Transformative change in education often begins with a powerful story. Increasingly, high-impact tutoring is that story, where students find both significant academic success and personal confidence in their abilities. Rhyne Richards—a 6th-grade student in Washington, DC.—met several times each week with a tutor, Ms. Burns, to overcome math challenges. Rhyne’s journey speaks volumes. “I get distracted a lot [in class],” Rhyne admitted. “But when I’m with Ms. Burns, I learn a lot; a lot more than I knew last year.” It’s a testament to the remarkable impact of intensive, one-on-one tutoring. “I’m proud of myself,” Rhyne continued. “Before, I didn’t really know math like I do now. But now I can do it myself. I want to be the smartest person in the world.” Rhyne’s regained confidence in math and optimism for the future epitomize the profound evidence for and influence of intensive, relationship-based, individualized instruction—it is a narrative we must tirelessly work to replicate and scale.

Those results are not unique to Oakland. Another recent study on a virtual early literacy tutoring model called OnYourMark found minimal impact in second grade. The lack of growth could be due to a mismatch between tutoring and testing, said Susanna Loeb, a Stanford University professor who leads a nationwide tutoring research center and conducted the OnYourMark research.

Stanford’s National Student Support Accelerator suggests various tutor trainings along with online pre-service trainings such as Saga Coach. The training level of tutors also impacts tutor payment with some models proposing payments of $20 per hour for non-professionals and payments of up to $50 per hour for teachers and professional tutors.

What makes tutoring high-impact? According to the National Student Support Accelerator, it involves substantial time each week, sustained and strong relationships between students and tutors, close monitoring of student knowledge and skills alignment to school curriculum, and oversight to ensure quality interactions. 

“A lot of districts really want to provide additional support for their students. They want to do it in an equitable way and they want to do it in a sustainable way. One of the things that we’ve seen is that starting big and not being able to do [tutoring implementation] smoothly sometimes backfires,” said Nancy Waymack, director of research partnerships and policy for the National Student Support Accelerator at Stanford University, which studies K-12 tutoring trends. “Starting by focusing on a smaller group of students, and really making sure that they have the full support of a consistent tutor, on a very frequent basis, in a data-driven way that’s really aligned with the curriculum is a way that’s going to work really well.”

In a significant study involving 1,000 K-2 students in Texas, OnYourMark Education, in partnership with The National Student Support Accelerator (NSSA) and Uplift Education, presents compelling evidence of the positive impact of virtual high-impact reading tutoring on early literacy. During the 2022-2023 school year, students engaged in one-on-one virtual reading tutoring sessions, resulting in substantial academic gains.

Schools across America continue struggling to help their students catch up following unprecedented learning losses resulting from pandemic school closures beginning in March 2020. It is vital—both to address current needs and to stash away for future use—to determine which methods work to boost student achievement. To that end, a group of researchers, led by Stanford University’s Susanna Loeb, recently examined a high-dosage tutoring effort called OnYourMark, a fully virtual model designed to solidify foundational literacy skills for students in kindergarten through second grade.

Intensive, high-dose tutoring can boost early reading skills, even in a virtual format, according to a new experimental study.

Researchers from the National Student Support Accelerator at Stanford University tracked the reading progress of about 2,000 K-2 students in a dozen Texas charter schools. Half of the students were randomly assigned to attend class normally, while half received intensive remote tutoring for part of the school day, in small groups, through the nonprofit group OnYourMark, which serves K-2 students in seven states.