Expanded Learning Opportunities Grant template now available

Of the $6.6 billion provided to local educational agencies in Assembly Bill 86, $4.6 billion is allocated in the form of ELO Grants, which can only be spent on extending instructional learning time, accelerating progress to close learning gaps, integrated pupil supports, community learning hubs, additional academic services, training for school staff, and supports for credit-deficient pupils.

The California Department of Education on March 26 released a template for the Expanded Learning Opportunities Grant Plan that LEAs must complete and adopt at a public meeting on or before June 1, 2021, as a condition for receiving the grant. Approved plans must be submitted to the county office of education, the CDE or the LEA’s chartering authority within five days of adoption, as applicable.

The plan will explain how the LEA will use funds to implement a learning recovery program that, at a minimum, provides supplemental instruction, support for social and emotional well-being, and, to the maximum extent permissible under federal guidelines, meals and snacks to, at a minimum, students who are included in one or more of the following groups: low-income students, English learners, foster youth, homeless students, students with disabilities, students at risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation and disengaged students, as well as those who are below grade level, did not enroll in kindergarten in the 2020–21 school year, credit-deficient students, high school students at risk of not graduating and other youth identified by certificated staff.

Supplemental instruction and support

The template defines “supplemental instruction” as programs provided in addition to and complementary to the LEAs regular instructional programs, and “support” as interventions provided in addition to to those regularly provided by the LEA so that students can engage in and benefit from supplemental instruction.

Education Code section 43522(b) identifies seven supplemental instruction and support strategies that may be supported with ELO Grant funds and requires the LEA to use the funding only for any of these purposes:

  1. Extending instructional learning time in addition to what is required for the school year by increasing the number of instructional days or minutes provided during the school year, providing summer school or intersessional instructional programs, or taking any other action that increases the amount of instructional time or services provided to students based on their learning needs.
  2. Accelerating progress to close learning gaps through the implementation, expansion, or enhancement of learning supports including, but not limited to, any of the following:
    1. Tutoring or other one-on-one or small group learning supports provided by certificated or classified staff.
    2. Learning recovery programs and materials designed to accelerate student academic proficiency or English language proficiency, or both.
    3. Educator training, for both certificated and classified staff, in accelerated learning strategies and effectively addressing learning gaps, including training in facilitating quality and engaging learning opportunities for all students.
  3. Integrated student supports to address other barriers to learning, such as the provision of health, counseling, or mental health services, access to school meal programs, before and after school programs, or programs to address student trauma and social-emotional learning, or referrals for support for family or student needs.
  4. Community learning hubs that provide students with access to technology, high-speed internet, and other academic supports.
  5. Supports for credit deficient students to complete graduation or grade promotion requirements and to increase or improve students’ college eligibility.
  6. Additional academic services for students, such as diagnostic, progress monitoring, and benchmark assessments of student learning.
  7. Training for school staff on strategies, including trauma-informed practices, to engage students and families in addressing students’ social-emotional health needs and academic needs.

LEAs must spend at least 85 percent of its apportionment for expenditures related to providing in-person services in any of the seven identified strategies; at least 10 percent of the funding that is received based on Local Control Funding Formula entitlement to hire paraprofessionals to provide supplemental instruction and support, with a priority for full-time paraprofessionals; and up to 15 percent to improve services for students in distance learning.

LEAs are encouraged — though not required — to engage, plan and collaborate on program operation and expanded learning programs with community partners, and leverage existing behavioral health partnerships in the design and implementation of services. LEAs will need flexibility in determining with stakeholders what children in their communities need most, said Michael Funk, director of the CDE’s Expanded Learning Division.

“Right now in our system, there are students who are not seen, not supported and not prepared. Let’s work to use this funding, our resources, our experience, our wisdom and our passion to make sure those students are seen, supported and prepared,” Funk said in an April 2 “fireside chat” with the California AfterSchool Network.

The social-emotional component is of heightened importance due to the academic and personal fallout many children have faced as a result of the pandemic, Funk said. That is why the ELO Grant Plan requires LEAs to also include how they will provide social-emotional and other supports, such as the provision of meals.

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