Private Schools: Action Guide for Parent and Communities

Jul 1, 2006
Private school students were first eligible for state services with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), which was then reauthorized by No Child Left Behind in 2001. These programs all provided services to private school students, parents and teachers, NOT to the private schools themselves. Private schools are covered in Title I and Title IX, Part E of No Child Left Behind, as well as the equitable services provided in ESEA. Since the passing of ESEA in 1965, private school students have had access to federal funding for secular education services through a provision called the "child benefit theory" which allows private and religious school students to receive funding of services under Title I without violating the churchstate provisions of the First Amendment. No Child Left Behind has made some changes from the original ESEA. These include:
  • more flexibility in the way poverty data for private school students is collected and how often;
  • placed more pressure on the local education agencies (LEA) to ensure that private school students who are eligible for public services receive them;
  • An expansion that provides the option for a third party contractor;
  • Requirement of private school officials to sign a form at the end of the school year saying the school district engaged them in a timely consultation of the available programs
Funds for private school children can now be distributed in two different ways:
  • The money can be applied directly to the students who are eligible
  • The money can be pooled together to serve all of the eligible students in one school districts area
This Action Brief will focus on the following major NCLB provisions related to private school student participation:
  • Student Eligibility
  • Equitable Funding
  • Role of the Local School District
  • Parent Involvement
  • Assessment of Private School Students
  • Bypass Provision
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