Q:

What is Title I, and how can my third-grade daughter who attends a private school qualify for services? -- Puzzled

A:

Title I is part of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The program provides financial assistance to local educational agencies and schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families to help ensure that all children have a fair, equal and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education. The goal of Title I is to support the students identified as failing or most at risk of failing a state's challenging performance standards in mathematics, reading and writing.

Under Title I, local educational agencies are required to provide services for eligible private school students. These services are designed not only to meet the participating students' education needs, but also to supplement the educational services provided by the private school.

Since your daughter attends a private school, the Title I services that she could receive would come from the public school that covers the district that her school is in. However, the selection process becomes more complicated if your family does not also live in this district. Then the child would need to receive services from the school district where your family lives. Besides these residential requirements, Title I programs must serve the students with the greatest academic needs first. This involves ranking the students eligible for services with the lowest ranked students being served first.

The services offered by Title I programs include such things as pull-out models during the school day, before- or after-school instruction, or Saturday or summer school classes.

The first step to take in finding out if your daughter might be eligible for Title I services is to talk to the administration at her school. Not all private schools participate in Title I programs. And they might not offer programs in the grades or subjects in which your child needs help. If the private school does not offer Title I, you can call the school district that you live in and receive more information.

Because it is a complicated endeavor with several eligibility standards that must be met to get Title I services at private schools, we might suggest exploring other avenues with the school to help your child receive the academic help that she needs.