Model application and resources for states and districts to offer Direct Student Services (DSS)

Chiefs for Change
November 28, 2016

Chiefs for Change has released new tools and resources for states considering using the new flexibility within Title I for the umbrella of student supports known as Direct Student Services (DSS).

The new tools are relevant to states interested in targeting funding for innovative approaches for students and families to access greater supports for college and career readiness.

In partnership with a coalition of state education leaders, Chiefs for Change developed a model application that states can customize based on their priorities for DSS and overall school improvement strategies. The application outlines eligibility criteria and the components districts will be required to submit should they choose to apply for funds to establish a district-level DSS program. The application also includes discussion points for states to consider as they develop and customize their own applications.

DSS can be used in multiple ways to support students, such as through expanded course options, personalized learning, tutoring services, dual enrollment, or other strategies that help foster students’ college and career readiness. As outlined in a recent Chiefs for Change policy paper, the funding available for DSS in each state is in addition to the 7% set-aside for school improvement activities and must be targeted to districts with a high number of schools identified for improvement.

Chiefs for Change also developed a list of Frequently Asked Questions that address issues around the administrative requirements of DSS, how funds are awarded, and outreach and communications to schools and families.

“This is an extraordinary new opportunity to support students and educators better, but the flexibility is meaningful only if districts have a clear vision for how to use it,” said Chiefs for Change CEO Mike Magee. “Through DSS, states and districts demonstrate their commitment to ensuring parental awareness and voice in selecting school supports that are the most suitable for their children.”

As part of this suite of resources, Chiefs for Change also developed a list of provider application criteria for states and districts to evaluate and select the most qualified service providers that will deliver measurable outcomes. DSS providers may include the district applying for DSS or other districts; community colleges or other institutions of higher education; non-public entities; community-based organizations; or in the case of high-quality academic tutoring, a variety of providers that are selected and approved by the state and appear on the state’s list of such providers.

“DSS is an investment in equity,” Magee said. “It’s an investment in low-income communities and an investment in our kids most in need of support.”

While there is no requirement for when DSS programs must begin, Chiefs for Change recommends states follow this process timeline to prepare to launch these programs by the start of the 2017-2018 school year.

For more information about Direct Student Services (DSS) or the model application, contact Margie Yeager at