Federal funding can help support ed-tech goals in a school or district

ed-tech-fundingEducation technology is a priority in today’s classrooms, and this includes ensuring that students have access to technology tools and high-speed internet to access digital learning resources.

While school budgets are still burdened, federal funding programs, including formula and competitive grant programs, can funnel funds directly to digital learning opportunities, even if program rules and statutes do not explicitly reference ed-tech.

In an open letter to educators, Richard Culatta, the U.S. Department of Education’s director of the Office of Educational Technology, outlines some ways that federal funds from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), along with funds from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), can support ed-tech goals to use technology tools to improve teaching and learning.

These funds might be used to improve ed-tech professional development opportunities for educators, expand access to digital content for students, promote educator collaboration and communication, and give students devices to access digital learning resources.

(Next page: Examples of how federal funds might be used to support ed-tech)

Professional development

School districts can use Title II-A funds to hire coaches or help personalize professional development for educators. Coaches could help teachers master various ed-tech tools, such as devices, platforms, or digital materials.

Title II-A funds also might be used to develop performance systems that reward and acknowledge professional development accomplishments through a competency-based format instead of a time- or input-based format.

Student access to ed-tech resources and support

Ed-tech resources purchased through Title III-A, such as digital learning materials, could be used to improve teaching and learning for English Language Learners.

States could use IDEA Part B set-aside funds to support the use of technology to help reduce paperwork involved in the Individualized Education Program process for families and teachers.

Educator communication, collaboration

Special education and general education teachers’ ability to effectively integrate ed-tech in order to communicate with parents of students with disabilities could be enhanced through use of IDEA Part D State Professional Development Grants.

Title II-B Math Science Partnership funds could help purchase software and devices to connect educators to real-life STEM professionals in an attempt to create professional learning communities.


Districts could leverage Title I-A funds to purchase devices, such as laptops or tablets, in addition to curriculum and professional development, as part of a comprehensive district-wide ed-tech plan.

Using IDEA Part B funds set aside for state-level activities, states might opt to support assistive technology devices that connect students with disabilities to more accessible opportunities in the general education curriculum.

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Laura Ascione

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