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Funding to Support Remote Professional Learning

Federal funding resources to support quality remote professional learning.

Remote Professional Learning

Local educational agencies (LEAs) place a high priority on recruiting, retaining, and developing highly effective teachers and leaders to support their students and families. The 2019 Novel Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19) emphasizes the critical role of both educators and families in supporting students as they work toward their academic goals. COVID-19 also made LEAs’ transition to incorporating distance learning into the school system a priority. Because teachers need, in many cases, to quickly pivot their modes of instruction, remote training in distance learning is indispensable.

This guidance provides resources and flexibilities through Federal funding to support LEAs as their schools more broadly incorporate educational technology into instruction. Additionally, due to COVID-19 social distancing requirements, the professional learning activities will need to be offered through online platforms. These activities may include skills training through webinars or online conferences and courses. Activities may also be job-embedded through communities of practice, virtual coaching, and peer support sessions.

Quality Professional Learning Standards

The California Quality Professional Learning Standards (QPLS) identify the characteristics of professional learning that are most likely to support educators in building individual and collective capacity to meet professional, school, and student performance expectations. To achieve effective online professional learning, LEAs may consider aligning activities with the QPLS. For further information regarding considerations for developing remote professional learning opportunities that are aligned to the QPLS, visit the California Department of Education (CDE) Quality Professional Learning at a Distance web page.

Federal Funding Flexibilities to Support Remote Professional Learning

The 2020 Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) was designed to respond to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19). The Act includes provisions for education:

The CARES Act allows states and school districts to devote more of their federal resources to technology infrastructure to support distance learning for students and for professional development for teachers who are teaching remotely, many for the first time.

ESEA Funding Flexibility Summary

The CDE and the State Board of Education submitted and received approval for the Federal Flexibility Waiver Request so that LEAs could better use this funding to address the local response to the COVID-19 emergency. These flexibilities are specific to the ESEA Title I, Parts A, B, C, and D; Title II, Part A; Title III; and Title IV, Parts A and B; Title V, Part B, Subpart 2; and McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program programs. For further information, see the CDE COVID-19 Federal Funding Flexibility web page.

  • The 2018 federal fiscal year funds will be available through September 30, 2021.
  • Rules for professional development are waived to allow LEAs to immediately provide training for remote learning in response to COVID-19.
  • The cap on technology infrastructure purchases is temporarily removed.

As LEAs shift instruction to distance learning, both technology infrastructure and professional learning for educators will be required. The waiver of Section 421(b) of the General Education Provisions Act allows LEAs an extended window to use federal fiscal year 2018 funds. Section 8101(42) External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) of the ESEA defines the term "professional development" for Titles I, II, III, and IV and the ESEA. It includes requirements for professional development, defining it as activities that are:

  • Sustained (not stand-alone, 1-day, or short-term workshops), intensive, collaborative, job-embedded, data-driven, and classroom-focused.
  • An integral part of school and LEA planning (In California, these activities are usually documented in the Local Control and Accountability Plan [LCAP] and the corresponding LCAP Federal Addendum.)

Waiving this requirement allows LEAs to quickly use these funds to prepare educators to implement distance learning, even if the trainings are not currently part of district plans. Since teachers need to complete these trainings online, LEAs are able to choose readily available resources, such as those provided by the CDE, which were made available in response to the COVID-19 emergency.

Title IV, Part A of the ESEA limits the use of funds spent on technology infrastructure. Waiving this requirement temporarily allows LEAs to increase these resources to quickly expand distance learning in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Use of Title II, Part A of Elementary and Secondary Education Act Federal Funds

The CDE Title II, Part A Supporting Effective Instruction program web page provides guidance and support to LEAs to develop systems of professional growth External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF), which provide a framework to:

  • Design and implement a professional growth program based on local need, utilizing the Needs Assessment Guidebook External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF),
  • Braid funds to adopt evidence-based strategies which are aligned to challenging academic standards, and
  • Use data to evaluate the effectiveness of the system of growth for all educators.

Title II, Part A is intended to increase student achievement by providing students, specifically low-income and minority students, access to effective educators. To ensure equity across student groups, local programs are supplemented by Title II, Part A to develop a multilayered system to recruit, retain, and develop excellent educators. Online professional learning opportunities can be used to increase the capacity of an LEA’s system of professional growth.

LEAs are able to use these funds to provide:

  • Professional development about the effective use of technology to provide instruction, including:
    • Using data to improve student achievement
    • Engaging families and coordinating services between schools and communities
    • Helping students to develop the skills to succeed in online learning
    • Understanding how to protect student privacy
  • Technology to support online distance learning training. Purchases are permissible for teachers, principals, and other school leaders, for training purposes, but not for classroom or student use.
  • LEAs may repurpose, for temporary use to combat the impact of COVID-19 on the learning environment, equipment and supplies purchased with federal funds that are not currently needed to carry out a Title II, Part A grant program. See the ED Fact Sheet for Repurposing Federal Equipment and Supplies to Combat COVID-19 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) for further information.
  • Purchases for students are not an allowable use of Title II, Part A program funds.

Federal Transferability

There are no current plans for waivers to allow Title II, Part A funds to be used for the purchase of technology for students or for the purpose of providing instruction. LEAs may transfer up to 100 percent of Title II, Part A funds to Title IV, Part A, under which technology purchases for students are allowable. Both Title II and Title IV funds can be transferred into Titles I, II, III, IV, and V funds. This flexibility is intended to allow LEAs to allocate these resources according to local need.

If an LEA decides to transfer funds allocated under Title II, Part A or Title IV, Part A, it must take certain steps. The LEA must:

  • Only transfer funds into a program that is receiving an allocation that federal fiscal year;
  • Engage in timely and meaningful consultation with private school officials;
  • Determine the ESEA programs involved in the transfer;
  • Determine the amount, and federal fiscal year, of funds to be transferred;
  • Establish the effective date for the transfer; and
  • Notify the CDE of each transfer through the Consolidated Application Reporting System.

For further information about transferability, see the CDE Federal Transferability web page and the ED Fact Sheet for Transferring State-and Local-Level Funds. For further information about private school consultation, visit the CDE Equitable Services Ombudsman web page.

Further Information

Questions:   Professional Learning Support and Monitoring Office |
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, October 26, 2022