About Title I
In 1965, President Johnson set the nation on a course to ensure equity for all by increasing access to a basic education. This had been denied to many living in poverty. Now fifty years later, with ever increasing needs and demands for an educated citizenry, we continue to build toward that goal.
Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) provides resources to schools to enable students to reach proficiency as determined by the assessment of state standards in reading and math. Such schools are situated in low income communities which struggle to provide a high quality education to all children. It is a daunting task. Growing for 10 years, the rate of childhood poverty in the United States in 2012 stood at 22%—more than one-fifth of the population. Using $14 billion, Title I serves 21 million students (out of an estimated 31 million students who are eligible for additional support) across the 50 states and territories.
- In 1965, the core purpose of Title I was to provide funding to school districts (with an inadequate tax base to support needed instruction) so that all children could have access to a basic education.
- Amendments in 1968 and 1972 maintained the goal of access to a basic education, but initiated new programs to increase the number of certified education specialists and other supportive activities—all in an effort to close the achievement gap between racial/ethnic groups.
- In 1994, the Improving America’s Schools Act (IASA amended ESEA) to focus on the effectiveness of instruction.
- In 2002, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB amended ESEA) to set a new goal of closing the achievement gap between all groups and for all students to reach proficiency by 2013-14.
- In 2009, the administration refocused Title I to emphasize turning around the lowest performing schools.
- In 2012, the administration again refocused Title I to emphasize teacher and principal quality, use of internationally benchmarked career- and college-ready standards, and data-based decision-making.
Level of Financial Support
The current (school year 2014-15) appropriation for Title I is approximately $14.4 billion.
In school year 2012-13, the system absorbed a 5.2% cut in funds due to the so-called “sequestration.” In school year 2013-14, the National Education Association (NEA) put the estimate of reaching all eligible children at $45 billion. The current $14.4 billion appropriation is woefully short of that.
For comparison purposes, in 1966, the appropriation for Title I was $950 million dollars. Adjusted for inflation, the current appropriation would now be just $1.4 billion (Thompson publications, May 2013)—not much of an increase over almost 50 years!