Enacted FY 2023 spending bill includes funding for Mason’s Tutors to Teachers initiative

January 6, 2023

On December 29, 2022, President Joe Biden signed into law the omnibus appropriations spending bill to fund the federal government through Fiscal Year 2023. The measure provides funding of $1,950,000 to Mason in support of a statewide Tutors to Teachers program which will facilitate the establishment of a pipeline of future teachers to meet the shortage of educators in Virginia that has been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding will also help boost K-12 student achievement, focusing on economically disadvantaged students in Virginia schools who were most affected by the pandemic in their learning. U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) were instrumental in securing designated funding for this important program in the omnibus package and Mason would like to recognize and thank them both for their efforts and continued support of the university.

The funding provision in the enacted omnibus bill enhances the existing partnership between Mason, the Virginia Community College System (VCCS), and the nonprofit organization, EduTutorVA. This partnership was established to address the disruption to in-person learning that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mason and VCCS students work with in-service teachers and are trained to provide online tutoring services to low-income children in K-12 Northern Virginia schools who suffered learning gaps due to COVID and who demonstrated sharp declines in learning achievement scores. The partnership currently works with Fairfax, Arlington, and Alexandria school districts. The infusion of appropriated funding will enable this project to extend its reach to Prince William County, Franklin City, Frederick County, and Spotsylvania public schools in Virginia. Eventually the program will include Historically Black Colleges, Indian tribes, and other school districts in Virginia.

Recent trends show that about 8% of new teachers leave the profession every year, and about 40% to 50% leave within the first five years of their careers—percentages that have been exacerbated by COVID. Funding for the Tutors to Teachers program will prepare tutors to help K-12 students become self-regulated learners capable of excelling in reading, mathematics and writing and inspire these tutors to become teachers which will help reverse the teacher shortage by providing support for building a pool of preservice teachers who are inspired to enter the teaching profession. Through relevant coursework, mentoring experiences, and guidance provided by dedicated Mason faculty, tutors will develop the skills enabling them to enter the teacher workforce equipped to make a positive impact on K-12 student achievement.

The Tutors to Teachers program will be administered by Mason’s TEACHERtrack Office. Our thanks to Dr. Anastasia Kitsantas and Dr. Roberto Pamas, faculty with Mason’s School of Education in the College of Education and Human Development for their hard work and commitment in bringing this unique and important program to fruition.