The Top Funds Available for Tutoring Solutions

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Lost instructional time during the pandemic resulted in learning loss for millions of U.S. students. According to one analysis, K-12 students were, on average, five months behind in mathematics and four months behind in reading by the end of the 2020-21 school year1.

  1. Introduction
  2. Funding Tutoring
  3. Federal Education Stabilization Funds
  4. More About the Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER)
  5. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
  6. Title I, Part A: Education for the Disadvantaged – $16.5B
  7. Title IV, Part A: Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants – $1.22B
  8. Title IV Part B: 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) – $1.3B
  9. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 611 – $15.5B
  10. Additional Programs to Consider
  11. State Tutoring Examples
  12. Funding Checklist

Introduction

Concerns about the academic impact of the pandemic prompted action. The third and largest stimulus measure, the American Rescue Plan, signed into law in March 2021, requires districts to spend 20 percent of the $122 billion allocated to them on learning recovery. This has spawned enormous demand for one-on-one tutoring to address each student’s specific needs.

Many students struggled with large-group online instruction— a solution born of necessity when most schools were shuttered during the pandemic. Some students were adrift without the structure and support of in-person learning. Other students had difficulty staying, focused and engaged during whole-class synchronous learning sessions.

Small-group sessions increased engagement and removed participation barriers for the students who are uncomfortable speaking up in large groups. Teachers who worked with small groups found it easier to identify a student’s strengths and learning gaps and personalize instruction for a student’s needs.

One-to-one or small group tutoring is the top-billed remedy to help students make up for disrupted learning2. In a speech on January 27, 2022, U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona urged schools to spend COVID relief funds relief funds on a strategy known as ‘high-dosage’ tutoring, giving every student who is struggling academically at least 90 minutes a week with a trained tutor3.

Research supports high-dosage tutoring (HDT) or high-impact tutoring as a cost-effective strategy for boosting student achievement. In HDT, tutors usually work with students in one-on-one or two-on-one settings in addition to students’ regular instruction4.

As states and districts consider various tutoring solutions, they should consider the following:

  • School Facilities – Most schools do not have extra space to bring in multiple tutors to work face-to-face with all the students who would benefit from tutoring support on a consistent basis.
  • Online Requirements – Often students from low-income areas were most impacted by learning loss. Do all students have online access with ample connectivity and devices capable of facilitating videoconferencing at home?
  • Ample Tutors – There are not enough tutors to meet the needs across the country.
  • Safety Concerns – Are there safety concerns with face-to-face? Many schools across the country are still facing COVID challenges, so bringing in tutors may exacerbate the problem.
  • Flexible Options – Schools need to build in flexible delivery options as conditions may change due to COVID challenges or similar issues.

Funding Tutoring

Federal Education Stabilization Funds

The Education Stabilization Funds were included in each of the three stimulus acts:

  • CARES Act – On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act was signed into law. It is a $2 trillion package of assistance measures, including $30.75 billion for an Education Stabilization Fund. $13.2 billion was set aside for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER Fund), also called ESSER I.
  • CRRSA Act – The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act was signed into law on December 27, 2020 and provides an additional $81.9 billion to the Education Stabilization Fund. Of that amount, $54 billion was allocated for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, referred to as ESSER II.
  • ARPA – The American Rescue Plan Act was passed by Congress March 10, 2021 adding $170 billion to continue support for the Education Stabilization Fund which includes $122.8 billion for elementary and secondary schools, referred to as ARP ESSER or ESSER III.

federal education stabilization funds

More About the Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER)

The ESSER Funds I, II and III comprise the majority of funds in the three stimulus acts to help K-12 schools address the impact of COVID-19 on education. Together they total over $235B targeted specifically at K-12. Additional funding was targeted in all three for higher education – the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEER) and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) which was funded only in the CARES Act and the CRRSA Act.

In the American Rescue Plan (ARPA) state agencies must reserve at least 5% of their funds for activities to address learning loss, and districts must reserve at least 20% of theirs. While the state agency portion has no requirement that evidence-based interventions be implemented, districts must “reserve not less than 20 percent of such funds to address learning loss through the implementation of evidence-based interventions, such as summer learning, extended day, or extended school year programs Evidence-based high dosage tutoring is an allowable use of these funds.

VEDAMO virtual classroom solutions may be purchased with ESSER funds to “aid in the regular and substantive educational interaction between students and their instructors,” in remote learning situations, which include virtual instruction/tutoring to address learning loss, especially when virtual instruction is coordinated with in-class instruction. These solutions are eligible for purchase when implemented by school districts as part of a coordinated plan (i.e. not parents hiring tutors who don’t speak with teachers).

VEDAMO may also be purchased to aid learning loss recovery as an option to extend learning time outside of the school day— for example, by providing virtual instruction to groups of learners and high-dosage tutoring to individual students.

