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Learning Library Blog Take Action: Tips for implementing, advocating for ESSA funds
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Take Action: Tips for implementing, advocating for ESSA funds

By Ji Soo Song
March 28, 2020
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In December 2015, the U.S. Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a sweeping update to the No Child Left Behind Act that profoundly shaped public education for nearly 14 years. ESSA includes a new provision called Title IV-A that funds a range of programs and activities, including those that promote the effective use of edtech. 

Thousands of schools have already benefited from Title IV-A funds. In line with Congressional intent, districts around the country are using the federal dollars to improve student learning experiences by developing educators’ capacities to use edtech effectively. In a national survey of over 1,000 districts, 90% of respondents indicated that continued investment of Title IV-A funds for edtech priorities was important to their district. 

However, the executive branch has repeatedly threatened elimination of Title IV-A from the federal budget. Thanks to the continued advocacy of ISTE and our members nationwide, as well as other supporters, Congress has gradually increased its funding over the last several years. The program is funded at $1.21 billion for 2020. 

This represents an excellent opportunity for education leaders to bolster their edtech priorities. ISTE provides the following core recommendations for state and district leaders to best leverage Title IV-A:

Take a collaborative approach.

Invite classroom educators, librarians, edtech coaches and other stakeholders to discuss the most critical investment priorities and determine how the implementation of evidence-based programs and activities may be best supported. Consider how federal dollars may be strategically invested to build educators’ capacities to apply the ISTE Standards in the classroom. For example, Wyoming began using Title IV-A funds to support 100 educators enrolled in the ISTE Certification program. The state’s Professional Teaching Standards Board will qualify ISTE-certified educators for the state’s instructional technology endorsement. 

Provide Title IV-A implementation resources with a strong edtech component.

ISTE’s “Using ESSA to Fund Edtech” guide ( informs strategies for investing Title IV-A funds, including how technology can support many of the allowable uses of Title IV-A funds, even those that don’t explicitly reference technology. State leaders may choose to feature such resources on a dedicated Title IV-A technical assistance webpage. See the Wis­consin Department of Public Instruction’s webpage for an example. 

Collect data and stories from stakeholders.

To ensure that Congress continues to fund Title IV-A, advocates must have access to information about how federal dollars have substantively contrib­uted to improving educator quality and student learning experiences. These stories may also help spark ideas among neighboring states and districts. Let ISTE know how your state or district is using Title IV-A funds to support edtech by contacting

Finally, ISTE encourages educators and advocates to reach out to district or state leaders to see how they’re investing Title IV-A funds, and then help them understand that federal dollars can and should be leveraged in ways that allow more educators to use technology effectively in the classroom. Find out how you can get the most out of TitleIV-A in this ISTE white paper.

Ji Soo Song is ISTE's senior policy and advocacy associate.

(Photo by Steve Smith.)