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Schools Start Here Series

Guides for ESSER Spending, Scheduling, and Staffing

To address the increased needs and inequities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic… 

  • School leaders and teams are navigating how to effectively implement and scale research-backed strategies this coming school year and beyond.
  • District teams are choosing which strategies to prioritize to equitably meet students’ needs, supporting school leaders with implementation, and planning for how to sustain these investments after ESSER funds expire.
  • State education teams are organizing to provide support and guidance to districts around ESSER planning and sharing bright spots and examples.  

All of this work is best done with a “Do Now, Build Toward” approach — choosing doable starting points for the 2021-22 school year, while designing changes with a long-term vision in mind.  

 

Schools Start Here Guides

The Schools Start Here series dives into the resource side of ESSER strategy and planning. These guides offer a blueprint for how to organize resources as part of a sustainable ESSER investment strategy — beginning with practical, “Do Now” starting points for what the 2021-22 school year could look like. 

Each guide: 

  • Details relevant research
  • Identifies system-level enabling conditions, policies, and practices that can help make this work successful
  • Highlights opportunities for sustainable investments
  • Makes recommendations for “Do Now” priorities
  • Provides concrete examples of scheduling and staffing models

Elementary & Secondary Guides

 

EARLY LITERACY OVERVIEW

Early literacy is foundational to everything that comes after it. But the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing inequities and disrupted students’ opportunities to learn and practice skills that are key to learning how to read, such as letter recognition, phonics, and reading comprehension strategies.

This overview lays out a long-term, “Build Toward” vision for key strategies district and school leaders are prioritizing in elementary schools this fall, identifies “Do Now” steps, and highlights the resource shifts needed to make them a sustainable reality. 

READ

 

1 | Small Group Instruction

Students have always needed different levels and types of support to access grade-level instruction — and the spectrum is even wider now. This guide takes a deep dive into what it could look like now for districts and schools to organize resources in ways that “Build Toward” targeted, flexible small group learning opportunities for all students. 

SEE THE GUIDE

 

 

2 | Relationships & Social-Emotional Supports

Families are expressing concerns about the impact of the pandemic on their children’s relationships and social-emotional health and development. This guide takes a deep dive into what it could look like now for districts and schools to organize resources in ways that “Build Toward” ensuring students have the network of strong relationships, the mindsets and skills, and the wellness supports they need to learn and to thrive. 

SEE THE GUIDE

 

 

3 | Tutoring

Tutoring can lead to academic gains and provide deeper opportunities for teaching and learning that is engaging, empowering, and culturally relevant. This guide takes a deep dive into what it could look like now for districts and schools to organize resources in ways that “Build Toward” integrating tutoring programs as part of a bigger-picture student support strategy and career pathway for educators. 

See the Guide

 

 

4 | Professional Learning & Collaboration

This school year and beyond, the success of other strategies — including everything from small group literacy instruction, to addressing students’ social-emotional needs, to implementing tutoring programs — will be shaped by the capacity of educators. This guide takes a deep dive into what it could look like now for districts and schools to organize resources in ways that “Build Toward” empowering teachers through regular, job-embedded learning and increased time for reflection, planning, and collaboration. 

See the Guide

 

HIGH SCHOOL OVERVIEW 

High school is pivotal — it can be a foundation for students to grow and thrive, in school and in life. And insights gained from focusing on students’ experiences in high school can help system leaders backwards plan to design better, more equitable experiences for students in middle school. But the pandemic has exacerbated existing inequities and challenges — for many students, the critical transition into high school was disrupted, and many need support to catch up academically, to navigate their social-emotional needs, and to make connections to postsecondary opportunities.

This overview lays out a long-term, “Build Toward” vision for key strategies district and school leaders are prioritizing in high schools this fall, identifies “Do Now” steps, and highlights the resource shifts needed to make them a sustainable reality. 

READ

 

 

1 | Credit Recovery

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased course failure rates in many schools, and many students have grappled with other obligations during school hours, such as working or caring for younger siblings. This guide takes a deep dive into what it could look like now for districts and schools to organize resources in ways that “Build Toward” more customized schedules and varied opportunities for credit recovery programs. 

See the Guide

 

2 | Building Strong Relationships

Families are expressing concerns about the impact of the pandemic on their children’s relationships and social-emotional health and development. This guide takes a deep dive into what it could look like now for districts and schools to organize resources in ways that “Build Toward” ensuring students have the network of strong relationships, the mindsets and skills, and the wellness supports they need to learn and to thrive. 

See the Guide

 

 

3 | Targeted Academic Supports

High schoolers need differentiated supports to fully engage in meaningful and relevant content. The pandemic has not only underscored the need for moving away from “one-size-fits-all” practices, it has also widened the spectrum of academic needs and worsened existing inequities. This guide takes a deep dive into what it could look like now for districts and schools to organize resources in ways that “Build Toward” more options for effective academic supports that are engaging, and that target time and attention to meet students’ distinct needs. 

See the Guide

 

4 | Early Warning Systems

Targeting the right academic and wellness supports at the right time to meet each students’ distinct needs is key for districts and schools that are trying to use their often limited resources with the most impact. This guide takes a deep dive into what it could look like now for districts and schools to organize resources in ways that “Build Toward” working systems that leverage data to develop, target, monitor, and adjust supports that are aligned with students’ distinct needs and interests.  

See the Guide

 

5 | Tutoring

Tutoring can lead to academic gains and provide deeper opportunities for teaching and learning that is engaging, empowering, and culturally relevant. This guide takes a deep dive into what it could look like now for districts and schools to organize resources in ways that “Build Toward” integrating tutoring programs as part of a bigger-picture student support strategy and career pathway for educators. 

SEE THE GUIDE

 

6 | Professional Learning & Collaboration

This school year and beyond, the success of other strategies — including everything from small group literacy instruction, to addressing students’ social-emotional needs, to implementing tutoring programs — will be shaped by the capacity of educators. This guide takes a deep dive into what it could look like now for districts and schools to organize resources in ways that “Build Toward” empowering teachers through regular, job-embedded learning and increased time for reflection, planning, and collaboration. 

SEE THE GUIDE

 Learn More About Our Process for Creating These ESSER Guides 

To create this series, we first identified eight priority topics based on feedback from districts across the country about the fall reopening challenges they are grappling with. Then, by drawing on decades of research, takeaways from our work in districts, and insights from other organizations and experts in the field, we worked to develop concrete guidance for organizing resources in the context of ESSER funding. We kept three main criteria in mind: 

  1. Building from research on strong district and school practices. 
  2. Advancing equity by understanding and addressing students’ most pressing needs. 
  3. Planning implementation through both near-term next steps and a longer-term vision. 

 

 Get Direct Support 

As your team uses these guides to weigh the possible tradeoffs associated with different approaches, facilitate decision-making about how to organize resources, and plan for how to evolve and scale your approaches over time, we encourage you to adapt these guides to meet your district or school’s own unique needs and context. For help navigating your “Do Now, Build Toward” approach, contact us

 

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