Today, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) announced the approval of seven American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) state plans and distributed remaining ARP ESSER funds to those states. The state plans detail how states are using and plan to use ARP ESSER funds to safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools, and address the needs of students, including by equitably expanding opportunity for students disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this year, the Department distributed two thirds of the ARP ESSER funds, totaling $81 billion, to 50 states and the District of Columbia. The remaining third of the funding to states is being made available once their plans are approved. Today's approval of state plans for South Dakota, Texas, Massachusetts, Utah, Arkansas, Rhode Island, and Washington D.C., will result in the release of nearly $6 billion in ARP ESSER funds for these six states and Washington D.C., following the $12 billion in ARP ESSER funds distributed to these states earlier this year.
"It is heartening to see, reflected in these state plans, the ways in which states and Washington, D.C., are planning to use American Rescue Plan funds to continue to provide critical support to schools and communities, particularly as we move into the summer and look ahead to the upcoming academic year," said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. "The approval of these plans enables states to receive vital, additional American Rescue Plan funds to quickly and safely reopen schools for full-time, in-person learning; meet students' academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs; and address disparities in access to educational opportunity that were exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. From investing in summer learning and enrichment programs, to expanding access to COVID-19 vaccinations for school staff and students, to addressing the academic impacts of unfinished instructional time and increasing students' access to school counselors and mental health services, the state plans that have been submitted to the Department lay the groundwork for the ways in which an unprecedented infusion of federal resources will be used to address the urgent needs of America's children and build back better."
Highlights of how states plan to use ARP ESSER funds include:
- Arkansas has developed an Arkansas Tutoring Corps that will create a system to recruit, prepare, and support candidates to become qualified tutors who provide instruction or intervention for students to meet academic needs of at-risk learners, or students most impacted by lost instructional time. The Arkansas Tutoring Corps project will enhance learning experiences of students due to loss of instructional time and address gaps in foundational skills in mathematics and literacy using ARP ESSER funds.
- Washington, D.C.'s Out of School Time grants, funded by ARP ESSER funds, will enable community-based organizations to provide summer learning programs to students, designed to improve academic performance through evidence-based interventions.
- Texas plans to use ARP ESSER funds to address the academic impact of lost instructional time for Texas students, and plans to offer high-dosage tutoring, high-quality instructional materials, and job-embedded professional learning to help address the academic impact of lost instructional time.
- In South Dakota, the state education agency will use ARP ESSER funding to focus on strategies designed to engage and re-engage students that may have missed out on instruction and educational opportunities over the last year.
- With a portion of ARP ESSER funds, Massachusetts will help schools fund Acceleration Academies this summer (2021), which will allow students to learn and build skills working intensively on one subject in small, hands-on learning environments with excellent teachers. This will be a multi-year program that the Department anticipates will impact more than 50,000 students statewide each year.
- Utah will award ARP ESSER funds for evidence-based summer learning and afterschool programming through a competitive grant process to both districts and community-based organizations which will support students' academic and social, emotional, and mental health needs.
- Rhode Island will significantly expand summer learning options statewide through its All-Course Network platform, which provides free instruction to students on topics ranging from AP classes to animation courses.
The following remaining ARP ESSER funds will be distributed today to the seven states and territories with the approval of the state plans:
- Massachusetts: $611,331,608
- Rhode Island: $138,468,766
- Texas: $4,148,464,081
- South Dakota: $127,339,745
- Utah: $205,578,303
- Washington, D.C.: $128,932,230
- Arkansas: $418,634,738
A total of 40 states have submitted their ARP ESSER state plans to the Department. The Department is reviewing the plans expeditiously and is in contact with states to ensure their plans meet all necessary requirements in order to access the remaining funds, as outlined in the ARP. The Department is also in contact with states that have not yet submitted plans, the vast majority of which are due to state board of education or legislative review requirements.
Distribution of ARP ESSER funds is part of the Department's broader effort to support students and districts as they work to reengage students impacted by the pandemic, address inequities exacerbated by COVID-19, and build our education system back better than before. In addition to providing $130 billion for K-12 education in the American Rescue Plan to support the safe reopening of K-12 schools and meet the needs of all students, the Biden-Harris Administration also has:
- Released three volumes of the COVID-19 Handbook..
- Held a National Safe School Reopening Summit.
- Prioritized the vaccination of educators, school staff, and childcare workers. As of the end of May, an estimated 84% of teachers and school staff were fully vaccinated.
- Provided $10 billion in funding for COVID-19 testing for PreK-12 educators, staff, and students.
- Launched a series of Equity Summits focused on addressing inequities that existed before but were made worse by the pandemic.
- Released a report on the disparate impacts of COVID-19 on underserved communities.
- Developed a Safer Schools and Campuses Best Practices Clearinghouse elevating hundreds of best practices to support schools' efforts to reopen safely and address the impacts of COVID-19 on students, educators, and communities.
In addition to the actions the Biden Administration has taken to reopen schools, the President has proposed critical investments through his Build Back Better Agenda that will enable schools to rebuild stronger than they were before the pandemic, such as investing billions to build a diverse educator workforce, expand access to pre-K to all families, and invest in school infrastructure, among other provisions.