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Measuring Title I's Effectiveness

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In the 32-year history of Title I, the federal government has conducted two major longitudinal studies on the program's effectiveness:

Sustaining Effects tracked 15,000 students from the 1976-77 school year through 1978-79. Here are some of the key findings outlined in a 1984 article by the study's director:

  • Although the test scores of Title I students improved compared with those of similar students who did not receive help from the program, the improvements did not narrow the gap between them and high-achieving students.
  • When Title I students moved on to junior high school, they needed more remedial courses than other students and showed no lasting benefit from the remedial help they received in elementary school.
  • Title I was least effective for "the most disadvantaged part of the school population."

Prospects tested 40,000 students in the program, then known as Chapter 1, from 1991-92 through 1993-94. Among the findings from the final report issued earlier this year are:

  • Researchers could not "discern any 'compensatory' effect over time" directly linked to the Chapter 1 program. "Chapter 1 assistance does not reduce the initial gaps in achievement between students."
  • The program identified and served the children who need the most help, "but the services appear to be insufficient to allow them to overcome the relatively large differences between them and their more-advantaged classmates."
  • Successful Chapter 1 programs tended to have an experienced principal and low teacher turnover. They also eschewed "pullout" classes with remedial focus in favor of whole-school efforts that seek to raise the achievement of every student.

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