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By: Katie Boehm

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ServeMinnesota receives $300,000 to initiate study on culturally responsive tutoring

Screenshot of video call with three screens. Two have one smiling person each. The third has a group of people.
Kick off meeting for Math Corps research project!

Program designed to provide more equitable education to Black, Latinx students and students experiencing poverty to prepare for high school algebra

MINNEAPOLIS (Oct. 19, 2021) – ServeMinnesota, the state’s commission for AmeriCorps programs, is launching a new initiative to better understand what features of math tutoring programs create positive student experiences and lead to positive academic outcomes for students who are Black, Latinx, and/or experiencing poverty. The 18-month project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation who also orchestrated the collaboration between ServeMinnesota, the Search Institute and Mathematica.

The foundation chose to fund this work because it aligns with their goals to increase the high school graduation rates for Black and Latinx students and students experiencing poverty. The project will place trained tutors who come from the same communities and share lived experiences as the students they are serving in schools in Minneapolis, Minn., and Albany, Ga., through the Math Corps program. Math Corps provides supplemental math tutoring to students in grades four through eight and is proven to accelerate student growth in foundational math skills. These tutors will receive additional training from the Search Institute in their framework for building culturally responsive and effective tutor-student relationships.

In addition, ServeMinnesota and Math Corps will gather input from students receiving Math Corps tutoring as well as their caregivers and tutors on their experiences and incorporate their feedback to strengthen the program’s culturally responsive practices. In partnership with Mathematica, ServeMinnesota will study the impact that these tutoring relationships have on students’ math confidence, sense of belonging, and math knowledge/proficiency.

“We’ve been curious about how culture influences learning and relationship-building in our programs for years. This funding and partnership is making it possible to explore and learn more to improve student outcomes,” said Dr. Sandy Pulles, vice president of equity and inclusion at ServeMinnesota.

Launched in Minnesota in 2007, Math Corps provides a solution to help students become successful 21st century learners and to narrow opportunity gaps. The program places trained AmeriCorps members – from any background – in schools to provide one-on-one and small group support. Math Corps is replicated nationally and has been serving students in Georgia since 2018.

Math Corps uses a set of scripted interventions which research has shown to accelerate all student learning three to six months ahead of expected growth without tutoring (Parker, et al.). The evidence for Math Corps indicates it effectively supports math improvement for students at schools with high eligibility for free/reduced price lunch. This new study will explore what elements of the program create positive student experiences and lead to positive academic outcomes for students, including all aspects of lessons with students as well as training and coaching of tutors. Funding from the foundation will also support development of resources to empower caregivers as their child’s first teacher at home.

About ServeMinnesota

ServeMinnesota creates positive social change by deploying the people power of AmeriCorps to translate research into on-the-ground implementation. Each year, thousands of individuals commit to transformative service opportunities focused on improving the lives of Minnesotans through education, affordable housing, employment, the environment, addiction recovery and response to the COVID-19 crisis. Two of its innovative strategic initiatives, Minnesota Reading Corps and Minnesota Math Corps, demonstrate speed to implementation in their work to close the achievement gap and help struggling students become successful learners. By leveraging federal dollars, building strong community partnerships, and continually improving programs, ServeMinnesota ensures national service is positioned to make meaningful contributions to our state. For more information, visit www.serveminnesota.org.

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