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When the pandemic shut down schools across the country, the federal government responded with billions of dollars to help districts support remote learning, serve free meals to students and safely reopen schools.
In 2021, the Biden administration gave districts another $122 billion through its $1.9 trillion stimulus package, an amount that far surpassed previous rounds. Districts were required to spend at least 20 percent of those funds on helping students recover academically, while the rest could be used on general efforts to respond to the pandemic.
Yet, while most schools have since deployed various forms of interventions and some have spent more on academic recovery than others, there are ample signs that the money has not been spent in a way that has substantially helped all of the nation’s students lagging behind.
Recent test scores underscore the staggering effect of the pandemic, which thrust much of the nation’s students into remote learning for extended periods of time. Students in most states and across almost all demographic groups experienced major setbacks in math and reading after many schools closed their doors. In 2022, math scores underwent the largest declines ever recorded on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which tests a broad sampling of fourth and eighth graders dating back to the early 1990s.
Education researchers and advocates say recovering from the effects of remote learning should be the top priority, but it is unclear how much of the funding is helping students across the nation fully catch up.
Plans for the relief funds have varied across the country. Some districts have invested more in extending learning time or offering intensive small-group tutoring focused on math or English, which research has shown to be among the most powerful interventions. Others have used much of their funds on facility upgrades, online tutoring services, across-the-board bonuses for employees and other measures that education experts have argued are less effective for helping students catch up.
National data on how the money has been spent is scarce. The federal government does limited tracking of the relief funds, which were sent directly to states. Many states, which dole out the money to districts, do not provide detailed breakdowns of expenditures.
Some education experts who have closely monitored the relief money said the federal guidelines should have been more focused on addressing learning loss, and were skeptical that many districts’ recovery plans were robust enough. Although schools were initially slow to spend the money, they are now on track to exhaust the funding by the September 2024 deadline for budgeting the money.
Robin Lake, the director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education, said the impact of the funding has been a “bit of a black box,” and she expected to see different recovery rates across districts. Ms. Lake said giving across-the-board bonuses, completing maintenance projects and plugging holes in budgets were less effective interventions.
“In some districts, I think we’re going to see that the money was well spent,” Ms. Lake said. “And in many — maybe most — it won’t have been spent as well as it should have been, in terms of addressing the urgent need right in front of us.”
She pointed to data showing that many students still did not have access to the kind of intensive tutoring programs that have proved effective, with demonstrated large positive effects on math and reading achievement.
A federal survey conducted in December found that most public schools offered some form of tutoring, but only 37 percent provided students more intensive “high dosage” tutoring, which is typically done in smaller groups, takes place for at least 30 minutes and includes at least three sessions a week. Out of all public schools, just 10 percent of students participated in that type of tutoring.
Early reports show that schools have had difficulty setting up academic recovery programs. A recent paper from Harvard University’s Center for Education Policy Research found that schools struggled last year to carry out recovery programs at their intended scale because of staffing shortages and lower student engagement. The researchers, who sampled 12 districts, found that some of the estimated effects were positive, but even if the programs were fully set up, they would still not be enough to help all students catch up by 2024.
Thomas Kane, the center’s faculty director and co-author of the papers, said implementation has since improved but remains far below the necessary levels. He expected to see some gains this year but said a “significant gap” will remain, since not enough schools were extending the academic year or placing most students in summer school.
“Every district can describe how they’re spending the money,” Mr. Kane said. “But few, if any, districts have a recovery plan that’s specifically sized to their students’ losses.”
Education Department officials said they were confident much of the stimulus money was being spent on academic recovery.
“The department’s ongoing technical assistance and communication with states indicate that investments in academic recovery, staffing and student mental health comprise the majority of local spending,” Adam Schott, a deputy assistant secretary, said in a statement.
