Vetted Texas Tutor Corps: A new pathway to utilize future teachers as tutors

What will it take to provide high-impact tutoring to more than a million students in Texas?

We’ve been exploring the answer to this question with the Texas Education Agency over the last few months, as they seek to recruit providers to join the Vetted Texas Tutor Corps, a new initiative designed to accelerate student learning on a large scale.

The ambitious program launched in May of this year, but only recruited 21 providers capable of reaching 35,000 tutors—well short of the 300,000+ that will be needed to meet the state’s goal of serving one million students.

A solution? Activate future teachers as tutors.

Three of the applicants initially approved to be VTTC providers are educator-preparation programs that are committed to utilizing tutoring as a foundational component of teacher preparation. They, like us, see tutoring as a win-win strategy that simultaneously addresses students’ academic and social-emotional needs while strengthening and diversifying the teacher workforce. (For more on this, see our July 2020 policy brief.) Two of these programs—Dallas College and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley—are led by former Impact Academy fellows Robert DeHaas and Alma Rodriguez. DeHass, the Vice Provost of the School of Education at Dallas College, and Dean Sara DeLano recognize the pivotal role their institution can play in addressing K-12 students’ academic and social-emotional needs.

“Our partner school systems have a huge need for tutors, and so it’s important to us to marshall our resources to meet their needs,” DeLano explained.

She knows the value tutoring can provide to her teacher-candidates, many of whom are first-generation and Latinx, explaining that tutoring offers “an early opportunity for [candidates] to see what it’s like to work with students and further students’ learning outcomes.” Dallas College offers aspiring teachers opportunities to engage with students almost from the moment they enroll, an approach DeLano describes as “atypical,” contrasting it with the traditional model where aspiring teachers do not “move student learning forward until their senior year.” This provides teacher-candidates with ample opportunities to practice their skills.

To ensure the best experience for candidates, she recommends that EPPs partner with school districts to create alignment between candidates’ tutoring responsibilities and their coursework and teaching training.

“Our faculty began by mapping the job description for the tutoring experience against the course outcomes for the fall,” DeLano said. She anticipates that candidates who engage in these aligned tutoring experiences will learn to “build positive relationships with students to realize students’ interests and their learning, plan for and modify instruction, reflect on their instruction, and understand how it can be improved during the next [tutoring] session.” The learning opportunities available in these “sheltered environments,” as DeLano describes them, hold significant promise for setting future teachers up for success on day one and greatness over time.

We see a unique opportunity for educator-preparation programs in Texas to capitalize on tutoring to benefit students and teachers alike. As of September 17, applications to join the Vetted Texas Tutor Corps are open again. (They’ll be reviewed on a rolling, two-week basis.) We encourage EPPs to take action by exploring and applying to serve as approved Vetted Texas Tutor Corps providers.

For educational leaders who are not eligible to participate in this specific program, we encourage you to take inspiration from the example and continue asking yourselves: “How are we creating experiences that address K-12 students’ immediate needs, while simultaneously strengthening and diversifying the teaching profession for the long term?”

For further inspiration, we invite you to download Strengthening Pipelines and Serving Students, which chronicles the stories of education leaders who are designing and implementing changes like these. Or, I welcome you to set up a call with me to learn more about how you can get involved.

Patrick Steck

Vice President, External Affairs

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