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Signed into law in February 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) includes $115 billion for Pre-K–Adult education programs, with approximately $80 billion going to Pre-K–12. Key points:
The law encourages states and school districts to use ARRA funding from ED to adopt college and career-ready standards and assessments, improve student achievement, build robust data systems to better track student progress, turn around failing schools, employ innovative learning models, and invest in teacher quality. Current programs getting significant increases through ARRA are ED's largest programs, those that address students most in need—the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), Title I ($13 billion), and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ($12.2 billion). In addition, technology-based programs will receive direct funding of $650 billion in ESEA, Title II—Enhancing Education Through Technology (E2T2), and indirect funding in other programs. ARRA funding will be available to states and districts through a combination of formula and competitive grants.
Head Start, administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will receive $1 billion to focus on education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income preschool children and their families. Adult basic education, workforce training, and workforce readiness will be funded at $3 billion through the Workforce Investment Act, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor.
This is a new one-time appropriation of $53.6 billion. Of that amount, ED will award governors, not State Educational Agencies (SEAs), $39.5 billion to restore state aid to K-12 education to 2008-09 levels and then restore funding to institutions of higher education (IHEs). Districts receiving K-12 funds must be spent for ESEA, IDEA, Perkins, Adult Education/Literacy activities or for school modernization. $8.8 billion will go into a Governor's Fund for High Priorities, including education and school modernization and repairs. ED will award the SFSF funding on a formula basis, after approval of a state's application.
In addition, the Secretary of ED will administer competitive grants, totaling $5 billion and available to states and districts, through "Race to the Top" and "What Works and Innovation" programs. Funding from these programs may be used to improve teacher quality, expand longitudinal data systems, increase rigor of state standards, improve assessments for special education and English Language Learners, and improve/reward innovation and best practices.
ED recommends that decision-makers consider whether they can answer "yes" to the following questions in establishing programs using ARRA funding.
Will the proposed use of funds drive improved results for all students, including students with disabilities and English language learners?
CTB assessments diagnose student strengths and areas needing improvement and measure student progress. Demographic filters and powerful reporting showing levels of proficiency enable teachers and administrators to determine where students are on a continuum from low- to high-performance levels. Teachers then use appropriate instructional strategies for individual students and groups of students to raise overall levels of proficiency and close the achievement gap.
Will the proposed use increase the long-term capacity of teachers, schools, and school districts to improve results for students?
CTB assessment solutions expand teachers' instructional capacity and ability to monitor student progress and target instruction most effectively. They also provide school principals and district administrators with assessment data that evoke new strategies to evaluate performance across an entire school or district. CTB solutions also enable administrators and teachers to:
Does the proposed use of funds advance the state and district's strategy and the research-based reform goals encompassed in ARRA?
CTB's ability to adapt and customize assessment programs according to state academic standards has inspired confidence throughout the educational community. Working closely with its clients, CTB provides research-based tools to measure student proficiency, chart a course toward improved learning, and direct all students to success.
Does the proposed use of funds sufficiently take into account that ARRA funds are expected to be temporary and avoid recurring costs that states and districts are unprepared to assume when this funding ends? Given these economic times, will the proposed use serve as "bridge funding" to help transition to more effective and efficient approaches?
CTB offers different purchase options that meet the two-year life span of ARRA. Additionally, CTB solutions are appropriate for established federal education programs that have annual funding appropriations, such as:
Does the proposed use of funds include approaches to measure and track implementation and results, modify strategies based on evidence, and discontinue strategies that do not lead to improved student results? Are the possible effects of the ARRA resources being evaluated and improved over time?
Data-driven instruction, based on accurate assessments and scoring results, provides critical information to evaluate student performance. CTB solutions provide easy-to-read and understand reports that show data at the student, class, school, district, or multi-district level. These tools assist educators at all levels to better prepare students for 21st century learning, helping them meet challenging academic standards, and excel on state examinations.