Supporting New Educators and the Educator Pipeline with ESSR and ARP Funds
originally published OCTOBER 2021
As states continue navigating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government allocated the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Programs (ESSER) and American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds to local education agencies to respond to emergent needs in schools and communities. The following information can serve as a guide for districts, community schools and stakeholders as they make local decisions regarding how to direct ESSR and ARP funds to programs and initiatives.
Impact on Educators
The pandemic interrupted local “grow your own” programs and created additional barriers that exacerbated the shortage of recruiting and hiring qualified credentialed educators. The U.S. Department of Education supports local education agencies’ use of ESSER and ARP funds to plan or support existing programs and initiatives that restabilize and diversify the educator workforce, including rebuilding the educator pipeline.
Identifying the Needs and Building the Plan
Local education agencies are required to submit plans for the use of ESSER ARP funds to the Ohio Department of Education. A first step in the planning process is to identify needs using the One Needs Assessment. Districts can then build a plan with a broad range of stakeholders as part of the ED STEPS process
As part of the planning process, local education agencies are encouraged to analyze local data that can help identify the areas in which new credentialed educators (teachers, principals, paraprofessionals) need continued support and/or mentoring. Data also should be collected and analyzed to determine projected gaps in current or future recruitment and hiring of credentialed and certified staff. Much of this data has already been collected and analyzed by local resident educator program coordinators, human resource managers, superintendents, school treasurers, Education Management Information System coordinators and others.
The ESSER and ARP funds may be used to coordinate the collection of these data in one global report and to then reanalyze the data considering changes brought on or exacerbated by the pandemic. Local education agencies are encouraged to reexamine their data through a new lens that may include changes in districts’ student projected in-migration or out-migration, or other factors unique or new to the district that impact past projections for the recruitment and hiring of credentialed and certified staff.
General Funding Considerations and Practical Advice
The ESSER/ARP federal funds are one-time investments that should be managed carefully. These funds generally should not be used to provide on-going services, as such service may have to be abruptly terminated when federal funds expire. Rather, the funds should be used for one-time or short-duration intensive supports that address the education disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic or that otherwise build the capacity of the system to operate effectively or meaningfully for students. More information on using ESSER ARP funds may be found in the comprehensive ESSER ARP guidance
created by the Ohio Department of Education.
In general, when determining strategies for spending the ESSER I, ESSER II and ESSER ARP funds, local education agencies should consider the following five questions:
- Will the proposed use of funds “prevent, prepare for and respond to COVID-19”?
- Is the proposed use of funds an allowable use of funds under the Coronavirus Aid, Resources and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act and/or the American Rescue Plan (ARP)? A list of ESSER ARP allowable activities is on the Department’s website.
- Is the proposed use of funds reasonable and necessary?
- Does the proposed use of funds promote equity?
- Does the proposed use of funds support returning students to the classroom?
Strategies for Funding Supports for New Educators and “Grow Your Own” Programs
ESSER and ARP funds should be used broadly to support new educators and local “grow your own" programs. Training opportunities for mentors and coaches, reconceptualizing the resident educator program, developing a new principal program and/or strengthening support for new paraprofessionals and reviewing and updating procedures and policies of these programs could all be considered as having a positive impact on student achievement. Local education agencies may propose gathering data through surveys or other meaningful data collection methods that would provide evidence for the need of these programs and the impact they have on students. “Grow your own" programs for paraprofessionals, teachers and/or principals may also be supported by these funds. Developing a long-term plan with how to grow a diverse educator pipeline may also be considered for funding.
Below are examples of how local education agencies can direct their funds to address these types of programs and initiatives:
- Create a Local Teacher Residency Program:
- Recovery funds can be used to develop and offer start-up support for a local teacher residency program for teacher candidates currently enrolled in college teacher education programs. Use of funds for this type of program must be consistent with allowable uses through ESEA;
- Local education agencies partner with an Ohio college teacher preparation program to develop the curriculum for a high-quality residency characterized by features such as yearlong comprehensive clinical experiences tightly linked to coursework, candidate financial support and a commitment made by the candidate to teach in the district for a predetermined specified period after being fully licensed; and
- As a final deliverable, local education agencies in partnership with a college teacher preparation program create a Memorandum of Agreement that commits the local education agency and institute of higher education to support one or more teacher candidates for at least one year of preservice training in the district schools, including offering the candidate multiple opportunities to teach in their licensure subject-area. At the conclusion of the residency, the local education agency will offer the candidate an opportunity to interview for open positions in the district.
- Reconceptualize the Local Resident Educator Program:
- Recovery funds can be used to review the four-year resident educator program and develop the processes, procedures and policies to transition to the new two-year resident educator program by fall of 2023. Use of funds for this type of program must be consistent with allowable uses through ESEA.
- Local education agencies work through a district leadership team, including the superintendent, to create a workgroup of administrators and teachers who are familiar with the district’s resident educator program. The workgroup members may want to gather data on their local program from current and former resident educators, program coordinators, program mentors, program facilitators and building principals. Once a workgroup has gathered feedback about its local program, the workgroup may choose to review the Ohio Resident Educator Program Standards along with the Ohio Resident Educator Mentor Standards. Using these standards, the workgroup can do a crosswalk or alignment of their local resident educator program components to identify strengths in its local program and gaps that may need the workgroup’s attention. Many districts also have included language about their resident educator program in their negotiated agreements/contracts that may need to be reviewed and possibly revised.
