Are You Listening, Newark? Biden Administration Announces Initiative to Combat Student Learning Loss

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 Two and a half months ago news leaked out that Newark Public Schools District, under the leadership of Superintendent Roger Leon, had alloted only five percent of its $182 million in COVID emergency funds to high-dosage tutoring, That  $9.3 million, which is “slightly less than the $10 million the district set aside for new computers for office employees,” is worth noting because, as JerseyCAN’s Janellen Duffy explains, ““High-dosage tutoring is one of the most powerful ways to address the significant learning loss that has impacted students across the state due to the pandemic.  It is a key intervention that addresses academic inequities that were exacerbated by the pandemic for many NJ students.” (See here for recent research on how high-dosage tutoring can produce large learning gains for students.)

As President Joe Biden said in his State of the Union address,  “I urge every parent to make sure your school does just that. “They have the money [from the American Rescue Plan]. We can all play a part: Sign up to be a tutor or a mentor.”

In order to urge districts like Newark to make more student-centric spending decisions with their federal stimulus money, yesterday a diverse group of public and non-profit organizations announced their support for the National Partnership for Student Success (NPSS), a coordinated, research-based, locally-driven, all-in effort to help all students recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and thrive. This initiative will be launched today at a White House event by the Biden-Harris Administration.

NPSS will lead a nationwide three-year effort to bring together committed, high-quality education, service, and youth development organizations to recruit, screen, train, support, and engage an additional 250,000 Americans serving as academic tutors, high quality mentors, student success coaches, wraparound integrated student support coordinators, and post-secondary transition coaches for students in PreK through high school. These adults will work side-by-side with educators and other personnel in and out of school settings in roles that research shows result in gains in reading and math, high school and college graduation rates, reductions in chronic absenteeism, and improved student well-being and mental health.

From a press release:

The Everyone Graduates Center at the Johns Hopkins School of Education will collaborate with other leading non-profit organizations to serve as the Hub for the NPSS. The NPSS Hub will connect school districts, state and local education agencies, federal agencies, philanthropy, and national and community organizations, to support increased access to and implementation of evidence-based student support programs, provide technical assistance and research to enhance program effectiveness, and help to recruit and connect AmeriCorps members and other volunteers to the effort. Technical assistance leaders from Accelerate, City Year, Communities in Schools, MENTOR, the National College Attainment Network, and the National Student Support Accelerator will use their proven track records of success to maximize the effectiveness and availability of tutors, mentors, post-secondary advisors, student success coaches, and wraparound integrated student supports.

“Since President Biden took office, we’ve prioritized supporting our nation’s students,” said White House Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice. “Today, we’re doubling down on those investments and launching a national effort to support student success—with the President calling on states and school districts to further leverage ARP funds, and calling for a quarter million more adults to offer the instruction and empathy our kids need to make up for lost time.”

Multiple education-focused organizations announced their support, including the two national teacher unions, the American Federation for Teachers and the National Education Assoication.

For instance, InnovateEd, a non-profit that accelerates learning through technology amidst what it calls “widespread dissatisfaction with the status quo,” is a big supporter of the federal government’s new tutoring initiative: “The coalition of organizations that have come together to support the NPSS is extraordinary and recognizes that there is no one size fits all approach to meeting the needs of all learners equitably. Communities, service organizations, and educators alongside parents need to have the tools, information and people-powered support to meet this moment and ensure that all young people are thriving and on a pathway to success,” said Executive Director Erin Mote.

“This is a coalition of problem-solvers, and we are excited to work with like-minded groups seeking to focus on kids’ needs right now,” said Kevin Huffman, CEO of Accelerate and former Tennessee commissioner of education. “Accelerate is committed to ensuring that evidence-based practices are implemented to help students in as many districts as possible in the years ahead.”

The NPSS will work with school districts, AmeriCorps state service commissions, national and local student support providers, and community-based non-profit organizations to increase the number of students receiving evidence-based people-powered student supports based on locally determined needs and using existing revenue—including American Rescue Plan funds, federal education funds, state and local resources, and AmeriCorps programs. It also will help to address longstanding inequities and opportunity gaps in education, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic. More information is available here.

Are you listening, Newark?

 

 

 

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