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Implementation of Title I/II-A Program Initiatives

Contract Information

Current Status:

Analysis and report preparation are underway


September 2011 – September 2021



Contract Number:



Mathematica Policy Research


The Title I and Title II-A programs are part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). These programs are intended to help provide all students with equal access to education by providing financial assistance to schools and districts which have a high percentage of students from low-income families (Title I) and improving teacher and principal quality (Title II-A). There have been significant policy changes related to Title I and Title II-A since 2001.

ESEA was most recently reauthorized as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December 2015. Under Title I, ESSA offers states and districts considerable autonomy while requiring them to adopt challenging academic standards, aligned assessments, and accountability systems that set state-specific accountability goals and identify and support low-performing schools. Under Title II-A, ESSA also provides funding for a broad array of permissible activities to improve the effectiveness of educators and achieve equitable distribution of effective educators. The previous reauthorization of ESEA, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001, had similar requirements for the adoption of content standards and assessments. However, NCLB was more prescriptive in the areas of accountability and educator quality; NCLB required that all states set an accountability goal of 100% student proficiency by 2014, and it required that all teachers meet the definition of "highly qualified." Subsequently, a majority of states received ESEA flexibility beginning in 2012, which allowed particular NCLB requirements to be waived in exchange for a commitment to implement various reform principles such as identifying and supporting schools with achievement gaps among student subgroups and implementing educator evaluation systems based on student achievement and multiple observations.

This study is designed to provide relevant data on the implementation of programs and policies related to Title I and Title II-A at several points in time. It will provide implementation data from states, districts, schools, and teachers under NCLB and ESEA flexibility (during the 2013–14 school year). It will also provide implementation data under ESSA (during the 2017–18 and 2019–20 school years).

  • What content standards and high school graduation requirements are states adopting, and what materials and resources are provided to support implementation?
  • What types of assessments do states and districts use, and what materials and resources are provided to support the implementation of assessments and use of assessment data?
  • What elements are included in states' accountability systems? How do states and districts identify and reward their highest-performing schools; how do they identify and support their lowest-performing schools; and how do they offer differentiated support for those schools that are neither highest-performing nor lowest-performing?
  • How do states and districts evaluate teacher and principal effectiveness and assess equitable distribution of teachers and principals, and what supports are provided to improve teacher and principal effectiveness?
  • How has student achievement changed over time?

Data were collected from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, a nationally representative sample of districts and schools, and teachers within those schools through surveys in the 2013–14 school year. Data will be collected from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and a nationally representative sample of districts through surveys in the 2017–18 school year. An additional data collection will take place in the 2019–20 school year, and will include all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as a nationally representative sample of districts, schools, and teachers. The data collected from the surveys will inform the first four research questions. State-level math and reading achievement data from state standardized achievement tests and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) will be collected from extant data to inform the fifth research question.

From the first report based on data collected during the 2013–14 school year (prior to ESSA):

  • Most states adopted and most principals and teachers reported implementing state standards that focused on college- and career-readiness. All but one state had committed to implementing college- and career-ready standards by 2013–14. About two-thirds of principals reported fully implementing state content standards, and most teachers reported receiving relevant professional development.
  • Many state assessments incorporated more sophisticated response formats to better assess students' college- and career-readiness. Twenty-four to 36 states (depending on grade level) reported using extended constructed-response assessment formats to assess higher-order thinking skills in reading/English language arts. Nineteen states reported doing so in math.
  • States used ESEA flexibility to re-set their accountability goals and to target a narrower set of schools for additional support. Among the 43 states that had received ESEA flexibility for the 2013–14 school year, the most common accountability goal was reducing by half the percentage of students and subgroups not proficient in 6 to 8 years. These same states identified 15 percent of Title I schools as either lowest performing or as having substantial student achievement gaps. In non-flexibility states, 43 percent of Title I schools were identified as lowest performing.
  • Almost all states adopted new laws or regulations related to educator evaluation systems between 2009 and 2014, and most districts reported full or partial implementation in 2013–14. Only four states had not adopted new teacher evaluation laws or regulations by 2014, and 59 percent of districts reported fully implementing, piloting, or partially implementing a new teacher evaluation system. However, few districts reported using evaluation system measures consistent with emerging research.
  • Proficiency rates on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) slightly increased from 2005 to 2015, with the largest increases in 4th and 8th grades and smaller or no increases in 12th grade. Overall proficiency rates increased by statistically significant levels of 4–5 percentage points in 4th and 8th grade reading and math and by 2 percentage points in 12th grade reading.

A subsequent report is anticipated. The key findings will be updated when that report is released.

The first report, titled Implementation of Title I and II-A Program Initiatives: Results from 2013–14, was released in January 2017.

The second report, which will be based on data collected during the 2017–18 school year (to inform early implementation of ESSA), is expected in 2020 and will be announced on

A restricted-use file containing de-identified data is available for the purposes of replicating study findings and secondary analysis.