Research Guidance

A Snapshot of State Tutoring Policies

As schools, districts, and states work to address the student needs following the pandemic, many turned to high-impact tutoring, a research-based approach to providing individualized instruction to students. In fact, thirty-seven percent of public schools reported providing “high-dosage” tutoring on a federal school pulse panel survey in December 2022. In addition, many states have implemented or are exploring policies to increase access to high-impact tutoring. This brief explores the tutoring policy landscape at the state level as of November 2023.

Reading program researched by Stanford University shows early progress in South Bend

“So, high impact tutoring is tutoring that happens with a qualified tutor and that means someone who is trained and is receiving coaching. It also happens frequently. So at least three to 5 times a week, in a small group or one-on-one. It is very personalized,” says Director of Partnerships and Policy for the National Student Support Accelerator Nancy Waymack.


The Effects of Virtual Tutoring on Young Readers: Results from a Randomized Controlled Trial

This study is the first randomized controlled trial of a virtual early literacy tutoring program. OnYourMark Education provides tutoring grounded in the science of reading and focused on foundational literacy skills (e.g., phonics, phonological awareness, reading fluency). During the 2022-23 school year, OnYourMark partnered with 12 schools in a large charter-management organization in the southern United States to provide virtual tutoring in school to kindergarten, first, and second grade students. The program included four sessions per week for 20 minutes per session from September through May. We randomly assigned students to one-on-one tutoring (N=510), two-on-one tutoring (N=570), or a business-as-usual control group (N=1,005). We find that students assigned to OnYourMark tutoring scored approximately 0.08 SD higher on end-of-year early literacy tests than students in the business-as-usual control group, with lower-performing students (0.18 SD) and first graders (0.19 SD) assigned to 1:1 tutoring benefiting most. These positive findings from a virtual program with young readers provides initial evidence that virtual tutoring could be a promising option, especially in contexts with barriers to implementing in-person early literacy tutoring.

Academic Recovery: Terms to Know

According to the U.S. Department of Education’s research arm, high-dose tutoring is the most effective—though often the most expensive.
The National Student Support Accelerator, a Stanford University center that studies effective tutoring, finds that effective high-dose tutoring programs require:

  • Tutoring integrated into the school day to increase tutor-teacher coordination and avoid transportation or time problems for students.
  • Targeting students based on academic need rather than requiring parents to opt into services.
  • Budgeting services for at least three to five days a week for extended periods of time.
  • Differentiated tutoring based on particular student needs and skills.
  • Data-gathering and progress-monitoring, particularly when schools work with outside tutoring providers.

Integrating High-Impact Tutoring with Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS)

Districts across the nation use Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) to target appropriate supports for each student. High-impact tutoring is the most effective research-backed academic support – consistently demonstrating from six months to over two years of learning gains for students across grade levels and content areas in a single year of tutoring.

Districts that have chosen to integrate high-impact tutoring with MTSS are finding that embedding this highly effective support into the fabric of their schools improves student outcomes, reduces implementation challenges, improves instructional coherence, and streamlines operations.

Challenges and Solutions: Scaling Tutoring Programs

The authors partnered with school districts, tutoring providers, and quarterback organizations that support implementation of high-impact tutoring across districts in the United States to learn from their efforts in implementing tutoring. This cross-district implementation study shares a snapshot of lessons learned about common barriers to implementing highly-effective programs and the ways that districts have overcome these barriers with success. Interviewees included administrators, teachers, tutors, and other program staff from nine school districts and one charter management organization, seven tutoring providers, and six quarterback organizations that support implementation across districts. One finding is that funding and belief in the potential of tutoring are two key facilitators for the implementation of high-impact tutoring. Moreover, some of the challenges identified are related to tutor recruitment and training, data use, the scheduling of tutoring during the school day, student attendance and school-level buy-in.

A Systematic Review of Research on Tutoring Implementation: Considerations when Undertaking Complex Instructional Supports for Students

Tutoring has emerged as an especially promising strategy for supporting students academically. This study synthesizes 33 articles on the implementation of tutoring, defined as one-to-one or small-group instruction in which a human tutor supports students grades K-12 in an academic subject, to better understand the facilitators and barriers to program success. We find that policies influenced tutoring implementation through the allocation of federal funding and stipulation of program design. Tutoring program launch has often been facilitated by strategic relationships between schools and external tutoring providers and strengthened by transparent assessments of program quality and effectiveness. Successful implementation hinged on the support of school leaders with the power to direct school funding, space, and time. Tutoring setting and schedule, recruitment and training, and curriculum influenced whether students are able to access quality tutoring and instruction. Ultimately, evidence suggests that tutoring was most meaningful when tutors fostered positive student-tutor relationships which they drew upon to target instruction toward students’ strengths and needs.

Call for Submissions: New Profit to Make $4.8M Investment in 24 Organizations Focused on Tutoring, Whole Child Supports, and Postsecondary Advising

We are excited to announce that we are now accepting applications for our Equitable Education Recovery Initiative. This initiative will provide each of 24 organizations a $200K unrestricted Catalyze Investment grant along with New Profit cohort-based capacity-building support and participation in a peer learning community—all over the course of three years. We are looking for community-based organizations providing ELA/math tutoring, whole child supports, and/or postsecondary advising to K-12 students in one or more of the following geographies: Denver Metro, Memphis/Nashville, and/or any part of California’s Central Valley from Fresno to Sacramento, plus Oakland.