ESSA and edtech

What the new education law means for the future of educational technology

As an edtech company and given that we’ve been exploring ESSA over the past few weeks, it was inevitable that we would arrive at the issue of ESSA and edtech.

What does the new law mean for edtech vendors?

Does ESSA allocate more funding for state districts and schools to spend on edtech?

Where will the funding come from?

So many questions. We’ve got answers.

Where will the funding come from?

The answer is in form of  block grants.

The first is compiled of many different federal programs (around 50!). The name of this grant is the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant.

Download the ESSA guide

There is also another, new, grant that comes into play here: The Education Innovation & Research Grant. This grant is competitive and will be used to fund the development, implementation and research new, cutting-edge ways to improve student learning.

ESSA and edtech

Does ESSA allocate more funding for districts and schools to spend on edtech?

Sort of.

The Student Support Grant totals $1.6 billion and represents a big change from how things were done in the past. State and local needs will determine how these grant funds are distributed.

For the Education Innovation grant, it is estimated that between $70-90 million will be made available starting in the 2017 fiscal year.

How much of that funding is devoted to edtech?

For the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant, districts receiving over $30,000 need to spend their money in the following ways:

  • 20% of the funds need to be spent on activities that help students become well-rounded
  • 20% of the funds must be spent on activities that ensure student safety and well-being
  • The rest (60%) of the funds can be spent on effective educational technology BUT no more than 15% of the funds can be spent on technological infrastructure

Through 2020 there is about $1 billion that is to be set aside for edtech each year. While it’s not necessarily more than what is available now, there seems to be a greater emphasis (from our perspective) on pushing districts to seek out and implement effective edtech in their schools and classrooms.

What does this mean for edtech companies and vendors?

It means a whole lot.

Given the fact that there are now not one, but two grants that make edtech a focus. As previously stated, under the Student Support grant, nearly two-thirds of the money available can be devoted to edtech. That’s a good thing!

There will be more opportunities for edtech in schools and districts where there might not have been before and where edtech solutions have already been in place, vendors will be able to offer more solutions as institutions might have more money to devote to effective ed tech.

On the flip side, there is the required 40% of funding towards other, equally crucial initiatives. As this great article from eSchool News states, “...ed-tech leaders will have to make a case for technology, because there will be other priorities competing for funding.”

So all in all, when it comes to ESSA and edtech, the law represents a positive shift towards wider adoption of technology within the classroom. Schools should have more money to devote to effective edtech solutions and should also have the support of their local and state authorities to do so.

Learn more about ESSA's impact on edtech funding

Download the ESSA guide