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Promising Results, Continuing Challenges:
Final Report of the National Assessment of Title I

Executive Summary (Part 2 of 3)

Title I Support for Systems Designed to Support Schools in Helping Students Meet High Standards

Development of Standards and Assessments and the Role of Title I

Challenging standards of learning and assessments that ensure shared expectations for all children are key policy drivers in Title I. Indeed, support for the establishment of systems of standards and assessments under Title I, as well as the Goals 2000: Educate America Act, are consistent with a key purpose of the program, as outlined in the statute: "to enable schools to provide opportunities for children served to acquire the knowledge and skills contained in the challenging State content standards and to meet the challenging State performance standards developed for all children."

In addition to requiring states to establish and use systems of standards and aligned assessments to guide expectations for what children should be expected to know and do, Title I has required that states develop criteria for tracking the student performance of schools and districts participating in the program. By the 1997-98 school year, each state was to have adopted challenging content standards, in at least reading and math, that specify what all children are expected to know and be able to do, and challenging performances standards that describe students' mastery of the content standards. By the year 2000-2001, states are also to adopt or develop student assessment systems that are aligned with standards in at least reading/language arts and math.

States are making significant progress in developing content standards, but progress is considerably slower with respect to developing performance standards according to the timeline set forth in the statute.


Exhibit 7
Exhibit 8

Exhibit reads: In 1998, 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto had submitted evidence to the U.S. Department of Education that content standards were in place.
Source: Council of Chief State School Officers, Status Report: State Systemic Education Improvements (Washington, DC: Council of Chief State School Officers, August 1995); U.S. Department of Education, unpublished analysis of state plans required under Sec. 1111.

States are not required to have assessment systems (which reflect standards) and include all students until 2000-2001. However, progress in their development is worth noting.

Issues regarding assessment of special populations are among the greatest challenges reported by states in developing their assessment systems. The review of state practices in determining school and district progress found that most states (44) had at least partially developed policies or procedures for assessing all students but only 28 provided some evidence that these policies or procedures were being implemented.(18)

The Role of Title I in Holding Schools Accountable for Performance and Supporting Improvement Efforts

Title I is intended to be linked to state accountability so that states will hold Title I schools to the same high standards for performance expected for all schools. Under Title I each state is required to develop criteria for determining a standard of adequate yearly progress for districts and schools participating in Title I based on the state assessment and other measures. Title I schools and districts that fail to make adequate yearly progress are to be identified for improvement. Schools identified for improvement are to receive support and assistance from states and districts. Those schools and districts that continue to fail to make progress are subject to corrective actions. The performance of districts and schools under Title I is to be publicly reported and widely shared.

States are making progress in implementing the accountability provisions of Title I, although full implementation of accountability under Title I is not required until final assessments are in place in the 2000-2001 school year. But states are also facing real challenges as they transform their educational systems into higher performing, results-based systems.

A key concern is the extent to which identification of schools for improvement under Title I is integrated with the accountability systems states are putting in place for all schools.

Recent findings suggest that state and Title I accountability requirements are helping states, districts, and schools focus more on the use of data for school improvement.

The lack of capacity of state school support teams to assist schools in need of improvement under Title I is a major concern.

Targeting Title I Resources to Districts and Schools Where the Needs are Greatest

Historically, Title I funds were spread thinly to most districts and a large majority of schools, undermining the program's capacity to meet the high expectations set by policymakers. The previous Chapter 1 formula and within-district allocation provisions spread funds to virtually all counties, 93 percent of all school districts, and 66 percent of all public schools, yet left many of the nation's poorest schools unserved. The 1994 reauthorization changed the allocation provisions in an effort to improve the targeting of Title I funds on the neediest districts and schools. In addition, Congress has recently increased the proportion of Title I funds appropriated for Concentration Grants in an effort to direct a greater share of the funds to higher-poverty districts and schools.

