability for Student Performance

  • Requires annual assessments in grades 3-8 that include all students.
  • Requires state and local report cards on student academic achievement.
  • Requires states to implement a single statewide accountability system.
  • Tightens provisions concerning adequate yearly progress by requiring states to specify annual measurable objectives to measure student progress to ensure that all groups of students disaggregated by poverty, race and ethnicity, disability, and limited English proficiency data-reach proficiency in reading and math within 12 years.
  • Substantially increases funding for state and local support for school improvement (from one-half percent of Title I funds under the 1994 Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization to 2 percent under the No Child Left Behind Act, rising to 4 percent in 2004). Also establishes a separate $500 million authorization for Assistance for Local School Improvement grants.

Empowers Parents

  • Requires local school districts to offer public school choice to students in schools identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring so that no student is trapped in a failing school. School districts must provide transportation for eligible students, subject to the 20 percent rule described below.
  • Requires school districts to permit low-income students attending chronically failing schools to obtain supplemental educational services from a public- or private-sector provider that has been approved by the state. Faith-based organizations are eligible to apply for approval to provide supplemental educational services.
  • Requires school districts to spend an amount equal to 20 percent of their Part A funds for transportation of students who exercise a choice option or for supplemental educational services, unless a lesser amount is needed to meet all requests. These funds do not have to be taken from Title I allocations, but may be provided from other allowable federal, state, local or private sources.
  • Notifies parents of school choice and supplemental educational services options. Requires districts to "promptly" notify parents of eligible students attending schools identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring of their option to transfer their child to a better public school or to obtain supplemental educational services.
  • Establishes Parents' "Right to Know" provision. Requires local school districts to annually notify parents of their right to request information on the professional qualifications of their children's teachers.

How It Works

Title I, Part A, provides formula grants to school districts, which then allocate most of these funds to individual Title I schools based on their number of poor children.

Schools may use Title I funds for one of two approaches:

  • Schoolwide programs. High-poverty schools (those with 40 percent or more students from low-income families) are eligible to adopt schoolwide programs to raise the achievement of low-achieving students by improving instruction throughout the entire school, thus using Title I funds to serve all children.
  • Targeted assistance programs. Schools that are not eligible for (or do not choose to operate) schoolwide programs must use Title I funds to provide targeted services to low-achieving students.

Title I funds may be used for a variety of services and activities, most commonly for instruction in reading and mathematics. The legislation encourages the use of strategies such as extended day (before- and after-school programs), extended year, and summer programs to increase learning time. Although districts and schools may use Title I funds to serve children from preschool age through high school, most focus these funds on students in the early grades; three-quarters (77 percent) of Title I participants are in preschool through grade 6.

Key Requirements

The No Child Left Behind Act strengthens Title I requirements for state assessments, accountability systems, and support for school improvement. The law also establishes minimum qualifications for teachers and paraprofessionals in Title I programs.

Assessments

By the 2005-06 school year, states must develop and implement annual assessments in reading and mathematics in grades 3 through 8 and at least once in grades 10-12. By 2007-08, states also must administer annual science assessments at least once in grades 3-5, grades 6-9, and grades 10-12. These assessments must be aligned with state academic content and achievement standards and involve multiple measures, including measures of higher-order thinking and understanding.

