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Title I, Part A Comparability of Services

Local educational agencies (LEAs) receiving Title I, Part A funds must provide comparable services to all schools within the LEA using state and local funds.

According to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as reauthorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Section 1118[c][1], LEAs may receive Title I, Part A funds only if State and local funds will be used in schools served to provide services that, taken as a whole, are at least comparable or substantially comparable to services in schools that are not receiving Title I, Part A funds (ESSA sections 1118[c][1][A-B] and 34 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] 200.29[b][2][vii]).

Demonstrating comparability of services is a prerequisite for receiving Title I, Part A funds. Title I, Part A allocations are made annually; therefore, comparability is an annual requirement.

Each LEA shall demonstrate annually that all schools are providing comparable services using State and local funds. The LEA may not discriminate (either intentionally or unintentionally) against any schools funded with Title I, Part A simply because these schools receive Federal funds.

Comparability of Services Requirements

LEAs are required to perform comparability calculations every year to demonstrate that all of their schools are comparable. To meet comparability of services requirements, there are three steps that LEAs must complete as follows:

  1. Each LEA must file with the state educational agency (SEA) a written assurance;
  2. Each LEA that receives Title I, Part A funds shall develop procedures for compliance, and maintain records that are updated annually;
  3. Confirm that the student/full-time equivalent (FTE) teacher ratios fall within a reasonable variance.

Written Assurances

The LEA must file with the state educational agency (SEA) a written assurance that the LEA has established and implemented the following:

(1) a LEA-wide salary schedule;

(2) a policy to ensure equivalence among schools in teachers, administrators, and other staff; and

(3) a policy to ensure equivalence among schools in the provision of curriculum materials and instructional supplies (ESSA Section 1118[c][2]).

In California, LEAs complete and submit the Certification of Assurances form in the Consolidated Application Reporting System (CARS) to assure (to the SEA) compliance with the above written assurances. Additional information can be found on the Title I, Part A Comparability of Services Assurances web page.

Once the LEA files a written assurance with the SEA that it has established and implemented a district-wide salary schedule and policies to ensure equivalence among schools in staffing and in the provision of materials and supplies, the LEA must keep records to document that the salary schedule and policies were, in fact, implemented and that calculations demonstrate that equivalence was achieved among schools in FTE teacher staffing, materials, and supplies. The LEA should retain a copy of each of the above for its records.

Procedures and Records Maintenance

Each LEA that receives Title I, Part A funds shall:

  • develop procedures for compliance; and
  • maintain records that are updated annually documenting the LEA’s compliance (34 CFR 75.730 & 34 CFR 76.730).

These procedures should be in writing and should, at a minimum, include the LEA’s timeline for demonstrating comparability, identification of the office responsible for making comparability calculations, the measure and process used to determine whether schools are comparable, and how and when the LEA makes adjustments in schools that are not comparable.

Student/FTE Teacher Ratio

All LEAs are also required to meet comparability of services requirements by comparing student enrollment/FTE teacher ratios for every school within the LEA. Each LEA shall use student/FTE teacher ratios to determine whether their schools are comparable in one of the following two ways:

  1. The LEA may compare each school with the average of all of its schools within the LEA as a whole.
    OR
  2. The LEA may compare each school with the average of all of its schools within each grade-span group.

Further, the LEA shall confirm that the student/FTE teacher* ratios fall within a 30 percent variance. In California, the LEA may consider a school comparable if:

  • the average student/FTE teacher ratio is not greater than 115 percent of the average of all of its schools
    AND
  • the average student/FTE teacher ratio is not less than 85 percent of the average of all of its schools.

Non-Comparable Schools

The LEA shall make adjustments in schools that are not comparable. Early determination of comparability allows the LEA to make adjustments with the least amount of disruption.

The LEA must maintain source documentation to support the calculations and documentation to demonstrate that any needed adjustments to staff assignments were made (ESSA Section 1117[c][3][B]; Section 443 of the General Education Provisions Act [GEPA]; and 34 CFR 76.730).

