Disadvantaged students are those who have hindrances to excelling in school because of detrimental circumstances beyond their control. These include financial and social hardships as well as problems within students' families. The category also includes students who would not normally be disadvantaged and who have been affected by some sort of natural disaster.
What is Title I?
Part of the act known as No Child Left Behind earmarked monies to districts that included disadvantaged students. According to The Brookings Institution, the entire Title I program doesn't work. The researchers concluded that the $500 or $600 per student is not only inadequate but also misused, with many principals using the funds to pay for irrelevant and unwanted professional development.
Even if the monies weren't used to fund "flavor-of-the-month" development, they were spent on technology or class size reductions that were too small to be effective. The researchers further concluded that the funding would have to be increased by a factor of eight for it to have the desired effect.
The United States Department of Education goes further by noting that the level of funding from the federal government is not the same as the funding from state and local governments, particularly in high-poverty districts. The department's point is that working at cross purposes defeats the purpose of increased support. Additionally, without the state and local contributions, the federal funds were insufficient. The department also noted that low-poverty districts actually received 25 percent more Title I funds from the federal government than high-poverty districts.
New Ideas Are Key
The answer isn't just more money, according to the Rand Corporation. To them, a combination of after-school programs, groundbreaking teaching strategies, and forward-thinking programs is the best way to use the money generated by higher Title I awards.
The benefits of after-school programs were borne out by the data. Some of the benefits include: increased academic performance, lower recidivism when it comes to misbehavior, and higher focus among teachers as well as students. Rand noted that students must attend regularly to reap the benefits of these programs.
Rand also recommended that everyone involved with any program designed for disadvantaged students, such as teachers, parents, lawmakers, and district policy makers, should work together to create incentives that foster growth in these programs.
Another way that students wind up being disadvantaged is by having inexperienced teachers in high-poverty districts while their more-advantaged brethren have more experienced teachers in low-poverty districts. The department stresses the need for experienced teachers in all districts and advocates for worthwhile training instead of the usual fare of near-worthless professional development.
Students who are disadvantaged must overcome obstacles that others might not even realize exist. They deserve and need support and help to rise above their disadvantages. Both government entities and school districts are crafting plans to increase opportunities for disadvantaged students while not affecting other students.