Sasha Pudelski, a director at AASA, the School Superintendents Association, said districts were prioritizing spending on additional learning time. According to July data from AASA, 68 percent of districts were spending some funds on expanded summer learning, 42 percent were adding learning time by compensating staff and 39 percent were providing high-intensity tutoring.
In Tennessee, 87 districts are participating in a program that provides matching grants using federal dollars to districts offering small-group tutoring in reading or math.
One of the participating districts, Elizabethton City Schools, hired 14 full-time staff members to administer English language arts tutoring to 404 elementary and middle school students this year. Students attended sessions during the school day twice a week for 45 minutes each.
Myra Newman, the assistant director of schools for academics, said the district was spending 56 percent of its $5.6 million in relief funds on academic recovery. The district has already seen significant gains: In 2022, 45.6 percent of third to eighth graders were proficient in English, up from 33.9 percent in 2021 and 43 percent in 2019.
“Most of our money went toward students and closing the gap in learning loss,” Ms. Newman said.
Other districts have spent more relief funds on facility upgrades. Researchers at Georgetown University’s Edunomics Lab estimate that a quarter of the last round of relief funds would be spent on facilities.
Oregon’s Klamath County school district plans to use about 30 percent of its $16.1 million federal share on academic recovery programs and 70 percent on facilities projects. Those include buying new turf fields, replacing HVAC systems, upgrading flooring, renovating bleachers in baseball fields, constructing a gym and surfacing an elementary school parking lot.
Glen Szymoniak, the district’s superintendent, said the projects would help improve student safety and wellness. Some bleachers had “nails popping up” and boards that were cracking. Without a new turf field, some students would not have a place to play during recess, and one of the football teams would need to travel half an hour to practice. Officials chose not to spend the funds on hiring staff because the money would eventually run out.
“We would have to fire them in three or four years,” Mr. Szymoniak said. “It’s not a way to treat people.”
Officials instead tapped millions in annual state funding to hire reading specialists, add counselors and expand small group and project-based instruction, which Mr. Szymoniak said has already led to improved proficiency in math among elementary school students this year, according to early assessments. Last year, 36 percent of third graders met state grade-level expectations for English, down from 42 percent in 2019.
Wisconsin’s Cudahy School District is spending about 80 percent of its $4.7 million in relief funds on facilities upgrades and 20 percent on academic recovery, which includes professional development for staff members and employing literacy specialists. Among the district’s third graders, 29.8 percent were proficient in reading in 2022, up from 23.6 percent in 2021 and down from 35.9 percent in 2019.
Tina Owen-Moore, the district’s superintendent, said officials were worried about sustaining salaries, so they spent more on upgrading HVAC systems and remodeling classrooms to allow for social distancing.
“If we only did high-dosage tutoring while we had those funds there, well as soon as those funds go away, we wouldn’t be able to continue to support students,” Ms. Owen-Moore said.
Marguerite Roza, the director of the Edunomics Lab, said some facility projects like new HVAC systems were reasonable, but others, such as parking lot renovations, would not do much to help students catch up.
Although she said she wanted to see improved academic recovery efforts, she did not expect many districts to revise their plans. With the looming funding deadline and steep enrollment declines expected to hurt some districts’ budgets, she said officials were more focused on preventing school closures and wide layoffs.
“Pretty quickly, they’re starting to panic,” Ms. Roza said. “There’s less and less energy on how to leverage these limited dollars.”
