Burbio School Tracker 7/24: Strategic Plans

This week we present an updated distribution of ESSER III spending levels by district and introduce a new dataset: K-12 District Strategic Plans.

1.  Burbio tracks the amount of ESSER III funding that has been spent by districts nationwide, and also has compiled over 7,000 searchable district plans representing over 83% of K-12 students and over $93 billion in spending.  Detailed charts featuring over 75 spending categories can be found on Burbio's ESSER III summary page.   

This week we look at the distribution of funds spent across districts in 13 states that have reported since at least April 30th, 2023.   The states in the sample cover over 3,000 districts and over $25 billion of ESSER III allocations.  Just over 45% of the districts in the sample report having spent less than half their ESSER III allocation as of the last reporting date: 


2.  Districts nationwide issue strategic plans, generally on a five year schedule but occasionally updated annually.  During Q3 Burbio will offer a searchable database of these documents to clients, which allows the plans to be incorporated into district-level discussions, as well as evaluated in aggregate to examine trends across K-12. 

Strategic plans typically include a statement of goals and objectives and incorporate some level of stakeholder input.  Beyond that they differ in depth and approach.  Among the elements that vary:

  • The specificity of strategies the district is using and the number of supporting points for each of those strategies.

  • Whether the district lays out academic benchmarks and if so, what the specific targets are for each benchmark. 

  • The level of detail on specific initiatives the district will be supporting in the coming years, ranging from academic programs, staff training, infrastructure, safety, community outreach, capital improvements, and more. 

  • The amount of discussion on district culture and operating philosophy. 

To launch the service, Burbio has gathered over 370 plans from 40 states plus the District of Columbia covering over 20% of the US school population.  Similar to our other K-12 datasets these figures will grow rapidly in the coming months.  We expect to cover the majority of US students by early Fall.   Before reviewing plan content, we'll answer a basic question about how long and detailed the plans are.   The chart below is a page-length distribution from our initial dataset: 


3.  Now we move to keyword references in strategic plans.  Below is a chart that shows the percent of plans where the following culture terms appear at least once: 


In the next chart we highlight the percent of plans where the following academic and instructional support terms appear: 


The final keyword chart this week is school operations terms:  


4. We finish by profiling a few example strategic plans.   While many districts haven't updated their plans in the last eighteen months, each of the following have been issued in 2022 or later: 

The School District of Manatee County, FL issued their "Ready 2026" plan in 2022. It is 60 pages and opens with "Portrait of a Graduate," a framework we see in many plans, covering academic and career preparation for students.  Other sections include: 

  • The 'Ready to Learn' section covers foundational educational programs, screening programs for students with special needs, gifted and talented programs, and professional development.  

  • "Ready for Life" covers college and career, first-generation college student support, the expansion of acceleration programs, and civic programs.

  • "Ready to grow" section covers employee compensation and retention, energy programs, school security, and more.

The plan has considerable detail on the build out of programs to support the initiatives.  It covers a wide variety of benchmarks targeted for increase with some having specific targets  (e.g. "Increase the percentage of students closing achievement gaps per state progress monitoring assessment as evidenced by two percentage points per school year") and others referencing only the goal of increasing participation or achievement in an area, with no specific figures given.

Salt Lake City School District, UT approved a 2024-29 plan in March, 2023.  The densely-written 47 page plan identifies four "Pillars of Student Achievement:"

  • Educational Equity, Access, and Student Support

  • Student Achievement PreK-12/Transition

  • Family-School and Community Partnerships and Communication 

  • Learning Environments, Stewardship, and Sustainability. 

The plan document contains charts with dozens of action steps and specific targets that range from programs such as SEL, Pre-K, and enrichment, to community outreach and equity audits, to investments in school security, and more.  

Charleston County School District, SC  built their 20 page plan in November 2022 around the theme of "Vision  2027" and the document is almost entirely focused on historical testing results and future targets.  Examples include statements such as:

  • "The percentage of Black/African American and Hispanic 5th grade students reading on grade level will increase from 25.5% in July 2022 to 60.7% in July 2027 as measured by SC READY ELA;"

  • "The percentage of all CCSD students enrolled in 8th Grade achieving C or higher on the Algebra I End-of-Course exam by the end of 8th grade will increase from 24.9% in May 2022 to 60.3% in May 2027"

  • "The percentage of students in the 4-year cohort who graduate college and/or career ready will increase from 67.7% in August 2021 to 86.2% in August 2027 as measured by SC College and Career Readiness Indicators."

As the database grows we will be able to more finely evaluate trends.  Among them would be differences in plans across regions, among different district types, as well as differences in 'post-Covid' plans versus those last updated in 2020 or earlier. 

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