Migrant Education Program
Preliminary Guidance for Title I, Part C
Public Law 103-382

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High Standards for all Children--with the Elements of Education Aligned, so that Everything is Working Together to Help Students Reach those Standards

Accountability for Helping Migrant Students Achieve to High Standards

In 1992, the National Association of State Directors of Migrant Education noted that "the education of too many migrant students is characterized by low expectations, inferior resources, and differential treatment." They also issued the following challenge to educators who work with migrant students:

"Mobilize students, staff, and parents around a vision of a school in which all students can achieve. Migrant students not only can and do graduate from high schools, but graduate with honors." (Rethinking Migrant Education, 1992)

The goal of the reauthorized ESEA is to improve teaching and learning for all students, including migrant students, by fostering an ethic of learning across America. Its fundamental premise is that high standards, the same high standards for all children, must replace minimal standards and low expectations. The research is clear; high expectations lead to high achievement. Low expectations do not.

Many states have developed or begun to develop challenging content and student performance standards, and many more are expected to do so as part of their state reform or Goals 2000 initiatives or under Title I of the ESEA. To enable children to reach high state standards, all components of school systems and schools must be aligned to these standards. Thus, under the reauthorized ESEA, the MEP is integral to, not separate from, state and local education reforms that center on high expectations for all children. As described in the section of this guidance entitled "Links with Other Education Legislation," the ESEA, Goals 2000, and School-to-Work legislation can support educators as they work together to make high expectations a daily reality for migrant students.

Standards and Assessments Under Title I

Title I of the ESEA aligns instruction, assessment, and accountability procedures with high-quality state content standards and challenging student performance standards.

Content standards:

  • Specify what children are expected to know and be able to do in academic subjects;

  • Contain coherent and rigorous content; and

  • Encourage the teaching of advanced skills.

Student performance standards under Title I:

  • Are aligned with the state's content standards;

  • Describe at least two levels of high performance--proficient and advanced--that determine how well children are mastering the material in the state content standards; and

  • Describe a third level--partially proficient--to provide information on the progress of lower-performing children.

Performance standards are benchmarks that determine how well students are mastering the subject matter content. Student performance standards are used to establish progressively higher levels of achievement for all students with the ultimate goal being t o move all children to the advanced level.

To measure progress in reaching this goal, each state must demonstrate that it has developed or adopted a set of high-quality annual assessments. These assessments will be used as the primary means of determining the yearly performance of each local educ ation agency and school served under Title I. Performance is defined by how effectively the agency enables all children served under Title I to meet the state's challenging content standards in the grade levels to be tested. Such assessments must measure performance in at least mathematics and reading/language arts, but need not be focused solely on these subjects. (For example, an assessment in a subject such as social studies may sufficiently measure performance in reading/ language arts.)

Annual state assessments for the Title I program will, among other things:

  • Be the same assessments used to measure the performance of all children, if the state measures the performance of all children;

  • Be aligned with the state's challenging content and student performance standards and provide coherent information about student attainment of such standards;

  • Include limited English proficient students, who shall be assessed, to the extent possible, in their primary language;

  • Enable results to be disaggregated in each state, local education agency, and school by gender, by each major racial and ethnic group, by English proficiency status, by migrant program eligibility, by students with disabiliti es as compared to non-disabled students, and by economically disadvantaged students as compared to students who are not economically disadvantaged.

A state that does not have the required assessments may propose to use a transitional set of yearly statewide assessments. Migrant educators should be aware that these transitional assessments may not meet the requirements listed above.

If a state has not adopted content or student performance standards for all students in at least math and reading/language arts, it must do so for Title I students by 1997-98, or adopt the standards of another state with an approved Title I, Part A plan. A state that does not have the required assessments must develop and field test such assessments by 2000-2001.

Assessing the Achievement of LEP Students

Limited English proficient students participating in Title I, including the MEP, are to be included in the state assessments described above. When a state's final assessments are developed, students are to be assessed, to the extent practicable, in the l anguage and form most likely to yield accurate information to determine student mastery of skills in subjects other than English. If a state uses a transitional set of yearly assessments while developing assessments that meet the requirements of Title I, LEP students participating in Title I programs, including the MEP, are to be included in those assessments. The ESEA directs the Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Languages Affairs (OBEMLA) to provide assistance i n developing linguistically appropriate assessments.

