Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Title Funding Reimagined
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Title Funding Reimagined

By Christina Fernandez, Grants Development Consultant (K-12 Education)


The federal government plays a crucial role in supporting elementary and secondary education in the United States through various funding programs. The largest source of federal education programs is the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015. ESSA provides two types of funding- formula and competitive. Formula funds are administered annually by State Education Agencies (SEA) to Local Education Agencies (LEAs) based on a unique Title formula. Title formula funding is meant to supplement state funding and help close the achievement gap for disadvantaged students.

Among all of the title programs that are housed within the ESSA, this article will focus on Title I Part A, Title II Part A, and Title IV Part A, as these programs are significant sources of financial assistance for elementary and secondary schools. Each of these titles serves a distinct purpose and targets specific areas of need within the education system. We will explore the differences between these titles, how schools are utilizing these funds, and ways to reimagine these funds to include technology that improves educational outcomes.


Different Title Funding Buckets:


Title I part A (Improving Basic Programs Operated by Local Education Agencies) is the most widely used federal formula program for K12 school districts. The purpose of this fund is to help students who are failing or who are at most risk of failing to meet state academic achievement standards. An LEA’s Title I allocation is the sum of four statutory formulas: Basic, Concentrated, Targeted, and Education Finance Incentive Grants. These formulas are primarily based on census poverty LEA data and the cost of education in each state. Title I schools with a student population of at least 40% from low-income families may use these funds to operate a school-wide initiative to upgrade their instructional programs to serve all students, thus raising the achievement of the lowest-achieving students. Schools with less than the 40% threshold, or that choose not to operate a schoolwide program, may offer a targeted assistance program in which the school identifies the most at-risk students and designs an instructional program to meet their specific needs. LEAs must also use a portion of their Title I funds to provide academic enrichment services to eligible children enrolled in private schools.


Title II part A (Supporting Effective Instruction) focuses on improving the quality of educators, principals, and other school leaders to increase student achievement consistent with state academic standards. This funding bucket aims to increase the number of qualified educators through personalized professional development, recruitment, and retention efforts for the purpose of reducing class sizes and increasing student achievement.


Title IV part A (Student Support and Academic Enrichment) is aimed at promoting well-rounded education and safe and healthy schools. The main purpose of Title IV Part A is to improve student academic achievement in three areas: (1) provide all students with access to a well-rounded education, (2) improve school conditions for student learning, and (3) improve the use of technology in order to improve the academic achievement and digital literacy for all students. States allocate these funds to LEAs in proportion to their prior-year Title I, Part A allocations. If approved, LEAs will receive a minimum of $10,000. LEAs receiving more than $30,000 must conduct a comprehensive needs assessment and use 20% of funding for well-rounded education activities and 20% on safe and healthy school activities. 15% of the remaining funds may be used to support technology.


The most common ways schools are utilizing Title Funding


Not every school utilizes their title funding in the same way, however, these are the most common ways schools are using their allocations:

Title I part A funding:

  • Additional Support Personnel: Many schools hire additional teachers, instructional aides, and support staff to provide targeted assistance to students who are struggling academically.
  • Intervention Programs: Title I funds are frequently allocated to implement intervention programs such as one-on-one tutoring, after-school programs, and summer school to help at-risk students catch up to their peers.
  • Professional Development: Teachers and staff often receive professional development opportunities to enhance their skills in working with disadvantaged students.
  • Parent and Family Engagement: Schools use Title I funds to foster stronger partnerships with parents and families, organizing workshops and activities that support students' learning at home.

Title II Part A funding:

  • Professional Development: Title II supports ongoing professional development for teachers and principals, helping them stay current with best practices and educational trends.
  • Recruitment: Funds are used to attract highly qualified educators, especially in subjects or geographic areas with teacher shortages.
  • Diversity Initiatives: Some schools use Title II funds to promote diversity within the teaching workforce, aiming to reflect the demographics of their student body.


Title IV, Part A Funding: Student Support and Academic Enrichment

  • Curriculum Resources: Schools purchase instructional materials, technology, and resources to support a well-rounded education, including subjects such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and the arts.
  • Mental Health Services: Funding is allocated to provide students with access to mental health services and support addressing their social and emotional needs.
  • Safe and Healthy Schools: Not only is this a requirement under this program but also a common theme we see in other state and federal opportunities. Schools are utilizing this funding for programming and initiatives that create safe and supportive school environments, including bullying prevention and school safety measures.


Reimagining Title Funding to Support Evolving Technology Needs


There is no doubt that title funding is an integral part of every school’s budget. Due to their consistent nature, these programs are routinely being used the same way each year. As we move into an increasingly digital world, it is imperative that schools start reassessing their title funds to address these immediate technology needs.

While at its core, Title I funds must be used to support at-risk student populations, they can also be used to fund some of your technology needs, for example, creating and managing online resources. Investing in high-quality educational software, digital textbooks, and online resources can significantly benefit students in Title I schools. These resources can be personalized to address individual learning needs and offer tailored support for at-risk students. As you begin integrating more technology into your classrooms, you can also allocate a portion of your Title I Part A funds to train teachers on that technology. Equipping educators with the skills to effectively use technology can greatly enhance the quality of instruction.


Though Title II primarily focuses on enhancing teacher quality through professional development, technology can be integrated to support these initiatives. Schools can allocate Title II Part A funding to provide teachers with training in educational technology. This includes workshops, courses, and certifications that empower educators to effectively utilize digital tools in their classrooms, providing an enhanced learning experience for their students. Schools can also utilize these funds to foster collaboration among educators, community members, and families. This enhanced collaboration enabled by technology may offer access to instructional materials as well as the resources and tools to create, manage, and assess their quality and usefulness, benefitting both their professional growth and student learning outcomes.


The most technological forward program is the Title IV part A, which provides schools with the flexibility to address a wide range of needs. This funding source can be creatively leveraged to enhance technology integration through initiatives like 1:1 Device programs for hybrid or distance learning. Also, subject to the special 15% rule, LEAs could purchase high-quality digital curriculum materials that align with their educational goals and standards.



Title I, Title II, and Title IV Part A are essential funding sources that help elementary and secondary schools address specific needs and challenges. By utilizing these federal funds strategically, schools can enhance the quality of education and create a more equitable and inclusive learning environment for all students. Even if a district is already using its title funds in these ways, it is important to periodically assess your funding needs to meet new demands.