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Title I and Inequality: Methodology

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Scenes from Glen Forest Elementary School in the Fairfax County School District of Virginia

In examining the Title I education funding program, U.S. News combined data points from several different datasets and sources.

Poverty and Child Population Estimates

We used the Small Area Income & Poverty Estimates for school districts to get an estimate of the number of children and the number of children in poverty in each school district. The data are available from the Census Bureau for 2014. Although the data are used by the government to determine for the purposes of Title I how poor a district is, the numbers are estimates and are not the exact number of children actually enrolled in the district. The numbers don’t account for children who may attend a private school or may be homeschooled, for example. There are many ways to measure the poverty rate in a school district — the share of children on free or reduced price lunch is another measure. In this case, we are following the Department of Education’s own decision to use this measurement.

Title I Allocations

The Title I funding per district is from the Department of Education and is the sum of the funding each district received in the 2015-2016 school year from the four formulas.

Local and State Revenue Information

The state and local funding information for each school district is available from the Census Bureau for 2013.

Proposed Changes to Funding Data

Over the years, several legislators and outside parties have become interested in Title I and have run their own analyses to determine how changes to the formula would affect school districts. We received the data files behind two reports from the Congressional Research Service. These reports were from two different time periods. The data behind the proposal from Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., were prepared using data from fiscal year 2015. The data from the Hamilton Project were re-run using our data files and reflects the most recent data files available. The data behind the proposal from Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., were prepared using data from fiscal year 2012.

Because of these differences in time, take caution in comparing datasets. It is more accurate to compare datasets to their annual allocations for that year, which we have sought to do whenever possible. Although in many school districts the allocation does not change drastically from year-to-year, in some cases, such as a large influx or outflux of students, it can change significantly.


In combining districts across many different datasets, we’ve chosen to exclude districts that had incomplete data. Many of these districts were extremely small and some may or may not have students (such as military bases) in any given year. In some instances, districts were excluded because they fell across more than one county, which complicates the calculation done for Title I. In particular, this impacted the data for New York City and Hawaii. When possible, we’ve included aggregate state level estimates that included as much of these data as possible to present a clearer picture, even if some districts were omitted from the interactive tables. In other cases, school districts were excluded because they were redrawn or combined between 2012 and 2016 and thus were missing data points that would allow for an accurate comparison in funding. We’ve chosen to exclude Puerto Rico in this analysis, although it does receive Title I dollars.


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