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.

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
Click here to read and download the full article.
Educator Story: Moving ELT courses online
Click here to read and download the full article.

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
Click here to read and download the full article.

Read how choosing aligned materials with a common set of objectives enabled better learner journeys and created a scalable approach.

Case Study: Rennert International
Click here to read and download the full article.
A Future Story: Case study from the CARIBE program.
Click here to read and download the full article.
A Future story: Helping students meet real-world goals
Click here to read and download the full article.
A Pearson solution story: Harvest Institute
Click here to read and download the full article.

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.

Exploring Engagement in ELT Teaching

Part I: Emotional Engagement

Exploring Engagement in ELT Teaching banner
By Christina Cavage

English language educators are bridge builders. We build bridges not only between people and their goals, but also between people. Language is all about connecting with others. When we learn a language, we are opening ourselves up to those personal connections.  Our entire field is centered around connecting and communication. If you are like me, you probably gave very little thought to that pre-COVID. But, how about in our COVID world? How can we build those bridges when there are walls, borders and oceans between us? As I am planning my course for the Spring term, I can’t help but reflect on how I can be that bridge builder. How can I connect my students to others when it’s challenging for us to connect? Or, when my old ways of engaging learners do not translate in this new medium? It’s important to define engagement in this new environment of remote instruction. What is it? Why is it so critical to student success? And, how can I build it? Before we look at how we can build engagement in our ELT classes during this new COVID age, let’s examine what engagement is.

What is Engagement?

Engagement in learning is about “the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism, and passion that students show when they are learning or being taught, which extends to the level of motivation they have to learn and progress in their education.” This engagement involves behavioral engagement—are our students participating? Are they working in groups effectively and efficiently? Then we have cognitive engagement—are they interacting with content and applying the new content? Are they developing autonomy? And, emotional or affective engagement—are they motivated? Do they see relevance in what is being studied? Are they comfortable in the learning environment?

Emotional Engagement

Now that our learning environments look quite differently, how can we build and assess engagement? Well, as ELT educators we are very cognizant of the importance of emotional engagement.  We know our students need to feel comfortable to take those language risks. We have spent a lot of time thinking and designing lessons that lower that affective filter– making students more comfortable in the classroom. Thinking of my old ways of teaching, this may have involved ice-breakers and small group or pair introductions. What does that look like today when I can’t easily pair students, or I have some students online and some face-to-face? How does that happen when we move to a digital or hybrid model of teaching?

Strategies to Build Emotional Engagement

It’s all about leveraging the tools we have. And, on the upside, there are many benefits.  Often times that ‘everyone is looking at me’ intimidation goes away in a virtual or digital environment, and students feel freer to share and engage.

Strategy #1: Build a Community Before Class Begins. If you are using an LMS, such as Canvas, Blackboard, Moodle or Google Classroom, consider posting a video of yourself describing your interests, expectations, etc. Ask your students to submit a video of their own. Then, begin class by asking follow-up questions, or noting individual interests. Pair students up by interest. Create a task where students ask targeted questions. “I saw you play soccer. How often do you play?” They can then introduce their partner to the class that extends upon what the video included.

Post a video introducing yourself
Post a video introducing yourself

Strategy #2: Hold a Coffee/Tea Hour. This should be an informal open house type of meeting where students can drop by virtually and ask questions about culture or language.

Strategy #3: Use Collaborative Tools. Consider using collaborative tools like Nearpod. The collaborative board within Nearpod allows learners to share their ideas, see everyone’s ideas and even like one another’s ideas.

Collaborate! activity in the Nearpod platform
Collaborate! activity in the Nearpod platform

Strategy #4: Think-Pair-Share/Zoom. Rather than immediately putting students in a breakout room, and giving them tasks, give students time to think. Model what you expect to happen in the breakout room. Assign pairs via Zoom breakout rooms and have them share in their rooms. Providing students time before you open breakout rooms, allows for students to better use their pair time, and be on task while in the breakout room.

Strategy #5: Races. Students love competition whether online or face-to-face. These races can also serve as great formative assessments. Consider grammar. Create a Powerpoint with common errors, then have students race to type in the correct answers. Or, if teaching vocabulary, put a sentence up with a missing vocabulary word. Provide students choices (A, B, C) and then have them type in the correct choice. For quick formative assessments, have students use the thumbs up or other reaction tool to indicate if something is correct or not. My favorite is the Time to Climb in Nearpod. Students can choose their avatar and you set the time limit. Students answer questions and race up a hill. They are awarded points by both their correct answer and how fast they answer. These races build community and you will find students ‘talking’ about these races for weeks to come.

In summary, moving learning online isn’t easy. It takes thoughtful planning and careful execution. However, there are numerous tools out there that can help build that engagement. Well-planned digital and hybrid lessons can even be more emotionally engaging to students today. Stay tuned for next month when we will look at strategies to build behavioral engagement.

