Title I is one of the nation’s oldest and largest federal programs supporting elementary and secondary education. Its main purpose has been to help underprivileged children meet challenging state academic standards. More than 90 percent of the school systems in the United States receive some sort of Title I funding. The financial assistance is provided through state educational agencies to public schools. Each district uses its Title I money to provide students with extra instructional support beyond the regular classroom to help them meet state standards in core academic subjects.
Title I is based on three important ideas:
- All students should have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and to reach, at minimum, proficiency on state academic standards and assessments.
- Local districts, schools, and parents know best what their students need to succeed. The Title I program allows them to decide how to use these funds to implement research-based proven practices to help students who are failing or who are at risk of failing in school.
- Parents are partners in helping all students achieve. They have the right to be involved in the design and operation of their school's Title I program, and, at the same time, a responsibility to help their children succeed in school.
Schools that receive Title I funds may operate a targeted assistance program or a schoolwide program, although schools must have a child poverty rate of at least 40 percent to choose to operate a schoolwide program.
A targeted-assistance school must focus its services on children identified as “at risk of failing, to meet the state’s challenging student academic standards.”
In a schoolwide program, most federal, state, and local funds are consolidated to upgrade the entire education program of the school. In schools operating such a program, Title I is no longer a distinct program but is to be integrated into the regular educational program of the school. Schoolwide programs are not required to identify eligible students for targeted Title I services, but the law requires schools to address the needs of low-achieving students and those at risk of not meeting the state standards who are members of the target population of any program that is included in the schoolwide program.