APPROVED STATE PLANS
This week, the Department announced approval of seven American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund state plans -- Arkansas, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and the District of Columbia -- and distributed remaining ARP ESSER funds to those jurisdictions. The plans detail how states are currently using and intend to use ARP ESSER funds to safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools and classrooms and address the needs of students, including by equitably expanding opportunity for students disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
Earlier this year, the Department distributed two-thirds of ARP ESSER funds, totaling $81 billion, to all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The remaining third is being made available to states once plans are approved. The approval of the seven state plans resulted in the release of nearly $6 billion in ARP ESSER funds. This follows the release of $12 billion in ARP ESSER funds to these jurisdictions.
“It is heartening to see, reflected in these state plans, the ways in which states and Washington, D.C., are planning to use American Rescue Plan funds to continue to provide critical support to schools and communities, particularly as we move into the summer and look ahead to the upcoming academic year,” Secretary Cardona explained. “From investing in summer learning and enrichment programs, to expanding access to COVID-19 vaccinations for school staff and students, to addressing the academic impacts of unfinished instructional time and increasing students’ access to school counselors and mental health services, the state plans that have been submitted to the Department lay the groundwork for the ways in which an unprecedented infusion of federal resources will be used to address the urgent needs of America’s children and build back better.”
Among the highlights of the approved state plans:
· Arkansas created an Arkansas Tutoring Corps that will develop a system to recruit, prepare, and support candidates to become qualified tutors who provide instruction or intervention for students to meet the academic needs of at-risk learners or those most impacted by lost instructional time.
· Massachusetts is helping fund Acceleration Academies this summer, allowing students to learn and build skills working intensively on one subject in small, hands-on environments with excellent teachers. (This will be a multi-year program impacting some 50,000 students statewide each year.)
· Rhode Island significantly expanded summer learning options through its All-Course Network platform, which provides free instruction to students on topics from Advanced Placement (AP) classes to animation courses.
· South Dakota is focusing on strategies designed to re-engage students that may have missed out on instruction and educational opportunities over the last year.
· Texas plans to offer high-dosage tutoring, high-quality instructional materials, and job-embedded professional learning to help address the academic impact of lost instructional time.
· Utah is funding evidence-based summer learning and after-school programming through a competitive grant process for school districts and community-based organizations supporting students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs.
· The District of Columbia’s Out of School Time grants enable community-based organizations to provide summer learning programs for students, designed to improve academic performance via evidence-based interventions.
A total of 40 states have submitted their ARP ESSER state plans to the Department. Staff are reviewing the plans expeditiously and are in contact with states to ensure plans meet necessary requirements in order to access remaining funding. They are also in contact with states that have not yet submitted plans.
In other ARP news:
· The Department released more than $3 billon in ARP funds to states to support infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities (state-by-state allocations). This new funding will help more than 7.9 million served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The agency also released a fact sheet describing how ARP IDEA funds may be used by states.
· To help support the needs of students experiencing homelessness, the Department is inviting states to complete an application for their share of the second disbursement of $800 million in ARP funds under the Homeless Children and Youth Fund. In April, the agency released the initial $200 million to states. This additional $600 million will be available to states and districts before the beginning of the 2021-22 school year (state-by-state allocations).
· Secretary Cardona issued a Dear Colleague Letter asking Chief State School Officers and local superintendents for assistance with COVID-19 vaccinations, screening testing, and summer learning and enrichment opportunities. In that letter, he shared FAQs related to use of funds for vaccinations and testing and FAQs related to use of funds to provide incentives for students to get the vaccination. He also encouraged visits to the We Can Do This web site for resources on vaccination, especially for engaging parents and adolescents.