Navigating the Covid-19 Relief: CARES Act and CRRSAA Funding for K-12, Higher Education, and Adult Education

Research conducted by Barry Katzen.

Online teaching

The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 (CRRSAA) was signed into law on December 27, 2020. It was the second round of Federal Covid Relief, following the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was signed into law on March 27, 2020.

This report aims at unpacking the CARES Act and CRRSAA, highlighting specific elements of the law, and understanding what it means for K-12, adult, and higher education, specifically in relation to English language learning and technology.

We also want to renew our commitment to supporting educators in navigating the “new normal” of remote teaching and providing the best solutions that will not only engage students in learning but also ensure they progress and reach desired outcomes and milestones.

Overview and Funding Amounts

CARES Act

On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law. The funding includes an Education Stabilization Fund totaling $30.75 billion. The breakdown in funding is as follows:

  • The Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER Fund) received 9.8% of the funding, or $2,953,230,00.
  • The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER I Fund) received 43.9% of the funding, or $13,229,265,000.
  •  The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) received 46.3% of the funding, or $13,952,505,000.

The GEER funds are distributed to governors to be spent as seen fit to meet the needs of students and schools (K-12, colleges/universities, and other education-related entities).

ESSER funds go directly to State Education Agencies (SEAs) based on Title 1 proportions.

HEERF funds go directly to colleges and universities (Institutions of Higher Education – IHEs) based on formulas described in the Higher Education section below.

CRRSAA

On December 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 (CRRSAA) was signed into law. The stimulus package includes an additional $81.88 billion for the Education Stabilization Fund, with dollars available through September 30, 2022. There is a  set-aside of 1% evenly split between the outlying areas (such as Guam and the US Virgin Islands) and the Bureau of Indian Education.

The remaining $81,061,200,000 is again split among three funds:

  • GEER receives 5% of the funding, or $4,053,060,000.
  • ESSER II receives 67% of the funding, or $54,311,004,000.
  • HEERF II receives 28% of the funding, or $22,697,136,000.

This chart summarizes the funding components:

Funding components of the Covid relief

K-12 (and Adult Ed Programs Run at K-12 Facilities)

The Education Department awards the K-12 grants ­to State Education Agencies (SEAs) for the purpose of providing Local Education Agencies (LEAs) – including charter schools that are LEAs – with emergency relief funds to address the impact that Covid-19 has had, and continues to have, on elementary and secondary schools across the nation.

ESSER and ESSER II funds were awarded to states based on the proportion of funding each state received under Part A of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended in fiscal year 2020.

There is a maintenance of effort requirement for the GEER and ESSER funds. To receive funding, a state must provide assurances that it will maintain support for elementary and secondary education and for higher education for fiscal 2022 at a level of spending at least proportional to overall state spending averaged over fiscal years 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Allowable Activities

ESSER and ESSER II provide district leaders with broad authority over both the targeting of funds to specific schools and the use of funds more broadly.

LEAs may use their funds for any of the following categories depending on local needs (note: text in bold emphasizes categories that are specifically related to English language learning):

Any activity allowed under the “Every Student Succeeds Act” (ESSA) Including Title I-A, Title I-C (Migrant Education), Title I-D (Neglected and Delinquent Students), Title II-A, Title III-A (English Language Learners), Title IV-A, Title IV-B 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Title V-B REAP (SRSA and RLIS), Title VI-A (Indian Education), Title VII (Impact Aid)

Any activity allowed under the following federal education acts:

  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
  • Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins Act)
  • McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Act
  • Adult Education and Family Literacy Act
  • Native Hawaiian Education Act and the Alaska Native Educational Equity, Support, and Assistance Act

The ESSER II guidelines added the following allowable activities:

Addressing learning loss among students, including low-income students, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and children and youth in foster care, of the local education agency, including by—

  • Administering and using high-quality assessments that are valid and reliable, to accurately assess students’ academic progress and assist educators in meeting 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
  • Tracking student attendance and improving student engagement in distance education.

