We experienced the initial set of Covid-19 restrictions just over three years ago. The uncertainty of the pandemic's impact led to growing concerns over the long-term consequences of remote learning. Though many challenges arose, a federal program (ESSER) administered by the Department of Education provided emergency relief funds to aid public school districts nationwide. As a result, schools and districts have been able to use ESSER funding to address interrupted learning and learning loss.
With ESSER deadlines just around the corner, we'd like to provide a short guide on how to use those funds. Moreover, we want to underscore why choosing ST Math is still an effective way to get students back on grade-level by expanding and accelerating math achievement for ALL students.
What is ESSER?
ESSER, which stands for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, was first established as part of the CARES Act, where additional funds were added to ESSER II and III. It served as emergency relief funding to assist public schools amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
To this day, the U.S. has provided three ESSER packages for public school districts to spend:
- ESSER I—approved back in March 2020 for $13.5 billion
- ESSER II—approved back in December 2021 for $54.3 billion
- ESSER III—approved back in March 2021 for $123 billion
What Can ESSER Be Used For?
Unique to the provisions of ESSER III under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act, local education agencies (LEAs) must reserve at least 20% of the funds to address learning loss. The bill specifically cites the need for evidence-based interventions that respond to students' academic, social, and emotional needs.
Beyond the 20% that must address learning loss, the remaining ESSER funds may be used to:
- Provide online learning technology for all students;
- Purchase edtech hardware, software, and/or connectivity that aids in regular and substantive educational interaction between students and instructors;
- Provide online summer learning; and,
- Administer high-quality, valid, and reliable assessments.
School Eligibility For ESSER Funding
Every public school within a district can receive ESSER funding. Charter schools within local educational agencies (LEAs) are also eligible recipients of ESSER funding.
When Do ESSER Funds Expire?
It's also important to note that school districts have a limited amount of time to spend ESSER funds. Each ESSER funding tier has a specific deadline or period of availability.
Initial ESSER I deadlines have already passed, but due to staffing shortages and other setbacks in school districts, seven states—including Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina, Mississippi, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin—and Washington D.C. have been granted an extension to spend ESSER I funds (March 30, 2024).
ESSER II funds must be obligated (committed to specific purposes) by September 30, 2023, with a spending deadline of January 28, 2024. ESSER III, the largest amount approved, must be obligated by September 30, 2024, and a spending deadline of January 28, 2025.
ESSER funds are still helping schools recover from the learning loss due to the pandemic.
Choosing ST Math for your ESSER III funds is a great way to help students recover from the learning loss they've experienced. Whether during the school day, before and after school, or during summer break, ST Math can empower students to become powerful mathematical problem solvers.
ESSER III funds can also be used for ST Math's online, high-impact tutoring solution for school districts.
Schools still have many opportunities to recover from Covid-19 disruptions through ESSER funding. Here at MIND, we want to ensure students' social, emotional, and academic needs are met and address the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on underrepresented student subgroups. Using ST Math to accelerate learning, accentuate schemas over skills, and give students grade-level content, empowers ALL students.