The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted teaching and learning at elementary, middle and high schools across the United States, leaving millions of already disadvantaged students in danger of falling further behind academically. But with help from researchers and education leaders, led by a team at Brown University, many of those students may soon get assistance.
In winter 2021, Brown’s Annenberg Institute for School Reform launched the National Student Support Accelerator, a multi-institution initiative aimed at equalizing access to high-quality tutoring. The accelerator team — a diverse group of education faculty from Brown and across the U.S., current and former school district administrators, tutoring organization leaders and consultants from education nonprofits and think tanks — plans to support more than 4,500 American school districts and nonprofits over the next five years, equipping them with the tools to use research-based practices to implement and improve tutoring programs.
“The pandemic closed a lot of schools and in the process created even greater inequalities in the access students have to good educational opportunities,” said Susanna Loeb, a professor of education at Brown who directs the Annenberg Institute. “Many students weren’t able to connect, both metaphorically — as in, they found virtual learning very difficult — and literally — as in, they didn’t have internet access or the right technology. We came in thinking: ‘What is out there that could really accelerate the learning of students in need so that they don’t lose months or years of progress?’”