As more and more school districts implement digital and web-based learning programs requiring students to work on assignments outside the classroom, a large number of low-income students are finding themselves caught in a widening digital divide struggling to keep up. Roughly 7 in 10 teachers assign homework requiring broadband access at home; however one-third of those students lack home Internet access, according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Since June, the FCC has been calling for a solution to close this “Homework Gap.”
In an ideal world, access to technology is at the foundation of serving the educational needs of not only mainstream classrooms, but also those of students with learning, physical disabilities or truancies, home-school and virtual teaching, migratory programs, and a host of other scenarios.
Digital equity, including student access to the Internet outside of school, is a growing concern among district technology leaders with 46 percent saying it is one of the most challenging issues they face today, according to Project Tomorrow’s Digital Learning Playbook.
Technology requires funding and funding continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing our schools. The good news is that currently there are 26 federal grant-making agencies and more than 900 federal technology funding programs available that can be used to purchase and develop new or existing technologies, enhance students’ computer skills, provide teacher training, increase parent involvement in schools, and compile critical data to improve a schools’ overall academic achievement.
Kajeet is committed to ensuring that states, districts and schools are made aware of these opportunities, and can leverage them to help narrow the digital divide. This document provides a brief overview of the 15 top federal funding programs that can be utilized for connectivity solutions like Kajeet Education Broadband™.
Title I, Part A, College and Career Ready
Title I funds are intended to help close the achievement gap between high- and low-performing students and ensure that students reach proficiency on challenging state academic achievement standards and state academic assessments in English Language Arts and Math.
How Money is Distributed to Districts and Schools
Title I is the section of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that is specifically targeted toward children in poverty. It is the largest federal program supporting elementary and secondary education. The U.S. Department of Education allocates funds to states to serve these children based on the number of eligible students. States then send these funds to local school districts, who in turn allocate the monies to individual schools with high poverty rates to improve their students’ academic achievement and close achievement gaps. The amount of funds is based on a formula that counts the number of families living in poverty in a school attendance area. That formula provides funding to specific schools with high poverty rates in their school district. Schools that receive Title I funding are called Title I schools. School districts have some discretion in how they distribute Title I funds among schools within the district, but the law requires them to prioritize the highest-poverty schools.
Federal funds must be combined with local and state money and not replace them. In some schools where the number of children living in poverty is 40 percent or greater, a school can make use of what is called a School-wide model, where funds are used across the entire school’s population. Other schools with smaller incidences of poverty can use a Targeted Assistance model that focuses on eligible children (those that are the lowest achieving students regardless of income status).
What Programs & Activities Title I Can Fund
Many types of activities can be paid for with Title I dollars, as long as they support the learning of eligible children and are allowable within the Targeted Assistance or School-wide programs operating in a specific school. Types of services that may be funded by Title I include:
- After school programs
- Professional development for Title I staff
- Anti-bullying programs
- ELL student support
- Academic coaching
- Technology if it is supporting teaching and learning activities for Title I students. (One example is section 1114 of Title I, Part A, which allows schools to use funds to purchase devices (tablets, laptops, etc.) in addition to curriculum and professional development as part of a comprehensive plan in a Title I School-wide program school.)
Title I Parent Involvement
Parent participation has a positive impact on children’s academic success. Schools served by Title I funds “must involve parents, in an organized, ongoing, and timely way, in the planning, review, and improvement of programs . . .” and must provide parents of participating children timely information about programs, a description and explanation of the curriculum in use at the school, the forms of academic assessment used to measure student progress, and the proficiency levels students are expected to meet.
How Title I Can Fund Kajeet Education Broadband
Kajeet Education Broadband may be purchased with Title I funds to “build the schools’ and parents’ capacity for strong parental involvement” and “maximize parental involvement and participation” by providing economically disadvantaged families an avenue to develop a partnership with their children’s school and monitor their children’s academic progress.”
A district or school may also use Sentinel to create policies and rules to govern the use of the technology and bandwidth. A great resource on leveraging Title I funds is a CoSN (the Consortium for School Networking) report.
Race to the Top
Race to the Top (RTT) is a competitive K-12 federal funding program established in 2009 that has so far dispensed around $3.5 billion worth of grants to 12 states over a five-year period. Under the Race to the Top District program, applicants must design a personalized learning environment that uses collaborative, data-based strategies and 21st-century tools, such as online learning platforms, computers, mobile devices, and learning algorithms, to deliver instruction and supports tailored to the needs and goals of each student, with the aim of enabling all students to graduate college- and career-ready.
Among other selection criteria, Race to the Top District grants are evaluated upon the extent to which the Local Education Agency (LEA) ensures all stakeholders, which includes educators, students, and their parents, “regardless of income, have access to necessary content, tools, and other learning resources both in and out of school to support the implementation of the applicant’s proposal.”
The RTT is designed to help states and local districts advance reforms around four specific areas:
- Adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy
- Building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction
- Recruiting, developing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most
- Turning around our lowest-achieving schools
There are three types of RTT awards:
- RTT – State Awards are evaluated on the extent to which they lead the way to effective reform with an emphasis on turning around the lowest-achieving schools, adopting a common set of standards, developing great teachers and leaders, and establishing “ongoing mechanisms for family and community engagement.”
