What Exactly Is “Title I?”

Every so often in news stories or in school district communication, we hear the term “Title I.” What does it mean? What is its purpose?

“Title I” originates from the first section of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, passed in 1965 as a part of the Johnson administration’s “War on Poverty.” It sought to level the achievement gap for America’s low-income students against the rest of their peers. Today, although Title I language generally addresses the academic needs of low-income students, its funding can be used for students who are at-risk learners because of other, non-economic factors they endure. Federal Title I funding can be used by public, parochial, and private schools.

Below are some common questions about Title I:

Are there different types of Title I classifications?
There are two types of Title I classifications for school buildings that show how they can utilize Title I funding: targeted assistance and school-wide.

Targeted assistance is for students at a targeted-Title I-classified school who have been identified as needing the additional assistance.  These students are typically served in a pull-out program (one that removes them from regular classroom lessons) that supplements their regular studies in reading and in math. Under this model, only those who meet specific selection criteria are identified as Title I students, and only they can be served using these additional resources.

Schools become eligible for Title I assistance based on their percentage of free and reduced lunches, as compared against the District’s overall average. All school buildings above that District average are reported as such to the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, which ultimately determines each school’s eligibility for Title I funds.

Under a school-wide Title I model, all students in a school-wide-certified building are eligible for additional services. This means that all resources (materials and staff) are available to all students in the building.

In order to function under a school-wide model, three factors must be met: 

  • At least 40 percent of the students must qualify for free/reduced lunch
  • At least 80 percent of staff members must support the move to Title I status, and
  • Staff members must complete one school year of planning for the transition from targeted assistance to a school-wide model.

How is Title I funding spent?
Federal Title I funding comes through the North Dakota DPI, and can be spent by a school district based upon the type of Title I classification each school has. Specifically, funding is spent on materials and teaching staff. For targeted-service Title I schools, the funds can be used to hire Title I teachers, who have that specific credential from North Dakota DPI. For school-wide Title I schools, the funds are less restricted, and can be spent to hire additional educators, such as regular classroom teachers, counselors, and paraprofessionals.

How does a family learn if their student has become identified as a Title I recipient?
In the case of targeted-service Title I schools, the student’s family is contacted in regard to his or her academic performance, indicating that the student needs the targeted support. Although the services are provided at no additional cost to families, parents do have the option to decline this supplemental education for their child. Typically, the change in instruction for a targeted Title I student is 30 minutes of dedicated, individualized instruction and lessons four or five days per week.

In the case of school-wide Title I schools, parents are typically not notified of the additional services, due to the fact that all students in the building have access to them.

Which buildings in the Fargo School District are classified as Title I?
Title I status is reviewed annually by the state. The variances that may occur in a building’s free and reduced lunch count (analyzed each spring) is the most prominent determination of whether a school can continue to keep its Title I identity.

For the 2011-12 school year, Fargo has five elementary buildings that are classified as school-wide Title I facilities: Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Madison, and McKinley

Five other elementary buildings are identified as targeted-service Title I schools: Clara Barton, Hawthorne, Horace Mann, Kennedy, and Roosevelt

Four buildings do not currently hold any Title I status: Bennett, Centennial, Longfellow, and Washington

Want to learn more about Title I? The North Dakota DPI has several parent resources on its Title I web pages, including its own illustrated What is Title I? handout, and Information Regarding Your Title I Program brochure.