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Mays pointed to the move to focus federal pandemic relief money on tutoring programs whose design showed evidence of effectiveness, such as individual or very small groups, and using an aligned curriculum in sessions at least three times a week. This model differed from tutoring provided under the No Child Left Behind Act’s supplemental education services, which were repeatedly found to have no benefit for student achievement—in part because programs varied significantly from district to district.


As excitement grows around tutoring as a strategy to combat learning loss, advocates have rightly been encouraged by the growing body of evidence demonstrating the efficacy of tutoring interventions. To date, however, little research has examined the impact of fully virtual tutoring on very young students. Hardly a technicality, this distinction matters because younger children are less likely to have the technical and self-regulation skills upon which virtual learning depends. Now, a new study by researchers from Stanford, Vanderbilt, and UnboundED analyzes the benefits of virtual tutoring specifically for early elementary students.


Cignition, a K-12 virtual tutoring provider, today announced the formation of a new advisory board. Comprised of eight experts from school districts and universities across the country, the strategic focus of the Cignition MTSS Advisory Board will be to provide insight into the role of high-impact tutoring (HIT) in the Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) framework and how that integration might significantly boost academic progress.

Less than a third of Colorado eighth-graders score proficiently in math. So, Colorado has invested heavily in high-impact tutoring programs — $20 million allocated in federal and state dollars since the pandemic. Colorado was also one of five states to get a $1 million grant from Accelerate, a nonprofit that aims to make 


Tutoring is a win-win job for college and K-12 students, but the question remains how best to connect college students who need these jobs with the paid tutoring positions available. In a recent working paper with colleagues, we report on a randomized controlled trial that tested whether highlighting the different benefits of a tutoring job can drive changes in tutor applications and employment. We partnered with Grand Valley State University (GVSU) to recruit paid tutors for a campus initiative started in 2020 to support Michigan K-12 students. Tutoring at GVSU was not only a paid position—it was a highly paid position on campus. Tutors could earn up to $17.70 per hour, the highest rate in the GVSU student hourly wage range and well above the state minimum wage at the time of the study ($10.10).


Decades of research have shown that high-impact tutoring is the most effective support to transform outcomes for struggling students. High-impact tutoring offers students access to a trained adult who has content knowledge, pedagogical training, and provides one-on-one or small group sessions. Over time, the tutor develops a relationship with the student, builds their confidence, and adapts the learning dynamic to the student’s needs in real-time. The best tutoring pairs consistent intervention with point-in-time assessments that monitor progress and inform instruction to catalyze growth.

School and district leaders are often under the impression that there are limited financial resources to bring such individualized support to students. Fortunately, there is an array of funding resources at the district and school level to create and sustain high-impact tutoring programs for the students who need the support the most.


Regardless of the potential hiccups along the way, data has shown that colleges and universities are beginning to tap more into Federal Work-Study funds to hire tutors, said Nancy Waymack, director of research partnerships and policy at Stanford University’s National Student Support Accelerator, a nonprofit research organization that promotes high-impact tutoring in schools.  

For Waymack, it’s refreshing to see students earn pay for tutoring considering the role has historically been viewed as a volunteering opportunity.

“Using Work-Study, using AmeriCorps funds, other federal resources or resources that come from other places to pay tutors just opens up the field a lot more for many different students who otherwise might have been doing another job on campus,” Waymack said. “And they wouldn’t have that opportunity to be in a school, work with kids, and see educators who are teaching every day that they might want to emulate somewhere down the road.”


Funding is the biggest barrier to tutoring in schools, says Alvin Makori, a doctoral student at the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education. Makori co-authored a research paper about the challenges to schools offering tutor services at scale. The paper — based on surveys of teachers at charter and public schools in California — also noted concerns about tutor quality and trouble finding the space and time to work tutoring into the school day as problem areas for the schools it inspected. (The study did not look at virtual high-dose tutoring, of the kind provided by some of the organizations discussed here.)


The New Jersey Department of Education recently released a resource to provide information on the benefits and essential design elements of effective, high-impact tutoring programs to support local education agencies’ efforts to meet the increased needs of students, according to an advisory.

The resource – “High-Impact Tutoring: An Evidence-Based Strategy to Accelerate Learning”  – was developed in response to the strong interest in designing and implementing tutoring programs through both federal and discretionary funding streams. It aims to assist school districts in designing and planning high-impact tutoring programs.


When Muriel Bowser, the mayor of the District of Columbia, announced in early March that her administration had carved out $4.8 million for “high impact tutoring” in its 2024-25 budget, she was met with thunderous applause.

Bowser had made the announcement to a room packed with administrators, tutoring service providers and policy analysts. But the excitement was tempered somewhat by questions about how far these funds would go: Is this appropriation enough? What about tutoring in the next year?

As the federal stimulus package—ESSER—winds down, states are racing against the clock to find other sustainable funding sources to keep tutoring alive in their schools. So far, states have taken a patchwork approach. Some states are creating policies that would embed tutoring as a service; other states have relied on one-time grants.