NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tutoring is one of the ways Tennessee plans to spend millions of dollars in newly released federal funds geared towards education. After getting the green light Thursday, $830 million will be dispersed to the state.
The U.S. Department of Education approved Tennessee’s American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief plan, which included goals of addressing tutoring.
“I love where Tennessee is putting their focus on summer opportunities and focusing on early learning,” said former Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.
Haslam highlighted the Tennessee Tutoring Corps program during a stop at one of its sites Thursday at the Boys and Girls Club’s Cleveland Park location.
“I think if you look at all the big issues facing our country today, trying to level the playing field for early education opportunities is real important. One of the things we saw with Tennessee promise and college is all that’s wonderful, but if you’re not prepared when you get there then free college doesn’t help you,” Haslam said. “Being prepared when you get there starts with early learning. It just does because if you’re not on grade level in third grade, it’s going to be really hard to ever catch up.”
The Bill and Crissy Haslam foundation launched the program in 2020 in partnership with charter schools and organizations serving children. Governor Haslam said it was necessary after seeing the learning loss students were facing during virtual learning amid the height of the pandemic.
The program supports summer learning opportunities for kids in first through fourth grade by offering tutoring through college students.
Tennessee is receiving more than $2 billion altogether in ARP ESSER funds with the final $830 million now on the way, all with the goal of supporting a quick and safe reopening of schools for in-person learning.
“Tennessee’s ARP ESSER plan prioritizes strategic, student-centered investments to help accelerate learning, and we are proud to receive approval on our plan from the U.S. Department of Education,” said Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “In Tennessee, we are maximizing over $4 billion in K-12 funding to provide all students with essential academic supports like statewide tutoring and early reading resources, and to strengthen programs that support student readiness and our educators. With additional policy and funding investments at the state level, Tennessee is dedicated to ensuring the best for all students.”
Tennessee was tasked with providing a plan with how it plans to spend the money before it was dispersed.
The department plans to use the funds towards a new statewide tutoring model that will span over the next three years to provide tutor training and certification, along with content specific to each grade-level. TDOE says school districts will be able to apply for matching grants to fund the Accelerating Literacy and Learning Corps program. Community partners will also be offered matching grants to help kids accelerate their learning.
Another goal for the state is investing in summer learning and after school programs using these additional federal dollars.