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Funding Academic Supports in High Schools

Due to learning loss and disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, an increasing number of high school students now need academic supports, accelerated learning, and interventions. Course failure rates have increased dramatically, and many students are feeling disconnected from school, adults, and classmates.

District leaders need to help high school students reconnect to school in ways that reaffirm their interests and identities.

Our downloadable guide explains how high school leaders can effectively design academic supports and strategically invest ESSER funding with long-term sustainability in mind.


Download the guide


What Are Academic Supports?

Academic supports are educational services, such as additional instruction time or targeted attention, that schools must provide students to address gaps in the foundational skills they need to access Tier 1 instruction.

Examples of Academic Supports Include:

  • High-dosage tutoring.
  • Strategically scheduled flex blocks.
  • Double-dose courses.
  • Acceleration academies.


How to Spend ESSER Funds to Develop Academic Supports

Targeted academic supports will require investment across multiple components, including:

  • Dedicated time and additional staff for providing targeted academic support.
  • Professional learning and collaboration time for educators. 
  • High-quality, standards-aligned curricular materials.
  • Assessments and monitoring systems to track students’ progress and evolve the approach.


Our strategy guide, “Using ESSER Funds for Targeted Academic Supports for High School Students," helps district leaders provide additional instructional time and targeted attention for students who require more intensive support.

Download Our Guide on Targeted Academic Supports to:

  • Better understand academic supports and their research-backed elements.
  • Learn how to strategically schedule and staff your high school to best employ targeted academic supports.
  • Explore the areas in which you should invest funding to get the best results.
  • Discover how your high school can invest federal stimulus funds like ESSER for long-term sustainability.

Additional Resources and Real-World Examples of Academic Supports


Building Towards Sustainable Change: How Visionary Leaders Are Using ESSER Funds to Transform High Schools Across the Country

Denver Public Schools and Anne Arundel County Public Schools provide powerful examples of how to implement ESSER-funded initiatives, like targeted academic supports, that not only address urgent crises but make significant strides in service of a long-standing goal: to create more effective and equitable high school environments, experiences, and outcomes. Learn more.


Organizing Resources to Support Inclusion Models for Students With Disabilities

The pandemic highlighted the importance of effectively serving students with disabilities—and exacerbated the inequities embedded in traditional models for doing so. District leaders need to know which resources to use and how to target them strategically in order to implement inclusion models that serve all students effectively and equitably. Learn more.


5 Ways High Schools Need to Look Different to Get and Keep Students on Track to Graduate

In this op-ed for District Administration, ERS CEO Karen Hawley Miles recommends a combined set of actions for addressing areas of student need—and the specific changes in scheduling and staffing needed to drive equity and excellence in high school recovery and redesign. Learn more.



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