The PATHS to Tutor Act: Mobilizing future teachers as tutors for vulnerable students
The COVID-19 pandemic has set back learning for millions of students and compounded educational inequities in our nation’s schools. Data suggest that the pandemic is disproportionately harming Black, Latinx, and low-income students.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Deans for Impact and its national network of educator-preparation programs have advocated for the important role of future teachers in addressing educational inequities and supporting students, especially the most vulnerable.
That’s why we’re thrilled by the recent introduction of the bipartisan “Partnering Aspiring Teachers with High-Need Schools (PATHS) to Tutor Act,” federal legislation that would mobilize future teachers as tutors in high-need or hard-to-staff schools. It would expand access to high-quality tutoring through a $500 million competitive grant program disbursed to local partnerships of educator-preparation programs, K-12 schools, and community organizations (e.g. Boys & Girls Clubs).
Mobilizing future teachers as tutors makes efficient use of taxpayer’s dollars by meeting two needs at once — a national tutoring program supports students and simultaneously creates authentic clinical opportunities for future teachers. As we reported in Building Blocks, teachers who get hands-on experience early in their training perform better when they arrive in their first classroom. This hands-on learning is essential to mastering the many varied skills required to teach. Tutors in the program would be trained and paired with experienced educators who can provide feedback on instructional practices.
The PATHS to Tutor Act would also direct resources to students who need them the most, specifically those in high-need or hard-to-staff schools (as defined under Title I.) The program would provide extra academic and social-emotional support to children at a critical juncture, supporting the country’s long-term educational and economic recovery from the pandemic. Research suggests that unfinished learning related to COVID-19 will lead to an average annual earning loss of $110 billion for all students. This will disproportionately impact Black and Latinx students, and students in low-income communities: their average lifetime earnings lost due to COVID-19 disruption is expected to be double the amount lost by their white or more affluent peers. For these vulnerable students, the PATHS to Tutor Act would deliver trauma-informed care at the moment it’s needed most. They’ll be welcomed into safe and culturally-responsive environments designed to accelerate their learning.
Finally, the bill also creates financial support for tutors. The PATHS to Tutor Act would recognize funded programs as national service providers, allowing tutors to access educational grant awards from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). It would also create a critical safeguard for individuals who are earning TEACH Grants, creating flexibility to count high-quality tutoring hours as allowable service. This would reduce the economic burden on early-career teachers and ensure qualified teachers remain committed to America’s highest need schools.