There's good news for a Kansas City elementary school that wasn’t sure how it would continue a successful tutoring program that helps transient students catch up in English and math: a $75,000 grant from the Kauffman Foundation will keep it alive.
Last spring, Pitcher Elementary Principal Karol Howard was pretty sure she’d have to close the school Learning Lab because she didn’t have the funding to pay the tutors anymore. For several years, retired teachers had been working with students whose families move a lot. That’s common at Pitcher and the other Kansas City Public Schools, and the instability causes absences and achievement gaps.
Tutoring was helping close those gaps at Pitcher, but the school improvement grant from the Kauffman Foundation that paid for it was supposed to expire at the end of the 2017-18 school year.
Howard says it was “divine intervention” that netted the school another $75,000 from Kauffman. She’d hoped to get funding from other sources, but in the end, senior program officer Amy Gale came to the rescue.
“We tried everywhere we could, and I think that Amy heard we didn't have funding, and she just stepped forward to assist,” Howard says.
Howard swears by small group instruction for getting kids who are behind caught up.
“If you’re able to tailor the needs of each student and then put them in groups and target whatever skill you want to teach, you develop them so much faster,” Howard says. “You’re filling in the deficits.”
Mid-year assessments showed Pitcher students making gains in English and math. The school won’t get results of state assessments for a few more weeks.
KCUR’s education coverage is funded in part by the Kauffman Foundation, which had no influence on this reporting.
Elle Moxley covers education for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.