Advancing Comprehensive Reform: Rethinking District Use of Title I Resources

 

The Rennie Center's Winter 2014 issue brief, Advancing Comprehensive Reform: Rethinking District Use of Title I Resources, highlights research into district-level responses to Massachusetts' waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). The new flexibilities granted in resource allocation provided local policymakers with the opportunity to implement comprehensive approaches to support low-income students and turn around underperforming schools. A set of common themes characterized the choices made by districts in the study. Districts extended instructional time through longer schools days and years, or summer programming; districts also expanded the grade levels served (e.g., introduced pre-kindergarten programs). Districts increased the reach of their Title I programming, opting for school and district-wide programs to better meet student needs, including those of the lowest-achieving students. Finally, districts used Title I resources to hire data coaches or specialists to lead a collaborative review of student performance data with teachers, or paid for professional development opportunities for teachers to conduct data analysis themselves. Understanding the decision-making process of these districts is particularly instructive, given that the approaches documented mirror those of other districts. These findings may be helpful to other districts as they make decisions about which programs to implement or expand to improve student outcomes.