NEWARK, NJ – Students who experienced learning loss during the pandemic will have an opportunity this summer to get back on track through a tutoring program headed by the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund and the Overdeck Family Foundation

The NJ Summer Tutoring Corps Program is planned to launch in June and will work in conjunction with The College of New Jersey’s (TCNJ) School of Education. Aimed to accelerate student learning, the program is expected to provide tutoring for nearly 2,000 students in grades K to 5. The program is funded by a combined $2.4 million grant from the NJPRF and John and Laura Overdeck.

TCNJ officials designed the program based on best practices from other statewide initiatives. The program’s curriculum is also based on research that found benefits in small-group tutoring to address students’ academic and social-emotional needs and the potential of summer to offer extended learning time. 

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“There has been so much lost ground in learning during the pandemic,” Overdeck Family Foundation Chair Laura Overdeck told TAPinto Newark. “The kids who were already struggling before the pandemic, unfortunately, are the very same ones who then lost more ground. At the Pandemic Relief Fund, when we really looked at what are the greatest needs in our state right now, this one just popped because it’s so dire and affects so many kids.” 

Statewide, students experienced “significant” loss while learning remotely. A recent study published by JerseyCAN, a nonprofit focused on advocating for high-quality schools for all New Jersey students, found notable drops, particularly in English Language Arts and math for students in grades 3 to 8 during the 2020-21 school year. 

Compared to 2019 statewide proficiency numbers, the report found a projected 24 percentile point drop in English Language Arts proficiency and a 23 percentile point drop in math proficiency.

While the numbers did raise some alarms among education advocates and state legislators if the learning gap is not addressed, the summer tutoring program offered at TCNJ may just become one of multiple efforts officials have already undertaken to mitigate this loss. 

“NJPRF is proud to collaborate with Overdeck Family Foundation and TCNJ to help New Jersey’s students bridge the learning gap created by the COVID pandemic,” said New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy and NJPRF Founding Chair. “TCNJ’s incredible history in training the next generation of New Jersey educators makes them the perfect partner and facilitator for this crucial program.” 

The program will recruit tutors from teacher preparation programs at TCNJ and other New Jersey universities, as well as substitute teachers, paraprofessionals, and community members with the appropriate background. 

Tutors will be matched with children attending summer programming at Boys & Girls Clubs in New Jersey, YMCAs and other community organizations for eight weeks of mathematics instruction. ELA instruction could be added in the future, according to NJPRF officials. 

Each tutor will work with groups of three to four students in one-hour sessions, meeting three times per week. This offers students consistent relationships and ongoing assessment of learning growth.

TCNJ will also take on all program management, including hiring tutors, selecting the curriculum, training tutors and evaluate the program’s success. 

“This model creates a tutoring program that can be embedded in established networks of community-based organizations in high-need communities, providing access to tutoring for the families and children who need it most," said Suzanne McCotter, dean of TCNJ’s School of Education. 

Following the program’s completion this summer, TCNJ officials said they hope to extend it into the 2021-2022 academic year. Pending funding availability, the program wants to introduce more tutors and site coordinators to continue working with students for 10 hours per week, primarily during after-school hours. 

To learn more about the program, visit https://education.tcnj.edu/summer-tutoring/. For people interested in supporting or participating in the NJ Summer Tutoring Corps Program, contact Eileen Heddy at TutorNJ-group@tcnj.edu