The chart below summarizes all allowable activities – note the relevant activities that are circled:

  • activities authorized under the Adult Family and Literacy Act;
  • activities to address the unique needs of English learners;
  • purchasing education technology for students;
  • providing online learning;
  • Implementing summer learning and after school programs.
Full set of allowable activities.
Source: https://www.wallacefoundation.org/news-and-media/blog/pages/the-cares-act.aspx

Adult Education

The following are relevant examples of allowable activities relating to Adult Education in K-12 districts, in particular activities allowable under the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act:

  • Family literacy activities that include the four required components
  • High school equivalency preparation for students ages 17+ who are not currently enrolled in secondary school
  • Materials/Supplies in support of adult education services
  • Software/Technology in support of adult education services
  • Professional development for adult education instructors

GEER Funds

According to the Hunt Institute, some governors are using the GEER funds for K-12 activities that are specifically relevant to English language learning. For example, thirty-five governors are designating GEERF money for curriculum and teacher training to deliver remote learning. Oklahoma has established grants to families for tutoring and online curriculum as well as expanded its virtual AP offerings. Missouri is developing training for educators that will “address the technical and instructional expertise” needed for remote teaching. This training will include the unique needs of students with disabilities, English language learners, economically disadvantaged students, and students from racial and ethnic minorities. See details at https://hunt-institute.org/covid-19-resources/geer-fund-utilization/

Application Process

Only State Education Agencies (SEAs) in the 50 States, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia apply directly to the Department for ESSER funds. School districts (LEAs) must apply to the relevant SEA. Every SEA must use at least 90% of its ESSER Fund grant to make subgrants to LEAs by formula based on FY 2019 Title I, Part A allocations.

The National Conference of State Legislatures has developed a very useful Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund Tracker which provides (a) links for LEAs to apply for funding (subgrants) in each state, (b) ESSER I and ESSER II allocations to each state, and (c) plans announced by each state’s SEA.

ESSER funds are available through September 30, 2022; the SEA deadline for awarding funds is May 2021.

ESSER II funds are available through September 30, 2023; the SEA deadline for awarding funds is January 2022.

This diagram shows the timeline for using ESSER funds from the CARES Act (ESSER I):

Time for using ESSER funds from the CARES Act

The following chart illustrates the timeline for ESSER II funds:

The timeline of ESSER II funds

Associated Documentation for K-12

This chart provides an overview of the CARES Act ESSER funds allocated to each state:

ESSER-Fund-State-Allocations-Table.pdf

See this chart for an overview of the ESSER II funds allocated to each state: Final_ESSERII_Methodology_Table_1.5.21.pdf

Higher Education

HEERF grants are allotted directly to Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs). Institutions are required to provide at least 50% as emergency aid to students, as was required by the CARES Act. Institutions with approved applications from the CARES distribution are not required to submit a new or revised application.

Under the CARES Act, 90% of HEERF grants ($12,557,254,500) were allocated to institutions based on the proportion of two student populations compared with those student population totals nationwide before the onset of the pandemic, weighted as follows:

  • 75% for full-time-equivalent Pell students not in distance education only
  • 25% for full-time-equivalent non-Pell students not in distance education only

HEERF II uses a different formula for allocating funds to public and private nonprofit institutions. The formula below accounts for both full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment and headcount — a change from the CARES Act formula, which only factored in full-time enrollment.

  • 37.5% based on FTE enrollment of Pell recipients who were not exclusively enrolled in distance education courses prior to the qualifying emergency;
  • 37.5% based on headcount enrollment of Pell recipients who were not exclusively enrolled in distance education courses prior to the qualifying emergency;
  • 11.5% based on FTE enrollment of non-Pell recipients who were not exclusively enrolled in distance education courses prior to the qualifying emergency;
  • 11.5% based on headcount enrollment of non-Pell recipients who were not exclusively enrolled in distance education courses prior to the qualifying emergency;
  • 1% based on FTE enrollment of Pell recipients who were exclusively enrolled in distance education courses prior to the qualifying emergency; and
  • 1% based on headcount of Pell recipients who were exclusively enrolled in distance education courses prior to the qualifying emergency.

