Indiana University Kokomo has been awarded nearly $25,000 to help graduating high school students who have experienced learning loss due to schools closing during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The money comes from the Summer 2020 COVID-19 Learning Support Grant, which will support efforts that fit within summer tutoring and pre-college boot camps. Programs will be focused on students who are most vulnerable to learning loss due to schools closing or the transition to online classes.
According to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, summer learning loss – known as “summer melt” or “summer slide” – is a common issue for students, particularly in the areas of reading and math.
The state expects summer learning loss to be even greater heading into the fall, following the impact of COVID-19 and extended school closures. One study projects students will return to school in the fall having retained about 70% of their learning from a typical year in reading, while retaining about 50% of their learning in math.
The grant awarded to IU Kokomo will support summer tutoring by allotting stipends for current college-aged students to coach and instruct graduating high school seniors.
Funding will also go towards pre-college “boot camps” to help students catch up and prepare for college-level coursework. The courses could be held either virtually or in-person.
Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers said low-income and underrepresented populations in particular are facing even greater challenges related to technology access and other disruptions to their traditional learning environments.
“Hoosier students need support to move forward and navigate the higher education system during such unprecedented times,” she said in a release. “It’s critical we help all Hoosiers prepare for the already-challenging transition from high school to post-secondary education.”
In total, 11 Indiana colleges, universities and community partners have been awarded $135,000 in grant funding from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, in partnership with Indiana Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP).
Universities and colleges across the state are also focusing on opportunities to minimize learning loss, including integrating faculty more deeply as mentors throughout the summer and shifting staff roles to facilitate additional orientation activities for students.
Some institutions are utilizing “badges” as students complete certain orientation activities, while others are centering on ensuring students in the 21st Century Scholars program, as well as other low-income and first-generation students, are transitioning to post-secondary education as seamlessly as possible.
“Our institutions understand the challenges facing the incoming freshman class of 2020 and have been diligently working to ensure students have the support they need to access higher education prepare to succeed either on campus or online,” Lubbers said.