New Report: State ARP Plans “Mixed” on Equity for K-12 Students

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January 25, 2022

New Report: State ARP Plans “Mixed” on Equity for K-12 Students

Allocation of relief funds show some best practices, many concerns 

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 25, 2022) — A new analysis by Education Reform Now highlights best practices and raises concerns regarding how states plan to equitably distribute and oversee K-12 relief funds under the American Rescue Plan (ARP)—which provides an unprecedented $125 billion in K-12 funding to states to aid in COVID-19 recovery—especially for the highest need schools and students.

States were assigned a “traffic light” rating in five categories along with a composite rating—with only seven states earning the highest “green” rating, and a whopping 19 state plans designated a concerning “red light”. Prevailing concerns include funding that isn’t equitably targeted, inconsistent stakeholder engagement, abdication of a state role in monitoring and oversight, and evidence of “status quo” spending that will not accelerate student learning.

“Thanks to the massive influx of federal funds, states have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to accelerate learning in k-12 public education—not only recover from the pandemic, but to narrow the persistent opportunity gaps caused by inequitable and unjust access to resources,” said ERN Vice President of K-12 Policy Charles Barone. “The key to real equitable progress will be in how states allocate, and to whom they target those funds, and whether they hold themselves and their districts accountable to serving students.”

Included in the findings:

  • 22 states have not outlined a clear plan for evaluating their ARP investments.
  • Just five states—Idaho, Illinois, Massachusetts, Mississippi, and Missouri—specified that LEAs would be required to detail how they are equitably allocating resources to schools based on student need.
  • Only New York and West Virginia detail a process to review district plans, and no state outlined a comprehensive strategy to monitor the faithful implementation of district plans.
  • A bright spot: at least 20 states note some plans to invest in high-impact tutoring programs, which studies show are the most effective way to boost student achievement.

Based on the analysis Barone, and lead author and ERN Senior Policy Analyst Nicholas Munyan-Penney, include a set of five recommendations to help advocates on how they can help states strengthen their plans. “Just as traffic lights change, we hope states will learn from the best practices and recommendations in this report to make the changes necessary to more equitably support students,” said Munyan-Penney.

You can read the full analysis here.

You can also join tomorrow’s virtual panel discussion on the report findings at 2 pm ET here.
About Education Reform Now
Education Reform Now (ERN) is a non-partisan, nonprofit think tank and advocacy organization that promotes increased resources and innovative reforms in K-16 public education, particularly for students of color and students from low-income families. We seek forward progress in public education—at the federal, state, and local level—developing and advocating for new, bold ideas and mutually reinforcing policies in elementary, secondary and post-secondary education.