Navigating COVID-19 Funding to Prevent Summer Learning Loss

Reading Plus

As members of the K-12 community, we are all looking ahead to a rather uncertain future. COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of the school system, and educators are working to plan for students’ education in the weeks and months ahead. Fortunately, CARES Act funding opportunities and other solutions are available to help combat significant learning losses leading into fall 2020.

Anticipating COVID-19 Learning Loss

In our recent white paper published by Education Week, we discussed how students will encounter many academic challenges due to COVID-19 school closures. With varying amounts of instructional time, most students will face significantly greater learning loss than the typical summer slide. 

        Typical Summer Learning Losses in Reading
GradeLoss in school-year gains
Grades 3 to 4-20%
Grades 7 to 8-36%

Source: “Summer Learning Loss: What We Know and What We’re Learning,” NWEA, 2018

Students have missed months of in-school instruction, and it is unclear how effective remote learning has been as a replacement. Schools have had to pivot dramatically to this brand-new remote learning context, and some students lack access to technology or the internet to continue instruction.

As for fall 2020, Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) projects that students will be about 30% behind in reading from where they would typically be for back-to-school due to COVID-19 closures. This is on top of an already significant learning loss, as shown in the chart above. Fortunately, schools can access funding and other resources to help combat this learning loss.

The CARES Act and Other Funding Resources

As part of the CARES Act economic stimulus package, the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund provides more than $13 billion in aid to support K-12 schools due to the financial effects of COVID-19. Funding is available to each state based on Title I allocations. See the table on this website for state-by-state allocations.

Funding resources will primarily be focused on COVID-related concerns, such as:

  • Retaining staffing levels
  • Technology, e.g. devices, Internet connectivity enhancements, distance learning platforms
  • Health and safety, e.g. sanitizing facilities and buses
  • Student learning and curricula
  • Saving for the 2021-2022 school year

A full list of purposes for using ESSER funding can be found here (Appendix A).

Flexibility for Funding Resources During COVID-19

In April, the Secretary of Education announced a number of new flexibilities given to existing funding resources. These flexibilities apply to grants such as Title I (A, C, D), Title II-A, and Title IV-A.

Grants will be used to support similar needs as the ESSER funding, including distance learning, technology resources for students, curriculum, salaries, and more. Be sure to research your own state’s rules and regulations for the most accurate information.

Examples of Funding Flexibility

  • Waivers for rollover funding
    • Limitations to the amount of funds that can be carried over from a school year to the next are being waived once you apply. 
    • For example, schools/districts can apply to waive the 15% carryover limitation for Title I, Part A funds.
  • Expansion of allocation options
    • CARES Act funding has waived the definition of “professional development” to allow schools to quickly train school leaders and teachers on topics like effective distance learning techniques.
  • Extended deadlines
    • States have additional time to develop their plans under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education Act (CTE/Perkins).
  • State eligibility expansion

For more information, view the U.S. Department of Education press release.

In addition, state educational agencies can apply for the Rethink K-12 Education Models Grant, a $180 million opportunity to support K-12 learners. This grant is a competition to develop new and innovative learning strategies for students during the COVID-19 crisis. Learn more about the Rethink K-12 Education Models Grant here.

Prevent the COVID-19 Slide with Virtual Summer Programs

With all the available funding options, consider adopting programs that can help your students catch up after a disruptive school year. Reading Plus is an effective at-home literacy solution that helps students build fluency and efficiency, strengthen comprehension skills, expand vocabulary, and increase motivation for reading.

Students need fast results to prevent the COVID-19 summer slide. Reading Plus’ flexible programs are proven to achieve 1/3 to 1/2 year’s growth in just 4-8 weeks! Take a look at our sample implementations below. 

Screen Shot 2020-05-07 at 12.01.51 PMDon’t wait to address your students’ reading needs. Get a head start this summer with Reading Plus.