By Madeleine Parrish
On September 16, 2023
The Arizona Department of Education on Friday launched a website for its new tutoring program for students in grades 3-8 at public schools who are not proficient in reading, writing or math based on the statewide assessment.
The Achievement Tutoring Program is expected to begin Oct. 2. Department officials previously announced that the tutoring would be available for qualified elementary-grade students, but on Friday stated that because the funding for the program is specifically for pandemic-related learning loss, students who were not of school age during the pandemic are not eligible.
The launch comes a week after Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne, a Republican, announced he was clawing back tens of millions of dollars in federal pandemic relief grant funding allocated to community organizations by his predecessor, Democrat Kathy Hoffman. Last month, the Horne administration sent a letter to grantees giving them five days to show their programs have had an academic impact — and for those who were unable to do so, the Horne administration canceled the contracts and took money back.
The Arizona Republic previously reported that the Horne administration expects to recoup about $70 million. About $40 million is being set aside for the new tutoring program. That money will go toward paying teachers and hiring a testing company to assess student performance in the program.
Teachers can expect to be paid $30 an hour, plus a $200 stipend, for each student who shows a one-half-year gain from tutoring. Teachers who tutor the maximum amount would earn approximately $8,000 from the program, Horne said in early September. Department of Education spokesperson Doug Nick said the department is still in the process of hiring an assessment company, and the amount that will be allocated for that contract has not yet been determined.
In the most recent statewide assessment results, 41% of students passed the English component and 33% passed the math section.
The average U.S. public school student in grades 3-8 lost the equivalent of half a year of learning in math and a quarter of a year in reading between 2019 and 2022, according to research from the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University and Stanford University’s Educational Opportunity Project.
Arizona school districts received $4.6 billion in federal pandemic relief funds. The deadline to commit the final round of funding is September 2024, though schools can apply for more time.
The new state tutoring program, which will be free for students, will be provided by public school districts, charter school networks and approved tutoring providers and will be conducted in-person and online, according to the Education Department website for the program.
Public school teachers will hear from their school or district on how to apply for tutoring positions, according to the program website.
Sessions will be held in six-week blocks. Tutoring likely will be given in hourlong sessions up to four days per week. The sessions may be in small groups of no more than three students. Students will complete tests before and after the six-week blocks to determine needs and assess progress.
There are already tutoring programs for students enrolled in schools that received D or F grades and Title I schools, as well as students receiving special education services. To serve as many students as possible, the Education Department requests students eligible for those programs to use them before seeking tutoring through the Achievement Tutoring Program.
The tutoring interest form for families to complete is available at https://www.azed.gov/achievement-tutoring.
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This piece was republished from AZ Central.