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Implementation of Title I/II-A Program Initiatives

Contract Information

Current Status:

Report preparation on the 2017–18 data is underway. Surveys for the 2020–21 data collection are being developed.


September 2011 – September 2023



Contract Number:



Mathematica Policy Research


Each time the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is reauthorized there is a shift in federal policies related to K-12 schooling, including in ESEA's two core programs. Accounting for about $19 billion of $26 billion in ESEA funds in fiscal year 2020, Title I and Title II-A encourage equal access to education by providing financial assistance to schools and districts with a high percentage of students from low-income families (Title I) and by improving teacher and principal quality (Title II-A).

ESEA's latest reauthorization as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015 shifts authority over many education decisions and rules from the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) to states and localities. The new law also retains some federal requirements from prior versions of ESEA to help ensure that states focus on providing a high-quality education to disadvantaged students. How states and localities respond to this combination of flexibility and requirements will determine whether ESSA stimulates educational improvement as intended.

This study provides a national portrait of Title I and Title II-A implementation at several key time points:

  • 2013–14, when the Department had already begun to provide states with waivers from key requirements under ESSA's predecessor, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, in exchange for commitments to specific reform principles, colloquially known as "ESEA flexibility."
  • 2017–18, when the Department approved most states' ESSA plans, marking a transition year to fully implementing ESSA's core components.
  • 2020–21, the first full school year following the initial COVID-19 pandemic, which may affect state and local plans for implementing ESSA.
  • 2021–22, when ESSA implementation is expected to be in a more mature phase.
  • 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 support their lowest-performing schools?
  • How do states and districts evaluate educator effectiveness and assess equitable distribution of educators, and what supports are provided to improve educator effectiveness?
  • How has student achievement changed over time?

National data will be collected at times that correspond to the key points described in the "Background" section. In any year, these data may include surveys of all state Title I and Title II coordinators and nationally-representative samples of districts, schools, and teachers. The evaluation also draws on existing data, such as state-level student academic proficiency that states report to the Department, state-level math and reading achievement data from the Department's National Assessment of Educational Progress, and 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, as well as aggregate changes over time. The study is descriptive and not designed to estimate the impact of federal policies on state and local actions.

From a snapshot describing state and district support for evidence use in lowest-performing schools based on data collected during the 2017–18 school year (transition to ESSA):

  • Most states pointed districts and schools to evidence on improvement strategies but few required schools to choose from an approved strategy list. Most states used approaches that included providing information directly, making referrals to organizations that rate evidence, and setting grant funding criteria to incentivize evidence.
  • Most districts (9 in 10) reported that evidence of effectiveness was a "very important" consideration when choosing improvement strategies.
  • But the evidence districts relied on probably varies in quality. Most districts reported obtaining information on improvement strategies from peers and vendors, while fewer got information from sources designed to rate and share evidence.

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.
  • 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. States with ESEA flexibility 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. However, few districts reported using evaluation system measures consistent with emerging research.
  • Proficiency rates on the National Assessment of Educational Progress 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 4–5 percentage points in 4th and 8th grade reading and math and by 2 percentage points in 12th grade reading.

Additional reports and snapshots are anticipated based on the data collected during the 2017–18, 2020–21, and 2021–22 school years. The key findings will be updated when those products are released.

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

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 the transition to 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.