How Tennessee and Ohio are Measuring the Impact of Their Academic Recovery Investments

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As states, districts and schools work to recover unfinished learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many are turning to strategies such as high-impact tutoring and out-of-school time learning. With an unprecedented allocation of relief money from the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund, states are supporting districts to design, evaluate and scale strategies to accelerate academic recovery and close COVID learning gaps.  

Tennessee, for example, launched the TN ALL Corps program in 2021 using its state ESSER set-aside funds to expand high-impact tutoring opportunities statewide. The program aims to provide more than 150,000 students with high-dosage, low-ratio tutoring sessions in reading or math to help those students catch up on unfinished learning.  

Initially, the Tennessee Department of Education allowed districts flexibility within TN ALL Corps to provide room for innovation and adaptation. At the same time, the state launched implementation networks to get a better understanding of what is — and is not — working. Now with two years of data, the department is doubling down on the most impactful practices and investing in what works.  

Similarly, the Ohio Department of Education is partnering with research institutions to study the impact of some of its more than 80 ESSER set-aside investments, which include tutoring and high-quality summer enrichment programs. These research partnerships enable the department to understand what is making a difference for students and direct funds to support strategies that are paying off.  

At CCSSO’s 2023 Legislative Conference in March, then-Tennessee Commissioner Penny Schwinn and then-Ohio Interim Superintendent Stephanie Siddens took the stage to share how their states are investing in and measuring the impact of academic recovery initiatives

“Based on the outcome results that they’re getting and the fact that they have capacity to serve more students, we’ve been able to provide supplemental funds based on knowing some of the successes and challenges that have occurred,” Siddens said.  

“From a strategy perspective, we did not see these as one-time dollars," Schwinn said. "We said, ’How do we use these one-time dollars for a sustainable strategy?’ That meant we had to go to policy and to the legislature over the past two years to ensure that we had recurring funds for the things that we saw were going to work.” 

Find out more about Ohio's efforts in this video, learn more about Tennessee's work here and view a recording of full panel discussion here. Read CCSSO’s Road to Recovery reports on high-impact tutoring and out-of-school time programs to learn more about how states are supporting academic recovery.  

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