Educational Testing Service in New Jersey has received a $4 million federal grant to develop middle grade students’ social emotional learning skills through technology enhanced collaborative learning, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Education.

The grant is among many making up about $277 million in awards that the government has awarded to address academic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant awards will advance educational equity and innovation through the Education Innovation and Research grant program.

State-administered test scores from the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school years show some early signs of rebounding from the major disruptions of the pandemic, but not enough are back to pre-pandemic levels — and the recovery has been uneven — with the students most impacted still furthest behind. The new grant awards allocate $90.3 million for STEM, $87.2 million for social emotional well-being, including student engagement, and $76.5 million for projects in rural areas.

The EIR programs help create, implement, replicate, and expand entrepreneurial, evidence-based innovations to improve outcomes for historically underserved learners and to rigorously evaluate such innovations. The EIR grants have been awarded to 45 grantees to advance educational innovation, research, and develop new solutions to addressing persistent educational opportunity gaps for students who have been historically underserved.

You can view a list of all those receiving grants and learn more about the USDOE’s efforts to support the academic recovery of students in the full news release.