Challenges and Solutions to Implementing Tutoring at Scale

Many districts sought to provide students with high-impact tutoring in response to pandemic-induced learning needs. Some started earlier than others, and we aimed to learn from the experiences of the early adopters to help inform a smoother implementation among those beginning the process later. During the 2021-22 school year, we partnered with school districts, tutoring providers, and quarterback organizations that support implementation across districts to learn from their efforts in implementing tutoring.

This brief shares some of the results of this cross-district implementation study. Our goal is to provide a snapshot of lessons learned about common barriers to implementing highly-effective programs and the ways that districts have overcome these barriers with success. We draw on findings from 112 interviews with 90 interviewees participating in a study examining the national landscape of tutoring efforts in the United States. Interviewees included teachers, administrators, tutors, and other program staff from nine school districts and one charter management organization, seven tutoring providers, and six quarterback organizations that support implementation across districts.

The implementation of high-impact tutoring is much like complex implementations of other academic programs; the work teachers, principals and administrators do is difficult and requires deliberate coordination, communication, time, and effort. However, the body of evidence on the potential effectiveness of extended tutoring from a consistent tutor is unusually powerful. Across multiple studies and reviews of education interventions, researchers have found tutoring to have large, positive impacts on student achievement in both math and reading (Dietrichson, et al., 2017; Fryer, 2017). So, while the complexity of implementation can be predictably difficult, the results can be atypically positive for students.