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Cedar Grove tutoring photo 1
One-on-one (and small group) math instruction-- like what Cedar Grove Elementary School's Billy is receiving here from teacher Gina Intile-- is what will anchor the TRRS High-Impact Tutoring (H.I.T.) program set to kick off come the New Year. The state-funded project will target district third and fourth graders, and seeks to recoup the learning losses that continue to linger from the pandemic. Story below.

Cedar Grove Instruction photo 2

TRRS Among 243 Districts Awarded

Dec. 7, 2023-- Early in 2023, the state announced it would allot millions in funding to address pandemic-related learning loss for New Jersey students. This ultimately resulted in a competitive grant opportunity posted in late summer, which invited districts to apply for the High-Impact Tutoring grant. Toms River Regional Schools eagerly followed suit.

The district recently learned it was awarded the grant, in the amount of $614,000, to implement the TRRS High-Impact Tutoring (H.I.T.) project.

“Whenever there’s an opportunity to enhance or expand our capacity to do what we do best–educate students–we’re always going to jump at the chance,” said Superintendent Michael Citta. “We are grateful to the NJDOE for offering this opportunity and for recognizing our initiative in awarding us, and we’re excited to get started.”

TRRS H.I.T. will serve nearly 580 district third and fourth graders with before-school tutoring in math. While the grade levels targeted are a requirement of the grant, the district is focusing solely on mathematics instruction based on its need relative to NJSLA student performance data.

The district is one of 243 throughout the state to be awarded, and one of the largest to be selected. The grant opportunity invited districts to partner with tutoring agencies, but Toms River’s proposal identified 150 of its own certified staff members to take on the project.

“We know for certain our staff members have the expertise to implement this project, and we feel that the comfort level our students have with the teachers they are already know and trust will ensure this delivers the high impact it promises,” said Director of K-5 Curriculum Rachel Cicala, who will serve as the project manager for H.I.T.

“Whenever there’s an opportunity to enhance or expand our capacity to do what we do best–educate students–we’re always going to jump at the chance.” --Superintendent Michael Citta

The high impact in question is not theoretical, but measurable. The goal of the project is that at least 10 percent of students participating in H.I.T. will show an increase in one proficiency level on the spring 2024 NJSLA Math Assessment, and that 75 percent of students will demonstrate proficiency on each standards mastery administered throughout the program.

“Our goals for H.I.T. are lofty, but reflect the confidence we have in our staff, our students, and our families, who will be an integral part of making this a success,” said Assistant Superintendent Cara DiMeo.

The district expects to begin the program immediately after winter break, in early January, and it will run at least through May. For now, the project team is securing its teacher-tutors, purchasing its curricular supplies, and identifying and communicating with the participating students and their families.

H.I.T. will take place at all 12 district elementary schools, immediately before the start of the school day to ensure tutoring and core instruction are in close proximity to each other. Students will work with a highly-qualified tutor four days per week for 30 minutes (120 minutes per week) in groups no larger than four students.

“One of the most important elements of this project is attendance, which aligns with everything we’ve been preaching throughout this school year,” said Cicala, referencing Toms River’s successful Attendance Matters initiative. “We’ll have incentives in place, and we’ll be communicating with families throughout.”

With more than $600k in grant funding, a dedicated team, lofty goals, and hundreds of dedicated students and families, Toms River is banking on H.I.T. being a hit.