Rebroadcast: Tutoring boosts students after the pandemic 'teaching loss'

young man with book smiles at child with back to camera
A tutor with Reading Partners meets with a young student. The program sends community tutors into schools twice a week to work with students who are six months or more behind grade level in reading skills.
Courtesy of Reading Partners

Students across the board in Minnesota fell behind in math, reading and other school subjects during distance learning in the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Only about 51 percent of Minnesota children hit reading benchmarks in 2022, a drop of eight percentage points since just prior to the pandemic in 2019. Fewer than 46 percent of students met or exceeded math standards, a drop of 10 percentage points. Students of color and students from low-income families fell even farther behind.

Educators are grappling with how to address this “learning loss,” or as some call it, “teaching loss.” One promising approach might be intensive tutoring, either in small groups or one-on-one.  

A tutor can give a steady dose of encouragement for kids who are disheartened. Tutors who are trained or who use a proven curriculum can also meet students where they are and focus on exactly the skills that need improvement — whether that’s phonics or fractions.  

Listen to a rebroadcast of a conversation that aired at the beginning of the school year with MPR News host Angela Davis and the directors of two free Minnesota tutoring programs.

If you want to volunteer to tutor, Reading Partners is recruiting tutors for 10 sites next school year. School districts also often run their own tutoring programs during the school year and over the summer, as do libraries, including branches of the Saint Paul Public Library and Hennepin County Library.


  • Brooke Rivers is executive director of Reading Partners Twin Cities, the regional branches of the national nonprofit literacy organization. The local program places reading tutors in eight metro schools and plans to be in 10 elementary schools next fall.  

  • Lesa Clarkson is an associate professor of mathematics education in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota. She’s also the founder of the math tutoring program Prepare2Nspire.

Grow the Future of Public Media

MPR News is Member supported public media. Show your support today, donate, and ensure access to local news and in-depth conversations for everyone.