State launches partnership with 24-hour tutoring service 

  • Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut speaks on a parntership between the state and Tutor.com during a press conference at Conant High School on Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

  • Conant High School and Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School Principal David Dustin speaks on the benefits of a live tutoring program. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

  • Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut speaks about a parntership between the state and Tutor.com during a press conference at Conant High School on Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

  • Jaffrey-Rindge Cooperative School District Superintendent Reuben Duncan speaks about how access to tutoring services at any time of day aligns with the district’s values and learning blueprint. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

  • Tutor.com Senior Vice President Sandi White explains the vetting process the tutors go through. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

  • Conant High School and Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School Counseling Director Kimberly Baker speaks about some of the barriers between students and accessing tutoring assistance. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 9/21/2022 1:16:49 PM
Modified: 9/21/2022 1:16:10 PM

The state Department of Education has launched a partnership with Tutor.com to provide 24-hour tutoring and homework help to every student in the state above sixth grade, in an effort to close the learning gaps left by COVID-19.

At a press conference held at Conant High School in Jaffrey on Wednesday, Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut said one of the challenges that has arisen in the post-COVID-19 educational model is addressing learning that was lost when students were learning online, or missing school due to exposure or illness. 

“There’s not a uniformity of what was missed,” Edelblut said.

The partnership with Tutor.com aims to fill those gaps.

Using COVID-19 ESSER relief funds, the state plans to provide access to Tutor.com to all students in the state. School districts can sign up with the program to provide access through their existing online portals, or individual students and their families can sign up on their own. The service is available to students in public or private education, along with homeschool students.

Twenty-four schools representing nearly 11,000 students have already registered, with about 40 more schools in the process of registering, including the Jaffrey-Rindge Cooperative School District. Tutoring sessions have already begun for some districts. 

Tutor.com provides help in a variety of subjects, through either a two-way text chat or a voice chat with a live tutor who is available at any time of day. The service has been active since 2000, and has about 3,000 tutors available.

Sandi White, the senior vice president of Tutor.com, said the tutors they employ undergo a criminal background check, and that check is redone every six months. Transcripts of tutoring sessions are recorded, and undergo a quality-control review regularly. Tutors must be enrolled as a sophomore or higher in an accredited institution, or have a four-year degree, and must pass a proficiency exam before being hired.

Conant High School and Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School Principal David Dustin said learning loss was “wide-ranging” and “is still a persistent challenge in the classroom” for districts. Although the school already offers tutoring services and after-school help, he said a tool like Tutor.com can help students access help on their own schedule, and reach students whose schedules don’t allow for in-school help.

Dustin said he felt the district had the best teachers available, but the gaps are still being felt.

“They commit of themselves. They offer their own versions of tutoring and after-school help. They do whatever they can to meet the needs of their students,” Dustin said. “I would say with confidence that if they could rip themselves into 100 pieces to meet the needs of their 100 students every year, they would do that, for sure. The reality is that teachers cannot rip themselves into pieces, and the attempts that we’re offering now are still not meeting the needs of all learners.”

Jaffrey-Rindge Superintendent Reuben Duncan said this was another tool, not only for students and their parents, but for teachers who may use it as a classroom aid.

“Our parents, educators and community members support the notion that learning occurs any time and anywhere. And our parents, educators and community members seek to eliminate the barriers to successful learning for all,” Duncan said. “In line with our community’s shared beliefs about learning, and our mission to empower learners to thrive, we are excited to join this partnership with schools across the state, with the Education Department here in New Hampshire and with Tutor.com to provide all of our learners here in Jaffrey and Rindge a powerful resource that will allow them to gain access to targeted instruction and feedback at a time that works best for them.”

Districts will receive data about the usage of Tutor.com by their students, which will be used by teachers when evaluating what areas students are not confident in. When asked if it would be used as a tool to evaluate staff performance, Dustin said that the district does not use its current knowledge about student tutoring in that way, and would not use Tutor.com’s data for that either. Mainly, he said, it would be a tool for teachers to know where they may need to spend more time in the classroom.

“Teachers crave that kind of data,” Dustin said.

The COVID-19 relief funds are expected to fund the partnership through 2025. At that point, Edelblut said the state may revaluate whether to continue the partnership through state funding, or individual districts may decide to continue the services through their own budgets.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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