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Implementation of Title I/II-A Program Initiatives

Contract Information

Current Status:



September 2011 – September 2025



Contract Number:



Mathematica Policy Research


Promoting equal access to high-quality schooling is a central goal of federal education policy. The Title I and Title II-A programs of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) further this goal by providing funds meant to help schools and districts better serve low-income students and improve teacher and principal quality. Some aspects of these two core programs, accounting for three-quarters of ESEA funding, shifted as a result of the law's latest update as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015. ESSA shifts authority over many education policies from the U.S. Department of Education to states and localities, while still retaining some federal requirements from prior law. How states and localities respond will determine whether ESSA supports educational improvement as intended. This study provides a national portrait of Title I and Title II-A implementation at three key points:

  • 2013–14, under the prior version of ESEA, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, when a majority of states had received waivers from key requirements in exchange for commitments to specific reform principles, colloquially known as "ESEA flexibility."
  • 2017–18, when states were transitioning to fully implementing ESSA's core components.
  • 2021–22, when ESSA implementation is expected to be in a more mature phase, notwithstanding the coronavirus pandemic.
  • What strategies do states and districts use to help students meet state content standards?
  • What types of assessments do states and districts use to assess student and school performance, and how are those assessment and other data used?
  • How do states and districts identify and support their lowest-performing schools?
  • How do states and districts support the educator pipeline, and what supports are provided to improve educator effectiveness?

National data were collected at the end of school years 2013–14, 2017–18, and 2021–22. These data included surveys of all state Title I and Title II coordinators and nationally-representative samples of districts, and in some of the data collections, surveys of schools and teachers within those districts. The evaluation also draws on existing data, such as state-level student achievement data from Department data sources as well as information from ESSA state plans. Responses to survey questions will be tabulated into descriptive statistics (such as percentages) and simple statistical tests (such as tests for differences between percentages). These tabulations provide a snapshot at each time point, and describe aggregate changes over time.

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

A snapshot, titled How States and Districts Support Evidence Use in School Improvement, was released in June 2020.

The second report, titled The Transition to ESSA: State and District Approaches to Implementing Title I and Title II–A in 2017–18, was released in December 2020.

A snapshot, titled State and District Strategies to Reduce Dropouts, was released in September 2021.

A restricted-use file containing de-identified data from the 2013–14 data collection is available for the purposes of replicating study findings and secondary analysis.

Additional reports are expected in 2024 and will be announced on

From the second report based on data collected during the 2017–18 school year (transition to ESSA):

  • Most states had not significantly changed their content standards by 2017–18, and districts increasingly provided supports to implement them. By 2013, all but 4 states had adopted the Common Core standards. Although many states subsequently renamed their standards, only 14 reported making major changes to them by 2018. A larger share of districts reported assisting implementation of state standards in 2018 compared to 2014, for example by using textbooks aligned with state content standards (80% of districts in 2014 vs. 94% in 2018).
  • States broadened the measures they used to identify struggling schools, and more districts reported specific improvement activities at these schools. Between 2014 and 2018, more states held schools accountable for students' attendance, achievement growth, and test scores in subjects beyond reading and math (14, 20, and 9 more states, respectively). Districts increasingly reported that their struggling schools implemented improvement strategies such as providing professional development to teachers on working in teams (61% of districts in 2014 vs. 93% in 2018).
  • States and districts increasingly used performance data as a means to support effective teaching. Between 2014 and 2018, 9 more states used measures of teacher performance — such as their evaluation ratings or students' achievement growth — to assess whether students have equitable access to high-quality teaching. Districts increasingly used teachers' evaluation ratings to identify and support low performers between 2014 and 2018, for example with individualized professional development that included coaching, mentoring, or peer assistance (84% of districts in 2014 vs. 95% in 2018).

Additional reports are expected to be published in 2024. The key findings will be updated when those products are released.