PROOF POINTS: Four lessons from post-pandemic tutoring research

The Hechinger Report


The first randomized controlled trial of a virtual tutoring program for reading was conducted during the 2022-23 school year at a large charter school network in Texas. Kindergarten, first and second graders received 20 minutes of video tutoring four times a week, from September through May, with an early reading tutoring organization called OnYourMark. Despite the logistical challenges of setting up little children on computers with headphones, the tutored children ended the year with higher DIBELS scores, a measure of reading proficiency for young children, than students who didn’t receive the tutoring. One-to-one video tutoring sometimes produced double the reading gains as video tutoring in pairs, demonstrating a difference between online and in-person tutoring, where larger groups of two and three students can be very effective too. That study was published in October 2023. 

Video tutoring hasn’t always been a success. A tutoring program by Intervene K-12, a tutoring company, received high marks from reviewers at Johns Hopkins University, but outside evaluators didn’t find benefits when it was tested on students in Texas. In an unpublished study, the National Student Support Accelerator, a Stanford University organization that is promoting and studying tutoring, found no difference in year-end state test scores between students who received the tutoring and those who received other small group support. Study results can depend greatly on whether the comparison control group is getting nothing or another extra-help alternative.


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