Title I Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is the largest federal preK-12 education program, funded at over $18 billion, and reaching the majority of school districts in the United States.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) created important requirements and opportunities for serving children and youth experiencing homelessness through Title I Part A. These requirements are particularly important in light of the harmful effects of homelessness on student achievement. Students experiencing homelessness score 8-10% percentage points below other economically disadvantaged students on academic assessments. Moreover, the national graduation rate for homeless students is 68.2% — significantly lower than the graduation rate for low-income students (81.3%) and all students (85.6%).
In addition to requirements to reserve Title I Part A funds to serve students experiencing homelessness, all state and local educational agencies (LEAs) are required to report disaggregated information on the graduation rates and academic achievement of homeless children and youth. This requirement shines a spotlight on the academic struggles of children and youth experiencing homelessness, and sets a baseline against which states and LEAs can measure progress over time. (To explore high school graduation rates of students experiencing homelessness in your state, see our interactive Child and Youth Homelessness Data Profiles.)
Ensuring that Title I Part A funds are reserved in adequate amounts, and used appropriately to meet the needs of homeless students, will be a key strategy to closing achievement gaps.