Study of Title I Schoolwide and Targeted Assistance Programs: Final Report

Stephanie Stullich, U.S. Department of Education

The Title I program of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) was created to aid high-poverty schools in providing supplementary services to low-achieving students. The schoolwide program (SWP) was created in 1978 to expand the flexibility of ESEA, allowing schools to use the Title I funds towards whole-school approaches that were aimed at improving the achievement of low-achieving students.

The SWP approach differs from the traditional targeted assistance program (TAP) approach by allowing schools to consolidate funds from multiple sources—including Title I—and not being required to ensure these funds are spent exclusively on low-achieving students. This study focuses on TAP and SWP programs and compares the services and resources they are able to provide using Title I funds and the processes they have in place for allocating these resources.

Key Findings

  • Although a majority of both SWP and TAP schools used Title I funds to hire teachers, such teachers accounted for a smaller percentage of Title I staff in SWP schools (41 percent) than in TAP schools (67 percent).
  • SWP schools were more than twice as likely as TAP schools to use Title I funds for instructional coaches, parent and community liaisons, technology support staff, and English learner specialists.
  • Both SWP and TAP schools most commonly used Title I-funded staff to provide supplemental instruction in reading and/or mathematics, but SWPs were more than twice as likely as TAPs to also use these staff for instruction in other subjects, data/analytics support, parental involvement, and other approaches.
  • In most Title I schools, districts and schools collaborated on decisions regarding the use of Title I funds, but principals in SWP schools were more likely than those in TAP schools to report making all or most decisions about how to use their school’s Title I funds (25 percent vs. 12 percent).
  • Few principals of SWPs reported that their school consolidated Title I funds with other federal, state, and local funds (6 percent), but a larger proportion (50 percent) indicated that they coordinated the use of Title I funds with other funds.
  • According to district administrators, the biggest challenge for consolidating Title I funds with funds from other sources was state accounting rules that require separate accounting for federal programs.