IHEs have one calendar year from the date of their award to expend funds unless the institution receives a no-cost extension.

Allowable Activities

Colleges have more flexibility in how they can use HEERF II funds than they did under the CARES Act. These expanded allowable activities apply both to new funds distributed under the omnibus bill and any unspent CARES Act funds. Institutions are still required to spend at least 50% of any unspent CARES Act funds on emergency student aid.

Colleges and universities can use the HEERF II funds to:

  • Defray expenses associated with Covid (including lost revenue, reimbursement for expenses already incurred, technology (hardware and software) costs associated with a transition to distance education, faculty and staff trainings, and payroll);
  • Carry out student support activities authorized by the HEA that address needs related to Covid; or
  • Provide financial aid grants to students (including students exclusively enrolled in distance education), which may be used for any component of the student’s cost of attendance or for emergency costs that arise due to Covid, such as tuition, food, housing, health care (including mental health care), or child care. Note that this financial aid can be used for emergency grants to help students meet urgent needs, such as technology.

In both the CARES Act (HEERF) and in CRRSAA (HEERF II), 7.5% of the HEERF total funding is reserved for Historically Black Colleges & Universities and other Minority-Serving Institutions. (NOTE: Minority-Serving Institutions include institutions that would be eligible to participate in the following programs: Predominantly Black Institutions, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions, Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions, Native American-Serving Nontribal Institutions, Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program, and Promoting Postbaccalaureate Opportunities for Hispanic Americans.)

Application Process

The Education Department extended the application deadline for HEERF I grants under the CARES Act until September 30, 2020. Applications are no longer being accepted for HEERF I funds.

For institutions that received HEERF I funds, applications are not required to receive supplemental awards under HEERF II.

Public and nonprofit Institutions that did not previously receive CARES Act funding must submit their applications for the CRRSAA student aid portion and institutional portion of Section 314(a)(1) funds by April 15, 2021. (See detailed information at https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/crrsaa.html )

All HEERF grants must be spent by September 30, 2022.

All HEERF II grants must be spent by September 30, 2023.

Associated Documentation

See this site for state-by-state information on CARES Act funds awarded to LEAs and colleges/universities: https://covid-relief-data.ed.gov/

See this file, which shows the CARES Act (HEERF) allocations to colleges and universities. Also see this file, which shows the CRRSAA (HEERF II) allocations to colleges and universities.

Supporting English Language Learners in the Time of Covid-19

Due to school closures, many English language learners lost opportunities to learn and practice their new language, and programs have struggled to create a rich and engaging environment for their students. Pearson’s commitment to providing the best solutions for English language learners of all ages is unwavering. From top-notch English language materials and digital platforms and resources to teacher support and guidance, we are excited to partner with schools and programs to ensure that learning continues despite recent disruptions.

We have materials and solutions that delight and engage learners, work well in the online or hybrid setting, and can help you address the needs of your learners and ensure they progress on their path to full proficiency.

Reach out to us for more details and product demos. Locate your specialist here.

Visit our Covid-19 support site where you can find resources for moving instruction online.

Leveraging the Transfer in Transferable Skills

By Lia Olson, Ph.D.

There is no question that teaching transferable skills can be powerful. In many ways, it is the cape we don to prepare our diverse adult learners to meet the varied needs and goals that will make them successful in any endeavor they pursue. After all, the skills they are learning are transferable.

We know there is truth to this, despite my hyperbole. According to The National Research Council in its synthesis of the literature on the subject of transferable skills, “Business leaders, educational organizations, and researchers have begun to call for new education policies that target the development of broad, transferable skills and knowledge” (2012).

We have responded to that call. First, we adopted College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education (2013) and purchased quality instructional resources to promote rigorous learning. Then we combed our textbooks, googled “transferable skills lists,” and read the WIOA legislation (2014) cover to cover to discover the identity of those transferable skills that would pack the most punch. We added them to our curriculum, our daily lessons, our learning goals, our learning tasks, and our assessments. Finally, our learners have been practicing them in class and even mastering them on our assessments.

