ESSER is a stimulus and emergency COVID relief funding stream authorized as part of the CRRSA Act. The American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) Fund was enacted as part of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act. Also known as ESSER III, this additional funding stream is intended to help states and school districts safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools and address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the nation’s students.We are working to hear the voice of our stakeholders when determining use of ESSER funds. The allocations are only designated for very specific areas. Please provide us your feedback by taking the below survey no later than June 27, 2021.
How will ARP ESSER funds be used to implement prevention and mitigation strategies that are, to the greatest extent practicable, consistent with the most recent CDC guidance on reopening schools, in order to continuously and safely open and operate schools for in-person learning?
Our safe return to in-person instruction plan directly incorporates CDC recommended mitigation strategies for the safe reopening and operation of our schools. This includes the proper use of masks, supporting our scholar, teacher, school leader and family community to engage in hygiene practices such as frequent handwashing, and more. Some examples of specific, CDC-recommended strategies outlined in our in-person instruction plan include:
- Limiting classroom sizes to around 14 scholars on average to support safe distancing and reduce exposure and transmission risks
- Maximizing the utilization of as-yet unused classrooms to accommodate all scholars and support appropriate social distancing
- Spacing school desks six feet apart and facing the same direction in all classrooms
- Clearly marking hallways for one-way traffic flow in order to alleviate congestion or any cross traffic
- Recess breaks and specials taking place in home rooms to minimize cross contamination
- Closing off all public water fountains to reduce the risk of transmission
- Cleaning frequently used surfaces (such as door handles, handrails and bathrooms) three to four times a day and deep cleaning each classroom every night with the support of our incredible custodian staff
- Cleaning all scholar desks and chairs used in rotational groups prior to each rotation
In addition to the above CDC-recommended mitigation strategies, we will use ESSER III funding to strategically address pandemic-related learning loss in our scholars, especially those disparately impacted by COVID-19. This will include providing Tier II, small-group tutoring to our scholars; providing data-driven extended learning time programming in the summer; providing additional social-emotional programming to support scholars in making a successful transition to in-person instruction; providing our educators with staff development and retention opportunities, and more.
How will the LEA use the funds it reserves under section 2001(e)(1) of the ARP Act to address the academic impact of lost instructional time through the implementation of evidence-based interventions, such as summer learning or summer enrichment, extended day, comprehensive afterschool programs, or extended school year?
Working with key stakeholder groups, and guided by educational priorities for our scholars, we plan to leverage ESSER funds to provide students with access to high-quality, evidence-based extended learning time programming. We will look for programs that have a proven track record of raising student outcomes and successfully addressing learning loss, particularly for communities that are disproportionately affected by the pandemic. This potentially includes summer and afterschool programs. A key part of our work will also include maximizing instructional time within the school day, ensuring that students can receive personalized support through Tier II small-group tutoring.
How will the LEA spend its remaining ARP ESSER funds consistent with section 2001(e)(2) of the ARP Act?
We will ensure that all ARP ESSER funds are utilized in accordance with allowability guidelines. This includes addressing learning loss; providing Tier II interventions; supporting staff professional development; ensuring continuity of key positions, as well as safe and healthy school environments.
How will the LEA ensure that the interventions it implements, including but not limited to the interventions implemented under section 2001(e)(1) of the ARP Act to address the academic impact of lost instructional time, will respond to the academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs of all students, and particularly those students disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including students from low-income families, students of color, English learners, children with disabilities, students experiencing homelessness, children in foster care, and migratory students.
We recognize that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted our scholars from traditionally underserved communities, leading to significant learning loss and increasing the need for social-emotional support. Our emphasis on utilizing small-group, differentiated instruction for every scholar in the classroom allows us to identify at-risk scholars most significantly impacted by the pandemic, and target data-driven interventions to support their academic success. The data we gather from frequent year-round assessments will empower our educators to implement evidence-based interventions in real-time to address any learning gaps for each scholar throughout the school year. More specifically, we will implement the following data-driven instructional strategies to support scholars who are underserved or disparately impacted by COVID-related learning loss: maximized learning time on-task and on core subjects; differentiated, small-group instruction; data-driven instruction; targeted, evidence-based interventions to meet the learning needs of scholars with deficits (Catch Up) and those that need challenged beyond on-grade level (Move Up) including additional, Tier II, small-group tutoring; research-based and standards aligned curricula; and instructional tasks with higher-order, complex thinking. Additional efforts to support mitigation of learning loss for particular scholar groups will include:
At-risk scholars: We maximize the use of extensive differentiated, small-group instruction to provide additional assistance to students at risk. Beecher & Sweeney (2008) found that using differentiation with all students drastically reduced racial achievement gaps and improved attitudes about school. Differentiated learning also positively impacts social development and is correlated with learning responsibility as well as developing an inner sense of control (Clark, 2002).
English learners: Instruction will focus on the same building blocks used for non-ELL scholars: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension. As much as possible, teachers will use gestures, non-verbal cues, and repeat instructions; bilingual and pictorial texts will also be made available in the classroom when appropriate. As oral fluency and literacy in the scholar’s native language can be beneficial in literacy instruction in English, the scholar’s first language will be welcome in the classroom.