Changes in the allocation formula and procedures, enacted in the 1994 amendments, have had little effect on targeting at the state, county, and district levels, but substantial impact on within-district targeting. At the district level, the share of Title I funds allocated to the highest-poverty quartile of districts remained unchanged (at 49 percent) from FY 1994 to FY 1997. At the school level, almost all (95 percent) of the highest-poverty schools (75 percent or more low-income students) received Title I funds in 1997-98, up from 79 percent in 1993-94 (Exhibit 8). Funding for low-poverty schools (less than 35 percent low-income students) declined from 49 percent to 36 percent over the same period. At the secondary level, nearly all (93 percent) highest-poverty secondary schools received Title I funds in 1997-98, up from 61 percent in 1993-94.(27)

Exhibit 9
Proportion of Highest-Poverty Schools That Receive Title I Funds

Exhibit 9

Highest-poverty school = 76% to 100% of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch

Exhibit reads: The proportion of highest-poverty schools (those with 75 percent or more low-income students) receiving Title I funding rose from 79 percent in 1993-94 to 95 percent in 1997-98.
Source: Stullich, Donly, and Stolzberg, Targeting Schools: Study of Title I Allocations Within School Districts, 1999.

Nearly all Title I funds are allocated to local school districts. States distribute 99 percent of their Title I funds to school districts and retain only 1 percent for administration, leadership, and technical assistance to districts and schools.(28) Over 90 percent of Title I funds are used for instruction and instructional support-much higher than the percentage of state and local funds (62 percent).(29)

Although Title I accounts for a relatively small percentage of total funding for elementary and secondary education (about 3 percent), the program plays a significant role in supporting local education improvement efforts. It provides flexible funding that may be used for supplementary instruction, professional development, new computers, after-school or other extended-time programs, and other strategies for raising student achievement. For example, Title I funds used for technology amounted to roughly $237 million, nearly as much as the appropriations for the Technology Literacy Challenge Fund and Technology Literacy Challenge Grants combined ($257 million). Similarly, Title I funds used for professional development amounted to $191 million in 1997-98.(30)

Title I funds may help equalize resources for high- and low-poverty schools. Title I provides additional support in districts and schools with greater needs, which often receive fewer resources from state and local sources. For example, Title I funds purchased an average of 3.3 computers in the highest-poverty schools in 1997-98 (26 percent of the new computers), compared to 0.6 computers in low-poverty schools. High-poverty schools' use of Title I funds for technology helped to compensate for the fact that they received fewer computers from state or local funds (4.8 computers, versus 12.4 in low-poverty schools).(31)

Increases in targeting have increased the number of high-poverty schools served but have not necessarily increased the intensity of services. In a sample of 17 large urban districts, the average size of school allocations remained unchanged from 1994-95 to 1996-97, indicating that the growth in total funding and redirection of some funds away from low-poverty schools were used to increase the number of high-poverty schools served rather than to increase the intensity of services in those schools.

Title I Services at the School Level

The Context for Standards-Based Reform

There is evidence of progress for students in high-poverty schools where staff members focus on challenging standards and strategies that help students achieve them. Preliminary findings from the Longitudinal Evaluation of School Change and Performance (LESCP), a study of instructional practices in 71 high poverty schools found that—

Principals are reporting an increased use of content standards to guide curriculum and instruction in their schools. The proportion of Title I principals who reported using content standards to guide curriculum and instruction to a great extent increased substantially from approximately half in 1995-96 to approximately three-quarters in 1997-98. Recent findings from a study of high-performing, high-poverty schools carry this relationship one step further, finding that implementing such reforms is associated with higher student performance. The study found that in high-performing, high-poverty schools, 80 percent of principals reported using standards extensively to design curriculum and instruction and 94 percent reported using standards to assess student progress.(32)

However, most teachers do not feel very well-prepared to use standards in the classroom. In 1998, only 37 percent of teachers in schools with 60 percent poverty or greater reported that they felt very well prepared to implement state or district curriculum and performance standards. This sense of preparedness is a key factor in predicting student outcomes, according to the LESCP study of 71 high-poverty Title I schools. The LESCP found that teachers' reported preparedness in both subject matter and instructional strategies had a positive relationship with student progress.(33) The LESCP also found that district reform policy had an influence on teachers' familiarity with standards-based reform and their implementation of such reform in their classrooms. Teachers in higher-reform districts were more likely than their peers in lower-reform districts to be familiar with content and performance standards and assessments and their curriculum was more likely to reflect the standards.

