Policy Guidance for Title I, Part A: Improving Basic Programs Operated by Local Educational Agencies - April 1996

A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

Serving Preschool Children

Title I, Part A funds may be used to eligible preschool children. To be eligible, preschool children--like school-aged children--must be failing, or most at risk of failing, to meet the State's challenging student performance standards. Preschool children from must be selected for Part A services solely on the basis of such criteria as teacher judgment, interviews with parents, and developmentally appropriate measures. Children who participated in a Head Start or Even Start program at any time in the two preceding years are automatically eligible for Part A services. [See the Targeted Assistance Schools chapter for further discussion on student eligibility and selection.]

There are several ways in which preschool programs may be funded under Part A. For example--

Q. May an LEA and school use Title I funds to identify eligible preschool students?

A. Generally, it is the responsibility of an LEA and school to use information it already has available to identify at-risk students. However, if an LEA has no existing assessment data for preschool children, Part A may pay for identifying these children.

Section 1112(c)(1)(H) of Title I requires that, beginning in the 1997-98 school year, Part A preschool programs must comply with performance standards established under the Head Start Act. The specific standards applicable to Part A preschool programs are in 45 CFR 1304.21--Education and Early Childhood. [NOTE: Proposed Head Start Performance Standards were published in the Federal Register on April 22, 1996]

Part A preschool programs using the Even Start model or Even Start programs which are expanded through the use of Title I, Part A funds are not required to comply with the Head Start performance standards. Even when a Part A preschool program meets the Head Start standards, an LEA or school has the option to operate the preschool program using the Even Start model.

Coordiantion with Other Preschool Programs

Title I contains new links and opportunities between Part A and other preschool programs, most notably, Head Start and Even Start. If an LEA submits a Part A plan under section 1112 of Title I (rather than a consolidated plan), the LEA must describe in its plan how it will coordinate and integrate services under Part A with other educational services such as Even Start, Head Start, and other preschool programs, including plans for the transition of children in those programs to elementary school programs. An LEA must also describe, if appropriate, how it will use Part A funds to support preschool programs for children, particularly children participating in a Head Start or Even Start program. An LEA may provide such services directly or through a local Head Start agency, an agency operating an Even Start program, or another comparable public early childhood development program. At the school level, an elementary schoolwide program school must include in its plan strategies for assisting preschool children in the transition from early childhood programs, such as Head Start, Even Start, or a State-run preschool program to elementary school.

Head Start

In addition to preschool children participating in Part A programs, Part A funds may also be used to complement or extend Head Start programs. In the examples listed below, all Part A requirements apply to the use of Part A funds.

Even Start

A Part A preschool program using an Even Start model must integrate early childhood education, adult literacy or adult basic education, and parenting education into a unified family literacy program. Additionally, the Part A preschool programs must include program elements 1 through 9 in section 1205 of Title I, Part B (Even Start Family Literacy Program).

Although funds for Part A and Even Start are not interchangeable, SEAs and LEAs have considerable flexibility in coordinating the two programs. For example, an LEA may include appropriate Part A activities as part of its Even Start project. A Part A preschool program could provide, in full or part, the early childhood component of an Even Start project. Similarly, Part A services that provide training for parents of Part A participants to help them assist in their children's education could also be included in an Even Start project. Such coordination is enhanced by several provisions in the new law: Part A funds may be used to increase parent involvement, including family literacy; and Part A funds or in-kind contributions may be used to meet the local share requirement under Even Start.

If an LEA includes Part A activities as part of its Even Start project, it must ensure that the Part A activities are consistent with the requirements of Part A as well as Even Start. There are a few notable differences. Specifically, children participating under Part A must reside in a participating school attendance area (unless the LEA has designated the whole LEA as a preschool attendance area). Also, children participating under Part A must be failing, or at risk of failing, to meet the State's student performance standards. Part A children, however, do not have to have parents who are eligible for adult basic education under the Adult Education Act.

Part A funds may be used to administer a Part A activity that is part of an Even Start project, as in the examples above. Otherwise at the local level, Part A funds may not be used for the administration of Even Start. If a Part A activity is not a part of an Even Start project, it still may be appropriate to have the same personnel administer both programs. In that case, each program must pay its appropriate share.

Preschool Programs for Children with Disabilities

Preschool children with disabilities may participate in a Part A preschool program paid for solely with Part A funds if those children are identified as eligible for Title I, Part A. Preschool children who have been formally identified by the LEA as disabled and entitled to special education services but who have not been identified as eligible for Part A services may participate in a preschool program that is funded by both Part A and special education funds, with the special education program paying its proportionate share for such children. For example, if the relative needs of the Title I and disabled children are similar, and the preschool class contains six Title I children and four children with disabilities, the program costs would be shared. Part A would pay 60 percent of the costs and special education would pay 40 percent of the costs.
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