Gaining Student Growth With ESSER 


Part One of Two Part Series

Gaining Student Growth with ESSER 

By Ann M Ennis

MAY 22, 2023

During the April 10 EVSC School Board meeting trustees voted to sign a contract with Ten Adams, a local, marketing and advertising firm. Per the agenda, the EVSC will spend $250,000 from ESSER funding (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds) for a project supporting EVSC’s trademarked GAIN framework.

The project is the Agenda Action Item 5.06 for April 10:

GAIN  — Growth in Academics through Innovation and Neuroeducation — is the EVSC’s evidence-based approach to support healthy whole student development with the goal for students to graduate high school with the cognitive, academic, executive functioning, and employability skills needed to be successful at work, home, and in the community. 

“The Office of Neuroeducation recommends approval of the agreement with Ten Adams. Ten Adams will develop a website, messaging, and online portal of existing EVSC content and resources for current and future users providing a simpler more effective experience. This website will allow educators to transform and improve the learning experience and outcomes for all students. The total cost for this contract is $250,000.00 and the funding source is ESSER.

Dr. David Smith, EVSC Superintendent, said the work will ensure better, clearer, easily accessed curriculum maps online for users, primarily its own educators. The project is about more than curriculum maps, however. 

The GAIN project Scope of Work provides an in-depth assessment of broad project goals. The project outline includes defining the “Current State” of EVSC and GAIN, and a predicted or desired “Future State” of the same. 

According to the document, “The GAIN initiative — an evidence-informed approach to ensure each student has the opportunity to achieve their maximum potential — is to a point in the development phases that leadership is ready to explore the best approach to introduce this innovative product to a larger market.”

The Scope also predicts that “With the learning gathered from the research phase, we will be able to confidently develop a website, messaging and an online portal for current and future users that will provide a simple and effective user experience — this will allow educators and users to leverage the content available to transform and improve the learning experience for all students.”

“Future users may be our students, Youth First social workers classroom assistants or therapists, just to name a few,” Dr. Smith noted. 

Project funding is from the emergency education funds in ESSER. EVSC leaders say despite the emphasis on the GAIN website and messaging, this transformative work is more about improving student success and ability to learn. The project is also technological. The Indiana Department of Education states that ESSER funds are for traditional education approaches but can be used for technological improvements. 

EVSC’s GAIN includes attention to student executive function skills and stress load relief as precursors to improved cognition, education, and employability skills. The GAIN framework includes guiding EVSC educators in group instruction, student self-initiative, and commonality of mapping for a consistent curriculum, said Smith.  GAIN is driven by data from various contracted surveys.

Foremost, according to Dr. Smith, this project’s web space will feature curriculum maps and other supports for modern education approaches that use few or no textbooks. 

“GAIN is an approach to lesson planning, using data and brain science as supports,” agreed Laura Ballard, 2022-retired EVSC high school teacher. She continued, “Data and brain science have a place in education, as does GAIN. But EVSC has the curriculum mapping already. It should be tweaked but to that amount of money?” 

Ballard added, “Curriculum maps can help teachers, classes, and schools with staying on track within the corporation, and they help teach and learn without textbooks. There is a value to that when there are no textbooks. You need something.” 

If the GAIN website makes curriculum and lesson plans more available and with more support than what now exists, many agree, that is good.  But, it is a lot of money, Ballard noted.  

To be continue


Ann M. Ennis has been an active supporter of public education and the EVSC since 2008. She has volunteered, substitute taught, and donated financially to EVSC schools during those years.  From 2018-2022, Ennis served as an elected member of the EVSC Board of School Trustees. Ennis did not run for re-election when her term ended, opting to spend more time writing independently. Ann holds a writing certificate from USI and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Indiana University. She co-wrote “Fifty Years in a Jealous Marriage…” a memoir of Rev. James Lex.

Documents discussed in this series are viewable through

Select “Meetings” on the upper right Graybar; then under “Featured” on the left select “2023”; select “April 10, 2023”;  “View Agenda”;  at Agenda Item 5.06 select the Attachment Icon. This will provide the two .pdf documents.

THE City-County Observer posted this article without bias or editing.