ESSER II and ARPA were very explicit that the funds must also be available to private schools under the Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools (EANS) clause. VEDAMO may be purchased with EANS) funds by private schools, the guidance for which includes “educational technology (including hardware, software, connectivity, assistive technology, and adaptive equipment) to assist students, educators, and other staff with remote or hybrid learning,” among the eligible services. Remote/hybrid learning may also include virtual instruction, such as group- or individual tutoring to address learning loss recovery.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

In addition to ESSER funds, schools can use the funds distributed annually through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). It is the nation’s national education law and shows a longstanding commitment to equal opportunity for all students. Enacted in 1965, it has been reauthorized by Congress multiple times to address the changing needs of the nation’s students.

The most recent reauthorization is the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which was first implemented in 2017. It dictates the education programs that the federal government funds and distributes to the states on an annual basis. The states then allocate the funds to the districts and other education entities. Currently, ESSA offers 12 state formula-allocated grant programs and 21 competitive grant programs. Formula programs are based on certain criteria for recipient students. Formula funds are allocated based on the number of students meeting those requirements. Competitive programs have funds designated for a specific purpose—for example, intervention or prevention activities— that states, districts, or schools must compete for.

An array of long-standing federal programs that direct funds to school districts can support spending on tutoring programs, despite common misconceptions. As opposed to the ESSER funds which are one-time windfalls, ESSA funds are distributed every year. They are and will continue to be the federal governments ongoing source of funds to purchase instructional materials, professional development and tutoring solutions.

ESSA

Title I, Part A: Education for the Disadvantaged – $16.5B

In Restart & Recovery: ESEA & COVID-19 State Strategies for Supporting Local Educational Agencies in Confronting the Effects of the Pandemic, education law attorneys Melissa Junge and Sheara Krvaric describe investing in “extended or additional instructional time,” including after-school tutoring, as an “underused Title I spending option5.”

Title I provides financial assistance through State Education Agencies (SEAs) to districts and public schools with high numbers or percentages of poor children to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic content and student academic achievement standards.

Title I funds are intended to help close the achievement gap between high and low-performing students and increase achievement in academic subjects. LEAs may use Title I, Part A, funds to cover the costs for direct student services including “components of a personalized learning approach, which may include high-quality academic tutoring.”

VEDAMO is an authorized expenditure as platform to facilitate tutoring to qualifying students. For example, LEAs may use Title I, Part A, funds to cover the costs for direct student services including “components of a personalized learning approach, which may include high-quality academic tutoring.”

Title IV, Part A: Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants – $1.22B

The purpose of Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants is to improve students’ academic achievement by increasing the capacity of states, LEAs, schools, and local communities to:

  • Provide all students with access to a well-rounded education;
  • Improve school conditions for student learning; and
  • Improve the use of technology in order to improve the academic achievement and digital literacy of all students.
  • Tutoring is an allowable expense if it meets the broad program goal of providing student support and academic enrichment.

Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants

VEDAMO supports the following qualifying activities under Title IV, part A:

  • increasing access to technology and learning experiences supported by technology.
  • providing students in rural, remote, and underserved areas with the resources to take advantage of high-quality digital learning experiences, digital resources, and access to online courses taught by effective educators.
  • developing or using effective or innovative strategies for the delivery of specialized or rigorous academic courses and curricula through the use of technology, including digital learning technologies and assistive technology.
  • Tutoring as an allowable expense if it meets the broad program goal of providing student support and academic enrichment.

School districts are required to provide services for eligible private school students, teachers and their families that are equitable to those of the eligible public school students. Options for private-school services include home tutoring.

Title IV Part B: 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) – $1.3B

21st CCLC supports centers that provide academic enrichment programs during non-school hours, especially those that target high-poverty families and students who attend low-performing schools.

A program priority for 21st CCLC is to provide opportunities for academic enrichment, including providing tutorial services to help students— particularly students who attend low-performing schools—meet challenging State academic standards.

21st CCLC funds may be used to pay for remedial education activities and to provide additional assistance to help students improve their academic achievement which the VEDAMO platform can help facilitate.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 611 – $15.5B

Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) funds are used provide education in the “least restrictive environment” for children with disabilities. IDEA 611 funds support school-aged children ages 5 to 21. School districts may use 15% of IDEA funding for early intervention services in regular education—response to intervention (RTI). Funds under this program are combined with state and local funds to provide a free and appropriate education to children with disabilities.

Instructional software, including online instruction, may be paid for with IDEA funds if the software is being used to deliver specialized instruction in accordance with a student’s individualized education plan (IEP).

Tutoring may be an allowable expense provided the instruction is provided by a licensed special education instructor or aide under the supervision of a licensed special ed instructor.

School districts are required to provide services for eligible private school students, teachers and their families that are equitable to those of the eligible public school students. Options for private-school services include home tutoring.

VEDAMO enables educators and tutors to offer adaptive learning opportunities that can be tailored for students with special needs, including students with auditory and visual learning styles.

Additional Programs to Consider

Additional federal programs are available to support virtual learning and learning recovery. The goals of each of the following programs can be enhanced and/or achieved through the use of:

Title I, Part C, Education of Migratory Children (Migrant Education Program, MEP) – $376M
Migrant education funds support high quality education programs that meet the special needs of migratory children to help them succeed academically in a regular school program, meet the same academic and content standards that all children are expected to meet, and graduate from high school. MEP funds may be used for instructional tutorial services to increase migrant student achievement.

