Tutoring Quality Improvement System (TQIS)

A Note about Equity: A true commitment to equitable outcomes requires individuals at all levels of a tutoring organization to 1) critically examine their own biases, 2) embed equity into program design, systems and structures, and 3) engage in constant reflection on program effectiveness. Throughout this assessment, you will answer questions designed to assess how well your tutoring program puts equity at the center of your practices. At the end of the self-assessment, you will receive feedback on how well your program aligns with the quality standards most closely tied to equity.

The work of striving for equity is never done, so we will keep updating this assessment and its recommendations to help programs embody equity in their decisions.

The National Student Support Accelerator is excited to share the Tutoring Quality Improvement System (TQIS). This tool provides tutoring programs with a free and research-based assessment of their program’s quality by comparing the tutoring program’s characteristics and activities to a set of industry quality standards. The Tutoring Quality Standards are aligned with NSSA's Framework for High-Impact Tutoring and were developed by the TQIS Advisory Group.

In addition to delivering information about how well a tutoring program aligns with the TQIS quality standards, TQIS also provides tutoring programs with tailored recommendations and resources to support the tutoring program’s continuous improvement. The TQIS assessment allows programs to act quickly upon the feedback to improve.

Intended TQIS Users

The TQIS is specifically designed for a number of users:

  • Tutoring organizations and school districts operating their own tutoring programs can use TQIS to identify areas for improvement once or on an ongoing basis as part of their continuous improvement process.
  • Tutoring organizations and school districts developing new tutoring programs can use TQIS prior to launch to identify improvement areas iteratively as part of their design process.
  • School districts interested in partnering with tutoring providers can request potential providers share their assessment report.
  • Funders can request grantees use TQIS to better understand program quality.
  • Tutoring providers may apply to earn the NSSA Program Design Badge to be recognized for designing their program using research-backed characteristics of high-impact tutoring.

Why develop TQIS?

Rigorous research provides evidence that tutoring, with specific characteristics, produces large learning gains for a wide range of students, including those who have fallen behind academically. However, not all tutoring is effective, and clear standards have not been set for tutoring quality – making it difficult for districts, schools and nonprofits to select tutoring providers that meet their needs.

One way for tutoring programs to demonstrate effectiveness is through Randomized Control Trials (RCTs) which identify the effects by randomly assigning a large group of students to either receive the program or not and then following those students, measuring their outcomes and comparing the two groups. This approach is the best way of estimating the effects of a program on specific outcomes such as standardized test performance.

However, many RCTs are imperfect. Researchers intent on finding effects may use outcome measures that the program effects but are not predictive of long-term benefits for students or may simply run the analysis poorly. Independent assessments of RCT quality are needed to determine whether the estimates of program effectiveness are legitimate. Moreover, RCTs can be expensive and often take multiple years to yield results. Only the most established and well-resourced tutoring programs have the opportunity for this type of quality validation. These barriers leave many community-based, smaller tutoring organizations — that may be just as effective — without RCT evidence.

Bellwether Education PartnersTQIS was created in collaboration with Bellwether Education Partners, a national nonprofit focused on dramatically changing education and life outcomes for underserved children. Bellwether works to achieve its mission by helping organizations accelerate impact and improving public policy and practice for the education field. To learn more about Bellwether, please visit their website at www.bellwethereducation.org.