Title I is the first and largest federal attempt to provide equality in educational opportunities to economically disadvantaged students. Begun in 1965 as part of President Johnson's Great Society, Title I was part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It was revised in 1981 as part of the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act. The original name, Title I, was changed to Chapter 1 in reauthorization of the funds, but was reinstated as Title I in 1994 as part of the Improving America's Schools Act. The key changes to Title I relate to schoolwide programs that high-poverty schools can adopt in order to improve learning for all students. Schools who apply for Title I funding can be awarded funds to provide supplemental instructional support to students identified as being academically in need.
Evaluations of funded programs over the years have shown little impact due to several factors, including fragmentation of instruction and teachers' lack of responsibility for student growth. In 1988, the Hawkins-Stafford amendments to the Educational Consolidation and Improvement Act supported the development of schoolwide programs in schools in which 75 percent or more of the children were economically disadvantaged; these amendments also encouraged a focus on advanced or higher order thinking. The intent of this change was to overcome the weaknesses that were found in programs under the former guidelines. In July 1995, even more flexible guidelines were enacted to support the development of schoolwide programs; after 1995-96, only 50 percent of the students in a school need to qualify as being economically disadvantaged. Staff development programs are now required, as are active parent-involvement activities.
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