References:

Student Engagement Definition. (2016, February 18). Retrieved January 05, 2021, from https://www.edglossary.org/student-engagement/


Christina Cavage is the Curriculum and Assessment Manager at University of Central Florida. She has trained numerous teachers all over the world in using digital technologies to enhance and extend learning. She has authored over a dozen ELT textbooks, including University Success, Oral Communication, Transition Level, Advanced Level, Intermediate Level and A2. Recently, Ms. Cavage completed grammar and academic vocabulary curriculum for the new Pearson English Content Library Powered by Nearpod, which is now available. Learn more here.

Bring Grammar to Life with Pearson Modular Grammar Powered by Nearpod

Christina Cavage
By Christina Cavage

We are constantly seeking out ways to engage our students, especially during these unprecedented times. Whether your students are sitting in the classroom with you, or joining your class remotely, you are probably contemplating how you can increase learner activity and engagement. Teaching grammar in an interactive, hands-on manner has consistently been a challenge for many of us.

How can we make it come alive?

How can we get students to move beyond the drill and kill type of approach many have grown accustomed to?

How can we appeal to today’s learners who are often more connected to their mobile devices than they are to the classroom? 

Well, if you have been following along, you are probably pretty aware of what Pearson Modular Grammar Course Powered by Nearpod is, and what a powerful tool it can be. It not only presents grammar in an interactive, engaging manner, but appeals to today’s learners by delivering instruction to them via their mobile devices…hands on learning for today’s learners.

Pearson Modular Grammar Course Powered by Nearpod

Pearson Modular Grammar Course Powered by Nearpod is a library of lessons on the most critical grammar structures. It includes instruction and engaging practices, allowing you to fill in the gaps in your grammar instruction. But, what makes it so engaging? Well, the platform, built by Nearpod, includes several exercise types that serve as great practices, assessments and engagement tools. Let’s take a look at some of these exercises.

Collaborate! activity
Collaborate! Activity

First, we have the Collaborate! activity. This is a collaboration board that allows students to ‘post’ their ideas for everyone to see. These types of tasks are great for assessing background knowledge, starting a discussion, checking what students know, and reviewing homework. Students can read one another’s posts, and even like one another’s posts.

Matching
Matching Activity

Another great activity type is Matching. With the matching activity, students can match pictures to text and text to text. This exercise is great for matching sentence halves, questions and answers, and vocabulary terms.

Draw It Activity

Next, we have Draw It! Draw Its allow students to interact with content. They can do so by drawing with their finger, perhaps circling, underlining, or even writing. Different colors can be chosen, and students even have the option to type rather than use their finger. Draw Its are great for getting students to notice the grammar. Asking them to identify structures, or functions in context can help them see the grammar come alive while interacting with it directly. As the teacher, you can see how each student interacted with the grammar. This can be a great resource for conferencing with students.

Video
Interactive Video

One of the most engaging tools is the Interactive Video. The interactive video allows students to receive a video lesson, and during that short micro-lesson, there are quick checkpoints to assess a student’s understanding. Open-ended or multiple choice questions can be asked throughout the video. Having students watch short videos to learn, and then having checkpoints can really do a lot to get students engaged in the lesson being presented.

There are several other great activities as well: polls, open-ended questions, quizzes and races, like the Time to Climb, and those are highlighted below. As you can see, there is a lot to the Pearson Modular Grammar Course Powered by Nearpod. It can supplement your instruction, and make grammar truly come to life by engaging students in a wide variety of ways.

Exercise Type What it is How it is used for engagement?
Collaboration Board Allows all users to post their ideas; like others’ ideas; text or images Engage on-site and distance students; hear others’ ideas; social learning
Draw It Students can underline, circle, draw, write or type Engage with content, interact with content
Polls Quick checks of thoughts, ideas or formative assessment; can be timed Allows everyone to see what others are thinking
Open-Ended Question Allows students to write multiple sentences; can be timed Share writing; ideas; review homework
Matching Match pictures to text, text to text; can be timed Ideal for vocabulary, sentence halves, question and answers
Fill in the Blanks Sentence completion, vocabulary or grammar in context; can be timed Great for application of new skills
Time to Climb Students ‘race’ one another; ideal for formative assessment or review; can be timed Gamification; competition
Quizzes Multiple choice for formative and summative assessment Assess in a fun, interactive way
Interactive Video Video with checkpoints to assess microlearning Keep students engaged in learning new content

To learn more about the Pearson Modular Grammar Course Powered by Nearpod, visit pearsoneltusa.com/nearpod. We also encourage you to watch the recorded webinars with Christina Cavage to learn more about this great program. You can view our webinars here.