Students with disabilities: Our school is committed to providing a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to all scholars with disabilities and to aligning all special education services with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); state laws outlined in the Indiana State Board of Education, Special Education Rules Title 511, Article 7; and Section 504, 1973 Rehabilitation Act. Furthermore, students with disabilities will be provided a FAPE in the least restrictive environment (LRE). We will use a Response-to-Intervention (RTI) process to identify students with unique needs, create IEPs and annual goals and implement a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) with evidence-based interventions to mitigate learning loss.
Migrant: We use the core components of our personalized instruction model to meet the unique needs of migrant scholars. Teachers use blended learning and frequent assessments to monitor their progress and implement additional evidence-based supports. For example, for migrant scholars exhibiting Limited English Proficiency, the same services are provided as those given to ELL scholars. Our support staff complement personalized instruction by ensuring the overall well-being of migrant scholars and ensuring any unique social-emotional needs are identified and appropriately addressed.
Homeless: In the classroom, we will provide personalized care and attention to students by providing extensive small-group and individualized instruction. Additionally, we will develop partnerships with various community service providers, such as clinics, housing shelters, social service agencies, etc to support our scholars experiencing homelessness. Because of the stigma attached to homelessness, the school will have a confidential process for identifying homeless students and working with their families.
Foster: Because of our close involvement with our scholars, we have regular opportunities to listen intently to their needs, support them in their learning process, and give shared ownership to our scholars in making academic progress. Our teachers often sit to have lunch with groups of scholars who share experiences of being fostered. Through these lunches, teachers ensure scholars in foster care know that their teachers and school leaders care about them and their unique needs. Additionally, through these group lunches, teachers are able to identify in real-time any scholars in foster care that may need additional support to empower their academic achievement and overall well-being.
All scholars, including those disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, will be offered additional social-emotional support through our framework of positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS), our scholar well-being focused staff such as Behavioral Specialists and Psychologists, and our emphasis on training teachers and school leaders to provide supportive, nurturing classroom environments.
Briefly describe how the LEA determined its most important educational needs as a result of COVID-19.
Our school has utilized a robust, data-driven approach to determine our most important educational needs as a result of COVID-19. Firstly, as part of our evidence-based differentiated learning model, we used frequent assessments and adaptive learning programs throughout the 2020-21 school year. Scholar performance data gathered through these assessments and programs allowed us to monitor and assess the unique impact of pandemic-related learning loss on each of our scholars in real-time. As we reviewed the data, a need for evidence-based interventions such as additional Tier II small-group tutoring was evident, making this a strong needs-aligned use of ESSER III funds. Secondly, the feedback we received from key stakeholders such as our teachers, scholar families and community partners allowed us to identify further domains of current need. This included professional development needs for our teachers; school needs in order to support a return to in-person instruction; and, due to the disproportionate impact of the pandemic, additional social-emotional support needs for our scholars from traditionally underserved communities. These needs, identified through stakeholder input, are strategically reflected in our school’s use of ESSER III funds.
Estimated number of jobs created or retained as a result of this funding.
Briefly describe the LEA's proposed timeline for providing services and assistance to students and staff with these funds.
The proposed timeline will begin in the 2021-2022 school year, ensuring continuity of essential staff and services for our scholars for the next three school years - up to and including the 2023-24 school year.
Briefly describe the extent to which the LEA intends to use ARP ESSER funds to promote remote learning.
As per ODE guidance, remote learning is not an option unless mandated by the Governor. However, if and as necessitated by public health measures, the personnel and resources our school is securing with ESSER III funding can also be translated into a remote learning setting. For example, our Academic Interventionists will be able to continue offering small group, differentiated instruction to our scholars, just as they would in a physical school setting, by facilitating virtual, small group sessions.
Describe the LEA's plan for addressing learning loss by: administering and using high-quality assessments to assess students' academic progress and meet students' academic needs, including through differentiating instruction; implementing evidence-based activities to meet the comprehensive needs of students; providing information and assistance to parents and families on how they can effectively support students, including in a distance learning environment; and/or tracking student attendance and improving student engagement in distance education.
To identify and address student learning gaps, we will be combining data from Nationally Normed Assessments (NWEA) in Reading in Math with the adaptive learning software. NWEA assessments will be strategically administered three times throughout the year beginning of the year, middle of the year, and end of the year. Adaptive learning software offers self-guided courses for scaffolded learning. When integrated with NWEA data, adaptive learning software identifies an Individualized Learning Path to match each scholar's assessment results. Each lesson within the Learning Path comes with a guided explanation, a supported practice and independent practice module, and a quiz. The integration between NWEA and adaptive learning software means that our scholars can pick up learning right where they left off. In addition, using weekly formative assessments, we will be able to gauge scholar progress in vocabulary, grammar, cold reads and math, and then use this data to inform instructional decisions. This data helps educators address both scholar needs and grouping for Tier 2 instruction, and the specific targeted interventions that will help scholars both catch up and move ahead. All of our teachers utilize blended learning and frequent benchmark assessments to monitor each of our scholars' progress and implement evidence based supports. Scholar progress is then communicated on a bi-weekly basis to parents ensuring they become true partners in empowering the academic achievement of our scholars.