Another factor that may contribute to a teacher's sense of preparedness is professional development. In 1998, public school teachers, regardless of the poverty level of their school, spent a limited amount of time in professional development, although they did focus on topics that supported standards-based reform. Most teachers are not participating in intensive or sustained training-two essential characteristics of effective professional development. Given the relationship found between teacher preparedness and student achievement, this is a troubling finding. Over half (55 percent) of all teachers in high-poverty schools reported spending less than 9 hours per year on training in the content areas. Over two-thirds (70 percent) of teachers in high-poverty schools reported receiving less than 9 hours per year of professional development related to content and performance standards. (34)

Title I Support for Standards-Based Reform

Schools are making better use of delivery models that integrate Title I with the regular academic program. Reliance on the pull-out model (instruction outside the regular classroom) has decreased, while in-class models (instruction in the regular classroom), schoolwide programs, and extended-time instruction have all increased. Use of the in-class model has increased dramatically since the years prior to reauthorization, from 58 percent of Title I schools in 1991-92 to 83 percent in 1997-98. Use of the pull-out model declined from 74 percent of Title I schools in 1991-92 to 68 percent in 1997-98. However, in 1997-98, over half (57 percent) reported using both approaches.(35)

Title I paraprofessionals are widely used as part of schools' instructional programs. In the 1997-98 school year, 84 percent of principals in high-poverty schools reported using aides, as contrasted with 54 percent in low-poverty schools.(36) Although very few aides had the educational background necessary to teach students, almost all (96 percent) were either teaching or helping to teach students.(37) Three-fourths of aides (72 percent) spent at least some of this time teaching without a teacher present.(38)

Schoolwide programs have the potential to help integrate Title I resources in standards-based reform at the school level. Recent findings show that schoolwide programs are more likely to use a strategic plan and to use models of service delivery that better integrate Title I into the larger educational program. Strategic plans allow Title I services to be considered within the broader context of a school's reform goals, and can provide a framework for better integration of Title I within the regular academic program. In addition, as would be expected, principals in schoolwide programs reported less use of the pull-out model than targeted assistance programs. They were also more likely to report using extended time programs.

Less than half of Title I schools offer extended learning time programs during the school year, although the proportion of schools offering extended time has increased from 9 percent to 41 percent since the last reauthorization . Moreover, few students participate in these programs. Extended-time programs offered during the school year (through before-school, after-school, or weekend programs) serve 16 percent of the students in the highest-poverty schools with such programs and 11 percent of the students in Title I schools with such programs.(39) Summer school programs serve 17 percent of the students in the highest-poverty schools and 19 percent of the students in Title I schools offering summer programs.(40)

Recent research on effective schools has found that such schools use extended learning time in reading and mathematics to improve learning and achievement.(41) In a recent study of higher-success and lower-success elementary schools in Maryland, researchers found that the more successful schools were seeing consistent academic gains as a result of extended day programs.(42) In another study of high-performing, high-poverty schools, 86 percent of the schools extended time for reading and 66 percent extended instructional time in mathematics.(43)

Recent evidence indicates that secondary schools are making progress in implementing service delivery models that are less stigmatizing and better integrated with the regular academic program. Secondary students are still served in pull-out settings, but not as commonly as elementary students. Moreover, in the schools that do provide pull-out services, it appears to be one of several models of service delivery. In addition to improving Title I delivery strategies, secondary schools are making progress in implementing standards-based reform. Title I services in secondary schools provide supplementary services in support of schools' efforts to enable students to achieve high standards. Most secondary school principals reported using content standards to a great extent in reading (75 percent at the middle school level and 62 percent at the high school level) and mathematics (72 percent at the middle level and 65 percent at the high school level).(44) Case studies of 18 secondary schools engaged in school improvement suggest that state and local accountability systems are prompting reform, and that Title I generally serves to support these reform efforts. In states and districts with high-stakes accountability systems, both core academic instruction and supplementary assistance provided through Title I are often geared toward preparing students to pass state or district assessments.(45)

Title I Support for Partnerships with Families, Schools and Communities to Support Learning

Title I supports for parent involvement and family literacy. The federal role in supporting parent involvement can be catalytic, focusing schools on engaging parents to support learning and participate in school activities and decisions. Principals and teachers identify the lack of parent involvement as a significant barrier to improvement and see the need to engage parents to achieve reform, especially in high-poverty schools. The new Title I school-parent compacts can bring schools and parents together around their shared responsibilities, but they need sustained support. Although the percent of Title I schools with school-parent compacts rose from 20 percent in 1994 to about 75 percent in 1998, there remain 25 percent with no parent agreements. A substantial majority of schools—especially those serving high concentrations of low-income children— do find compacts helpful in promoting parent involvement, especially higher poverty schools, but principals continue to identify lack of parent involvement as one of their major reform barriers.(46)In addition, the Even Start family literacy program has shown results in working with very needy families, but it needs to strengthen the intensity and quality of services to achieve better performance.

