Meeting ESSA Title IV Requirements with the DESSA

It happens every spring. As schools begin planning next year’s budgets, we are approached with questions from educators who are sold on Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and are looking for ways to fund it for the following year. We’ve previously shared tips on how to leverage Title IV grants for your SEL program. Now let’s explore why Title IV is one of the best ESSA funding sources for SEL and how to meet Title IV requirements.

SEL and Title IV

A recent RAND report asserts that Title IV (21st Century Schools) is the most relevant funding source for SEL. Title IV Part A, specifically, includes a flexible block grant program known as Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants (SSAEG). SEL aligns with SSAEG goals to support students’ access to a well-rounded education and safe and supportive learning environments. Title IV Part B, 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC), supports a broad range of initiatives that reinforce students’ academics, including SEL. Additionally, any district receiving more than $30,000 in Title IV funds must spend at least 20 percent on activities that support “safe and healthy” students. Programs can include SEL, mental health support, school counseling, and anti-bullying initiatives. Besides offering flexible funding to support SEL interventions, Title IV also can provide funding for SEL assessments. Measures of social and emotional competence can meet the following Title IV requirements:

  1. Schools are required to conduct a needs assessment to determine areas of low performance and guide the selection of interventions.
  2. Schools are required to conduct ongoing evaluations to determine whether interventions are having positive effects.

Using the DESSA to Select an SEL Intervention

Title IV requires recipients to conduct evidence-based needs assessments to identify areas that require improvement and inform decisions about which interventions will best support local needs. Aperture Education’s DESSA is a standardized, award-winning assessment that measures students’ social and emotional competence. The DESSA supports this Title IV requirement and can help schools identify school-wide trends and areas that need intervention. This data also can guide decisions on which SEL interventions best meet local needs. For example, if the DESSA identifies a large percentage of students with poor relationship skills, the school can use this data to select an intervention that strengthens students’ communication, teamwork, and relationship-building.

Ongoing Evaluations of Your Intervention

Title IV also requires schools to continually measure the efficacy of their selected interventions. The DESSA integrates seamlessly with many top SEL curriculum providers, including many identified as meeting Title IV funding eligibility criteria. With the DESSA and Aperture Education’s Evo Social/Emotional system, schools can measure the effects of an intervention throughout the year and also at the end of term. Educators are able to conduct progress monitoring to identify which areas of the intervention are working and which areas need adjustments. The DESSA also can be used to track long-term gains in subsequent years after students receive an intervention. There are many opportunities for schools and districts to use Title IV funding for SEL assessments and interventions. The DESSA offers flexible and robust reporting and can help you meet Title IV needs assessment and ongoing program evaluation requirements.

Interested in learning more? Contact our SEL advisors, and we’ll help you put a plan together to secure Title IV funding for your SEL program.