How higher ed helps stem COVID learning loss in K-12

Grand Valley State University tutors have provided 7,000 hours of virtual tutoring to 1,700 local K-12 students

Children in Michigan got an extra boost in battling COVID-era learning loss this school year from Grand Valley State University.

Anticipating the education challenges ahead in 2020-21, university administrators last summer created K-12 Connect. This school year, volunteer from the university have provided more than 7,000 hours of virtual tutoring to approximately 1,700 local K-12 students, Grand Valley President Philomena V. Mantella says.

Grand Valley State’s 600 tutors and mentors are working with teachers and school districts to align the tutoring with classroom instruction, Mantella says.

“Our students winning because they are getting more service learning and experience earlier in the college curriculum,” Mantella says. “The biggest endorsement we’ve gotten is the increased volume in requests from schools.”

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To expand and institutionalize initiatives such as K-12 Connect, the university has also launched the NextEd Accelerator to help incubate programs designed to address issues of equity and opportunity in education, Mantella says.

NextEd Accelerator will also support education entrepreneurs who want to create programs that will quickly impact students who need help the most.

“NextEd is looking at the connection between K-12 and higher ed and the opportunities to do better,” she says. “We will be able to test ideas and rapidly expand those that work, so we can have a profound impact on access and learning outcomes. ”

As for the moving tutoring program forward, the university is determined to shift from a volunteer-model to paid tutors, and expanding service to more Title I schools.

“The learning gaps created by COVID will deepen inequality and have devastating impacts for years to come, unless we move quickly and boldly,” Mantella says.

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Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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