SECTION 3: Challenges and Solutions

This section describes typical challenges in implementing tutoring and how programs overcome these challenges. The solutions offered come from the real-world experiences of leaders that have overcome these challenges in their own contexts.

The most common challenges and suggested solutions, aligned to the Tutoring Quality Standards, are as follow:


Tutor Challenges:

  • Many OST programs do not have the infrastructure to screen tutor candidates for instructional skills specifically. In these cases, OST providers intend to build the skills and knowledge through in-service training. While the research suggests that people with a variety of backgrounds can be effective tutors with the right training, coaching, and feedback, this can be challenging to in the OST context. The barriers to providing tutors with sufficient training, coaching, and feedback include funding, time available for planning, and staff capacity to provide ongoing support for trained tutors.

Tutor Solutions:

  • Role Clarity: Ensure tutors and tutor program leaders are hired and trained as tutors, and are not simultaneously responsible for supervising other students that are not in their tutoring group.
  • Local Community: Leverage existing infrastructure and focus on local recruitment efforts. Teachers, paraprofessionals, family members, service corps members, and higher education institution students have all been successful recruitment pools for OST providers to recruit tutors from the local community.
  • Program Leader: Ensure there is a high-impact tutoring program leader that has the skill set, knowledge, and capacity to provide instructional coaching and feedback to tutors.
  • Tutor Experience: Focus on sharing information related to the benefits of being a tutor for recruitment and program development. Providers that focus on creating a positive experience for their tutors shared the success they experienced with recruitment, retention, and program quality.

Data Use

Data Use Challenges:

  • Access to and use of instructional data can be difficult to achieve in OST programs. Both accessing instructional data from in-school assessments and accessing formative assessment tools to administer in OST programming are challenging. Funding and training tutors on using instructional data may be new elements for an OST provider, making these particular elements of a high-impact tutoring program more difficult to implement.

Data Use Solutions:

  • Data Sharing: Where possible, partner with Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to gain access to available instructional data for the content area in which tutoring is occurring. In addition to developing data sharing agreements between OST providers and LEAs, there is an opportunity to collaborate on how Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requirements can still be met while allowing tutors to access data that will inform tutoring instruction.
  • Formative Assessments: Consider administering formative assessments and/or content-specific screeners to determine what instructional supports would be most useful for students. Ensure the assessment being used is either embedded in the instructional materials or aligned with the tutoring curriculum.
  • Data Analysis: Whether administering assessments during OST programming or using available data from the LEA, ensure tutors have access to information that explains what the data is telling them about student learning needs. Such guidance is typically available either from district resources or directly from the formative assessment tool provider.


Instruction Challenges:

  • Many OST providers may not be aware of the Tutoring Quality Standards focused on tutor consistency, ratio, and dosage and for many OST providers, they represent a significant shift from their existing program. Meeting these standards may be challenging as they require an awareness and understanding of the research and standards, additional funding, and logistical challenges in meeting the appropriate dosage requirements for middle and high school students. Meeting dosage requirements is particularly challenging for students in the middle and high school grades as older students tend to have more commitments outside of school and typically cannot regularly attend high-impact tutoring sessions in OST programs.
  • Accessing high-quality instructional materials and using research-based instructional practices also represent shifts for many OST providers. In particular, many OST providers struggle with finding low and no-cost instructional materials.

Instruction Solutions:

  • High-Impact Tutoring Definition and Research: Ensure that local and national affiliates have access to and awareness of the research on high-impact tutoring and the key elements articulated in the High-Impact Tutoring Standards. Communicate the reason for high-impact tutoring and its potential impact on student learning with families, students, tutors, teachers, and program staff.
  • Program Focus: Consider focusing high-impact tutoring programming during out-of-school time on one content area to start. This will allow the program to build success before implementing high-impact tutoring across multiple content areas. This recommendation must be contextualized to the needs of the students and what programs are available beyond this OST high-impact tutoring program. Partner with the school district to determine which content area to focus on first.
  • Strong Relationships: Continue to build on strengths in the relationships OST staff already have with students during tutoring time. Include intentional strategies to build relationships during tutoring sessions that foster strong, positive relationships between students and tutors.
  • High-Quality Instructional Materials and Practices: Partner with the local LEA and/or school to determine where there are opportunities to share instructional materials. Seek opportunities for tutors to join school or district professional learning opportunities. If partnering on use of instructional materials and practices is not an option, dedicate time for leaders of the tutoring program to find and implement high-quality instructional materials and practices for tutors to use.

Learning Integration

Learning Integration Challenges:

  • The greatest challenge related to learning integration is that, by definition, OST programming does not occur during the school day. While many programs occur immediately before or after school, there are barriers to accessing high-impact tutoring programming for students that do not attend and/or do not consistently attend out-of-school time programming. Furthermore, OST providers do not want to sacrifice the valuable enrichment programming they traditionally offer, such as science, arts, and physical activity enrichments.
  • Regular engagement with school teachers and school leaders can also be challenging, especially when school-based staff do not understand the value of the high-impact tutoring being offered to students during OST programming.

Learning Integration Solutions:

  • Smaller Number of Students: Use a data-driven process to determine which students already attending OST programming would benefit most from high-impact tutoring, and focus on implementing high-impact tutoring for these students first. Students who attend OST programming at least 80% of the time are likely to benefit from high-impact tutoring given they are more likely to reach the desired dosage.
  • Collaborative Relationships at All Levels of Implementation: Develop a shared awareness and collaborative way of working across all stakeholders. Your national office, other local affiliates or district or school based staff all have expertise to support creating your high-impact tutoring program. Focus these relationships on how to increase student attendance in programming, and how to best align instructional curriculum and practices occurring during the school day. If OST providers can access the scope and sequence documents available from LEAs, this can be a helpful step in creating greater alignment.
  • Ongoing Attendance Monitoring: Address attendance barriers through the use of proactive communications and ongoing collaboration with caregivers. Some OST providers use messaging apps that enable the tutor to send reminders to the tutee, family, and other supportive adults including the student’s classroom teacher about tutoring sessions.
  • Role of Teaching Staff: While teaching staff can be effective tutors, this is not the only valuable role they can play in OST high-impact tutoring programs. Consider leveraging teachers’ expertise by hiring them to share curricular resources and aligned instructional practices with tutors, provide ongoing coaching, and to facilitate data analysis work with tutors. Expanding the leadership of teachers in OST high-impact tutoring can lead to more scalable, integrated tutoring practices.
  • OST High-Impact Tutoring in Addition to In School Tutoring: Encourage your local LEAs and schools to offer high-impact tutoring during the school day for students that cannot consistently attend OST programs. This will ensure there is equity of access for students that are unable to participate in the OST opportunities provided.