Why should OST programs consider offering high-impact tutoring?

OST providers should consider offering high-impact tutoring because it is highly effective, research-backed, and can be incorporated well into an OST program when it aligns with the program’s mission, capacity, and community need.

What is High-Impact Tutoring?

This Playbook describes how OST providers can effectively implement a high-impact tutoring program and why it is worthwhile to do so. We will define high-impact tutoring and how it differs from other types of tutoring.

High-impact tutoring is tutoring that has directly demonstrated significant gains in student learning through state-of-the-art research studies or tutoring that has characteristics proven to accelerate student learning. In fact, tutoring with these characteristics has consistently resulted in 3 to 15 months of additional learning. High-impact tutoring responds to students' individual needs and complements classroom curricula.

High-impact tutoring programs share certain key model elements:

  • Tutors use high-quality instructional materials in high-frequency sessions (a minimum of 3 times per week, for a minimum of a semester and preferably a full school year), with three or fewer students in each session;
  • Tutors are engaging and reliable, receive ongoing coaching, and are well-trained, including on issues of equity and safety;
  • Tutoring is built into the school day or right before or after school and engages teachers, schools or caregivers;
  • The tutoring program uses data to individualize instruction and continuously improve program design.

As noted, out-of-school tutoring programs, including summer, can be effective if the necessary structures and systems are in place to ensure student participation and engagement.

High-Impact Tutoring: Equitable and Effective Learning Acceleration provides more information about these key elements identified from an extensive review of existing research and best practices. Chart 1 below provides a high-level overview of the four model-specific elements of high-impact tutoring.

Chart 1: Elements of High-Impact Tutoring

Elements of High-Impact Tutoring

How is high-impact tutoring different from other academic programming offered during OST?

Most out-of-school time providers offer a variety of academic supports to enrich and expand student learning opportunities outside of the school day. High-impact tutoring is one type of academic support that OST providers may choose to offer that aims to achieve a specific goal and has specific characteristics as outlined in Chart 2 below:

Chart 2: Types of OST Academic Support

  Types of OST Academic Support
Primary Purpose Academic Enrichment Academic Support Academic Growth
Program Type Part of Multipurpose and Academic Programs Part of Multipurpose Programs Part of Academic Programs
Examples Field Trips, STEM, Performing Arts, Entrepreneurship, Service Learning Homework Help High-Impact Tutoring
Characteristics Students work with an instructor with specific content expertise. Instructors develop fundamental skills in a particular area. Students work independently and must request support, group size often depends on how many students opt-in on a given day, supervisor may be different each day as long as they can answer student questions. Group size of three students or less working with a consistent and trained tutor multiple times per week, using student data to inform instruction.
Goal Provide students with new experiences, opportunities, and skill development in the content area of focus. Complete homework assigned during school. Accelerate learning in a specific content area (usually math or literacy).
Implementation Complexity Depends on Program Lower Higher

OST providers can use this tool to conduct their own readiness assessment to understand whether high-impact tutoring is needed in their community and is a good fit for their programming.

How do high-impact tutoring programs during out-of-school time work?

Successful OST high-impact tutoring programs can take many forms as long as high-impact tutoring research-backed elements as outlined here are included. Different contexts across OST providers, states, and district affiliations lead to different optimal choices for each partnership. Our research identified three primary program models:

  • High-impact tutoring as part of a multipurpose out-of-school time program – in this model, multipurpose OST providers (providers that offer multiple programs within a consistent after school program serving students) provide high-impact tutoring as a component of their existing programming. Multipurpose OST providers create a high-impact tutoring program by leveraging their existing infrastructure and systems (i.e., hiring, conducting background checks, dedicated space, etc.). Multipurpose providers frequently have a pre-existing relationship with their local school districts and national affiliates that can provide academic resources for high-impact tutoring.
  • High-impact tutoring provided by a third-party tutoring provider – in this model, a third-party tutoring provider offers tutoring during the time outside of the traditional school day. In many cases, these third-party providers also offer tutoring during the school day in order to provide more consistent access to all students. In this model, the tutoring program may occur within an existing multipurpose out-of-school time program or as a stand-alone tutoring program. This model requires the provider to develop their own infrastructure to recruit students and to hire, train, and support tutors.
  • High-impact tutoring provided by a district and/or school – in this model, the school district or individual school develops and operates their own high-impact tutoring program outside of school hours. Following a “Grow Your Own Program” model, the district and/or school pays tutoring program staff (who can be existing school or district staff or additional staff) to provide high-impact tutoring immediately before or after the regular school day, or during the summer. This district or school-led OST tutoring program is typically a smaller portion of their full high-impact tutoring model that also provides tutoring during the school day.

Each of these program models requires implementing high-impact tutoring with fidelity and can be successful. This Playbook includes solutions to common challenges as well as profiles of successful programs.

Building on OST Strengths

OST providers play a critical role in supporting students outside of the traditional school day (see The Value of Out-of-School Time Programs). In many cases, the strengths of OST programming can be leveraged to support and enrich high-impact tutoring programs. Many OST providers have a number of these strengths to build on:

  • Systems to successfully hire, train, and retain community-based talent
  • Strong relationships with students, parents, and caregivers
  • Engaging enrichment programming that supports consistent attendance
  • Data-oriented culture and systems to improve programming (often required for licensing or grant reporting)
  • Consistent student attendance to support appropriate dosage and relationship-building
  • Co-location in and/or existing relationships with students’ sending schools
  • Staff that also work at sending schools to support instructional alignment and deeper understanding of student needs