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SEA Consultation

Consistent with the ARP ESSER requirements, describe how the SEA engaged in meaningful consultation with stakeholders, and incorporated input into its plan, including, but not limited to:

  1. students;
  2. families;
  3. Tribes (if applicable);
  4. civil rights organizations (including disability rights organizations);
  5. school and district administrators (including special education administrators);
  6. superintendents;
  7. charter school leaders (if applicable);
  8. teachers, principals, school leaders, other educators, school staff, and their unions; and
  9. stakeholders representing the interests of children with disabilities, English learners, children experiencing homelessness, children and youth in foster care, migratory students, children who are incarcerated, and other underserved students.

The description must include how the SEA provided the public the opportunity to provide input in the development of the plan, a summary of the input (including any letters of support), and how the SEA took such input into account.

PDE is committed to providing stakeholders at every level of the state education system an opportunity to help inform development of the state ARP ESSER plan.

PDE has consulted with stakeholders for the ARP ESSER plan in multiple ways.

  • Focus Groups. PDE held focus groups with more than 90 school leaders, educators, students, community service providers, and adjudicated youth facility educators. Focus group participants included representatives of afterschool organizations; foster care experts including youth, educators, and service providers; representatives of Pennsylvania's Education for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness Program; charter school administrators; migrant students; migrant education program specialists; educators of ELs; regional coordinators of Student Assistance Programs; and IU specialists in school climate and school safety.
  • Questionnaires. PDE distributed online questionnaires related to the ARP ESSER plan to school leaders, educators (both in-school and out-of-school-time), postsecondary educators and researchers, community organizations, families of disproportionately impacted students, etc., targeted to the most impacted groups. One instrument was geared toward the K-12 education community and one toward the postsecondary education community. PDE received 211 questionnaires between June 1 and July 8, 2021.
  • Professional Education Organizations. PDE met with professional education organizations, including the Pennsylvania State Education Association, Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, Pennsylvania School Boards Association, Pennsylvania Principals Association, Pennsylvania Association of Career and Technical Administrators, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, and American Federation of Teachers-Pennsylvania.
  • Policymakers. PDE shared ideas and stakeholder feedback with Pennsylvania lawmakers and worked with Pennsylvania's General Assembly to ensure timely appropriation of ARP ESSER funding.
  • Interviews. The Department commissioned 22 formal interviews between May 7 and 19, 2021, to ensure that agency guidance reflected the highest priority concerns of diverse stakeholders. Stakeholders included State Board of Education members; district, charter, and IU administrators; local school board members; and representatives of the civil and disability rights community, education associations, and parent and advocacy organizations.
  • Online Public Comment Period. PDE posted a draft ARP ESSER plan on the PDE website in English and Spanish for any member of the public to provide feedback from July 1-7, 2021 and received 31 comments. PDE sent a message to school leaders on the day the draft plan was posted for public feedback, and advertised the availability of the draft state plan for public feedback through nine social media posts on its Twitter and Facebook accounts over the course of the seven-day public comment period.

Additionally, PDE has taken into consideration previous input about the impact of the pandemic on teaching and learning that educators, families, advocacy groups and other stakeholders provided to PDE prior to the ARP Act. This includes emails sent to PDE's designated pandemic-related resource account and the findings of Remake Learning, KnowledgeWorks, and PDE-led statewide listening sessions from the spring of 2021.6

Table C1. Overview of Stakeholder Groups Engaged.

Stakeholder Group Outreach Related to ARP ESSER

PDE staff designed and shared a questionnaire with stakeholder networks. PDE staff encouraged adult stakeholders to convene students to complete the questionnaire as a group and/or to incorporate students' input in their responses. In one case, a student social justice advocacy group met and submitted a questionnaire response as a group; in others, PDE staff convened focus groups centered on migrant education, homeless students, or English learners, to address the questions as a group. Approximately 10 students participated in focus groups in this way and another two independently submitted questionnaires identifying themselves as students.

