Education Department: 250k Tutors Needed to Reverse Damage From COVID-Era Virtual Learning

The Biden administration says it will take at least 250,000 tutors to help address lost learning due to COVID-19 school closures.

The Department of Education on Tuesday announced the National Partnership for Student Success, an initiative to “spur academic recovery,” including plans to recruit the colossal amount of tutors needed to help address lost learning.

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“Today’s announcements and the launch of the National Partnership for Student Success will mean more students have a trusted adult in their corner, and more adults are prepared to address students’ academic, emotional, social, and mental health needs,” Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a press release . “Together, we can help all children make up for unfinished learning, recover from the pandemic, and prepare for future success – both inside and outside the classroom.”

President Joe Biden called on people to become tutors during his 2022 State of the Union address.

The initiative asks schools to spend their allocated funds under the American Rescue Plan, passed by Congress in the early days of the Biden administration, to “invest in strategies to accelerate academic recovery.”

The administration says the initiative will “bring together school districts, non-profit partners, and institutions of higher education to recruit, train, place, and support screened adults in critical high impact roles such as tutors, mentors, student success coaches, and more.”

“Through the NPSS, individuals, schools and districts, community-based organizations, employers, and colleges and universities can sign up to support student recovery through volunteer opportunities, national service opportunities, mentoring programs, and work-study opportunities,” the department said.

The extent of lost learning brought on by pandemic-related school closures has been well-documented, even as signs of recovery have begun to appear.

For instance, 46% of California high school seniors are on track to meet state university admissions requirements this year, a substantial drop from 59% in 2019. The percentage of students of all ages reading above grade level also declined by 5% in the past two years.

In Texas, the state Education Agency’s spring 2021 assessment found that only 36% of fourth graders in the state met their grade’s reading standards.

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Chronic absenteeism, referring to students who miss at least 15 days of school in a year, has also spiked significantly since the onset of the pandemic, with some estimates indicating as much as 20% of students have been chronically absent from school in the past two years. Poor school attendance is widely recognized as a primary cause of poor academic achievement.

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