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Students were less likely to be absent on days when they had a scheduled tutoring session, according to study by National Student Support Accelerator at Stanford University.

PALO ALTO, C.A., March 1, 2024 – Schools nationwide are grappling with significant challenges related to student absenteeism. In response, D.C. schools along with many other states and school districts have implemented strategies ranging from texting interventions to home visits. D.C. schools have also prioritized mitigating pandemic-related learning losses through the widespread adoption of high-impact tutoring programs. High-impact tutoring seeks to develop strong relationships between students and their tutors in order to increase student motivation and engagement in their academic coursework, but could also benefit attendance.


High-quality tutoring programs not only get students up to speed in reading and math, they can also reduce absenteeism, a new study shows.

Focused on schools in Washington, D.C., the preliminary results show middle school students attended an additional three days and those in the elementary grades improved their attendance by two days when they received tutoring during regular school hours.  

But high-impact tutoring —defined as at least 90 minutes a week with the same tutor, spread over multiple sessions — had the greatest impact on students who missed 30% or more of the prior school year. Their attendance improved by at least five days, according to the study from the National Student Support Accelerator, a Stanford University-based center that conducts tutoring research. 


Today, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) shared early findings from a study that shows high-impact tutoring (HIT) has positive attendance benefits for DC students. The preliminary findings from research conducted by the National Student Support Accelerator at Stanford University provide evidence that DC students participating in HIT were more likely to attend school on days they had a tutoring session scheduled. While the comprehensive results of this study will be published later, these initial findings highlight the potential of HIT to support stronger school attendance.

“HIT is a research-based intervention that has long been available for higher-income families. Our investment is helping level the playing field of access, and we are seeing it pay off. HIT is helping to reinforce the importance and power of consistent, positive relationships with students and the adults who support them at school,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Christina Grant. “These early findings show us what we would expect from this evidence-based intervention – one-on-one and small group, personalized high-impact tutoring sessions that are grounded in strong relationships have benefits that extend beyond improved math and literacy scores.”


In 2023, researchers from the National Student Support Accelerator at Stanford University tracked the reading progress of about 2,000 students in kindergarten to second grade in a dozen Texas charter schools.

Half the students in the study were randomly assigned to attend class normally, while half received intensive remote tutoring for part of the school day, in small groups.

Researchers found that tutored students scored significantly better on Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills testing.


Students continue to struggle academically after the pandemic, yet federal relief funds to support their recovery are set to expire soon. As a result, state and school district leaders are searching for the most cost-effective strategies to help students recoup learning. A recent working paper presents the results of a randomized controlled trial of an early reading tutoring program designed to be affordable at scale.

Researchers Kalena Cortes, Karen Kortecamp, Susanna Loeb, and Carly Robinson of the National Student Support Accelerator randomly assigned 800 Florida kindergartners to receive or not receive tutoring in early reading. Tutoring provider Chapter One specialized in embedding part-time tutors into classrooms for “short bursts” of individual tutoring. Tutors met one-to-one with the assigned kindergartners for five-to-10 minute tutoring sessions over the course of the year. Kindergartners receiving tutoring also took part in 15-minute daily independent practice sessions using a Chapter One tablet. The tutors tracked student progress and met frequently with teachers to review the data they collected digitally. Chapter One used that data to tailor its tutoring to students’ evolving needs over time, adjusting session length and frequency based on each student’s progress over the year.


The study identifies "high-dosage" tutoring as "programs with four or fewer students working with the same tutor for at least 30 minutes during the school day, three times a week for at least several months."

The study report, "Learning Curve: Lessons from the Tutoring Revolution in Public Education," examines three school systems that met the challenge successfully. It also discusses the role of AI in tutoring and how to fund successful tutoring programs.

The study was researched and written by FutureEd policy director Liz Cohen, in partnership with Stanford University's National Student Support Accelerator.


The following list serves as a compilation of potential resources.  CDE strongly recommends that school districts conduct thorough vetting to ensure alignment with local guidelines for instructional materials. By school districts ensuring customized interventions for their distinct needs and standards, they can establish a resilient foundation for academic success in mathematics.

High-impact tutoring offers personalized attention, targeting individual learning gaps.


Cignition, a K-12 virtual tutoring provider, today announced its sponsorship of an upcoming edLeader panel focused on how to effectively integrate high-impact tutoring into the MTSS (Multi-Tiered System of Supports) framework. The discussion will highlight best practices and practical tips for K-12 district leaders seeking to enhance student engagement, increase learning outcomes and strengthen the overall effectiveness of tutoring initiatives.


Forty states have spent money on tutoring since the pandemic began, according to a recent review conducted by the National Student Support Accelerator, a Stanford University program that researches tutoring.

That’s added up to a huge investment. Last year, the nonprofit Council of Chief State School Officers, which represents state education department heads, estimated that states would spend $700 million of their federal COVID relief dollars to expand tutoring efforts. And local school districts are expected to spend more than $3 billion of their own COVID aid on tutoring, according to an estimate from the Georgetown University think tank FutureEd, based on data compiled by the company Burbio.


The settlement would accelerate that pivot in focus to academic interventions for the students who have fallen furthest behind. If California passes the legislation required under the settlement, districts would have to create needs assessments targeting their students performing below grade level in reading and math and those with the highest chronic absenteeism.

“It’s clear states and districts are still working to accelerate learning for students who fell behind during the pandemic as well as overcome stubborn gaps that have persisted over time,” said Nancy Waymack, the director of research partnerships and policy at Stanford’s National Student Support Accelerator, which studies ways to scale up effective learning recovery interventions.