Funding for Instructional Technology Coaching

Funding for Instructional Technology Coaching

Resources for setting up a successful coaching program

Contact Information

Questions about instructional technology coaching?

Contact Nicole Zumpano, Director of Instructional Technology Coaching, at nmzumpano@ltcillinois.org or schedule a meeting.

Building coaching capacity in all K-12 districts

Current research is clear – embedded instructional technology coaches can help teachers harness educational technology’s full potential and improve student outcomes when it comes to teaching through technology.

At the same time, instructional technology coaches can help district’s achieve existing technology integration goals and enhance district-wide instructional practices, starting from day one.

Despite this, funding for coaching programs can be sparse in many districts – especially in light of competing priorities and COVID-19 related financial stresses. The LTC is committed to helping all Illinois K-12 districts navigate this start-up process by offering guidance and resources along the path to establishing an effective instructional coaching program.

Why do teachers need instructional technology coaches?

Over the past two decades, classrooms across the country have progressively embraced more technology – a trend that grew even more urgent in the wake of widespread remote learning.

As a result, today’s teachers are expected to integrate technology into their day-to-day learning activities, even as hardware and software continue to evolve at an exponential pace. Between these expectations and their inherent desire to offer engaging learning experiences, many teachers struggle to meaningfully change their tech-related practices and harness edtech’s full potential.

That’s where instructional technology coaches come in.

In a one-on-one setting, instructional technology coaches can work with individual educators and help them brainstorm viable solutions for overcoming their classroom challenges. Tech coaches also offer a structured framework through which teachers can integrate new strategies and reflect on their progress, ensuring that every teacher has an opportunity grow professionally and make an impactful change on student learning outcomes.

Recent studies have also demonstrated that technology coaching programs can improve overall school culture while also increasing teacher retention year-over-year. Learn more about the individual and institutional benefits of embedded technology coaching in Digital Promise’s Instructional Coaching Playbook.

Technology Coaching Funding Sources

Note: Many of the funding sources outlined below are not explicitly targeted at supporting technology coaching programs. Instead, these funds often promote equity and the adoption of evidence-based professional development strategies. Under these rationales, districts can apply for these grants with the reasonable assumption that technology coaching will be viewed as an allowable expense.

Federal Funding

  • Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Title I
  • Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Title II
  • Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Title IV
  • Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

Passed in 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides funding to schools seeking to increase student equity via technology-based learning strategies. In accordance with guidance from the US Department of Education, Titles I, II, and IV of ESSA can be used to fund and support instructional coaching.

According to federal law, Title I funds can be used for non-instructional costs (behavior supports, attendance programs, community/parent engagement) if these costs are shown to help improve student achievement. Title I funds can also be spent on comprehensive, school-wide interventions, such as a school-wide coaching program.

Depending on a district’s size, location, and other utilizations of federal education funds, grants under several ESSA titles may also be combined together to establish or maintain a coaching program.

Passed in 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides funding to schools seeking to increase student equity via technology-based learning strategies. In accordance with guidance from the US Department of Education, Titles I, II, and IV of ESSA can be used to fund and support instructional coaching.

According to federal law, Title II funds can be used for supporting efforts to train teachers, principals, or other school leaders to effectively integrate technology into curricula and instruction. This may include training to assist teachers in implementing blended learning projects (as defined in Section 4102(1)).

Depending on a district’s size, location, and other utilizations of federal education funds, grants under several ESSA titles may also be combined together to establish or maintain a coaching program.

Passed in 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides funding to schools seeking to increase student equity via technology-based learning strategies. In accordance with guidance from the US Department of Education, Titles I, II, and IV of ESSA can be used to fund and support instructional coaching.

According to federal law, Title IV funds can be used for supporting a well-rounded education, as well as safe and healthy schools environments. A portion of the SSAE program funds (if $30,000 or greater) must be used for increasing effective use of technology to improve the academic achievement, academic growth, and digital literacy of all students.

Depending on a district’s size, location, and other utilizations of federal education funds, grants under several ESSA titles may also be combined together to establish or maintain a coaching program.

Passed in March 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes over $13 billion in emergency relief funding for K-12 schools (collectively administered as the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund or ESSER Fund). Federal guidance for utilizing ESSER funds (including for technology coaching, hardware, software, connectivity, and instructional expenses to support remote learning) can be found here.

Note: as a stimulus program, CARES Act funding is set to expire on June 30, 2024.

Illinois & Philanthropic Funding

  • Illinois Digital Equity
  • IL-EMPOWER

Section 18002 of the federal CARES Act establishes the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund and gives states discretion over distribution of allotted federal funds. Allocated funds within the GEER are set by a statutory formula based on the state’s student-aged population and poverty levels. Paragraph (c) of the same section specifies the allowable uses of funds.

Section 18003 of the federal CARES Act establishes the Educational Stabilization Fund and allows the U.S. Secretary of Education to allocate funds to each state in the same proportion as that state received under Part A of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 in FY 2020. Ninety percent of those funds are to be made available to local educational agencies (LEA), with ISBE making the application for these funds available

IL-EMPOWER is designed for the specific purpose of helping school personnel implement effective school improvement practices that prepare students for post-secondary success. IL-EMPOWER seeks to build a strong and stable foundation of school-wide systems by developing effective continuous improvement practices, also known as “school improvement planning.”

Starting with the 2018 School Report Card, each Illinois school received a Summative Designation, a measure of progress in academic and student success. Multiple measures determine which one of four Summative Designations is appropriate for the school and can be found on the School Report Card. This designation determines which kind and how much funding a school can receive for their requested school improvements.