  • Alignment with State Standards. State assessments must be aligned with challenging academic content standards and challenging academic achievement standards. States were required under the previous law to develop or adopt standards in mathematics and reading/language arts, and the new law requires the development of science standards by 2005 and 2006. Their standards must have the same expectations for all children and have at least three achievement levels.
  • Inclusion. State assessments must provide for the participation of all students, including students with disabilities or limited English proficiency. Students who have been in schools in the United States for three consecutive years must be assessed in English in the area of reading and language arts.
  • Accommodations. State assessments must provide for reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities or limited English proficiency, including, if practicable, native-language versions of the assessment.
  • Annual Assessment of English Proficiency. Beginning with the 2002-03 school year, states must ensure that districts administer tests of English proficiency--that measure oral language, reading, and writing skills in English--to all limited English proficient students.
  • Reporting. State assessment systems must produce results disaggregated by gender, major racial and ethnic groups, English proficiency, migrant status, disability, and status as economically advantaged. The assessment system must produce individual student interpretive, descriptive, and diagnostic reports. States must report itemized score analyses to districts and schools.
  • Prompt Dissemination of Results. States must ensure that the results of state assessments administered in one school year are available to school districts before the beginning of the next school year. The assessment results must be provided in a manner that is clear and easy to understand and be used by school districts, schools and teachers to improve the educational achievement of individual students.
  • Participation in State NAEP. States must participate in biennial National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) assessments in reading and mathematics for fourth- and eighth-graders, beginning in 2002-03. State-level NAEP data will enable policymakers to examine the relative rigor of state standards and assessments against a common metric.

Accountability

States must develop and implement a single, statewide accountability system that will be effective in ensuring that all districts and schools make adequate yearly progress, and hold accountable those that do not. Schools that do not make adequate yearly progress will be identified for increasingly rigorous sanctions designed to bring about meaningful change in instruction and performance. Further, students in low-performing schools will have the option to transfer to other public schools or to obtain supplemental educational services. Finally, the law mandates the fundamental restructuring of any school that fails to improve over an extended period of time.

  • Adequate Yearly Progress. States must establish a definition of adequate yearly progress that each district and school is expected to meet. States must specify annual objectives to measure progress of schools and districts to ensure that all groups of students-including low-income students, students from major racial and ethnic groups, students with disabilities, and students with limited English proficiency-reach proficiency within 12 years. States must set intermediate goals that provide for annual adequate yearly progress targets, with the first increase to occur no later than 2004-05. In order to make adequate yearly progress, schools must test at least 95 percent of their students in each of the above groups.
  • Identification of Schools and Districts in Need of Improvement. States must annually review the progress of each school and school district receiving Title I funds to determine whether they are making adequate yearly progress, and then publicize and disseminate the results of the review. Title I schools and districts that fail to make adequate yearly progress for two consecutive years must be identified as in need of improvement.
  • Public School Choice. Students in schools identified for improvement must be given the option to transfer to another public school that has not been identified for improvement, with transportation provided as described below.
  • Professional development. Schools identified for improvement must spend at least 10 percent of their Title I Part A funds on professional development for the school's teachers and principal that directly addresses the academic achievement problem that caused the school to be identified for improvement.
  • Supplemental Educational Services. If a school fails to make adequate yearly progress for a third year, students from low-income families in the school must be given the option to use Title I funds to obtain supplemental educational services from a public- or private-sector provider, including faith-based organizations, selected from a list of providers approved by the state.

    States must develop and apply objective criteria to potential providers that are based on a demonstrated record of effectiveness in increasing academic proficiency, and must monitor the quality and effectiveness of the services offered by approved providers. States must maintain a list of approved providers across the state, by school district, from which parents may select, and must promote maximum participation by supplemental educational services providers to ensure that parents have as many choices as possible.
  • Funds for Transportation and Supplemental Services. School districts are required to spend an amount equal to 20 percent of their Title I, Part A, funds to pay for supplemental educational services for eligible students and for transportation of students exercising the public school choice option, unless a lesser amount is needed to meet all requests. These funds do not have to be taken from Title I allocations, but may be provided from other allowable federal, state, local, or private sources, including federal funds under Section 1003, Title V, Part A; Title II, Part A; Title II, Part D; Title IV, Part A; and Title V, Part A (in some cases, these funds may only be used for this purpose under the transferability provision described below).
  • Corrective Action. If a school fails to make adequate yearly progress for a fourth year, the school district must take corrective actions that are designed to bring about meaningful change at the school. These corrective actions must include at least one of the following: replacing school staff, implementing a new curriculum (with appropriate professional development), decreasing management authority at the school level, appointing an outside expert to advise the school, extending the school day or year or reorganizing the school internally.

