Federal Funding, ESSER, and ESSA Evidence

- Federal Funding Sources

- Sustaining Funding

- Evidence of Promise

Federal Funding Sources

ESSER Appropriate Uses

The Coronavirus Response & Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 (CRRSA Act) and the American Rescue Plan provide additional funds for specific types of activities. Speak Agent is eligible for the following appropriate uses:

  • Any activity authorized by ESEA, IDEA, or ESSER-1, ESSER-2, or ESSER-3.
  • Addressing unfinished COVID learning among students, including low-income students, students with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care, of the local educational agency, including by implementing evidence-based activities to meet the comprehensive needs of students.
  • Activities that address the unique needs of multilingual learners, low-income students, children with disabilities, racial and ethnic minorities, and other marginalized learner populations.
  • Planning and implementing activities related to summer learning and supplemental afterschool programs, including providing classroom instruction or online learning during the summer months and addressing the needs of multilingual learners, low-income students, students with disabilities, migrant students, and other marginalized learners.
  • Providing school leaders with the resources necessary to address school needs.
  • Planning for and coordinating services during long-term closures.
  • Purchasing educational technology that aids in regular and substantive educational interactions between students and their classroom teachers.

Title I

Title I, Part A provides grants to districts and schools with high numbers or percentages of low-income families to help ensure that all children meet academic standards. Title I can fund Speak Agent as a supplemental program/intervention consisting of instructional materials, technology, and professional development.

Title III

Title III, Part A provides grants to districts and schools (via states) to supplement programs for students with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) such as English Learners. Schools are expected to hold LEP/ELL students to the same state standards as those required of all students. Title III can fund evidence-based education technology solutions like Speak Agent and related services for LEP/ELL students.


Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) is a Title IV program distributed to districts and schools that receive Title I funds. It can be used to support STEM instruction, health and safety programs, or technology enhancements such as blended learning programs, software, digital resources, or professional development. Speak Agent could either fall under the "Well-Rounded Education Activities" (e.g., STEM) or "Technology" depending on your program design.

Sustaining Funding Beyond ESSER

How Long Can ESSER Funding Be Used?

That depends on whether you are using ESSER-1, ESSER-2, or ESSER-3 funds:


Remember that obligating funds does not necessarily mean that the funds must be paid by that time.

How Do I Sustain This After ESSER Expires?

This is a critical question! With Speak Agent, you have many options:

First, now is a good time to use ESSER funds make upfront investments such as Curriculum Mapping and Alignment or Custom Content Development. These are non-recurring costs, so if you implement these services now with ESSER money, you will not need to bear these expenses down the road until you adopt a new curriculum.

Second, federal title programs continue to grow and will be available for those programs that you find make the most impact:

  • Title III funds for multilingual learners.
  • Title I funds for schools and learners identified as Title I.
  • Title II funds for the professional development plans offered by Speak Agent.

Lastly, ESSER gives you a multi-year window to try new programs. Not all will produce the desired outcomes. You may not be able to maintain all of these programs indefinitely, so setting clear goals and measures upfront will be critical to supporting your future decision making. Set up accountability mechanisms now and communicate them with both your internal stakeholders and external partners so that there is a shared understanding of how success is defined. Speak Agent's Strategic Blueprint process can help you identify clear goals and measures. Please contact us if we can share this free resource with you. 

ESSA Evidence

Study Data Supporting "Moderate" Evidence

All of the federal grant programs require interventions/programs to meet ESSA evidence criteria. Speak Agent meets the "moderate" evidence criteria, based on the following findings in a full-year QED study sponsored by the National Science Foundation, among other research: 

Criterion Evidence How Speak Agent Aligns to the Criterion
Study Design meets-ESSA-evidenceMeets A quasi-experimental design (QED) was used where STEM classes (85% ELL/MLL) were randomly assigned to either the treatment or control condition by an independent evaluator, Rockman et al. The control group received standard instruction. The treatment replaced 30 minutes/week with Speak Agent. The full-year, two-phase study was sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Two small-scale follow-on studies reproduced the results. In addition, an ongoing study of aggregated data by LEANLAB Education in 2021-2022 (N=6,902) has provided further support for the findings.
Significant Favorable Effects meets-ESSA-evidenceMeets


Multilingual Learners using Speak Agent in the NSF study significantly outperformed the control group (by 210%) using an independently designed test of academic STEM concepts. Small-scale follow-on studies (KIPP and Montgomery County, MD) found similar effect sizes.

No Significant Unfavorable Effects meets-ESSA-evidenceMeets No statistically significant unfavorable effects have been observed to date in any Speak Agent study, including studies by Rockman et al and the NSF, LEANLAB Education and KIPP Foundation, or by Montgomery County, Maryland.
Multi-Site Sample and Overlap

meets-ESSA-evidence Meets

Speak Agent efficacy data were collected from six schools in three states in three separate studies with a total of 243 students in grades 2-7, 85% of whom were classified as Limited English Proficiency (LEP). In addition, the ongoing study of aggregated data includes a population of 6,902 students in grades 6-8.


In addition to the studies, all Speak Agent products for grades K-12 use a research-based logic model and proven effective instructional strategies. Speak Agent applies 36 research-based instructional strategies across its varied activities. The research behind these strategies is compiled by the Learner Variability Project, a service provided by non-profit partner Digital Promise. 

Research-Based Strategies for Multilingual Learners

You may further explore the rationale behind our ELL strategies at our research partner website below:

Visit ELL Workspace