More information on IL-EMPOWER, including what its funds can be spent on, can be found here.

Other Funding Resources

  • Cost-Sharing Options
  • Guides

Current federal regulations allow two or more school districts (often in a geographic area) to share fund-based services between their schools. In this arrangement, one district acts as the fiscal agent while all districts in the plan pool funds collectively. This type of arrangement may be used to fund a shared technology coaching program between several districts, particularly those who don’t have enough funds (either on hand or through federal grants) to facilitate a coaching program on their own.

The LTC Instructional Technology Coaching program operates on a cost-sharing model, allowing multiple districts in a single geographic area to benefit from embedded instructional coaching at a fraction of the start-up cost. Learn more about our program here.

A Guide to Funding Amounts, Uses, and Requirements – Illinois Education Association (IEA)

Federal Funding Streams and Strategies to Improve Conditions for Learning: A Resource Guide for States – Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)

Evidence-Based Funding Calculator and Resources – State of Illinois and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE)

3 Steps to Building a Sustainable Coaching Program

Adding instructional technology coaching to your district can feel like a daunting task at the onset. However, districts large and small have found innovative ways to make tech coaching a mainstay, ensuring that all teachers have access to the support they need to make robust edtech integration a reality in their classroom.

Consider these three stages as you begin planning your district’s efforts to fund, facilitate, and expand its instructional coaching program.

Don’t forget – the LTC can help you on your instructional coaching journey. Let us know how we can support your district, including finding funding solutions that fit your district’s size and budget.

Establish

Once you’ve committed to starting an in-district technology coaching program, it’s time to begin laying the foundations for a sustainable program that’s both effective and responsive to teachers’ needs. Consider these steps while working to establish your district’s new coaching program:

Funding will likely be a chief concern among district stake-holders when it comes to starting an embedded coaching program. Fortunately, a variety of grant-based sources can be utilized to fund a coaching program, many of which are listed above.

However, there are very few funding sources that are explicitly set aside for starting or maintaining a coaching program. Instead, these sources provide funds to support equity, evidence-based professional development, and larger technology initiatives. Coaching funding can often be secured under these broader banners, so long as a clear connection can be made between the strategy’s implementation and the funding source’s primary goals.

Also, multiple funding models are available to districts, including cost-sharing models that lower the financial barrier to entry for individual districts. Districts may also opt to hire their coach as a teacher or set aside funds from their existing professional development budget to pay their new coaches.

To achieve success with a new coaching program, district stake-holders should set aside time prior to the program’s launch to outline the program’s goals. These could include an increased tech integration rate, as well as other benchmarks for success based on student engagement and learning.

Once goals are agreed upon, district stake-holders should research and select a coaching model that can serve as a framework for achieving their stated tech integration goals. While there are an assortment of established models to choose from, districts should ensure that whatever model they choose, it provides their new coaches with a set of common expectations and methods for achieving the district’s coaching goals.

An effective model should also balance structure against professional autonomy, ensuring that each coach feels empowered to solve teachers’ challenges in a timely manner.

Because of the one-on-one nature of technology coaching, effective candidates can make or break a program in its early stages. As a result, districts should endeavor to identify and hire coaches who are proficient collaborators who can leverage a growth mindset into helping teachers succeed on a day-to-day basis.

While technical skills with current edtech are a must, districts should also consider seeking candidates who are themselves former educators. This can help create an immediate report with current teachers and ensure that empathy plays a role in the coaching process.

Launch

Once the foundations are laid, you can launch your new technology coaching program. Consider these following steps as your newly-hired coaches begin working with your district’s teachers:

Once coaches begin working with teachers, stake-holders and program leaders can work together to refine coaches’ roles within each building or in the district as a while. This step can be especially critical if new or emergent needs arise among the teachers, making it necessary for their coaches to expand the scope of their support in turn. This type of evaluation can also help stake-holders understand how much time coaches spend with teachers, and advocate for program expansion if adequate collaboration time becomes too thin.

If it has not already been accomplished, coaching program leaders should ensure that district administrators have bought into the program success. Often, program leaders can achieve this type of buy-in by involving administrators in early decision-making processes as well as keeping them adequately informed of the program’s successes and shortcomings. Regular, carved out meetings can help facilitate these conversations, as well.

Maintain & Assess

Once your coaching program is in place, you’ll need to begin looking toward the future – especially if you want your coaching program to continue meeting the needs of your district’s teachers. Consider these steps as you strive to maintain your new program’s progress:

A culture of coaching can make a big difference in your district because it allows teachers the space to consistently reflect on their progress and set their sights on new goals. Fostering this type of culture can also give individual teachers the confidence needed to seek out and learn new types of edtech – especially if their successes are regularly celebrated and their shortcomings are presented as an opportunity for growth.

Throughout the initial launch period and beyond, coaching program leaders should collect data on short-term progress. These frequent benchmarks can make it easier to see larger trends down the line and ensure that the larger impact of the coaching program is easier to communicate to administrators and stake-holders.

Like the teachers they work with, technology coaches must strive for professional growth in order to remain reliable allies in the classroom. This can accomplished through a variety of routes, including in-district PD geared toward coaches and regular attendance at tech coach networking events. Districts can also support their coaches by offering them the opportunity to earn new certifications, such as through the LTC’s Google Certified Coach Mentor program.

Depending on how your district allocated start-up funding, your district may need to regularly evaluate their program’s funding source in order to keep on steady ground year-to-year. In particular, districts utilizing state or federal funds to establish their coaching program should be aware that these government-based grants often run out over time. As such, long-term program planning should include conversations about alternative funding methods.