Department of Education receives details on how to spend ARP money

The Tennessee Department of Education has received approval from the U.S. Department of Education on Tennessee’s American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief state plan, which lays out the state’s spending strategy for its portion of federal COVID-19 relief and stimulus funding to benefit K-12 education in Tennessee.

Tennessee’s goal is to accelerate academic achievement for all students, and Tennessee’s ARP ESSER state plan outlines spending strategies, including grant opportunities and resources, that the department will provide to support districts, schools, teachers, students, and families. The U.S. Department of Education highlighted Tennessee’s plan for safely reopening schools, addressing the academic impact of lost instructional time, investing in summer learning and afterschool programs, and community engagement and consultation. Priorities within the state plan include combatting existing gaps in student achievement and opportunity, addressing the needs of rural communities, improving early literacy, and accelerating student academic achievement across the state.

Beginning in 2020, the U.S. Congress responded to the global COVID-19 health pandemic by passing several pieces of legislation to send an historic influx of federal stimulus funding to states. Between four major sources of federal relief and stimulus funding, Tennessee will benefit from almost $4.2 billion for K-12 education specifically, to be spent between spring 2020 and fall 2024.

In May, the Tennessee Department of Education shared the overall spending strategy for the state’s portion of the federal COVID-19 relief and economic stimulus funding, including planned investments for the following:

*ACADEMICS: All Tennessee students will have access to a high-quality education by learning to read and reading to learn with high-quality materials.
-$120.7M for the Tennessee Literacy Success Act and Reading 360
-$170.5M for the Tennessee Learning Loss and Student Acceleration Act including the statewide TN ALL Corps tutoring initiative as well as summer learning camps and bridge camps
-$35M to support the statewide 2022-23 math textbook adoption process
-$32M for teaching and learning online resources and improvements for school districts

*STUDENT READINESS: Tennessee schools will be equipped to serve the academic and non-academic needs of all students by developing robust career pathway opportunities and connecting students to real-time support.
-$32.6M for Innovative High Schools and Advanced Courses
-$17.8M for mental health supports
-$56.5M for K-12 open-source readiness coursework and statewide professional development

*EDUCATORS: Tennessee will set a new path for the education profession by becoming a teacher for free.
-$21M in programs to support the educator pipeline, including the department’s Grow Your Own program

Like the state agency, districts are required to develop plans that outline local spending strategies for their portion of federal funding. District plans are due to the Tennessee Department of Education on August 27, 2021 for review and approval, and district plans are required to be posted publicly upon approval.