08/12/2011 12:10 pm ET | Updated Oct 11, 2011

Title I Students Assisted By Federal Aid, New Study Reports

Students receiving federal aid are improving in math and reading, according to a new study from the Center on Education Policy.

The new report, “State Test Score Trends Through 2008-09, Part 4: Is Achievement Improving and Are Gaps Narrowing for Title I Students,” compared current trends with those reported in 2002. Examining test data of Title I students in 19 different states, there are indications that at the 4th and 8th grade, and into high school, the gap between the average test scores of students receiving aid and those not covered narrowed more often then they widened.

The participating states were Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Washington.

The CEP reports that gaps between the two groups of students at the 4th grade reading level narrowed in 47 percent of the states surveyed, but widened in 40 percent while showing no change in the remainder. For 4th grade math, gaps narrowed in 44 percent of states and widened in 31 percent.

According toa CEP statement:

“Students participating in Title I are by definition among the lowest achieving or attend a very poor school, so rising test scores and narrowing gaps suggest progress is being made toward the program’s goals,” said Nancy Kober, a CEP consultant and co-author of the study. “This is encouraging news at the right time, with Congress working on reauthorizing Title I.”

Title I, established under the Johnson administration as part of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, provides federal funding for school lunches, supplies and other expenses for low performing students at poor schools or all students in schools serving high poverty rates.

According to federal Education Department estimates presented at the National Title I Association meeting in Washington last week, the number of schools providing services via Title I rose by more than 5,000, to 56,625, from 2005 to 2010, and the number of students participating in the program jumped by more than 3.4 million, to 21.25 million, during the same time. Nonwhite Hispanic students now make up the largest proportion of Title I students, nearly 36 percent, and English-language learners now account for 15.6 percent of all students in the program.

The same article reports that Title I provided $14.4 billion in grants to school districts in 2011, not counting an additional $10 billion in stimulus funding allotted between 2009 and 2011.