COVID Intensive Learning Support Program: Phase 2 Evaluation Report 2021
This evaluation was originally published 29 August 2022.
- The COVID Intensive Learning Support program has been well received by schools, with survey data showing strong agreement amongst school staff that the program has had a positive impact on students’ learning progress.
- School staff implementing the COVID Intensive Learning Support program reported that the transition to learning from home posed a significant challenge. Learning from home restrictions were in place for 36 local government areas around Greater Sydney for the start of Term 3 in July 2021, impacting approximately half of all NSW public schools. Some schools were only reasonably able to implement the small group tuition model in person for just over a term from the program launch in mid-Term 1.
- At this stage it is not possible to demonstrate an improvement in student assessment performance at a system level for students who participated in the program. This is due to considerable challenges to both the implementation of the program in the transition to learning from home, and the collection of data using existing reporting platforms.
In March 2021, the NSW Government announced a contribution of $337 million towards the COVID Intensive Learning Support Program (COVID ILSP). The purpose of the funding was for schools to employ educators to deliver small group tuition to students with the greatest learning needs, especially in literacy and numeracy. It was recommended that schools employ an educator to deliver small group tuition to those students most in need of support.
This evaluation seeks to understand how the program had been implemented in NSW public schools, the impact of the program on student achievement as well as student motivation and engagement, and the challenges associated with implementing the program. This report represents the findings as part of Phase 2 of the evaluation, examined through the following six evaluation questions:
- How has the COVID Intensive Learning Support Program been implemented?
- What challenges were encountered by schools, staff and students?
- What teaching and learning resources were incorporated into practice and how helpful were they?
- What was the perceived impact of specific tuition approaches on particular cohorts and contexts?
- Did the COVID Intensive Learning Support Program improve the academic outcomes of participating students?
- What was the impact of the COVID Intensive Learning Support Program on student engagement?
It is clear from both survey and fieldwork data collected in 2021 that the COVID Intensive Learning Support Program has been well received by schools as a mechanism for supporting students whose learning was impacted by the learning from home restrictions in 2020. However, NSW schools faced significant challenges implementing the program during the learning from home periods of 2021. This also had an impact on the type and quality of data collected for this phase of the evaluation of the program.
The COVID Intensive Learning Support Program team has made some changes to the reporting guidelines for schools, which should make analysis of student outcome data clearer for the next phase of the evaluation of the program. In addition, resources have been acquired to undertake qualitative work to investigate the wider impact of the program on specific student cohorts and school contexts.
The full report for the Phase 1 evaluation report can be accessed on the COVID ILSP webpage.