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Aurora Institute

Funding for Advancing Education Innovation and Equity at Stake in House Subcommittee Vote

Education Domain Blog

Author(s): Maria Worthen

Issue(s): Federal Policy, Harness Opportunities in ESSA

A number of important programs that states and districts can use to support education innovation are proposed for elimination in the President’s 2019 Budget. Friday, the education funding subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on a spending bill for 2019.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) contains key programs that states are leveraging to build capacity for innovative, student-centered learning models; eliminating these programs would stifle those efforts.


ESSA, passed in 2015, provides states with the opportunity to leverage federal funds to build capacity for personalized, competency-based learning. The March 2018 Congressional spending bill appropriated funding for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 and allows states and districts to access significantly more funds for innovation than the FY 2017 appropriation. However, the President’s 2019 Budget requests elimination of some key programs, including funds for building educator capacity under Title II, Part A, and funds for building personalized learning environments under Title IV.

These ESSA funding opportunities include:

Title I: Direct Student Services

  • States may reserve up to three percent of their Title I, Part A grant under the new Direct Student Services provision in ESSA. States must distribute these funds to districts, prioritizing those with the highest percentage of schools identified for comprehensive and targeted support and improvement, for activities including:
    • Enrollment in courses not available at a student’s school,
    • Credit recovery and acceleration courses,
    • Activities that assist students in completing postsecondary credit,
    • Components of a personalized learning approach, and
    • Transportation for students attending comprehensive support and improvement schools who wish to switch schools.
  • Congress has appropriated $15.8 billion to Title I, Part A for FY 2018.
  • The President’s 2019 Budget would level fund Title I, Part A, while asking to raise the cap for Direct Student Services to five percent.

Title II: State Reservation for Building Capacity to Lead the Transition to Personalized Learning

  • States may reserve up to three percent of their Title II, Part A funds to build a workforce of leaders with the skills to help schools transition to personalized learning environments.
  • ESSA requires that states taking advantage of this reservation prioritize leaders in schools identified for comprehensive support and improvement.
  • Congress has appropriated $2.1 billion to Title II, Part A for FY 2018.
  • The President’s 2019 Budget would zero out funding for Title II, Part A

Title IV: Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants (SSAEG)

  • The purpose of the SSAEG program is to improve students’ “academic achievement by increasing the capacity of States, local educational agencies, schools and local communities to: (1) provide all students with access to a well-rounded education; (2) improve school conditions for student learning; and (3) improve the use of technology in order to improve the academic achievement and digital literacy for all students.”
  • The U.S. Department of Education will distribute the funds to states by formula.
  • A state may set aside up to five percent of its state grant for statewide activities and support; and distribute the remaining 95 percent to districts, by formula.
  • District applications to states for funding under SSAEG must be based on an assessment of local needs and capacity, including indicators regarding equitable access to a well-rounded education, school health and safety measures, and student access to — and teacher capacity to implement — personalized learning environments.
  • District funds may be used for the following purposes:
    • School health and safety (at least 20 percent of funds statewide),
    • School counseling,
    • Expanding access to a well-rounded education (at least 20 percent of funds statewide), and
    • Educational technology, which may include professional development for personalized learning, as well as for Open Educational Resources and data privacy professional development.
  • Congress has appropriated $1.1 billion for SSAEG in FY 2018.
  • The President’s 2019 Budget would eliminate Title IV funding for the SSAEG.
Take Action:
  • Your representatives need to hear from you: Should Congress maintain funding for Title II and Title IV of ESSA in the 2019 Education Spending Bill?
  • Find Your Representative
Learn More:


Maria Worthen is Vice President for Federal and State Policy at iNACOL.