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Education, Civil Rights Groups Recommend Strengthening Data Collection for COVID Relief Spending

For Release: September 1, 2021


A group of nine education and civil rights organizations today sent a list of recommendations to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) about how the agency plans to collect data on state and district spending of COVID relief dollars.

The organizations called on ED to use the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund Data Collection to ensure that states and districts are effectively serving students who have been historically underserved and who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, including students living in poverty, students with disabilities, students learning English, students experiencing homelessness, those in the foster care system, students who are incarcerated, undocumented students, Black and Brown students, Native students, Asian students, and students who identify as LGBTQ.

The recommendations were signed by the Alliance for Excellent Education, the Center for American Progress, Education Reform Now, the National Center for Learning Disabilities, the National Urban League, SchoolHouse Connection, The Education Trust, Teach Plus and UnidosUS.

Below are statements from some of the organizations about the list of recommendations.

“With the historic investments that the federal government is making through COVID relief funds, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address systemic disparities in our education system for all students, particularly our most vulnerable students. This includes ensuring that states and districts spend their federal funding on effective strategies to help students impacted most by the pandemic. We must all work together to adopt policies and practices that simultaneously address the impact of COVID on students’ academic and social and emotional well-being, while also tearing down systemic injustices that have been in place for generations. America’s students deserve no less.” -Deborah Delisle, President and CEO of the Alliance for Excellent Education

“ESSER presents a historic opportunity to not only accelerate learning during COVID recovery, but to address persistent opportunity gaps. Unfortunately, our read of state ARP plans indicate many states are failing to ensure relief funds are targeted to the highest need schools and students. We urge ED to adopt these joint recommendations to provide the additional guidance and guardrails necessary to help hold states and districts accountable for ensuring all of our nation’s students have access to a high-quality public education and that accelerated learning interventions are driving improved academic outcomes for students disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.” -Shavar Jeffries, President, Education Reform Now

“The federal government provided unprecedented investments for public education in response to an unprecedented situation. With this investment comes a responsibility for states and districts to address the needs of students impacted the most by the pandemic, including those with disabilities. We urge the Department to take the necessary steps and follow these recommendations to ensure that federal funds are being spent equitably and inclusively.” -Lindsay E. Jones, President and CEO, National Center for Learning Disabilities

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a catastrophic impact on children and youth experiencing homelessness. The homeless liaisons in each school district are on the front lines, working daily to identify and support these young people. Children and youth experiencing homelessness are vulnerable, but also filled with potential. In the long run, education is their pathway to prosperity. It is vital for states and districts to focus ESSER funds on the needs of these students. We cannot let them fall through the cracks. High quality reporting, as proposed in these recommendations, can help to ensure children experiencing homelessness are a priority, not an afterthought.” -Barbara Duffield, Executive Director, SchoolHouse Connection


Alliance for Excellent Education (All4Ed) is a Washington, DC–based national policy, practice, and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring that all students, particularly those underperforming and those historically underserved, graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship.

August 31, 2021

Advocacy | COVID Response & Recovery, Data, US Department of Education

Joint Comments on US Department of Education’s Proposed ESSER Data Collection

All4Ed’s recommendations to the U.S. Department of Education to improve data collected on state and district spending of COVID relief dollars.
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