What is a Title 1 Teacher?

Michelle Bouslog
Michelle Bouslog
EdTech Teacher; M.A.Ed. in EdTech, Concordia University St. Paul, MN

The National Center for Education Statistics, the reading arm of the United States Education Department, recently found that 2 out of 3 children in fourth grade are not meeting standards for reading proficiency. The overall student progress in reading has stalled in the last decade, with the lowest achieving students falling even further behind and the higher achieving students stagnating. U.S tests scores are not looking much better on the mathematics side of education either. In the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress, only 33 percent of eighth-graders tested proficient in math at grade level. Where do schools turn to help their struggling students? For some, it’s Title 1.

What is a Title 1 School? What is a Title 1 Teacher?

Title 1 is a federally funded program that provides extra academic support to students in the areas of reading and/or math. One of the goals of the program is to improve the academic achievement of the disadvantaged. The purpose of the title is to ensure that all children have an equal and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education. According to the U.S. Department of Education, students should be able to reach, at minimum, proficiency on the challenging state academic assessments and standards.

Title 1 teachers use several different job titles, depending on the language of the school’s contract or the types of interventions they do. Title 1 Teacher, Title 1 Interventionist, Reading Interventionist, or Math Interventionist are a few most commonly seen. Others use a more casual job title such as WIN (What I Need) teacher in hopes of eliminating any stigmas or stereotypes for students who may be embarrassed going to a “reading” or “math” teacher.

Education and Training Needed to Become a Title 1 Teacher

Elementary school teachers interested in becoming a Title 1 teacher need either a bachelor’s degree in elementary education or a bachelor’s degree in a specific subject with a certification in education. In addition to this, some schools require a master’s degree or a reading license. The same sort of requirements are necessary for teachers hoping to work as a Title 1 teacher at the middle and high school level. Taking classes that focus on at-risk or low-achieving students can be valuable in preparation for a Title 1 teaching position. Experience in the classroom prior to becoming a Title 1 teacher is also beneficial and can make an educator more marketable when applying for the position.

Skills Needed to be an Effective Title 1 Teacher

There are many skills needed to be an effective Title 1 teacher. Teachers need to have time management skills; students should only be out of the classroom for as little time as necessary so they do not miss any instructional time. Teachers need to be effective in carrying out any given intervention; this means being consistent and direct with instruction while keeping kids engaged and active throughout the lesson.

Teachers also need to be empathetic and trauma sensitive. Many students that enter the Title 1 program are coming from disadvantaged homes or have had traumatic events happen in their lives. Teachers need to take this into consideration as they carry out rigorous interventions, being sure to build up student confidence and offer emotional skills or support where needed.

Along with these soft skills, there are other skills teachers need to exhibit to be an effective Title 1 teacher. Teachers need to have knowledge of data analysis. Teachers are constantly taking dipstick measures and completing skill checks to progress monitor how their students are doing and make instructional decisions based off data. Teachers also need an understanding of what it takes to stay in compliance with the Title 1 federal program regulations. Being the largest federally funded program, it is important to keep the title’s guidelines on the forefront of one’s mind and be sure Title teachers are adhering to set mandates. More information can be found on the U.S Department of Education website.

How Title 1 Funding Affects Title 1 Teachers

Title 1 financial assistance is provided through state educational agencies to local educational agencies and public schools. Over $14 billion dollars a year is used for school systems all over the country who have struggling students at risk of failing or living at or near poverty. The funding reaches over six million students, focused in elementary but extending to middle and high schoolers as well.

There are two types of Title 1 programs based on the demographics of a school. The targeted assistance program is available to schools that have 40% or less of students categorized as underprivileged. In the targeted assistance program, services are only provided to select children who have the greatest need for educational assistance. Funds are used to hire Title 1 teachers to instruct the identified eligible students based on how at risk they are for not meeting state standards. Thorough records must be kept to insure funds are spent on activities and services for these identified students.

The second type of program is the schoolwide program. The schoolwide program is available for schools with a student population of at least 40% of students coming from low-income families. In a schoolwide program, all students in the building are considered Title 1 students. At any time, a Title 1 teacher may work with students to increase their reading and math proficiency (whereas in targeted programs only particular students are worked with). The schoolwide program is much more fluid, with students coming and going after different lengths of time. A student may be in the title program for a few weeks, a few months, or a few years.

In order to receive funding every year for the program, schools need to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment, create an appropriate plan, and conduct an annual review of the effectiveness of the program. This is based on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and is a requirement by law.

Title 1 is a federally funded program that provides extra academic support to students in the areas of reading or math. Whether your school is a targeted assistance school or follows a schoolwide plan, the program is aimed at helping to ensure that all children have an equal and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education. Title 1 is just one way to support struggling students in meeting their educational needs.

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