    Similarly, if a school district fails to make adequate yearly progress for four years, the state must take corrective actions that must include at least one of the following: deferring programmatic funds or reducing administrative funds; implementing a new curriculum (with professional development); replacing personnel; establishing alternative governance arrangements; appointing a receiver or trustee to administer the district in place of the superintendent and school board; or abolishing or restructuring the school district. The state may also authorize students to transfer to higher-performing public schools operated by another school district (with transportation). States must provide information to parents and the public on any corrective action the state takes with school districts.
  • Restructuring. If a school fails to make adequate yearly progress for a fifth year, the school district must initiate plans to fundamentally restructure the school. This restructuring may include reopening the school as a charter school, replacing all or most of the school staff who are relevant to the failure to make adequate progress, or turning over school operations either to the state or to a private company with a demonstrated record of effectiveness.
  • Technical Assistance. States and school districts must provide technical assistance to schools identified for school improvement, corrective action, or restructuring. States are required to reserve portions of their Title I funding to benefit schools identified for school improvement, corrective action, and restructuring, and they must distribute 95 percent of these reserved funds to school districts. State assistance must include: establishing school support teams; designating and using distinguished teachers and principals who are chosen from schools that have been especially successful in improving academic achievement; and devising additional approaches to providing assistance, such as through institutions of higher education and educational service agencies or other local consortia, and private providers of scientifically based technical assistance.
  • State Report Cards. States must produce and disseminate annual report cards that provide information on how students are achieving overall as well as information disaggregated by race, ethnicity, gender, English proficiency, migrant status, disability status, and low-income status. The report cards must include:
    • State assessment results by performance level, showing two-year trend data for each subject and grade tested, with a comparison between annual objectives and actual performance for each student group. The report cards also must show the percentage of each group of students not tested.
    • Graduation rates for secondary school students and any other student achievement indicators that the state chooses.
    • Performance of school districts on adequate yearly progress measures, including the number and names of schools identified as in need of improvement.
    • Professional qualifications of teachers in the state, including the percentage of teachers teaching with emergency or provisional credentials and the percentage of classes in the state that are not taught by highly qualified teachers, including a comparison between high- and low-poverty schools.
  • School District Report Cards. School districts also must prepare and disseminate annual report cards that include information on student achievement for the district and for each school. As with the state report cards, achievement data must be disaggregated for the same student subgroups. The report cards also must provide information on the schools identified for improvement.
  • Annual State Report to the Secretary. States must report annually to the secretary of Education on their progress in developing and implementing academic assessments; students' achievement on the assessments disaggregated by groups of students; and information about acquisition of English proficiency by children with limited English proficiency, the names of schools identified as in need of improvement, public school choice, supplemental service programs, and teacher quality.

Qualifications for Teachers and Paraprofessionals

The No Child Left Behind Act requires states to ensure that Title I schools provide instruction by highly qualified instructional staff.

  • Highly Qualified Teachers. States must develop plans with annual measurable objectives that will ensure that all teachers of core academic subjects are highly qualified, which means that they have state certification (which may be alternative state certification), hold a bachelor's degree, and have demonstrated subject area competency. Core academic subjects include English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography. All new hires in Title I programs after the start of the 2002-03 school year must meet these requirements; all existing teachers must meet these requirements by the end of the 2005-06 school year. School districts must use at least 5 percent of their Title I funds for professional development to help teachers become highly qualified.
  • Higher Qualifications for Paraprofessionals. Paraprofessionals in Title I programs must have at least two years of postsecondary education or, for an applicant with a high school diploma, demonstrate necessary skills on a formal state or local academic assessment. All new hires in Title I programs after January 8, 2002,must meet these requirements; existing paraprofessionals have four years from January 8, 2002, to comply with them. However, these requirements do not apply to paraprofessionals used for translation or parent involvement. All paraprofessionals in Title I programs must have a high school diploma or its equivalent.
  • Appropriate Roles for Paraprofessionals. The law specifies that paraprofessionals may not provide instructional support services except under the direct supervision of a teacher.

