Every Student Succeeds Act Title I and III Grant Spending and Equity Work in Minnesota

Sara George


George, S.G.K. Every Student Succeeds Act Title I and III Grant Spending and Equity Work in Minnesota (2023) The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was introduced as part of President Johnson’s array of suggested civil rights and antipoverty reforms in 1965. ESEA funding was intended to be a supplemental funding source to provide more equitable conditions for all learners in the United States. The last two re-authorizations of the ESEA, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), have entrenched a focus on student achievement as determined by performance on standardized tests. This research had two parts. First, financial data from 67 Minnesota school districts were collected and analyzed to see how districts were spending their ESEA Title I and Title III grant awards during the 2018-2019 school year. Second, qualitative data from 16 districts’ ESSA Title I and Title III grant applications and state-required World’s Best Workforce documentation were coded and analyzed to determine which strategies school leaders reported using to close academic achievement gaps that existed in their disaggregated data. The financial data showed that within Minnesota most ESSA Title I grant expenditures fund teacher positions, and ESSA Title III grant expenditures fund paraprofessional positions. The findings in the qualitative data suggested that school districts considered data-related work and differentiated instruction most frequently as their strategies to address systemic inequity. This finding suggests that school leaders may be invested in analyzing data and supplying academic interventions instead of seeking anti-racist and culturally affirming strategies to address systemic inequities for minoritized populations of learners.