Technology, Including Heart Rate Monitors, Remains A Priority For Administrators According to McKinsey Survey

According to a McKinsey survey conducted in April and May, schools list learning technology, social-emotional learning and student physical health and well-being as top priorities for spending their remaining ESSER relief funding.

The survey asked nearly 500 K-12 public and charter school administrators about their Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief plans and how they are spending the nearly $200 billion in federal funding. With ESSER III specifically, schools still have nearly $60 Billion that must be allocated by Sept. 30, 2024 and spent by Jan. 28, 2025, according to the latest Education Stabilization Fund reporting.

The reporting shows that:


  • 29 states still have more than 50% of their ESSER III funding available
  • 12 states have more than 60% of their ESSER III funding available
  • 7 states have more than $2.5 Billion of their ESSER III funding available, including Texas ($7.4 Billion), California ($7.3 Billion), Florida ($3.9 Billion) and New York ($3.1 Billion)

McKinsey’s survey shows that schools “expect to spend on teacher retention and student well-being.” More specific top priorities include:

  • Addressing learning loss through digital tools and tech
  • Providing social-emotional learning
  • Addressing challenges in physical health and well-being and
  • Investing in technology improvements

The survey also shows that 72% of district leaders have concerns over their ability to continue funding long-term recovery programs after the ESSER stimulus funds expire. So, what does that mean for schools as they continue to improve student wellness programs before the final ESSER deadlines pass?

Build a Request for ESSER Funds on the District’s Top Priorities

Braham Area Schools and IHTAll of this could lead districts to focus spending on one-time purchases that address the above-mentioned needs. Technology such as IHT’s heart rate solution – the combination of the IHT ZONE heart rate monitor and assessment software – could provide schools with a way to address several of their top priorities, most obviously investing in technology improvements and addressing challenges in physical health and well-being along with social-emotional learning. After the initial heart rate monitor purchase, the only ongoing cost would be annual subscriptions (currently $300/campus) to the assessment software. The assessment software is not required to use the IHT ZONE monitors in class, though many schools find it a beneficial add-on.

Schools have found success using the IHT ZONE in programs that help students learn to manage their emotions. Students wear the heart rate monitors all day and learn to use calming strategies such as breakthrough breathing to bring their heart rate back down if they notice their heart rate monitor displays a rate that doesn’t correspond with their activity level. 

An elevated heart rate can indicate heightened emotions and teaching students how to recognize and manage those emotions before they get out of control has benefits to students and teachers alike.

“We talk about the emotions that we have in our body, and that’s where the heart rate monitors come in, with students being able to see when they are escalated or frustrated,” Monroe Elementary School (Colo.) counselor Maddie Francis explained. “Students are really showing growth in the self-awareness portion of this.”

Physical education teachers also use the IHT ZONE to motivate students of all ages to take charge of their fitness and overall health.

Elementary age students may not fully understand their target heart rate, so the IHT ZONE shows them the heart rate zone they are exercising in by color:

  • Blue signifies low intensity exercise or even rest
  • Yellow signifies moderate intensity exercise
  • Red signifies vigorous exercise approaching the student’s max heart rate

“They don’t really understand what the number means yet, especially in third grade because we don’t introduce it in our curriculum until fourth grade,” Lincoln (Ill.) Elementary School PE teacher Will Navis said. “I want to shift them more toward the colors. They’ve responded very well to that, which is nice.”

IHT Heart Rate DataBased on Centers for Disease Control guidelines, IHT’s philosophy centers on maximizing the number of minutes in each class period that students are working at an elevated heart rate: moderate to vigorous physical activity. Students can see in real time whether they are exercising at desired levels – their monitor should be yellow or red for the majority of each class period – and receive reports following class that show them exactly what they achieved. For teachers including Scott Smith, now a PE Specialist in the San Bernardino (Calif.) City USD, the monitors proved incredibly motivating for students.

“I don't think you could have predicted the results that we are getting,” Smith said. “I can tell you for a fact that every class – every one –  has shown an increase in participation, engagement, and excitement.”

Smith’s programs have had such success that he expanded his program from 3 high school campuses in San Bernardino to 7 middle and high school campuses. The district has multiple class sets of IHT ZONE monitors at each participating campus. That, Smith said, allows the district to help thousands of students improve their fitness.

“With the addition of 6 schools, IHT HRMs have changed the lives of thousands of students and teachers in a way I couldn't imagine,” Smith said. “The energy, spirit and excitement of physical education is at an all-time high.”

Best Advice to Request ESSER Funding for Heart Rate Technology

Schools can use ESSER funding to purchase heart rate technology, as Bremen High School District 228 (Ill.) did last year. Bremen Curriculum Supervisor for Health, Driver’s Ed and PE Terri Schrishuhn worked with her supervisor to build a proposal for ESSER funding that the administration approved.

“I’m very fortunate in the role I’m in,” Schrishuhn said. “She knew the ins and outs of the grant so we could maximize the funding efforts. One of the areas of focus under ESSER was to improve the quality of learning through digital tools.”

Schrishuhn said she improved her chances of a successful request by focusing on the cross-curricular way teachers use the monitors and the data students receive from them. Each time students wear the monitors, they receive an email summarizing their activity while wearing them. The email offers students the chance to reflect on how they felt during – and after – their session. Many schools – Bremen included – use this as an opportunity to link heart rate to writing or ELA classes.

“We are basically telling the story of how we connected what students did in physed to English,” Schrishuhn said. “The report shows what they did yesterday (in PE) and then we have an ELA prompt for them to reflect on.”

Bremen Superintendent Dr. Brad Siroka supports the plan. Schrishuhn said he regularly encourages the teachers to apply to present at state conferences to spread their concept so more students can benefit. Schrishuhn’s done exactly that, presenting at the annual Illinois AHPERD conference about how Bremen connects heart rate to overall student wellness, both physical and emotional.

Along with finding an administrator to support a request for ESSER funding, teachers can also do the following to improve their chances for a successful request:

  • Understanding the ESSER language that explains what the money can be used to purchase;
  • Link to the district’s overall improvement plan so that you’re requesting funds for programs the district has already identified as important; and
  • Provide detail as to how using technology such as heart rate monitors will address learning and student health in a multitude of ways.

IHT’s funding resources page provides more information as well as links to contact team members who can help craft proposals for ESSER or other federal funding.

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    ESSER Funding: How Much is Still Available and How Schools Are Using Their Funding
    Article Name
    ESSER Funding: How Much is Still Available and How Schools Are Using Their Funding
    The latest ESSER III update and a survey that shows what hundreds of U.S. school districts are prioritizing for their federal funding.
    Publisher Name
    Interactive Health Technologies, LLC
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