TDOE Receives Approval of State Spending Plan from U.S. Department of Education for Historic Federal Funding for K-12 Education

Thursday, July 15, 2021 | 02:21pm


Tennessee’s ESSER Spending Strategy Prioritizes Essential Investments for All Students

NASHVILLE, TN — Today, the Tennessee Department of Education received approval from the U.S. Department of Education on Tennessee’s American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) state plan, which lays out the state’s spending strategy for its portion of  federal COVID-19 relief and stimulus funding to benefit K-12 education in Tennessee.  

Tennessee’s goal is to accelerate academic achievement for all students, and Tennessee’s ARP ESSER state plan outlines spending strategies, including grant opportunities and resources, that the department will provide to support districts, schools, teachers, students and families. The U.S. Department of Education highlighted Tennessee’s plan for safely reopening schools, addressing the academic impact of lost instructional time, investing in summer learning and afterschool programs, and community engagement and consultation. Priorities within the state plan include combatting existing gaps in student achievement and opportunity, addressing the needs of rural communities, improving early literacy, and accelerating student academic achievement across the state. 

"The department is proud to receive approval from the U.S. Department of Education on Tennessee’s ARP ESSER state plan because we deeply believe that by maximizing the over $4 billion in federal funding coming to K-12 education in Tennessee, our state has an historic opportunity to make strong student-centered investments to accelerate learning and drive positive outcomes for kids," said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “Thanks to Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly, K-12 education in Tennessee has also benefitted from state-level policies and funding supports during the pandemic that will help all of us—school districts, teachers, communities, and families—work together to ensure the best possible education for all students.”

To view the Tennessee’s approved ARP ESSER State plan and additional information, click here

Beginning in 2020, the U.S. Congress responded to the global COVID-19 health pandemic by passing several pieces of legislation to send an historic influx of federal stimulus funding to states. Between four major sources of federal relief and stimulus funding, Tennessee will benefit from almost $4.2 billion for K-12 education specifically, to be spent between spring 2020 and fall 2024.

In May, the Tennessee Department of Education shared the overall spending strategy for the state’s portion of the federal COVID-19 relief and economic stimulus funding, including planned investments for the following:

  • ACADEMICS: All Tennessee students will have access to a high-quality education by learning to read and reading to learn with high-quality materials. 
  • STUDENT READINESS: Tennessee schools will be equipped to serve the academic and non-academic needs of all students by developing robust career pathway opportunities and connecting students to real-time support. 
  • EDUCATORS: Tennessee will set a new path for the education profession by becoming a teacher for free. 
    • $21M in programs to support the educator pipeline, including the department’s Grow Your Own program

Like the state agency, districts are required to develop plans that outline local spending strategies for their portion of federal funding. District plans are due to the Tennessee Department of Education on August 27th, 2021 for review and approval, and district plans are required to be posted publicly upon approval. To support districts in their planning, the department is regularly updating this webpage with guidance, templates and resources. 

For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact