Setting Up a Coaching Program for Success
Identify Available Funding Resources
District budgets have many competing priorities, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds are scarce and costs will likely be a driving factor in the model of coaching a district chooses to implement. That said, our research on the Dynamic Learning Project pilot (DLP)1 indicates that full-time, school-embedded coaches can help teachers leverage technology in powerful ways and improve instructional practices. We encourage school leaders to mobilize support and identify resources for this model of coaching whenever possible.
According to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), coaches are typically funded in three ways: 1) a coach is hired as a teacher; 2) a coach may be supported by reallocating funds for professional development; or 3) a coach may be hired through external federal or state funding sources. While many schools use the third option, it is important to note that relying on federal and state grants comes with risk, as these funds are often reduced or eliminated. We recommend leaders think about funding sustainability from the beginning and plan to transition coaching expenses into their operating budgets as soon as possible. Overall, longer-term investments in coaching are preferable to maintain continuity from year to year.
Below, you will find a list of federal and state funding sources that can be used to support coaching.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
According to guidance from the U.S. Department of Education, the following Titles of ESSA can be used to fund and support instructional coaches:
- Title I – Improving Basic Programs Operated by the State and Local Education Agencies
- Title II – Preparing, Training, and Retaining Teachers, Principals, and Other School Leaders
- Title IV – 21st Century Schools
Large urban districts may be eligible to combine federal funding under several Titles to support instructional coaches. This is known as transferability. Additionally, schools and districts that are identified for improvement may be eligible for additional ESSA funding to support instructional coaching.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes $13.2 billion in emergency relief funding for K-12 schools, known as the Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund.
See guidance from the U.S. Department of Education on how ESSER funds are distributed to states and districts.
Many states provide funding for coaches through competitive state grants for innovation or school improvement, such as:
- Delaware Reimagining Professional Learning Grants
- The New York State Learning Technology Grant (LTG) program
- Pennsylvania Ready to Learn Block Grants
- The Utah Digital Teaching and Learning (DTL) Program
Check your State Education Agency’s website to see if your state offers grant funds for instructional coaches.
State-wide Coaching Programs
Other states fund instructional coaches through regional learning centers and partnerships with institutions of higher education. The following are examples of state-funded instructional coach programs:
- Alabama Technology in Motion (TiM) Specialists
- Kentucky Teachers Helping Teachers
- Michigan Regional Technology Specialists (RITS)
- North Carolina New Teacher Support Program
Check your SEA’s website or SETDA’s interactive state profiles to see if your state funds instructional coaches and instructional technology coaches.
Pool Resources Between Districts
Federal regulations allow two or more school districts to pool resources to share services among several schools. In this arrangement, one district acts as the fiscal agent and manages the funds to pay for the shared activities. Districts can pool funds to hire an instructional coach to serve multiple schools.
1The Dynamic Learning Project pilot (DLP) refers to the coaching program and research study that took place from 2017-20.
This page was authored by Melissa Bellin.