- As a final deliverable, the workgroups may propose a new local two-year resident educator program that includes two years of mentoring and counseling for new teachers, and support to complete the Resident Educator Summative Assessment (RESA). The workgroups may also suggest written policies and procedures related to the resident educator program to be adopted by the local board of education.
- Develop a Local New Principal Support Program:
- Recovery funds can be used to develop a local new principal support program for new principals and assistant principals in the district. A new support program, or mentoring program, would entail the development of processes, procedures and policies that align with the Ohio Principal Standards and the needs of the district. Use of funds for this type of program must be consistent with allowable uses through ESEA.
- Local education agencies work through a district leadership team, including the superintendent, to create a workgroup of teachers, principals and other school leaders who are familiar with the district leadership team’s processes. The workgroup members may want to gather data on any existing local program that supports and mentors new principals, including assistant principals. The workgroup members may want to conduct a survey, focus group or interview of teachers, principals and other school leaders to assess the need for a new principal support program. Prior to or after the workgroup has gathered feedback about its local new principal support program, the workgroup may choose to review the Ohio Principal Standards and Ohio Principal Evaluation System to develop a crosswalk or alignment of their local new principal support program components to identify strengths in their local program and gaps that may need their attention. If no new principal support program exists, then the workgroup may want to solicit information about such a program from other stakeholder groups (such as partner school districts, educational service centers, Ohio Association of Elementary School Principals, Ohio Association of Secondary School Principals, Buckeye Association of School Administrators or local university school leadership programs) and work with these partners to develop a new principal support program or improve an existing program.
- As a final deliverable, the workgroup will provide an evaluation of the district’s new principal support program or propose a local new principal support program if one does not already exist. The evaluation will include suggestions and recommendations to strengthen the existing program or offer steps the district can take to create such a program if one does not already exist.
- Develop a “Grow Your Own” Educator Program by Supporting a Local Educators Rising Program and by Developing Supports for Paraprofessionals to Obtain a Teaching License:
- Recovery funds can be used to develop or expand local Educators Rising Programs and/or a local district wide “grow your own" program that supports paraprofessionals and classified staff in the district who seek to become fully licensed teachers; use of funds for this type of program must be consistent with allowable uses through ESEA.
- Local education agencies work through a district leadership team, including the superintendent and school treasurer, to create a workgroup of teachers, paraprofessionals, principals, human resources directors, other school leaders, students (and their parents/families) and local college/university partners. The workgroup members may want to gather data on the number of students and paraprofessionals who are interested in becoming credentialed teachers. The workgroup may want to review the district’s student and staff data, the district’s strategic plan and the district’s forecast of staffing needs, especially in teacher shortage areas such as special education, mathematics, science and world languages. The district’s local equity access plan (LEAP) focused on the long-term workforce needs and diversification of the district’s educator workforce may also provide a rich data source. The workgroup may want to conduct a survey, focus group or interview of students, parents/families, paraprofessionals and other classified staff to assess the interest for a local “grow your own" program. A community scan along with a scan of other similar districts and their “grow your own” programs may be considered. The workgroup may want to solicit information about “grow your own” programs from other stakeholder groups (such as partner school districts, educational service centers and local university partners) and work with these stakeholders to develop a new “grow your own” program or improve an existing program.
- As a final deliverable, the workgroup will provide an evaluation of the district’s “grow your own” program, including suggestions for how to improve it. Short- and long-term funding of the program should be included in the evaluation. The evaluation will also include suggestions and recommendations to strengthen the existing program or how the district can create such a program if one does not already exist. Metrics for measuring the success of the program’s short- and long-term goals should be included. “Grow your own" program types include districts supporting preparation and licensure routes that provide students, paraprofessionals, other school staff and community members (including career-changers) with training and support to earn teacher licensure while committing to serve as educators in the district for a predetermined period of time.
LEAs should expect significant oversight by state and federal auditors on the spending of their ARP ESSER federal funds. The LEA should have a written explanation of how the expenditure using these ARP ESSER funds was made to prevent, prepare for and respond to the coronavirus. It is important that the LEA maintain documentation and be able to provide evidence that demonstrates compliance with the allowable uses of these federal resources.
Additional Online Resources to Evaluate and Support New Educators and “Grow Your Own” Programs
Support New Educators
Ohio Resident Educator Program
Support for New Principals Program
- Ohio Resident Educator Program
- Ohio Resident Educator Program Standards (2019)
- Ohio Resident Educator Program Mentor Standards
- Ohio Principal Standards
- OPES 2.0 Framework
“Grow Your Own” Program
Educators Rising Ohio
- About Educators Rising Ohio
- Educators Rising National
- Resources for Local Equity Plans
- Ohio Human Capital Resource Center
For more information or questions, please contact Yenetta Harper: Yenetta.Harper@education.ohio.gov
Last Modified: 10/29/2021 3:00:24 PM