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Tutors supplement student learning loss during COVID-19

Students and teachers alike are still adapting to learning or working from home. Fortunately, MIT research shows tutoring is helping kids keep up.

WAUKEE, Iowa — Students across the U.S. and right here in Iowa have suffered from learning loss due to the pandemic.

It's one of the reasons the private tutoring industry is booming right now.

Patty Graziano, a math and science tutor in Waukee, says she's had a steady client flow of around 35 students for awhile now. However, the students need her now more than ever.

"Teachers are doing a phenomenal job with the resources they have,' said Graziano. "Now it makes it even more difficult. Being able to see the body language of a student...I can see their thought process, and then I can help guide that through process into a more efficient way of learning. But that’s not available to any of us teachers right now."

For now, Graziano's orchestrated a two-camera set-up on Zoom for instruction. In addition to her laptop camera, she has another camera pointed down at her notes, to show equations on graph paper.

J-PAL North America, policy initiative associated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, published an academic review paper on tutoring last September.

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In it, they discussed how tutoring can help bring students up to speed from pandemic learning loss (known as the "COVID-19 slide") by providing additional instruction time, customized learning plans, and mentorship bonds.

Graziano says that bond is important, now more than ever.

"I take time out of the tutoring session and ask, how are you? Let’s talk about how to deal with some of this stress and anxiety," she said.

Though the coronavirus pandemic has caused students and even Graziano anxiety, she says she uses it as a learning opportunity when she can.

"We are watching science happen in real time," she said. "Scientists are working on it and so every week, we’re learning something new."

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