An August 9, 2011 report by the Center on Education Policy (CEP) found improvements in the academic achievement of Title I students and a narrowing of the achievement gap between Title I and non-Title I students. Title I of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), reauthorized in 2002 and renamed the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), provides funding to states to provide extra educational services to low-performing students in schools with high poverty rates. CEP compared achievement trends between 2002 and 2009, focusing on test scores in reading and math. At least 79% of the 19 states included in the CEP study showed achievement gains for Title I students; in most cases the gains were equal to or greater than the gains for non-Title I students. During the same time period, achievement gaps between Title I and non-Title I students narrowed more often than they widened. The achievement gaps between Title I and non-Title I students tended to be smaller than the gaps between low-income and non-low income students, African American and White students, and Hispanic and White students.
The CEP report explains that a number of factors can cause achievement gaps between groups to narrow. For example, the gap will narrow when achievement goes up for both groups but rises more for the lower-performing group. Gaps can also narrow if achievement rises for the lower-performing group but not for the higher-performing group or if achievement lowers for both groups but lowers more for the higher-performing group. For this report, CEP determined that the gaps narrowed between Title I students and non-Title I students most often because both groups made gains, but Title I students improved at a greater rate.
A full copy of the CEP report is available at www.cep-dc.org.