A Simple Guide to Making the Most of ESSER Funds

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This ESSER funding will ultimately help schools and districts meet the needs of their students now and prepare for the needs they might have in the future.

How Schools Can Use the ARP Funds

Just like anyone who’s about to secure an incredibly generous grant, one might be wondering, “What’s the best way to invest this money?”

The ARP does provide some guidelines on how this money should be spent on a school-wide level, including one major direction: at least 20 percent of the money provided in the American Rescue Plan must be spent to address “lost learning.”​ What that looks like is loosely-defined. That could include…

  • The development and implementation of evidence-based practices and curriculum
  • Supporting students and families as they cope with distance learning
  • Investing in high-quality after-school and summer-school programs
  • Monitoring students’ academic progress to identify students who need more help​
  • Providing remediation to address learning gaps
  • Administering high-quality, school-wide assessments to determine academic needs

Using ESSER Funding to Support Educators

When strategically used, ESSER funding can not only address learning loss, but it can also be used to help and support the people who are tirelessly providing the day-to-day instruction—teachers! With the trials of the pandemic and the challenges it has posed for instruction and teachers’ health, educators are leaving the workforce in droves. One way to help stop that flood of departures is to support and help teachers in whatever way they need.

What does that look like? That could be…

  • Providing professional development on topics that teachers actually want and need
  • Creating professional teams, so teachers can support one another
    • this could include bringing grade levels together
  • Paying for teachers to attend live and on-demand webinars and masterclasses (although Sadlier’s are free!)
  • Encouraging teachers to join Facebook learning communities​, so they can learn from colleagues and share ideas
  • Providing teachers with high-quality curricula and training them on how to use the differentiation strategies in their Teacher’s Editions (a perk that doesn’t come with free online resources and only researched-based texts, such as Sadlier’s.

Using ESSER Funding to Invest in School Curricula

The best way to help students get back on track and support teachers as they try to remediate learning loss is to provide instructors with high-quality curricula. One incredible perk of the ESSER Fund is that schools are able to invest in their schools’ curricula like never before. Use this as an opportunity to see what’s out there and find a program that not only fulfills the ESSER Fund requirements (Title I, Title II, and Title III) but that will also hugely impact students’ success.

When researching possible curricula to adopt, choose curricula that assists in…

  • Supporting the reopening of schools by providing resources for in-person, hybrid, and remote learning
  • Helping students catch up in their skills and prevent gaps in learning​ in the future
  • Addressing “unfinished learning” by improving academic instruction, including implementing evidence-based activities​
  • Using the resources for summer school and after school programs​
  • Monitoring student progress​
  • Administering high-quality assessments to determine academic needs​
  • Supporting staff and faculty in expertly designing and implementing education throughout the year

How This Investment Affects Students

Beyond the excitement of receiving funding and the possibility of adopting new curricula, our main focus should be on supporting our students. This year has been impossibly difficult for so many of our young pupils, and many others missed out on the structure, community, and stability that school provided in the past. We need to make sure that the choices we make with the ESSER funding, first and foremost, put students first. When deciding just how to use this funding, keep in mind…

  • We want students actively engaged in learning
  • We want to build resilient and lifelong learners​
  • Students’ social and emotional needs should come first​
  • When planning academic activities, students need to connect with others. They have been isolated for so long, and now it’s time for them to create collaborative assignments, participate in whole-class or small-group discussions, and share ideas with classmates.
  • Students will need to play a lot of catch up. Start with an assessment that pinpoints gaps in learning and targets areas of concern. If done right, students are going to feel successful right away because they will feel educators trying to connect with them at their level and address their individual needs.

How Sadlier’s Programs Can Help

This past year at Sadlier, we’ve watched the pandemic unfold and worried over the state of students’ learning and teachers’ well-being. Our main goal has always been to help teachers and administrators as they work to support their students. That’s why we’ve worked to provide resources that meet students’ needs, make teachers and administrators’ lives easier, and meet the ESSER Fund requirements.

As mentioned before, in order to address student learning loss, districts must spend 20% of their funds on improving academic instruction, including implementing evidence-based activities and supplemental programs. Since the ESSER Fund is designed to meet and address the needs outlined in Title I, Title II, and Title III, Sadlier has gone out of its way to document how our curricula does just that.

Our innovative, researched-based programs are designed to help teachers and students meet the needs of the 2021 educational world, including…

  • Integrating technology to provide learning that is adaptable to all environments: in-person, hybrid, or remote—since the ESSER Fund stipulates the importance of using technology in and outside of the classroom
  • Assessing student’s learning, monitoring their progress, and remediating learning loss
  • Supporting teachers on how to design, instruct, and scaffold lessons to meet the needs of all learners

Sadlier provides a huge wealth of programs that meet the ESSER requirements, including (but definitely not limited to) the three mentioned below.    

Full/Access English Language Arts and Progress English Language Arts

  • Full_access_PELA@2x-1This integrated program-specific solution helps educators assess and address individual student learning gaps at strategic points in the school year
  • Available in print and eBook formats
  • Provides Diagnostic Assessments
  • Provides data on whether students are below-, at-, or above-grade level for each standard
  • Shows how to analyze the data
  • Serves up a creative action plan with innovative resources
  • Also provides benchmark assessments to monitor student progress and address learning gaps throughout the year

From Phonics to Reading

Vocabulary Workshop Interactive Edition

  • 1848-4_VWTFE-IE_Gr8_09_@2XIs a tried-and-true Sadlier curriculum that increases comprehension by building academic and domain-specific vocabulary and essential word-learning strategies
  • Enhances students’ vocabulary through multiple exposures to words and their meanings in different contexts
  • Is available in print and interactive formats
  • Allows teachers to customize learning with features like assigning, auto scoring, and reporting​
  • Provides a variety of learning modalities​, online assessments, and differentiated instruction with leveled passages and audio support​

Sadlier offers so many more incredible resources beyond just those three—all of which fulfill the Title I, Title II, and Title III standards. To check out the rest, head over to Sadlier’s Title I and Cares Act page. 


In Summary

The pandemic took a huge toll on students’ learning, teachers’ morale, and the education system as a whole. Thanks to a historic amount of federal money allocated to education, hopefully some of the tangible and intangible damage from this past year can be repaired. Securing each school’s share of the Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund is one thing—deciding how to use this money is another thing altogether. However, if schools are purposeful with how to use their allocation (such as investing in high-quality, research-based curricula), they can both successfully meet the current needs of their students and faculty as well as plan and prepare for the future.




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