Today’s email topic for consultation is services under Title I. ESSA provides a great deal more flexibility in the use of Title I funds than was previously allowed under No Child Left Behind. As you enter into consultation with your public school counterparts, take a good look at the needs of your students to determine if additional services would be most beneficial to them. Keep in mind that there has been an entire year of the law prior to implementation of the new equitable service requirements, including the new services. Districts should be prepared to implement these for the 2017-18 school year and not suggest putting them off because they are not yet prepared to offer the new options. Also, if the district cannot provide these options that best meet the needs of your students, there are many third-party providers that can do so and help ensure that the services your students receive as really equitable and meet their needs.
Services in reading/language arts of mathematics are of course still an integral part of the Title I program. There is a new emphasis on science, and an acknowledgement that all core subjects can be part of the Title I program. Counseling, mentoring, and one-on-one tutoring are specifically mentioned as part of the equitable services offerings. ESSA also makes clear that these services can be provided individually or in combination. As a practical example, this means that a student who needs Title I counseling may or may not be receiving Title I instruction in reading or math.
Another focus of Title I is on blended learning and distance learning. While allowed in the past, this new focus within the language of ESSA means that it is a topic definitely on the table for consultation about the best services for your students.
Remember that the needs of your students are the foundation of any program design for Title I (and all federal programs providing equitable services). In order to have a meaningful discussion about service options, come to consultation prepared to talk about your students’ needs and why certain services best meet those needs.
Finally, there is a provision in Title I that allows funds from other programs to meet the needs of your Title I students. The funds cannot be transferred, nor can they be used for purposes not supporting the programs from which they came. But, for example, your Title IIA professional development funds could be focused on your at-risk students instead of your general population of students. In this way, your services to your Title I students can increase because other programs support those same student needs.