Apr 13, 2021

Accelerate tutoring initiative demonstrates how states can support school systems to address unfinished learning

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Louisiana’s high-quality tutoring strategy is featured in the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) newest school reopening guidance. ED uses the Louisiana Department of Education’s Accelerate initiative as a national example of how states can support school systems to address unfinished learning.

“It’s reaffirming to see the work we’re doing in Louisiana called out as a strategy schools around the country can use to help children get back on track,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley. “Not only is Louisiana a national leader for safely providing in-person instruction, but our students are benefitting from academic strategies proven to move students forward.”

ED released the COVID-19 Handbook, Volume 2: Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students' Needs to provide additional strategies for safely reopening all of America's schools and to promote educational equity by addressing opportunity gaps that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. High-quality tutoring is a recommended strategy to address lost instructional time. The guidance reads:

One example of statewide use of tutoring is being provided by the Louisiana Department of Education, which is encouraging tutoring for all students, recommending that it occur in high-dosages (at least 30 minutes 3 times per week), and providing comprehensive materials aligned to state academic standards through the Accelerate program. In 2007, four studies reviewed by the Department’s What Works Clearinghouse found that peer tutoring had positive effects on English language development for English learners. By contrast, less formal, inconsistent tutoring, that is held in larger groups unconnected with classroom content is unlikely to help students.

Accelerate is designed to provide school systems with the structures and teachers with resources to accelerate students’ learning in connection with what’s taught during the normal school day. Participating school systems have access to tutoring lessons aligned to high-quality curriculum. A special Accelerate web page houses guidance documents, presentations and webinar recordings. 

In February, ED released Volume 1 of the COVID-19 Handbook, which provides educators and staff with practical examples, roadmaps and tools to implement the CDC's K-12 operational strategy for in-person learning, including the recommended five key mitigation measures.

Last summer, the Louisiana Department of Education released school reopening guidance and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved minimum health standards. All school systems developed comprehensive plans that operationalized health guidelines and allow for a quick pivot when the presence of the virus changes in their communities. The LDOE provided technical assistance for school systems statewide as they developed reopening plans based on CDC guidance and Louisiana’s phased reopening guidance. Not only did all Louisiana school systems reopen in the fall, but the LDOE’s School Reopening Dashboard shows that 71 percent of Louisiana students are benefitting from daily, in-person instruction. 

In addition to school reopening guidance, the Department released specific resources for areas like early childhood, students with disabilities and English Learners. Along with developing virtual instruction guides for educators and families, LDOE provided virtual instruction workshops to over 2,600 educators. This is in addition to the support offered by school systems. The LDOE also held weekly office hours calls and system leader roundtables to keep teachers and leaders updated on the latest developments nationwide and in Louisiana. 

Dr. Brumley advocated for K-12 educators and support staff as well as early childcare workers to receive priority access to the vaccine. As priority access was granted, the Department worked with the Louisiana Department of Health to share vaccine guidance with school systems. The Department also partnered with state and federal officials to equip school systems with PPE, including 1.2 million face coverings and 83,316 rapid testing kits.
The American Enterprise Institute’s Return to Learn Tracker ranked Louisiana No. 7 in the nation for the highest number of students participating in face-to-face learning. LSU’s 2021 Louisiana Survey found that 77 percent of parents are satisfied with the instruction provided by their child’s school during the pandemic. Harvard University’s Opportunity Insights data shows Louisiana students led the nation for math gains on the Zearn math app from May 2020 to March 2021.

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