Identifying Schools

Overview: Why should you be selective about your program’s schools?

Choosing schools whose communities are fully invested in your program’s success will help you optimize your model more quickly. Prioritizing the schools whose students need tutoring most will ensure that your program can make a meaningful impact at any scale.

What criteria should you consider when selecting your program’s schools?

Does this school need this program?

  • Greatest Need. Start there, and even a “rough draft” of your program will help. More importantly, by conducting your initial design iterations in the highest-need schools and making adjustments to boost your impact there before scaling up, you will be optimizing your model to provide its greatest benefits to the students with the greatest needs, building an equity foundation for your entire program.
  • Turnaround Status. When measuring need, consider both a school’s performance and its available supports. A school currently emerging from Turnaround status may outperform one still marked as a Turnaround School, for example, but may have fewer supports available now that it has slightly improved its outcomes. Schools just above a threshold may be ideal partners for a program to maintain their momentum.

Can this school successfully implement this program?

  • School Capacity. Determine which schools have the logistical and leadership capacity (e.g., time already set aside in the schedule, space in the building, infrastructure like laptops or parking for tutors) to accommodate your program. Some schools already have more initiatives than they can manage, and adding another may cause more problems.

Does this school want this program?

  • Stakeholder Enthusiasm. Identify school communities with the most interest in adopting a tutoring program. Work with them first. If you try to impose a program on a school where it is not welcome, you will waste time and effort addressing administrative roadblocks. But if you start in more welcoming schools and do good work there first, you may be able to dispel other schools’ distrust through positive word-of-mouth and evidence of impact. For rationale and best practices for securing stakeholder buy-in and building and sustaining enthusiasm, see What are Best Practices for Each Stakeholder Group?
  • Early Adopters. Identify which schools have a culture of innovation and continuous improvement. These schools may be more open to beta-testing your program and providing ongoing feedback about how to improve it.

Is this provider a good fit for this school?

  • Provider Criteria. Pair providers with schools where their model works best. Providers may have their own list of criteria for an ideal partner school, such as Title 1 schools or schools without other partnerships in place, that can be used to inform school selection.
  • Provider Culture. Consider not only your provider’s explicit criteria but also the implicit ones built into their model. Understand the provider’s culture and the culture of each school to match them effectively.