- RTT – District Awards: School district applicants need to demonstrate a personalized learning. Among other selection criteria, RTT district grants are evaluated upon the level to which the district ensures all stakeholders like educators, students and parents, “regardless of income, have access to necessary content, tools, and other learning resources both in and out of school to support the implementation of the applicant’s proposal.”
- Race to the Top Phase 3 Early Learning Challenge: This grant is intended to help States reach the goal of having all the nation’s children enter kindergarten ready to succeed. This signature program supports States in developing comprehensive, coordinated early learning systems. These systems provide a mechanism for improving the quality of early learning and development programs and ensuring better outcomes for children and families.
How Race to the Top Can Fund Kajeet Education Broadband
Kajeet solutions can be a key component in the “multi-faceted approach” for a personalized learning environment that addresses the individual and collective needs of students, educators, and families. The Kajeet SmartSpot can provide anytime access to “necessary content, tools, and other learning resources,” which may be personalized for students and their parents via the Sentinel platform.
School Turnaround Grants (School Improvement Grants)
School Turnaround Grants (also called School Improvement Grants or SIG) are competitive funds designed to raise achievement in schools that have been identified under Title I as failing to meet academic achievement goals. Family and community engagement programs may be supported with SIG funds. SIG guidance defines family and community engagement as “strategies to increase the involvement and contributions, in both school-based and home-based settings, of parents and community partners that are designed to support classroom instruction and increase student achievement.”
There are six models of improvement: closure, restart, turnaround, transformation, whole-school transformation (involves a partner organization), and a custom model proposed by a state that receives the approval of the Secretary of Education. All models (except closure) require new curriculum, assessment, and professional development activities. Instructional materials purchased with SIG funds must be research-based and have evidence of efficacy in raising student achievement.
How School Turnaround Grants Can Fund Kajeet Education Broadband
Kajeet products may be purchased with SIG funds to enable family involvement from a “home-based setting” by providing parents and caregivers access to academic supports and resources and stay informed about their student’s academic progress. Kajeet Sentinel may be used to set policies to govern access to district or school resources via Kajeet SmartSpot. Purchases may be coordinated by the district, but the purchasing decision is made by the school receiving the SIG fund.
Title I, Part C, Migrant Education Program
Migrant education funds support high quality education programs that meet the special needs of migratory children to help them succeed academically in a regular school program, meet the same academic and content standards that all children are expected to meet, and graduate from high school.
MEP funds may be combined with other federal program funds, including Title I, Part A, Title III, Part A (ELL), Title IV, Part B (21st CCLC), Title VI, Part B (Rural Education), IDEA, and McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance. The goal of the MEP is to ensure that all migrant students reach challenging academic standards and graduate with a high school diploma (or complete a GED) that prepares them for responsible citizenship, further learning, and productive employment.
Funds are allocated by formula to State Education Agencies (SEAs), based on each state’s per pupil expenditure for education and number of eligible migratory children, ages 3 through 21, residing within the state. States use program funds to identify eligible children and provide education and support services. These services include: academic, remedial, compensatory, bilingual, multicultural, and vocational instruction; career education services; special guidance; counseling, testing, health, and preschool services.
How Migrant Education Programs Can Fund Kajeet Education Broadband
Kajeet SmartSpot and Kajeet Sentinel can be purchased with these funds as long as the expenditure adheres to the guidelines of the federal program(s) with which Migrant Education funds are combined.
Title III, ELL (English Language Learner)
Title III funds are used to help children attain English proficiency and meet a state’s academic content and student academic achievement standards by:
- Promoting systemic improvement, reform, and developing accountability systems for educational programs serving limited English proficient children
- Developing language skills and multicultural understanding
- Developing the English proficiency of limited English proficient children and, to the extent possible, the native language skills of such children
- Providing similar assistance to Native Americans with certain modifications relative to the unique status of Native American languages under Federal law
- Developing data collection and dissemination, research, materials, and technical assistance that are focused on school improvement for limited English proficient children
- Developing programs that strengthen and improve the professional training of educational personnel who work with limited English proficient children
Districts receive allocations from the state based on the number of English Language Learners (ELLs) they serve. LEAs may use a portion of the funds to provide community participation programs, family literacy services, and parent outreach and training activities to limited English proficient children and their families, and to help parents become active participants in the children’s education.
How ELL Can Fund Kajeet Education Broadband
Kajeet products may be purchased to support an LEA’s community outreach activities by creating a home-school connection through technology. Kajeet SmartSpot and Kajeet Sentinel can provide parents of ELLs access to content, tools and resources that can help them become active participants in the academic success of their children. The Sentinel platform can be configured to permit or deny access to specific URL destinations, if the district desires. The SmartSpot and Sentinel platforms may also be purchased to enable truant, suspended, or expelled students access curriculum and other resources to improve their academic achievement.