THE ELEMENTARTY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION ACT (ESEA) was passed as a part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War on Poverty” and has been the most far-reaching federal legislation affecting education ever passed by Congress. In its original conception, Title I, under the ESEA, was designed by President Lyndon B. Johnson to close the skill gap in reading, writing and mathematics between children from low-income households who attend urban or rural school systems and children from the middle-class who attend suburban school systems.
According to the United States Department of Education (ED), students from low-income households are “three times as likely to be low achievers if they attend high-poverty schools as compared to low-poverty schools.” Within this context, Title I was conceived in order to compensate for the considerable educational deprivations associated with child poverty. In the past 50 years, Title I has changed markedly.
1960’s – LYNDON JOHNSON
1965 – ELEMENTARY & SECONDARY EDUCATION ACT (ESEA)
Title I under the ESEA was designed by President Lyndon B. Johnson to close the skill gap in reading, writing and mathematics between children from low-income households who attend urban or rural school systems and children from the middle-class who attend suburban school systems. This federal law came about during President Johnson’s “War on Poverty” agenda. Sections included:
Title I – Financial assistance to local educational agencies for the education of children from low-income households
Title II – School library resources, textbooks, and other instructional materials
Title III – Supplementary educational centers and services
Title IV – Educational research & training
Title V – Grants to strengthen state departments of education
Title VI – General provisions
1966 – ESEA AMENDMENT
Added Title VI – Aid to Handicapped Children (1965 Title VI becomes Title VII)
1967 – ESEA AMENDMENT
Added Title VII – Bilingual Education Programs (1966 Title VII becomes Title VIII)
1980’s – RONALD REAGAN
1981 – EDUCATION CONSOLIDATION & IMPROVEMENT ACT (ECIA)
Congress passed the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act (ECIA) in 1981 to reduce federal regulations of Title I. This reflected the administration’s stance that resource control should be in the hands of states and local jurisdictions rather than at a federal level.
1988 – HAWKINS-STAFFORD ELEMENTARY & SECONDARY SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT ACT (ESSIA)
The “Hawkins-Stafford Elementary & Secondary Education Act” refocused Title I on cultivating school improvement and excellent programs. The additions called for coordination between Chapter I and classroom instruction, it raised the achievement standards for low-income students by emphasizing advanced skills instead of basic ones, and increased parental involvement. It had two new provisions:
- Program inprovement – Modifications that would occur when students who receive funding were not improving
- School-wide projects – Allowed a larger number of high-need schools to implement school-wide programming
1990’s – BILL CLINTON
1994 – IMPROVING AMERICA’S SCHOOLS ACT (IASA)
The 1994 Improving America’s Schools Act (IASA) significantly revised the original ESEA. This reform made three major changes to Title I.
Change I: Added math and reading/language arts standards to be used to assess student progress and provide accountability.
Change II: Reduced the threshold for schools to implement schoolwide programs from 75% student body poverty rate to 60% in 1995-96 and 50% in 1996-97 school year.
1999 – EDUCATION FLEXIBILITY PARTNERSHIP ACT OF 1999
Education Flexibility Partnership Act of 1999 (Ed-Flex statute), as amended, the Secretary of Education delegated to States the authority to waive certain requirements of Federal education programs that may impede local efforts to reform and improve education.
This “Ed-Flex” authority is designed to help districts (LEAs) and schools to carry out educational reforms and raise the achievement levels of all children by providing increased flexibility in the implementation of Federal education programs in exchange for enhanced accountability for the performance of students.
2000’s – GEORGE W. BUSH
2001 – NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT (NCLB)
The most recent and significant alteration to the original Title I legislation was made by its reauthorization under “No Child Left Behind Act of 2001” (NCLB). In this reauthorization, NCLB requires increased accountability from its schools both from the teachers and from the students.
TITLE I: Yearly standardized tests are mandated in order to measure how schools are performing against the achievement bars.
Schools are also responsible for publishing annual report cards that detail their student achievement data and demographics.
TITLE II: Preparing, Training and Recruiting High Quality Teachers & Principals changed the focus specifically on improving the quality of teachers and principals in publicly funded schools and created the term “highly-qualified teacher” (HQT), which aimed to have a highly-qualified teacher in every classroom in the United States by 2005.
It also gives states greater freedom on spending as it relates to teacher quality, in the hopes that schools will be able to retain their highly-qualified teachers.
2010’s – BARACK OBAMA
2011 – ESEA ED-FLEX WAIVER
In an effort to support local and state education reform across America, the White house provided an opportunity for states to get relief from provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act – or No Child Left Behind (NCLB) – in exchange for close achievement gaps to promote rigorous accountability and ensure that all students are on track to graduate college- and career-ready.
States can request flexibility from specific NCLB requirements, but only if they are transitioning students, teachers, and schools to a system aligned with college- and career-ready standards for all students, developing differentiated accountability systems, and undertaking reforms to support effective classroom instruction and school leadership.
2015 – EVERY STUDENT SUCCEEDS ACT (ESSA)
In December 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed into law by President Barack Obama, replacing No Child Left Behind and completing an almost 10-year effort of reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The legislation passed both the Senate and the House by a wide margin with a broad base of support among members of both parties. The White House indicated that the new law would ensure accountability by “maintaining guardrails and protections for the most vulnerable students and directing federal resources toward what works in helping all children learn.”
The Latino Family Literacy Project is a White House Bright Spot Award winner for Educational Excellence with Hispanics.
The History of ESEA