Researcher

Contracting relationships between public school districts and vendors are a common feature of education provision in the United States. Contracted services in schools can range from broad, essential functions such as school meals, bussing, and janitorial services to more specialized services such as the analysis of student data, curriculum mapping, and professional development for staff members. The strength of these contracting relationships depends on vendors providing consistent services and on payment between vendors and districts. Providers are paid with public funds, and communities may expect clear oversight of contracts and transparency about their effects on valued outcomes. Transparency also can help districts make decisions about whether or not to continue contracts with providers.

NSSA 2023 Conference

Join this invitation-only gathering of researchers, district, state, and higher education leaders, tutoring providers, and funders to:

  • Learn about implications of recent research findings and innovative and sustainable practices in tutoring;
  • Explore successful state and district strategies for scaling and sustainability; and
  • Make connections with education leaders in the field.

Loeb & Safran: From Title I and Americorps to apprenticeships and renegotiated contracts with vendors, ways to find replacement funds and economize. strong>Multi-Tiered Systems of Support: Districts across the nation use Multi-Tiered Systems of Support to target appropriate interventions for students with learning, social, emotional, or behavioral difficulties. Many districts could improve these offerings by using a high-impact tutoring approach, making sure their interventions build relationships between students and educators that motivate, engage and target students’ growth areas using data and high-quality instructional materials. Schools can integrate high-impact tutoring with the funds already being used for MTSS by reallocating resources to more effective approaches.

Mays pointed to the move to focus federal pandemic relief money on tutoring programs whose design showed evidence of effectiveness, such as individual or very small groups, and using an aligned curriculum in sessions at least three times a week. This model differed from tutoring provided under the No Child Left Behind Act’s supplemental education services, which were repeatedly found to have no benefit for student achievement—in part because programs varied significantly from district to district.


As excitement grows around tutoring as a strategy to combat learning loss, advocates have rightly been encouraged by the growing body of evidence demonstrating the efficacy of tutoring interventions. To date, however, little research has examined the impact of fully virtual tutoring on very young students. Hardly a technicality, this distinction matters because younger children are less likely to have the technical and self-regulation skills upon which virtual learning depends. Now, a new study by researchers from Stanford, Vanderbilt, and UnboundED analyzes the benefits of virtual tutoring specifically for early elementary students.


Less than a third of Colorado eighth-graders score proficiently in math. So, Colorado has invested heavily in high-impact tutoring programs — $20 million allocated in federal and state dollars since the pandemic. Colorado was also one of five states to get a $1 million grant from Accelerate, a nonprofit that aims to make 


Tutoring is a win-win job for college and K-12 students, but the question remains how best to connect college students who need these jobs with the paid tutoring positions available. In a recent working paper with colleagues, we report on a randomized controlled trial that tested whether highlighting the different benefits of a tutoring job can drive changes in tutor applications and employment. We partnered with Grand Valley State University (GVSU) to recruit paid tutors for a campus initiative started in 2020 to support Michigan K-12 students. Tutoring at GVSU was not only a paid position—it was a highly paid position on campus. Tutors could earn up to $17.70 per hour, the highest rate in the GVSU student hourly wage range and well above the state minimum wage at the time of the study ($10.10).


Regardless of the potential hiccups along the way, data has shown that colleges and universities are beginning to tap more into Federal Work-Study funds to hire tutors, said Nancy Waymack, director of research partnerships and policy at Stanford University’s National Student Support Accelerator, a nonprofit research organization that promotes high-impact tutoring in schools.  

For Waymack, it’s refreshing to see students earn pay for tutoring considering the role has historically been viewed as a volunteering opportunity.

“Using Work-Study, using AmeriCorps funds, other federal resources or resources that come from other places to pay tutors just opens up the field a lot more for many different students who otherwise might have been doing another job on campus,” Waymack said. “And they wouldn’t have that opportunity to be in a school, work with kids, and see educators who are teaching every day that they might want to emulate somewhere down the road.”


Funding is the biggest barrier to tutoring in schools, says Alvin Makori, a doctoral student at the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education. Makori co-authored a research paper about the challenges to schools offering tutor services at scale. The paper — based on surveys of teachers at charter and public schools in California — also noted concerns about tutor quality and trouble finding the space and time to work tutoring into the school day as problem areas for the schools it inspected. (The study did not look at virtual high-dose tutoring, of the kind provided by some of the organizations discussed here.)


During the 2022-23 school year, Try Once, Inc. (“Once”) partnered with a large, urban school district on the East Coast to provide high-impact early literacy tutoring to 105 kindergarten and first grade students in 13 schools. The district identified students as eligible for tutoring services if they scored below grade-level benchmarks in their early literacy skills. The Stanford research team randomly assigned eligible students into a tutoring program group (n=105) and a comparison group (n=199). Students in the program group were supposed to receive tutoring for 15 minutes every day during the school day between November 2022 and June 2023, one-on-one from a non-teaching staff member at their school. This report describes the research study design, the characteristics of students who participated in the study, tutoring participation rates, and the effect of receiving tutoring on end-of-year early literacy skills, both overall and within various subgroups.

