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Overview of Title I Assessment Fact Sheet

February 2000

The 1994 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act included a fundamental overhaul of the Title I program, to ensure that students served by Title I are held to the same high expectations and challenging standards that States set for all other students. In particular, States are required to develop and implement challenging content standards, aligned assessments, and, based on these assessments, procedures for identifying and assisting schools that fail to make adequate progress toward helping students reach state standards. Congress required States to phase in these requirements over time, and to fully implement all of the requirements by the beginning of the 2000 - 2001 school year. Every State that applied for Title I funds since this law was enacted in 1994 agreed to fulfill these requirements on time.

Overview of Title I Requirements

Title I requires States to meet the following requirements related to standards, assessments and school accountability:

Content Standards. States are required to develop challenging content standards that describe what students must know and be able to do, in at least mathematics and reading or language arts. All students attending Title I schools must be held to these high standards. Content standards were to be in place by the 1997-98 school year.

Performance Standards. States are also required to develop performance standards for at least three levels: partially proficient, proficient, and advanced. While Title I law required performance standards to be in place by the 1997-98 school year, many states received waivers from the Department in order to allow them to develop performance standards in conjunction with their aligned assessments (see below).

Aligned Assessments. States are required to implement assessments aligned with the content and performance standards in at least mathematics and reading or language arts. The Title I statute (Section 1111(b)(3)) requires State assessment systems to have the following characteristics:

  • Single assessment system. If a State uses an assessment system to measure the performance of all students, it must use the same assessment system to measure the performance of students in Title I schools modified, if necessary, to meet the Title I requirements. In the absence of such a State system, an assessment system that meets Title I requirements must be developed for students in schools served by Title I.

  • Multiple measures. The State assessment system must use multiple measures of student performance, including measures that assess higher order thinking skills and understanding, in order to enhance alignment with State standards and to provide more accurate and reliable information on what students know and can do.

  • Administered in elementary, middle and high schools. States must administer assessments at some time during grades 3 through 5, grades 6 through 9, and grades 10 through 12.

  • Technical quality. The State assessment system must only be used for purposes for which such assessments are valid and reliable, and must be consistent with nationally recognized professional standards of technical quality, such as the 1999 Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing, published jointly by the American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, and National Council on Measurement in Education.

  • Include all students. Students with disabilities and limited English proficient (LEP) students must be included in the State assessment system, and they must be assessed against the same standards as all other students.

    • State assessments must provide for reasonable adaptations and accommodations for students with diverse learning needs, including LEP students and students with disabilities, if necessary to validly measure the performance of such students.

    • LEP students must be assessed, to the extent practicable, in the language and form most likely to yield accurate and reliable information on what they know and can do in subjects other than English.

  • Disaggregated reporting. For purposes of public reporting, assessment results must be disaggregated within each State, local educational agency, and school by gender, each major racial and ethnic group, English proficiency, migrant status, disability, and economic disadvantage. Local educational agencies must produce for each Title I school performance profile that includes statistically-sound, disaggregated results, and they must publicize and disseminate such profiles to teachers, other school staff, parents, students, and the community.

  • Individual student reports. The State assessment system must provide individual student reports, including tests scores and other information on the attainment of student performance standards, so that teachers and parents can help individual students improve performance.

Accountability. The State assessment system must be the primary means of determining each local educational agency and school served by Title I has made adequate yearly progress (AYP). Adequate yearly progress must be defined by the State to result in continuous and substantial yearly improvement in student achievement. For each school, this must take into account the assessment results of all students in the grades tested who have attended the school for at least a full academic year. For each local educational agency, it must take into account the assessment results of all students who have attended school in the district for at least a full academic year, even if they have attended multiple schools within the district. Local educational agencies are required to fulfill a number of responsibilities, including identifying for improvement schools that fail to make AYP for two consecutive years, providing technical assistance to help schools develop and implement improvement plans, and taking corrective action to improve schools that fail to make AYP for three consecutive years following identification for improvement.

Reviewing State Assessment Systems

States are required to implement final assessment systems by school year 2000 - 2001, and to provide the Education Department with evidence that their systems fully meet the Title I requirements by September 1, 2000. States are strongly encouraged to submit evidence of compliance as soon as possible, to ensure a timely review and to make the review process as helpful as possible. The Education Department will rely on nonfederal expert peer reviewers to review State assessment evidence and advise the Secretary as to whether the State has satisfied the requirements. Peer reviewers will thoroughly review each State's evidence and may contact appropriate State personnel for clarification of issues. Reviewers may also conduct an on-site visit to fully understand a State's assessment system if aspects of the evidence are unclear or at any State's request.

Ensuring Compliance

These requirements are at the heart of a five-year effort to strengthen Title I and to improve education for our most disadvantaged students. The Education Department has a statutory obligation to require States to comply with the law. Recognizing that some States are having difficulty meeting the statutory timeline for implementing final assessment systems, the Department is prepared to work with States to resolve possible compliance issues-for example, by allowing a one-year extension of the implementation deadline if needed to correct problems identified by a field test, pursuant to section 1111(b)(6)(C) of Title I. However, in the absence of a clear commitment, significant action, and demonstrable movement towards meeting the Title I requirements, the Department is prepared to use various mechanisms to ensure compliance, taking into account the specific circumstances of each State. These mechanisms include conditional approval of program applications, withholding program or administrative funds, providing partial funding of Title I programs through installment payments based on meeting specific conditions, and compliance agreements. In short, the Department expects each State to abide by the commitments it made five years ago when it chose to receive Title I funds.

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This page last modified July 25, 2000 (edg)