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It is no longer a question of whether we need access to technology in schools. It’s a question of how we can best integrate technology into the school curriculum so we can help prepare students for a rapidly changing and increasingly competitive global economy. As more and more school districts implement digital and web-based learning programs requiring students to work on assignments outside the classroom, a large number of disadvantaged students are finding themselves caught in a widening digital divide struggling to keep up.
In an ideal world, access to technology is at the foundation of serving the educational needs of not only mainstream classrooms, but also those of students with learning, physical disabilities or truancies, home-school and virtual teaching, migratory programs, and a host of other scenarios.
Title I is the section of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that is specifically targeted toward children in poverty. It is the largest federal program supporting elementary and secondary education. The U.S. Department of Education allocates funds to states to serve these children based on the number of eligible students. States then send these funds to local school districts, who in turn allocate the monies to individual schools with high poverty rates to improve their students’ academic achievement and close achievement gaps.
The amount of funds is based on a formula that counts the number of families living in poverty in a school attendance area. That formula provides funding to schools with high poverty rates in the school district, based on the number of low-income children in the school. Schools that receive Title I funding are called Title I schools. School districts have some discretion in how they distribute Title I funds among schools within the district, but the law requires them to prioritize the highest-poverty schools.
Federal funds must be combined with local and state money and not replace them. In some schools where the number of children living in poverty is 40 percent or greater, a school can make use of what is called a Schoolwide model, where funds are used across the entire school’s population. Other schools with smaller incidences of poverty can use a Targeted Assistance model that focuses on eligible children (those that are the lowest achieving students regardless of income status).
Many types of activities can be paid for with Title I dollars, as long as they support the learning of eligible children and are allowable within the Targeted Assistance or Schoolwide programs operating in a specific school. Types of services that may be funded by Title I include: afterschool programs, professional development, anti-bullying programs, ELL student support, academic coaching, pre-K, and technology if it is supporting teaching and learning activities for Title I students.
One example is section 1114 of Title I, Part A, which allows schools to use funds to purchase devices (tablets, laptops, etc.) in addition to curriculum and professional development as part of a comprehensive plan in a Title I Schoolwide program school.
Kajeet solutions may be purchased with Title I funds based on the requirements above. A district or school may also use Kajeet Sentinel to create policies and rules to govern the use of the technology and bandwidth. A great resource on leveraging Title I funds is a CoSN (the Consortium for School Networking) report.
Who to contact for more information:
- Your district Title I Director
- Your district Federal Programs Director
- Your district Assistant Superintendent of Instruction