WATCH: Everything You Need to Know About Title I — and the $15 Billion It Directs to American Schools — in 2 Minutes

July 29, 2019

Policies affecting schools, students and equitable classroom funding are emerging as some of the most talked-about issues in the 2020 presidential campaign. Specifically, some candidates are proposing large increases to Title I funding.

But what is Title I?

Title I was created by the U.S. Department of Education to distribute funding to underserved students and districts, creating a strong federal role in guiding education policy, which had previously been almost entirely a state and local concern. Today, the Education Department is seeking $15.8 billion in Title I funds for 2020.

The program serves well over 21 million students in more than 56,000 public schools. Title I funds can support extra instruction in reading and math, as well as wholesale changes designed to transform long-struggling schools. According to a 2011 paper from the Center on Education Policy, Title I students improved in math and reading, and achievement gaps narrowed in many areas during the No Child Left Behind era.

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—Edited by James Fields, With Reporting by Andrew Brownstein