Student Achievement

Talking High-Dosage Tutoring: A Researcher and Schools Chief Share Strategies

By Elizabeth Heubeck — February 21, 2023 1 min read
Charvi Goyal, 17, gives an online math tutoring session to a junior high student Monday, Jan. 4, 2021, in Plano, Texas. Goyal is part of a group of high school students that put together their own volunteer online tutoring service to help k-12 during the pandemic.
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Two champions of high-dosage tutoring—one a researcher and the other a superintendent—shared their expertise and experience on high-dosage tutoring in a virtual forum earlier this month.
The K-12 Essentials Forum, called Tutoring Done Right, was hosted by Education Week. It featured Susanna Loeb, a professor and director of the education policy initiative at the Graduate School of Education at Stanford, where she studies effective methods of tutoring to close student achievement gaps, and Scott Muri, the superintendent of Ector Independent School District in Odessa, Texas, where approximately 65 percent of the district’s 33,500 students are considered economically disadvantaged and 79 percent are Hispanic. In the past few years, Muri has embraced research-backed methods of tutoring and scaled them up to include some 6,000 students.

During their 45-minute conversation, Loeb shared research findings on what makes successful tutoring programs. She pointed to programs that target the individual needs of the student; are “intensive,” meaning that they occur over a long period of time, daily or every other day, for an entire school year; and that they happen as part of the extended school day—either before, during, or immediately after school, when it is easiest to reach and engage with students.

Muri echoed Loeb’s recommendations and shared some additional specific criteria that allowed for the successful scaling of his district’s virtual tutoring program, which started as a 40-student pilot and expanded to reach thousands of students.

With an 18 percent teacher vacancy rate three years ago, the district had to look outside for tutors to help in closing achievement gaps. It partnered with a few tutoring companies that used professionally trained tutors. The tutors had access to student data showing where academic needs existed. They also relied on district curriculum, thereby ensuring that lessons aligned with material students were expected to learn. Muri also emphasized that the district’s tutoring partnerships hinged on “outcomes-based contracts” whose continuation depended on students’ measured progress.

Learn more about research-proven strategies for effective tutoring and how a district is implementing them in a virtual environment in the video below.

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