INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Public Schools is expanding their after-school tutoring program and adding virtual tutoring blocks to the school day as part of a plan to address academic declines after COVID-19.

IPS wants to add virtual tutoring blocks to low-performing schools to help students catch up on reading and math skills that saw a decline during the pandemic.

Research shows tutoring is among one of the best tools to help students, but what about virtual tutoring?

IPS tested the effectiveness of virtual tutoring in 12 schools this spring. Students who participated in virtual tutoring improved their math scores by 12-24%, and English scores by 4-9%.

This fall, any IPS student will have access to free after-school tutoring. Schools that saw a significant decrease in test scores will also offer free in-school tutoring for students to receive additional help.

“For that tutoring in-school, that’s really about addressing unfinished learning in these invention-based models during the day for our students who are historically underserved,” said Sarah Robinson Chin, deputy chief of staff at IPS. “We’re thinking about schools that serve the highest numbers of students of color. Those are going to be programs where we are closely monitoring the impact of that during the fall semester and deciding how and what ways to continue and expand programing to other sites or other grade levels.”

The district will implement the two-pilot program starting this fall. School officials said they will monitor how student scores are impacted by the expanded program during the upcoming school year to decide if the program will continue in the future. 

“We saw that our students experienced many different types of harm during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Robinson Chin said.

Every school district in Indiana was awarded a grant from the federal government to address all of the costs associated with COVID-19. District officials said they are utilizing this funding for the tutoring but did not disclose how much of these funds have been allocated for this program.