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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], local educational agencies (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. All schools listed on the Consolidated Application Reporting System (CARS) Title I, Part A School Student Counts report for the LEA are required to be included on the calculation form.

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

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 by completing the Title I, Part A Comparability of Services Calculation Form(s).

Written Assurances

The LEA must file with the 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 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.

Planning Process and Timeline

Establishing a timeline to determine comparability of services enables LEAs to identify and correct instances in which an LEA 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.

Comparability of Services Calculations

LEAs are required to perform comparability of services calculations every year to demonstrate that all schools within the LEA are comparable.

All LEAs are required to meet comparability of services requirements by comparing student enrollment/FTE teacher ratios for every school within the LEA.

  1. The LEA shall confirm that the student/FTE teacher ratios fall within a 30 percent variance.

    1. In California, the LEA may consider a school comparable if:

      1. the average student/FTE teacher ratio is equal to or less than (≤) 115 percent of the average of all schools (LEA-wide or by Grade Span Group)


        AND

      2. the average student/FTE teacher ratio is equal to or greater than (≥) 85 percent of the average student/FTE teacher ratio of all schools (LEA-wide or by Grade Span Group)

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 (LEA-wide average).

    OR

  2. The LEA may compare each school with the average of all of its schools within each grade span group (Grade Span Group average).

Adjustments to 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.

It is recommended that LEAs complete calculations demonstrating comparability of services and make any necessary adjustments in staffing or funding source by October each year.

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 (single school LEA) or a LEA that has only one school for each grade span group (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 of the ESSA Section 1118(c), a LEA may exclude supplemental State 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).

According to 34 CFR 200.79(b-c), a program meets the intent and purposes of Title I in one of the following ways:

  • Option 1: A program meets the intent and purposes of Title I, if the program:

    1. Is implemented in a school in which the percentage of children from low-income families is at least 40 percent;

    2. Is designed to promote schoolwide reform and upgrade the entire educational operation of the school to support students in their achievement toward meeting the challenging State academic standards that all students are expected to meet;

    3. Is designed to meet the educational needs of all students in the school, particularly the needs of students who are failing, or are most at risk of failing, to meet the challenging State academic standards; and

    4. Uses the State's assessment system under §200.2 to review the effectiveness of the program (34 CFR 200.79[b][1]);

      OR
  • Option 2: A program meets the intent and purposes of Title, if the program:

    1. Serves only students who are failing, or are most at risk of failing, to meet the challenging State academic standards;

    2. Provides supplementary services designed to meet the special educational needs of the students who are participating in the program to support their achievement toward meeting the State's student academic achievement standards; and

    3. Uses the State's assessment system under §200.2 to review the effectiveness of the program (34 CFR 200.79[b][2]).

According to 34 CFR 200.79(c), the above conditions also apply to supplemental State and local funds expended under section 1113(b)(1)(D) and 1113(c)(2)(B) of the ESEA.

Exemptions Based on School Type

All public schools assigned one of the following School Types are exempt from meeting the Title I, Part A Comparability of Services requirements:

  • Alternative Schools of Choice
  • Continuation High Schools
  • County Community Schools
  • District Community Day Schools
  • Juvenile Court Schools
  • Opportunity Schools
  • Special Education Schools (Public)
  • Youth Authority Schools

For additional information regarding School Type, please visit the California Department of Education (CDE) School Type Crosswalk web page.

Student Enrollment Data

Capture student enrollment data and FTE teacher calculations for every school on the same date.

Full Time Equivalent (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. FTE Teachers hold one of the following credential status’ recognized by state law:

  • Fully Credentialed Teacher (Preliminary and Clear)
  • University Intern Credentials
  • District Intern Credentials
  • Limited Assignment Teaching Permits
  • Provisional Intern Permits (PIPs)
  • Short-Term Staff Permits (STSPs)
  • Variable Term Waivers
  • Substitute permits
  • Teaching Permits for Statutory Leave (TSPL)

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]).

Calculating FTE Teachers

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 (e.g., 0.7 FTE would be included in the FTE Teacher total for a school when 0.3 FTE of that teacher’s salary is paid using private or federal funds).

  • The LEA excludes the portion of the teacher salary paid with federal and/or private funds.

School Grade Span Groups

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

  • compare all schools within each grade span grouping (Grade Span Group average), OR

  • compare all schools within the LEA as a whole (LEA-wide average).

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 Group 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 School Grade Span Group Assignment Guidance 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 Calculation Forms

The instructions and calculation 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 Student/Teacher FTE Ratio Calculation Form(s) must be completed annually to allow the LEA to make necessary adjustments with the least amount of disruption. Note: Only public schools are to be included in the comparability of services calculation forms. 

The LEA shall complete the comparability of services calculations each year using the Title I, Part A Comparability of Services Student/Teacher FTE Ratio Calculation Forms (XLSX; Revised January 2020)

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.

Announcements

We periodically share information regarding Title I, Part A Comparability of Services through the State and Federal Program Directors (SFPD) listserv. If you would like to receive updates via email notification regarding the SFPD meetings and other relevant announcements, please subscribe to the listserv by sending a "blank" email message to join-state-and-federal-programs-directors@mlist.cde.ca.gov.

Resources

Sample Timeline for Determining Comparability

Comparability Calculation Form(s) Instructions (Revised Aug-2020)

Title I, Part A Comparability of Services FTE Calculation Form by School (XLSX; Revised Dec-2019)

Title I, Part A Comparability of Services Student/Teacher FTE Ratio Calculation Forms (XLSX; Feb-2020)

Title I, Part A Comparability of Services Assurances

School Grade Span Group Assignment Guidance

Updated Teacher Equity Definitions

August 30, 2019 State Superintendent of Public Instruction Memorandum; Subject: 2017-18 Educator Equity Data (DOCX)

FAQs Regarding Teacher Requirements Under ESSA

Text of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (as reauthorized by the ESSA) External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF; Updated 28-Jan-2020)

Non-Regulatory Informational Document: Supplement Not Supplant Under Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as Amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF; Jun-2019)

Non-Regulatory Guidance: Title I Fiscal Issues External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF; Feb-2008)
Information regarding comparability of services requirements and sample calculations from the U.S. Department of Education.

Questions:   Rina DeRose | Title I Policy, Program, and Support Office | compar@cde.ca.gov |
Last Reviewed: Thursday, September 10, 2020
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