February 3, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted education in so many ways, forcing most school districts in Northern Virginia to adopt a virtual format to deliver instruction. But some officials across the region have expressed concern over how the switch to online learning could increase learning challenges for underprivileged students in the region.

In response to this challenging time, a group of longtime area educators got together last summer to form EduTutorVA, a new education nonprofit working to connect tutors with K-12 students at risk of falling behind in their classes during this pandemic. The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia is supporting the program through its new EduTutorVA Fiscal Sponsorship Fund.

This new organization addresses the compelling need faced by our most vulnerable students due to COVID-19 school closures. Students who were already behind when schools closed in March 2020 faced a new set of challenges, including little or no access to high-speed internet and no device other than a smartphone. This technology hurdle was compounded by a lack of support at home for their individual needs.

The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia is supporting the program through its new EduTutorVA Fiscal Sponsorship Fund. With the help of a $10,395.00 donation from this fund, EduTutorVA will provide tutoring in core academic areas to students in need in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), Arlington Public Schools, and Alexandria City Public Schools.

“We started EduTutorVA with a belief that we could put compelling research to work to close learning gaps for the public school students who need it the most through a regular program of one-on-one or small group virtual tutoring by trained tutors,” said Elizabeth Lodal, EduTutorVA advisory director and former FCPS principal. “This is a way to help struggling students by pairing them with tutors selected from local colleges and universities for individual or small group virtual instruction in targeted academic areas.”

Through partnerships with George Mason University and Northern Virginia Community College, this program will provide future educators practical experience so they can begin their teaching careers with skills in diagnosing and addressing a student's learning needs.

“Our goal is to provide a potential new generation of educators with a positive introduction to the teaching profession,” said Lodal. “We’re reaching out to aspiring educators to identify and help train tutors. Our expectation is that as we expand our program across the entire state of Virginia.” 

The educational disruption caused by COVID-19 has left many families in Northern Virginia in need of help to fill the alarming learning gaps created by the pandemic for underserved K-12 students. The EduTutorVA model is based on the best research about closing learning gaps. Schools identify students who are performing below grade level. They are then matched with trained tutors who work with them either individually or in small groups of no more than three. Through a program of diagnostic assessments, our tutors can identify and address each individual's learning needs.

“We are working to close the achievement gaps for the neediest and most academically vulnerable students. Research clearly shows that tutoring either one-on-one or in groups no larger than three can address student's individual learning needs, thus helping them master educational content more rapidly,” said Lodal.

If you are interested in providing tutoring or facilitating learning to families and children and can spare a few hours a week, please submit the form at this link.