GVSU expanding K-12 tutoring program to provide wider student support, boost tutor availability

Grand Valley is expanding its successful K-12 tutoring program to enhance student support and the availability of tutors. 

GVSU's K-12 Connect, which began in March 2020 in response to learning loss during the pandemic, will continue to offer the free program piloted last year, "Homework Help," to K-12 families throughout the state of Michigan. 

Volunteer tutors, primarily Grand Valley students, connect with K-12 students who have provided online their grade level and the subject where they need support, said Amirah Vosburgh, project lead for K-12 Connect.

The program resonated quickly with students and educators. Over the last year, more than 2,400 K-12 students participated in more than 15,000 tutoring sessions, Vosburgh said.

A child, photographed from the back, writes on a piece of paper.
Image Credit: Amanda Pitts

Two additional programs will allow K-12 districts to contract with GVSU to provide guaranteed support for students through paid tutors. They are:

  • "Homework Help Plus," which matches GVSU tutors with students to provide support specific to the needs of each school. Tutoring can take place day or night.
  • "Targeted Reading Tutoring" provides K-8 students with skill-based reading instruction in one-on-one learning environments. Tutoring can take place day or night.

The programs, which are open to all district schools, charter schools, private schools and community-based organizations, are set to start operating October 4, though services can start at any time during the year. Tutoring will be offered virtually and in person when feasible.

A key part of growing this resource for K-12 students is adjusting programs based on feedback. Vosburgh said one example is that officials learned during last year's pilot program that despite the flexibility it offered, drop-in tutoring for high school students was not successful. That has led to training this year that emphasizes the need to build relationships with students to foster the right learning environment, she said.

"We’re really looking for community input and feedback as we continue to evolve and grow a program that supports students who need it most,” Vosburgh said.

Leaders foresee working with the entire community, offering training to parents, older siblings and child care workers to support kids' reading growth, said Steven Hodas, executive director of the GV NextEd Co-Lab, which houses K-12 Connect.

"The goal is to improve people's lives. How do we develop programs that best fill needs?" Hodas said.

Both Vosburgh and Hodas said they hope the growth of this initiative will include research as well as guides for how those in higher education can assist K-12 students.

"The next part of our notion of impact is creating models or templates for how universities can show up in community, and that other institutions can copy," Hodas said.

Vosburgh also said how the initiative has provided crucial training for Grand Valley students, particularly those seeking reading endorsements. The experience is also beneficial for any of the students who tutor, Vosburgh said, noting some GVSU instructors are incorporating the K-12 connect tutoring into their curriculum as requirements or as ways to work toward earning credit.

For more information, including on how to participate, visit the K-12 Connect website.