$11 Billion in ARRA Education Funds Released Early

The United States Department of Education has followed through on its promise to speed up stimulus package spending for education. The department announced that it's released $11.37 billion to states a little less than a month earlier than planned, with funds targeting Title I, IDEA, and Vocational Rehabilitation. It's also published new guidance on the use of the funds.

"By accelerating the release of Recovery Act funds, the Obama administration is helping states and school districts stabilize their budgets, make decisions based on actual funds available, and move forward interventions to accelerate student achievement," said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a statement released Sept. 4. "I encourage states and schools to take advantage of these short-term stimulus funds to invest in strategies that will drive improvements for years to come. When planning how to use this historic funding, states and school districts should consider the flexibility available in the uses of the funds and how they can be coordinated with other federal, state, and local funds to advance best practices and improve student results."

The funds represent the remaining 50 percent of Title I, IDEA, and Vocational Rehabilitation funds allocated through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the first half of which began rolling out back in April. The funding was originally expected to be made available Sept. 30. It includes $5 billion in Title I funding, $6.1 billion in IDEA funding, and $270 million in Vocational Rehabilitation funding.

The department has also published new, additional guidance for using ARRA funds to help "increase educators' ability to improve student results, avoid the 'funding cliff,' and foster continuous improvement," as the department described it. Some suggestions included providing access to college-level coursework for students; attracting teaching talent to "hard-to-staff" schools; and supporting dual certification for teachers. ED also released new guidance on using response to intervention to improve instruction for at-risk students.

"With tremendous resources available and so much at stake, the work of turning around America's schools cannot be constrained by silos or working in isolation," Duncan said. "Collaboration across programs between special education and general education, and of educators with families and communities is essential."

ED's guidance on the use of ARRA funds is available in downloadable PDF form at the following locations:

In addition, the department's new guidance on using response to intervention for at-risk students can be found here.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at .