The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on our school children has been so dramatic, it has its own name: the “Covid slide.” A Brown University study in January found significant drops in the math and reading test scores for students in grades 3-8 during Covid-19. In Ohio, the Third Grade English Language Arts (ELA) assessment showed a decline between 2020 and 2021 of about one third of a year’s worth of lost learning. Teachers and parents have also seen a disruption in children’s social skills and maturity levels.
But parents in the region have a partner in combating these potential long-term issues. TutorSmart, a provider of classroom-aligned after school tutoring in Greater Toledo, is expanding its free tutoring program to all 20 Toledo-Lucas County Public Library branches by the fall. This summer, the program is offered in the Children’s Center of the Main Library, along with its Kent, Locke, Mott and South branches. The program was also offered in 16 Toledo Public Schools, as well as at a variety of after school programs in the area.
Addressing academic and social issues
“We have seen a big drop in math and reading skills” around the region, explained Tiffany Adamski, executive director of TutorSmart Toledo. “Kids also need more support in social and emotional issues. The pandemic has traumatized and frustrated them.
“There’s no reason (for parents) to struggle alone” while helping their kids, she said. “We are committed to the whole child post-pandemic. We attack their academic issues, but also their traumas” coming from their isolation during the pandemic. And the program is building students’ confidence. “By having a connection to an adult, students build the confidence to go on,” added Adamski.
Tutoring focused on students’ specific issues
TutorSmart is a nonprofit intermediary to improve the quality of, access to and utilization of after-school tutoring. The organization works with schools, after school programs and community centers to coordinate the tutoring program to the individual child’s needs. Hour-long tutoring sessions are provided by paid, contract teachers and volunteers, often coming from area schools. Programming consists of individualized tutoring, a computer-based curriculum and homework help.
“This program is definitely a team effort,” Adamski said. “We connect to the classroom teachers and also conduct our own diagnostic tests,” and then plan the tutoring from those results. “It’s an intense program (at 4 hours per week), but we’re getting good results,” she said. Families can also access TutorSmart online.
Helping students reach their goals
Since its mid-May beginning, the library tutoring program has been going really well, Adamski said. “There’s a certain energy about being in a library’s learning environment,” she said. “And the flexibility of times available for tutoring is very good for working parents. It’s like the Holy Grail for learning! In addition, we have a great team, and the library has been a very good partner.”
TutorSmart is funded, in part, by an Ohio Department of Education grant, as well as by a variety of businesses, institutions and foundations around the region. The organization is also a charity of the 2022 Dana Open Presented by Marathon LPGA golf tournament.
“We are here to wrap our arms around these kids as they’re struggling,” Adamski said. “Once they’ve reached their goals, we won’t be needed.”