How It Achieves Quality

Throughout the legislation, there is a strong emphasis on ensuring that Title I funds are used to support educational practices that are based on scientific research. More specifically:

  • States must assist school districts in developing or identifying high-quality, effective curricula aligned with state academic achievement standards, and must disseminate such curricula to each district and school within the state.
  • School districts are required to take into account the experience of model programs for the educationally disadvantaged and the findings of relevant scientifically based research as they develop their plans for services.
  • Both schoolwide and targeted assistance programs are required to use effective instructional methods and strategies based on scientifically based research.
  • Schools identified for improvement must develop two-year improvement plans that incorporate strategies based on scientifically based research. School districts must provide technical assistance to these schools, such as identifying and implementing professional development, instructional strategies, and methods of instruction that are grounded in scientifically based research and have been proven effective in addressing the specific instructional issues that caused the school to be identified.
  • School districts identified for improvement must incorporate scientifically based research strategies in their improvement plans. State technical assistance to identified school districts must be based on scientifically based research.
  • If a school district is identified for corrective action and a new curriculum is implemented, the state must provide professional development based on scientifically based research.
  • School support teams, whose top priority is to provide assistance to schools subject to corrective action, are to be composed of persons who are knowledgeable about scientifically based research and practice on teaching and learning, as well as about successful schoolwide projects, school reform, and improving educational opportunities for low-achieving students.
  • The law establishes new requirements to ensure that teachers of core academic subjects are highly qualified and requires annual measurable objectives toward these goals for each district and school. In addition, the law requires paraprofessionals to meet more rigorous training and skills requirements.

How Performance Is Measured

The No Child Left Behind Act requires states to put into place a series of measurable objectives about student performance that states, school districts, and schools are expected to meet, as well as a series of reporting mechanisms to measure progress. Performance is measured by the progress of schools and districts in making adequate yearly progress in applying the same high standards of academic achievement to all public elementary and secondary school students. Performance information will be publicly disseminated on an annual basis through a system of state and school district report cards. States also must report annually to the secretary of education on: their progress in implementing the requirements of the new law; student achievement on state assessments (disaggregated by groups of students); and information about schools in need of improvement (including the names of such schools), public school choice, supplemental educational services programs, and teacher quality.

Key Activities For The State Education Agencies

State education agencies (SEAs) must:

  • Produce an annual report card.
  • Develop and implement annual assessments in reading, language arts, and mathematics in grades 3-8 and at least once in grades 10-12, by 2005-06.
  • Develop and implement standards in science by 2005-06 and assessments in science by 2007-08.
  • Annually assess the English proficiency of students who are learning the English language.
  • Ensure the prompt dissemination of state assessment results (before the beginning of the next school year).
  • Participate in biennial state-level NAEP assessments of fourth- and eighth-grade reading and mathematics.
  • Define and implement an adequate yearly progress definition for the state, school districts, and schools.
  • Annually review the progress of each school district to determine whether schools receiving assistance are making adequate yearly progress and whether each district is carrying out its responsibilities; SEAs also must publicize the results of this review.
  • Establish a statewide system of support for districts and schools in need of improvement.
  • Establish a program for making academic achievement awards to schools that significantly close the achievement gap or exceed adequate yearly progress for two or more years.
  • Publish and disseminate to parents and the public information on any corrective action taken by the state.
  • Develop a list of approved providers of supplemental educational services and support, monitor, and disseminate information about these providers. SEAs must consider faith-based organizations as potential providers of supplemental educational services on the same basis as other eligible entities
  • Ensure that students in schools previously identified for improvement under the IASA provisions are offered school choice and, if the school had been identified for two years or more, supplemental services, at the beginning of the 2002-03 school year.
  • Ensure that schools provide instruction by highly qualified instructional staff.

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Last Modified: 09/14/2007