A 7th-grade history class at Mauro-Sheridan School in New Haven days before the March coronavirus shutdown. Gov. Ned Lamont announced Wednesday funding for math tutoring to help students impacted by COVID. MAYA MCFADDEN / New Haven Independent

Connecticut plans to spend $10 million of COVID-19 recovery funds to create a math tutoring program, for students in sixth through ninth grade, in hopes of bridging a rift in learning achievement caused by the pandemic.

The Connecticut High-Dosage Tutoring Program is expected to launch next school year, and districts will be able to apply to the state Department of Education for grant funding to participate, the state announced Wednesday. The Department of Education also says it’ll provide an approved list of tutoring providers to help start up the programs.

“The need for robust accelerated learning interventions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has never been greater, and by dedicating this funding to create an intensive tutoring program, we can provide school districts with greater support to identify students who are struggling and connect them with the resources they need to succeed,” Gov. Ned Lamont said.

“High-dosage tutoring” involves at least three 30-minute sessions per week with students, capped at a student-tutor ratio of 3-1. The tutoring is relationship-based with student monitoring to track their “knowledge and skills,” alongside oversight of tutors “to ensure high-quality interactions,” according to Duke University. The intervention method is effective in bridging gaps of learning loss that were seen in remote learning.

“We know from established research and practice that high-dosage tutoring is one of the best investments we can make to elevate student achievement,” said Department of Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker. “Few interventions have had such an unequivocally positive impact on expanding learning opportunities and closing equity gaps. State and national assessment data have repeatedly demonstrated that middle school mathematics remains an area of significant challenge.”

State assessments released last August show that on average that all students’ math scores across the state lag the farthest behind target. 

Across English, math and science, the target for the Connecticut Performance Index, or average score of students in a subject area, is a score of 75.

Prior to the pandemic, in 2018-19, high-needs students were scoring an average of 50.5 in math, which is well below the state target. The number dropped to 47.7 during the 2021-22 school year.

For students without high needs, in 2018-19, they were scoring an average of 74.4 in math. That figure also declined, to 70.6, last year.

Both Lamont’s administration and the state’s Department of Education say they hope the tutoring program will bring student achievement back to pre-pandemic levels.

“Research has found that students can learn as much as one to two years of math beyond what they might typically achieve in the classroom and experience reductions in failure rates by more than 50%” [through this tutoring], a news release from Lamont’s administration said. “Elements of Connecticut’s model, which will be released in the coming weeks, will adhere closely to these research principles.”

Jessika Harkay is CT Mirror’s Education Reporter, covering the K-12 achievement gap, education funding, curriculum, mental health, school safety, inequity and other education topics. Jessika's experience includes roles as a breaking news reporter at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Hartford Courant. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Baylor University.