Yet, our lamentation still rings out: “Why don’t my students apply what they have learned?” This lamentation clearly puts the ownness on the students, for we know we have done about everything we could do. And, after all, according to our assessments many of them learned it. But…(long pause here)…did they learn it?

The lists we consult, the learning goals we outline, the tasks we design focus on the skills in transferable skills. Indeed, this is a crucial element. But, isn’t its modifier equally crucial? The National Research Council (2012) states that learning that is transferable must “include both [emphasis added] knowledge in a domain and [emphasis added] knowledge of how, why, and when to apply this knowledge to answer questions and solve problems.” In other words, transferable skills must transfer.

The idea of transfer

So, what is transfer? We know what it looks like in everyday life: we transfer money from one account to the other, we transfer from one bus to another, one job to another, and one customer service rep to another and another and another.  In every instance, we are called upon to use what we know about the first situation, how it is connected to the next, and how to use what we already know when we get there. This transfer is successful, according to the National Reacher Council (2012), when the “ability to recognize familiar elements in novel problems allows them [expert learners] to apply (or transfer) their knowledge to solve such problems.”

If they are not practicing transfer, they are just learning skills

According to the National Research Council, that transfer becomes possible “when effective instructional methods are used.” What are these “effective instructional methods”? Many of them we are already using. We are already teaching the knowledge and skills in rigorous ways to engage our learners in productive struggle. Yet, we can teach our learners transferable skills all day long, but if they are not practicing transfer, then they are just learning skills. By the same token, we can teach any skill and make it transferable when our learners practice transfer!

So, what does it mean to “teach” transfer?  Let’s look for guidance from two gurus of the constructivist theory, the theorist Jerome Bruner and the philosopher John Dewey (p. 137).

Teaching specific topics or skills without making clear their context in the broader fundamental structure of a field of knowledge is uneconomical.  ~Bruner (1960)

To grasp the meaning of a thing, an event, or a situation is to see it in its relations to other things: to see how it operates or functions, what consequences follow from it, what causes it, what uses it can be put to.  ~Dewey (1933)

Creating a formula for transfer from their combined wisdom could, then, look like this:

Formula for transfer
Formula for transfer

In some ways, we already do this. We have tasks to activate prior knowledge, application tasks, and expansion activities. But are we leveraging them to focus on transfer? How often have we shortened or skipped one for the sake of time? Do these tasks transfer the learning to multiple contexts, or better yet, contexts of the learners’ choosing? We are still largely driven by the content we need to cover, and our students are still largely assessed on what they learn within one context.

Leveraging transfer

Leveraging transfer takes a paradigm shift in our thinking about instruction and instructional planning. No longer are we satisfied with a focus on knowledge and skills if it does not include an emphasis on transfer. In this way, we make time for transfer by including learning tasks that allow students to contextualize the content they are learning in multiple ways, make connections between the content and other content, and apply the content to multiple situations.

How do we do this? The good news is there are already many tried-and-true tasks we can leverage to maximize student practice in transferring knowledge and skills. Here are some examples:

KWL+

The KWL chart, sometimes with the addition of the plus, is an activity to effectively support and evaluate student learning from the start of a lesson to its finish.

KWL+ chart
KWL+ Chart
  • The K can meaningfully extract the prior knowledge students have, not just about the topic at hand but about other topics that relate to it or are relevant to them.
    • What other things do you know that can help you understand this topic/learn this skill?
    • What learning have we done that will help you learn about this topic/learn this skill?
  • The W can include a question starter that helps students connect the current learning to other relevant areas in the lives.
    • How does this information/skill apply to __?
    • How will this information/skill help me ___?
  • The L can maintain its context-dependent stance to focus on the objectives of the lesson within the context to set the stage for greater transfer.
  • The + column can be expanded to include how the topic/skill relates to learners’ goals, needs, and interests.
    • How do I apply this knowledge/skill to __?
    • How do I use this knowledge/skill to __?

