This is the second blog in my Spring 2018 Blog & Webinar Series on ESSA implementation. Today’s topic is the Title I program and its expansion of services under ESSA.


Title I is the largest federal elementary and secondary education program. Created in 1965 as part of President Johnson’s War on Poverty, its purpose today remains largely the same as when it started: to provide all children a significant opportunity to receive a fair, equitable and high-quality education, and to close education achievement gaps. Private school students have been entitled to equitable services since the inception of Title I in 1965.


Traditionally thought of as a program that provides additional academic assistance to students in reading/language arts and math, Title I services are provided as a “pull out” program wherein students are taken from their regular classroom during the course of the school day for these additional educational services. In so doing, the students cannot miss the Title I subject while they are out of the regular classroom. Title I programs must add value, not simply substitute one teacher for another in the same subject.


These services are still allowable under ESSA and will most likely continue to constitute the majority of the experiences of Title I students attending private schools. However, ESSA expands the options available, and they are worth considering.


First, keep in mind that regardless of the services a Title I student receives, each student must be determined to be “educationally needy” and reside in a Title I attendance area. Second, although the options for services have expanded, in planning services during consultation you will be working with the same amount of funding that you would if service options had not expanded.


One of the changes under ESSA is a new emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. An effective STEM program not only enhances learning in each of those targeted subject areas but also positively impacts students’ literacy, making it a truly holistic approach to ensuring that at-risk students receive a well-rounded educational experience that positively impacts their classroom performance across the board.


Counseling, mentoring, and one-on-one tutoring are also specifically mentioned as allowable Title I services under ESSA and can be provided individually or in combination with other Title I services. Programs that focus on the whole child—combining counseling, social work, academics, and parent support—can be very effective in ensuring that Title I students achieve along with their classroom counterparts.


Another option ESSA provides, is the way in which Title I services may be delivered. One of the new required consultation topics under ESSA is the approximate time of day that services will be delivered. This opens up the potential to include before- and after-school programs (maybe a pull-out from your existing after-school program?), summer school, weekends, or even a combination of these times.


As you review the needs of your students, ask yourself: Are the current program offerings and times when they are offered really meeting their needs? Are Title I students able to “graduate” out of the program or are the same students needing assistance year after year? What can break that cycle?