Illinois teachers are focusing on post-pandemic learning strategies

byMark Richardson
Illinois News Connection

CHICAGO -- Illinois educators are investing millions of dollars to accelerate the learning recovery process for students who fell behind their grade level during the pandemic.

The State Board of Education is implementing the Illinois Tutoring Initiative, a high-impact instruction program targeting the state's highest-need school districts.

Post-pandemic test data show only 30% of Illinois students read at grade level, and 75% are not proficient in math.

Jennifer Kirmes, executive director for teaching and learning at the Illinois State Board of Education, said the goal is to bring students up to speed as quickly as possible.

"The bottom line is so that students who weren't able to progress at what would have been the expected pace, as a result of the disruptions from the pandemic, are able to grow faster now as a result of this program," Kirmes explained.

So far, they have trained almost 500 so-called "high-impact" tutors to provide learning recovery instruction in 45 school districts statewide, and the department has distributed grant funds to an additional 27 districts to design and implement their own programs.

The initiative is funded by a $25 million grant from federal pandemic relief funds. Kirmes pointed out districts are chosen based on funding levels, their number of low-income students, and the impact of COVID-19 on lost, in-person instructional time.

"High-impact tutoring really works intentionally on the skills and competencies that students need to succeed," Kirmes noted. "Certainly with their homework, but also in classroom assignments and on assessments, with additional content."

She added as many as 45 additional districts will launch high-impact tutoring in early 2023 as the state expands the initiative.

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