- Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, recently reintroduced the Partnering Aspiring Teachers with High-Need Schools to Tutor Act alongside co-sponsors Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Chris Murphy, D-Conn.
- The bill would divvy out $500 million in grants for teacher preparation programs to collaborate with K-12 schools, other higher education institutions, community-based organizations, teacher unions and others to seek innovative ways to provide high-dosage tutoring and small-group instruction in high-need schools and low-income communities.
- Under the bill, teacher candidates would also gain a financial incentive for offering tutoring services. The legislation would specifically allow those providing small-group instruction to be considered as performing a national service and qualify for loan repayment programs.
The pressure is building for schools, as NWEA, an educational research organization, recently revealed that its MAP Growth assessment results suggest it will take 4.1 additional months of reading instruction and 4.5 more months of math for students to catch up to pre-pandemic achievement levels.
In that same report, NWEA said “marginalized students remain the furthest from recovery.”
Booker took note of these ongoing academic performance inequities in a statement alongside his legislation’s reintroduction.
“As we see an alarming decline in academic performance among students in New Jersey and across the United States, particularly among students of color and students from low-income communities, it is crucial we prioritize equitable access to quality education for all children,” Booker said.
But schools have had access to historic levels of federal funding to dedicate toward academic recovery, including tutoring, as part of nearly $190 billion in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief. The NWEA results suggest that even this funding has not been sufficient enough to help all students academically recover. Without it, however, student performance would likely be even worse, said Karyn Lewis, director of the Center for School and Student Progress at NWEA, in a previous K-12 Dive interview.
Some research has also shown signs that many districts are using ESSER dollars toward tutoring efforts. For instance, an April 2022 report by FutureEd estimated that over 40% of school districts and charter school organizations planned to use the federal COVID-19 relief funds for tutoring and academic coaching.
While states have worked to scale up tutoring efforts using ESSER funds, challenges have persisted to expand high-quality services. States have also allocated $4.2 billion in these federal funds for tutoring and accelerated learning, according to a March analysis by the Council of Chief State School Officers.