Families and caregivers

A public comment period from July 1 to July 7, 2021, provided an opportunity for any member of the public to give feedback on the draft state ARP ESSER plan, and PDE received 10 comments from families and caregivers during that period, in addition to approximately one dozen earlier questionnaire responses from families of disproportionately impacted student groups. PDE staff also convened focus groups with parents and caregivers of students with disabilities, migrant students, and students experiencing homelessness and used input from prior focus groups and questionnaires that specifically engaged families of students with disabilities.

Civil rights, disability rights, or other educational equity advocacy organizations

PDE primarily engaged with representatives of educational equity advocacy organizations through virtual meetings. PDE reached out to advocacy organizations for feedback as the draft state plan was taking shape, and for organizations for feedback as the draft state plan was taking shape, and for general input through a questionnaire. Four questionnaire responses were from respondents who identified as primarily representing an equity or disability rights advocacy organization.

School leaders (non-charter schools)

Fourteen questionnaire responses were from respondents who identified as primarily being a school leader, not of a charter school. This was the primary means of input from school leaders as a group, although school leaders also participated in focus groups that centered on disproportionately impacted student groups. For example, school leaders from schools with high migrant student populations participated in focus groups discussing the highest priority issues facing migrant students and most effective practices to address their needs because of inequities exacerbated by the pandemic.

School leaders (charter schools)

PDE staff conducted focus groups with charter school leaders from across Pennsylvania, and in addition, received three questionnaire responses from individual charter school leaders.

Superintendents and assistant superintendents

PDE shared a questionnaire for input with superintendents and received 18 responses from superintendents or assistant superintendents. Four more provided feedback on the draft plan during the public comment period. Additionally, PDE staff met with Grable Foundation fellows who support superintendents to learn about emerging themes of needs and priorities across this stakeholder group during the pandemic.

School or district administrators

PDE shared a questionnaire for input with school and district administrators and received 40 responses, the most of any stakeholder group.

Special education administrators, educators, or other staff

PDE staff in the Bureau of Special Education reached out to family advocates, educators, community organizations, and others to convene focus groups; additionally, PDE shared a questionnaire with educator networks in special education and received 23 responses.

School teachers, educators, or other in-school education staff

Teachers were represented in focus groups centered on disproportionately impacted student groups, and 22 additionally submitted input on students' greatest needs, schools' priority issues, and promising practices through a questionnaire. PDE staff also met with leaders of the Pennsylvania Teachers Advisory Committee and union representatives for input.

Out-of-school-time educators

Out-of-school-time educators, including afterschool and summer school educators and community organizations, provided input through a questionnaire (four responses), public comment (four responses) and through virtual meetings with PDE staff.

School counselors, psychologists, or social workers

PDE engaged social workers in convening focus groups centered on students experiencing homelessness, migrant students, and children and youth in foster care. PDE received one individual questionnaire response from a school counselor or psychologist and detailed feedback from the Pennsylvania School Counselors Association.

School nurses and health staff

PDE received one response from a school nurse or health staff member providing input on the state plan through a questionnaire.

Librarians (in schools and in communities)

PDE's Office of Commonwealth Libraries provided librarians in disproportionately impacted communities or serving disproportionately impacted youth with a questionnaire to give input on priority issues, greatest needs facing impacted student groups, and promising practices, and received five responses, one from a school librarian and four from community librarians.

Postsecondary faculty, staff, administrators, and educator preparation providers

PDE's Office of Postsecondary and Higher Education engaged postsecondary faculty and staff who are researchers and/or educator preparation providers to learn about needs and effective practices specific to impacted student groups and needs of educators and pre-service educators. PDE received 35 responses to a questionnaire from the postsecondary community. Together with several responses from professional learning providers and the responses of teachers and administrators, this input helped identify issues educators face in schools and ways to address those issues for effective teaching and learning.

