DeCoste Writing Protocol
Making eLearning Accessible
Google for Education
Learning is For Life
Dyslexia & Dysgraphia
CARES Act ESSER Funding aims to help K-12 schools “rethink the way students access education.”
Federal funding through the Coronavirus Relief Fund intends to make learning more accessible to students with disabilities, at-risk populations, language needs, and other challenges.
Two pots of money are allocated for K-12 education—one will be distributed to governors to be spent as seen fit to meet the needs of students and schools. The other goes directly to districts (Local Education Agencies, LEAs) based on Title 1 proportions.
The funding distributed to districts/LEAs through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER Fund) infuses $13.2 billion into K-12 education “to address the impact that COVID-19 has had, and continues to have, on elementary and secondary schools across the Nation.”
By accepting this funding, states agree that they will 1) maintain their funding for education equal to their average support for the preceding three years (so the states can’t use this federal funding to make up for their own budget shortfalls), and 2) Any entity receiving these funds must follow regulations as well set by states and the legislation.
See your state’s allocation here. “Fund awards to SEAs are in the same proportion as each State received funds under Part A of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended, in fiscal year 2019.”
It’s difficult to paint a positive picture given so much struggle, but considering the inequities highlighted by eLearning, there is a responsibility to see that this funding is directed in the best way possible to see outcomes for students in need. Without advocating for students in need, the funding could get snapped up by someone else and their priorities.
Being in an eLearning mode for a good portion of the 2019-2020 school year, the lessons for education are clear:
The funding is specifically targeted at closing these gaps illuminated by eLearning. For accessible learning advocates, here are the key points included in the usage requirements:
This funding offers an opportunity to help advocate for students with disabilities and ELLs to help them get what they need.
States and school districts will likely start seeing funds by May or June 2020.
The secretary of education encourages creative thinking when planning to use these funds. “It’s important to think creatively about new delivery methods and focus on investing in the technology infrastructure and professional development and training that will help all students continue to learn through some form of remote learning.”
But one thing districts will have in common when allocating funds is to identify the most salient needs brought on by the COVID crisis. Since the funding is intended to address the needs of students with disabilities, English learners, and at-risk students, the district will likely look for solutions that positively impact these populations.
Technologies, software, and even assistive technology / adaptive equipment were specifically written into the funding guidance and are seen as a means to provide better access to the curriculum for these populations who have been disproportionately affected by school closures.
As an advocate for students, what actions will you take to bring about the needed changes that will give students access to the tools, materials, and resources that will help close accessibility and achievement gaps?
For more information on the CARES Act, view our On-Demand Webinar now!