Pandemic Learning Loss
Nationwide Tutoring for All Students is Goal of New Nonprofit Accelerate
Initiative Aims to Scale Up Impactful Tutoring Programs and Embed Tutoring as Permanent Part of Public Education, Leaders Say
- By Kristal Kuykendall
A new nonprofit called Accelerate launched today, bringing together local, state, and federal education leaders, philanthropists, and researchers in a national effort to bring research-based, high-impact tutoring programs to every student in U.S. K–12 public schools — and to make tutoring a permanent part of the nation’s public education system.
Accelerate CEO Kevin Huffman said in a video call this afternoon that the nonprofit is inviting state and local education agencies, community leaders, and tutoring providers to join its initiative; selected participants will receive financial and operational support to design and implement tutoring programs and then scale those programs proving effective, he said.
“We are asking school districts, states, community leaders, and tutoring providers to apply to a competitive process (through which) we will be awarding more than $10 million in grants and building a community of grantees who are seeking to launch and scale innovative approaches to tutoring,” Huffman said. “Our hope is this will result in more than a 150,000 students receiving direct tutoring support while — and this is important — while we learn from that work through research partnerships, and then help other districts and states get better.”
Accelerate formed to fund and support innovation in schools, launch high-quality research, and build a federal and state policy agenda to support schools’ efforts to implement impactful tutoring programs that will extend beyond the pandemic, said Huffman, who formerly served as the Tennessee commissioner of education.
“We are emerging from an incredibly difficult time in this country, and our students — particularly the highest-needs students in the country — have faced enormous challenges that have exacerbated long-standing gaps in our education system,” Huffman said. “We can't just turn the page from the pandemic and move on. ... We have to address the very real gaps in opportunities and outcomes that exist, and we have to support schools and teachers who are under duress and are trying very hard to address those gaps.”
He noted that so far, 37 states have opted to use a total of $1.7 billion in pandemic relief funds for tutoring programs in public schools, but those plans vary widely and will cover tutoring for, at most, the next three years. Some states are implementing tutoring programs in 85% of districts, others just 10%, Huffman noted, citing a new report out today by FutureEd on state-by-state post-pandemic tutoring plans.
“The question is whether tutoring is being done in a quality way that will drive impact and lay the groundwork for tutoring to become part of the fabric of public education after this one-time surge of federal funding ends,” Huffman said during today’s video conference. “Nothing is more important than the foundation that kids can get through high-quality tutoring done right to leverage this impact.”
Incubated by nonprofit America Achieves, Accelerate has raised $65 million of its first-year $100 million goal, thanks to initial support from Arnold Ventures, Citadel CEO Kenneth C. Griffin, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Overdeck Family Foundation, according to a news release.
In addition to Huffman, Accelerate’s leadership includes board member and Executive Chair Janice K. Jackson, CEO of Hope Chicago and former CEO of Chicago Public Schools; board member Susanna Loeb, director of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform and the National Student Support Accelerator at Brown University; and Jon Schnur, CEO of America Achieves. The Annenberg Institute and University of Chicago will lead Accelerate’s research and data analysis efforts as it looks for the best possible student outcomes resulting from tutoring programs it funds, the nonprofit said.
Accelerate will focus on several early goals, Huffman said:
- Supporting innovative practices in districts and states.
- Building an effective research base with help from research partners at University of Chicago and Brown University’s Annenberg Institute for School Reform.
- Developing policies at the federal and state level that allow schools to implement tutoring programs that work, to ensure tutoring and high-impact individualized learning is sustainable for the long-term, and to build better supports for schools.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona joined the video conference to express support for Accelerate and its tutoring initiative, noting that only about 40% of low-income students currently have access to tutoring programs.
“This means that opportunity gaps lead to achievement gaps, which are widening for too many students, especially those who have been historically marginalized,” Cardona said. “The body of evidence (shows) that tutoring provided at least three days per week for at least a half-hour works for our kids and not only improves academic achievement, but importantly, it also promotes confidence, encourages independent thinking, and builds with strong, meaningful relationships between caring adults and kids.”
Learn more about Accelerate’s tutoring initiative and apply to participate and receive grant funds at Accelerate.smapply.io.
Kristal Kuykendall is editor, 1105 Media Education Group. She can
be reached at [email protected].