With Additional $700 Million Available, Schools Feel Empowered to Add New Technology
With a significant budget increase to Title IV Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act for the 2018-19 school year, educators will have more opportunities to fund the purchase of tools that will personalize PE for students.
Identified as the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants program of ESSA, Title IV Part A provides funding for new programs that:
- Providing students with a well-rounded education including programs such as STEM and computer science, and health and physical education, among others.
- Supporting safe and healthy students with comprehensive school mental health, drug and violence prevention, and health and physical education.
- Supporting the effective use of technology that is backed by professional development, blended learning, and education technology devices.
The new Department of Education budget increased the ESSA Title IV Part A allocation by more than $700 million to $1.1 billion.
In the 2017-18 school year, Irving (Texas) Independent School District used ESSA Title IV Part A funding to purchase IHT ZONE heart rate monitors and assessment software to upgrade the PE programs at each of the district’s middle schools. Sandi Cravens, Irving’s Health and PE Coordinator, worked with her administrators to secure $35,000 from her district’s unused Title IV Part A allocation.
Creating Proposals that Meet ESSA Title IV Part A Guidelines
Irving ISD Director of Federal Funding Fernando Natividad alerted Cravens’ supervisor, Dr. Lance Campbell, Irving’s new Director of Student Services to unallocated ESSA funding. Campbell advised Cravens to submit a proposal to access the funding.
“I was familiar already with Title IV but I didn’t pay too much attention to it because I assumed the money would go to another group of people in our district because that’s usually how it works,” Cravens said.
Cravens, who’d wanted to add heart rate technology to the district’s PE curriculum, worked with Natividad to create a proposal that met the Title IV Part A qualifications. She researched ESSA’s requirements and created a new program to utilize the technology and quickly received approval for her program.
“A certain percentage of Title IV money had to be spent on the health and safety of kids,” Cravens said. “The program has to impact academic achievement. It had to be a new program. There has to be equity across the district.”
Assessing Academic Progress Through PE
To demonstrate how the new technology aids academic achievement, Cravens directed her middle school PE teachers to create measures within the Spirit System software to track student performance on standardized tests.
“We will use the year-end state academic testing scores to measure performance,” Cravens explained.
As the program continues, teachers can assess students on mid-year assessments as well. The software allows teachers to produce reports to document fitness and academic improvement after each standardized test.
The Key to Acquiring ESSA Title IV Part A Funding
After securing $35,000 to fund her district’s purchase, Cravens reflected on what she learned through the process. The key, she said, is moving past No Child Left Behind mindsets that prevented PE teachers and administrators from seeking federal funding for fear they’d be wasting their time.
“We are trained in physical education and health to believe that we don’t deserve it, first of all,” she said. “It’s not on purpose. That’s just the way it usually works. So, we don’t ask for things and we assume, like I did, that we wouldn’t be eligible.”
Now that Cravens knows that ESSA, and in particular Title IV Part A, provides funding that PE programs can use to add new technology, she’ll be more proactive in working with administrators to seek out funding. She advises other PE administrators and teachers to do the same.
“Reach out to the decision makers and let them know you have ideas for how we can spend the money and talk to them about programs that impact the children,” she said.