Stepping Up to the Challenge

Case Studies of Educational Improvement and Title I in Secondary Schools

| Michael C. Rubenstein, Jessica K. Wodatch

This study examines the role of Title I in 18 secondary schools (nine intermediate and nine high schools) that serve disadvantaged student populations, are engaged in comprehensive school improvement efforts, and, for the most part, have consistently high or improving student achievement. It is intended to describe school improvement and the role of Title I in secondary schools that are engaged in comprehensive reform efforts and to examine whether Title I is motivating, supporting, or hindering these efforts. The study was prompted by the changes to Title I incorporated in the 1994 Improving America’s Schools Act, which refocused Title I on supporting schoolwide efforts to raise academic standards and student performance. The 1994 changes have also resulted in more high-poverty secondary schools receiving Title I funds, prompting an examination of secondary schools serving concentrations of disadvantaged students.

The purposes of the study were to:

  • describe practices in improving or high-performing secondary schools that serve disadvantaged students,
  • determine the function of Title I in these schools, and
  • identify issues related to improvement in secondary schools with concentrations of disadvantaged students.