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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is ESEA Title I?

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is the largest federal aid program for our nation’s schools. Federal funds are dispersed to the states, which then forward the funds by a formula to the school districts. The money is sent to the school districts based on the number of low-income families. However, regardless of a family’s income, an eligible child may participate in the program. The program funds supplemental reading and math instruction. The North Hills School District only supports elementary reading instruction with Title I funds because of the small allocation to the district. The program serves millions of children in elementary and secondary schools. Nearly every school in the nation participates. Title I also serves children in parochial and private schools.


What is literacy?

Literacy involves the integrated use of reading, writing, listening and speaking in order to:

  • communicate with others
  • make sense of new situations
  • understand new knowledge
  • continue to learn throughout life

Why is reading support provided to children?

Reading is one of the most important subjects taught in the elementary classroom. The absence of proficient reading skills is a considerable risk factor associated with academic failure.

What is the Reading Reinforcement Program designed to do?

The program is designed to meet the individual reading needs of those students who either miss the preliminary steps or master only a part of basic reading skills.


What does the Reading Reinforcement Program provide?

The program provides small group instruction classes taught by reading specialists as well as instruction that supplements the regular school reading program.


What are the goals and objectives of the Reading Reinforcement Program?

  • To introduce, reinforce or extend reading skills and strategies.
  • To address the individual needs of each student while simultaneously promoting a lifelong love of reading.

What are the guidelines for determining who should be tested for Reading Reinforcement Program eligibility?

The North Hills School District uses the following guidelines:

  • Students identified as having low reading achievement
  • Students for whom a faculty member and/or parents request testing
  • New students without records
  • New students whose records indicate the need for reading reinforcement

What are the program eligibility criteria?

Kindergarten - A student who meets the criteria in four of the six categories is eligible for the program.

  • Classroom teacher recommendation
  • Data Team Recommendation
  • Letter Identification
  • Concepts About Print
  • Hearing & Recording Sounds in Words
  • Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment

Grade 1 - A weighted chart will determine eligibility based on scores in the following areas:

  • Classroom Teacher Recommendation
  • Data Team Recommendation
  • End- of- year kindergarten assessments
  • Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment

Grade 2 - A weighted chart will determine eligibility based on scores in the following areas:

  • Classroom Teacher Recommendation
  • Data Team Recommendation
  • End-of-year kindergarten assessments
  • Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment

Grades 3 to 6 - A student who meets the criteria in three of the four categories is eligible for the program.

  • PSSA Reading-Basic or Below Basic (only Grades 4 to 6)
  • PSSA - Regardless of proficiency level
  • STAR Assessment - 39 percentile or below

Parents will be informed that their child will be screened for reading support. A time period for screening will be specified. When a decision for placement is made, parents will be sent a letter as to whether the child does or does not qualify for the program.


What assessments will be used to determine if my child is ready to exit the reading reinforcement program?


  • Letter identification (Benchmark 52 or above)
  • Concepts About Print
  • Hearing & Recording Sounds in Words
  • Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment
  • Data Team Recommendation

Grade 1

  • Data Team Recommendation
  • Consecutive scores of 3 points or above the aim line

Grade 2

  • Data Team Recommendation
  • Consecutive scoring 3 points at or above the aim line

Grades 3 to 6

  • PSSA Reading

  • STAR Assessment

  • Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment

  • Data Team Recommendation


How can I support literacy at home?

You can model positive reading attitudes. Show your child the process by which you select books—the use of the title and cover, the back-cover blurb, or skimming or scanning a book. Read and follow directions in manuals and recipe books. Read and write letters together. Read travel brochures/maps together. Read aloud something of interest from the newspaper, or talk about a story which really fascinates you. Continue to read aloud.

Once children start to read for themselves, why is it still important to read aloud to them?

Reading aloud develops an understanding of more complex language patterns. In addition, it adds to your child’s vocabulary and maintains your child’s enjoyment of stories.


What kinds of books are best for my child to read?

Select books that have:

  • Subject matters that follows your child’s interests and activities
  • Real stories with interesting plots and characters
  • Old favorites that are read over and over
  • Favorite authors or genres


How can I learn more about the “No Child Left Behind Act of 2001?”

Additional information about NCLB is available at and


Why do we have parent conferences?

Parent conferences provide an opportunity to review and to discuss your child’s progress as well as to ask questions and to strengthen the partnership between home and school.


What is meant by a “push-in” versus “pull-out” program?

A “push-in” program offers small group instruction delivered within the regular classroom setting. A "pull-out” program provides individual and/or small group instruction within the reading reinforcement classroom.


Where may I find information about ways to help my child at home with reading or other related topics?

You may contact your child's teacher, the school's reading specialist or the school principal.

Several helpful websites can be accessed online. Please refer to "Websites" under Academics, Title I on the North Hills website for resources we have compiled.

In addition, the Title I State Parent Resource Center at Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV maintains a collection of parent resource materials that provides concise and up-to-date information on topics that impact children, teenagers and their families. Title I parents are welcome to request a single copy of up to 10 free booklets. To obtain this information, you may call 724-458-6700, fax 724-458-5083, or email

The State Parent Advisory Council has a newsletter available titled Parents Exchanging News in electronic format. The website for this newsletter is

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North Hills School District
135 Sixth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15229
Phone: 412-318-1000 Fax: 412-318-1084
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