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An Educator's Guide to RTI and Funding: Part III

Thursday, September 10, 2015 -- Winnie O'Leary

As promised in the introduction to this series, this week we are going to continue to review the questions that need to be answered as you design an RTI program blueprint. Last week, we focused on five questions regarding your curriculum and the actual interventions that will be put in place. The five questions for consideration this week are focused on your school, and will allow you to look more specifically at different channels of funding for your program. Using your wealth of knowledge and the strengths of those in your school will drive productive conversations. Be ready to explore and answer these questions fully in order to maximize your funding options.

1. Federal and state departments of education have various systems for classifying schools based on performance, which can affect funding eligibility. For example, is your school eligible for Title I, Title III, or CEIS funds?

No matter the answer, jot down where you are currently receiving and spending your funding dollars and where you feel funding will come from to start an effective RTI program. Title I? Title II? Title III? CEIS? RTT? SIG? Check out our Funding page for an explanation of these sources. Understanding these sources is the first step in productive use of them. You might even consider creating a team to research and get deeper views of your school’s unique perspective.

2. If your school is eligible for a Title I funds, is it a schoolwide program school or a targeted assistance program?

The type of Title I implementation at your school has a significant effect on how those funds can be used. See the definitions of each type of implementation below to determine which your school falls into:

A schoolwide school has a poverty rate of 40 percent or above and is the most widely used model. A “schoolwide school” does not need to focus Title I services (and funding) on specific students. 

A targeted assistance school has a poverty rate below 40 percent OR has a poverty rate of 40 percent or more but does not choose to operate a school wide program. A targeted assistance program provides additional instruction to specific students who have been identified as failing, or most at risk of failing, to meet a state’s academic achievement standards

3. Are you currently utilizing federal, state, and/or local funds for Title I services?

Title I schools have the option to utilize their funding in different ways, specifically in choosing whether or not to consolidate all of their federal, state, and local funding. Schools that consolidate their funding generally have the most flexibility in how they can apply Title I, Title III, and CEIS funds for RTI purposes.

4. Do you have students who need additional help meeting the criteria for Title I, Title III, and/or CEIS services?

Unless your school is a Title I schoolwide school (and many schools are), Title I, Title III, and CEIS funding is tied to individual students who must meet eligibility criteria for each program. Are all eligible students in your school receiving funding under the appropriate program? Can you identify additional students who may be eligible by class and grade?

5. Will you be supplementing instead of supplanting other funding sources to create and implement your RTI program?

Ten gold stars if you already understand this concept—it’s very tricky! Here’s the Reader’s Digest version:

All three of the federal funding programs we are discussing in detail in this series—Title I, Title III, and CEIS—come with the restrictions that they must be used to provide instruction that is in addition to core instruction. These funds are not intended to be used toward core (Tier I) instruction. Instead, these funding sources should be used to fund additional, supplemental interventions that support students who are not meeting the identified measures of progress. 

You are supplanting if you are using Title I, Title III, or CEIS funds for programs you are already mandated to have in your school, programs funded through nonfederal sources in the previous year, or in the case of Title I targeted assistance schools, programs that are provided to both Title I and non-Title I eligible students.

There are a number of nuances and exceptions to the supplement-not-supplant restriction, most notably in regard to Title I schoolwide schools. However, if you keep in mind the rule of using federal funds to provide additional programming, you have a great start.

It is so very important to have your ducks in a row prior to trying to tackle RTI. The more information you gather—about RTI and funding sources in general, as well as regarding the specifics of your program—the more organized you will be when you sit down with your teams to finalize your blueprint. Meeting and sharing information can have a huge impact on buy-in from your teams and help everyone commit fully to the challenge of implementing your RTI program. Plus, you will have the benefit of hearing a variety of points of view.

Check back next week for the final post in this series, where we will take a look at details of the three major RTI funding sources: Title I, Title III, and CEIS! Looking for more information now? Download our helpful guide to RTI Best Practices and Structuring Your Program!