ESSA: A Starter Kit for Private School Educators
Title III, Part A
Title III, Part A: Language Instruction for
English Learners and
Title III, Part A makes funding available to help English learners and eligible immigrant students develop English proficiency and meet the same academic content and academic achievement standards that other children are expected to attain. This program is subject to the private school equitability requirements established in ESSA §8501(b)(1)(C). If the public school district in which your private school is located receives Title IIIA funding, and your school enrolls children who meet the program’s eligibility requirements, you should discuss the procedures governing participation, and the services that are available when you engage in consultation with your school’s public school district representatives. Teachers may also be eligible to receive professional development assistance designed to improve their effectiveness in assisting English language learners.
How does Title III, Part A funding work?
Public school districts wishing to make Title III, Part A services available to students and teachers must make application to the California Department of Education. A list of participating districts can be viewed here. The amount of money a district must set aside to provide services to private school students and their teachers is a function of the total number of private school students identified as eligible to receive such services, expressed as a percentage of all public and private school students within a district that are determined to be eligible.
Example: Assume that the CAPSO Private School is located within the Friendly Public School District, and that 20 CAPSO students have been found eligible to receive Title III-A services, out of a total of 2,000 eligible students, district-wide. Since 20 equals one percent of 2,000, the district must reserve one percent of its Title III-A allocation to provide services to CAPSO Private School’s students, and their teachers. If the district’s total Title III-A allocation is $200,000, it must set aside $2,000 – or, $100 per-pupil – for that particular private school’s students and teachers.
Keep in mind: On the basis of district applications, and the number of children identified as eligible for receipt of Title III, Part A services, the California Department of Education has estimated that approximately $93.00 per-pupil will be available to provide Title III-A services during the 2016-17 school year. Private schools may wish to consider the possibility of pooling funds in order to access certain services (e.g., professional development for teachers).
How are eligible children identified?
Private school officials should discuss this question with their local public school district representatives at the earliest possible date. If you are told that the district is awaiting the issuance of regulations and/or guidance, respond in a polite, but assertive manner, by directing your colleagues’ attention to the following section of the ESSA statute:
“Educational services and other benefits provided under this section for private school children, teachers, and other educational personnel shall be equitable in comparison to services and other benefits for public school children, teachers, and other educational personnel participating in the program and shall be provided in a timely manner.” (ESSA §8501(a)(3)(A))
In other words, if the public school children are receiving Title IIIA services, waiting for federal regulations, or guidance is not an option. Eligible private school children must be provided with comparable opportunities.
A private school will likely be required to administer a Home Language Survey – which it should be able to obtain from its local public school district at no cost – to identify households in which English is not the primary language. To identify immigrant students, private schools should complete the Student National Origin Report, which the California Department of Education makes available online.
Children identified via the above-mentioned processes must undergo an English language assessment (see “The CELDT” in the sidebar to the right) to determine whether they qualify as English learners. The school district should administer the assessment at no cost to the student, or the private school.
What kinds of programs and services can be provided?
While the answer to this question awaits the issuance of new regulations and guidance, Title III, Part A has, in past years, provided English learners and immigrant students, teachers, and parents an array of opportunities, that include, but are not limited to:
- access to high-quality language instruction programs that are grounded in scientifically-based research demonstrating effectiveness in increasing English proficiency and student academic achievement in the core academic subjects;
- high quality professional development for classroom teachers (including teachers in classroom settings that are not the setting of language instruction educational programs), principals, administrators, and other school or community-based organizational personnel;
- tutorials, mentoring, and academic or career counseling for immigrant children and youth;
- family literacy, parent outreach, and training activitie sdesigned to assist parents to become active participants in the education of their children; and,
- activities coordinated with community-based organizations, including private sector entities, to assist parents of immigrant children and youth by offering comprehensive community services.
By now you know that consultation should be initiated at an early date, well in advance of the coming school year. You should inquire about possible Title III, Part A participation, even if you’re not sure that your school currently enrolls students who would qualify to receive services. Let your district colleagues tell you whether Title III-A services are available and, if so, how your eligible students should be identified. Remember – you’re under no obligation to participate, but receiving information doesn’t hurt!
If you think you’d like to pursue participation in Title III, Part A, be sure to discuss how your participating students will be periodically assessed after they’ve begun to receive services. The district will be required to submit evaluation reports to the California Department of Education (probably once every two years). It will need to furnish information about how participating students are making progress toward attaining English proficiency, as well as answer other questions that may not be applicable to students enrolled in private schools. Agreeing in advance about the simplest means of evaluating your participating students’ progress will prove helpful.