What can my district use ESSER funding for?Thankfully, districts and states have a lot of flexibility in spending their ESSER funds. Many states and districts have already outlined how they will spend their ESSER funding. The National Conference of State Legislatures has compiled a great list of how much funding each state received and a high-level overview on how they plan to use the funding. Another great resource for guidance on ESSER is the FAQ published by the U.S. Department of Education in May 2021. This FAQ provides details on how districts can use the funding to meet students’ social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs. That could be through preventing teacher layoffs; providing accelerated learning opportunities; implementing rigorous curricula; funding additional school counselors, school nurses, and school psychologists; increasing the number of full-service community schools; conducting any activities allowed under many Federal education programs, and implementing many other allowable uses as illustrated in this document. From our perspective, as a data analytics company, we’ve seen greater interest in districts with interest to implement a district data warehouse that can address myriad related topics. Learning loss is certainly one of them, but with the eScholar CDW, districts can analyze data related to other factors and areas of impact from the pandemic, including social-emotional learning (SEL), teacher shortages, teacher turnover, and access to digital resources. As we look to get back to normal, every district can use data effectively to figure out the path not just to normal, but improved education environments that help every student thrive.
Addressing Learning LossEffectively addressing learning loss from this past year requires looking at more than just standards and skills measured with assessments. After all, this past year has been a year of loss in many ways for children: learning experiences, social experiences, family income, and tragically, parents and loved ones. With a district data warehouse, districts can look at the data more holistically and identify greater nuances in the data. Students, especially low-income students, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and children and youth in foster care are the most critical point of disadvantage. With the eScholar CDW, districts can quickly and accurately determine which students require services and ensure that they are receiving them. For example, some other questions that our district data warehouse can dive deeply into and answer include:
- Which students are not showing mastery of certain subject areas?
- And by which schools, administration, demographic subgroups, etc.?
- Which programs have been most effective at providing academic enrichment to students?
- How have the social-emotional needs of our students evolved throughout the pandemic?
- Are the students with the greatest needs participating in any support programs?
- Do all students have equitable access to high-quality teachers?
- Do certain schools and demographics have greater access to high-quality teachers?
- What percentage of our students and staff have access to high-speed internet at home?
- How does broadband access correlate with academic performance?
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