Tutoring is tops for academic recovery. Can schools make it work? – By Matt Zalaznick, District Administration

Finding enough tutors is the biggest challenge schools face in helping students bounce back.

A big rebound in student confidence was a surprise benefit of tutoring in a Tennessee district aiming to fuel academic recovery from learning loss. The keys to Rutherford County Schools’ program were recruiting its own certified teachers to provide small-group tutoring at students’ home schools and using a high-quality curriculum, says Elizabeth Davis, the district’s learning loss supervisor.

“Teachers overwhelmingly saw students grow not just in their skill abilities, but in their belief in themselves,” Davis says.

The district launched the three-year after-school tutoring initiative in January with ESSER funds and a matching grant from TN ALL Corps, a statewide academic recovery initiative. About 5% of Rutherford’s first- through eighth-graders participated this school year. The district also provided transportation and a snack for the 90-minute sessions.

Ultimately, Rutherford County leaders expect 15% of the district’s first- through eighth-graders to participate in tutoring within the next three years. But in many other parts of the country, district administrators are facing several hurdles as they try to provide large-scale, high-dosage tutoring.

Finding enough tutors is the biggest challenge, says Robert Balfanz, director of the Johns Hopkins University School of Education’s Everyone Graduates Center, which, along with AmeriCorps and the U.S. Department of Education, is spearheading the federal effort to help schools recruit more educators.


NJ schools must create threat assessment teams by next fall under new state law – By Mary Ann Koruth, North Jersey.com

A law signed Monday by Gov. Phil Murphy requires all New Jersey public school districts to create threat assessment teams by the 2023-24 school year to identify students who may pose a threat to school safety.

The teams need to be operational by next fall, but school boards are encouraged to begin forming the teams with guidance from the state in the coming months.

State lawmakers introduced the bill, requiring all public and charter schools to create teams of staff members as a preventive measure along with other student mental health initiatives, a day after the May school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 children and two teachers dead.

The threat assessment teams will be created by local boards of education and consist of teachers, administrators and a law enforcement liaison to help identify students who may be at risk of engaging in violent and harmful acts, and establish strategies to intervene with those students. The identities of students who come to the team's attention will be kept confidential, the law states. For students who receive special services or have Individualized Education Plans due to learning disabilities, the team will be required to consult with the staff assigned to them.


Schools need tutors and mentors. Can a new federal initiative find 250,000? – By Jessica Blake, Chalkbeat

Recruiting is an uphill climb. And K-12 public schools have had to face it head on in the pandemic era. 

“For all of us that have done this work for any amount of time, we know it’s nice to say, let’s have some volunteers come in,” AmeriCorps CEO Michael D. Smith said at a White House event on recovery efforts in early July. “But it takes money. It takes positions. It takes someone to come in and recruit, manage and train them.”

Across the country, plans for new tutoring and mentoring programs have sometimes been scaled back, delayed, or scrapped as schools struggled to find the people they needed.

The Biden administration is trying to solve that problem with a new initiative called the National Partnership for Student Success. Announced in July, its goal is to get 250,000 new tutors, mentors, and coaches into schools over the next three years.

Can it get there? Organizations involved say yes. They say there is untapped potential among college students and the nation’s largest employers, among others. Millions of new funding as well as better ways of working together and sharing information will help, too.


State looks to expedite Empowering Parents grants – By Kevin Richert, IDEdNews.org

Parents could soon apply for their share of $50 million in education grants.

But first, the state needs to hire a contractor for the Empowering Parents grant program. Bids are due at 5 p.m. today.

The bidding window opened on July 26. The State Board of Education and the state Division of Purchasing is trying to expedite the process, in hopes of quickly launching a statewide online platform where parents can apply for the grants.

The platform is the key to starting up Empowering Parents, one of the most significant education proposals to come out of the 2022 legislative session. Gov. Brad Little and lawmakers agreed to tap into $50 million of federal coronavirus aid for the grants designed to address pandemic learning loss. The grants max out at $1,000 per child or $3,000 per family, and parents can use the money to cover a host of expenses, such as computers, tutoring or learning materials.