Student Achievement

6 Takeaways for School Districts to Implement Effective Tutoring

By Catherine Gewertz — April 29, 2022 2 min read
teacher student 1156352478
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Tutoring is a strategy many schools are using—or considering—to help students catch up on learning that didn’t happen during the pandemic. It has a strong research base to recommend it, but it can be tough to put into practice effectively. Here are some key takeaways as districts consider starting or scaling up tutoring programs:

Effective tutoring programs have certain key characteristics.

They’re “high-dosage,” or “high-impact,” which means they happen several times a week for 30 to 60 minutes. Students work individually or in very small groups—three or four per tutor—and they work with the same tutor throughout the program.

Sessions held during the school day are ideal, but they can also work if they’re held right after school. Tutors should be well-trained, work closely with their tutees’ teachers, be armed with good, standards-aligned instructional materials, and know how to monitor student progress with data.

See also

Claire Engelhardt tutors students at Northeast High School in McLeansville, N.C., on Oct. 21, 2021.
Claire Engelhardt tutors students at Northeast High School in McLeansville, N.C., last October.
Courtesy of Guilford County Schools

Online tutoring is an option, if it’s done right.

Research emerging from Europe suggests that virtual tutoring can be effective. But it must be designed according to research-based principals, such as working in very small groups, and maintaining a relationship with the same tutor throughout the program.

You don’t have to rely just on your own teachers.

Districts are successfully using a mixture of paraprofessionals, tutors from outside organizations, and high school, college and graduate students alongside their own certified teachers. The Guilford County schools in North Carolina offer an example of this strategy. The district has partnered with two local universities to beef up its tutoring ranks.

Your tutoring program might boost flow into the teacher pipeline.

Some districts, such as Guilford County, hope their tutors will catch the instructional teaching bug and build up the teaching ranks. That would mean that investments in tutoring programs could also double as investments in the teacher pipeline.

Such programs might also diversify the pipeline: Guilford deliberately partnered with a historically Black university to channel more teachers of color into its classrooms, and to reflect the diversity of its student population.

Start small, scale up slowly.

Many districts are trying to implement tutoring programs that are at much larger scales than those researchers have studied. Starting with subsets of students, or specific grades or subject areas, might help districts work out the kinks as they expand.

Build deep roots, not a quick one-off.

Some experts are urging schools to imagine tutoring as far more than a quick fix for students in academic crisis. As a permanent addition to schools’ instructional strategies, tutoring could help schools support and challenge all students.

Related Tags:

Events

Special Education Webinar Reading, Dyslexia, and Equity: Best Practices for Addressing a Threefold Challenge
Learn about proven strategies for instruction and intervention that support students with dyslexia.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Personalized Learning Webinar
No Time to Waste: Individualized Instruction Will Drive Change
Targeted support and intervention can boost student achievement. Join us to explore tutoring’s role in accelerating the turnaround. 
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools
Student Well-Being K-12 Essentials Forum Social-Emotional Learning: Making It Meaningful
Join us for this event with educators and experts on the damage the pandemic did to academic and social and emotional well-being.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Achievement In Their Own Words Students in Military Schools Lead the Nation on NAEP Scores. One Teacher Explains Why
Reading and math scores for Department of Defense students ranged from 15 to 23 points higher than corresponding national average scores.
4 min read
Black mother, dressed in military attire, writing with her son
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Student Achievement Q&A The 3 Teachers on the NAEP Panel Say It’s Time to Act on Drops in Scores
The results caught the public's attention—but the teachers say that hasn't yet translated into direct action to support schools.
9 min read
Illustration of a warning symbol.
Nuthawut Somsuk/iStock/Getty
Student Achievement The Pace of Learning Recovery Is Inequitable, New Data Show
Lower-scoring students are making gains at a slower rate than their higher-scoring peers.
2 min read
Photograph of a young person working on school work.
iStock/Getty
Student Achievement Spotlight Spotlight on High-Impact Tutoring
This Spotlight will help you evaluate how tutoring can help with learning recovery, connect students with tutoring services, and more.