Activate Prior Knowledge

Often lessons begin with a discussion or prompt to help students connect the new learning with what they already know. Adding the K questions from the KWL+ chart above leverages this activity to include other knowledge and skills (including learning strategies) that students can connect to as they begin the lesson.

Venn Diagram

The Venn diagram is used to explore connections between things, specifically how they compare and contrast. Strategic placement of a Venn diagram task in the lesson allows learners to explore the connections between and among contexts by identifying the knowledge and skills they have in common and considering how those knowledge and skills would be used in other context(s).

Venn Diagram
Venn Diagram

Brainstorm

Who hasn’t done a brainstorm? What about one that specifically asks where else learners can use the new knowledge or skill?  This activity can be done before the learning to get buy-in and show relevance or after the learning as a way for students to reflect on how the learning can transfer to other areas of their lives.

Brainstorming graphic
Brainstorm

Expansion

We plan for expansion activities all the time. Often, they are the task that gets cut when we run out of time. In addition, they often don’t expand beyond the context at hand. Instead, learners apply the learning to a new situation within the same context. Leverage expansion activities to move students beyond the current context to explore other contexts that are directly relevant to them. Students can choose the context and discuss how the new learning would transfer. What knowledge and skills could they use in that context? How could they use them? What adaptations would they make to what they learned to fit this new context?

Exit ticket

One common closure activity is the exit ticket. This can take the form of written or oral answers to 1 – 3 summary questions; a think-pair-share where students think of one thing they learned in class, pair to talk about it with a peer, and then share out with the class; or a turn-and-talk partner exchange to summarize the learning of the day. Including a question around where and/or how students are going to transfer the learning from the lesson means that students leave the classroom with transfer at the forefront of their thoughts, just when they need it the most.

The heart of the matter is that without transfer, transferable skills are just skills. They only become magical when we create the opportunity for transfer.  When our lessons brim with the lively exploration of concepts, connections, and contexts then, just maybe, the cape fits…and we should wear it. After all, we and our learners are up against a lot. We need all the leverage we can get!

References

Bruner, J. (1960). The process of education. Cambridge, MA:  Harvard University Press.

Dewey, J. (1933). How we think: A restatement of the relation of reflective thinking to the educative process. Boston: Henry Holt.

National Research Council. (2012). Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/13398.


Lia Olson, Ph.D., has served as an ESOL classroom teacher, professional developer, curriculum design specialist, author, and consultant. She has taught adult learners for more than 20 years at St. Paul Public Schools Adult Education. In addition, she is an adjunct professor for the Teaching English as a Foreign Language program and Adult Basic Education licensure program at Hamline University. As a curriculum design expert, Dr. Olson has developed curricula and teaching materials for ESOL students at all levels that integrate English language acquisition with numeracy, technology, and work-readiness skills.

Pearson English materials: Case studies

Find out some of the many ways that schools ensure their students’ success by exploring our case studies. As our efficacy and evidence-based library grows, we’ll be adding more case studies to this page, so please check back often.

Case Study: Using Versant to ensure teachers' language proficiency
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Educator Story: Moving ELT courses online
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Read how the American Language Institute affiliated to the University of Toledo implemented Pearson’s NorthStar with MyEnglishLab, Versant English Placement Test, and the Global Scale of English (GSE) and how it benefited their instructors and students in a variety of ways.

An educator story: Implementing multiple Pearson solutions
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Read how choosing aligned materials with a common set of objectives enabled better learner journeys and created a scalable approach.

Case Study: Rennert International
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A Future Story: Case study from the CARIBE program.
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A Future story: Helping students meet real-world goals
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A Pearson solution story: Harvest Institute
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Useful tips for your English classes

Browse the resources below to find some useful tips and resources for your English classes.

As our library of useful tips and articles grows, we’ll be adding to this page, so be sure to check it often.

Addressing the 4Cs with online learning
Click here to read and download the full article.
Priming the brain for teaching and learning: Mindfulness goes to the classroom
Click here to read and download the full article.
Reimagining student engagement in distance learning
Click here to read and download the full article.
How to find free grammar resources using the teacher toolkit
Click here to read and download the full article.

