ESSA Basics: What are Title I and Title III?


On July 1st, 2017, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) replaced No Child Left Behind (NCLB) as a rule of the land, at least in education. ESSA is the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which was first signed into law in 1965. The law reaffirms the commitment to equal opportunity for all U.S. students

To support its goals, ESSA authorizes over $24.5 billion in funding annually for various educational programs. This funding is distributed among the ESSA titles (sections of law that different fund programs) and awarded to school districts through their state education agencies.


The largest funding allocation, Title I, earmarks funds to improve basic programs and ensure economically and socially disadvantaged students receive equal opportunity for access to quality education. Examples of programs eligible for Title I funding include academic support for low-performing students, additional teachers and paraprofessionals that focus on mathematics and English language arts support, and preschool programs.

Title III provides funding to support EL students and their families. This funding bucket has three main requirements related to ELs:

  1. Provide programs for ELs to attain English proficiency and acquire content knowledge.
  2. Provide professional development to teachers and school leaders in the area of educational strategies to best meet the academic and language needs of ELs.
  3. Deliver activities that promote EL parent, family and community engagement.

For more background on ESSA, as well as detailed information on how responsibilities for English Learners have shifted from Title III to Tile I under ESSA, download our eBook: "Title I & Title III Collaboration for Successful EL Programs Under ESSA".

Alyssa Thornley

About The Author

Alyssa Thornley has spent her career working to support schools and communities in providing opportunity to all students. In positions as a teacher, professional development coordinator, and as a volunteer, she has focused on the community’s role in education, and in designing efficient programs that work for diverse needs. Alyssa leads TransACT’s customer engagement and market strategy efforts, and works to ensure innovative programs, guidance, and thought leadership from across the country’s districts are being shared and spread.