Exclusions

  • The LEA need not include unpredictable changes in student enrollment or personnel assignments that occur after the beginning of a school year in determining comparability of services (ESSA Section 1118[c][2][C]).
  • The LEA may exclude schools that have 200 or fewer students.
  • The Comparability of Services requirement shall not apply to a LEA that has only one school for each grade span (ESSA Section 1118[c][4]).
  • For the purpose of determining comparability of services compliance, a LEA may exclude State and local funds expended for:
    • language instruction educational programs; and
    • the excess costs of providing services to children with disabilities as determined by the LEA (ESSA Section 1118[c][5]).
  • For the purpose of determining compliance with Comparability of Services requirements, a LEA may exclude supplemental State (e.g., LCFF Supplemental and Concentration) or local funds expended under ESSA Section 1113(b)(1)(D) and 1113(c)(2)(B) in any school attendance area or school for programs that meet the intent and purposes of Title I, Part A (ESSA Section 1118[d]; 34 CFR 200.79[a]).

Planning Process and Timeline

Establishing a timeline to determine comparability of services enables LEAs to identify and correct instances in which it has non-comparable schools. Ideally, each LEA should begin the planning process during late winter or early spring of the prior fiscal year to determine comparability of services among schools.

For suggestions regarding what to do and when, refer to the Sample Timeline for Determining Comparability web page.

FTE Teachers

To ensure compliance with the comparability of services requirement, the LEA shall only include FTE teachers (whose salaries are paid using state and local funds) to calculate the student/FTE teacher ratios.

  • To identify FTE Teachers:

    • Teachers include those staff who are appropriately credentialed and have been trained in a variety of instructional strategies.

      • Teachers must meet applicable State certification and licensure requirements, including any requirements for certification obtained through alternative routes to certification, or, with regard to special education teachers, the qualifications described in Section 612(a)(14)(C) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1412[a][14][C]).

      • For more information, please refer to the FAQs Regarding Teacher Requirements Under ESSA web page.

  • To calculate FTE Teachers paid using State and local funds:

    • If the LEA is split-funding a teacher position with federal and/or private funds and State and/or local funds, the LEA shall calculate FTE using only the percentage of salary paid with State and local funds.

    • LEAs must exclude teachers paid with federal and/or private funds.

School Grade-Spans

When determining comparability of services among schools within the LEA, the LEA may either:

  • compare schools within each grade-span grouping,
    OR
  • compare all schools within the LEA as a whole.

The CDE Educational Data Management Division has established specific grade-span group designations based upon the grades served by a school. In California, each school is assigned one of the following three grade-span group codes:

  • Grade Span Group Code 1 (generally elementary grades)
  • Grade Span Group Code 2 (generally middle grades), and
  • Grade Span Group Code 3 (generally high schools).

Grade Span Codes 1, 2 and 3 are the only allowable grade-span group codes that may be assigned to schools in California.

To determine a grade-span group code for a school, refer to the table listed on the Guidance: School Grade Span Group Assignment web page. The table provides a reference regarding which Grade Span Group Code to assign a school based on the grades offered at that school.

Comparability of Services Form

The instructions and forms have been updated to assist LEAs in determining comparability of services and provide the LEA with immediate information about whether or not a school meets the comparability requirements.

The forms must be completed annually to allow the LEA to make necessary adjustments with the least amount of disruption.

It is recommended that LEAs complete calculations demonstrating comparability of services by October 31 each year. In addition, any necessary adjustments in staffing should be in place by November 30 to ensure that all schools are in a comparable position to avoid loss of Title I, Part A funding.

The LEA shall complete the comparability of services calculations each year using the Title I, Part A Comparability of Services Forms.

Records Retention

The GEPA Section 443 states that the LEA shall maintain such records for three years after the completion of the activity for which the funds were used.

Resources

Sample Timeline for Determining Comparability

Title I, Part A Comparability of Services Form Completion Instructions

Title I, Part A Comparability of Services Forms (XLSX; Revised August 2019)

Title I, Part A Comparability of Services Assurances

Guidance: School Grade Span Group Assignment

Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (as reauthorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act) External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

Non-Regulatory Guidance: Title I Fiscal Issues External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
Information regarding comparability of services requirements and sample calculations from the U.S. Department of Education.

Questions:   Rina DeRose | compar@cde.ca.gov | 916-323-0472
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, August 7, 2019