New statewide grant program to provide tutoring for low-income Hoosiers

A new statewide grant program will provide low-income Indiana families with funds to support tutoring for students who are struggling to recover from academic setbacks spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, state officials announced Wednesday.

The Indiana Learns program will provide qualifying families with up to $1,000 to spend on high-dosage tutoring for math and English/language arts, as well as approved out-of-school academic programs.

Once a family has registered at IndianaLearns.org, they can manage their account and find participating learning partners in an online platform that will be available by Oct. 1.

Indiana Department of Education officials said the initiative seeks to increase access to effective, out-of-school academic support. The announcement comes just weeks after statewide standardized test scores showed that nearly one in five Hoosier third graders this past spring did not master foundational reading skills.

It is funded through federal dollars and no state dollars can be added when those are exhausted.

Last week, state education officials and the Lilly Endowment announced a separate investment of up to $111 million to improve reading outcomes in Indiana schools.

“Parents and families play such an important role in a child’s education, not only through reading to and supporting them at home, but also through additional high-quality tutoring to further support their learning,” Katie Jenner, Indiana secretary of education, said in a written statement. “As we continue to make historic investments in education, this grant will increase access to tutoring opportunities for our students who need it most, regardless of a parent or family’s ability to afford this additional support.”

IDOE selected The Mind Trust, an Indianapolis-based education not-for-profit organization, to operate the new two-year grant program.

Families can use the funds on approved virtual and in-person tutoring, including private tutoring, small group tutoring or academic-focused camps held during school breaks.

All qualifying and participating students will receive an initial one-time grant of $500, according to guidelines. Traditional public, charter and accredited non-public schools can then opt to contribute an additional $250 to the accounts of qualifying students in their school or corporation. The state will provide an extra $250 match, giving families a total of $1,000 in their accounts.

Learning partners approved to provide services under the grant agreement must make at least 60 minutes of services available outside of regular school hours and utilize credentialed educators, like licensed, retired teachers or prospective teachers currently enrolled in a teacher preparation program. A 1:3 tutor-student ratio is required to be maintained.

Student learning must also be measured, and weekly progress reports should be provided to parents and schools.

Services are capped at $100 per hour for each student’s session on a reimbursement basis.

Student qualifications

To qualify for an Indiana Learns tutoring grant, students must meet all of the following criteria:

– Legally reside in Indiana,
– Be enrolled at a traditional public, charter or accredited non-public school,
– Qualify for Federal Free or Reduced Lunch, and
– Have scored Below Proficiency in both math and English/language arts on ILEARN as a third or fourth grader in 2022. (Approaching proficiency will not qualify.)

The Indiana Capital Chronicle is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that covers state government, policy and elections.

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