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It May Not Be Doing Enough. Pandemic aid was supposed to help students recover from learning loss, but results have been mixed. Sign Up for the
However, in underfunded schools, students often must deal with large class sizes, fewer advanced classes, lack of resources, less experienced teachers, and, in some cases, no teacher at all.Is US education underfunded? ›
The United States is underfunding its K-12 public schools by nearly $150 billion annually, robbing more than 30 million school children of the resources they need to succeed in the classroom, according to a new, first-of-its-kind study released today by The Century Foundation (TCF).What are the social problems associated with how public schools are funded in the United States? ›
Education funding generally is inadequate and inequitable; It relies too heavily on state and local resources (particularly property tax revenues); the federal government plays a small and an insufficient role; funding levels vary widely across states; and high-poverty districts get less funding per student than low- ...Where does more than 90 of the funding for public education come from? ›
State and local governments provide the vast majority of funding for K-12 education — 93 percent of all school funding. State governments rely on formulas that distribute education funds among school districts.How does school funding affect academic performance? ›
The analysis finds that a 20 percent increase in per pupil funding for underperforming schools reduced the number of below-average students in mathematics, English, social studies, and science by 19.7 percent, 17.0 percent, 16.1 percent, and 18.1 percent compared with the control-side means.How does money affect schools? ›
Schooling resources that cost money are positively associated with student outcomes. These include smaller class sizes, additional instructional supports, early childhood programs, and more competitive teacher compensation, which permits schools and districts to recruit and retain a higher quality teacher workforce.What is the biggest problem with education in America? ›
Deficits in government funding for schools.
Funding is always an issue for schools and is, in fact, one of the biggest issues facing the American public education system today. For more than 90% of K-12 schools, funding comes from state and local governments, largely generated by sales and income taxes.
Part of the reason education spending has increased is because the number of children with disabilities has grown much faster than the general population of students, and schools are now required to educate them. Special education students cost, on average, about twice as much to educate as other students.Is the US number 1 in education? ›
The U.S. ranks 14th among 37 OECD and G20 countries in the percentage of 25-34 year- olds with higher education, at 42% - above the OECD average (38%), but far behind the leader, Korea (65%) (Chart A1. 1).
- Racism. Racism, or denying someone their individual rights or acting in negative ways toward them, is a major problem in American society. ...
- Economy. When the economy takes a downward turn, everyone can quickly suffer. ...
- Drugs and Alcohol. ...
- Unplanned Pregnancy.
Unequal educational outcomes are attributed to several variables, including family of origin, gender, and social class. Achievement, earnings, health status, and political participation also contribute to educational inequality within the United States and other countries.What are some social problems that schools have identified? ›
- Ethnicity. The ethnic difference is dominant in a society where its members speak different languages and share opposing views on life. ...
- Racism. ...
- Unequal opportunity. ...
- Negative peer pressure. ...
Public funding for education comes either directly from the provincial or territorial government or through a mix of provincial transfers and local taxes collected either by the local government or by the boards with taxing powers.
In most states, local property taxes make up the majority of funding.Does more money make schools better? ›
Several years of sustained spending increases improved student outcomes. A robust body of research shows that across a variety of outcomes such as test scores, graduation rates, and college attendance, student performance improves with greater spending.Does spending money on education help? ›
Increased spending raises graduation rates and boosts adult income.Should students be paid for performance in school? ›
Paying for grades is positive reinforcement, not punishment. Positive reinforcement encourages kids and shows that you appreciate the hard work it takes to get good grades. Kids will strive harder to hit those goals since they will want the reward.Why do schools not teach us about money? ›
There are two reasons why money isn't taught in school: Inertia in the system and failure to recognize financial literacy as one of the core skills needed to succeed in the 21st Century.Why is raising money for school important? ›
Fundraising strengthens school-community bonds.
Research shows that students do better when schools and communities communicate and work together in partnership. Also, when schools and community members come together to support young people's education through fundraising, the entire community benefits.
Typical earnings for bachelor's degree holders are $36,000 or 84 percent higher than those whose highest degree is a high school diploma. College graduates on average make $1.2 million more over their lifetime.
