- The Oklahoma Department of Education is recruiting college students to join its Math Tutoring Corps, which offers tutors $25 per hour for online math lessons for students in grades 7-9. Tutors will also be compensated for virtual training and meetings.
- College students are expected to work with groups of up to four students in three 50-minute online sessions per week. The tutoring program is to begin in the fall and pick back up again for an additional 12 weeks in spring 2023.
- The aim is to expand the Math Tutoring Corps, first launched as a pilot program in spring 2022 with 444 students and 160 tutors, to reach as many as 1,500 students in grades 7-9, according to Anthony Purcell, director of high school and college math readiness for OSDE. A post-pilot survey found 90% of participating students “increased their understanding of math,” according to the department.
The Oklahoma education department’s program is part of growing efforts to address learning loss through tutoring — though approaches vary by state and district.
As U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona has urged states and districts to spend pandemic relief funds on high-dosage tutoring, Oklahoma is doing just that by using $5 million of COVID-19 aid dollars for its online math tutoring program through summer 2024.
The investment Oklahoma makes to pay college students competitive wages will likely help address common concerns of recruiting and retaining tutors in these programs, said Matthew Kraft, an associate professor of education and economics at Brown University.
While investing in this tutoring program is worthwhile, Kraft said he wonders if it can be sustained.
“What is the future of this program given it is funded through the federal stimulus funding, which is going to expire?” Kraft asked. “Is this really about a one-time recovery, and then we’re done with this initiative? Or is it something that we are looking to do to support kids over the long haul?”
In July, the Biden administration called for an additional 250,000 tutors and mentors over the next three years to help students through academic recovery following learning lags brought on by the pandemic. This new federal program, the National Partnership for Student Success, aims to unite districts, nonprofit groups and higher education institutions to help recruit adults to support students through tutoring, mentoring or work-study experiences.
How successful high-dosage tutoring can be with recouping academic loss, particularly involving online tutoring models, is still being evaluated, Kraft said.
But a new report from the National Center for Education Statistics revealed that students might already be making up for COVID-19-related academic losses. The Aug. 4 report found that 50% of students began the 2021-22 school year behind grade level in at least one subject — but by the end of the 2021-22 school year, that figure had dropped to 36%, which was the same percentage as in a typical pre-pandemic school year.
In fact, 56% of schools surveyed by NCES reported they used high-dosage tutoring, which was one of the most common strategies reported for academic recovery efforts in 2021-22.
Overall, the NCES data is an example of “significant progress” made by students this past school year, Cardona said in a statement.