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Indiana lawmakers propose funding to connect struggling students with tutors

According to the Indiana Department of Education, only 28.6% of students statewide in grades 3 through 8 are proficient in both English and math.

INDIANAPOLIS — New legislation aims to connect Indiana parents with tutors to help their children improve academically.

"Clearly we have struggles right now in reading, and reading is a foundational skill you need to learn," said Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis.

The pandemic contributed to a learning loss.

According to the Indiana Department of Education, only 28.6% of students statewide in grades 3 through 8 are proficient in both English and math. That's a drop from 37.1% the last time the test was administered in 2019.

Behning said thanks to federal emergency funds, parents will soon be able to use an app-based program to connect them with tutors free of charge.

"It had very broad support. Both sides of the aisles they thought it was a great move to help kids really get the basics they need in terms of reading," said Behning.

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Here's how it would work.

Behning said the state would put in $500. Parents would be notified their child did not pass iREAD, for example, and will be given a chance to apply for the tutoring grant.

Local school districts would match $250 from federal monies they received. The state will then add another $250.

Behning said the maximum amount of a tutoring grant would equal $1,000.

"It's not like we're giving them an EBT card and they can go buy anything. it will be a wallgarden, so to speak, of services, of vendors who would be able to provide services in your community," said Behning.

Legislation is still in the early phases and no date has been set for it to begin.

Many parents, like Alicia Rodriguez, say it's a good idea.

She said the pandemic really impacted her son, a fourth-grader who went from being a straight-A student to a C student.

"I feel like that time when he wasn't in the classroom, he wasn't being held as accountable affected his learning 100 percent," said Rodriguez.

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Rodriguez said she's hoping the app will be easy to use.

"Making it easier on mom and dad is going to be the shining star that's going to make this happen," said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said she'd also like to know how transportation will factor for children who attend summer school or stay after school for tutoring.

"If I could be a person who would maybe help that run smoothly, I'd be grateful to be able to help other parents, because we all have to work together to make sure our kids are educated," said Rodriguez.

Behning said more information about the program is expected to be released in the coming weeks or months.

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