Incremental effects of ESEA Title I resources on student achievement

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Studies to date of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act have not yielded definitive evidence of increased student achievement or of the effects of instructional resource allocations on student reading achievement. This evidence has been obscured by methodological flaws, instrumentation problems, a continued focus on national rather than local-level evaluation, and the investigation of resource variables over which the local schools have little or no control.

The degree of Title I impact on the student it is designed to serve is determined by decisions made at the local school and classroom levels. Previous investigations have found that most of the variation in student achievement lies within rather than between the local schools. For these reasons, this study identifies locally controlled and easily changed types of instructional resource allocations which are expected to influence the achievement of students in Title I instructional groups within the schools. Each resource allocation is defined by several variables which jointly represent the several aspects of each resource.

The relationships between the levels of allocation of these resources and the levels of student achievement in Title I classes are investigated using a hierarchical multiple regression model. The effects of three sets of resource variables on the reading achievement of 4,332 second, third, and fourth-graders in fifteen Virginia public school systems are investigated by determining the incremental amounts of achievement variance which each type of resource allocation contributes to the total explained variance using classrooms as the unit of analysis. The results indicate that variations in the amounts of instructional time, the proportion of total teacher time spent in instruction, and the student-to-teacher ratio are not associated with significant achievement increments. In addition, the degree of administrative support of Title I instruction and the activities of parent advisory councils do not explain significant amounts of achievement. However, there is some evidence that the use of instructional aides in the classroom is related to increases in achievement.

The findings of this study indicate that the effects of Title I instructional resource allocations may exist primarily within classrooms rather than between classrooms. Interactions between individual student characteristics and the ways in which instructional resources are allocated by the teacher in the classroom are suggested as a possible source of Title I effects.