District approves high-impact tutoring

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The Ector County ISD Board of Trustees approved high-impact tutoring for students during their meeting Tuesday.

Recommended suppliers were Air Tutors, LLC, Focus Care, Inc. dba FEV Tutor Inc., HeyTutor Inc., and Zovia, Inc. dba TutorMe, LLC for a total cost of $5,647,094.

The purpose of high-impact tutoring is to provide students the opportunity to close the COVID-19 learning gap through individual or small group tutoring.

How much the companies are paid will depend on student growth.

Supplemental agenda material said this accelerated learning initiative supports districts with the House Bill 4545 requirement which states all students who were not successful on STAAR be provided accelerated learning as required by the law.

Superintendent Scott Muri said high-impact tutoring has been discussed on multiple occasions. The district received some $60 million in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds.

Muri said the target for those dollars was helping students recover academically from the pandemic and social-emotional learning.

Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Lilia Nanez said 6,098 students are engaging in virtual tutoring and their progress will be monitored. For example, Nanez said the district gets daily attendance reports on which students didn’t log in.

Other students will receive different forms of support, including face to face or small group.

Nanez said the students were strategically selected and campus principals are in contact with the tutors and tutoring partners.

If a student regresses, the students’ schedule could be adjusted or another option for accelerated learning could be used.

StrongMind of Chandler, Ariz., was selected for the district’s virtual academy.

Senate Bill 15 relates to virtual and off-campus electronic instruction at a public school. SB 15 allows school districts with a district rating of C or higher to operate a local remote learning program to offer virtual courses outside the state virtual school network under Chapter 30A to eligible students.

Agenda material said StrongMind provides a virtual learning solution which:

>> Engages students with rigorous TEKS aligned digital courses for grades K-12.

>> Provides a robust learning management system (LMS to deliver lessons and track learning).

>> Provides Texas-certified subject area teachers who will communicate with families, teach synchronous lessons, hold virtual office hours, and schedule individual coaching sessions based on learners’ needs.

>> Provides high-quality student support services including special education, bilingual/dual language (kindergarten through fifth), English as a second language sixth through eighth grade, gifted and talented (intellectual focus), fine arts, physical education, and career and technical education, the material said.

The cost is $3,850 per student for a full year of instruction; estimating 100 students for a total cost of $385,000.

The funding source is federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds, or ESSER III.

The board also approved a three-year research practice partnership with Texas Tech University to develop research questions, program evaluation design, data collections, and a final program evaluation report for the Opportunity Culture program.

The estimated cost is a total of $270,000 over a three-year contract. Opportunity Culture is designed to serve economically disadvantaged students by providing marginalized student populations with quality teachers, the supplemental material said.

On a separate item, Muri said Raise Your Hand Texas is putting together a small consortium of school districts to be more active with the legislature.

Several board members expressed interest in participating.

Muri said there would be six sessions including a team of eight training. Raise Your Hand Texas asked ECISD if they were interested, so Muri suspects they have a good chance of being chosen.

Chief Financial Officer Deborah Ottmers conducted a hearing on the district’s Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas. The district received an A rating based on 2019-20 data.