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Program Eligibility

What programs are eligible to use Title I A funds to support a preschool program?

A participating Title I school may use part of its Part A funds to operate a preschool program. An LEA may reserve an amount from the LEA’s total allocation to operate a Part A preschool program for eligible children in the district as a whole or for a portion of the district.

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Which children are automatically eligible to receive Title IA preschool services?

Any child who participated in Head Start, Even Start, the Early Reading First program, or Title I preschool services any time within the previous two years is deemed automatically eligible to participate in Title I services.

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Who is eligible to attend a district-operated Title I preschool program?

If a district directly operates a preschool program, the program may serve children living anywhere in the district, although the participants must still be selected from those most at need of services.

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Which children are eligible for participation in a Title I-supported preschool program in a school operating a schoolwide program?

A preschool that is part of a Title I school operating a schoolwide program is not required to identify particular children as eligible to participate in the Title I preschool. Rather, all children in the attendance area of that school are eligible for preschool services. [Section 1114(a)(2), ESEA.]

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Which children are eligible for participation in a Title I-supported preschool program in a Title I targeted assistance school?

To be eligible to attend a Title I preschool program in a targeted assistance school, preschool-age children-like school-age children-must be failing or most at risk of failing to meet the state’s challenging student academic achievement standards as determined by multiple, educationally related, objective criteria established by the LEA and supplemented by the school. With respect to preschool children, this determination must be made on the basis of criteria such as teacher judgment, interviews with parents, and developmentally appropriate measures of child development.

The use of family income to determine eligibility for Title I preschool is allowable, especially for the purposes of prioritizing when there are not sufficient Title I resources to serve all preschool age children with other educational needs, but children should not be identified for Title I preschool solely on the basis of family income.

In addition, children who participated in a Head Start, Even Start, Early Reading First, or Title I preschool program at any time during the two preceding years, homeless children, and children in institutions for neglected or delinquent children are automatically eligible for Title I preschool and to continue into Title I school programs.

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Are children with disabilities eligible to participate in Title I preschool programs?

Yes. Children with disabilities are eligible to receive Title I services on the same basis as eligible children without disabilities.

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Are migrant children eligible to participate in Title I preschool programs?

Yes. Migrant children are eligible to receive Title I services on the same basis as eligible non-migrant children.

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May an LEA or school use Title I funds to identify eligible preschool children?

Generally, it is the responsibility of an LEA and school to use information it already has available to identify at-risk children. However, if an LEA has no existing assessment data for preschool children, Title I funds may be used for identifying these children.

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Are LEAs or schools required by Title I to test preschool children?

No. Under Title I, third grade is the earliest grade at which children must be tested. However, the more that teachers know about children’s academic, social, and emotional development, the more able they are to meet those children’s needs. Therefore, the Secretary recommends that LEAs and schools develop age-appropriate screening and assessment measures to assist with individualizing instruction so that all Title I preschool students develop a strong foundation in literacy and numeracy. In addition, through initial screening and by checking the children’s progress, teachers and schools can identify those children who need special help or who face extra challenges.

Screenings and assessments for preschool children do not imply the use of paper- and-pencil, and large-group assessments, which are not allowed below the third grade in some States. Rather, appropriate assessments for preschool children include individually administered standardized assessments, observational checklists completed by teachers while students play, or an analysis of student work. The information gleaned from these types of assessments should then be used to make informed decisions about instruction and enhance teaching and learning, rather than to make judgments regarding the efficacy of a school or a system.

When choosing a screening or assessment tool, LEAs and schools should ensure that it has been validated for its intended purpose and population. For example, it is not appropriate to use a first-grade skills assessment for screening or assessing a preschool-age child.

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Do preschool students count towards enrollment numbers for Title I school eligibility purposes?

No. For building eligibility purposes, enrollment counts only include students ages five to seventeen.

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For questions about this information, contact Title I and School Support Team (608) 267-3721