USED & White House
Final Title I Equitable Services Guidance Published
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The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has published a final version of its updated guidance on providing equitable services under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). This is the final version of guidance updates originally issued in November of last year and has been updated to add more context to – but not change ED’s position on – the calculation of the private school proportionate share through surveys and other means.

Under the final guidance, as under the draft, districts who wish to use survey responses to calculate the proportionate share must ensure that the sample of responses collected is “representative” of the district and the students attending private school. While the updated guidance allows districts to presume that any survey data is representative, it also allows private schools to challenge that assertion during the consultation process. Following a challenge, the LEA must engage in a review of the data and share its conclusions with private schools. If the sample is found not to be representative of the population, then the district must supplement it with data from other sources.

This new ability to challenge the representative nature of a sample means that LEAs must engage in ongoing consultation with multiple instances of contact and feedback if they plan to use survey data. ED says that districts must consult with participating non-public schools on the choice of data being used to calculate proportionate share in a way that discusses all allowable data sources under Title I and allows for meaningful feedback “before the LEA makes any decision that affects the opportunities of private school children.”

The updated guidance, like its predecessor, does not define what kind of sample it considers to be adequately representative. However, in two examples it suggests that a sample of 300 out of 400 students is representative, while a sample of 25 out of 100 students is not. The guidance does suggest that in gauging whether survey data is representative, a district “consider the degree to which respondents are similar to non-respondents such as by using neighborhood or Title I public school attendance area characteristics.” The new version of the guidance also eliminates a sentence stating that “[r]igorous statistical analyses may not be necessary to justify the representativeness of the sample.”

Finally, the updated guidance does not acknowledge concerns expressed by stakeholders that survey data is often used as a fallback when other reliable data sources are not available and therefore cannot be supplemented, instead suggesting that private schools encourage families to respond to surveys by writing a “cover note” or including the surveys in a registration packet.

The final version of this guidance is available here.

About the Author

Julia Martin is an attorney with the Washington, DC law firm The Bruman Group, PLLC. Established in 1980, the Firm is nationally recognized for its federal education regulatory and legislative practice, providing legal advice regarding compliance with all major federal education programs as well as the federal grants management requirements, including the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR). In addition, they work with agencies on federal spending flexibility, allowability, policies and procedures, audit defense and resolution and legislative updates. The Firm provides government relations services for the National Association of ESEA State Program Administrators (NAESPA).