Home Career Early data on ‘high-dose’ tutoring show that schools sometimes struggle to provide...

Early data on ‘high-dose’ tutoring show that schools sometimes struggle to provide even small doses


Schools report that students receive more tutoring sessions when they are scheduled during the school day without competing academic sessions at the same time. credit: Lillian Mangeau/The Hechinger Report

Tutoring is by far the most effective way to help children catch up in school, according to extensive research. The research community has called on schools to spend much of their roughly $190 billion in federal pandemic recovery funds on so-called “high-dose” tutoring. This means that students have lessons at least three times a week, working one-on-one with tutors or in very small groups with tutors, using clear lesson plans, rather than just helping with homework.

Many schools have adopted this view frequent tutoring. So far, we have some preliminary data that, at first glance, might give the impression that tutoring is working quite well.

  • In Tennessee, 50,000, or about 5 percent of the state’s elementary and middle school students, received intensive instruction during the 2021-2022 school year. In June, the state reported tremendous academic gains for students statewide, which was new five-year reading achievement records. In math, students are on track to recover all of their learning losses from the pandemic within three years.
  • Amplify, a curriculum development and assessment company that entered the tutoring business during the pandemic, said about 60 percent of students who received online tutoring at least twice a week in 2021-2022 made significant gains in reading compared to with only about 40 percent of students not receiving tutoring but also significantly behind grade level at the beginning of the year.
  • Saga Education, a nonprofit tutoring company that focuses on ninth-grade algebra in low-income schools, reported that 78 percent of the more than 6,000 students it tutored in six cities passed their math classes in the spring of 2022.

This is all good news, but none of these data points is proof that tutoring works.

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