Schools Are Spending Big Bucks on Online Tutoring. Here’s What They’ve Learned

Education Week

Tutoring works.

That’s been the message for schools and educators since before the COVID-19 pandemic, with lots of research to back it up. But pervasive staffing problems have gotten in the way. 

That is, until online tutoring came along. For decades, companies like Varsity Tutors and FEV Tutor have been offering online and virtual tutoring services to school districts. Startups like Paper, which began offering on-demand tutoring in the 2018-19 school year, seized the pandemic moment and ramped up services.

For many districts, the online tutoring services have been a logical investment, a way to reap its benefits while avoiding the logistical complications of finding in-person help, especially as federal ESSER funds rolled in. 

But it hasn’t been that simple. 

Researchers say tutoring works best if it’s high dosage (offered three or more days of the week), consistent, and personalized to the student. The on-demand chat box version of tutoring that many have come to associate with the online world doesn’t often meet those qualifications. It requires students to show up on their own accord and be self-aware of the areas in which they may need help. Often, students don’t get the same tutor at every session. 


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