Evaluation of State and Local MEP Programs

Each SEA and operating agency receiving funds under the MEP has the responsibility to determine the effectiveness of its program and projects in providing migrant students with the opportunity to meet the state's content and student performance standa rds. In order to do so, SEAs and local operating agencies should, if feasible, use the same high-quality yearly assessments or transitional assessments that the state has established to meet the requirements of Part A of Title I. (34 CFR 200.42(a) and (b)) The results of state wide assessments should then be used by SEAs and operating agencies to improve the services provided to migrant children. (34 CFR 200.43)

In some cases it may not be feasible to use the statewide assessments to determine the effectiveness of an MEP project. In a project where it is not feasible to use the statewide student assessments, such as a summer-only project or a project where no mi grant students are enrolled at the time the state-established assessment takes place, some other reasonable process or processes for examining student learning must be adopted. (34 CFR 200.42(c))

Example of an Evolving State Evaluation Plan

Pennsylvania's Migrant Education Program is working with the Region B Technical Assistance Center to develop a strategic plan that aligns instruction and evaluation in migrant summer projects with the state's content standards, including 54 "learner outco mes" required by the Pennsylvania legislature. Because school districts are in the process of developing transitional assessment systems aligned with the learner outcomes, the Pennsylvania MEP plans to implement an interim evaluation process based on student portfolios. Flexible yet consistent portfolio guidelines, aligned with the state learner outcomes, are being developed for all migrant summer projects to use in assessing student achievement and determining program effectiveness.


Jerry Bennett, Educational Research Coordinator
State Department of Education
333 Market Street, 7th Floor
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17126-0333
(717) 783-6467

For more information on aligning accountability with state standards and assessments, see the relevant section of the guidance for programs under Title I, Part A.

Reporting Requirements for the MEP

Annual reporting requirements for the MEP are undergoing significant change. While the prior statute stressed the importance of norm-referenced testing and required the aggregation of scores from the local to national levels, the new law encourages states to set their own challenging content standards and establish related assessment systems. Because these standards and assessments will differ among states and even districts, national aggreg ation of student outcome data is no longer feasible or desirable. However, basic data about program administration and participation will continue to be collected in order to provide information to policy makers and program administrators about the numbers and characteristics of migrant children served, and the nature of services provided.

For the 1994-95 school year, a performance report similar to reports used in previous years will be used to collect descriptive information about student participation and program services. The report has been significantly simplified, however, by elimin ating the portions dealing with achievement and desired outcomes, and by eliminating the need to break out service counts by grade levels.

A new performance report format is being designed for use in 1995-96 and thereafter. In addition to the child counts to be used for funding, the preliminary draft includes data categories similar to those in the simplified 1994-95 report:

  • Counts of students residing in the state and counts of students participating in the program, by sex, ethnicity, school term, grade level, and services received;

  • Counts of project sites, including break-outs for schoolwide projects and projects that use extended-time strategies; and

  • Counts of staff by various categories.

These data will provide basic information about how MEP funds are being used. While the Department may request from SEAs the results of their statewide student assessments, achievement data for migrant students will no longer be collected nationally thro ugh MEP performance reports.

Federal Evaluation of the MEP and Other Title I Programs

If funding is available, the Department will carry out a number of evaluation activities to determine how well schools, local education agencies, and the states are helping children receiving Title I services meet challenging state standards that all chil dren are expected to meet. In addition, Section 1501 mandates certain key studies and activities, including:

  • A study of how schoolwide programs are meeting the needs of children from migrant families.

  • A national assessment of Title I to gauge how well schools, LEAs, and states are accomplishing the purposes of the new Title I.

  • A longitudinal study, which would track cohorts of students in schools with differing concentrations of poverty for at least three years in order to provide a picture of the Title I program's effectiveness.

  • A study of barriers to effective parental involvement in educating children served by Title I and successful local programs and policies that improve parental involvement and the performance of children served by Title I.

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Last Modified: 05/15/2009