Partnering with a Provider: Selecting a Provider

Overview: What are the key steps to selecting a provider?

Thousands of organizations identify themselves as tutoring organizations, but few will be a strong match for your district’s needs. Selecting a provider can be straightforward by following the steps outlined in this section and using the provided tools. You can start by identifying potential providers on the National Student Support Accelerator’s website or by using a request for proposal process. Regardless of how potential providers are sourced, they should be thoroughly vetted as described below. The Provider Selection Tool can support you through this important decision-making process.

Where can you source providers?

Use the National Student Support Accelerator Tutoring Database to search for potential providers. This database allows you to search by type of service, operating state, grade level, subject, setting, delivery mode, organization type, and level of evidence. If considering a provider that will develop a new tutoring program in collaboration with the district, leverage the elements of High-Impact Tutoring to establish the design of the tutoring program.

Note: You may want to consider providers you already work with, who may be interested in developing an extension of their services through tutoring. Providers that already work with your district already have a clear understanding of your district’s curriculum, data structures, and technology, which makes alignment much easier. For example, Baltimore Public Schools previously partnered with Amplify on its assessment and curriculum materials, making Amplify a natural fit to extend its services in Baltimore by providing tutoring based on its assessment and intervention program.

How do you vet providers?

At a minimum, we recommend that you compare at least three providers. However, based on your district procurement process, you may be required to consider more. If you are required to release an RFP, skip to the Designing an RFP section. If no RFP is required, we recommend the following steps:

  • Review impact data: Ideally, the provider has had a rigorous Randomized Control Trial (RCT) evaluation, but in absence of a formal evaluation, consider whether the program uses the elements of High-Impact Tutoring and evidence-based practices in your Focus Area.
  • Ask where the provider has operated and speak to previous clients: Client references will help you assess whether the potential provider has worked with students and communities similar to those in your district and in your target population for tutoring. The best way to find out about a provider’s strengths is to speak directly with both previous and current clients. We suggest speaking to two - three districts or schools with whom a provider has worked.
  • Review artifacts: Reviewing specific artifacts will allow you to better understand the provider’s model and culture. Consider asking the following questions to evaluate the provider’s alignment with your priorities:
    • Instructional Materials: Scope and sequence, placement assessment and progress monitoring tools, and ~five sample tutoring session outlines/lessons and accompanying materials
    • Tutor Training Materials: A descriptive summary of the provider's approach to training that includes 1) what tutors will be able to do at the end of pre-service training and the core activities that comprise training, and 2) the cadence and pedagogies of the ongoing coaching/supervision
    • Tutor Recruitment Approach: A descriptive summary of the provider’s approach to tutor recruitment and specifically how they aim to recruit a diverse cohort of tutors that reflect the likely demographics of students
  • Conduct a site visit: Viewing the provider’s program in action will provide a more holistic sense of how their model operates.
    • If the program is virtual, visiting another district in which the provider is operating can ensure that you have a solid understanding of how program logistics work and the technology required.
    • If the program is in-person, a site visit or the opportunity to see video of tutoring in action can provide insights beyond those from written material            .
  • Request a detailed financial quote: Understanding the provider’s cost estimate and what drives their costs will help you understand whether the provider is within your budget both now and as your program scales.

Provider Selection Tool

Selecting a provider (or multiple providers) is a strategic process. While selecting providers that have a track record in your identified Focus Area is generally best practice, in some cases you may choose to work with a new provider or make trade-offs based on logistical requirements in your district.

Note: This tool is designed to help you to both solicit the right information from a potential partner and make a holistic decision based on your district’s specific context and priorities. While this tool is not designed to generate a specific score to decide whether you will work with a provider, it can be adapted for your local context to create a tutoring provider evaluation rubric.

To select a provider, we suggest examining each provider through four screens, presented in order of priority. If a provider does not pass muster under a given screen, stop there and move on to a different provider instead of dedicating more time to considering the first provider under the subsequent screens.

  1. General Fit/Experience in Identified Focus Area: This screen identifies whether the potential provider has the skills and capacity to meet your needs.
  2. Impact and the Elements of High-Impact Tutoring: This screen assesses whether the potential provider’s model is likely to be effective.
  3. Level of Alignment with the District: This screen assesses the degree to which a provider’s pedagogy, instructional strategies, technology, etc. are aligned with or compatible with your district’s. Existing alignment is not as critical if the district and provider develop an effective plan to address compatibility. Pre-existing provider alignment with a district should be a tiebreaker, not a dealbreaker.
  4. Logistical and Operational Requirements: This screen identifies the logistical and operational potential of a provider’s program operating well in your local context.

