Last week on the National Journal Education Experts blog, we were asked how to ensure that federal funding under Title I -- the provision for disadvantaged students -- goes to the schools most in need. In education-speak, this is known as "Title I comparability." The National Journal asked:
What is an appropriate way to regulate equitable funding for schools? Is this an area that requires federal involvement? Should school districts be allowed some leeway (like the current 10 percent variation) in resource levels for different schools? Or should the funding be absolutely equal? What should be included or excluded in comparisons between school resource levels?
The Title I Comparability Requirement is a complicated subject. (For background read this page on the Federal Education Budget Project site.)
I point out that “Current comparability requirements – put into place to ensure that Title I dollars enhanced funding, not supplanted funding, for the most needy students and schools – do nothing to prohibit the uneven distribution of teachers between Title I and non-Title I schools because school districts are allowed to show comparability through student-to-staff ratios or teacher salary schedules, not expenditures like actual salaries.”
This is a problem and it creates a loophole for school districts. If they do not have to show actual salaries, it means they don’t have to account for the varying levels of experience the teachers in their school may have. A school with 20 teachers who are in their first or second year is be viewed as comparable to a school with 20 teachers who have been teaching ten years. But they are not. Low-performing schools often have higher teacher turnover rates, often creating a revolving door of teachers with less than five years of experiences. There’s nothing equitable about that.
In my post, I say that “closing the comparability loophole is a critical piece to helping ensure that low-income schools receive sufficient funds to either compensate more experienced teachers or implement other programs to support student learning and improve achievement.”
Read my entire post here.