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.  In 2015, approximately 14.7 million children under age 18 were in families living in poverty.[1]  Using $14 billion, Title I serves 21 million students[2] (out of an estimated 31 million students[3] who are eligible for additional support) across the 50 states and territories.


Historical Snapshot


  • 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.[3]
  • 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.[1]
  • In 1994, the Improving America’s Schools Act (IASA amended ESEA) to focus on the effectiveness of instruction.[2]
  • 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.[3]
  • In 2009, the administration refocused Title I to emphasize turning around the lowest performing schools.[4]
  • 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.[5]
  • In 2015, The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed into law reauthorizing the 50-year-old Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The new law focuses on fully preparing all students for success in college and careers.[6]


Level of Financial Support


The Title I appropriation for school year 2016-17 was 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.


Download PDF


For more information, read the current Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and other pertinent sections of the U.S. Education Department website.

[1] http://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/cps/tables/time-series/historical-poverty-thresholds/thresh15.xls 
[2] http://febp.newamerica.net/background-analysis/federal-school-nutrition-programs
[3] Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. (n.d.). Retrieved April 30, 2014, from Scribd website: http://www.scribd.com/doc/49149656/Elementary-and-Secondary-Education-Act-of-1965
[1] Cross, C. T. (2010). Political education: national policy comes of age updated edition. New York: Teachers College Press
[2] Improving America's Schools Act. (n.d.). Retrieved April 30, 2014, from US Department of Education - Improving America's Schools Act website: https://www2.ed.gov/offices/OESE/archives/legislation/ESEA/brochure/iasa-bro.html
[3] No Child Left Behind Act. (n.d.). Retrieved April 30, 20014, from US Department of Education website: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/esea02/index.html
[4] Duncan, A. (2009, June 14). States lead the way toward reform [speech] http://www2.ed.gov/news/speeches/2009/06/06142009.html
[5] Announcement of flexibility for No Child Left Behind. (n.d.). Retrieved April 30, 2014, from US Department of Education website: http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/obama-administration-sets-high-bar-flexibility-no-child-left-behind-order-advanc
[6] https://www.ed.gov/ESSA