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PEMBROKE – Tutors are taking their place in multiple schools this week as a result of a partnership between the Public Schools of Robeson County and The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. 

There were approximately 17 tutors who entered various classrooms on Tuesday as several PSRC students began their second full week of the school year. Tutors are students enrolled at the university.

The school district anticipates the involvement of up to 25 tutors from the university in classrooms in the Pembroke area. Tutors will be compensated at $12.50 per hour and work with multiple schools in the area for a 15-week period. Tutoring is available through the partnership for the subjects of reading and math.

The program is paid for through Disadvantaged Student Supplemental funding from the state level.

“Through this partnership, we are able to place multiple tutors into classrooms to help support our students at the start of the school year as they learn and cultivate essential literacy skills needed to be successful beyond graduation,” said Dr. Robert Locklear, assistant superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction and Accountability.

Locklear said the partnership between the district and university in the project continues from the project’s launch in February.

“This program is one of the multiple ways PSRC is working to improve literacy and learning in our classrooms,” Locklear said.

“The program also will help support students as they navigate the implementation of EL Education K-8 Language Arts Curriculum, which has a strong emphasis on literacy, and Eureka Math Squared for K-7 students,” Locklear added.

The district is grateful for the support from the university and looks forward to many more collaborative opportunities and programs in the future, he said.

Literacy, learning loss impacts from pandemic

Literacy and learning across the nation have been impacted directly by the coronavirus pandemic. Thus, programs to support and strengthen literacy skills are especially important.

“In 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) conducted a special administration of the NAEP long-term trend (LTT) reading and mathematics assessments for age 9 students to examine student achievement during the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to The Nation’s Report Card website.

“Average scores for age 9 students in 2022 declined 5 points in reading and 7 points in mathematics compared to 2020. This is the largest average score decline in reading since 1990, and the first ever score decline in mathematics,” according to the website.

In January, UNICEF (United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund) published on its website that children across the world had lost “basic numeracy and literacy skills” as a result of the impacts of the pandemic.

Multiple sources suggest that it will take time for students to recover from learning loss brought on by the pandemic.

“As projected earlier this year in an analysis by the Department of Public Instruction’s Office of Learning Recovery and Acceleration, many North Carolina students will require months of additional learning time, possibly over several years, because of disruptions forced by the pandemic,” NCDPI released in a press release Sept. 1 that celebrated improvements in performance levels of students across the state.

Most schools or “seven out of 10” across the state achieved growth this past year, according to NCDPI.

“Last year’s accountability results are really a testament to the resilience, dedication and commitment of thousands of educators across the state,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt in the press release. “They know as I do that we still have a steep hill to climb and that every step matters.”