High-Impact Tutoring

Illinois Tutoring Initiative to Scale Statewide In Partnership with Pearl

Tutoring platform Pearl today announced that its partnership with the 1-year-old Illinois Tutoring Initiative will expand statewide to all districts meeting the eligibility requirements, thanks to leadership from Illinois State University and federal pandemic relief funds.

The program provides largely in-person tutoring to students in grades 3–12 and is staffed by future teachers enrolled at ISU, home of the largest teacher-education program in the Midwest, Pearl representatives told THE Journal.

Relying on Pearl’s tutor management resources and data capabilities, the Illinois Tutoring Initiative that began last spring has partnered with the Annenberg Institute at Brown University and its National Student Support Accelerator to development the program and establish success metrics for its high-impact tutoring roll-out. The initiative expects to serve 60 districts by the end of fall semester, Pearl said.

ISU and five other higher education institutions — Governors State University, Illinois Central College, Northern Illinois University, Southeastern Illinois College, and Southern Illinois University System — are participating in the initiative; the institutions will recruit qualified tutors from their networks of current teachers, retired teachers, teacher education candidates, higher education students, and other community partners for the initiative’s paid tutoring positions, Pearl said.

The Illinois Tutoring Initiative will prioritize serving students most in need, “based on districts’ adequacy of funding, concentration of low-income students, disproportionate COVID-19 impact, lost in-person instructional time during the 2020-21 school year, and current level of academic support resources and programs,” Pearl told THE Journal.

Illinois school districts serving Grades K–8 are encouraged to contact the Institutional Partner Office in their respective region listed on the initiative’s website. Districts serving grades 9–12 interested in participating in the initiative’s online tutoring for high school mathematics can email [email protected] for information.

The expanded tutoring effort expects to reach approximately 8,500 students over the next two years, through both in-person and online tutoring — though most will be in-person, as some districts in Illinois have mandated that tutoring programs must be in-person.

The program’s design has tutors meeting 1:1 or in groups of up to three students for one hour, three times a week, for eight to 14 weeks. Lessons are tied to what students are learning in the classroom.

Outcomes will be measured and assessed based on interim assessment scores, as well as annual state testing in math and reading, Pearl told THE Journal, and many districts are also measuring impact over time on social emotional development. ITI uses the Tutoring Quality Improvement System scorecard to align its programming to best practices for high-impact tutoring.

In its initial six months during the spring, ITI recruited over 185 tutors from five universities to kick off multiple districts' high-impact tutoring programs that served hundreds of students across the state, Pearl said.

“The benefits of ITI tutoring services were also clear at the district level,” said Jeremy Larson, Superintendent of Paris District 95. “The ITI was able to step in and seamlessly deliver high quality, individual tutoring services for our students at a critical time and really helped us meet some important learning goals.”

Pearl founder and CEO John Failla said the company is thrilled to support the Illinois Tutoring Initiative, calling it a “highly strategic and thoughtful deployment of sustainable tutoring.”

“The ITI is a national model for meeting emerging and ongoing needs in education such as educating more dedicated teachers with great experience, while addressing the critical learning gaps exposed and accelerated by the pandemic to better serve students, statewide,” he said.

Christy Borders, Ed.D., former director of ISU’s Cecilia J. Lauby Teacher Education Center, was selected to lead the statewide initiative; under her direction, ISU implemented a free tutoring program during the height of the pandemic in order to provide future teachers with experience while traditional classroom practice-teaching was impossible.

Learn more at Pearl’s website.

About the Author

Kristal Kuykendall is editor, 1105 Media Education Group. She can be reached at [email protected].