Policy & Funding

Tennessee Commits $200 Million to Student Tutoring

More than half of the school districts in Tennessee have signed on to participate in a tutoring program designed to mitigate learning loss and help accelerate student achievement. The program, the Tennessee Accelerating Literacy and Learning Corps (TN ALL Corps), will consume some $200 million in federal education stimulus funding over the next three years and is expected to benefit 50,000 students in the first year.

TN ALL Corps is a grant matching program, intended to "dramatically increase" the amount of learning time students have. In the initiative, they'll get access during the school year and in the summer to qualified tutors in both English Language Arts (ELA) and math, across all grades. This is projected to provide an additional 250 to 500 hours of academic instruction for each student over the course of the three years and four summers the program is in effect.

Tutoring will take place among small groups of students (a maximum of three for grades 1-5 and a maximum of four in grades 6-8) in 30- to 45-minute sessions, twice or three times each week.

"We know high dosage, low-ratio tutoring works, and we are thrilled to see over half of our districts sign up to participate in this program that will help ensure Tennessee students are on track and on a path to success," said Commissioner Penny Schwinn, in a statement.

Districts are motivated to join the program, to satisfy federal requirements related to the stimulus funding they've received, which specifies that schools need to spend a minimum of 20% of their Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) 3.0 funding to address learning loss.

Under TN ALL Corps, for every student tutored, the Tennessee Department of Education will provide $700 per student per year, while the district contributes $800. According to the state, the financial match model covers at least 15% of district students in grades 1-8 during the first year of the program.

In communications, the state emphasized the flexibility provided at the local level. Districts determine staffing, scheduling, content and other details.

Early adopters have already ramped up their tutoring programs beginning in fall 2021. The first official cohort launches in January 2022. A second cohort will start in summer 2022.

The Department of Education designated a partner list, providing details for districts that voluntarily choose to work with a third-party tutoring provider. They may also use staff, local tutors and even volunteers for the work.

"Elizabethton City Schools is excited to participate in TN ALL Corps," noted Myra Newman, assistant director of schools for Academics. "We see this as a great opportunity to help our students to become academically proficient through high dosage/low-ratio tutoring. Our goal is to provide grade-level, standards-based tutoring in small groups throughout the school day to accelerate our students' learning in grades first through eighth."

"Hamilton County Schools is thrilled to participate...because we know it will help provide much needed supports for our students," added Breckan Duckworth, literacy officer for the district. "Our schools, students and educators have worked and continue to work extremely hard to close achievement gaps due to the pandemic. Participating in TN ALL Corps will ensure our students have access to qualified tutors and resources."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.