Instruction: Session Structure

Quality Standards

  • Dosage: The program provides each student with at least three tutoring sessions per week, with ample time (usually a minimum of 30 minutes per session) for students to engage fully with the material.
  • Ratio: The ratio of student to tutors in the program is low and does not exceed 4:1.
  • Student Grouping: The program strategically groups students by skill level or language need to allow the tutor to deliver relevant instruction to the full group.
  • Routines and Structures: The program has consistent lesson structure, set instructional routines, and standard procedures to maximize learning. Tutor-specific modifications are intentional and informed by student needs.

Critical Question

  • How should tutoring sessions be structured to ensure students master the content?

Implementation Checklist

  • Ensure a consistent session structure with space for relationship- building, independent practice time, and formative assessment.
  • Design the tutoring program to meet research-based dosage and ratio guidelines.
  • Structure tutoring sessions to focus on targeted learning goals informed by grade level standards, assessment data, and family and school input.

Implementation Tools

Key Insights

Maintain a consistent tutoring structure from session to session.

  • While content will change across sessions, session design and flow are most effective when they are consistent.
  • When session structure is routine, tutors will deliver more consistent and effective sessions. Instead of spending prep time internalizing directions and pacing, they can focus on content.
  • When students know what to expect, they can better internalize what is expected of them. Because each session has a consistent rhythm, students will feel safer and more engaged.

Group students intentionally if tutors work with students in groups.

  • Research suggests that grouping students based on their current skill level may be most effective (Zimmer et al., 2010).
  • It also helps to pair English language learners together, particularly if their tutor speaks their native language. When your roster of bilingual tutors is limited, place them strategically.
  • For students within small-group sessions who have larger skill gaps than other group members, tutors should strive to find one-on-one time with them to provide more personalized support.
  • Depending on the length of the tutoring program, students may need to be re-grouped periodically. Students’ relative skill levels change over time, so grouping students based on skill involves regularly reassessing students’ skill levels and re-grouping them accordingly.
  • OST providers may partner closely with the school-based staff to determine how to group and regroup students. This provides opportunities for deeper partnerships and allows the tutors to form strong relationships with teachers when making these instructional decisions.