BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A report last week found that failure rates have doubled or even tripled during the second semester at most​ Maryland schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A study out of the Baltimore-based Abell Foundation has some ideas for Baltimore City Schools.

It highlights the need for intensive tutoring for 18,000 students in kindergarten through 5th grade; suggests using data to measure their progress; and suggests recruiting tutors from local colleges and universities.

It also recommends tapping into the state’s newly approved Kirwin Commission, which focuses on improving K-12 education.


“Teachers keep teaching, but kids get some individualized one on attention to track their progress in a skill where they had a gap and maybe it wasn’t being addressed in the classroom,” Stephanie Safran, an Education Researcher and Strategist, said.

WJZ spoke with Baltimore City Schools, which is already doing one-on-one and small group tutoring.

“Getting targeted support and really a regular cadence of that learning, so small, high dosages that are very specific to the need,” Janise Lane, Executive Director of Teaching and Learning at Baltimore City Schools, said.

Ashley Valis has a daughter in kindergarten at Francis Scott Key Elementary School in Locust Point.

“When you’re not in the classroom five days a week for those nine and a half months, every kid could benefit from the additional help,” Valis said.

Researchers estimate that to reach all students in need, it will cost the school system anywhere from $15 to $20 million to implement this kind of high-quality tutoring. It suggests a combination of federal, state and local donor funding.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Rachel Menitoff