image provided courtesy of Fairfax County Public Schools
The school closures caused by COVID-19 revealed a difficult truth: all students were expected to have some learning loss. But those who most need direct instruction and support from a teacher – students from low-income homes, English learners, students with disabilities, and Black and Brown students – are likely to have experienced the most dramatic losses.
Virginia’s Department of Education found that after one semester of at-home learning, more than one-third of low-income kindergarteners (36%) and nearly half (49%) of kindergarten English learners in the state were at high risk of reading failure. Results for first graders were nearly the same. Research tells us that readers who struggle in early elementary school often do not make up for that lost ground.
A study by McKinsey & Co. found that interrupted schooling led to students of color falling behind by 3-5 months while white students only lost 1-3 months. Research from NWEA found that the lowest achieving and most at risk students may be two years behind academically. As remote education has persisted, this disproportionate learning loss has only worsened. Direct intervention is critical to address the widening learning gaps for these students.
Why is tutoring necessary and how effective is it?
Targeted intervention is critical to address the widespread learning loss and growing achievement gaps. Researchers from The Hamilton Project found that “students who fall behind grade-level material tend to stay behind. When these students miss developing crucial foundational skills, they can have major difficulties in subsequent learning tasks, which worsens the gap between them and their grade-level peers as they move from one grade to the next. This persistent mismatch between the learning needs of students and what classroom instruction delivers can seriously undermine students’ chances of success in the workforce and beyond.”
Tutoring, especially this high impact, individualized type of tutoring, has proven to be a potent remedy for struggling students. Analysis by the Brookings Institute found that tutoring is almost universally effective. For struggling students, high-dosage, small group tutoring has never been more important.
What is the importance of pre- and post-testing?
Pre- and post-testing enables EduTutorVA to best support student’s needs as well as measure the effectiveness of tutoring and improve the program. EduTutorVA provides diagnostic pre- and post-tests for all students. Doing such assessment allows EduTutorVA to measure the improvements students have made. Data about students’ progress gives parents, teachers, and tutors a powerful window into a student’s current abilities and areas for growth. Furthermore, pre- and post- testing allows EduTutorVA to analyze the effectiveness of tutors and make changes to improve the quality and efficacy of tutoring moving forward. Using data to drive decisions has the potential to vastly improve educational outcomes, and EduTutorVA uses the data to improve the quality of tutoring sessions for students and tutors alike.
How does EduTutorVA select its tutors?
EduTutorVA wants to give potential future teachers a positive introduction to the profession and help develop their skill sets. EduTutorVA currently draws tutors from the education programs at George Mason University, Northern Virginia Community College, James Madison University, University of Virginia, and is adding other Virginia colleges and universities each semester. These tutors have a demonstrated interest in teaching and want to work with students. Tutors are paired with students in the grade levels they eventually want to teach and receive invaluable hands-on experience. Furthermore, a significant portion of EduTutorVA tutors are bilingual which allows them to better communicate with families.Tutors who are not education majors but want to work with students may also participate in tutoring and in some cases, this introduction to teaching paves the way to a potential career in the education field.
Extensive research indicates that trained tutors with a background in education are the most effective tutors. Furthermore, numerous studies have found paid tutors to yield the best results. EduTutorVA pays tutors with competitive hourly rates in order to provide the best tutoring possible to students and to support the future of the education workforce.
Why is preparing a diverse group of teacher candidates important?
Besides the learning gap for students of color and those from low income homes, there is a teacher diversity gap that is crucial to close. The diversity of students across Virginia and the nation is not reflected in their teachers. In Virginia, only 48.9% of public school students are white, yet 70.6% of teachers are white. Nationally, 53% of U.S. students are young people of color, but 80% of teachers are white.
Having a diverse population of teachers enhances every student’s education. Research demonstrates that having teachers of color combats negative stereotypes and leads to higher engagement and achievement.
The lack of teacher diversity begins in the education workforce pipeline. Nationally, the majority of people in teaching preparation programs are white. Creating a teaching workforce that truly reflects the diversity of the student population is a massive challenge. This change would require an additional 1 million teachers of color added to our teacher corps.
EduTutorVA seeks to support and uplift students of color who are considering a career in education. Through EduTutorVA’s paid tutoring positions, education candidates gain valuable experience in the field with the necessary financial support and, equally important, inspiration to become a future educator.