Last month I discussed comparability. I want to add a little to that conversation.
As I stated previously, comparability is a federally mandated process that requires schools to attest that the Title schools are funded comparably to the non-Title schools, or if all schools are Title I, the higher-poverty schools are funded comparably to the lower-poverty schools. The way to do this may vary from state to state, but in Mississippi, we compare the teacher units or the teacher salaries among the schools. Schools are deemed comparable if their student/instructional staff ratio does not exceed 110 percent of the average student/instructional staff ratio of non-Title I schools or Title I comparison schools.
If you have a district composed of schools with overlapping grade bands, showing comparability may be tricky. There are a couple of hints I can offer.
- Mississippi guidelines allow the district to choose how to compare schools based on grade spans. One can try comparing “all” schools or one can divide by grade span. I have found that the “all” method doesn’t work well for many districts. If your schools don’t compare with the grade span chosen, try another grade span grouping if possible. For instance, I have 2 K-6 schools, 3 K-8 schools, and 1 7-12 school. When I compare “all” the schools, I don’t have comparable schools. But when I compare my 2 K-6 schools to each other, and the K-8 and 7-12 schools together (due to their overlapping 7-8 grades), I can achieve comparability.
- The schools chosen to use as the non-Title or Title I comparison schools are based on the poverty level of the school. The lower poverty school(s) are the comparison schools. If the lowest poverty school does not result in meeting comparability, add another of the lower poverty schools. Since our workbook uses an average, sometimes multiple schools will result in meeting comparability. The key is to hit the right balance and still keep the poverty levels of the schools as close as possible.
- Be flexible with the personnel chosen to count. Some districts count just the content teachers, while others use all district-funded instructional personnel. If you use all instructional personnel, try leaving off the auxiliary teachers and/or the paraprofessionals. This may make a difference.
Whatever you choose to do, make sure your procedures are aligned with what you did. If your comparability documentation doesn’t match your procedures, the district can receive a monitoring finding even though comparabilty was achieved.