February 20th, 2021

Part 4: Federal-Level Policy Recommendations and Actions

Federal actions and guardrails to increase the effectiveness of accelerated learning are critical. Accelerated instruction requires a new approach to instruction as well as dedicated resources. In addition, accelerated instructional models can push the bounds of existing accountability systems. Congress and ED can help ensure that there are important, relevant guardrails. Specifically, the federal government can: 

Increase resources to implement accelerated learning approaches with fidelity.

Provide states and districts with additional federal dollars in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Congress should prioritize a COVID-19 relief package that provides sufficient funding to states and school districts in order to select and implement accelerated learning approaches with fidelity. This may include hiring curriculum design experts, providing tailored, culturally competent professional development, and hiring additional educators and school support staff. 

Increase funding for IDEA – including Part B, Part C, and Part D. Since 2009, the average federal share per child has remained stagnant, while the number of students served and the national average per pupil expenditure (APPE) has continued to rise. The result is a declining federal contribution to the costs of educating students with disabilities. States and districts need Part B and Part C monies to provide the interventions, supports, and services students need. Part D is also essential to provide the infrastructure to implement programs through training and professional development for personnel, technical assistance, and more.

Increase funding for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – especially Title I, Title II, and Title IV of ESSA. Congress should increase funding for schools to provide additional support and additional instruction to all students following COVID. These funding streams allow states and school districts flexibility to select and implement accelerated learning approaches that fit their particular needs and student population. 

Provide updated guidance on how to braid and leverage funding streams to maximize program impact. Since the pandemic began, new funding streams have been used to provide emergency funds to states and districts. To ensure efficiency in the use of resources, ED can offer updated guidance on braided funding streams to maximize resources that can be allocated to support these approaches, including through COVID-19 emergency funding, professional development funding, and other education funding streams. 

Pass the Cultivating Opportunity and Response to the Pandemic through Service (CORPS) Act to assist in scaling up effective tutoring programs. Congress can provide additional funding to expand the number of available AmeriCorps positions to provide service opportunities such as mentoring and tutoring students who need additional support. 

Increase funding for the competitive State Assessment grants to allow more states greater ability to improve the development and administration of assessments, including virtual assessments. Ensure that the competitive Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority grant programs require states to prioritize equity for students with disabilities, students of color, students impacted by poverty, and ELLs in their innovative approaches to assessment. 

Invest in research to better understand the effectiveness of accelerated learning approaches.

Increase federal funding for the Institute of Education Sciences to evaluate programs and practices that seek to address instructional loss during the pandemic and accelerate learning, such as the new initiative, “Operation Reverse the Loss”.

Create a national mathematics panel that builds upon the 2008 National Mathematics Advisory Panel to explore the fundamental components of math instruction and inform approaches to accelerating student engagement with, interest in, and achievement in math.

Conduct hearings and/or listening tours to elevate the importance of accelerated learning. Many accelerated learning approaches are new and have yet to be implemented at scale. Congress can hold hearings or listening tours to highlight and better understand successful accelerated approaches. 

Maintain guardrails to ensure that all students are held to and perform at high levels.

Reinforce the importance of grade-level standards for all students. The ED 2015 IDEA guidance clarified that IDEA’s requirement to provide each child with a free appropriate public education (FAPE) means that IEPs should be written in ways that create a pathway for students to strive for, and meet, grade-level standards. ED should reiterate the importance of this guidance and should use indicators that measure how well students are meeting grade-level standards as a part of the Results Driven Accountability and state determinations process under the requirements outlined in IDEA. 

Support the use of statewide assessments that provide transparent data to help inform policy and practice. ED should develop meaningful guidance to help states implement statewide assessments during the pandemic. Standardized assessment data may not be as reliable as in previous years, but it remains an important indicator of student success and well-being amid the pandemic.

Download Report

To access the full report, please provide your information

Join the NCLD movement