Title I, Part D, Neglected and Delinquent Youth – $48M
The purpose of Title I, Part D is to prevent at-risk youth from dropping out of school and provide dropouts, as well as children and youth returning from correctional facilities or institutions for neglected or delinquent children and youth, with a support system to ensure their continued education and the involvement of their families and communities.

Tutoring, mentoring, and academic intervention services are allowable expenditures under Title I, Part D to help children and youth returning to the school environment from correctional facilities to meet state academic standards and stay in school to complete their education.

Title III English language Acquisition – $110M
Title III is a supplemental grant under the ESEA that is designed to improve and enhance the education of English learners (ELs) in becoming proficient in English, as well as meeting academic content standards.

Districts may use Title III, Part A funds to improve instruction for ELs, including those with a disability, by acquiring and upgrading curricula and programs, using digital learning resources and software. This may include:

  • Tutorials, mentoring, and academic or career counseling
  • Instructional services that are designed to assist immigrant children and youth to achieve in elementary schools and secondary schools

funds for tutoring solutions

Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP) Rural and Low Income (RLIS) and Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP) Small Rural Schools (SRSA) – $96M Each
Both of these programs provide rural districts with financial assistance for initiatives aimed at improving student achievement. Recipients may use program funds to conduct activities under selected ESEA programs, including the following programs that can be used to fund tutoring solutions:

  • Title I, Part A (Improving Basic Programs Operated by local education agencies)
  • Title II, Part A (Supporting Effective Instruction)
  • Title III (Language Instruction for English Learners and Immigrant Students)
  • Title IV, Part A (Student Support and Academic Enrichment)
  • Title IV, Part B (21st Century Community Learning Centers)

State Tutoring Examples

As learning loss is so widespread following the COVID crisis, many of the states have prioritized their funding to address this in their ARP State Plans. Many states are leveraging their funding to launch new programs meant to address unfinished learning, such as high-dosage tutoring opportunities before, during and after school hours”6..

As state policymakers consider approaches to address interrupted instruction, some states are establishing or investing in statewide tutoring programs. VEDAMO’s solution aligns with the goals of these programs.

The following are among the states that indicated a portion of the ESSER funds would be used for tutoring:

  • Alaska — academic tutoring
  • Arizona — increase access to tutoring
  • Arkansas — will create Tutoring Corps to focus on supporting at-risk students
  • Colorado — Supporting academic acceleration through high dosage tutoring
  • Florida —early grade high quality tutoring initiative
  • Georgia — allows teachers to provide virtual mentoring, tutoring, and additional courses across the state
  • Illinois — for high impact tutoring (ESSER II and ARP)
  • Louisiana — high impact tutoring
  • Maryland — high intensity structured tutoring, customized sessions
  • Massachusetts — early literacy tutoring grants, K-8 math acceleration
  • Montana — support tutoring with ESSER II and ARP
  • New Mexico — tutoring and tutoring tracking dashboard
  • Oklahoma — plan to create a Tutoring Corps
  • South Carolina — high dosage tutoring to those most impacted by pandemic
  • Tennessee — TN ALL Corps, will ensure Tennessee students have access to high-dosage, low ratio tutoring over the next three years.
  • Texas — will provide high dosage tutoring

Funding Checklist

In order to secure federal funding for tutoring, check the following:

  • What are your district’s or schools plans for addressing students’ learning loss as they adjust to returning to in-person instruction? At least 20% of funds must be used to address learning loss through evidence-based interventions that respond to students’ academic, social, and emotional needs. This includes tutoring solutions accommodated to each student’s needs.
  • Will the solution be used to serve schools that receive Title I funding? Title I funds are allocated in proportion to the number of Title I students in the school(s) and must be used to serve those students. Also, some federal funds are allocated based on the number of Title I students in the schools (e.g., Title IV-A)
  • Identify the number of students in special populations, such as students who receive special education services, those who are English Language Learners, migrant students, or those who are homeless. The funds that they are eligible for can be used for purchasing tutoring solutions to address the needs of qualifying students.
  • If there are rural schools in the district, check eligibility for Title V, Part B – Rural Education Achievement Program or Small Rural Schools Funds.
  • Ensure the district’s or school’s tutoring program meets the funding requirements of the federal program you intend to use. Understand how the funds can be used for purchasing tutoring solutions.

 

USED RESOURCES:
1COVID-19 and education: The lingering effects of unfinished learning, McKinsey & Company, July 27,2021
2Stephen Sawchuk, Can Online Tutoring Help Schools Dig Out of a Pandemic Learning Hole?, Education Week, January 28, 2022.
3Secretary Cardona’s Priorities,,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45R0HG0PDM4
4Zeke Perez, Jr. State Information Request High-Impact-Tutoring, Education Commission of the States, June 25, 2021.
5Ibid
6CCSSO, How are states planning to leverage their ARP funding? July, 2021. Page 1

Dr. Jennifer House’s work is informed by years of experience in district administration as well as industry management. She is the founder of RedRock Reports where she focuses on the impact of funding trends and execution strategies via webinars and in-person presentations.
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