GCS to Evaluate Title I Programs

As schools face the reality of having fewer Title I funds available, Guilford County Schools and Say Yes to Education are teaming up to evaluate how those funds are used and to identify the most effective uses of those limited resources.

District staff and Say Yes representatives presented a plan for that evaluation to the GCS Board of Education Thursday night.

“All budget decisions are difficult because there isn’t enough money to go around,” said Dr. Judy Penny, executive director of accountability and research. “This study is one way we can make sure we are spending the limited funds we have in the best ways possible and to help the students who need it the most reach their full potential.”

The team expects the study to take a few months to complete. In order to identify the programs making the biggest impact, researchers will use quantifiable data to identify schools showing the most growth to use as case studies. Those studies will help to evaluate and identify which programs and practices are most effective, including the impact of Title I funds on student outcomes.

If Guilford County is selected as the next Say Yes community, this study would also help inform which wrap around services currently have the greatest impact in GCS schools, allowing Say Yes to expand and strengthen those services throughout the district. These services can include anything from tutors and graduation coaches to counselors and health clinics for all schools and students.

To ensure success, Say Yes will pay for top national researchers from Schoolhouse Partners in Alexandria, Va. and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. to conduct the study.

“I was excited when we started talking about Say Yes,” said board member Rebecca Buffington. “Maybe more than scholarships, I’m excited about services like this.”

Title I is a federal program that provides additional support to schools based on the number of students served who live in poverty. The funds are used to lower class sizes, provide additional tutoring, purchase teaching materials and other strategies to boost student learning.

Last month, the board approved the Title I funding model for the 2015-16 school year, anticipating $5.1 million less than schools received in 2014-15. The loss is due to a lack of carryover funds from previous years and uncertainty as to how much funding the district will receive next school year.

The partnership with Say Yes for this evaluation is in addition to the ongoing campaign to make Guilford County the next Say Yes community. In January, Say Yes notified Guilford that it is the leading candidate for this designation. To be officially selected, Guilford County must achieve several remaining goals, including raising an initial $28 million for a local scholarship endowment fund. So far, the community has raised $12 million for this effort.

For more information on the Guilford Says Yes campaign, click here.