ED approves ARP ESSER plans of 5 more states

This brings the number of approved plans to 21, enabling those states to receive their portion of the more than $122 billion in the American Rescue Plan Act.
By: | August 5, 2021
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The U.S. Education Department announced Aug. 5 that five more states’ ARP ESSER plans, submitted in order to receive a portion of the more than $122 billion in funds authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act, have been approved.

The approval of state plans from Hawaii, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, and Pennsylvania brings the number of approved ARP ESSER plans thus far to 21. ED awarded $81 billion in ARP ESSER funds to states this spring, with the condition that the remainder of the funding would be provided to states upon approval of their ARP ESSER plans.

“The approval of these plans enables states to receive vital, additional American Rescue Plan funds to quickly and safely reopen schools for full-time, in-person learning; meet students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs; and address disparities in access to educational opportunity that were exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Education Secretary Miguel Cardona in a statement announcing the plan approvals. “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.”

Following are highlights of the newly approved ARP ESSER state plans:

· Hawaii: The state is using ARP ESSER funds to “implement strategies to reengage students in in-person learning, such as through high-interest programs like Hawaiian Education or performing arts and funding academic coaches to provide more intensive individualized supports to students who are struggling to reengage in learning.” The state is also using funds to improve and expand afterschool programming offered by its network of out-of-school time providers and will consider using funds in development of COVID-19 Impact Plans for students with disabilities to provide services in addition to IEP services that extend beyond the school day. The state is also using funds to expand the availability of school nurses to address the impact of COVID-19.

· Montana: The state is using funds to invest in evidence-based programs to address student learning loss and is providing multi-tier systems of supports, technical assistance, professional learning, and data support to school districts to assist in selecting and implementing interventions that address the needs of the local community. The state is also encouraging districts to use information gathered during their comprehensive needs assessments to determine how to use additional education relief funding to support adding personnel to address the identified needs, including hiring school-based mental health professionals. The state notes that it conducted meaningful engagement in developing its ARP ESSER plan through the use of webinars, surveys, and stakeholder meetings.

· New Hampshire: The state is considering using ARP ESSER funds to provide evidence-based interventions that include “small-group, multi-age, trauma-sensitive instruction to students who may need additional support, high-quality and intensive tutoring, supplemental special education therapies and services, and outdoor and alternative learning spaces.” It is also considering using ARP ESSER in partnership with community organizations and schools to provide wraparound afterschool services and programming for at-risk students, including those from low-income families or who are ELs. The state will also use the results of a survey to identify areas of critical teacher shortage that will inform efforts to improve teacher recruitment, retention, and support.

· New York: The state allocated ARP ESSER funds reserved to address lost instructional time in its 2021-22 budget to support summer learning and afterschool programming in 398 high-need school districts and is requiring districts to use evidence-based interventions to address learning loss. The state is also using $195 million in emergency reserve funding for new or expanded full-day pre-K programs for 4-year-olds to help children catch up on early childhood learning. The state education department is also convening monthly stakeholder meetings as well as convening meetings led by specific offices within the department to conduct outreach and gather input.

· Pennsylvania: The state subgranted its ARP ESSER reservation to address learning loss to Title I, Part A eligible LEAs and schools and is providing those districts with a list of “vetted evidence-based interventions.” The state is also prioritizing the use of ARP ESSER funds for social, emotional, and mental health supports; professional development and technical assistance to educators, school support staff, school leaders, and school health professionals; and reading support and improvement for students.

Charles Hendrix covers education funding and other Title I issues for LRP Publications.