Effects of High-Impact Tutoring on Early Literacy Outcomes: A Pilot Study of a 1:1 Program With Existing Staff

Evan Bennett, Monica Lee, Susanna Loeb, and Carly Robinson

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.


  1. Students randomly assigned to receive Once tutoring performed two points better on the end of year DIBELS (early literacy) assessment compared to students in the comparison group. The sample size of the study was too small to determine whether this difference is the result of the tutoring, but points to the promise of large-scale evaluations.
  2. Students in the program group received an average of 42 sessions of tutoring, which was far less than the 140 sessions that the program aimed to deliver. The number of sessions students received varied meaningfully across schools and students designated as English Learners or eligible for Special Education received more tutoring, on average, than did other students.