Thursday Churn: Report dissects Title I

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

A new U.S. Department of Education study finds a significant percentage of Title I schools around the nation aren’t getting the same levels of state and local funding as non-Title I schools in the same districts.

Title I is a 46-year-old portion of federal education law that provides extra funding to schools with high percentages of low-income students. The funding is supposed to supplement, not be used in place of, state and local financial support.

But the DOE study found that 46 percent of Title I elementary schools had per-pupil state and local spending on staff below the average for non–Title I elementary schools in their district. The figures were 42 percent for middle schools and 45 percent for high schools.

The report did not break out percentages by state, so there’s no overall information on where Colorado stands compared to other states. DOE did provide a district-by-district spreadsheet. EdNews reviewed the numbers for the state’s largest districts and found spending per-student on salaries was higher in Title I schools than in non-Title schools in both Jefferson County and Denver. For example, Jeffco averaged $4,050 per-student on personnel in its 23 Title I schools compared to $3,762 in its 132 non-Title schools. Denver averaged $3,429 on staff at its 92 Title I schools versus $3,422 at its 47 non-Title schools.

In Cherry Creek and Adams 12, non-Title schools averaged higher spending on staff than Title I schools. Cherry Creek’s 11 Title I schools averaged $4,093 per student on staffing versus $4,099 at 45 non-Title schools. Adams 12’s 13 Title I schools averaged $3,150 per-pupil spending on staff compared to $3,464 at 36 non-Title schools. Douglas County, the state’s third largest district and one of its most affluent, does not receive federal Title I funding.

Statewide, Colorado’s 603 Title I schools averaged $3,605 per-student on staffing compared to the $3,758 per-pupil on staffing spent at the state’s 965 non-Title schools.

Per-pupil spending on staff actually isn’t the standard currently used to determine if districts are funding Title I schools properly. According to officials at the Colorado Department of Education, current federal regulations require that Title I and non-Title I schools have similar teacher-student ratios. If a school can’t meet that standard, there are alternate measures that can be used, including per-pupil spending on staff salaries.

Federal DOE officials and some lawmakers such as U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., think the regulations should be changed to use the per-pupil spending measure.

Title I, from eligibility to funding, is a head-hurting, complicated subject. Alyson Klein, a reporter for our partner Education Week, has a good explanation of the study and the broader issue – read it here.

Improving teacher quality by giving teachers access to professional development and college coursework is the focus of a new federal grant program. The effort, which will tap $680,000 in grants for Colorado, is designed to improve partnerships between institutions of higher education and school districts.

Targeted school districts include Denver Public Schools, Greeley District 6 and five rural BOCES or Boards of Cooperative Educational Services, which provide services such as special education to districts. Both districts and the five BOCES failed to meet federal guidelines for qualified teachers and annual student progress for three consecutive years under the federal government’s accountability system.

Projects at Colorado colleges and universities to receive grant funding include:

  • The University of Denver’s Morgridge College of Education, the University of Denver’s Division of Natural Science and Mathematics, and DPS will partner to support elementary teachers in improving content mastery in math and science.
  • The University of Northern Colorado’s College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, Greeley District 6 and the BOCES will partner to provide professional development in linguistically diverse education.

“Studies consistently tell us that the greatest potential to influence children’s education is a highly effective teacher,” said DHE Executive Director and Lt. Gov. Joseph Garcia in a prepared statement. “That is why this partnership is so important. The more that higher education and K-12 can work together to improve teacher quality and effectiveness through professional development, the more we are helping our students succeed.”

The Board of Trustees that oversees the institution now known as Metropolitan State College of Denver today will consider new recommendations from its Strategic Name Initiative Committee. That committee met late Wednesday and was deciding what name to send to the trustees based on surveys of students, faculty, alumni and the community. Those surveys tested three variables of the same four words:

  • Denver Metropolitan State University
  • Denver State Metropolitan University
  • Metropolitan Denver State University

The trustees don’t have the final say. They will send their favorite to the state legislature. The public session for the trustees today is 8:30 – 11:30 a.m. in Tivoli Room 320 on the Metro campus, downtown Denver.


