As Schools Push for More Tutoring, New Research Points to Its Effectiveness — and the Challenge of Scaling it To Combat Learning Loss

The 74

During the two years that COVID-19 has upended school for millions of families, education leaders have increasingly touted one tool as a means of compensating for lost learning: personalized tutors. As a growing number of state and federal authorities pledge to make high-quality tutoring available to struggling students, a new study demonstrates positive, if modest, results from an experimental pilot that launched last spring. 

The program’s effects suggest that more exposure to supplemental instruction could yield still greater benefits. But design limitations, particularly those stemming from a pronounced shortage of qualified tutor candidates, also raise the question of whether it can be offered on the scale that some advocates envision. 

The paper was released only days after U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona declared, in a speech laying out his department’s priorities for the coming year, that every student who has lost ground during the pandemic should receive 90 minutes of tutoring each week. A number of states and large districts have already established tutoring initiatives over the last year, typically underwritten by emergency relief funds from Washington.


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