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Schoolwide Programs

A comprehensive support program to improve outcomes for all students in Title I schools.

Core Elements of SWP | Steps to Becoming a SWP | SWP Waiver | Resources

An Overview of Schoolwide Programs

A schoolwide program (SWP) is a comprehensive reform strategy designed to upgrade the entire educational program in a Title I school; its primary goal is to ensure that all students, particularly those who are low-achieving, demonstrate proficient and advanced levels of achievement on State academic achievement standards.

In general, a Title I, Part A school may operate as a SWP only if a minimum of 40 percent of the students in the school, or residing in the attendance area served by the school, are from low-income families [ESSA Section 1114(a)(1)]. However, a school that serves less than 40 percent of children from low-income families may operate as a SWP if the school receives a waiver from the State educational agency [ESSA Section 1114(a)(1)(B)]. Please go to the Schoolwide Program Waiver Criteria and Process section at the end of this section for additional information.

Whereas Title I, Part A targeted assistance (TAS) programs only provide educational services to identified individual students, SWP allows staff in schools with high concentrations of students from low-income families to redesign their entire educational program to serve all students. The emphasis on SWP schools is to serve all students, improving all structures that support student learning, and combining all resources, as allowed, to achieve a common goal. SWP maximizes the impact of Title I, Part A. Adopting this strategy should result in an ongoing, comprehensive plan for school improvement that is owned by the entire school community and tailored to its unique needs.

Core Elements of SWP

The schoolwide approach is based on the premise that comprehensive reform strategies rather than separate, add-on services are most effective in raising academic achievement for the lowest achieving students in a school. A well-designed and implemented SWP touches on all aspects of the school’s operation and offers an appropriate option for high-poverty schools seeking to improve achievement for all students, particularly the lowest achieving. The main core elements of a SWP are:

  • A school operating a SWP must conduct a comprehensive needs assessment that identifies the school’s strengths and challenges in key areas that affect student achievement [ESSA Section 1114(b)(6)].
  • The school must develop a comprehensive SWP plan that describes how it will achieve the goals it has identified as a result of its needs assessment [ESSA Section 1114(b)]. The plan will remain in effect for the duration of the school’s participation in a SWP and will be monitored and revised as necessary [ESSA Section 1114(b)(3)].
  • A school that chooses to consolidate and use funds from different Federal programs will not be required to maintain separate fiscal accounting records, by program, that identify the specific activities supported with those funds as long as the school maintains records that demonstrate that the SWP, considered as a whole, addresses the intent and purposes of each of the Federal programs that were consolidated to support the SWP [ESSA Section 1114(a)(3)(C)].

Steps to Becoming a SWP

Schools electing to become a SWP school may follow the steps listed below:

  1. The school (i.e., staff and parents) makes the decision to become a Title I, Part A SWP school.
  2. The school establishes a school planning team composed of representatives from all stakeholder groups: the principal, teachers, school site council (SSC), other staff who will carry out the SWP plan, parents and community members, and (in secondary schools) students. The SSC may serve as the school planning team.
  3. The school planning team consults with the local educational agency (LEA).
  4. The school planning team begins the process by conducting a comprehensive needs assessment.
  5. The school planning team develops a comprehensive SWP plan based on the results of the comprehensive needs assessment. The plan is developed with the involvement and support of all stakeholder groups. The plan contains all the required components of a SWP and is reviewed and approved by the SSC and recommended to the local governance board.
  6. The local governing board reviews and approves the SWP plan. The date of local board approval is the eligible start date for implementing the SWP.
  7. The LEA reports the change in SWP status within the Consolidated Application and Reporting System (CARS) utilizing the data collection report named Title I, Part A Notice of Authorization of School Wide Program for the fiscal year in which implementation of SWP is begun. The status information provided by the (LEA in this report feeds into other reports, and therefore, it is very important that the change is reported in the data collection report that pertains to the correct fiscal year of the initial implementation.

SWP Waiver Criteria and Process

SWP waivers may be approved by the California Department of Education if the local governing board approves such a request and if the school meets one or more of the following criteria:

  • ≥25 percent student low income;
  • Graduation rate is below state average;
  • Local governing board recommends that a SWP is the best way to serve the student population;
  • ≥30 percent English Learner student population;
  • School has been identified for comprehensive or targeted support; or
  • School has been identified as the lowest 5 percent of low performing schools.

Once the local governing board approves the waiver request, the school must then complete the following:

  1. Conduct a Needs Assessment
  2. Develop a SWP Plan
  3. Have the local governing board approve the SWP Plan
  4. The LEA will indicate on the Notification of Authorization of SWP report in CARS the dates of when the local governing board approved the SWP Waiver and SWP Plan.

A school may begin to operate as a SWP on the day the local governing board approved the SWP Plan.


Answers questions about Title I, Part A SWP.

Title I, Part A, Targeted Assistance Schools
Provides background information about the use of funds and program services in Title I schools with targeted assistance status.

Single Plan for Student Achievement Guide
Provides information about the Single Plan for Student Achievement.

U.S. Department of Education Resources

Title I Fiscal Guidance External link opens in new window or tab. (DOC)
Non-regulatory guidance issued February 2008 by the U.S. Department of Education.

U.S. Department of Education, 7/02/04 External link opens in new window or tab.
Guidance regarding fund consolidation and statutory exemptions.

Designing Schoolwide Programs External link opens in new window or tab. (DOC)
Non-regulatory guidance issued March 2006 by the U.S. Department of Education.

Supporting School Reform by Leveraging Federal Funds in a Schoolwide Program External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
Non-regulatory guidance about SWP issued in September 2016 by the U.S. Department of Education

Questions:   Lana Zhou | | 916-319-0956
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, November 8, 2017
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