Using State ESSER Funds to Strengthen High-Quality Out-of-School Time Learning

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High-quality summer and out-of-school time (OST) learning opportunities for students are important tools states can use to accelerate learning and combat learning loss related to both the COVID-19 pandemic and summer slide. State education agencies (SEAs) have invested over $3 billion of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) state set-aside funding to increase access and expand existing high-quality summer and out-of-school time programs. This investment has provided a unique opportunity for states to rethink how they define summer and OST learning. Before the pandemic, there were 25 million students without access to a high-quality OST program, so leveraging this unprecedented funding helps bridge this gap.

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), in partnership with the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) and with support from The Wallace Foundation, provides universal technical assistance and supports to states through informational webinars. CCSSO and the NSLA are working with a  group of states in the State Summer Learning Network (SSLN) to support SEA  leaders and their partner organizations in implementing a broad vision for equity in summer learning. Together, states are working to advance quality program standards and positive youth development practices in summer programs that can be applied across districts and integrated into the school year, and they are elevating best practices in summer learning to ensure a focus on equity and excellence. Learn more about the State Summer Learning Network here.

In July 2023, the SSLN hosted a webinar featuring that was open to all states. The webinar featured speakers from Massachusetts and Connecticut who discussed unique ways their states are investing federal relief funds to improve summer learning and out-of-school time.

Massachusetts is using its state ESSER set-aside to expand the proven Acceleration Academy model, which leverages pockets of unused time during spring and winter break to support struggling students in grades three through 10.

Connecticut’s investment in after-school and summer enrichment served more than 65,000 students across 200 camps in 2022. The state also provides free online training on supporting student social emotional learning.

The webinar highlighted a new CCSSO report, The Road to Recovery: How States are Using ESSER Funds to Strengthen High-Quality Out-of-School Time Learning. Read this report to learn how states are using ESSER set-aside funding to support out-of-school time learning opportunities and use this social media toolkit to share with your network. You can watch the webinar recording here

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