Special Title I Services

Title I Services to Students Attending Private Schools

Reauthorization and recent court rulings have affected the participation of private school students in Title I. Federal law requires that students in private schools be afforded an opportunity to participate in Title I equal to students in public schools, and the services provided to them must also be equitable. Reauthorization in 1994 changed the allocation of Title I resources for these services, linking it to the number of low-income students residing in attendance areas instead of the level of educational need. The overturning of the Aguilar v. Felton decision in June 1997 (Felton had restricted service locations for students in religiously-affiliated schools) adds considerable flexibility to districts' options for providing Title I services to eligible students enrolled in private schools.

Most Title I administrators and private school representatives agree that they have established positive working relationships, but report differently about who is actually involved in consultation and about the topics that are discussed. For example, Title I administrators in at least 80 percent of districts say that they consulted with either a private school principal or representative of a private school organization on most issues, but substantially fewer private school representatives report such consultation.

Almost all districts that serve eligible private school students provide them with supplementary academic instruction. A preliminary review of the experiences of nine large urban districts indicates that they are taking advantage of the opportunity to provide instructional services on religiously affiliated school premises. However, Title I administrators in these districts also report that they continue to provide at least some of the instructional services in neutral sites on or near the school grounds, with several of the districts relying more heavily on these facilities than others.

Title I, Part B, Even Start Family Literacy Program

The Even Start program (Title I, Part B) provides support to states and local grantees for family literacy programs intended to break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy in low-income families. The program is designed to support high-quality, intensive instructional programs of adult education, parenting education, and early childhood education.

The national evaluation has documented that Even Start projects successfully target services toward families who are most in need, and that participating families consistently make gains on measures of literacy.

Working with such needy families poses challenges to providing intensive services and engaging families over an extended period of time. Research has shown that service intensity and duration can contribute to better outcomes. While Even Start projects have increased the amount of instruction they have offered in all core service areas over time, only about 25 percent of all projects meet or exceed the Department's performance indicator for the number of service hours offered in the three core instructional components.

Title I, Part C, Migrant Education Program

The (Title I, Part C) Migrant Education Program (MEP) provides formula grants to states for supplemental education and support services for the children of migrant agricultural workers and fishers. Reauthorization established a priority for services for migratory children whose education has been interrupted during the school year and who are failing, or at risk of failing, to meet their states' content and performance standards. According to 80 percent of principals of schoolwide programs, migrant students who fail to meet their state's performance standards have the highest priority for instructional services.

MEP summer-term and extended-time projects play an important role in the education of migrant students. Summer projects provide continuity of instruction for migrant students, who experience a great deal of educational disruption. Over the last decade, summer projects have grown faster than the regular program, and they now serve approximately 60 percent of the number of students served during the regular-term. The number of summer participants increased from 220,800 in the 1995-96 school year to over 283,000 in 1996-97.

Effective coordination at the state level can increase the efficiency and effectiveness of services to migrant children. Consortia arrangements designed to reduce administrative costs and increase information sharing across states have grown since reauthorization.

Title I, Part D, Prevention and Intervention Programs for Children and Youth Who are Neglected, Delinquent, or At Risk of Dropping Out

The Title I, Part D program is intended to serve neglected and delinquent children and youth, often in juvenile and adult correctional facilities. The 1994 reauthorization made several major changes to the Title I, Part D program. One change was increasing the number of hours each week for instruction to help enable students to meet challenging academic standards. The reauthorized program also offered institutions the option of operating institutionwide programs, modeled after Title I schoolwide programs, to help ensure that students' needs are being met in a coherent and coordinated manner.

Although states report that they are building facilities' capacity to implement institutionwide programs, few facilities have implemented them. More than half of the states provided technical assistance on whole school improvement, yet only 9 percent of N or D facilities are institutionwide programs. Moreover, states and institutions need to work on collecting appropriate data and using it to inform program improvement. Institutions are generally unable to collect comprehensive data on students' educational experiences and transition to further education or employment.

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