NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker detailed a proposed citywide initiative to get students extra help with math and reading. The plan would provide tutoring opportunities for kids during the school year and summer.

Studies found that students who are not proficient in reading by the end of the third grade were four times more likely to drop out of high school.

The COVID-19 pandemic had a devastating impact on students across the country. Educators in Connecticut classrooms are working to make up for lost time and close the learning gap.

“Up to third grade, every child is learning to read,” Elicker said. “After that, a child reads to learn. If a child doesn’t have the foundation, they can’t learn so many other vital skills.”

The initiative would use $3 million of American Rescue Plan Act funding and involve partnerships with the community, Elicker said. There would be after-school and summer tutoring and enrichment for struggling students in the first to fifth grades.

“They’ll be pulled out of their program twice a week and have either a volunteer or some paid persons give more intensive training,” Elicker said.

Here’s a look at the numbers:

Last year, 16.7% of New Haven third graders were at grade level in reading, compared to about 46.7% statewide.

About 13.3% of New Haven third graders met or exceeded state proficiency standards for math, compared to 46.7% statewide.

“Although it’s not reflected in the scores shared today [Monday], our teachers, our school leaders, and our staff work extremely hard, and they are to be commended for the work they do day in and day out,” said Keisa Red-Hannans, the assistant superintendent of curriculum, instruction and assessment at New Haven Public Schools.

If the Board of Alders approves the plan, it would start next year with about 300 students and grow to about 1,500 by the summer of 2025.

“I see children every day who struggle with reading and math, but now can you imagine, it clicks? They’re able to read and write,” said Kim Harris, executive director of Inspired Communities, Inc.

While Leslie Blatteau, the president of the New Haven Federation of Teachers, applauded the mayor for taking this step, she renewed calls for staffing and resources.

“We call on Mayor Elicker to put experienced, certified professionals in New Haven Public Schools classrooms to achieve:

  • Smaller class sizes for all NHPS students;
  •  Access to a full-time Library Media Specialist (LMS) in every school;
  •  Increased support and resources for English Language Learner students and their classrooms;
  •  Caps on caseloads and appropriate staffing ratios implemented for special education teachers.”

All with the hopes of helping students thrive — a goal shared by all.

“We know they are resilient, and they will bounce back, but it takes all the support that we can muster to help them move forward,” said Superintendent of New Haven Public Schools Dr. Illine Tracey.

The New Haven Board of Alders will meet Monday, and according to the board president, they’ll assign it to the proper committee. Any hearing would likely be held early next year.