How ESEA Title I, Part A, ‘Portability’ Takes from the Poor and Gives to the Rest

Posted by Center for American Progress on March 9, 2015

How ‘portability’ jeopardizes Title I

A new brief from the Center for American Progress demonstrates that Senator Lamar Alexander’s proposed reauthorization bill for the ESEA would dismantle its Title I provisions for poor children. Instead of following current Title I formulas, the proposal allows states to distribute the same amount per student to all districts, based only on total number of children in low-income families, an approach known as “portability.” Using FY 2014 allocations for districts, the brief analyzes the impact portability would have had on students last year. It compares what districts would have received under portability with what they received under current policy. It finds portability drives resources from high-poverty districts into more affluent ones, and that nationally, districts with high concentrations of poverty could lose an average of $85 per student, while the most affluent could gain more than $290. If all states opt into portability, districts with a poverty rate of more than 30 percent lose money, while districts with a poverty rate of under 15 percent see dramatic increases. In all, the poorest districts would lose over $675 million, while the lowest-poverty districts would gain over $440 million. The nation’s largest districts could lose tens of millions of dollars. Portability would redistribute vast amounts from students with high needs to provide marginal new funding to other, better-off students.

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