Opinion
Student Achievement Letter to the Editor

Effective Tutoring Can Be Affordable

September 09, 2020 1 min read

To the Editor:

I was delighted to see the August 19 article, “High-Dosage Tutoring Is Effective, But Expensive: Ideas for Making It Work” (Special Report: How We Go Back to School, www.edweek.org.) However, the article contains a serious misconception. In discussing costs of tutoring, it gave a figure of $3,800 per student based on a highly unusual study of math tutoring in Chicago high schools. The Chicago study is one of very few conducted at the high school level. It provided an extraordinary amount of one-to-two tutoring in mathematics and was unique in many other ways. Tutoring is most often used (and evaluated) in reading and in elementary schools

For a 2017 study, Nancy A. Madden and I performed a cost assessment of our own “Tutoring With Alphie” one-to-four reading-tutoring program in grades 1 to 3. The cost per child was $500 per year using teaching assistants as tutors (as did the Chicago project). Had we used one-to-two tutoring, it would have cost about $1,000 per child, still a lot less than what was reported in the article. I believe that many other small-group reading- and math-tutoring programs that have used teaching-assistant tutors in elementary school would fall in the same range.

Our studies and many others of elementary reading and math tutoring also found much larger learning impacts than did the Chicago high school study. Tutoring is indeed a key solution to the likely negative impact of the COVID-19 school closures. It would be tragic if schools avoided this proven solution based on a highly atypical cost estimate.

Robert E. Slavin

Director

Center for Research and Reform in Education

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, Md.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the September 09, 2020 edition of Education Week as Effective Tutoring Can Be Affordable

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.

Events

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
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Speech Therapists
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
Elementary Teacher
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools
Elementary Teacher - Scholars Academy
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools

Read Next

Student Achievement Quiz Quiz Yourself: How Much Do You Know About Student Engagement and Motivation?
Quiz Yourself: How do incentives impact student engagement and motivation?
Student Achievement What Would a National Tutoring Program Look Like? Can We Afford It?
A "pay it forward" tutoring corps could reach thousands of students and cost $5 billion to $15 billion, a new blueprint concludes.
5 min read
Tutoring cost rising
E+/Getty
Student Achievement Should Schools Be Giving So Many Failing Grades This Year?
As the pandemic rages, schools are seeing a parallel surge in the numbers of students with Ds and Fs.
12 min read
Image shows an illustration of a hand coming through a computer and grading a paper.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Student Achievement Spotlight Spotlight on Closing the Achievement Gap for Young Students: Social Justice, Virtual Learning, COVID, and Beyond
In this Spotlight, explore how experts are projecting learning gaps from closures and more.