‘High-dose tutoring’ planned for New Jersey schools

As currently written, a bill being considered in Trenton would provide funding to schools and districts that have plans in place to provide extra lessons to underachieving students several times a week.

The “high-dose tutoring” legislation is also intended to address the continuing shortage of teachers, according to lead sponsor Sen. Vin Gopal, D-Monmouth.

The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Gopal, received testimony on the proposal on Thursday. The bill was submitted only for discussion, not for a vote.

“This bill is far from perfect, it’s just the beginning,” Gopal said.

Under the bill, the High Efficiency Accelerated Learning Grant Program would award grants on a matching basis to public or private districts that apply with adequate plans to implement high-impact tutoring programs. At a minimum, these plans should include math and English subjects, and include all classes served by the district.

Tutoring could take place during or outside of school hours, the bill notes. With the funding, districts can employ tutors, teachers and paraprofessionals at community tutoring service providers.

“Tutoring is so, so valuable. It certainly addresses academic concerns – we know that – but it also builds relationships between students and trusted adults,” said Paula White, executive director of the advocacy organization JerseyCAN Education.

Research suggests that in-school tutoring is the most robust version of high-dose tutoring, White added.

“The optimal effectiveness of high-dose tutoring depends on its integration with the school’s core curriculum and the NJSLA state standards that should govern this program,” White said.

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The wording of the bill mentions that the coronavirus pandemic has impacted student learning and is likely to have long-term educational and economic impacts on current students of all ages. But the bill’s sponsor, Gopal, notes that his measure is meant to serve as a sustainable, long-lasting method to provide accelerated learning, and perhaps a strong tutor-to-teacher pipeline.

“The sponsor believes that tutoring programs integrated into the classroom and paired with teacher preparation programs can both reduce teacher workload and increase a teacher candidate’s readiness to be a teacher. class, and therefore, these programs are an invaluable workforce development tool,” the bill states.

Addressing lawmakers, Francine Pfeffer of the New Jersey Education Association said the bill was well-intentioned but had too rigid language. For example, a district’s plans should include tutoring that takes place at least three times a week, and no more than five students would be allowed per session.

“My colleagues and I… think that’s a bit too prescriptive,” Pfeffer said.

Gopal’s bill creates a Tutoring Advisory Commission, which would establish, implement and evaluate the proposed grant program.

To fund the program, the commission could use federal or state funds allocated for COVID learning loss, as well as funds dedicated to accelerated learning or workforce development programs. The commission could also accept gifts, grants and donations to add to its fund pot, the bill says.

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

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