Education consultants and researchers

PDE staff reached out to education consultants and researchers from not only postsecondary institutions but also IUs, nonprofit organizations, and others who have expertise in effective practices or needs of impacted student groups. In addition to the postsecondary staff mentioned above, PDE received input from five education consultants and researchers through a questionnaire and one through the public comment period.

Table C2. Targeted Outreach, Based on Disproportionate Impact of the Pandemic.

Stakeholder Group Outreach Related to ARP ESSER
(For each respondent category, data reflect stakeholders who responded to the PDE questionnaire providing input into development of the draft state plan who said they were "responding primarily as a stakeholder representing the interests of" this group.)
Children and youth with disabilities118 stakeholders
English learners72 stakeholders
Children experiencing homelessness68 stakeholders
Children and youth in foster care61 stakeholders
Migrant students31 stakeholders
Justice-involved youth including incarcerated children51 stakeholders
LGTBQ+ students

No stakeholders responding to the questionnaire said they were "responding primarily as a stakeholder representing the interests of" this group.

However, 52 respondents did choose to identify highest priority needs of this group when given the option to do so.

Other students disproportionately impacted by the pandemic

As part of the questionnaire to targeted stakeholder groups, respondents could identify a student group whose experience they wanted to highlight as being disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Respondents identified the following groups of students:

  • career and technical education students (2 mentions)
  • students in Alternative Education for Disruptive Youth settings (2)
  • students experiencing mental health concerns (2)
  • students who have suffered trauma (2)
  • cyber charter students (1)
  • families of charter students (1)
  • undocumented students (1)
  • immigrant students (1)
  • urban elementary and secondary students (1)
  • rural students (1)
  • language minoritized students (1)
  • dual enrolled (secondary and postsecondary) students (1)
Educators and future educators impacted by the pandemic

Seventy-eight stakeholders who responded to the questionnaire providing input into the development of a draft state plan said they were "responding primarily as a stakeholder representing the interests of" this group.

Stakeholders identified these groups of school staff who have been particularly impacted by the pandemic:

  • school principals (2 mentions)
  • early childhood educators and childcare providers (2)
  • prospective educators, whose preparation for the field has been adversely affected by the pandemic (1)
  • professional school counselors (1)
  • state correctional educators (1)

Initially, PDE used input received throughout the pandemic to inform development of a draft plan. PDE staff reached out to stakeholders representing the targeted groups listed above, through a questionnaire, presentations, and focus groups, and synthesized that input, and PDE leaders subsequently revised the state plan to address the priority issues and apply the promising practices that surfaced from stakeholders. PDE further revised plans in accordance with the finalization of the state budget and amendments to the Pennsylvania Fiscal Code on June 30, 2021. The public comment period from July 1 to July 7, 2021, provided an opportunity to gather feedback on the draft plan. PDE staff synthesized and incorporated that feedback into the draft submitted to the U.S. Department of Education on July 16, 2021. Input and feedback that could not be incorporated into the state plan continues to be discussed by PDE leaders and considered in ongoing guidance to LEAs and the work of PDE.

Summary of input received: Part A cites the highest priority issues, promising practices, and greatest student needs based on stakeholder input. The need for social-emotional learning, mental health supports, and the related need for teachers to receive training in social-emotional learning and trauma-informed instruction were the most frequent themes to emerge across all stakeholder groups providing input and across all student groups concerned.

6 Prior to the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act, the Pennsylvania Department of Education began a collaboration with education nonprofit organizations KnowledgeWorks and the Pittsburgh-area-based Remake Learning Network to gather stakeholder input about pandemic-era teaching and learning across Pennsylvania. From March through May 2021, through a statewide questionnaire and a series of 21 role-specific listening sessions, the collaborative engaged nearly 900 stakeholders including caregivers, students, educators, administrators, and out-of- school time providers across 41 counties to capture promising practices for teaching and learning, understand the conditions that exacerbated inequities, and elevate potential actions that could sustain or ignite positive change.