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How To Use K-12 COVID Relief Funds Strategically

Tools to help districts, schools, and states take on ESSER planning and implementation with a "Do Now, Build Toward" approach

ESSER Guidance

With a three-year infusion of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding from federal stimulus packages, education leaders are now facing key decisions about how to allocate those funds strategically.

To help navigate these unprecedented challenges and opportunities, ERS has identified seven principles to help you create, implement, and refine your ESSER plan with a "Do Now, Build Toward" approach  addressing urgent student needs now by choosing doable starting points, and designing changes with a sustainable long-term vision in mind.

 

Use the drop-down menu below to learn more about the seven principles for investing ESSER funds and to explore tools and materials.

ERS has identified these seven principles for investing ESSER funds with a "Do Now, Build Toward" approach. You can also learn more by reading this brief or watching this webinar.

Understand and quantify students' needs.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone, but it hasn't affected everyone equally. Quantifying students' needs across the district (by grade level, student group, and by school) is essential for building the case to act urgently and direct resources where they are needed most.

START YOUR EQUITY DIAGNOSTIC

 

Invest in proven, high-impact strategies.

The challenges that districts and communities face right now are unique, and there is a daunting array of options. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the investment areas that get selected are backed by research.

SEE THE 5 "POWER STRATEGIES"

 

Design new staffing and scheduling models.

School leaders will need support to set up the types of staffing and scheduling models that enable strategies to be implemented with fidelity and success. This is especially true in high-priority grade levels and subjects, such as early literacy and the transition into high school.

EXPLORE THE BLUEPRINTS

 

Design for equity.

Right now is a pivotal moment for equity —  ESSER funds present an unprecedented opportunity to both address immediate needs and disrupt the longstanding inequities that perpetuate barriers to success.

SEE EQUITY IN ACTION

 

Plan spending for long-term sustainability.

To ensure districts are able to sustain the programs, initiatives, and work they are doing now, they will need to organize resources in ways that enable these new ways of working to continue long after one-time federal dollars are exhausted. 

TRY THE DIY CALCULATOR

 

Create system conditions.

Collaboration among district leaders, state policymakers, labor unions, school board members, and local communities is needed to create underlying cost structures that can better allow for strategic and equitable approaches to teaching and learning. 

SEE 5 ACTIONS FOR STATES

 

Define success, measure, and adjust.

Regardless of the strategies districts invest in, we are unlikely to find “golden ticket” solutions that work immediately in standardized or scalable ways. Therefore, district teams will need to engage in cycles of continuous improvement, adjust for their unique local contexts, and adapt approaches over time based on community input and reliable data. One district taking a continuous improvement approach to its ESSER-funded strategy (intersession) is Dallas Independent School District.

Spotlight on Dallas ISD

 

START HERE:

5 POWER STRATEGIES

Five research-backed "Power Strategies" to help focus your investments and planning  — and  real-life examples from districts and schools across the country.

ESSER Principle: Invest in proven, high-impact strategies.

SEE THE STRATEGIES

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ESSER Strategy Guides

GUIDES FOR ESSER SPENDING, SCHEDULING & STAFFING

Based on feedback from districts about priority areas for ESSER investments, this series of guides provides a blueprint for how districts and schools can organize resources in the coming years. Each guide details relevant research, identifies short- and long-term investment opportunities, and provides concrete examples of scheduling and staffing models.

ESSER Principle: Design new scheduling and staffing models.

GO TO THE GUIDES

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Implementing a Continuous Improvement ROI model to maximize student outcomes 

Continuous improvement ROI is a way to ensure effective and equitable allocation of ESSER funds even when the timeline of spend, and our system’s capacity, are limited

ESSER Principal: Define success, measure, and adjust.

Learn more

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Building Toward Sustainable Change

Denver Public Schools and Anne Arundel County Public Schools provide powerful examples of seizing this unique moment to implement ESSER-funded initiatives that not only address urgent crises, but create more effective and equitable high school environments, experiences, and outcomes.

ESSER Principal: Plan spending for long-term sustainability

Learn More

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ESSER Plan Communication

See the five key messaging imperatives to build alignment among district leaders, school boards, and cabinets. Features a slide deck for districts to adapt for their own use!

ESSER Principal: Create system conditions

See more

 

State education leaders play a crucial role in supporting districts and schools with their ESSER planning and implementation — including by sharing valuable guidance, useful tools, and inspiring examples. Explore more under our materials for districts and schools!

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STATES START HERE

As districts create their ESSER plans, we share thoughts on how state leaders can and should support policies that empower systems to vary the time and attention students receive to help them meet students' differing needs.

ESSER Principle: Create system conditions.

READ THE BRIEF

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5 ACTIONS STATE LEADERS CAN TAKE TO INSPIRE TRANSFORMATIVE ESSER SPENDING

Five ways state policymakers and advocates can support districts and schools with their "Do Now, Build Toward" approach and shape the path for meaningful change. (Written in collaboration with TN SCORE)

ESSER Principle: Create system conditions.

TAKE A CLOSER LOOK

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ANALYSIS OF DISTRICTS' ESSER PLANS

One of the first steps to supporting districts well is understanding current trends in ESSER spending. Here, we offer a behind-the-scenes look at how districts plan to use their ESSER dollars, including an anlysis of investment trends.

ESSER Principle: Define success, measure, and adjust.

EXPLORE NOVEMBER '21 TRENDS

LOOK BACK AT JULY '21 TRENDS

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START HERE:

5 POWER STRATEGIES

Five research-backed "Power Strategies" to help focus your investments and planning  — and  real-life examples from districts and schools across the country.

ESSER Principle: Invest in proven, high-impact strategies.

SEE THE STRATEGIES



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ESSER Strategy Guides

GUIDES FOR ESSER SPENDING, SCHEDULING & STAFFING

Based on feedback from districts about priority areas for ESSER investments, this series of guides provides a blueprint for how districts and schools can organize resources in the coming years. Each guide details relevant research, identifies short- and long-term investment opportunities, and provides concrete examples of scheduling and staffing models.

ESSER Principle: Design new scheduling and staffing models.

GO TO THE GUIDES

 

 

NEW FROM ERS

ESSER Strategy guides

 

ESSER Hold'Em

 

ESSER halftime Review

Blueprints for ESSER spending, scheduling, and staffing   Focus investments and navigate tradeoffs in spending your ESSER dollars   Reflect and learn—then take action with our
ESSER Halftime Review 
   

GO TO THE GUIDES

 

Play the game

 

 

Conduct a Review

 

 

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