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Newark Public Schools has revealed how they’re spending the $182 million in the last phase of federal emergency funds intended to primarily address learning loss due to two years of interrupted schooling. According to Chalkbeat, half of the money, $85.8 million, which equals a third of the district’s annual budget, will go towards renovating facilities. Approximately $27 million will go towards technology, and $26 million towards “enrichment activities.
Only five percent, or $9.3 million, will go towards tutoring students, reports Patrick Wall, which is “slightly less than the $10 million the district set aside for new computers for office employees.”
[T]he district’s plan also raises questions about priorities, with the majority of the aid going to building repairs and technology and only a third earmarked for teaching and learning. Despite data showing the pandemic severely disrupted students’ learning, the spending plan sets aside more money for office computers than tutoring.
Chalkbeat notes that the total amount of COVID grants of $287 million, issued in three cycles to Newark since 2020, is equal to $7,560 extra for each of the district’s roughly 38,000 students. Currently Newark Public Schools spends about $20,000 per pupil.
A review of research by Hechinger Report on how best to help students recover from pandemic-induced learning loss found that “frequent one-to-one tutoring with research proven instruction was especially effective in increasing learning rates of low-performing students.” According a 2016 Harvard study, “high-dosage tutoring was 20 times more effective than low-dosage tutoring in math. In reading, high-dosage tutoring was 15 times more effective than low-dosage tutoring.” The University of Chicago Education Lab found that individualized, intensive (or “high-dosage”) tutoring can double or triple the amount of math high school students learn each year, increase student grades, and reduce math and non-math course failures.
According to results of the state Start Strong assessments, given last fall, only 6% of Newark district students will reach proficiency levels in math this year.
Also from Chalkbeat:
Thomas Kane, an economist at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, said the recent test scores are a clear sign the district should invest heavily in direct support for struggling students. ‘They ought to be planning to spend almost all of those federal dollars on academic recovery,’ he said.