Wittenberg’s Department of Education, in partnership with the Springfield City and Northwestern Local school districts, was awarded a federal grant of $412,250 for mathematics and literacy tutoring to boost low-income enrollment through the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE).
“This gives our students the opportunity to work with local students in more personal and extensive ways that will better prepare them as future educators,” said Kristin Farley, assistant professor of education. “The tutoring program will not only help them learn how to assess students’ needs and determine appropriate teaching strategies, it will also allow them to build a more purposeful mentoring relationship with local teachers than they might otherwise develop in a field experience.”
Referred to as “high-dosage” tutoring programs for local K-12 students in one-on-one or small group settings and defined by the Annenberg Institute at Brown University as more than three days per week or at a rate of at least 50 hours over 36 weeks, the programs are meant to provide support for students who experienced learning disruptions during the pandemic, according to ODE. College students participating in tutoring would also benefit from field experience, community service, and other incentives like stipends or course credits.
“Additionally, students participating in the tutoring program through designated courses will have the opportunity to receive more funding, either through stipend or scholarship opportunities,” Farley said. “The grant allows Wittenberg to be at the forefront of implementing research-based practices that are drawing national attention. The high-dosage tutoring that we will implement is gaining traction throughout the country, and this will allow us to examine its effectiveness as we push the boundaries for implementation with college students in an educator preparation program.”
The ODE in partnership with ODHE awarded a total of $14 million statewide in mathematics and literacy tutoring grants to Ohio colleges and universities planning to create or expand mathematics and literacy tutoring programs for Ohio schools. These federally supported COVID-19 relief grants focus on providing direct services for Ohio students who experienced greater disruptions to learning and did not engage consistently in school during the pandemic. Research shows frequent and consistent tutoring results in increased achievement. Grantees were required to identify partnering schools or districts that have committed to working with them.
“This grant will be used to help counteract the negative effects that we have already seen on K-12 students’ math and literacy achievement nationwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Michael Daiga, assistant professor of education. “While schools across the country are making every effort to adjust for the learning losses over the last two years, there are still a plethora of students who need additional support. The tutoring sessions will follow guidelines for effective tutoring as identified by recent research and explicitly targeted by ODE for this grant.”
Tutoring will be provided by Wittenberg students who are pursuing a teaching license through the University’s education program. These students will be specifically trained to use the school districts’ literacy and math curricula to provide just-in-time instruction that aligns with current classroom instruction. The grant will also add an additional component to three of the education department’s core courses - Elementary Math Methods, Elementary English Language Arts Methods, and Phonics for Reading and Writing - to pair individual K-5 students with Wittenberg students enrolled in these courses.
“For several of our education courses, we already place students in local schools so that they have the opportunity to learn from accomplished teachers and begin to practice their own craft,” Farley said. “We know that there are several critical elements of tutoring, including content area knowledge. By using these courses and including specific tutoring training, we can ensure that K-5 students are matched with Wittenberg students who can meet their academic needs. Beyond content knowledge, we know that consistency and frequency are also critical for tutoring success. With this in mind, Wittenberg students will engage in tutoring two-to-three times per week with the same K-5 student and those pairing will remain the same across semesters to the extent possible as students progress through their education coursework. These particular districts were already established partners and we were in conversations already to expand these relationships in response to the learning losses we have seen throughout the pandemic.”
Grants were awarded to colleges and universities, including two- and four-year schools and public and private schools, which have teacher preparation or education programs that promote math and literacy tutoring with local schools. Other colleges or universities that don’t have the programs but want to participate can collaborate with the lead institution.
“This grant presents an incredible opportunity with the potential to greatly impact the community by raising academic achievement throughout the school systems and improving the quality of teachers that we produce at Wittenberg,” Daiga said. “The primary goal is to support local students’ academic development as we know how critical early math and literacy skills are for future learning and success. The tutoring program will hopefully give students the extra boost they need to make additional gains at an accelerated rate. By using Wittenberg students as tutors, we can provide schools with additional resources while also developing well-rounded and better prepared future educators. Ideally, this grant is providing a springboard to start the tutoring program; if it is as successful as we anticipate, we hope to continue the tutoring program after grant funds expire in 2024 and potentially expand the program into additional area schools.”
Over the past two and a half years, Wittenberg’s Department of Education has received nearly $1 million in grant funds that directly benefit students. Sally Brannan, associate professor of education and department chair, received $304,000 in 2019 for Project WITT, and Brian Yontz, professor of education and interim provost, received $19,843 in 2019 for the Yellow Springs Pipeline Project, and another $130,000 just recently for the STEP Project.
“These projects have all enhanced our students’ experiences and better prepared them as educators while strengthening our partnerships with local schools,” Daiga added.
With this latest grant, Wittenberg was among five area universities to secure funding totaling more than $1.5 million for K-12 student tutoring programs through the ODE. Miami University was awarded $499,061 and is collaborating with Ohio Wesleyan University, Cedarville University, Hocking College, the University of Mount Union, and Clark State College, and is partnering with Hamilton City Schools, Ohio Connections Academy and the Talawanda School District, while Wright State University was awarded $637,410 and is collaborating with the University of Dayton and partnering with Learn to Earn Dayton, Dayton Public Schools, Fairborn City Schools, West Carrollton School District, and Huber Heights City Schools.
“Collaboration has been necessary to navigate the effects and impact of the pandemic,” Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor Randy Gardner said. “By partnering with neighboring schools and districts, our colleges and universities are giving our future educators an opportunity to support and help K-12 students in a meaningful way.”
“These school and district partnerships with colleges and universities will positively impact students, complement classroom instruction and enrich the practices for future educators,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Stephen D. Dackin added. “Each additional learning opportunity we create for Ohio’s students leads to improved mathematics and literacy skill development, reinforced connections to core subjects and better coursework comprehension.”
About ODE: The Ohio Department of Education is a diverse team of passionate, education-focused professionals dedicated to fulfilling the vision established in Each Child, Our Future, Ohio’s strategic plan for education. The vision is, “In Ohio, each child is challenged to discover and learn, prepared to pursue a fulfilling post-high school path and empowered to become a resilient, lifelong learner who contributes to society.” Ensuring this vision for each of Ohio’s 1.7 million students, in partnership with more than 240,000 educators across the state, is no small feat. Under the leadership of the superintendent of public instruction and governed by the State Board of Education, Department team members, in collaboration with a wide range of partners, are sharply focused on helping schools and districts continually improve to be the best they can be for each child. Equity and impact are core to every program, service and action. The Department’s work is well regarded both in Ohio and nationally for its innovative, leading-edge and forward-looking approach. When the Department succeeds, students succeed, communities succeed and Ohio succeeds.