Introduction to Growing Your Own Program

Overview: What does grow your own tutoring program mean?

You may opt to build a new program from the ground up, leveraging the existing systems in your district and the talent pool in your community. Both with regard to program design and implementation, when a district grows its own program it has more choices to make; with this greater autonomy comes greater control over outcomes, but also greater risk of implementing ineffective practices.

Design. When you work with a provider, a significant part of what they provide is a coherent model design. It may not be perfectly tailored to the needs of your district, but if the provider shows you sufficient impact data from their work in other districts, you can rest assured that their model has worked successfully. Every provider will make slightly different decisions along a wide variety of model design dimensions:

  • Subject Area
  • Grade Level
  • Curriculum Integration
  • Assessment Methods
  • Technology Use
  • Session Format
  • Session Schedule
  • Session Location
  • Session Frequency
  • Session Content
  • Tutor-Student Ratio
  • Tutor Experience Level
  • Tutor Training/Support
  • Tutor Compensation
  • Tutor Consistency

Instead of choosing among established programs, you will need to make these design decisions yourself, which means understanding how your choices along one dimension may impact your options along another.

Implementation. Once your program is up and running, daily operations of the program are your responsibility. Everything from scheduling sessions and communicating with stakeholders to evaluating data and reassessing strategy will be up to you. Most importantly, you will need to recruit, hire, train, supervise, and compensate your tutors in compliance with labor law and employment standards in your local jurisdiction. While you may choose to outsource portions of this process, by bringing in outside experts to train your tutors or external evaluators to assess your impact, for example, the operational responsibility for the program will rest with you.

Does growing your own program mean starting from scratch?

Growing your own tutoring program does not mean you need to start from scratch. In fact, by growing your own program, you have the advantage of being able to incorporate insights from the most recent research into the design of your program right from the start. To guide your design process, leverage the large existing knowledge base accumulated by experts who have studied tutoring for decades. Using evidence-based research to guide your program design will not only increase your chances of success, but help you secure funding for a new “untested” program: if you can show that your methods rely on recent and rigorous research, your program will be a safer bet.

Should you grow your own program?

Use the following flowchart to assess whether your district is currently capable of growing its own tutoring program:

If your district is not ready to fully develop and implement its own program, it may be able to undertake a hybrid model in which the district retains responsibility for some aspects of tutoring and contracts out for other aspects. See Section 3A for information on working with providers.