I spent the past year visiting Jackson and eight other schools across three states and the District of Columbia to understand how and why their successful tutoring programs work and the challenges they’ve had to navigate. Our FutureEd study also included dozens of conversations with educators, school district leaders, providers, researchers and others who have turned to tutoring to combat learning loss after COVID.


When Muriel Bowser, the mayor of the District of Columbia, announced in early March that her administration had carved out $4.8 million for “high impact tutoring” in its 2024-25 budget, she was met with thunderous applause.

Bowser had made the announcement to a room packed with administrators, tutoring service providers and policy analysts. But the excitement was tempered somewhat by questions about how far these funds would go: Is this appropriation enough? What about tutoring in the next year?

As the federal stimulus package—ESSER—winds down, states are racing against the clock to find other sustainable funding sources to keep tutoring alive in their schools. So far, states have taken a patchwork approach. Some states are creating policies that would embed tutoring as a service; other states have relied on one-time grants.


Educators are eager to launch high-impact tutoring, however, they also reported that improvements were needed to ensure tutors focused on the interventions most needed by students.

Most K12 leaders would agree that high-dosage tutoring is now a key part of instruction. Most would also note difficulties with finding adequate space and funding, hiring high-quality tutors and encouraging students to attend.

Those hurdles and, more importantly, the solutions are explained by Stanford University’s National Student Support Accelerator in a new study of a large urban district and a charter system. The strategies identified should help administrators scale successful tutoring programs to help more students stay on track, the report’s authors contend.


Purpose of the Family and Caregiver Toolkit
  • Understand what high-impact tutoring is
  • Contribute to your child’s success in school
  • Empower yourself and other families to advocate and partner with schools

Those efforts have helped pay dividends for attendance, too. In the second study, released earlier this month, researchers with Stanford University’s National Student Support Accelerator found that students are 7 percent less likely to be absent on days they have scheduled tutoring sessions. The study, conducted over the 2022-23 school year, examined absenteeism rates of 4,478 students in 141 schools in the District of Columbia.

“There are lots of reasons why students are absent. Being disengaged in school is one reason,” said Nancy Waymack, the director of partnerships and policy at the NSSA."Tutoring is one way that students can have one more meaningful relationship in school. Tutoring can be one tool to move the needle in the right direction.”


This support element includes different approaches to tutoringcompetency-based instruction where students advance based on what they know rather than age; summer schooleffective use of student time on task; and linking tutor vendor payments with student outcomes like attendance, and academic learning can improve learning and accountability for results. High-dosage tutoring is an especially effective strategy for achieving significant academic improvements. The National Student Support Accelerator, a program at Stanford, is a recognized source of information for this work.


Two years have passed since the educational landscape embraced high-dosage tutoring as a pivotal strategy for enhancing K-12 student learning and achievement. This panel revisits the concept with fresh insights, assessing its long-term effects and the evolution of best practices in the wake of continued research and on-the-ground experiences. We'll delve into how high-dosage tutoring has been adapted and scaled across diverse educational settings, the challenges faced, and the successes achieved. Experts will share innovative approaches for integrating tutoring into the curriculum, leveraging technology to enhance accessibility, and evaluating the impact on both academic and socio-emotional student outcomes. Whether you're looking to refine your existing tutoring program or are curious about the latest developments in this dynamic field, this discussion will offer valuable perspectives on supporting student success through targeted instruction. Join us to explore the next chapter of high-dosage tutoring and its role in shaping future educational practices.

Speakers:


INCREASING ACCESS TO HIGH-IMPACT TUTORING 

Over the past few years, finding consensus around the most effective strategies and interventions to address post-COVID learning recovery has largely been elusive. But there is widespread agreement that high-impact, or high-dosage, tutoring holds tremendous promise.  

Ideally, programs include small groups of no more than three to four students. They meet at least three times a week with a professionally trained tutor, during school hours. In addition to the high-quality materials used in the sessions, students benefit from meeting with the same tutor every week. 


High-impact tutoring has emerged as a primary school district investment for addressing learning loss that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. While existing research shows that high-impact tutoring is effective for accelerating student learning, this study examined the school-level facilitators and barriers to scaling high-impact tutoring. Situated in an urban traditional school district and an urban charter management organization, we collected survey and interview data from teachers and administrators to identify scaling challenges. Major barriers to scaling included time and space constraints, tutor supply and quality, updated data systems, and school level costs, while a key facilitator was teacher buy-in. We end the paper with recommendations for how districts can strategically grow their high-impact tutoring efforts.


High-quality tutoring programs not only get students up to speed in reading and math, they can also reduce absenteeism, a new study shows.

Focused on schools in Washington, D.C., the preliminary results show middle school students attended an additional three days and those in the elementary grades improved their attendance by two days when they received tutoring during regular school hours.  

But high-impact tutoring —defined as at least 90 minutes a week with the same tutor, spread over multiple sessions — had the greatest impact on students who missed 30% or more of the prior school year. Their attendance improved by at least five days, according to the study from the National Student Support Accelerator, a Stanford University-based center that conducts tutoring research.