Title III Grants FAQ

What Is Title III?

Title III is a part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA). The purpose of Title III is to help ensure that English learners (ELs) attain English language proficiency and meet state academic standards. Federal funding is provided through various grant programs to assist state education agencies (SEAs) and local education agencies (LEAs) in accomplishing this. Some funds are offered to entities other than SEAs and LEAs, and SEAs and LEAs also offer subgrants to other entities.

What Is The Definition Of An English Learner (EL)?

According to ESSA, an EL is an individual who

  • is aged 3 through 21
  • is enrolled or preparing to enroll in an elementary school or secondary school
  • meets one of the following criteria
    1. was not born in the United States, or whose native language is a language other than English;
    2. is a Native American or Alaska Native, or a native resident of the outlying areas; and comes from an environment where a language other than English has had a significant impact on the individual's level of English language proficiency (ELP); or 
    3. is migratory, whose native language is a language other than English, and who comes from an environment where a language other than English is dominant
  • has difficulties in speaking, reading, writing, or understanding the English language, that may be sufficient to deny the individual
    1. the ability to meet the challenging state academic standards;
    2. the ability to successfully achieve in classrooms where the language of instruction is English; or
    3. the opportunity to participate fully in society.

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What Grant Programs Were Created By Title III?

The Title III State Formula Grant Program provides federal monies to the states for the education of English learners. States are required to demonstrate that EL students are proficient in state content and achievement standards in mathematics, reading or language arts, and science, and that these students are progressing in their proficiency of the English language.

The National Professional Development Program supports professional development activities intended to improve instruction for EL students and assist education personnel working with such children to meet high professional standards.

The Native American and Alaska Native Children in School Program provides grants for eligible entities that support language instruction projects for ELs from Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander backgrounds.

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Who Administers The Title III Grant Programs?

At the federal level, the Title III funds reserved for Native American and Alaska Native discretionary grants and National Professional Development discretionary grants—along with funds allocated to the Outlying Areas, the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition (NCELA), and relevant evaluation activities—are administered by the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) at the U.S. Department of Education. Most Title III funds, however, are allocated to SEAs through State Formula Grants and administered by the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) at the U.S. Department of Education.

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Are Other Federal Funds Available For EL Education?

No, but a number of federal government programs fund research related to the education of English learners. NCELA provides a list of some of these programs, sponsored by offices in the Department of Education and in other departments and agencies. On that list, you will find links to program descriptions and applicant information, as well as links to funded research projects. The latter provide both examples of successful applicants to the various programs, and information on current research projects that may not yet have generated published findings.

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Is There Information Available To Guide The Implementation Of Title III Funded Programs And Services For ELs?

In addition to the relevant legislation (https://www.ed.gov/ESSA), to further clarify questions of implementation of the law, in September 2016, the U.S. Department of Education published a Non-Regulatory Guidance on Title III, English Learners, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by ESSA. In 2015, the Department's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) jointly published a Dear Colleague Letter on "English Learners and Limited English Proficient Parents,"  to help state and local education agencies understand their legal obligations to ELs under federal civil rights laws. The U.S. Department of Education's Office of English Language Acquisition has since published the English Learner (EL) Tool Kit (and updated it as necessary per ESSA), which follows the 10-section structure of the DCL, and offers key points, check lists, sample tools, and additional resources to further assist states, districts, and schools in their legal compliance and in meeting the needs of ELs. Additional information on civil rights obligations to ELs and limited English proficient parents can be found on OCR's ELL resources page, and particular information on inclusion of ELs with disabilities can be found at the web page of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

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