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Leverage ESSER Funds for Tutoring Programs

Many districts have prioritized high-dosage tutoring (HDT) as a major part of their ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) spending plans, and for good reason. In fact, a meta-analysis of 96 studies found that effective HDT is one of the few school-based interventions that ensures large-scale, positive outcomes on students’ reading and math performance.

What are characteristics of the most effective HDT programs?

  • Sessions occur for at least 30 minutes, three times per week.
  • Groups include 4 or fewer students.
  • Students work with a consistent tutor.
  • Tutors include certified educators, all of whom are formally trained for HDT.
  • Tutors collect and use data to support tutoring session content and strategies.
  • Tutoring materials are aligned with research and academic standards.
  • Sessions are embedded within the school day.
K-12 student using Brainfuse

ESSER Funding and Spending FAQs

What is the deadline for spending ESSER funds?The deadline for spending ESSER I funds passed in September 2022. However, ESSER II and ESSER III funds are still available, with spending deadlines of September 2023 and September 2024, respectively.

What percentage of ESSER funds are still available?As of May 2023, 26% of ESSER II funds and 65% of ESSER III funds are still available. State-level updates are available at the Education Stabilization Fund Transparency Portal.

What are the funding sources and amounts allotted in ESSER funds?Funding sources and totals are:

- Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act which includes ESSER I funds ($13.2 billion)

- Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act which includes ESSER II funds (nearly $54 billion)

- American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021 which includes ARP ESSER or ESSER III ($123 billion)

What measures are in place to monitor ESSER spending?States have largely implemented the below measures in order to provide proper oversight over district-level spending:

- Review applications and budgets to inform official approval or denial.

- Review spending before reimbursing districts.

- Increased stringency of ongoing financial monitoring to ensure appropriate fund allocation.

- Districts are required to report ESSER spending to the Department of Education, but these reports are not required to include specific, measurable outcomes in order to receive funds.

- The federal government will audit any districts receiving more than $750,000 in ESSER funds, and further audits may be performed by the US Department of Education inspector general’s office and US Congress Government Accountability Office. 

- While there is flexibility in ways districts use ESSER funds, at least 20% of ARP funds must be used to mitigate pandemic-related learning disruptions.

What are approved areas for ESSER spending?Over the course of ESSER I, II, and III funding, the following efforts are approved for spending:

- Coordinating preparedness and response efforts with State, local, Tribal, and territorial public health departments to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19

- Training and professional development on sanitizing and minimizing the spread of infectious diseases

- Purchasing supplies to sanitize and clean the local education agency (LEA) facilities

- Repairing and improving school facilities to reduce risk of virus transmission and exposure to environmental health hazards

- Improving indoor air quality

- Addressing the needs of children from low-income families, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and foster care youth

- Developing and implementing procedures and systems to improve the preparedness and response efforts of LEAs

- Planning for or implementing activities during long-term closures, including providing meals to eligible students and providing technology for online learning

- Purchasing educational technology (including hardware, software, connectivity, assistive technology, and adaptive equipment) for students that aids in regular and substantive educational interaction between students and their classroom instructors, including students from low-income families and children with disabilities

- Providing mental health services and supports, including through the implementation of evidence-based full-service community schools and the hiring of counselors;planning and implementing activities related to summer learning and supplemental after-school programs

- Addressing learning loss

- Other activities that are necessary to maintain operation of and continuity of and services, including continuing to employ existing or hiring new LEA and school staff

How can Brainfuse boost your federal funds spending strategy?

Approved ESSER and ARP Fund Uses:

1. Addressing learning loss with evidence-based practices

Brainfuse is the only K-12 tutoring company with multiple rigorous ESSA Tier 1 studies demonstrating effectiveness and is proven to improve student performance in reading and math.

2. Helping parents and families better support students and their learning

Brainfuse Success Managers work with clients to ensure parent/family communication and involvement.

3. Implementing summer learning and extended day programs

BoostHDT is available 24/7 year-round.

4. Initiatives that strategically support underserved and low-income students, English learners, and students with disabilities

Brainfuse is available in lower bandwidth environments and compatible with older hardware. BoostHDT utilizes bilingual tutors and the chat function within the platform allows for translation of text to support ELLs. We have experience working with students with IEPs and 504 plans. We encourage districts to implement BoostHDT with all students for equitable access and wide-scale implementation.

5. Purchasing education technology that allows for effective educational interaction between students and instructors

Teachers receive frequent updates on student performance and engagement. Tutors flag areas or students of concern for teachers.

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