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Research Questions

  1. Which investments did Delaware LEAs that received flexible Opportunity Funding consider most promising for improving the academic achievement of multilingual learners and students experiencing poverty?
  2. How did LEAs use flexible Opportunity Funding to support the academic and social and emotional needs of multilingual learners and students experiencing poverty during the first two years of the coronavirus pandemic?

This report is the fourth in a series describing the RAND Corporation's evaluation of the two Delaware weighted funding programs for disadvantaged K–12 schools spanning the 2019–2020 to 2021–2022 school years: Opportunity Funding and the Student Success Block Grant. The authors drew on annual surveys of Delaware local education agencies (LEAs) that received Opportunity Funding and describe investments that the LEAs perceived to be best practices for improving the academic achievement of multilingual learners and students experiencing poverty. The authors also drew on in-depth interviews with staff in three LEAs to share representative examples of how LEAs used Opportunity Funding.

Key Findings

  • Delaware LEA leaders most frequently reported that hiring staff—as compared with other investments, such as curriculum materials or training—was a best practice for serving multilingual students and students experiencing poverty.
  • Most new staff were hired to provide individualized academic instruction. Second most common were staff to provide mental health, social and emotional learning, and behavioral supports for students.
  • Many of these staff provided holistic supports to students, including connecting families to food, transportation, and other resources to meet student and family needs beyond school.

Recommendations

  • The Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) should use the flexible Opportunity Funding application process and annual meetings with LEAs to communicate its instructional priorities and share guidance for achieving those priorities.
  • DDOE should review the complete set of flexible Opportunity Funding investments each year to gauge where LEAs see their greatest needs and to then responsively develop supports to help LEAs succeed in executing those investments.

Research conducted by

This study was funded through a contract with the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) and undertaken by RAND Education and Labor.

This report is part of the RAND research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.