1. General Fit/Experience in Identified Focus Area

Consideration Evidence
The provider has experience serving the identified Focus Area (content area/grade level) and student population
  • If not, they have experience in an adjacent area and an effective plan for how to adapt their model to your focus area


The provider has experience in similar schools/districts (size, demographics, etc.) as your district
  • If not, do they have a plan for how they gain an understanding of your context?


If you plan to use tutoring to fulfill MTSS/RTI requirements, the program structure meets state guidelines


The provider can meet the scale requirements based on the number of students your district plans to serve (supply of tutors, etc.)


Cost is Affordable Based on District Budget: Typically $1,200-$2,500 per pupil[1]


Legal Requirements: The provider can commit to all legal requirements for partnering with your district (e.g., data sharing agreements)


2. Impact and the Elements of High-Impact Tutoring

Consideration Evidence
Results Proven by Rigorous Research Studies


An independent researcher (one not affiliated with the program) has conducted a rigorous evaluation (RCT or Regression Discontinuity Design) of the provider and found significant positive effects.


Exemplifies Elements of High-Impact Tutoring


  • Equity is at the center of the provider’s systems, policies and practices
  • The provider recruits and employs tutors who are representative of the students they serve
  • The tutoring program provides initial training and ongoing support to tutors in culturally competent practices


  • The provider has necessary protocols in place to keep students (and their data) safe and implements those protocols with fidelity


  • The provider has a defined mission, vision, and set of organizational goals that are codified and well understood throughout the program
  • The provider has strong organizational leadership and effectiveness




  • Students will work with a consistent tutor and the program has a focus on cultivating tutor-student relationships


  • The provider is willing to tailor recruitment needs to the local context if necessary (e.g., sourcing from local universities, community programs)
  • The provider can source tutors who can meet any special need areas (i.e., special education experience, language abilities)

Training and Support

  • Tutors have initial training, ongoing coaching, and clear lines of accountability



Significant Time

  • Sessions are a minimum of three times per week (30 minutes per session for younger grades; 60 minutes per session for older grades)

Small Groups

  • Group size is no more than 3 students at a time per tutor

High-Quality Materials

  • Materials are aligned with state standards and research on teaching and learning
  • Program materials include a consistent set of engaging instructional routines for tutors to use with students in each session to support students’ self-regulation, focus, and risk-taking in learning and to lower the burden for tutor preparation


Learning Integration: Embedded in School Day
  • Tutoring is embedded in the school day to create equitable access and consistency for students and coordination with school efforts.
    • If not, tutoring is right before or after the school day and viewed as part of the core school program


Data Use: Regularly uses data to inform instruction and program improvement
  • Formative assessments are used regularly to understand students’ strengths and needs and to build sessions to focus on these needs
  • Program data are used to assess effectiveness at improving student learning and make adjustments to tutoring
  • The provider plans to serve as a thought partner to the district/school to reflect on data and improve implementation


3. Level of Alignment with the District

Consideration Evidence
The provider’s Instructional strategies and pedagogy align with district instructional philosophy


The provider’s data-collection plan is (or can be) aligned with district data initiatives (This includes the provider’s surveys, assessments, etc.)


Additionally, if the district already has an effective assessment that can place students in the appropriate tutoring group, program, scope and sequence, the provider is willing to use this assessment


Any technology required is easily integrated into district systems


The provider is able to align their program with existing initiatives and programs if required (e.g., leveraging a district’s SEL curriculum)


4. Logistical and Operational Requirements

Consideration Evidence
Logistics: Your district is able to develop a plan for any operational requirements outlined by the provider’s model, such as:
  • Staffing responsibilities at school sites
  • Physical space needed at school sites
  • Scheduling /matching tutor availability to student schedules
  • Tutor/teacher collaboration and implications for teacher contracts
  • Data sharing and technology needs (particularly for virtual programs)


District Capacity: Your district is able to meet any capacity requirements needed by the provider (e.g., time to meet with the provider, capacity for engagement and collaboration with different departments)


Timeline: The provider can meet your desired timeline for implementation


Point Person: A single point of contact will be assigned to be your point person at the provider


Joint Fundraising: If needed, the provider is willing to jointly raise funds for the program