Sweden is a great choice for research and innovation. Tuition fee for students from the EU (European Union) countries is free in Sweden. Ranked as the world leader in providing top education systems globally, Sweden has over 45 universities.Which country has the hardest education system? ›
Which country has the hardest education system? South Korea, Japan, Singapore are a few countries which have one of the hardest education systems. Which country has the hardest math? The United Kingdom, The United States of America, etc are the countries having one of the best education systems.What is the biggest education problem in the world? ›
“One in six adults on the planet cannot read or write. Some 600 million women and 300 million men, 99 percent of them in the developing countries, remain illiterate. Some 115 million children between six and eleven—one in five—are not in school.What country spends the most per child on education? ›
Out of the OECD countries, Luxembourg was the country that spend the most on educational institutions per full-time student in 2019. On average, 22,000 U.S dollars were spent on primary education, nearly 25,000 U.S dollars on secondary education, and around 52,000 U.S dollars on tertiary education.Why doesn t the government spend more on education? ›
THE REASON: California is spending less on education because of policy choices it has made. The state directs fewer resources to education than do other states, and its chosen tax sources are volatile, making education funding vulnerable during economic downturns.Why is America the best country for education? ›
That's because American schools are well known for providing high-quality education through a balanced, tried-and-tested curriculum. The US education system is informed by cutting-edge research, which helps develop students into critical thinkers with well-rounded social-emotional skills.Is Canada number one in education? ›
Canada is considered the world's largest education center. Canadian education system offers public and private schools, including community colleges, language schools, technical institutes, summer camps, universities, and colleges.What is Canada's education system ranked? ›
|Country||Rank (2021)||2023 Population|
Canada is known to have one of the best education systems in the world. Each of Canada's 13 provinces and territories runs their own school system and follows government standards to ensure high quality public education across the country. School is mandatory from about the age of 6 years old to 18 years old.
- Bans on teaching specific topics. ...
- Increasing calls for more parental control over what students learn. ...
- Addressing chronic staffing shortages. ...
- Using proposed changes to Title IX to protect LGBTQ students. ...
- Teaching about climate change.
One of the biggest ethical issues that schools face is social inequity. Education institutions often fail to address the problems that arise thanks to the inequalities between different children because of their economic, ethnic, and other family backgrounds.What is a famous quote about education inequality? ›
Education should not be a competition resulting in winners and losers. Education should be a competition against ignorance, and all should be encouraged to win. You can be an expert any field of study with consistent effort and consistent learning.How can we fix education inequality? ›
Stop the expansion of charter and private schools as it is not affordable for all students and creates segregation. Deprioritize test based funding because it discriminates against disadvantaged students. Support teachers financially, as in offering higher salaries and benefits for teachers to improve retention.What is the biggest challenge students face today? ›
- Financial Uncertainty. ...
- Difficulty Managing Commitments. ...
- Inadequate Academic Preparedness. ...
- Help Your Students Achieve Success.
Problem of Practice: Students are having trouble comprehending academic information and successfully using the information they have learned, through reading and other activities, to complete assigned work that requires them to apply their learning in more demanding ways than remembering.
This shift in the nation's racial and ethnic makeup poses challenges for the country's public schools and society at large. These challenges include more students living in poverty, and in segregated neighborhoods, particularly for the country's rapidly growing Latino school-aged population.What province has best education system? ›
Alberta Education, also known as Alberta's Ministry of Education, is the governing body for Alberta's schools. Alberta's students are touted as the highest-ranked in Canada and its education system is often cited as one of the best in the world.How much of Canadian taxes go to education? ›
4%) in 2019/2020 to $78.9 billion. The majority of this spending (94.7%, or $74.7 billion) was directed to public education. Although spending declined across all major categories in public schools, the decrease was mainly attributable to lower spending on instruction and educational services in Ontario and Alberta.Who pays to build schools in Canada? ›
In Canada's Constitution, education and other social services are the responsibility of provinces with the federal government helping to equalize provinces' ability to finance these services, so it makes sense for provinces to pay more of the cost of education (with a significant local role in deciding how this money ...
U.S. per pupil public school expenditure FY 2023, by state
In 2022, New York spent around 29,897 U.S. dollars per pupil on public elementary and secondary schools - the most out of any state.
