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Summary of Changes to Title II, Part A

By Jennifer Simons, Title II Coordinator, ESEA Programs Office
Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - 10:43am

While many program requirements and allowable activities remain the same under Title II, Part A in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) as described in the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), ESSA offers some new flexibilities and opportunities under this part as well.

Overview and purpose of Title II, Part A in ESSA

The purpose of Title II, Part A continues to focus on increasing student achievement through improving the quality and effectiveness of teachers and principals.  This purpose has shifted, however, from a focus on accountability to an increased focus on providing low-income and minority students greater access to effective teachers, principals, and other school leaders.  This shift is reflected in the discontinuation of accountability sanctions1 and narrowing the focus of requirements for targeting funds to schools with high poverty concentrations and those identified for Title I school improvement.  Previously, local education agencies (LEAs) were also required to target funds to schools with the lowest proportion of highly qualified teachers and/or the largest class size.

The consultation requirement has been made more robust under ESSA.   Under NCLB, LEAs were required to conduct needs assessments with the involvement of teachers.  When planning the use of Title II, Part A funds, ESSA requires LEAs to meaningfully consult with teachers, principals, other school leaders, paraprofessionals (including organizations representing such individuals), specialized instructional support personnel, charter school leaders (in an LEA that has charter schools), parents, community partners, and other organizations or partners with relevant and demonstrated expertise in programs and activities designed to meet the purpose of Title II, Part A.

New opportunities and flexibilities in funding activities

Activities funded through Title II, Part A must continue to be aligned with challenging State academic standards.  ESSA adds the additional requirement that Title II, Part A funded activities shall address the learning needs of all students, including children with disabilities, English learners, and gifted and talented students.  LEAs must also now provide in their application to the State educational agency for funds a description of their systems of professional growth and improvement, such as induction for teachers or principals, opportunities for building the capacity of teachers, and opportunities to develop meaningful teacher leadership.

LEAs will continue to have the flexibility to use Title II, Part A funds to implement any2 activities that are evidence-based and meet the purpose of Title II, Part A.  There are also now new activities explicitly allowed under ESSA that were not previously named under NCLB.  These activities include providing training and professional development in the following areas:

  • The techniques and supports needed to help educators understand when and how to refer students affected by trauma, and children with, or at risk of, mental illness;
  • Addressing issues related to school conditions for student learning, such as safety, peer interaction, drug and alcohol abuse, and chronic absenteeism;
  • Supporting the identification of students who are gifted and talented and implementing instructional practices that support the education of such students; and
  • How to prevent and recognize child sexual abuse.

Additionally, ESSA also now explicitly allows Title II, Part A funds to be used to develop and implement programs that aim to:

  • Develop or improve a rigorous, transparent, and fair evaluation and support system for teachers, principals, or other school leaders that is based in part on evidence of student achievement and shall include multiple measures of educator performance and provide clear, timely, and useful feedback to teachers, principals, or other school leaders.
  • Recruit, hire, and retain effective teachers, particularly in low-income schools with high percentages of ineffective teachers and high percentages of students who do not meet the challenging State academic standards;
  • Increase the ability of teachers to effectively teach children with disabilities, including children with significant cognitive disabilities, and English learners.  These programs may include the use of multi-tier systems of support and positive behavioral intervention and supports.
  • Increase the ability of principals or other school leaders to support teachers, teacher leaders, early childhood educators, and other professionals to meet the needs of students through age 8;
  • Support the instructional services provided by effective school library programs; and
  • Develop feedback mechanism to improve school working conditions.

Other funding changes in Title II, Part A

Under NCLB, 2.5% of the State’s allocation of Title II, Part A funds went to higher education partnerships for the purpose of expanding alternative routes to teacher certification.  This reservation will not continue under ESSA.  State educational agencies have the option to reserve up to 3% of the funds reserved for subgrants to LEAs in order to establish and implement programs that aim to improve the capacity of principals and other school leaders to serve as effective instructional leaders in their schools.  Examples of possible activities include establishing principal preparation academies or residency programs and providing training to principals, other school leaders, coaches, mentors, and evaluators on how to accurately differentiate performance, provide useful and timely feedback, and use evaluation results to inform decision-making about professional development, improvement strategies, and personnel decisions.

The Mathematics and Science Partnership program under Title II, Part B of NCLB is eliminated under ESSA.  Title II, Part B under ESSA establishes four new competitive subpart programs that aim to improve the quality of teaching in different areas of education.  A separate blog post will provide more information on these programs at a later date.


1No Child Left Behind Act, §2141: Local education agencies failing to meet annual measurable objectives were required to submit an improvement plan and, if objectives were still not met after a third year, enter into an agreement with the state educational agency on the use of Title II funds.  This agreement included a prohibition against the use of Title I, Part A funds to hire paraprofessionals expect in certain circumstances.

2As long as activities do not supplant other state and local funding sources.

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