Future, 2E: Making remote teaching and learning easier

Make remote learning easier with Future

After making the emergency transition from face-to-face to remote instruction last spring, many programs continue distance learning as the pandemic keeps its grip on the world. Remote instruction poses many unique challenges for English language programs. These challenges include how to encourage student engagement, promote interactive communication practice, balance synchronous and asynchronous learning, build a classroom community virtually, and deliver remote instruction that is effective on a range of student devices.

With the new edition of Future, teachers can engage, support, and challenge their adult learners at a distance by leveraging the program’s considerable digital and print resources. Future not only prepares learners to meet their life, career, and educational goals, but it also helps instructors deliver high-quality engaging lessons remotely, both synchronously and asynchronously.

It all begins with the Pearson English Portal – a powerful platform that delivers Future digital resources to instructors and students, such as MyEnglishLab, eBooks, and the ActiveTeach. With these digital resources, you can transition your Future course online and ensure your students have the resources they need to continue learning.

This handy toolkit offers tips and suggestions for teaching remotely with Future, 2E.

Future eBooks

Reader+ eBook
Reader+

Students don’t have their books? No problem! For studying on-the-go, the Future eBooks are the perfect solution. Delivered on the Reader+ platform, the eBooks can be accessed on a computer, tablet, or smart phone. The Reader+ application allows students to read and interact with rich digital content and multimedia assets through highlighting, annotating and many other study and reading tools. Users can store all their eBooks and notes in one place and access them at any time, as all of their content gets synced across multiple devices. Designed with offline capabilities, Reader+ offers a perfect solution for areas with low bandwidth or unreliable Internet access.

The eBooks are also a perfect resource for synchronous instruction in a remote setting. Teachers can share pages from the eBook using Zoom capabilities (or other web conferencing platforms) and use multiple tools to zoom in, highlight, add text, and play the class audio.

The Reader+ app can be downloaded from the app store.

MyEnglishLab

MyEnglishLab
MyEnglishLab

MyEnglishLab is an easy-to-use learning management platform that delivers additional Future course content digitally. MyEnglishLab is an excellent resource for asynchronous instruction, delivering engaging exercises, videos, and tests in one place. Students can practice each lesson’s content in an interactive environment with instant feedback and tips to scaffold their learning. Teacher can take advantage of the MyEnglishLab platform to assign homework, monitor performance, and pinpoint areas for improvement.

Using MyEnglishLab

ActiveTeach

ActiveTeach
ActiveTeach

The ActiveTeach is an offline tool that delivers student book pages, audio, video, additional activities, and teacher resources. You can use ActiveTeach with Zoom or other web conferencing platforms to share the Future book pages with your students. In the classroom, it can be used a computer and projector or with an interactive whiteboard to bring the book to life. With ActiveTeach you can zoom in, zoom out, and focus on specific activities. You can annotate pages, embed links, and attach files. You also have access to full class audio, printable worksheets, interactive exercises, assessment activities, tests and interactive whiteboard tools. The ActiveTeach for Future comes as a downloadable zip file within your course on the Pearson English Portal.

Watch this video to learn how to install and use the Future ActiveTeach

Pearson Practice English App

Pearson Practice English app
Pearson Practice English app

The Pearson Practice English app is a mobile app that delivers Future audio and video resources on smart phones. Students and teachers can easily access their course resources anytime, anywhere. The app can be downloaded from the app store and unlocked with the same Pearson English Portal login and password.

Additional Teacher Resources

Teachers can feel fully supported with Future teacher resources. Available on the Pearson English Portal, these resources include additional worksheets, Teacher’s Edition pages, robust assessments, standards correlation documents, and more.

Watch this video to learn more about how to access all the available teacher resources for Future.


To learn more about Future, access additional videos and resources, please visit our Future catalog page.

Our team is dedicated to helping you achieve success with Future, 2E. If you would like us to help you get started, please contact your dedicated Pearson ELT Specialist at pearsoneltusa.com/reps.