Colleges and universities can make money from a number of sources, including endowments, gifts, tuition and fees, athletics, and grants. Schools can also make money by charging fees for international enrollment.What government spends the most on education? ›
Norway and Chile reported the highest total expenditures on education institutions as a percentage of GDP (both 6.6 percent), followed by Israel and New Zealand (both 6.2 percent), the United Kingdom (6.1 percent), and the United States (6.0 percent).Are schools free in USA? ›
Yes! All kids living in the United States have the right to a free public education. And the Constitution requires that all kids be given equal educational opportunity no matter what their race, ethnic background, religion, or sex, or whether they are rich or poor, citizen or non-citizen.How do local governments get the money to pay for public schools? ›
Funding for public school districts primarily comes from state (i.e., sales tax, income tax) and local tax revenue (i.e., property tax), with less than 10% of funding coming from federal funds.Are public schools free in USA for international students? ›
No. The law does not allow a student in F-1 status to attend public secondary school without paying tuition. The student must pay the full, unsubsidized per capita (for each student) cost of education in all cases.How does local funding for education affect the quality of education in communities? ›
When school districts spend money wisely, they have better outcomes, including higher test scores, increased graduation rates, and other improved indicators of student achievement. More money also helps ensure that students have schools with better facilities and more curriculum options.Which consequence results from budget cuts in education? ›
Budget cuts have forced public schools to reduce their curriculum offerings, increase class sizes, and cut back on teacher positions. However, to fill the fiscal gap, many schools are taking even more drastic measures to reduce their operating costs.How does lack of resources affect school performance? ›
The lack of resources in classrooms can cause extreme distress on the students and teachers. Not only are the students and teachers in distress, but they are unable to learn to their fullest potential because they are not being given the proper resources.Why does public funding of education benefit economic growth? ›
Education tends to raise productivity and creativity, as well as stimulate entrepreneurship and technological breakthroughs. All of these factors lead to greater output and economic growth.
Having enough funding allows your company to grab any opportunities that come your way, such as investing in new products and services that can help your business grow. Working capital can serve as a safety net when your business needs extra money.What are the effects of insufficient budget? ›
A budget deficit can lead to higher levels of borrowing, higher interest payments, and low reinvestment, which will result in lower revenue during the following year.What are the negative effect of poor budgeting? ›
Bad budgeting can lead to negative long-term financial impacts and difficulties in reaching organizational goals and objectives. Without good budgeting practices, businesses may be unable to effectively allocate resources where they are most needed and not know the difference until it is too late.What are the consequences of poor budgeting? ›
You Might Amass More Debt
Without guidelines, it's easy to let debts accumulate. Many people will only pay the minimum allowed on a credit card because it puts it out of mind. Without a budget, you won't have an easy time carving out extra money to pay down your debts and could even go further into debt.
What is poor school performance? Poor school performance means your child is having trouble in school. The problem may be with a single class or with every class. Your child's grades may go down quickly or more gradually over time.What has the biggest impact on student learning? ›
The most thorough research to date on classroom best practice has revealed the number one factor that impacts student learning is engaging teaching. The study reveals that factors like homework, small classroom sizes and a long school day do not have a big influence on students' learning outcomes.How does lack of resources affect children? ›
A child's birth weight, premature births, and childhood diseases can be affected by poor housing, inadequate medical care, and poor nutrition. These factors interfere with a child's development physically and cognitively. The ability of students to benefit from school is affected by such factors.How does the government decide how much money to give to schools? ›
State general aid funding formulas typically take into account district enrollment, student characteristics, and community wealth. States also provide categorical grants that are more similar to federal funds, in that they are restricted to specific kinds of expenditures.How are public schools funded in Canada? ›
How your school is funded. School boards receive money in two ways: first, some of the property taxes collected in your community go to your local school board. second, the province tops up this amount to bring the total for each board up to the amount set out by the funding formula.