ESSA: Title III, Part A

ESSA: A Starter Kit for Private School Educators
Title III, Part A

Introduction| What is ESEA? | ESSA & Private Schools | Consultation | The Titles

Title III, Part A: Language Instruction forHello
English Learners and
Immigrant Students

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.

HowItWorksHow 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.

Reminder2Keep 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))

InspectorIn 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.

Next:  Title IV

Click on a section to go there

What is ESSA?
ESSA & Private Schools
Title I:       Improving Basic Programs
Title II:      Professional Development
Title III:     Language Instruction
Title IV:     21st Century Schools
Title V:      Innovation & Local Flexibility
Title VIII:  General Provisions
Title IX:     The Homeless & Other Laws

Title III, Part A in a NutshellNutshell

Title III, Part A provides funding intended to help English learners and eligible immigrant students speak, read, write, and comprehend the English language with sufficient proficiency to meet high academic standards.  Participating students are identified through the administration of various surveys, and must undergo a district-approved English language assessment to establish their eligibility.  Qualifying private school students are eligible to receive federally funded, high-quality language instruction grounded in scientifically-based research, and their teachers are eligible to receive professional development designed to improve the instruction and assessment of English learners.

The amount of funding to be set-aside for a given private school is determined by number of eligible English learners enrolled in the school as a percentage of all eligible English learners enrolled in a district’s public and private schools.


Most California public school districts use the California English Language Development Test (CELDT) to identify English learners.  State law, however, restricts administration of the CELDT to public school students.  Do not despair!  Other tests can be substituted, though they will need to meet certain technical requirements.  If your district contact is not knowledgeable of such tests, ask him/her to either contact the Title III, Part A consultant at the California Department of Education, or speak with a Title III-A coordinator at a large public school district in which private school students may be participating.

It doesn’t hurt to ask…Ask

By now you should be aware that a school district can’t simply offer private school students and teachers opportunities to participate in programs it has created for its public schools…and leave it at that.  At the same time, there’s nothing in the law that prohibits private school teachers from participating in a professional development program developed by a public school district for its teachers.  Many such programs are outstanding, and if space is available, districts are often happy to include private school teachers.  Because the participation of additional teachers lowers the per-participant cost of providing the training, both the district and its private schools can benefit from economy of scale savings.   Title III, Part A is certainly one ESSA program where it makes sense to consider such a possibility.

…and it’s always about relationships.

Title III, Part A can be tricky to navigate.  To establish eligibility for participation, students need to be identified, assessed, and periodically re-assessed to gauge their progress and fine-tune services received.  Your school may enroll only a small number of English learners and/or immigrant children, and the amount of available funding may be modest.  Regardless, you should not hesitate to discuss possible Title III, Part A services when they engage in consultation with your public school district representatives.  If you’ve established a cordial working relationship, your colleague can help ease the path to participation.  And, if participation doesn’t appear to be a good option, your colleague might consider offering one or more of your faculty an opportunity to participate in a great in-service program the district is conducting for its teachers, without requiring formal participation in Title III-A.  It’s been known to happen!