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Title I Formula Changes Included in House Republican NCLB Rewrite

Lawmakers who have been trying for years to change the way Title I dollars for low-income students are disbursed to school districts scored a big win with House Republicans Wednesday morning.

When GOP members on the education committee unveiled the No Child Left Behind Act overhaul that they plan to clear later in the afternoon, it included several technical changes to the measure they originally introduced. Notably, it increased the weight given to the percentage of low-income students in a school district, which is part of how Title I aid is distributed.

The Title I formula is complicated, but generally speaking, the money is given to districts based on their size and concentration of poverty, among other factors. For years now, critics of the formula have argued that it's unfair because the formula weighs more heavily the size of a school district over the percent of students in poverty in a school district.

That means that, generally speaking, larger districts and big urban areas often come out ahead of poor, rural districts and small cities. Indeed, Fairfax County, Va., (one of the richest counties in the nation) gets a disproportionate share of Title I dollars compared with some rural districts with higher concentrations of poverty.

The change in the formula amounts to one one-hundredth of a percent, but it is still considered a big win for advocates like Rep. Glenn Thomspon, R-Penn., who's been pushing Congress on this issue since at least 2011.

During opening remarks at a markup on the NCLB overhaul, Thompson thanked Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the committee chairman, for beginning to address the issue of the Title I formula, but said more still needed to be done. Thompson also underscored that this isn't an argument between rural and urban school districts. Cities like Cleveland also stand to rake in more Title I dollars if the formula is further altered

Thompson will keep pushing to include additional language in the NCLB rewrite that mirrors his All Children Are Equal Act (ACE), which would further alter the formula.

"This was a tireless effort by him and his staff, and a great testament to how serious he is in ensuring that Title I dollars get to concentrations of poverty," said Noelle Ellerson, associate executive director of policy and advocacy at AASA, the School Superintendents Association, which has been a supporter of the formula change.

Check back here for other newsworthy changes to the bill we dig up.

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