Expert panelists at this month’s Buechner Breakfast will discuss DPS’ ProComp compensation system and a recent evaluation of that system by the University of Colorado Denver.

The session will be held from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Friday at 1380 Lawrence St. in the second floor meeting area. The event also will be webcast; use this link to view –

The Buechner Breakfast is a monthly event sponsored by the UCD School of Public Affairs.

Good reads from elsewhere:

The New York Times combed through data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and found a major surge in the number of American schoolchildren who are receiving free or low-cost meals for the first time as the economy’s slide has taken its toll on family incomes. The number of students receiving subsidized lunches rose to 21 million last school year, up from 18 million in 2006-2007. That’s a 17 percent increase. An interactive map that accompanies the story shows Colorado had a 5.7 percent increase from 2007 to 2011. Currently, 45.9 percent of Colorado students are eligible for free and reduced-price meals.

call out

Our readers had a lot to say in 2017. Make your voice heard in 2018.

PHOTO: Chris Hill/Whitney Achievement School
Teacher Carl Schneider walks children home in 2015 as part of the after-school walking program at Whitney Achievement Elementary School in Memphis. This photograph went viral and inspired a First Person reflection from Schneider in 2017.

Last year, some of our most popular pieces came from readers who told their stories in a series that we call First Person.

For instance, Carl Schneider wrote about the 2015 viral photograph that showed him walking his students home from school in a low-income neighborhood of Memphis. His perspective on what got lost in the shuffle continues to draw thousands of readers.

First Person is also a platform to influence policy. Recent high school graduate Anisah Karim described the pressure she felt to apply to 100 colleges in the quest for millions of dollars in scholarships. Because of her piece, the school board in Memphis is reviewing the so-called “million-dollar scholar” culture at some high schools.

Do you have a story to tell or a point to make? In 2018, we want to give an even greater voice to students, parents, teachers, administrators, advocates and others who are trying to improve public education in Tennessee. We’re looking for essays of 500 to 750 words grounded in personal experience.

Whether your piece is finished or you just have an idea to discuss, drop a line to Community Editor Caroline Bauman at

But first, check out these top First Person pieces from Tennesseans in 2017:

My high school told me to apply to 100 colleges — and I almost lost myself in the process

“A counselor never tried to determine what the absolute best school for me would be. I wasted a lot of time, money and resources trying to figure that out. And I almost lost myself in the process.” —Anisah Karim     

Why I’m not anxious about where my kids go to school — but do worry about the segregation that surrounds us

“In fact, it will be a good thing for my boys to learn alongside children who are different from them in many ways — that is one advantage they will have that I did not, attending parochial schools in a lily-white suburb.” —Mary Jo Cramb

I covered Tennessee’s ed beat for Chalkbeat. Here’s what I learned.

“Apathy is often cited as a major problem facing education. That’s not the case in Tennessee.” —Grace Tatter

I went viral for walking my students home from school in Memphis. Here’s what got lost in the shuffle.

“When #blacklivesmatter is a controversial statement; when our black male students have a one in three chance of facing jail time; when kids in Memphis raised in the bottom fifth of the socioeconomic bracket have a 2.6 percent chance of climbing to the top fifth — our walking students home does not fix that, either.” —Carl Schneider

I think traditional public schools are the backbone of democracy. My child attends a charter school. Let’s talk.

“It was a complicated choice to make. The dialogue around school choice in Nashville, though, doesn’t often include much nuance — or many voices of parents like me.” —Aidan Hoyal

I grew up near Charlottesville and got a misleading education about Civil War history. Students deserve better.

“In my classroom discussions, the impetus for the Civil War was resigned to a debate over the balance of power between federal and state governments. Slavery was taught as a footnote to the cause of the war.” —Laura Faith Kebede

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”


Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”


Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”


Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”


Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”


Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”