NEW JERSYE – The The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) announced the launch of three critical initiatives designed to promote academic recovery and accelerate learning.
The initiatives will focus on evidence-based strategies that can help schools close achievement gaps caused or exacerbated by COVID-19-related disruptions to the learning environment and the shift to remote instruction. These programs will prioritize elementary age students, consistent with evidence-based research demonstrating that elementary-age students experienced more significant developmental setbacks during the pandemic.
“As a state that prides itself on delivering the high-quality education our children deserve, addressing the effects of learning loss on our students’ progress remains a top priority,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “These programs are another component of our ongoing efforts to comprehensively address the mental, emotional, and educational needs of young people throughout our state. We will continue to take a holistic approach to supporting the academic success and overall well-being of New Jersey’s students.”
“The academic challenges facing New Jersey students reflect those faced by students throughout the nation as a result of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan, Acting Commissioner of Education. “These High Impact Tutoring and RAPID educator training programs are strategies that will accelerate our students’ learning and help them achieve greater educational success as we move forward.”
High Impact Tutoring
The New Jersey High Impact Tutoring program has begun with a 60-day Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for vendors such as companies, non-profit organizations, and colleges and universities that have the capacity to provide in-depth tutoring services to schools. Under this initiative, the NJDOE seeks participation from organizations that can provide tutoring services at scale, including school districts that offer tutoring or are considering offering tutoring with existing staff.
Eligible vendors will be required to demonstrate that their tutoring services are grounded in evidence-based instructional practices. Tutoring will be prioritized for third and fourth grade students, on an individual or small-group basis. Tutoring will take place no less than twice weekly, for a nine or 10-week period. The NJDOE will also support school districts that have already established tutoring programs in their school community.
Following the establishment of a list of approved tutoring vendors, local school districts can apply to be reimbursed for a share of at least $17 million in federal funding from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund that will allow them to contract with pre-qualified vendors. Additional information regarding the allocation of funding is forthcoming that will outline the method through which schools will be prioritized for these funds.
All tutoring staff need to be appropriately qualified with at least 60 semester-hour credits from a nationally accredited college or university and have been thoroughly vetted by the hiring organization. Criminal history background checks will be required, consistent with state law and NJDOE regulations.
RAPID Learning Acceleration Professional Development Programs
Using funding appropriated through the FY23 budget, as well as remaining Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) state-set aside funds, the NJDOE is also launching two programs – RAPID and RAPID-Plus, which are designed to bolster foundational literacy in the elementary grades by providing targeted professional development for educators.
RAPID, specific to early elementary literacy in kindergarten to grade three, will be supported by a $2 million appropriation from the FY23 budget and approximately $700,000 in one-time ESSER funding. The NJDOE will solicit a Request for Proposals (RFP) from qualified individuals and organizations that will be approved to serve as RAPID vendors, providing no-cost training to participating school districts.
RAPID-Plus is a grant opportunity for institutions of higher education to provide professional development targeted to literacy instruction for educators responsible for upper elementary students in grades 4 and 5. RAPID-Plus will be supported by $3 million in ESSER state set-aside funding.
The NJDOE will enter into an agreement with grantee colleges and universities that have the capacity to provide professional development to New Jersey educators. The Notice of Grant Opportunity for this program will be posted to the NJDOE’s website in the coming days.